Anyone know anything about keyboard setups?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by YoungMansBlues, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. YoungMansBlues

    YoungMansBlues Member

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    A few very good friends of mine and I are starting a new band, and the girl who is singing dabbles in keys. She is very adamant about getting better and we all want her to play on most, if not all, of our music because she already has "the ear." The problem is, none of us know how legitimate keyboard/organ players set up their gear. Right now she has a keyboard that she's been playing for a long time, and we have another at our disposal (I don't know what either are, but I can find out when she gets home from work if that would help). Being the resident gear head, I was given the task of finding out how this should work, so I'm coming here. I know most will run a few different sets of keys to achieve different sounds at the same time, or sounds that can't be achieved with one board, etc...My main questions are A) Do most play in to an amp or straight in to the board, and what are the benefits of both? I have a Fender 1x12 SS combo I used to gig with when I was much younger that has a pretty solid clean sound, so we were thinking about running her through that. B) Is it customary to use guitar pedals with a keyboard? I know of a few who do, but I don't know what the general consensus is. Those that have experience, have you had better results running the pedals before the amp/PA or in a loop? and C) How can we achieve a Leslie sound with out actually buying a Leslie cabinet? After much research, it seems that the best pedal to achieve this and give the most control in our budget would be the Fulltone Deja'Vibe 2, but again, I don't know if it's good to use pedals like that with a keyboard. We're thinking we're going for a slightly more indyish Grace Potter and the Nocturnals meets The Format vibe, so if anyone has input about what might be good for this type of thing is welcome to chime in too! All suggestions/stories/advice/whatever from people who have either played keys out or play in a band with keys would be greatly appreciated. This is a new thing for all of us and we are trying to be as professional as possible about it. Thanks in advance gearheads!:bow
     
  2. Luke

    Luke Senior Member

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    You use an amp to hear yourself if the PA is not conveniently located.

    Many modern keyboards have built in effects, including Leslie simulators.

    You can pick up used rackmount keyboard brains cheap once the next generation comes along. I have the Korg 01W/R and a Yamaha VL-70 that I play via my guitar's midi output and a Roland PK-5 bass pedal. The Korg does all of my synth tones and polytones, the Yamaha does single instruments much better. An EMU sampler is the best.
     
  3. cameron

    cameron Member

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    I play in a band with a keys player, and I've been helping him improve his rig over the past couple of years. The amp question is a big one. You need a very different kind of amp for keys than for guitar. The guy I play with absolutely refuses to go through the board at gigs. He wants to have control over his rig, so that he can set it up at a gig the same way he does at rehearsal. He had a really crappy noisy rig when I started playing with him, and he's upgraded every aspect of it. Your solid state Fender amp will probably not cut it as a keys amp. And amps marketed as keys amps tend to be pretty lame. You basically need a little PA. A powered wedge monitor type of thing, with a little mixer built in, would probably work.

    My bandmate is currently using a Traynor K4 - which seemed like a nice option when he got it, but it just can't handle the bass on its own. He's now using it in conjunction with my bass rig: a Genz-Benz Shuttle 600 wall bass head, through a Schroeder 2x12 cab. Pretty nice bass rig, and makes a good subwoofer in conjunction with the Traynor keys amp. So that's a 200 watt amp, with a 600 watt amp acting as its subwoofer. That's the kind of headroom and bass handling you need for keys.

    Guitar pedals are not much use with keys. My bandmate tried to use a Holy Grail Reverb, for example, and couldn't deal with how it chopped off the entire low end of his signal. Effects designed for bass, or studio-style rack effects would be better options for keys.
     
  4. m@2

    m@2 Supporting Member

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    i play keys in a side project, and also prefer to have my own "keyboard amp" as opposed to straight into a PA. We typically will run a DI box for larger shows to the PA, but I still monitor with my amp. Some decent keyboard amps out there, but in a pinch I've used fender twins, or other relatively clean guitar amps (just be carefully on the low end if you go this route). I'd also recommend just sticking to a single keyboard with a good avriety of tones. They take up a lot of space on stage.
     
  5. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I play guitar and keys in my band.

    A). I have a Traynor K4 keyboard amp. I run the keys into that, then out of that into the PA. Keyboards require full range speakers, so I wouldn't recommend a guitar amp. If you don't have a keyboard amp, use the PA and run the keys back into the monitors.

    B) Any modern keyboard has all kinds of effects built in. You shouldn't need any external effects.

    c) Rotating speaker is one of the effects most keyboards will have included.
     
  6. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    The Traynor has better bass than most PA powered speakers, but it really shouldn't be used for anything other than stage monitoring. He still should run to the PA, which ideally should have subs. If you're playing to any kind of audience, trying to provide enough sound to fill the room from the stage is a bad plan. The K4 is 300 watts FWIW.
     
  7. dk123123dk

    dk123123dk Member

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    If you want a good keyboard setup I would highly suggest saving up for a Nord. They are great keyboards, and have the best leslie simulator I have heard. A Nord and a decent Piano with weighted keys should do just fine.

    I agree with the other posters about a keyboard amp. Older Peavey's are great amps for the money, and you can usually pickup a used keyboard amp for about a hundred bucks or so.

    I think the keyboardist from Deep Purple used guitar amps to get that distorted Hammond sound. So don't rule out guitar amps completely. You may want to use both a keyboard amp and a guitar amp with a way to blend the two sounds.

    They keyboardist from wolfmother also used guitar effects for his sounds, so don't be afraid to experiment, but be careful not to blow anything with the low notes that keys are capable of.

    Good luck.

    dk
     
  8. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    Jon Lord was a one trick pony when it came to sound though. He got a good and unique organ sound, but a horn or piano patch through those amps wouldn't work really well.

    Nords have a great reputation, but most of them have piano sounds built in, so I'm not sure why you're recommending a Nord and a piano.
     
  9. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    I play guitar/keys in our band, as does my bandmate. IMO, keyboards into PA with monitor (in-ear or speaker(s)) is preferrable to keyboard amp. Keyboard amps are really powered PA speakers with slightly different "throw". Some keyboard players use bass amps, as those are also powered PA speakers in disguise, but with stronger bass response.

    There's no consistency in who uses guitar pedals with keyboards these days. As mentioned elsewhere, modern keyboards tend to have built-in effects, and some of them include a Leslie effect.

    BTW, I notice the OP mentioned his bandmate already has a keyboard.
     
  10. dk123123dk

    dk123123dk Member

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    Yeah but what a trick! Plus its just another option. I mentioned it because rather than use an overdrive pedal, you can use an overdriven guitar amp for an interesting sound. In conjunction with a full range setup.

    The reason I recommended both a piano and a Nord would be for versatility. Plus you may need more keys than some of the entry level Nord's offer. Also you can use the other keyboard as a MIDI controller and use the Nord's excellent patches and effects. Of course the Nord on its own would be a great option. I'm only basing this on the advice from other keyboardists I've played with. The best sounding guys that I've worked with had a Nord for their Hammond tones, and another keyboard for everything else.


    dk
     
  11. aeolian

    aeolian Member

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    You could get a specialty keyboard amp like the Barretta. I've heard these and they sound great. The keyboardist in my band uses a powered Yamaha PA speaker as a local monitor and goes though the board. At times he can do an organ rush that swamps the bass player and shakes the floor. But that's the PA doing that. The Roland and Peavey keyboard amps are really limited. Low end guitar speaker woofers and really cheap tweeters. Okay for playing at home or rehearsal, but nothing like a pro level PA speaker on stage.

    Something like a QSC HPR or RCF powered speaker would work for a smaller situation where the PA is only for vocals.

    First off though, is getting a decent keyboard. I recently grabbed a Yamaha MO6 that is killer for less than a grand. The Nords are awesome if you just want basic keys (and the best Hammond that isn't in a dedicated box), but the Motif is the deal if you need a mix of modern and vintage sounds. With the ability to mix 4 voices on splits on the fly, it kind of does away with the old stacks of keyboards folks used to haul around. The keyboardist in my band uses a full on Motif with the sampler and vocorder, and just about anything I've heard on a record he can come up with. He dials up new sounds as he's going along, assigns them to one of the 4 faders and can then jump back and forth all he wants. Kind of like having 4 different boards at once.
     
  12. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    Of course they do. A PA reproduces whatever's put into it cleanly, which is what you want for keys. A Rhodes through a Fender amp is ONE keyboard sound. A B3 through a Marshall is another. But with those two combinations, you only get one sound.

    Assuming that keys means piano, synth, pads, strings, horns, organs, flute and gawd knows what else, you want full range amplification like a keyboard amp and/or the PA.
     
  13. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    If your patches sound like ****, you probably have the wrong keyboard. 99.9% of the people in your audience won't care that your strings don't sound like the New York Philharmonic, but they'll notice if they're there or not.

    The OP wasn't clear what kind of sounds she's interested in producing, but there are plenty of songs out there with synth sounds, horns, strings, pianos, etc. Your options are bring in the orchestra or cover the parts with keys, which 9 out of 10 times is what they do in the studio anyway.

    If all she wants is a great B3 sound or a great piano sound only, then the answer is different, but for general purpose keys, you want clean, full range amplification.
     
  14. pthacker

    pthacker Member

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    I use a Nord Electro 2 through a Clark Beaufort (doubles as my guitar amp) and it sounds great. I have seen a person also use a Fender Blues Jr. (cheaper amp alternative) and it sounded great as well. The B3, Wurlizter, and Rhodes are amazing on the Nord. The piano tones aren't the greatest but I'm not the biggest fan of acoustic piano sounds from a keyboard. But traveling with an acoustic piano isn't really an option and like a previous poster said, 99% of the people wouldn't be bothered by it.
     
  15. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    For an experiment, we'll try running our vocalist's digital piano into my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe, set to clean channel.

    Let's see if she likes the sound.
     

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