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Topic ClosedHow many keys do I need on my synth????

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The Lost Chord View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: How many keys do I need on my synth????
    Posted: June 01 2006 at 16:33
OK, I need a synth and I am still unsure about some MAJOR tyhings.  If I want to be able to play things from the late 60's to about 1975 by guys like Rick Wakeman, Mike Pinder, Tony Banks and the guy from FOCUS and PFM and all...what do I need to fill these?
 
How many keys should I get on my synth, do I need a 61 or is 49 the standarde back then???
 
WHat kind of weight were the keys back thnen?  Were they thin keys like these M-Audio controllers?
 
I Need to KNOW I am playing the same type of stuff these guys were playing with the same feel and everything, I want to FEEL that!!!
 
When I play Hoedown by Emerson I want to be on the same weighted keys as him with the same exact effects....
 
 
HELP ME DO THIS PLEASEE!!!!
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Jaydubz View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 18:06
What you're asking for is an apple that tastes like an orange, and a banana, and a grape.  A Hammond's action is different than a grand piano's, which is different from a Moog's, which is different from a Mellotron, etc.   You have 3 choices - weighted (feels like a piano), semi or unweighted (like a synth), or a Hammond waterfall style.  In order to get a Hammond waterfall-style, you need to buy a virtual tonewheel such as an Electro/2.  I use an Electro/2 76-key as my master keyboard in the studio - it allows me to gliss like a Hammond, and I don't get tired after hours of composing, because I'm not jamming down on a weighted keyboard.  Those who grew up playing piano prefer a fully-weighted keyboard; I used to - but as I've grown older and more susceptible to arthritis, I prefer the waterfall and/or a semi-weighted keyboard.  Do NOT get a keyboard with under 49 keys.  If you want to play like the "big-boys", you need to be able to "spread out" across the keyboard.  From my perspective, anything under 76 keys is too small.  The important thing is:  buy something with a good action, the Korg Karma is the perfect example of a killer synth with lackluster action.  I love my Karma, but I never play it with its own keyboard - it feels like a toy!  Big smile


Edited by Jaydubz - June 01 2006 at 20:21
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 19:07
ok...i see...but werent all the major bands synths unweighted keys?  I mean, i play hoedown by emerson on heavy keys and its a pain sometimes because they keys are obviously too heavy to REALLy play perfectly smoothly, and then i go to guitar center on the thin keys and i fly!!
 
ALso, you say there is "weighted" and "un-weighted"...but i see three different typed, weighted, unweighted and thin keys.  does it matter if i get an unweighted or thin key controller?  Id prefer if it looked like a grand but played like a synth (i.e. unweighted), i dont know if i really like the thin keys they feel weird sometimes.
 
Anyway, thanks for the help let me know more!!!
 
Do you know what Tony Banks uses to play Giant Hogweed back then?  Was he on un-weighted keys on a moog or something???
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 19:13

More is always better. I'd just go with as many as you can afford for a reasonble price.

Also, go with weighted keys if at all possible. They feel much more natural. Star


Edited by stonebeard - June 01 2006 at 19:14
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 19:22
Originally posted by stonebeard stonebeard wrote:

Also, go with weighted keys if at all possible. They feel much more natural. Star
 
Weighted or semi-weighted - both feel natural depending upon the type of keyboard emulation.  A fully-weighted Hammond clone would feel quite UN-natural.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 19:26
Lost Chord - If you're tuly concerned about the action, I would advise NOT buying anything sight-unseen.  March back down to Guitar Center, play those puppies until your fingers hurt, THEN make your decision.  Count your blessings that you CAN do that - in the "good old days" when keyboards were super-expensive, they wouldn't even LET you play one...the sales clerk would turn the synth on and play it FOR you!  Wink 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 19:50
OK, my real question now, though...i need this answered!
 
WERE any of the old synths weighted?  Seems to me they were not, was the mellotron weighted, moog, arp???
 
Was tony banks or rick wakeman playing onm anything weighted? LET ME KNOW!!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 20:09

Keyboard Action types

A vital quality of any Keyboard Controller is the keyboard action. You, the player, need to feel comfortable using the controller, whether live on stage or in your songwriting or recording studio. Don't underestimate the impact of having a less-than-ideal keyboard on your creativity and productivity! The type of action you prefer is usually determined mostly by what you are accustomed to, and also by the particular style of music that you play, which may call for one type action over another. You can choose from three basic keyboard action types:

Weighted Hammer Action
Weighted Hammer ActionMany controllers have 88-note keyboards that replicate the mechanical action of a conventional piano keyboard. This is difficult to do because a controller has no strings or hammers. Some manufacturers use different methods of applying weights and springs to mimic a piano's action. Others add a hammer action to more closely replicate a true piano "feel." For example, Studiologic's SL880 Pro employs what is called a graded and weighted piano-action keyboard ("Graded" refers to the practice of increasing piano keys' resistance on low notes and decreasing them on high notes, thus creating a key-response "curve"). If your primary instrument is piano, or if you compose a lot of piano-oriented music, the realism of a weighted hammer action keyboard might be ideal for you.

Semi-Weighted Action
Semi Weighted ActionSimilar to a weighted action, but with less key resistance and a slightly springier release, semi-weighted actions are popular with some players. If you don't need realistic piano response but don't care for spring-loaded synth actions (see below), try a semi-weighted keyboard. The Kurzweil PC2 is a 76-key controller with built-in sounds, MIDI sliders and a semi-weighted action.
 
 
Synth Action
Synth ActionA synth-action keyboard, on the other hand, feels more like an electronic organ. The spring-loaded keys are light and capable of being moved very quickly. They also tend to return to their resting position much more quickly. This can be an important advantage when trying to play very fast parts such as lead lines or fast arpeggios. Many keyboard controllers, such as the M-Audio Radium 61 come with synth-action keys.
 
 
In the truest sense of the word, Lost - no.  A weighted keybed is designed to specific mimic the feel of a PIANO.  The keyboards on early synths were almost exclusively "Synth Action" - and most of them left MUCH to be desired.  Likewise, the action on a Mellotron was, to put it nicely, quirky.
 
On the other hand, the action of the Hammond, the Fender Rhodes and the Wurly and had a more "weighted feel." 


Edited by Jaydubz - June 01 2006 at 20:12
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 20:30
can you get synth action keyboards that look like semi-weighetd and heavy keys, as in, not thin but full?
 
I see , thats tony banks on hogweed, what weight are those???? hes playing SO Fast it looks like they would be synth action!!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 20:31
I want to play MOSTLY banks songs, thats why...i also know alot of ELP and YES stuff, and i want to mimic their exact sounds also!  But i dont want to get stuck not being able to play something because of the keys i am using...
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 01 2006 at 20:56
Lost - The keyboard in the Genesis clip is a Hohner Pianet...which had a very funky action to it, more like a harpischord (like its sister, the Clavinet) than anything else.  Some have described its action as "pressing on thin ice."
 
As for your potential inability to mimic specific sounds:
 
A)  A semi-weighted keyboard will be a happy medium that will allow you to mimic a wide variety of vintage keyboard playing styles.
 
B)  The more crucial aspect you should be focusing on is timbre, and whether or not you want to be tied to a computer at all times via your choice of using softsynths over purchasing a rompler.  If you're going the softsynth route, get the following:
 
1.  Mellotron - MTron
 
2.  Hammond - Native Instruments B4
 
3.  Synths - Arturia Arp 2600V, MoogModularV, CS-80V
 
4.  Rhodes/Wurly/Clavinet - Native Instruments Electrik Piano
 
These six softsynths will be able to emulate just about any classic prog timbre you may need.
 


Edited by Jaydubz - June 01 2006 at 20:57
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2006 at 00:08
you are amazing, stick around i will need you once i get the synths can you help show me how to configure those exact sounds?
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2006 at 00:09
by the way which sampler has the Hohner Pianet sounds on it out of that list, i really need that hogweed sound!!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2006 at 00:17
it says here the CS-80 came out in 76, i dont really listen to much stuff after 76, are you sure ill need this? i hate the 80's synth soundsDead
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2006 at 00:23
what is keith emerson playing here on hoedown with ELP?
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2006 at 00:29

You want Pianet?  Wink

http://www.applied-acoustics.com/loungelizard.htm
 
I think I'll actually snag this puppy myself - sounds killer!  I'm actually an "old-skool hardware" hold-out when it comes to soft-synths - but I've run out of rack-space, and it's forced me to check out all the cool stuff that's out there now...and I'm really enjoying it!
 
Here's where I go when I'm feelin' inspired...
 
 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2006 at 00:38
The ELP footy features a Hammond C3 under Keith's Moog modular - with an L-100 on the opposite side.  The L-100 is the one he used to bash around and stab with daggers.
 
As of the CS-80v - if you want to play any ELP from "Works" onward, the CS-80v will give you a great emulation of the GX-1...
 
 
Smile


Edited by Jaydubz - June 02 2006 at 00:40
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2006 at 14:59
wow my friend youve got one killer setup in there, and i like the relayer poster :)
 
Where do you live? im only 19 and thinking about where i want to be in order to do what you are doing, play music everyday and just chill and have a nice place to do it!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 02 2006 at 16:48

Thanks, Lost Chord!  I've been slowly building my studio rig for many years, pretty much constantly upgrading, but I think I'm at a point where my "Gear Acquisition Syndrome" is pretty much sated.  I'm not so sure this type of equipment can sound any better than it does right now.  Here's a more recent shot from last week, but I've since replaced the CRT monitor with a 21.3" LCD flat screen, which has freed up a considerable amount of desk space

 
I've recently added a Roland V-Synth XT (in the new shelf on the desk) - an amazing synth that features Roland's "elastic audio."  I put it close to me because that's actually a touch-screen on the unit.  Finally hooked it up last weekend, it sounds killa'!   Not seen in the pics are all of the acoustic instruments, which normally reside in the closet: tenor recorder, C flute, alto flute, Bb clarinet, alto clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, Yamaha WX-11 & WX-5 wind synths, Bob Moog Theremin (hand-signed by Bob), vintage Maestro Woodwind System, six & twelve string acoustic guitars, mandolin & electric sitar.
 
I only wish I could play music every day!  I realized long ago that I'd have to have a normal career (in my case, corporate finance) to afford me the ability to come home and write music in the comfort of my own space...without having to worry about whether anyone but myself was pleased with my creative output!  Although I studied music comp through college, I took a queue from Charles Ives - one of the great American composers of the 20th century.  He had a successful career in insurance, lived a comfortable lifestyle and composed in his spare time.  Remarkably, despite his "avocation vs. vocation" approach to composing, he left an indelible mark on modern music.
 
My wife and I live in a "magical" area of the Hollywood Hills called Laurel Canyon.  It was the epicenter of the '60s and '70s LA rock scene.  Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, the Doors, Carole King, Brian Wilson,  Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Byrds, David Bowie and so many other rock legends lived here.  The neighborhood is the subject of a great new book written by a neighbor, Michael Walker - "Laurel Canyon"
 
 
Here's a view from our deck, looking up to the top of Lookout Mountain, where Carole King wrote her classic album "Tapestry"
 
 
 
"Music is the best." ~ FZ
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 03 2006 at 16:58
wow thanks for the pics and the info, thats exciting to see!  I think i am going to go with the semi weighted or whatever, seems it will work best for me, thanks man!
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