Arranger Keyboards Are They The Way To Go?


Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
109
Location
phoenix
Ok, so of late I have been looking at many options for a second keyboard. I have been waiting to get a Genos from Sweetwater but they are out of stock till Dec/Jan. I have been so preoccupied with the idea of buying an arranger that I forgot any other type of board exists!

The stupid thing about it is I very rarely if at all have ever used any styles for backing. Almost all the time I find the backing on arrangers tacky and actually hinders me more than helps me. I come from a background of playing the organ and even with the organ I would never use the backing. This got me thinking... I was going to shell out $6000 for a Genos and many of the features I am not going to really use. I could get a Yamaha Montage 76 key to go with my Korg Nautilus 88 and in doing so I would save about $3000!!!

At most, I would need a basic drum beat with maybe something else layered as a style and I am sure if I wanted more I could download some midi files?

If I went this way do you think I would be missing out on anything? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts!

Many thanks,

Chris
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
4,445
Reaction score
2,559
Location
Lancashire, UK.
As you gather I am a fan of arrangers, just not the vastly overpriced Genos.

If you are not going to use the Arranger features then you do not need to buy one and even if you do you can save $4000 by looking at a Korg Pa1000 or Yamaha PSR SX900, even the less 700 models will still give plenty of options and there are resources readily and freely available..

Pretty sure you can do all you want on your Nautilus, drum tracks, no problem


For a real cheap arranger feature checkout an App called XMure, it is by Dexibell and for less than $100 you can buy the app and enough Styles to use for most popular genres.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
109
Location
phoenix
As you gather I am a fan of arrangers, just not the vastly overpriced Genos.

If you are not going to use the Arranger features then you do not need to buy one and even if you do you can save $4000 by looking at a Korg Pa1000 or Yamaha PSR SX900, even the less 700 models will still give plenty of options and there are resources readily and freely available..

Pretty sure you can do all you want on your Nautilus, drum tracks, no problem


For a real cheap arranger feature checkout an App called XMure, it is by Dexibell and for less than $100 you can buy the app and enough Styles to use for most popular genres.

Thank Biggles as always! I think my problem is each avenue I go down poses a problem. The Genos although (to me) a great keyboard is really expensive and hard to justify whereas the Korg PA4X is starting to look a little outdated and I am not sure if I want to spend my money on a keyboard that is getting to be nearly 7 years old.

Both the Genos and Korg have some great sounds but about 90% of the styles just seem dated. Although there is a small market for playing big band music or songs like "I Left my Heart in San Francisco" or "New York New York" with backing and one-fingered chords and of course hitting that intro button and waiting for the keyboard to end its own long intro... I just want to stay away from that type of playing. I am all too familiar with that type of playing coming from the organ world.

However, maybe I am just reading too much into how I see others use the arrangers. They are highly versatile keyboards so I am sure I could keep away from the cliche arranger sound! Either way, I am still in the same situation.

My end goal musically is to be able to cover songs in an authentic as possible manner and compose my own music. Later I want to maybe have a third midi board and use some software like Native Instruments.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
109
Location
phoenix
PS - Biggles, thank you for the link, I haven't seen any of this on youtube. Great help! I actually just signed up too...
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 28, 2014
Messages
1,875
Reaction score
1,804
Location
Adelaide, Australia
Quite a few of the regular posters on here are well versed in arrangers. I’m not one of them but I think if you’re playing at home for your own pleasure or gigging out as a solo act the benefit of an arranger is the ability to have that “whole band” sound when you’re hanging out on your lonesome.

Other than that I know that some arrangers go “boop boop chugga chugga” and others go “chugga chugga boop boop”

You are paying a premium for the chuggas and boops so you’d want to be using them I guess.
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2017
Messages
4,445
Reaction score
2,559
Location
Lancashire, UK.
How shall I say it?

Arrangers are overly popular with newbies and the more senior generation for the simple reason in that with a little effort you can soon start to play recognisable music. Anything that gets people playing music is a good thing right!

Yes, they are a one man band but they are not all chugga chugga boop boop (or variations theirin). They do take work to set up to your own repertoire as each Style is fully customisable and each element can be changed to suit. You can even create your own Style for a specific song, see Kris Nicholson’s video where he does this on a Korg Pa from scratch.

Don’t like the drum track in a Style, change it, there are hundreds of permutations available.

What comes as standard within a Pro Arranger ($1500+ US) is best thought of as a Starter Pack.

Take a hour out and watch Pete Shaw in concert on his Korg PA4X, I have seen Pete in my local music store and the guy can play anything.


Below is just one page of the Styles available, they are best thought of as building blocks.

62FF577E-70C2-425D-A779-D339E0FA36E1.png
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
109
Location
phoenix
Biggles, I get what you are saying and agree with your explanation about arrangers. I am originally from England and moved to the US about 7 years ago. It seems that organ players and arranger players go hand in hand. Most of the newbies or senior players either go from having an organ to a Tyros, Genos, or PA4X or straight to an arranger.

As much as I love the organ and used to go to the Tower Ballroom a lot growing up I now find myself in a different place musically. Pete Shaw is very talented but I personally think that type of playing is trapped in the '80s and 90's its very dated.

The ability to create realism in your music is obviously better now than ever. When playing solo instruments I feel you cannot beat the Genos. My end goal is to sound as close to an original piece as possible. I am not saying you can't do that with a PA4X but don't see the level of realism in the PA4X as I do with the Genos BUT as said before I have heard many youtube clips of the Genos sounding rather bad... its a lot to do with the player as much as what keyboard your playing and I know that....




this guy is great!
 
Joined
Nov 2, 2021
Messages
26
Reaction score
6
Arrangers: Live performance
Workstations: Studio.

I use both - Roland Fantom in the studio, Korg EK-50 (small, but mighty) live.
 
Joined
Nov 2, 2021
Messages
26
Reaction score
6
How shall I say it?

Arrangers are overly popular with newbies and the more senior generation for the simple reason in that with a little effort you can soon start to play recognisable music. Anything that gets people playing music is a good thing right!

Yes, they are a one man band but they are not all chugga chugga boop boop (or variations theirin). They do take work to set up to your own repertoire as each Style is fully customisable and each element can be changed to suit. You can even create your own Style for a specific song, see Kris Nicholson’s video where he does this on a Korg Pa from scratch.

Don’t like the drum track in a Style, change it, there are hundreds of permutations available.

What comes as standard within a Pro Arranger ($1500+ US) is best thought of as a Starter Pack.

Take a hour out and watch Pete Shaw in concert on his Korg PA4X, I have seen Pete in my local music store and the guy can play anything.


Below is just one page of the Styles available, they are best thought of as building blocks.

View attachment 2548
"What comes as standard within a Pro Arranger ($1500+ US) is best thought of as a Starter Pack." Depends on how advanced a keyboard player - musically and technically. I've seen pros make a Yamaha PSR-E463 sound better than the Tyros, and vice-versa.
 
Joined
May 19, 2021
Messages
13
Reaction score
3
If you like your 88 key machine, can it control a DAW or external MIDI modules?
If it does, you're half way there - acquire a DAW or software ARRANGER app.
. . . .
Suggestions:
[] Double DJ Laptop Stand by FAT TOAD $45 (for one’s laptop & mixer) (I have one - highly recommend it)
[] MIDI controller $399 (If the Korg isn't suited to the task)
[] Laptop (or desktop) computer (w/ touch sensitive screen)
Options:
Favorite DAW or
ARRANGER SOFTWARE
One Man Band (Win, Linux, iPad, etc)
Varranger ($$$)
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Sep 29, 2019
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
I have a PA4X. If you like playing something, just off the cuff, it's brilliant. You can also customise loads of things on the keyboard so that it will play any kind of music. As an accompaniment for singing, again, it's brilliant. And you can prepare and use mp3 recordings to use as backing tracks, which, again, mean that you can just play or accompany anything and anyone.

The quantity and price of second hand PA4Xs (virtually none, and expensive) would indicate that at the moment those who have them aren't in a hurry to trade up or down. In fact, PA3Xs are holding their value well, and not coming up for sale much, either. As a hobbyist who can afford a PA4X there is little chance, quite frankly, that I will ever get bored with it, or use everything that it is capable of doing.

If you want the ultimate in realistic instrument reproduction, if that is your thing, then you want something like Kontact. That is an expandable library of virtual instruments played using midi through a DAW (Reaper, Logic, Cubase) on a computer. By using virtual instruments you can simulate real instruments in the most amazing detail, different articulations, different ways of plucking the strings or using the bow, the lot.

You could then build up a backing track on the daw by youself or by using preprepared loops from libraries, render it to an mp3 file, and for me the PA4X will play that just fine and you can solo and sing against it, although if realistic intruments are your thing then you might well choose a midi daw controller keyboard (which has no actual sounds of it's own) together with one of the thousands of free and paid for virtual instrument packages that are out there. I came across a virtual instrument the other day which simulates a chanting Lama.

My PA4X will act as a midi keyboard quite well, and you can use the (to my ears) fantastic sounds on the PA4X triggered by midi recorded in a daw very easily. Using styles in the pA4X recorded from a daw is, IMO , not well implemented. The controls are difficult to get at and it's more trouble than you would imagine possible. Update, please, KORG. It's very probably better implemented in the Genos (yamaha have their own daw, basically), but nothing will ever persuade me that a Genos is value for money. A Kontact library of instruments plus a DAW like Reaper and a decent 76 key midi keyboard is a lot cheaper than even a PA4X, although you will need a decent computer and probably an audio interface and several wires. It's also not as convenient to switch on and move around, and there is a huge huge learning curve, all time which might be better spent playing and enjoying actual music.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
109
Location
phoenix
I have a PA4X. If you like playing something, just off the cuff, it's brilliant. You can also customise loads of things on the keyboard so that it will play any kind of music. As an accompaniment for singing, again, it's brilliant. And you can prepare and use mp3 recordings to use as backing tracks, which, again, mean that you can just play or accompany anything and anyone.

The quantity and price of second hand PA4Xs (virtually none, and expensive) would indicate that at the moment those who have them aren't in a hurry to trade up or down. In fact, PA3Xs are holding their value well, and not coming up for sale much, either. As a hobbyist who can afford a PA4X there is little chance, quite frankly, that I will ever get bored with it, or use everything that it is capable of doing.

If you want the ultimate in realistic instrument reproduction, if that is your thing, then you want something like Kontact. That is an expandable library of virtual instruments played using midi through a DAW (Reaper, Logic, Cubase) on a computer. By using virtual instruments you can simulate real instruments in the most amazing detail, different articulations, different ways of plucking the strings or using the bow, the lot.

You could then build up a backing track on the daw by youself or by using preprepared loops from libraries, render it to an mp3 file, and for me the PA4X will play that just fine and you can solo and sing against it, although if realistic intruments are your thing then you might well choose a midi daw controller keyboard (which has no actual sounds of it's own) together with one of the thousands of free and paid for virtual instrument packages that are out there. I came across a virtual instrument the other day which simulates a chanting Lama.

My PA4X will act as a midi keyboard quite well, and you can use the (to my ears) fantastic sounds on the PA4X triggered by midi recorded in a daw very easily. Using styles in the pA4X recorded from a daw is, IMO , not well implemented. The controls are difficult to get at and it's more trouble than you would imagine possible. Update, please, KORG. It's very probably better implemented in the Genos (yamaha have their own daw, basically), but nothing will ever persuade me that a Genos is value for money. A Kontact library of instruments plus a DAW like Reaper and a decent 76 key midi keyboard is a lot cheaper than even a PA4X, although you will need a decent computer and probably an audio interface and several wires. It's also not as convenient to switch on and move around, and there is a huge huge learning curve, all time which might be better spent playing and enjoying actual music.

David, I really appreciate the effort you made to give a comprehensive answer as you have!... Thank you!

You know, after a long time of toing and froing I have at last come up with what I think would be my perfect rig and it is basically what you have described. I have a Korg Nautilus 88 which I really love and serves perfectly. I have watched so many youtube videos that I am starting to see double lol.

Basically, the Genos is wonderful but honestly like you said it is very hard to justify that type of investment especially because I feel now that a Korg PA4X will serve me better for the type of music I wish to perform. I already have an idea of the palette of sounds because of owning the Nautilus. The strings and brass are just wonderful along with the electric pianos and piano sounds. So my next move is to buy a Korg PA4X and then add a 61 key midi controller later so I can use programs like Native Instruments. I will also invest in a Macbook Pro.

I have just bought a Radial KL-8 Rackmount Keyboard Mixer which will set me up perfectly for my second board and USB connection for Native Instruments etc when I get that far!

Thanks again, David!
 
Joined
Oct 5, 2008
Messages
32
Reaction score
10
Location
Jacksonville, FL
Ok, so of late I have been looking at many options for a second keyboard. I have been waiting to get a Genos from Sweetwater but they are out of stock till Dec/Jan. I have been so preoccupied with the idea of buying an arranger that I forgot any other type of board exists!

The stupid thing about it is I very rarely if at all have ever used any styles for backing. Almost all the time I find the backing on arrangers tacky and actually hinders me more than helps me. I come from a background of playing the organ and even with the organ I would never use the backing. This got me thinking... I was going to shell out $6000 for a Genos and many of the features I am not going to really use. I could get a Yamaha Montage 76 key to go with my Korg Nautilus 88 and in doing so I would save about $3000!!!

At most, I would need a basic drum beat with maybe something else layered as a style and I am sure if I wanted more I could download some midi files?

If I went this way do you think I would be missing out on anything? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts!

Many thanks,

Chris
I have the feeling you are going about this wrong. First, what do you want to do with this keyboard? If you are trying to copy full band recordings for your own amusement, that is one thing. If you are planning on solo performances, that is something entirely different. In my over 60 years on stage I experimented with many different types. At this point, or at least for the last few years I haven't found dedicated arrangers to have any appeal to me. My current stage setup is a Roland VR9 over an FA08. Understand that I started out as a piano player and that influences my preference for a good 88 key piano as my main instrument. If you started on organ you would probably prefer a smaller keyboard with waterfall keys. The big thing is to decide what kind of music you want to perform and where you want to perform it. The idea of arrangers was to let you respond to audience requests on the fly without having to come up with a backing track when you were working solo. Personally, I would much rather have a drummer and a bass player.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
109
Location
phoenix
I have the feeling you are going about this wrong. First, what do you want to do with this keyboard? If you are trying to copy full band recordings for your own amusement, that is one thing. If you are planning on solo performances, that is something entirely different. In my over 60 years on stage I experimented with many different types. At this point, or at least for the last few years I haven't found dedicated arrangers to have any appeal to me. My current stage setup is a Roland VR9 over an FA08. Understand that I started out as a piano player and that influences my preference for a good 88 key piano as my main instrument. If you started on organ you would probably prefer a smaller keyboard with waterfall keys. The big thing is to decide what kind of music you want to perform and where you want to perform it. The idea of arrangers was to let you respond to audience requests on the fly without having to come up with a backing track when you were working solo. Personally, I would much rather have a drummer and a bass player.

I think I have started to realize a few things since I made this statement. Firstly, just because I see many people playing an arranger in a particular style doesn't mean that is indicative of what the keyboard is capable of. Also, now that I understand it a little better and the capabilities I know that using backing can be a very powerful tool.
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Messages
253
Reaction score
109
Location
phoenix
Although I started playing the organ first I do play piano and the Nautilus 88 key I have is ideal and it's a keeper!.

My goal is two-fold. firstly, pure entertainment. I like playing for others at home. Secondly, I would like to be able to recreate orchestral music and film scores. I think I am now in a place where I know what I want and thank yourself and everyone else for their input which has helped me greatly in deciding what path to take!
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Jan 14, 2011
Messages
28
Reaction score
16
Location
Sweden
Biggles, I get what you are saying and agree with your explanation about arrangers. I am originally from England and moved to the US about 7 years ago. It seems that organ players and arranger players go hand in hand. Most of the newbies or senior players either go from having an organ to a Tyros, Genos, or PA4X or straight to an arranger.

As much as I love the organ and used to go to the Tower Ballroom a lot growing up I now find myself in a different place musically. Pete Shaw is very talented but I personally think that type of playing is trapped in the '80s and 90's its very dated.

The ability to create realism in your music is obviously better now than ever. When playing solo instruments I feel you cannot beat the Genos. My end goal is to sound as close to an original piece as possible. I am not saying you can't do that with a PA4X but don't see the level of realism in the PA4X as I do with the Genos BUT as said before I have heard many youtube clips of the Genos sounding rather bad... its a lot to do with the player as much as what keyboard your playing and I know that....




this guy is great!
"It's not the keyboard who does it, it's the man behind.."
 
Joined
Sep 29, 2019
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
David, I really appreciate the effort you made to give a comprehensive answer as you have!... Thank you!

You know, after a long time of toing and froing I have at last come up with what I think would be my perfect rig and it is basically what you have described. I have a Korg Nautilus 88 which I really love and serves perfectly. I have watched so many youtube videos that I am starting to see double lol.

Basically, the Genos is wonderful but honestly like you said it is very hard to justify that type of investment especially because I feel now that a Korg PA4X will serve me better for the type of music I wish to perform. I already have an idea of the palette of sounds because of owning the Nautilus. The strings and brass are just wonderful along with the electric pianos and piano sounds. So my next move is to buy a Korg PA4X and then add a 61 key midi controller later so I can use programs like Native Instruments. I will also invest in a Macbook Pro.

I have just bought a Radial KL-8 Rackmount Keyboard Mixer which will set me up perfectly for my second board and USB connection for Native Instruments etc when I get that far!

Thanks again, David!

Pleasure, but you really won't NEED a 61 key midi controller. I use an old nanopad I bought from ebay for a tenner, which sits on the corner of the PA4X and runs all the transport controls in Reaper just fine. Your Nautilus or PA4X will work just fine as a master keyboard with the Native Instruments plugins. OK, it won't be as straightforward as with a dedicated midi controller but it won't cost you a penny and it will give you a chance to look for good deals, and decide what you really want. Good luck introducing yourself to a DAW. Youtube is your friend, there. I use Reaper because it's amazing value, and the user community is enthusiastic and very active: there are many many video courses on creating all genres of music using both midi and audio input in Reaper. And also I enjoy solving puzzles, which you need for all DAWs in my experience.
In fact if you are going down this route, having the nautilus already, I would suggest you start with a daw, and some free vst instruments, and learn how to use those. I wouldn't buy a PA4X or a controller keyboard yet. My guess is that once you have learned to use a daw and worked out your own "workflow" you will gave a greater sense of where you really want to spend your money. No one solution covers every situation, unfortunately.
 
Ad

Advertisements


Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top