Can someone recommend a keyboard?


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I've been playing guitar and drums for nearly 18 years but have only been playing my e-piano for 6 months. Nevertheless, I'm switching to guitar and keys in my band and I'll be on stage playing background keyboard parts to several rock covers in 2 or 3 months (or trying to :D ).

After looking around a bit, it's obvious that a Nord Stage 2 would be perfect for my needs... if it didn't cost $4,000. As much as I'd love an instrument worth 100 times my ability to play it, I can't imagine taking such a fine piece of hardware into some of the dumps we play in. I also can't imagine paying for one.

So, what's the cheaper alternative that can produce decent piano, organ and flexible synth? We're covering rock songs from 60's to 90's or so (steppenwolf, pink floyd, rush, ozzy, zebra).

I've walked into several stores, but I have no hope of sorting this out in a store environment. I'm great with technical details, but it takes time to sort all that out. Meanwhile, I can't actually play much yet. I'm alright if I memorize parts and drill them, but looking competent enough to buy a 1,000+ dollar keyboard is not my strong suit.

I'm leaning toward new gear and would like to keep costs between 500 and 1500. I could go with or without weighted keys and speakers. I can definitely appreciate good tone when I can afford it and I would love a very customizable synth (I'm familiar with FM synthesis already and know a bit about chip tunes for what that's worth).

I was looking at Yamaha Motif's and Mini Mo's, and the Roland Juno something, but I'm pretty lost here.
 
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NEW: 88 Weighted keys - Casio PX3

NEW: Kurzweil SP4-7 (aka SP76II) looks like a good bet too

Neither could be called a "very customizable synth."

76 keys Semi weighted (nice feel) - discontinued Juno Stage (I have one). Easy to tweak sounds from the front.

Don't know about the new 61 key Juno Di - may be worth a look.
Motif series - sound good, the MM6 gets you some of the sounds in a cheaper package. Odd shape for packing/keyboard case.

Lots of 2nd hand options but you said you want new.

What's the e-piano you have already? Has it a midi out? Could you use that and a sound module?

An old stock JV1010 sound module would give you enough sounds to cover the lot. Again not a "customizable synth" but it covers the ground. Pianos, EPianos, organs, solo synth sounds, pads. I use one and a controller as my backup. Only hassle is switching quickly between sounds. You can do it if your controller sends program change messages and you know what numbers to dial in - but it's a footer.
 
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Thanks for the info and welcome! I guess I'd consider used gear. I've just read a few stories of people getting really old used keyboards and then they'd break a few months later. I'd definitely consider a used sound module as an add on to something else.

My e-piano is the Yamaha DGX-640: http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musi...talpianos/dgx_series/dgx-640_color_variation/

I was planning to leave that in my bedroom for easy practice. If I start to move it around, it's going to end up in storage between some practices and gigs and I won't be able to practice as much or as easily. Plus I'll probably sell the stage gear and keep that later on, so I'd like it to stay nice and smoke/scratch free.

Maybe I could pick up something else to act as MIDI controller and then a separate sound module. Or something to act as piano and organ (and other acoustic samples) and then a synth module to back it up. The Kurzweil SP4-7 might work well enough alone, or at least as piano and organ. Know any good synth modules that don't cost a fortune?


My big worry with a sub par synth (or just a small array of sampled synths as the DGX640 and Casio have) is that I won't be able to accurately reproduce synth sounds used by various bands. How do you make that tone in the beginning of Tom Sawyer for example? I'm not sure, but if the synth is customizable enough, I'm sure I could make something happen (and alternatively, I'm pretty sure the sample based e-pianos would be a lost cause no matter how many dual voices + DSPs I try).


EDIT

btw, I just noticed the sticky guide thread and am checking that out now for additional insight. Thanks again :)
 
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If you can live with "close enough" - Kurzweil or the Juno Stage

If it has to be exactly right - Tom Sawyer - google OP-X then go to the PC-VST version and listen to the audio clip.

Big downside - you'll need to run it live on a computer or V-Machine or Receptor.

Post again and let us know your thoughts - lots of people on here are in a position to chip in.
 
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A new v-machine is only 600 bucks and the VST is only 100 (on special for 60 right now)... might be the cheapest way to get quality versions of the tones I need!

I wonder if the v-machine is robust enough to handle all the weird license validation schemes used out there... haha, nope looks like that is a trouble spot according to this review on musician's friend:

This thing is very cool. Load in your VSTi/VST go. 2 limitations: some VST that use challenge/response or activation center copy protection may or may not work. Every one that I have tried that uses a simple serial number type activation worked fine. Other limitation: plugins that are extremely heavy on CPU usage may be limited by the processing power of this box. I bought it to use as a live sound module and it works great. Currently running the stock stuff ( Sampletank & others ) along with Minimogue VA and the excellent GSI VB3 organ synth which to be honest, blows away the hardware hammond synths. This device is rock-solid and has never locked up or glitched, it also runs very cool to the touch. Give yourself some time to learn the software used to install and setup the box and you will be amazed with the stuff you can pull off with this thing on stage. Each Preset has 4 Patches which can contain a VSTi and 2 VST or 3 VST effects. Those 4 have 2 separate effect busses that can run other stuff and then go to a master bus. One other positive: SM Pro Audio support is very responsive and helped me get this thing set up the way I wanted it when I first got it running.

Tempting. Then I would just need a basic keyboard that handles piano and I can use this thing for organ's and synth.
 
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I'm looking at a used nord electro 2... that could handle my piano and organ sounds and act as midi controller quite well, then I could get some kind of module or the v-machine to handle synth sounds. Plus the electro 2 comes in a 61 key version (saves more money and stage space). I think I'll probably do this... but I want to pin down a synth module before I actually pull the trigger on the auction I'm looking at.

Can you recommend any modules to handle synth? Although this leaves a bit of a hole in my arsenal if I need any generic acoustic sounds (excepting that a good synth good do a decent imitation of an acoustic instrument for limited use).
 
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Well, a used electro 2 is just under a grand (in good condition with the official case).

So let's say my budget is 1,000 bucks at most for used gear as long as it's going to outperform the synth section of the nord stage classic. If not, then I might as well just get a used NS classic instead of the electro + a module. If possible, I'd love to get something used for less than 500. I still have to get some kind of stand and maybe an amp (unless I just rely on our stage monitors).

EDIT

Maybe I could get a nord lead 2 or 2x module. I don't really know what that is capable of though and I can't tell by reading the product description. Could it do what the op-x software does?
 
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I'm thinking some more and now I'm worried about the ability to do split points and things. Maybe I should just be patient and hold out for a used nord stage compact (classic). An archived eBay auction closed for just 1500 (free shipping). There are several that people are attempting to sell for 2000 with cases, but no one is buying :\
 

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