Getting off the Stage (so to speak)


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I'm going to try to let the collective brilliance of this forum aid me in my research. I'm buying a new keyboard soon. Let me tell you exactly what I'm looking for and maybe you know one that encompasses all my criteria.

1) 76 keys (or 73). I play in a cover band, so it's gotta be portable. The lighter the better, but I also split the keyboard a lot and 61 keys isn't enough.

2) an easily accessible transpose/octave button. The Kronos is wonderful, but that seems like a total oversight (same for the Krome). For patches I create, I can program them tuned down, but, for instance, we play Takin' Care of Business in B. I use an organ/piano split, but I also use it for a number of other songs. I'd hate to use an extra program slot just so I can play that one song in C.

3) sounds that don't change when I select a new patch while sustaining them. I'm currently playing a Juno Stage. Sadly, Roland disavowed it almost immediately after its release, so the promised updates never came. It's nearly perfect for what I do, but that's a serious issue. Effects from one patch affecting another is really a sore spot with me.

4) related to that, I don't want my patches to cut off when I choose a new patch. Our guitarist is constantly changing the setlist around, so I have to program in a new "favorites" list for each gig. I hate that I can't hold down the last note of a song while switching to the next patch.

5) an arpegiator.

6) some way of playing sound files. We have a few songs with prerecorded sound effects. I need to be able to hit "play" and trigger an mp3 or wav file.

7) the keyboard sound from Jump. Yes, I could play around with a detuned saw or two, but it's so much easier if it's already available. One of the things drawing me toward a Yamaha or a Korg are the sheer number of libraries people have already created featuring patches from popular songs my band plays. I've been searching for comparable Kurzweil libraries, but if they exist, they're not as easy to locate.

8) a way to make setlists. See number 4. It's not cool to be searching for a patch between songs. Keyboard players have been fired for less. Also, we play upwards of 40-50 songs per night, so 10 or 16 favorites won't cut it.

9) a touch screen would be cool, but it's not a deal breaker.

10) a Leslie effect that comes on like a real Leslie. The rock organs on the Stage have it either on or off (even using the mod adjust, there's no gradual build) and it's annoying. I'm sure there's a way to adjust it, but on its own, it sounds very artificial.

11) a mod wheel that stays on. This also isn't a deal breaker, but I'm tired of having to hold the modulation on the Roland. I'd prefer something that doesn't spring back into place.

12) something with at least slightly better sounds than what I'm working with now. The patches on the Stage aren't awful, especially given my main uses for them, but frankly, the Alesis QS7 I bought in 1998 has plenty of better sounds (when they're not being drowned out by the 20-year-old keybed).

Well, that's about it. Sorry I wrote a book, but I've been playing on the Stage for years now and I'm all too familiar with its shortcomings. Now, money isn't entirely an object, but I'm not going to spend $4,000 for a full arranger when I can get a workstation that does everything I want for $2,500 (or less). But I'll gladly fork over the cash for a Yamaha Montage if that's the one that meets all my requirements. I'm also willing to buy one without playing it first (unless someone knows where I can sit down at a Kurtzweil), but I'd prefer to check it out first if at all possible.

Also, while we're at it, I don't have a laptop, other than for work, and I don't really want to rely on DAW apps for adjustments. The more the keyboard itself can do, the better.

Thanks!
 
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happyrat1

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You sir, have just described unobtanium. :)

Not meeting all of your conditions but quite a few, take a look at a Kurzweil Artis LE if you can get a chance to sit down with one in your neck of the woods. Not sure if Kurzweil makes a Forte LE or not.

Otherwise you are describing some sort of ultimate workstation beast of a keyboard in a 20 lb package.

I'm drawing blanks here.

Gary ;)
 
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Well, the Krome only weighs 18 lbs. And it does nearly everything I want, I think. I was looking at the Kurzweils - the PC3A7, to be specific. I forget what it was about the Artis/Forte that was missing from my list. Maybe it was a limited number of "favorites" slots.

Both the Korg Kronos and the Yamaha Montage come in around 40 lbs. I could probably live with that if they had everything else I wanted. The Roland Fantom-X7, which someone suggested I could buy used, comes in at 32 lbs. So if it's heavier, it's heavier. I played an Alesis QS7 for years, lugging that thing on the New York Subway in a case with no wheels. These days I have a wheeled case and a car. Whoo-ee.
 

happyrat1

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Actually what about a Roland FA-08 or Juno DS88?

A few extra keys but weight wise they come in well under the radar and my Juno DS61 has a lot of the features you are looking for , including dedicated octave buttons.

Gary ;)
 
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I think the problem with the DS88 is the same as the one I'm having with the Stage regarding holding notes while changing patches.
 

happyrat1

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I just ran a test on my Juno DS61 and apparently Roland was listening when you gave your notes.

I held down a Piano chord and then switched to a set of Orchestral strings and the piano notes sustained even as I tinkled away on the strings with my right hand.

Problem solved.

Juno DS88 is many much macho keyboard for your needs.

Take another look at one in the stores if you can find one.

Gary ;)
 
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Agreed. Can you check if your DS61 can hold tones when you're using your "favorites"? I have a Juno Di that can hold regular patches, but not if I've saved them essentially as a setlist.
 

happyrat1

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I don't really have any favorites saved to the keypad but I do have a few saved as user registrations.

The problem is switching registrations is sort of awkward.

Gimme a half hour to set something up and I'll get back to you with some results.

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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OK, I just ran a quick and dirty test and the results are sort of half assed.

When I accessed my performances, it would NOT sustain if I was switching between factory preset performances and user performances, HOWEVER, when switching among the 128 user performances the transition smoothly sustained the old sound while switching over to the new.

In theory you could set up an entire gig as a string of user performances and use the jog wheel or the +/- buttons to scroll through them as you needed them.

The keypad favorites wouldn't hold enough favorites for your sets anyway according to your first post.

Like I said, they got it half right. Switching between User and Factory banks it doesn't work. But if you stay in a particular set of programs or performances it works just fine.

Gary ;)
 
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Thanks. Very cool of you to check that out.

Part of the problem is there are some songs we do where I switch between combinations mid-song. Like Too Much Time on My Hands, for example. The verse has a very cool "Tom Sawyer"-type modulated something-or-other in the right hand, but the chorus has just an electric piano. All while playing a synth bass in the left hand. So I switch back and forth, but it creates 2 problems: 1) there's definitely a moment of silence when I switch and 2) the combos on the Stage default to the patches effects actually effecting each other. So the difference between the synth sound and the EP also means that my bass sounds slightly different between the two combinations, even though it's the same patch on both. I have a similar issue on Girls Just Want to Have Fun switching between the verse and the solo parts.
 

happyrat1

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Why not simply copy the necessary factory performances to the appropriate slots in the user performances and voila? You have your set. No muss no fuss.

Gary ;)
 
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It's sadly not that simple. We have a repertoire of about 100 songs, from which our guitarist chooses about 12 per set (we do 3 and 4 set shows), so that's ~35-50 songs per gig. And he's always switching them up and changing the order. So I have to sit down with my user-made combinations and the factory presets and program 3 or 4 banks of favorites before each gig, so that I can just choose them in order as we play. The Stage has space for 128 user-created patches (single instrument - no splits or layers) and 64 "performances" (combinations). If I tried to save the sets in the performances bank, like I think you're suggesting, I'd wind up overwriting splits and layers I'd previously created. That's why the Favorites banks are so useful - I can save up to 100 programs in order (10 banks of 10 slots), allowing me to just click through during a gig. And there's also the fact that even if I could limit myself to 64 performances, they wouldn't be in the right order for any given set, so I'd still be searching through them between songs.

If I understood your meaning.

Both the Kronos and the Montage allow you to create setlists, assigning singles and combos in any order. I think the Jupiter 50/80 also allow you to do that. So from a purely performance-centric view, my options are either create sets in order like I do or keep a cheat sheet in front of me with the locations of each separate performance so I can quickly jump to it. But that would still limit me to 64 total and I'm pretty close to hitting that ceiling with just the necessary splits/layers I've already saved.
 

happyrat1

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Too bad. Out of all the options mentioned the DS88 was the least expensive :(

Gary ;)
 
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A question to topicstarter: you've mentioned you have (or had) Alesis QS7. What does it lack in features that you don't use it for your live performances anymore? In what regard it does not fit the bill you wrote in the first post?
 
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A question to topicstarter: you've mentioned you have (or had) Alesis QS7. What does it lack in features that you don't use it for your live performances anymore? In what regard it does not fit the bill you wrote in the first post?
The Op has not been on the site for two years.

If you lightly tap on the name of a poster a pop up window shows when they were last on the site.
 
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