Keyboard/Synthesizer for Gigs to Use as Band

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Hey I'm with a band that blends hip hop with hard rock and prog rock. We're having a hard time finding a keyboardist, we went through three in the last year, so what we may have to do is get a "band keyboard" to use, usually as sampling, on stage.

The line up consists of myself, who raps and play guitar on some tracks, bass on others. I am the only one who can play piano competently, but I've never played on anything but a toy keyboard or a real piano, and am entirely unfamiliar with synth technology.

The singer can play basic simple things, but otherwise since he is other inactive in at least half of each song, and is the only one with free hands, I expect he will do most of the sample activation

The other bassist/guitarist and drummer will have their hands full and don't know how to play anyway.

We are mostly interested in a few kind of sounds:
1) synth bass sounds - to replace my bass when I am rapping, either played by the singer or sampled
2) piano/strings, and other "ballad" like rock timbres. I'd sometimes play them in lieu of other instruments during instrumental sections, but more often they're on top of things I'm doing, so sampled as well, usually by the singer
3) other things that would be nice would be the ability to throw in sound effects (gunshots, rain) or hip-hop scratch samples

We'd like the following features:
1) Keyboard with at least 4 octaves. ability to split voice/timbre, transpose across octaves, and basic keyboard functionality
2) Ability to very easily activate samples live. Obviously there will be a large number of them. I'd record them at home and of course it's important to have the feature to play to a metronome so that as it loops it lines up perfectly with the BPM .The drummer plays to a click in his earphone so we should be able to sync with each other live.

Not sure what else?

Can you recommend several models? The cheapest the better of course, while still fulfilling these requirements. Also anything I should know about using a synth in such a setting?
Finally any basic resources (websites/books) to learn the fundamentals of using such a device, for someone who knows how to play piano, but is otherwise entirely unfamiliar with this stuff.

Thanks!
 

happyrat1

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First for the Book.

Refining Sound by Brian K. Shepard

Old text but still considered a standard in the industry.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0199922969/

Secondly if you want to keep the budget low I'd suggest looking at used boards.

The Korg TR61 can be had for a very nice price and and if you can lay your hands on the optional sampling board for it that handles your sampling problems and your basic strings and keyboard needs.

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=korg tr61&_sacat=0

For Bass and all around synth sounds I'd also recommend picking up a Novation Bass Station. It may look like a toy but it's actually a very powerful VA Synth.

https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_od...s.TRS0&_nkw=novation+bass+station+ii&_sacat=0

Gary ;)
 
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Cowboy,

OK, thanks. It looks like it has a reasonable price tag as well.

happyrat,
Thanks.

What about any general quick-start article online? It'd be nice to know what sort of things synthesizers can do, and basic must-know information I can glean from a 2 hour read.

So you suggest two separate devices for the bass and the sampling and keyboard sounds? Each one would have a line out? Would the bass be able to sample as well? It seems out of simplicity of use it'd be easier to have just one device. And since we're newbies at such things I'd rather get something new, in case it doesn't fit our needs and we have to return and exchange.
 

happyrat1

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Bass Station II is selling for a new price of about $350 USD. It's still a current keyboard and it is an excellent synth.

No it does not include sampling however. For Sampling you have to look at the FA06 or the Roland Juno DS61 or an older Korg with the EXB-SMPL option installed.

As for basics of sound synthesis? Come on man. Google is your friend.

I have two links for you here.

http://www.just****inggoogleit.com/

https://www.google.ca/search?num=10...ics+of+synthesizers&oq=basics+of+synthesizers

May the farce be with ya :D :D :D

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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BTW, the Roland Juno DS61 could probably do everything you ask for in a Hip Hop Situation at about half the price tag of the FA06. That keyboard was designed with Hip Hop in mind. I own one myself.

It does Hip Hop style drum sampling assignable to 8 pads. Though I personally have no use for the sampling feature.

Also, my advice is to download the manuals for all these synths and learn how they can and cannot work in any given situation BEFORE YOU BUY.

This is definitely a RTFM situation. :D

Gary ;)
 
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We don't need to sample drums, we have a drummer. We would need to sample:
1) Synth bass parts (for when I am rapping, and thus cannot play the bass as well)
2) Piano/strings/other various instrument parts that under other circumstances a keyboardist would play
3) sound effects

If the synth bass doesn't allow you to sample its own tracks, then for us it would be entirely useless. Maybe the simplest bass lines the singer can play, but more often than not we will rely on the bass lines being launched as a looping sample.
I guess it can be plugged in to record into the other device? But that seems silly, certainly one device should be able to take care of all three things above, as well as the ability to play live and play to record in #1 and 2
 

happyrat1

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Honestly if none of your guys can tap out a simple bassline on a keyboard then you shouldn't even be looking at keyboards.

Get a Korg Electribe and live happily ever after.



Gary ;)
 
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That's the thing, I can play piano, but not while rapping, so I'd like to play it sometimes for instrumental parts, but otherwise would need to have someone launch samples.
The singer can play simple lines, but if I want to make it more rhythmically complex we'd need to launch samples.
We also want to record these samples from the device itself into its own storage.

Hence the need for functionality of both.
 

happyrat1

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I'd have to say either buy a Juno DS61 AND an Electribe Sampler OR start looking at higher priced workstations like the FA06.

Really nobody makes a low budget Swiss army knife of sound that can do everything you are asking for.

Gary ;)
 
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I'd have to say either buy a Juno DS61 AND an Electribe Sampler OR start looking at higher priced workstations like the FA06.

Really nobody makes a low budget Swiss army knife of sound that can do everything you are asking for.

Gary ;)
Pmfji -

If you need something to play pre-written parts (e.g. a bass line), a synth with a built-in MIDI sequencer will do nicely. They're easy to find. Anything called a "workstation" has that capability.

Many "sound effects" (explosions, etc) are included in "General MIDI" (and GM2) keyboards - no sampling needed.

Start with Casio WK7600, which is a low-budget choice. Work from there.

. charles
 
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We are mostly interested in a few kind of sounds:
1) synth bass sounds - to replace my bass when I am rapping, either played by the singer or sampled
2) piano/strings, and other "ballad" like rock timbres. I'd sometimes play them in lieu of other instruments during instrumental sections, but more often they're on top of things I'm doing, so sampled as well, usually by the singer
3) other things that would be nice would be the ability to throw in sound effects (gunshots, rain) or hip-hop scratch samples

We'd like the following features:
1) Keyboard with at least 4 octaves. ability to split voice/timbre, transpose across octaves, and basic keyboard functionality
2) Ability to very easily activate samples live. Obviously there will be a large number of them. I'd record them at home and of course it's important to have the feature to play to a metronome so that as it loops it lines up perfectly with the BPM .The drummer plays to a click in his earphone so we should be able to sync with each other live.
Let's see:

1) no problem w/ WK7600
2) same
3) For standard sound effects, there should be some in the "drum kits" tones section; I don't think the WK7600 does any sampling. Worst case, your singer will have to select a "tone" (or whatever they're called, on the WK7600), and press a specific key (pitch) to get the right effect.

Features:

1) Yes to all;
2) What you'll be doing isn't "playing a sample". "Samples" (by convention) are short bits of sound. What you'll be playing is a _sequence_ (I think Casio calls this a "song") -- a set of MIDI instructions that says:

. . . "Play these notes, in this "tone" (voice? instrument?), with this timing . . ."

The WK7600 allows note-by-note editing of those sequences. You can play in a bass line for the whole song, fix the errors, clean up the timing, and save the sequence.

So whoever works the machine will have to know enough to select a sequence, and press the "Go" button. Not too demanding.

The playback tempo should be adjustable -- check the manual.

My guess is, if HappyRat1 gave me a "like", all this will really work the way I think it should.

You can spend more money on a workstation, and get better sounds and more features. Yamaha and Korg both build nice ones.

. Charles
 
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I looked at some videos of the WK7600 and FA-06. It looks like with the WK7600 can only store 16 sequences at once. That is most certainly not enough for a gig. The FA-06 looks like it has some nice features overall. The sampling board on the side looks handy for these sound effects as well

Will see what the band says about the price tag, but should be ok. And also we'll have one more search for an actual keyboard player and if no luck in the next two weeks we'll most likely go ahead with the FA-06, as we'd like to start gigging again soon. Thanks
 
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I looked at some videos of the WK7600 and FA-06. It looks like with the WK7600 can only store 16 sequences at once. That is most certainly not enough for a gig. The FA-06 looks like it has some nice features overall. The sampling board on the side looks handy for these sound effects as well

Will see what the band says about the price tag, but should be ok. And also we'll have one more search for an actual keyboard player and if no luck in the next two weeks we'll most likely go ahead with the FA-06, as we'd like to start gigging again soon. Thanks

It's worse than that, for the WK-7600. From the specs at the end of the User Manual:

5 songs, 17 tracks per song​

Thank you for catching that.

So it's handy for experimentation, but not a professional tool.

The FA-06 saves songs to an SD card -- that should give you unlimited storage.

. Charles
 

happyrat1

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Honestly I dunno why he doesn't just use a pattern sequencer like on the Juno DS? Using a full blown track sequencer is not only overkill but difficult to improvise around since it's just a robotic track. He could just as easily play along to an MP3 Recording which the Juno DS also does.

I'd say he should at least educate himself about the differences of different typoes of sequencers and learn to articulate his needs better.

Youtube is an excellent place to start. Just search "<Insert Keyboard Model Here>" and "Tutorial" or "Review" and he'd be able to fully investigate what's available on different models.

Anything with a Step Sequencer or a Pattern Sequencer is ideal for bass and drum tracks.

Perhaps he should be looking at what other performers in his genre are using?

Gary ;)
 
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Sorry for the pause and bump. It turned out that the band ended up splitting apart. The singer and I are splitting off from the other guys, basically he was fed up with their laziness in learning and practicing new parts, etc.

So for now we want to do some open mics and later gigs with just us two and then add members from there. In that case, this workstation would be used for backing tracks throughout. It seems like this FA-06 will be fit for that.

In terms of the drum and bass sequencing, does the device itself line up all the hits so they land on the beat or do you just have to play it right? or is it better to make the drum on a computer and port it into the keyboard
 

happyrat1

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Most sequencers have a quantize function that will allow your input to be a bit sloppy and then adjust the timing to the beat.

PS. Drums are generally easier to program with a step sequencer or on the computer with cut and paste and looping functions.

Gary ;)
 

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