Live setup (Yamaha Edition) - 2nd Keyboard Question

Jan 21, 2016
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Hi everyone, I am new to this forum and very new to Keyboard. I literally know nothing about keyboard setups for live use. For background, I have primarily played Bluegrass instruments and focus mainly on Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, and have recently picked up Piano last year. I play in a band that plays Country, Rock, Southern Rock, Beattles, 60's and 70's for the most part and I am the youngest member by 20 years... Anyway, I am looking to expand my sound. Currently, I have a Yamaha P-105 which wouldn't have been my first choice, but it was a gift and I love the piano feel of the keys. I like it for what it is, but it's very limiting. I use the Piano sounds, organ sound, and occasionally the strings. I am disappointed with my options for tweaking the sounds and particularly looking for a more realistic and useful organ sounds. Obviously, cost is a concern and I am looking to get good value. So my questions are as follows:

Do I need to add a laptop to my live setup (I would rather not) to add a second keyboard?

Can I add a second keyboard, like a Yamaha Reface YC for organ sounds, and potentially control the YC's organ engine with my P-105? I see the P-105 doesn't have a Midi out but a USB to Host intead.

Or should I just keep saving my pennies and upgrade to a Korg SV1 or Nord Electro or Stage (dream scenario)?



I meant to play that note!
Jun 6, 2014
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If you have either a MacBook or a Windows laptop, you should be able to connect your P-105 and a reface YC to it via USB and use a DAW or other suitable software to send MIDI messages (via the DAW) from the P-105 to the reface YC. I don't know how much you could actually control from the P-105 (i.e., as far as changing patches or things like that), but I should think you would at least be able to set up the reface YC as desired and then send it Note On/Off events from the P-105.

Of course, you could also buy something else for a second keyboard, or to replace the P-105 entirely-- something that has all the sounds and features you're wanting.

Another option, if you go with the laptop-and-DAW solution, would be to get some virtual instruments (VST plug-ins) for the additional sounds that you're wanting, and use the P-105 as a keyboard controller for the virtual instruments. That way you wouldn't need to buy a second keyboard if you don't want to. Most DAWs come with a selection of virtual instruments, in which case you might not need to buy any additional VST plug-ins. There are also a large number of free VST plug-ins available, but generally speaking free plug-ins aren't as good as commercial plug-ins-- e.g., they have fewer features, or don't sound as good, or might be a bit buggy. In any case, it might be less expensive to buy a DAW that doesn't have a lot of expensive virtual instruments, and buy just the specific VST plug-ins you're interested in.

Note that if you already have a laptop you can use, there are some free DAWs you could use, and most commercial DAWs have free trials so you can try them out. The choice of DAW can be a very personal thing-- sometimes the look-and-feel and procedural flow of a particular DAW will just jibe with one person's aesthetic tastes, yet drive other people bonkers-- so I would encourage you to try different ones to see which one(s) you prefer. Also, most DAWs provide the same functionalities as each other, but some may be missing specific features, so that's another reason why you should try them out first to make sure they'll do what you want and in a way that you find easy to understand.

A couple of free DAWs that might suit you are Tracktion T4 and PreSonus Studio One 3 Prime.

One inexpensive DAW that I like is Acoustica Mixcraft. It's more or less my "go-to" DAW right now-- mainly because it was the first one I ever bought (not counting the copy of Ableton Live Lite that came bundled for free with a MIDI keyboard controller), so I have the most experience with it, although it's also very easy to use, plus it can run both 32-bit VST plug-ins and 64-bit VST plug-ins. (Not all DAWs can use both 32-bit and 64-bit plug-ins, although there are free "bridge" utilities that will let you use both types of plug-ins if a DAW doesn't have that ability.)

Another inexpensive DAW that works well with Yamaha keyboards is Steinberg Cubase Elements-- not that other DAWs can't also work well with Yamaha's keyboards, but Yamaha owns Steinberg, so an understanding of Yamaha's SysEx commands is already built into Cubase.

Note that some DAWs don't work with SysEx commands-- e.g., neither Acoustica Mixcraft nor Ableton Live let you work with SysEx commands. You can still do most of what you need without having to use SysEx commands, but some things (e.g., selecting the Reverb Type or Chorus Type on a Yamaha keyboard) do require SysEx.

I hope I've given you some options to consider, hopefully without overwhelming you. :)

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