Looking for a cheap but decent practice keyboard

Mar 19, 2010
Reaction score
Hi folks,

I am keyboard player for a local Ska band, playing stuff by Madness, The Specials, Bad Manners and so on mainly. I have a Roland VK-7 organ, which sounds excellent - virtually all the songs I play require a Hammond organ type sound and the VK-7 does a great job of that. However, while it sounds great, I am finding it increasingly difficult to lift it up and down two narrow flights of stairs (I live in a 2nd floor flat and the thing is unbelievably heavy) and it takes up a lot of space in the car of whoever gives me a lift to gigs/rehersals. I want to continue taking it to gigs, as it sounds great but I want to get a lightweight practice keyboard I can take to rehersals instead.

In the past, I would have gone to my local musical instrument shop and tried out several keyboards to find out which ones have a half decent organ sound, however Southampton no longer has any decent music shops, except those catering specially for guitarists. Soundcontrol and Teville organs were both good but have shut. It seems like the only place I can get a keyboard without having to go miles away on the train is Argos. They have keyboards ranging from under £100 to £280 but there is no way of knowing whether they sound any good or not. Even the keyboard manufacturer's websites (Yamaha and Casio) don't have any samples of the organ sounds. Maybe they do have 500+ tones, but if the Hammond organ sounds are rubbish then it's no use to me. I very rarely use anything else and features such as light-up keys, auto accompaniment and so on are not what I need.

Obviously, in an ideal world, a portable Hammond organ or clonewheel keyboard would be the ideal solution but they are too heavy to be portable (even the so-called digital clonewheels like my VK-7 weigh an absolute ton) and too expensive to take to rehersals every week (the thing gets scratched every time I take it out as putting in a flight case makes it even heavier!)). I just want a cheap and lightweight keyboard that does an reasonable Hammond sound. No need for drawbars, just a fast and slow Leslie type sound and ideally, a Vox Continental type sound too. I have a cheapo Yamaha PSR-140 and the organ sound is so bad that it is unusable! I don't really want to pay more than £200 for this practice keyboard.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.



PS: Touch-sensitive keys are definitely NOT required - I hate them! I need to be able to turn off that function.

PS2: It would also be greatly appreciated to have a keyboard that can emulate the types of sounds used by the Stranglers. Not sure what type or organ they used but it sounds like some kind of combo organ and a synth of some kind.

PS3: I know the B4 software sounds excellent, however I have not been able to find any decent devices that allow a laptop MIDI input and a sensible output socket - my laptop only has a small headphone socket output.


Aug 13, 2008
Reaction score
South Carolina
I use the Korg CX3, however it is not a small or particuarily light weight instrument.
For a laptop interface, check into the Tascam Fireone midi/audio fire-wire interface.
I bought a firewire adapter to plug into my laptop card slot, then found a Fireone on Ebay for about $100. MY total cost was about $115. I'm using an older Dell computer, and NI B4......this set-up works great and only weights a few pounds. I use this when I don't want to carry my CX3.

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