Please Help! 2500 for a keys in a live setting


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Hey guys, I'm new the forums, so this is a bit of an introduction & a deep cry for help! haha...

I have exactly 2500 for a new keyboard (not a penny more). I don't actually play much keys, I'm the guitarist for a church worship band and have been given the task of purchasing something. These keys will never be used for arranging, sampling, or anything like that... I just need GREAT sounds, and easy use for a live setting. Most important are great Pads, rhodes, keys, and organ. that's pretty much all we'll use. Right now we're using a motif 6, and although I know it's supposed to have good sounds in it... we're pretty much unable to use it. The stock sounds are cheesey and totally 80's, and I can't get a single decent pad out of it....although I'm sure we're not using it to it's full ability.

Thanks again for the help!

Joe
 
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I'd look into seeing if there are patches for the Motif you can get online. The Motif is a great keyboard and if you're not getting what you want, it's probably due in part to the factory presets not suiting you and partially because of your keyboard player(s). Maybe they don't spend enough time with the Motif to actually get to know it? I was getting decent organs and such out of a Roland XP-50 back around 1998, and the Motif is leaps and bounds ahead of that. Especially since you're a church, I'd look at saving the money and investing in time (and maybe tutorial DVDs) for the Motif. Or even finding a commercial patch library with classic keyboard sounds.

If you're going to complement the Motif with anything, the only thing I could really recommend would be the Nord Electro 3, but you'd need keyboard players who are familiar with drawbar positions on a B3 and who know at least a bit about effects (or are willing to experiment) to get the most out of it. Don't get the Electro 2; its piano sounds are much worse and it doesn't have a compressor or reverb, if I remember correctly. The Electro won't give you too much in the way of pads, but it'll handle the classic keys well, and I find it really hard to believe that there aren't a few good pads on the Motif, especially since I've tried the MO8 (a scaled-down Motif ES, the successor to the Motif and precursor to the current Motif XS) and found pads I liked on that.
 
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Hey Kanthos,

Thanks for the advice. I'd love to learn more about patches & how to use them, is there a good tutorial on this forum? I took the motif home for a week and read the manual & learned a ton, so I can create my own patches with multiple voices...but that's about it. I don't know how to edit the sound of those voices, how to add/edit effects, or to change the blend/mix of those voices in the patch. Is it just me or is the user interface on the motif like reading greek?

So there are a couple other tidbits that are entering into the equation here. First, since someone gave the church 2500 FOR a keyboard, we legally HAVE to spend that full 2500 on a keyboard. Second, the church is starting another service in a new location, so we'll need a second keyboard.

I've been leaning toward the s90... thinking that a) if the keyboard players will be using both, it's probably best for the interface to be similar. b) It's supposed to have all the same sounds as the new motif xs 8, right? c) it's what we have in our rehearsal studio.

Thanks again!
Joe
 
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I don't think there's a good tutorial on patches here, but you'll probably find this site really useful. In general though, I'd look around for an online tutorial on subtractive synthesis; it's the mechanism that workstation keyboards tend to use to produce sound. The main difference is that instead of using one of a few simple waveforms, like old analog synths would do, workstations will use a more complex sampled waveform instead. I'd suggest learning the basics of subtractive synthesis, at least conceptually, before diving into the Motif, at least if you want to make your own patches from scratch.

As for getting better sound out of the Motif, you certainly could do things from scratch, but you'd probably be better served taking existing patches as a starting point and tweaking them. It'd save you a lot of time and be a good learning opportunity - seeing how Yamaha made the preset instead of starting fresh and trying to get to the same point.

Knowing that you *have* to spend money makes things different. I would agree that a Yamaha probably makes sense because, as you said, it'll have a common interface. You might not be able to share patches directly between the Motif and something else, but you'd at least be able to recreate them easily.

The s90 is based on the Motif ES, not the XS, and I don't believe it has the full set of samples that the Motif ES has. In fact, I just looked it up and the s90 has *more*, although that may just be because it's a cross between a workstation and a digital piano so they may be using a lot of samples to get the perfect piano sound. It may be that the Motif ES still has more variety.

I have two suggestions for you. One is, if at all possible, to avoid using the s90 in the rehearsal space and use your own gear. The only way using the s90 would be a good idea is if you end up with an s90 and are saving presets on a USB stick and copying them to the other s90. I play at church frequently too, and my method is to figure out sounds for a service on my own at home before rehearsal (which for us is sadly just on Sunday right before the service; we could use a mid-week rehearsal too). At rehearsal, I make small adjustments based on what the other musicians are doing. The key is that I'll save the presets so that I don't have to remember things during the service. I tend not to tweak individual patches, but I use combi mode exclusively (somewhat equivalent to master mode on Yamahas, i think) to make pads and other sounds made up of multiple patches and to get the right behaviour for MIDI (I use both my keyboards whenever I play). I'll often tweak the volumes of parts within a combi or change drawbars on my Nord Stage during rehearsal and want to capture that so I play it the same way during the service.

In your case, if you have a keyboard player who's going to be playing the Motif on Sunday, they should rehearse on the Motif so you know they're getting the same sounds. If they're savvy, they'll reorganize presets so they're in a logical order for the service, letting them do something like hit 'next' to move from one song to the next, instead of having to write down that they need preset #109 in bank B and punch that in.

As for keyboards, I agree that the s90 is a good choice. Really, your only other options within Yamaha would be the M08, which will be well under budget (could you use the rest for good keyboard stands, benches, etc?) or a second Motif-class keyboard. A new Motif XS will be out of your price range ($2,400 for a 61-key on sweetwater.com) and the ES and regular Motif aren't in stores anymore, but you might be able to find one used? It would probably be ideal for your keyboard players if they could use the same keyboard no matter which location they were playing at.

Good luck!
 
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Thanks again Kanthos,

I've been doing a lot of reading today...and basically coming to a similar conclusion. I think I may be able to find an XS 7 for around 2k, and use the rest of the money for DVD's, stands, foot controllers, etc. I'm sure we don't have to spend the money to the penny.

Unfortunately, being in new york city, our church doesn't have a building... so we can't use our own gear. We rent time at a rehearsal studio that is pretty well equipped... I think they have an XS 8, an s90, and a few other synths. If we got an XS 7, learned how to create patches, and tweaked them during rehearsal, could we save them on a USB key, and port them over to the XS 7 on sunday? If so, I think that pretty much settles it... that would pretty much be the best solution.

Thanks again for the help!! I really appreciate it!
 
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Yes, you certainly could copy patches that way. You can use File mode to back up the entire contents of the Motif's memory into an XOA file and then load it on the other keyboard. The only difference between XS 6, 7, and 8 is the number of keys (and that the 88-key is weighted; the others are not). Still, you couldn't bring your other Motif to the studio in place of using what they already have?

Hope you can find the Motif XS 7 at that price. I'd love one of those too, if I had the money.
 
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