Questions from a wannabe


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Thanks for opening my thread! I know it can be murder trying to help an ameture. So much the worse that I'm not even quite that yet.

My name is Matt. I'm a long time musician; I've played in symphonies and orchestras in my childhood years as a low brass player. I switched to pop music and classic rock styled outfits in my teenage years in the mid 90s. I played the bass primarily. A little guitar here and there but I was never good on the 6 string. In my late 20s I had an accident which left my lumbar spine in a bad way. I can't really stand for long periods of time anymore and certainly can't hold heavy pieces of wood on my shoulder. I hung up my bass for good about 7 or 8 years ago.

I'll be 36 later this month and I just can't stop the thrumming in my head anymore. I'm supposed to be a musician, you understand. It's not a religious thing. It's just a force of habit, and a well habituated brain to the business of making music. If I don't get this jones out it's going to drive me mad, and nobody likes a mad cripple outside of pirate novels.

I've been thinking about getting a keyboard. While I'm not particularly mobile, I can sit and I can learn. I was thinking about a Williams Allegro 2 or a Yamaha P71 (same thing as the p45, just an Amazon exclusive license). They seem like good entry level instruments that won't break the bank or cause me too much guilt if I prove incompetent to the job. Medical bills, you know? But they seem like they're robust enough for me to grow on. Does anyone have any particular advice about either of these?

I'd also like to ask if there is such a thing as stand or rack mounted boxes for keyboards? I am fascinated by the sounds of old funk clavichords, especially the Hohner D6. Me and everyone else alive, right? Is there such a thing as an effects box that I can run my keyboard through before the speaker that will simulate that sound? I know there is a good VSTi out there, but it seems a bit cumbersome to use on the fly. I was hoping to find a piece of hardware which might emulate the buttons of the actual D6 so I could model sound while I play, in real time. I've attempted to search for these things, but I don't know exactly what they're called so I keep coming up with weird results.

It was very kind of you all to read through this and I thank you for any guidance you can offer. I'm far out of my league here in terms of the equipment. I've been courting this idea for the last year or so, and the hunger hasn't diminished. This combined with my previous musical background lead to to believe I have enough motivation to make this work and have a fighting chance at success in time. Your insight would be invaluable in helping me on my way, if you have the time to offer it.

Thank you again!
 
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happyrat1

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I'd suggest going with a smaller synth style keyboard than a full 88 key piano hammer action. If your spine is as bad as you say the extra force of pressing the keys and the constant swivelling from left to right would do a number on your back.

Take a look at a Casio CTK-6200 (61 keys) or WK-6600 instead.

Both have a very decent sound and a much easier action allowing you to lighten the load on your lower back.

Also, since Black Friday is coming up in a month and a half you'd probably be able to find one heavily discounted in the sales.

That's my $0.02

Gary ;)

PS. As far as Effects Boxes go, this one by Behringer can do most of what you ask. I own one myself.

https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-FX600-BEHRINGER-DIGITAL-MULTI-FX/dp/B000RVWY42/
 

Rayblewit

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I have never heard the sounds of Williams Allegro 2. Curious so I googled. It doesn't offer a lot of sounds. Not sure if it can produce old funk clavichord sound as you mentioned. I'd be doing more homework.
Anyway welcome Matt.

 
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I have never heard the sounds of Williams Allegro 2. Curious so I googled. It doesn't offer a lot of sounds. Not sure if it can produce old funk clavichord sound as you mentioned. I'd be doing more homework.
Anyway welcome Matt.


That's why I was asking about some kind of hardware VSTi. I know I can use the keyboard as a midi controller which is fine. But I'd like to be able to adjust on the fly and so was hoping there was essentially a D6 in a box out there. Nothing in my price range offers many sounds. I fully expect to have to use computers and an effects chain. That's fine since I'll be playing in my studio anyway.

I'd suggest going with a smaller synth style keyboard than a full 88 key piano hammer action. If your spine is as bad as you say the extra force of pressing the keys and the constant swivelling from left to right would do a number on your back.

Take a look at a Casio CTK-6200 (61 keys) or WK-6600 instead.

Both have a very decent sound and a much easier action allowing you to lighten the load on your lower back.

Also, since Black Friday is coming up in a month and a half you'd probably be able to find one heavily discounted in the sales.

That's my $0.02

Gary ;)

PS. As far as Effects Boxes go, this one by Behringer can do most of what you ask. I own one myself.

https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-FX600-BEHRINGER-DIGITAL-MULTI-FX/dp/B000RVWY42/

An appropriate number of keys with some manner of hammer action isn't negotiable. It's my primary "need" in a keyboard. My back will have to live with it. Pain isn't avoidable anyway. I spent a lot of my youth with sub par entry level instruments that hinder growth. I won't do that anymore. If you can't do it right, there's no reason to do it at all. I expect to one day play a mix of classical music and early rock and motown stuff so there's no compromise going on there.
 

happyrat1

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Speaking of "sub par instruments" any digital piano in the $400 to $500 range is a "pretty basic" excuse for a piano. Just like guitars, a $2000 Les Paul will blow away any $300 Ibanez.

You go right ahead and do your own thing. I have no skin in the game.

Gary ;)
 
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Hello class, I have a Roland E80, I find it very heavy, my goal is solar and monitor, I saw a PRS EW 400, I think this can solve the issue. It is light and has good sound, give your opinions. Thank you. Gastaogas
 
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An appropriate number of keys with some manner of hammer action isn't negotiable. It's my primary "need" in a keyboard.

The PSR EW400 doesn't have "hammer-action" keys. It has "76 touch-response keys" -- that is, it's "synth-action" (spring-loaded, not "weighted"), and they play soft or loud, depending on how hard you strike them.

If you want hammer action, and your budget is limited, the P45 (or whatever Amazon calls it) is Yamaha's entry-level 88-weighted-keys "digital piano". It's a reasonable choice in its price range.

So would be a Casio PX-160 (or PX-150, the previous model). The Casio Privia series has a reasonably-good weighted action. I own a PX-350, and may be biased, but I'm not the only one who is.

I've never tried a Williams. Everyone on the PianoWorld forum recommends against it.

. Charles
 
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I am fascinated by the sounds of old funk clavichords, especially the Hohner D6. Me and everyone else alive, right? Is there such a thing as an effects box that I can run my keyboard through before the speaker that will simulate that sound? I know there is a good VSTi out there, but it seems a bit cumbersome to use on the fly. I was hoping to find a piece of hardware which might emulate the buttons of the actual D6 so I could model sound while I play, in real time.

FWIW --

For "an effects box that I can run my keyboard through":

. . . Almost certainly, there is no such animal.

There are several software synths that emulate the Clavinet. I have no experience with them. But I _do_ have some experience with two of their makers:

Pianoteq (which has a Hohner Clavinet emulation) and AAS (with several Clavinet pre-sets in "String Studio VS-2") make high-quality stuff. Neither one is cheap, but each one offers a "demo package" which you could download free.

You could play those with any touch-sensitive MIDI keyboard, hooked to a computer. Or use a digital piano to drive them.

. Charles
 
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Okay, there are a number of things going on in your post that I can address. The "Electric Grand"-style keyboards you are looking at are 90% designed to be living-room acoustic piano replacements. The reality is the designers have very little interest in putting any time and energy into creating good auxiliary sounds. You'll have very few to choose from, and they're middling at best... unrecognizable from their original at worst.

The problem with Clavinets is that they are pretty specific to a particular genre (funk/R&B) and time period (60s-70s). Even a higher-end "Electric Grand" will have 2 Electric Piano sounds. One will be some semblance of a Fender Rhodes/Wurli. The other will likely be a digital DX7 style E-Piano. The pecking order is typically: Rhodes, Wurli, DX7 Piano, some new-agey piano pad, and then MAYBE a Clavinet. As AMAZING as they are (I love them) Clavinets just too damned specific to put in a 5-15 tone piano. You'll need to leave the Electric Grand range of keyboards and go up to the synth/workstation 128+ sound keyboards to find any kind of Clavinet. If this were the late 90s, I would recommend an Alesis QS8 without hesitation, as it was a sub-$1000 synth with a particularly great electric piano library (and about 4 Clavinets). These days, I have NO IDEA what would be the equivalent, as I'm a VST/AU man myself.

Speaking of VSTis... The entire point of VSTs is that they're software based, so there is no such thing as a "VSTi Box" outside of an actual computer. If you want to get super techy, I know some musicians who have done great things with iPads and Androids, being there's now MIDI interfaces for them and some decent software synths. Again, I run through a MacBook Pro, so I've purposefully tuned out any iOS/Android based soft synth stuff. From your post, I get the feeling you're wanting to go the hardware route, so might as well put that topic out to pasture.

Okay, back to you're original thoughts. If weighted 88 keyboards are a must as you say, then forget finding a Clavinet new for under a grand. If you put that aside, you have some fairly decent options, but I would forget about the two you mentioned. I too figured that Yamaha P71/45 would be fairly good quality, and after some research recommended it to my mother-in-law. However, I then visited back home where a friend had bought a Casio Privia PX-160, and was able to hear them back-to-back. Needless to say, the Privia blew me away, whole 'nother level from the Yamaha P71/45, which was a little bit of a letdown for me (they like it well enough). The Casio's piano sound is far fuller and more realistic, and the Yamaha's auxiliary patches are TERRIBLE. The only passible Rhodes-like sound has a builtin tremolo which makes it really strange for most purposes, both Organs are pipe organs (no B3), and the rest are throwaways. The Casio's sound bank is a bit more robust, and most patches feel actually playable, and not just created for a one-trick show-room demo. It's a good $100 more, but totally worth it. I grew up in the 80s (I'm exactly your age) where Casio was a bad name. But at this particular market they lead the pack now, hands down.

Williams Legato I haven't heard, however, I remember it being compared UNFAVORABLY to the Yamaha P45, and considering my feelings for that board, I would stay away.

If your heart is just pining for a good Clavinet sound, though, then you're going to need to leave the Electric Grand market behind and move up to the ~$1000 range of workstations. But here's the thing about workstations. Unlike Electric Grands where weighted 88s are the the standard, weighted 88 workstations are a premium. It's gotten to the point that some people look at you funny even requesting one, like you're shopping for a Lexus at a Dodge dealer. I'm a weighted 88 man myself, I wouldn't even consider buying anything less because my playing completely falls apart, but for many people, unweighted boards are meat and potatoes, and I sort of envy them. My point is that weighted-88 workstation synths are EXPENSIVE. There used to be a market for inexpensive ones (QS8, specifically), but I haven't seen one for ages.

See if there are any used Alesis QS8s (8.1 or 8.2 specifically) on eBay. Hopefully it's not some collectors item now, god knows it was never designed to be, but it strikes me as the very thing to fit your bill, and I don't think they make much else at that level at this time.
 
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