Roland Juno DS61 or 88 ?


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'Evening. New member, just registered, 1st post :).

Last spring, I finally gave into my long-standing wish of getting into keys and am totally into it, so much that I hardly played anything else in the last 3 months.

Been playing guitar for 42 years and bass for the last 10 (semi-pro level for the last 2-3 years). So I bought a Roland GoKeys and been taking piano lessons for the last 2 months on a bi-monthly basis. I currently play in an 80's rock covers band which already has a part-time keyboardist and I also have an acoustic-guitar duo with a ladyfriend singer. Planning to integrate keyboards in the duo sometime next year and who knows, maybe it'll serve in the band as well.

I can see myself upgrading the GoKeys to something else in the next few months and my original target was the Roland Juno DS 61 (after looking and trying some others in same product bracket): seems like a decent jack-of-all-trades (piano, organ and others) and tweakable enough synth for what I would use it for and I like how intuitive they are.

Now here's my dilemna: my piano teacher has Roland stage piano (don't remember which one) and the more I play on it, the more I enjoy playing on a full bed of weighted keys, so now the DS88 in creeping up on my list. I'm seeing myself using more the piano sounds (for my duo) so the DS88 seems like a shoe-in. But I do plan to integrate organ and synth (band and duo), so I'm wondering: is it best to play synth and organ on weighted keys or does it work out better to play piano on non-weighted keys ? Or am I looking at this debate from the wrong angle ?
 

happyrat1

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It's actually a matter of personal preference but it's generally accepted that you can play faster organ and synth riffs on unweighted or semi weighted keys than on hammer action fully weighted.

Then again some people simply prefer to play with weighted controllers all the time.

That's where the personal preference comes in.

And most pros generally adopt the best of both worlds by simply using a fully weighted piano on the lower tier and an unweighted synth in the upper tier.

Gary ;)
 
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Welcome to the forum Mike.

If you are happy with the piano sounds of the Juno then that model or similar will offer more flexiblity in your playing options compared to a digital piano due to its vast range of instrument sounds available

As for the number of keys the 88 key version of any keyboard will enable better use of multiple keyboard splits, I have a Korg Kross 2 which is a competitor to the Juno and with only 61 keys it is limited in the real estate when I use multiple splits.

A synth/workstation will also allow sampling, easy backing track playback, fully customisable drum backing, the list goes on.

You will also find that generally 88 key versions will have a hammer type of action whereas 61 key versions will have a lighter synth type of action.

You may be aware but just in case Roland has tutorial videos on the Juno on Youtube, search out those labelled as Product Support I would suggest watching these before hands on testing at a Music Store.
 

Rayblewit

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Hi Mike,
80's music generally rarely enters the high octave range and I wonder if 88 keys is wasted. I have 61 keys and hardly ever play std tunes at the high end. Unless you are playing classical or weird stuff or maybe some jazz, then what is the point of having 88 keys? Two octaves past middle C is enough for me in 99% of all cases.
As for fully weighted keys vs unweighted or semi weighted . . that is a personal preference as Gary stated.

IMHO Ray
 

happyrat1

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I find it nice to have a full 88 controller for my stuff, even if i don't always use it. Even with some pop songs on my 61 key DS I find myself wishing it would go an octave higher without having to hit a shift button.

Truth be told, with a full 88 keys you can really do some nice wide ranging runs.

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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MadMike >>> A possible solution to your dilemma on a budget would be to buy a DS61, a second tier for your stand and an 88 key hammer action controller on the bottom tier. MIDIed up to the DS and then you can play piano style on the controller on one channel and synth and organ voices on another channel on the DS on the second tier.

Some notable brands to look at for controllers are Studiologic, Arturia Keylab 88, Akai MPK88 and Roland.

You also may want to look at some of the budget controllers out there like Nektar and M-Audio and Alesis but if you do then make sure they ship with real 5 pin MIDI ports else they will be useless without a computer acting as MIDI Host.

The brands I recommended I KNOW all ship with proper MIDI ports.

Gary ;)
 
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Guys,
Very useful information, thx for the warm welcome and input, I'm glad I joined the Community :).

I'm trying to avoid the 2-keyboard option, but the more I read and talk to people, there's probably no going around it. My heart is set on the Juno DS line and since I can make do piano parts on my GoKeys, it'll certainly work out on the DS61, so that's probably going to be the 1st step, which was the original plan

@Rayblewit : my limited experience tends to agree.

@happyrat1 : I looked up your recommendations, so if I go down that route, it'll certainly be among those. I favor the Roland A88, but it seems out of production, so it'll be a used unit, which is fine, right ?
 

happyrat1

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Used is fine, with a few caveats.

1) Buy local. When dealing with ebay there are all sorts of scumbags out there who sell trash. Either that or make sure they have at least a few hundred 5 star ratings.

2) Learn the history of the instrument. Was it gigged or did it sit in a studio under a dust cover.

3) Make certain every key and button and knob and slider and switch is functioning in a nominal way. Also check all the connectors you'll be using for noisy contacts.

4) look for wear and tear and cosmetic signs of abuse.

5) I prefer local sellers I find on Craigslist and Kijiji in my area and generally buy locally and in person so I can check all this stuff out.

If you have to go the ebay route then try and find a seller who lives close enough to you that you can drive up and pick up yourself. You'll save on shipping and you'll be able to do a thorough inspection of the merchandise.

Also avoid buying any keyboard older than ten years old since at that point it's lifespan is basically half over before it starts developing electronic and mechanical problems. It's not an absolute rule but depending on how it was played and maintained over the years not all ten year olds are the same age :p

5 years old or less is the sweet spot and you want something that was somebody's pride and joy and babied in an air conditioned studio all of it's life :D

A decent 5 year old keyboard in good shape should be doable for anywhere between 50% and 70% of original purchase price.

There are some good deals out there but sometimes you have to be patient. Just because you can't find the unit you are looking for today doesn't mean it won't appear tomorrow or next week or next month on craigslist. Patience is the key for getting a good deal. Don't be afraid to walk away if a deal smells wrong because another one will come along within a month or two.

Or buy the DS88 and get a 61 unweighted controller for synths and organs.

6 of one and half dozen of the other.

Either way works so whatever fits your budget better.

The DS88 has by all reports a very good hammer action keybed.

Gary ;)
 
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Or buy the DS88 and get a 61 unweighted controller for synths and organs.

Gary ;)
Ooooooh.... why didn't I think of that ? Thx :).

I was wondering why the A88 is discontinued, I think I get it now. This set up makes so much sense, at least to me.
 
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I have a DS88 and really like it. One thing I really like is that for an 88 key weighted board it is pretty light at 35 lbs. A big pls for me, the feel actually matches my real piano fairly well. Though my p

I use it either with my Yamaha DX7II or I recently got a Yamaha MX for really cheap that I'll probably start using for synth/organ stuff now. I know you mentioned wanting to avoid 2 boards, but depending on what all you are doing sometimes it is hard to avoid just because of the difference in feel. I can usually get away doing background organ stuff on a weighted board, but with lead stuff it can be a lot more difficult. On the flip side, trying to play piano stuff on a synth action board can be a bit crazy as well. Thats all personal though, you might not have any issues either way.

Weight wise and stuff, I'd probably go the DS88 + other route over the DS61 + 88 Key Controller.

Edit: Disclaimer my real piano has a medium to medium-light action. If you are used to a heavy action piano then it might be too light for you. However you mentioned using your teacher's Roland Stage Piano, in that case it will probably be pretty similar.
 
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(...) I know you mentioned wanting to avoid 2 boards, but depending on what all you are doing sometimes it is hard to avoid just because of the difference in feel. I can usually get away doing background organ stuff on a weighted board, but with lead stuff it can be a lot more difficult. On the flip side, trying to play piano stuff on a synth action board can be a bit crazy as well. Thats all personal though, you might not have any issues either way. (...)
I just got into piano playing and learning the basic 2-hand chord playing techniques (just got into adding 5ths with my left hand this week), so playing leads are really far down the road for me :). But the main instrument + controller option makes more and more sense to me, thx to you guys' input.

I'm on vacation this week, I'll drop by a store that has the DS61 and 88 in stock, I'll try them both. Planning to pull the trigger sometime next fall, so there's still time to think about this, but at this point, the 88 seems the best choice.
 

happyrat1

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I think your best bet would be a DS88 on the bottom and an Arturia Keylab 61 on top. I just bought an Arturia Keystep 32 key controller and I am super impressed by the features and build quality of the unit.

Gary ;)
 
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I think your best bet would be a DS88 on the bottom and am Arturia Keylab 61 on top. I just bought an Arturia Keystep 32 key controller and I am super impressed by the features and build quality of the unit.

Gary ;)
Interesting option. If I get the DS88, I'm probably not going to need a 61 key controller for synths leads, whenever I get there. As long as the controller gives me access to all the 88's sounds.
 
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I enjoy playing on a full bed of weighted keys, so now the DS88 in creeping up on my list
Please remember: 76-keys instrument does not fit into every trunk, 88-keys instrument does not fit into every car. ;)
Unfortunately, they don't sell VAX77 anymore.

make sure they ship with real 5 pin MIDI ports else they will be useless without a computer acting as MIDI Host.
We gradually getting to an era of standalone USB-MIDI hosts. They aren't cheap yet, but still...

Here is:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/USB-MIDI-Host-Module-MIDI-Real-MIDI-Out-for-pure-MIDI-USB-controllers-and-keyboards-without/32855946161.html
https://stimresp.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/using-a- raspberry-pi-as-usb-midi-host/
https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t =64340
Theory:
Arduino-based solutions:
https://www.instructables.com/id/Arduino-USB-to-Le gacy-MIDI-Converter/
http://www.hobbytronics.co.uk/usb-host-midi
https://moroccodave.com/2017/10/04/diy-usb-midi-ho st/
https://studiothorn.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/diy-t ime-part-1-arduino-usb-midi-co...midi-converter/
 

happyrat1

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Be very careful with some of the Raspberry Pi and Arduino based DIY solutions. From what I've read they don't all implement MIDI standards 100% properly. Particularly with SysEX commands.

Gary ;)
 
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'is it best to play synth and organ on weighted keys or does it work out better to play piano on non-weighted keys ?
There's no simple answer, for two reasons:

1. It depends on what you need to play. If your piano-playing is Jerry Lee Lewis style rock and roll, that's easier to pull of on a non-weighted action than if you're trying to do stuff that requires more subtle expressivity. If your organ-playing doesn't involve organ-specific techniques (smearing and the like), you may not have so much trouble playing that on a weighted action as you would if you were really trying to use those techniques.

2. It depends on which exact keyboards you're talking about. Some hammer actions are much better (or worse) for organ playing than others, and some non-hammer actions are much better (or worse) for piano than others.

Or buy the DS88 and get a 61 unweighted controller for synths and organs.
Ooooooh.... why didn't I think of that ?
You can probably even use your Go:Keys as your attached 61. It lacks a MIDI port, but you should be able to use a device like one of the ones Eli posted about.
 
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Update: Settled on a DS61 today, which was the original intent. The 88 key controller is still in the plans, albeit distant for now, as I just joined a band as a bassist and focussing on that at the moment. I learned a lot thx to y'alls inputs and 'pinions, thx to all who replied .
 

SeaGtGruff

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Congratulations on your purchase! It should bring you much pleasure as you explore the sonic possibilities it offers. Did you buy it in person, or order it for delivery?
 
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Picked it up yesterday early evening and there's lots to o learn about this keyboard, In a few weeks, I'll resume my piano lessons, Really proud of this purchase :)
 
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Picked it up yesterday early evening and there's lots to o learn about this keyboard, In a few weeks, I'll resume my piano lessons, Really proud of this purchase :)
I'm right with you on the ds61, got mine a couple weeks ago and there's allot to learn. Like you, I'm back on piano lessons, self taught. Enjoy the ds, we'll compare notes now and then. Joe
 

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