Split-able keyboard so a bass player can play bass and brass or strings at the same time

Discussion in 'Keyboard Purchase Recommendations' started by Oogie Wa Wa, May 26, 2018.

  1. Oogie Wa Wa

    Oogie Wa Wa

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    Hi folks! Just joined here to ask a question.

    I play bass guitar in a 3-piece cover band. And while it is fun keeping busy with lots of fills and some 1-5-8 "chords" and double stopping to make the music sound fuller, there are times when it would be great to have some strings, brass or a piano part. (We also all three sing and do a lot of harmony, that helps.)

    Are there any relatively inexpensive keyboards or synths that can have the keyboard split, such that the left half can be set to a form of bass (guitar, upright) while the right half can be set to other instruments?

    I know The Doors didn't have a bass player, all that was done on keys. And think of how much better a song like Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves) would be with those horn parts, or how empty it would sound without them!

    When I was a kid I took spinet organ lessons for 8 years, so I have the theory and some background with a keyboard. Back then I mostly loved playing the pedal parts, which probably explains why I took up the bass at the age of 50; twelve years later I'm playing out twice a month or more and am having a blast.

    I'd still be playing my bass 90% of the time, but I don't want to give up a solid bottom say while I'm playing a flute part in a Marshall Tucker cover. Playing tap bass with one hand and keys with the other would be just plain clumsy.

    So, what is out there that might meet these needs? Non-weighted would be fine. Don't need much fancy stuff or programming, don't need any rhythm generated, don't need a bunch of samples and waveform changes. No looping, but some easy presets would be nice. An 88 key unit would be overboard, maybe something with around four octaves so I'd have two of each when split? Other suggestions, options or better ideas I haven't thought about?

    Thanks for any help you folks can provide, muchly appreciated!!!

    Oh, and I'd just send the output to my bass amp or the board/PA, no separate amp needed.

    Edit: live performance only, or maybe making a demo in a studio, but I'd probably do a separate track for each.
    Edit2: Heh, I still have my Wurlitzer spinet organ with the Orbit III Synthesizer, but it's been off for a decade. The key rubber return strip is sticky and many of the hair contacts would need cleaned, and I think the leslie-like drive needs a belt. Maybe I'll get it going some day, but it's just a tad heavy for gigging!!!
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
    Oogie Wa Wa, May 26, 2018
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  2. Oogie Wa Wa

    happyrat1 Destroyer of Eardrums!!!

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    Take a look at a Roland Juno DS61.

    It ticks all the boxes and as for bells and whistles, it has a few but they pretty much all do these days.

    Anyway. I'd recommend the Roland over a low end Yamaha or Casio simply for better sound quality.

    You didn't mention a budget but the Juno retails for $699 USD so it fits pretty nicely in the mid range slot.

    You could get a Casio CTX or a Yamaha PSR for a hundred or two less but as I said previously, the sound quality would suffer.

    Gary ;)
     
    happyrat1, May 26, 2018
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  3. Oogie Wa Wa

    Biggles

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    Welcome.

    The Juno DS that Gary suggests is a great keyboard.

    I played one a few times whilst deciding what to buy but ended up buying a Korg Kross 2 which is very similar in performance but it is only six months old in manufacturer.

    Suggest you test play both and go which suits you best in its sound and ease of use.

    Both manufacturers have Youtube video channels where they have tutorials in the use of their keyboards, Korg are listed under Video Manuals and Roland under Product Support.

    The Korg would require more learning as the operating systems of all Korgs are quirky but once learned they can be very quickly navigated and Combis are very easy to create and set to a one touch selection button.

    Not sure of the Roland but on my Kross 2 the splits are totally customisable, basically I can have multiple splits with a single or multiple instruments in each split and hence the instrument voices are customisable.

    Eg in one song I have two splits with the left being a band, centre being organ and right hand split being a synth.

    PS
    I also play Bass (and 6 string guitar) but arthritis means my hands are not as mobile as the were hence why I am switching over to keys.
     
    Biggles, May 26, 2018
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  4. Oogie Wa Wa

    CKN Guest

     
    CKN, May 26, 2018
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  5. Oogie Wa Wa

    CKN Guest

    We have two Yamaha keyboards one a 76 note, another a 61 note keyboard. Both have split keyboard function. They're great for getting various bass sounds and having the ability to play other voices in the right hand. We like Yamaha for their more realistic sounding voices compared to some other brands and the price point is good too.

    I've played on several keyboards and frankly none of them sound really that "real" compared to the real instrument but hey, it's an option unless you have a full band ;-) Depending on the brand/model of keyboard you get, some sounds are better (i.e. more real sounding than others).

    Here's the link to Yamaha keyboards. https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical_instruments/keyboards/portable_keyboards/index.html
     
    CKN, May 26, 2018
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  6. Oogie Wa Wa

    Oogie Wa Wa

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    Thank you very much folks, exactly the info I needed and right about in my price range. I'll check out the audio files, audiophiles!

    Edit: Nice, it looks like the Juno unit has multiple output jacks, I can run the mono signal to the board and the headphone jack up to my personal monitor. And if I can assign the stereo channel I might even be able to send the bass to the right channel / amp, and other patches to the left /board. Maybe. Not required, but if I can, cool!

    Edit2: The tutorials show how to do the split, looks exactly like what I'm after. Thanks again!!!
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
    Oogie Wa Wa, May 26, 2018
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  7. Oogie Wa Wa

    anotherscott

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    Yes, DS61 is ideal for this. When you do a bass split, you have front panel volume controls for each of your two sounds, very convenient! You can set it up so you can easily change just your right hand sound while your left hand keeps playing, with no sound glitches. If the new RH sound is in the wrong octave or you might run out of keys, you can easily change the octave of just your right hand sound while playing, again without disturbing what you're playing with your left hand. You can change your RH sound without cutting off the "tail" of the previous RH sound. And yes, you can pan your LH bass sound to one side and your RH sounds to the other, so you can send your bass sound to the bass amp. Few other boards can do all this stuff easily (if at all), and certainly nothing at its price. For this particular purpose, the Roland outshines the competition from Yamaha and Korg. It's actually even better for this than more expensive Rolands like the VR09 or FA06.
     
    anotherscott, Jun 28, 2018
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  8. Oogie Wa Wa

    Rayblewit Love Music / Love Life

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    Very witty:D
     
    Rayblewit, Jun 28, 2018
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  9. Oogie Wa Wa

    Eli_Kyiv

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    An used Roland Juno-D will do the trick, and the cost is quite low nowadays. Just check if all the keys are in working condition - early models had some issues.
     
    Eli_Kyiv, Jul 26, 2018
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  10. Oogie Wa Wa

    Oogie Wa Wa

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    I should give an update, much thanks for all of the good info.

    Because of unexpected budgetary restraints (ahh, retirement) I ended up going for a little bit lower quality. I got a very good deal on a Casio CTK7200, it came with a very nice stand, power supply and the sustain pedal for the same price for which most vendors were selling just the keyboard. It was about the lowest cost unit with left and right line level outputs and some other features you folks mentioned. Considering we'll only use it on maybe 8-12 songs in a 4 hour gig, and the ultimate in sound quality just isn't so much of a requirement for what we play, it's all I could justify at the time.

    Regarding there being no separate volume balance knobs for each of the split parts like the higher end units have, I am running the keyboard and my bass through an inexpensive 4-channel mixer. Besides splitting the keyboard, I also send each of the splits to one of the two outputs (127 on one side, 0 on the other, and vice versa) so I can easily adjust the split volumes separately using 2 of 3 of the mixer channels, and get the "basses" matched with the third.

    It is "interesting" using keys after a four decade absence; some things are coming back rather quickly, and some are just a lot of work. I found a bass guitar tone that closely resembles my typical bass guitar tone, so transitioning mid-song is relatively innocuous. For each song, I've made presets with the bass tone on the lower portion, and the appropriate tone for the upper half. And I made additional presets where I wanted the bass to be the same, but have a different instrument on the other side of the split for a particular song. I can just switch with one button push. So I can have a string section at one point, and a horn section at another.

    Oh, and I change where the split occurs based on the key, that gets saved in the presets. I've been messing with modifying the on-board tones by using the ADSR and other settings. Another lost skill from days gone by (computer based MIDI music.)

    Getting my left hand to play single notes vs the chording I was always used to, and chording with my right hand which was used to playing melody, is particularly challenging. In fact for one song that is exclusively chords and bass, I actually made the left side the other tone (string section), raised up two octaves, and play the complex bass line with my right hand, lowered two octaves. It seems to work really well, although it may seem odd to people. I'm considering dong that for more songs.

    The one limitation I found is that I can shift the whole keyboard into the Drawbar/Rotary mode, but when I split the keyboard and put the bass on the bottom, I lose the Leslie effect, or at least can't change the speed, the button has no impact. Bummer. Hmmm, maybe I can use the modulate button and . . . !!! We'll see.

    Anyway, it's going steadily but slowly, I told the other band members not to expect using the keyboard live for at least a couple more months yet. Might as well get good at it first. Our guitar player came over one day and we worked on a few songs, he thinks that it will work out well. Our drummer likes a lot of songs with what a keyboard can bring; but he's also into not splitting our pay with another person!

    Interestingly, we saw a very popular local band Saturday that had a guy sit in on bass, and he brought two keyboards as well. He uses one for the bass part (upper, left hand) and the other one for everything else, and did quite well with it. But he's one of those local legends that can play any song on any instrument you hand him, sing at the same time, and do it all well. He offered a lot of good advice, and validated much of what I thought would be possible. And in some places he was busy with both hands on the one keyboard, he left the bass part out entirely, and I believe that I was probably the only one there that even noticed!

    So now I know that this is very do-able, and I'll keep working on it. If I remember, I'll try to post back how it's going once we implement the new instrument and the songs we are working on for it. Maybe a video or something.

    Thanks again for all the help!!!
     
    Oogie Wa Wa, Jul 31, 2018
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  11. Oogie Wa Wa

    Biggles

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    Please you are sorted.

    Many thanks for coming back and giving us all an update.
     
    Biggles, Jul 31, 2018
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  12. Oogie Wa Wa

    MadMike62

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    Going through pretty much the same phase you are.. The Casio's description says "piano style keys", so the noob in me assumes they're weighted ?
     
    MadMike62, Aug 1, 2018
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  13. Oogie Wa Wa

    Biggles

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    Mike
    If a Casio comes into your options do be aware that they now have the CT-X series which have a new AiX sound engine that is getting excellent reviews.
     
    Biggles, Aug 1, 2018
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  14. Oogie Wa Wa

    Oogie Wa Wa

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    MadMike62:

    The keys are "piano style keys" in that they are shaped like piano keys with an overhanging front edge, unlike a typical spinet organ which has rounded front edges. The do not have the heavier feel of a real piano where you have to mechanically get the hammer moving; there isn't any "weighting." However, they do have more resistance than a typical inexpensive keyboard you'd find in a big box store, and it seems to increas fairly linearly as you push down, so there is some tactile feedback.

    They are velocity sensitive though, so if you play harder it gets louder like a piano. And this can actually be controlled via the settings for custom tones; at 0 they are either on or off like an organ; at 127 they vary the volume from very light to full as you press harder (actually as you press harder it goes down faster, which is what is sensed.)

    In fact, you can set up two tones at once, one at 127 and the other at -127, so if you play hard you get the first tone with little or none of the second; if you play very soft you get mostly the second tone but not the first. Which is interesting, like having two separate instruments, albeit perhaps not that useful in execution. It might at least be a bit of a challenge to learn to use.

    But remember, you asked a bass player, :)!


    Biggles: That's probably why the CTKs are going for less now. Figures. Oh, well, I'm fine with the sound I have through a bass amp, and my band mates like it.
     
    Oogie Wa Wa, Aug 4, 2018
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  15. Oogie Wa Wa

    MadMike62

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    Yup.
    Bassplayer asking a bassplayer :)
     
    MadMike62, Aug 4, 2018
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