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Synthesizers and keyboards?
02-10-2015, 12:07 PM
Post: #1
Synthesizers and keyboards?
I know we have a drumming Thread but i don't think we have discussed Synths, keyboards, pianos, etc.

I have always played and have a good collection of old and relatively new synths...Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Kurzweil, etc. Please chime in with any feedback about playing or gear. Come on, I know we have some pianists here...

"I don't cook; I prepare things." My late brother Bill
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02-14-2015, 11:38 AM
Post: #2
RE: Synthesizers and keyboards?
(02-10-2015 12:07 PM)Nung Wrote:  I know we have a drumming Thread but i don't think we have discussed Synths, keyboards, pianos, etc.

I have always played and have a good collection of old and relatively new synths...Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Kurzweil, etc. Please chime in with any feedback about playing or gear. Come on, I know we have some pianists here...

Hi Nung,
I have been playing bass for a long time, and also play some keys.
I have a question for you, if you may be able to help me. If not no big deal.

I picked up a Roland PK5 foot pedal unit so I can play the synth notes with my feet while playing bass...it works but I didn't realize that it won't give me the actual keyboard synth sounds that I get from my Yamaha electric piano "Portable Grand DGX" series.

I realize now that I need a REAL keyboard unit that will be compatible with the PK5...I'm assuming a Roland since the foot pedal is a Roland.

I can plug the PK5 into my smaller Yamaha psr midi ports and get the foot pedal to trigger some sounds, but I want the pedal to be able to play the actual synthesizer notes for example like the synth notes during The Spirit of Radio.

Any suggestions for a good compatible keyboard that would work with my PK5 and hopefully not break the bank? We're really not even playing out right now so I don't want to spend any more money than I have to.

Any suggestions much appreciated!!

Take it easy,

HM2112
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02-17-2015, 10:10 AM
Post: #3
RE: Synthesizers and keyboards?
(02-14-2015 11:38 AM)HarleyMan2112 Wrote:  
(02-10-2015 12:07 PM)Nung Wrote:  I know we have a drumming Thread but i don't think we have discussed Synths, keyboards, pianos, etc.

I have always played and have a good collection of old and relatively new synths...Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Kurzweil, etc. Please chime in with any feedback about playing or gear. Come on, I know we have some pianists here...

Hi Nung,
I have been playing bass for a long time, and also play some keys.
I have a question for you, if you may be able to help me. If not no big deal.

I picked up a Roland PK5 foot pedal unit so I can play the synth notes with my feet while playing bass...it works but I didn't realize that it won't give me the actual keyboard synth sounds that I get from my Yamaha electric piano "Portable Grand DGX" series.

I realize now that I need a REAL keyboard unit that will be compatible with the PK5...I'm assuming a Roland since the foot pedal is a Roland.

I can plug the PK5 into my smaller Yamaha psr midi ports and get the foot pedal to trigger some sounds, but I want the pedal to be able to play the actual synthesizer notes for example like the synth notes during The Spirit of Radio.

Any suggestions for a good compatible keyboard that would work with my PK5 and hopefully not break the bank? We're really not even playing out right now so I don't want to spend any more money than I have to.

Any suggestions much appreciated!!

Take it easy,

HM2112

Hi Harley Man! Thanks for your reply. Sorry for the delay in responding...
Congrats on having the PK5 pedal unit! That is a nice bit of kit. I checked out the specs on the Portable Grand DGX and amazingly, you are right...it does not seem to have MIDI which would make it difficult for the PK5 to trigger it. And good for you for having a go at the smaller unit which apparently did allow you to trigger notes. But that unit just doesn't have the right sounds for the application, right?

So the good news is that ANY synth that has a MIDI in port can be triggered from your PK5. But the trick for you is coming up with something on the cheap that provides the sound(s) that you need. I suggest you look towards friends to see if you can borrow a synth or a synth module to try out. (A synth module is simply a synth without a keyboard...you can get more bang for the buck that way if you don't need a keyboard).

The typical use for the PK5 is to trigger bass notes (emulating the classic Taurus Bass Pedal ala Mr. Lee or Mr. Squire). In that case, any synth with a decent bass sound might work--even some very old and inexpensive synth modules could do the trick. Of course, the class act would be using a Moog Minitaur module...it would give a heck of a great emulation of the classic bass pedals sound. They are $500.

But for triggering synth textures that one might need to cover that Canadian band's material, you would need a synth or module that produces pretty decent sounds. Again, trying to beg, borrow or cheaply buy a synth with MIDI is your answer. The slightly more involved thing is setting up the details of this. For instance, when you are wanting to play sound or texture that is only a single note it is easy...one press of one PK5 pedal will give you that note on the synth. But the PK5 probably defaults to a low octave (after all, most folks would be triggering those low, shake-the-room notes). But if you want to trigger a typical synth sound or bell or piano note, you would need to adjust the settings on the PK5 to transmit a HIGHER octave. That can be mapped out (and the PK5 might be able to be set that way too).

It becomes trickier when you need to trigger a CHORD. And of course, so many synth sounds on that band's (and other bands') material consists of chords. There are multiple ways of doing that...you could sprout an extra foot or two and play 3 or 4 notes at once on your PK5 (a bit hard to do) or you could use a few tricks to have one note trigger a complete (pre-set) chord. Some synths can allow that. Or, some relatively simple MIDI processing devices (say, a Yamaha MEP4) can be easily set to allow a single note to trigger a chord or even a complete sequence of chords. That band we all like has always been so clever at triggering sounds and sequences...each one of them have triggered sound events with foot controllers, notes on a keyboard, drums, etc. You can get very creative and have an entire gig's worth of preset triggers if you are patient enough and focused enough to trigger things at the right time. (But if you mess up, you'll get a sound at the wrong time...quite embarrassing, that!)

If you use a computer for your music and have a MIDI interface, you could not only have a program trigger chords/sequences but also use "soft synths" (software synthesizers) to deliver the actual sounds. That is often cheaper than a hardware-based synth. But if you have not jumped into the world of computer-based music, the start-up costs will be more than an inexpensive hardware synth.

I hope this starts the process for you. Don't hesitate to ask any questions. You have invested in a great set of pedals...don't give up now!

(I play some bass too BTW...don't you just love the power, rhythm and melodic possibilities of a bass? I do!)

"I don't cook; I prepare things." My late brother Bill
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02-20-2015, 06:34 AM
Post: #4
RE: Synthesizers and keyboards?
Nung,
Thanks for the info and reply, I have been down with the flu this week so have been slow getting back....thankfully it appears I am on the mend today. Gotta love winter in NE Ohio, -15F this am!

I think what I will do when I am fully operational again, and the temperature is well above freezing, is carry the unit down to my local guitar center and see if they can help me find something. I like the sound of the synth controller, that would probably be my best bet right now. A friend had also mentioned that to me a while back. I'm fine with the keyboard capabilities of the DBX, I have no idea why they didn't put a midi port in there too but oh well, it is what it is.

I'll post back eventually with my results....but it may be a while as the guy that plays guitar with me is recovering from heart valve surgery and I am in no rush to do anything here, so it might even be a month or two (or three) before I get this ironed out. No biggie, I've had the PK5 for a good 2 years or so, heh heh heh, so as you can see I'm in no real big hurry. I had just been wanting to talk to someone about it that has some experience with keyboards/midi etc so you've helped me out quite a bit actually. I will delve into all of this a bit deeper as the year progresses.

Hope your winter is going well!! Mine will be....just as soon as its over...heh heh, counting the days until March now....

Thanks again
HM2112
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02-20-2015, 09:15 AM
Post: #5
RE: Synthesizers and keyboards?
Thanks, Harley. Sorry to hear about the flu! Feel better soon. And those temps? Sheesh! You should come out here to Arizona; we are expecting 80 today. (Don't even start me on how nice it is to ride the motorcycle out here in the winter!)

I am glad I could help a bit. Don't hesitate to follow up with questions once you start to hear some synths. My hunch is that you'd be golden if you keep an eye for some used synths.

Remember, plenty of fluids, vitamin C, and loud music!

"I don't cook; I prepare things." My late brother Bill
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