Keyboard/synthesizer

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Sauerkraut
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Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by Sauerkraut » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:26 pm

For a while now I've been thinking about buying a cheap keyboard or synthesizer.

I'm afraid my demands might be too high for a cheap one (I'm thinking of spending 200 à 300 euro's); I'm looking for something I can plug directly into my guitar amp so I can use my guitar effects (does it sound good? I'm hoping to get a bit of an organ sound this way), it has to have some kind of organ-like mode (sustained notes), I'd like it to be touch-sensitive and able to play tons of keys at the same time. I don't need many keys: 3 octaves will do.

what do you suggest?
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by glimmertwin » Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:17 am

I guess I'll bite...If I were you I would try the Microkorg.  It fits the price point your looking for and can give you a hell of a lot in a very small package - trust me you don't want to become the guitar guy who has to lug around amps, guitars AND tons of  keyboards(I know because I'm that guy - it's a pain in the ass).  The Microkorg has small keys but I think you will learn to adapt to it(and you could always control it from some cheap $15 casio keyboard with midi)...it is velocity sensitive although most patches on it have the velocity turned off...it has only 4 notes of polyphony, but I think you'll find thats more than sufficient if you tune the two oscillators so that each key plays a mini-chord so to speak.  The other great thing about it is you will get some pads, leads, bass lines, etc thrown in the package to accompany the organ like stuff you can get. 

...if your looking for other suggestions(I'm sure you'll see the Microkorg or Alesis Micron recommendedvery often as they seem to be the most popular in that price bracket) I think you ought to try a used Roland XP series keyboard(maybe XP-30).  It's a sample based keyboard rather than a synth, but you could probably score one for a reasonable price used and maybe spend a little extra to get one of their sample cards for keyboards.  They won't give you as much flexibility with shaping the sounds as a synth, but if your running it through a bunch of effects pedals anyway it might not matter.

If you just need some light organ like droney sounds, you also might be able to get away with buying an electro harmonix POG and just use that for the organ sounds while playing your guitar.  For sustaining chords, it's actually not too bad and you can get all kinds of other weird effects like the 12 string & baritone settings.

I guess it really depends on what you want a keyboard for exactly - melodic lines, organ drones, jazz organ comping, etc.  Your options are limited for that much money but I still think the Microkorg gives you the most options...I don't know if you have ever played a real organ, but they tend to sound like a mess when you lay on a bunch of keys at once - just too many frequencies going on - when I play organ I tend to use distortion pedals for weight and I use less complicated voicings with more harmonic content in each note - it gets thick pretty quick that way...

as always, your mileage may vary....

Best of luck!
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by Sauerkraut » Thu Mar 01, 2007 3:18 am

thanks for your advice.

I'd like get something that sounds similar to whichever organ is used on songs like 'Autumn Sweater' or 'The Room Got Heavy' by Yo La Tengo.
After watching this Microkorg demo (http://www.korg.com/gear/info.asp?A_PROD_NO=microKORG) I'm not sure it's really what I'm looking for.
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by John Taverna » Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:52 am

Sauerkraut wrote: thanks for your advice.

I'd like get something that sounds similar to whichever organ is used on songs like 'Autumn Sweater' or 'The Room Got Heavy' by Yo La Tengo.
After watching this Microkorg demo (http://www.korg.com/gear/info.asp?A_PROD_NO=microKORG) I'm not sure it's really what I'm looking for.

...those are electro-oriented samples but microKorg has 2/3 organ presets too...

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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by fuzzking » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:32 am

You could still go for a sampler, those E-mu Esi 4000's are super cheap right now  if you take alook at Ebay,
they will make any old sound you want them to (because they're samplers :D).
Then again you could just go for an old farfisa organ or such, if you want to go analog. Last year I found
an old one w/ tube amp for almost free on a flea market.

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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by Sauerkraut » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:46 am

John Taverna wrote:
Sauerkraut wrote: thanks for your advice.

I'd like get something that sounds similar to whichever organ is used on songs like 'Autumn Sweater' or 'The Room Got Heavy' by Yo La Tengo.
After watching this Microkorg demo (http://www.korg.com/gear/info.asp?A_PROD_NO=microKORG) I'm not sure it's really what I'm looking for.

...those are electro-oriented samples but microKorg has 2/3 organ presets too...
ok, the Microkorg is at the top of my list then. Someone's offering one for 300 euro's, would that be a good deal?
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by Orang Goreng » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:52 am

Sauerkraut wrote: I'd like get something that sounds similar to whichever organ is used on songs like 'Autumn Sweater' or 'The Room Got Heavy' by Yo La Tengo.
IIRC Kaplan uses an AceTone Top 5. Those organs use fairly simple wave shapes that more advanced synths should easily be able to copy. FWIW, a friend of mine picked one up for 25 guilders some Queensday.

Some years ago, people on the Combo Organ Mailing List went crazy about a cheap Casio keyboard, I think this one. Apparently it has good organ sounds, and a drawbar function so one can come much closer to an organ's functionality than with a synth.
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by glimmertwin » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:57 am

Ya, the Yo La Tengo organ sound is nearly always a Farfisa Compact - I feel in love with that sound because of them(and the Walkmen who use the Fast series of Farfisas).  I would just keep my eye out for a mini-Compact or if not, maybe another Farfisa organ(Fast or maybe even a Matador).  They can sometimes be had for reasonable prices - a guy in my local craigslist was just selling a mini for $300 OBO.  Not bad at all.

You might be able to find a sampler and get a Farfisa sample for them but my limited experience with sampled Farfisa tones is that they tend to use different rocker settings(more optimized for surf) than what you hear from indie rock bands.

...I still think you should give the microkorg a try - before I got an electro I too was looking for something to pull of the farfisa sound(after I had to sell my mini-compact to cover my 61 JM)...  I toyed around with microkorg at Guitar Center every time I went in there I was seriously about to purchase one -you can tweak a few of the organ patches and make it sound very decent - find an organ patch, dirty it up, set one of the oscillators slightly out of tune, give it a little Vibrato, and set the filter just right on it, and you'll have a very good sound at a 1/8th the size/weight of a real Farfisa.

....I ended up coming upon a little more money and grabbed a beat up Electro for $800 of ebay since I was doing more gigging and my prioroties shifted a bit where I  liked having a portable electromechanical keyboard so I didn't have to lug around the ProMega(which I used exclusively for piano, rhodes, and wurli stuff before) to practice all the time.
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by glimmertwin » Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:59 am

Orang Goreng wrote:
Sauerkraut wrote: I'd like get something that sounds similar to whichever organ is used on songs like 'Autumn Sweater' or 'The Room Got Heavy' by Yo La Tengo.
IIRC Kaplan uses an AceTone Top 5. Those organs use fairly simple wave shapes that more advanced synths should easily be able to copy. FWIW, a friend of mine picked one up for 25 guilders some Queensday.
...I have seen Yo La Tengo twice and they had a Farfisa Compact both times I saw them - I was almost hit by it once when Ira was rocking it back and forth so much I thought it was going to fall over and slide offstage on to me(Amazingly it didn't)
Last edited by glimmertwin on Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by glimmertwin » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:07 am

Orang Goreng wrote: Some years ago, people on the Combo Organ Mailing List went crazy about a cheap Casio keyboard, I think this one. Apparently it has good organ sounds, and a drawbar function so one can come much closer to an organ's functionality than with a synth.
That's actually a pretty good idea...I have an old cheap Yamaha PSR-220 that has some decent "reed organ" sounds but isn't too tweakable.  Now that I think about it I bet it sounds great through guitar pedals - never tried it!  Anyway, Orang Goreng is probably right that on the super cheap you could pick up one of those "my parents bought me this crappy keyboard to find out if I was musically inclined" keyboards and they can have some interesting sounds on them.  I didn't even know some of them had drawbar functionality. 
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by Orang Goreng » Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:08 am

glimmertwin wrote: ...I have seen Yo La Tengo twice and they had a Farfisa Compact both times I saw them - I was almost hit by it once when Ira was rocking it back and forth so much I thought it was going to fall over and slide offstage on to me(Amazingly it didn't)
I just checked the net and apparently he uses both Farfisas and an Ace Tone (which I could swear I've seen him play in Amsterdam). I'm fairly certain the organ on Autumn Sweater is the Ace Tone though, that sounds is very close to what I got out of my friend's one. The Frafisa's sound is more the tone you get on early Floyd or the Inspiral Carpets.

I could easily be wrong though.
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by Sauerkraut » Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:19 am

Thank you for all your suggestions. I'm going to a shop in Utrecht tomorrow (got to pick up a guitar pedal), maybe I can find something there. I'm mostly interested in the Microkorg, Alesis Micron and Casio CTK-691 now.

I don't really want a big organ, not even if I'd happen to stumble upon one at a ridiculously low price, I'd have to carry it around all over the place I wouldn't even know where to keep it!  ;D  :( (I'm a student)
Last edited by Sauerkraut on Thu Mar 01, 2007 6:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by Maggieo » Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:44 am

I've got an Alesis Micron and it does a pretty good organ sound.  My best organ sounds come from the sampler that came with Logic Pro, tho'- it's MAJOR.

The Micron is pretty kickass, tho' and I like the full-size, velocity-sensitive keys more than the MicroKorg's wee mini-keys.
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by Sauerkraut » Sun Mar 04, 2007 5:16 am

I went to the shop but they didn't have anything I wanted. But I did find a nice leather jacket in a shop nearby, I'm afraid the keyboard's going to have to wait for a while.

:)
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Re: Keyboard/synthesizer

Post by mezcalhead » Sun Mar 04, 2007 5:23 am

Now that's rock and roll .. !

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