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Starting out

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Re: Starting out

Postby Martin Walker » Sat Jul 20, 2019 7:33 pm

awjoe wrote:My situation and conclusions are really similar to Mr Spoons, apparently. I'm not a keyboardist, but I've acquired three keyboards mostly for overdubs on my stuff - an 88-key Roland, a 49-key MIDI keyboard, and a Novation Mininova. After using all three, the promise I've made myself about anything I get in future is 'nothing less than 49 full-size keys with good action'. And if for some reason I started spending more time playing keys, that number would change from 49 to 60. In the past, I've found changing from playing an alto or tenor recorder to a descant (do you say 'soprano'?) comfortable - the fingers are happy with the shift. But changing from full-size keys to mini keys is a harder adjustment.

Hi awjoe!

I'm totally in agreement, but your last comment about mini-keys can also be hugely dependent on your hand (and finger) size. Some musicians can manage with mini-keys (my Korg MS-20 Mini for instance has a reasonably sensible 86% scale keyboard that is just about usable, but any smaller than that and people with 'fat fingers' can end up playing two or three notes simultaneously by mistake ;) )


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Re: Starting out

Postby Funkyflash5 » Sat Jul 20, 2019 9:54 pm

Not that I do a lot of keyboard stuff, but I have extra large hands and find that doing any more than getting a reference note from a keyboard with mini keys is a total fiasco. I'm happy to use a 25 (full sized) key controller for doing note entry for horn or string arranging or jotting ideas, and if I need more I have the old 88 key digital piano I learned on on the other side of the room where it can be connected by a 25ft midi cable or stereo di.
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Re: Starting out

Postby MOF » Sat Jul 20, 2019 10:19 pm

I'm about to set up a little (very little) home studio to have a bash at creating / recording music. I'm intending to use mainly soft synths / drums and my electric guitar at the moment.

I have a late 2013 MacBook Pro (SDD / 16Gb RAM)
Have a go with Garage Band, I use it on my iPhone when out and about and then import it into Logic, its bigger brother, which has lots of very good plugins of all types (instruments and effects) to do more work on tracks.
I can also recommend Native Instruments Komplete software which has lots of good plugins but no sequence/arrange facilities.
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Re: Starting out

Postby Sam Spoons » Sat Jul 20, 2019 11:19 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
awjoe wrote:My situation and conclusions are really similar to Mr Spoons, apparently. I'm not a keyboardist, but I've acquired three keyboards mostly for overdubs on my stuff - an 88-key Roland, a 49-key MIDI keyboard, and a Novation Mininova. After using all three, the promise I've made myself about anything I get in future is 'nothing less than 49 full-size keys with good action'. And if for some reason I started spending more time playing keys, that number would change from 49 to 60. In the past, I've found changing from playing an alto or tenor recorder to a descant (do you say 'soprano'?) comfortable - the fingers are happy with the shift. But changing from full-size keys to mini keys is a harder adjustment.

Hi awjoe!

I'm totally in agreement, but your last comment about mini-keys can also be hugely dependent on your hand (and finger) size. Some musicians can manage with mini-keys (my Korg MS-20 Mini for instance has a reasonably sensible 86% scale keyboard that is just about usable, but any smaller than that and people with 'fat fingers' can end up playing two or three notes simultaneously by mistake ;) )


Martin

I think I probably have average sized hands but, with my very limited, keyboard skills anything that departs from the norm, i.e. not standard piano sized keys does not sit well. Happy swapping from weighted Roland A90 to the synth action Juno-D or Miniak (both of which feel pretty nice compared to some) but mini keys simply don't do it for me. Maybe if I was a better keyboard player I would be able to adapt, I can happily go from Mandolin to 41" scale upright bass via 24", 24 ¾", 25 ½", 26 ½" and 34" basses and guitars.
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Re: Starting out

Postby MattWeth » Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:14 am

Thanks again for all the input - much appreciated.

One thing in the Novation Impulse keyboard's favour is that all versions do have full sized keys.
I'm currently torn between the 25 and 49 key versions (I just don't think I've got the space for the 61 key model).
I'm no keyboard player (although I do have fantasies about becoming a better one!) and I guess a 49 would at least give me the opportunity to actually 'play' rather than just pick out melodies and fire midi at a sequencer...
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Re: Starting out

Postby The Elf » Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:19 am

I think that my point in bringing up the 25-key keyboard has been lost somewhat...

What I was saying was that I see little point in a 25-key keyboard with semi-weighted keys and aftertouch. You could get 25 or more keys for much cheaper without those.
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Re: Starting out

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Jul 21, 2019 9:43 am

MattWeth wrote:I guess a 49 would at least give me the opportunity to actually 'play' rather than just pick out melodies and fire midi at a sequencer...

Hi Matt,

The Elf makes a very good point about semi-weighted and aftertouch probably being a little redundant with only 25-keys, although I've found aftertouch quite useful for adding expression when using my Novation 25SL MkII that sits immediataly above my PC keyboard for editing, entering bass lines, tapping in drum parts, and simply melodies.

So yes, I agree with him that it isn't really worth paying more for a semi-weighted 25-key version - save your money and just go with a synth key response.

However, to elaborate on your point above, I find 25-keys just isn't enough for anything other than simply melodies (those in the key of C are easiest, since you get two complete octaves from C to C with 25 keys, bu as soon as you move into other keys you 'run out of notes' unless you use the keyboard's transpose function, which can be confusing again, and certainly not sufficient for any 2-handed playing.

If you're only going to have one keyboard for now, 49 keys would give you far more scope. and (I suspect) far less frustration, and semi-weighted could at this size be a far more useful addition.


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Re: Starting out

Postby MattWeth » Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:01 am

The Elf - I did see your comment and fully understand where you're coming from.
As you, Martin and others have said, I can see that a larger keyboard is going to be much more useful (and useable) - I'm going to go for the 49 key version :)
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Re: Starting out

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:51 pm

:thumbup:
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Re: Starting out

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Jul 22, 2019 4:23 am

For what it's worth, though I don't have anything of substance to add to that which has already been said a longer keyboard is probably a wise decision.

I'm a ways further down the path you are now starting, insofar as I'm now spending proper money on the environment as opposed to gear.

One of the things that came up at the start of this process was a design consideration with regards to the desk that faces the moniters/acoustic treatment/DAW screens.

I am primarily a pianist/synthesist and as such It was suggested to me that the desk should be able to accomodate an 88-note keyboard, which would be useful but which would also compromise certain aspects of the layout. I opted to modify things such that it could accomodate a 61 key device.

I would have liked to get an 88-note board in the space but in my case it doesn't matter as I have one to the right at a 90 degree angle to the desk which is a workable solution. I cannot imagine any scenario where a 25-key solution is of any value other than a literal requirement to 'press a key and sample it' scenario or as a 'note by note' MIDI entry device. For playing, no way.

If you really need a keyboard at all, opt for the biggest one you can accomodate even if it is a little inconvenient.
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Re: Starting out

Postby MattWeth » Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:19 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:
If you really need a keyboard at all, opt for the biggest one you can accomodate even if it is a little inconvenient.

Thanks Eddy - good advice which I'll follow.
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Re: Starting out

Postby N i g e l » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:23 pm

As a guitarist you might want to check out some of the guitar to midi technology too, like Jamstik (hardware) or Jam Origins midi guitar [vst – so you could try out the demo 1st]. Other products are available as they say.

I think midi/vsts go best with a keyboard. I use a basic semi weighted 49 key keyboard for computer entry/playing. Its small and light for travel too.

I have had a go on the Novation SL25 keyboard and thought it had a nice action but I found it cramped - might be acceptable for blocking out chords or tracking baselines and leads. Certainly portable !

Semi weighted keys are a good half way house between the speed of unweighted and the playability of piano hammer action.
What ever the action you want, try before you buy if possible, as different manufacturers keyboards have a different feel, even the fully weighted keys.

The big 88 key hammer action keyboards come with a health warning as they are awkward to move, heavy [30kg?] and can do serious damage to toes or furniture if they escape. They also need a substantial stand.
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