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advice on keyboards for live theater

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advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby pianogirl27 » Sun May 20, 2018 11:39 pm

Hello! I'm new here. So first, if I'm posting in the wrong area please redirect me, thanks. :)

I am a very experienced keyboardist, and as a hobby I accompany live theater productions. I am looking for a keyboard to replace my Kurzweil PC88....I'm not a technological whiz so Im looking for the most user-friendly digital keyboard with a "workstation" (I believe that's the right term?), but it also must have good sound patches. Specifically piano, organ, brass, strings, and reeds. (I use these the most). I am not interested in crazy sound patches or adding my own, just the patches I would need for achieving good orchestral sounds. I am also not interested in recording on the device, however, I will be recording a few of the dance numbers through garage band on my laptop. (Unless there is an easier way I'm not aware of...?)

The keyboards recommended to me were the Yamaha MOXF8 and the Roland FA 08. I made a trip to my local specialty store and discovered that the FA 08 has now been replaced with a newer model...much more expensive. (Don't remember the model info).

I would appreciate any advice that any of you more experienced folks may have to offer, specifically comparing the keyboards, informing me of a different one that may meet my needs, or if there's any helpful (simple) recording advice you may have.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby Dave B » Mon May 21, 2018 1:41 am

As you are already familiar with Kurzweil's way of working, why not get a more modern one of those?

There is the PC3K8 and the (slightly more expensive but a more than a bit better) Forte range. I've owned both and the former was actually sold on to someone who plays in West End shows. They are very heavily used - in fact, quite a few features were specified by Andrew Lloyd Webber's team so that they could update from their ageing K2600s..

:)
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Re: advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby zenguitar » Mon May 21, 2018 1:44 am

Thanks Dave B, exactly the response I anticipated when I approved the OP :)

Andy :beamup:
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Re: advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby The Elf » Mon May 21, 2018 7:20 am

The Kurzweils are a staple of theatre players. Being something of a reformed Kurzweil PC3 fan myself, I'd definitely back up Dave's suggestion.
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Re: advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby zetouf » Mon May 21, 2018 7:34 am

Yamaha Montage 8 is really worth the money. I own one since last year and it never disappointed me. I did more than 100 shows with it (in theatres from 800 to 3500 people in the audience).

Besides, last month I spent one week in London with my wife and we had the opportunity to attend to Thriller Live. I was happy to see that both keyboard players were using a Montage 8.
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Re: advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby Dave B » Mon May 21, 2018 10:49 am

TBH, any of the major workstations will be more than enough to do the job. I also have a Korg Kronos which I see has been used on a couple of very high profile shows. The Motif range are everywhere - Yamaha is very good at deals with high profile players and the boards themselves are just what people want. I'm sure we'll see more Montages quite quickly. Whilst I'm not a fan of the Roland FA range, they are more than capable machines.

With all of these things, it's a case of finding something which you like the sound of and are comfortable using. I can whizz about Kurzweils but then that is because I've had so many for so darned long! I'm afraid it's a case of trying a few and seeing what 'clicks'.

:)

Also, be careful of assuming that what you see being played is what is generating the sound. I know of one 'name' player who proudly did a video showing off his shiny Korg Kronos for a very high profile West End show. When I mentioned this to the guy buying my PC3, he gave a hollow laugh, told me he'd worked on that show and that the whole show was coming out of 2 K2600 racks behind the scenes. Seems that the sound designers for the shows are a conservative bunch and still love their old favourites....

;)
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Re: advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby resistorman » Wed May 23, 2018 4:17 am

I personally prefer the sound of Yamaha over Roland in general, but you really need to sit down and spend some time with an instrument to see how you get along with it. Its harder to do as the music stores close!
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Re: advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby harris92 » Thu May 31, 2018 8:21 am

I play that kind of gigs in Denmark, and I trying to figure out which keyboard is the best for the job too.

I think I narrowed it down to:

Yamaha Motif Xs/Xf
Korg Kronos X
Roland Fantom G8
Kurzweil Forte/ Pc3K
Mainstage (pros/cons) - can you trust it yet?

best regards
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Re: advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby Dave B » Thu May 31, 2018 11:25 am

Forgot to mention - if you are on a tight budget (and the boards in the OPs post are at the lower end of the pro price scale), then another option might be to go for the Korg Krome. There is an 88 note weighted one available. It doesn't have sampling, or the myriad of synth engines in the Kronos, but it is quite light (in comparison) and the sounds are pretty good too. And it's a fair bit cheaper.
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Re: advice on keyboards for live theater

Postby Dave B » Thu May 31, 2018 11:37 am

harris92 wrote:Mainstage (pros/cons) - can you trust it yet?

Oh yes. It's now quite a mature technology which is the mainstay of many touring artists at all levels. There is the odd gotcha now and then (some plugins can be fickle), but it's a cracking system.

The main reason that I don't use it live is that I'd be using insanely powerful keyboards to drive a laptop - I don't have any 'dumb' weighted keyboards. Oh, and it's another stand to lug about. If I were starting from scratch, I'd be very tempted by the Roland RD2000 and mainstage as it's designed to be an integrated system. Plug in another 'synth action' keyboard over usb, and you're covered. Nice.
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