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RIG set-up question from a noob

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RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby Steven11 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 1:21 pm

Hi all,

I am new to gigging. I know next to nothing when it comes to mixers, electricity, and how to hook up gear in general. I just know (somewhat?) how to play a bit of piano. :shifty:

I have researched quite a bit on the internet lately, including this forum, but I am no sound engineer and there are a few things I am wondering about that I figured I'd ask here.

I draw a picture of the set up I have in mind, but I have a few doubts. Here's the picture:

Image

1- Is this an OK setup or am I going to blow something up? :headbang:

2- My belief is that the UPS and the DI box should be protecting all my gear from either noise/tension oscillations in the mains for one thing, and for another thing, from anything f-up that might come from the FOH mixer. Is this 'insulation' shield working in the way I understand it or am I missing something?

3- Is it OK to plug the keyboards straight into the submixer, and put the DI box after that, between the mixer outs and the FOH? My understanding is that, powering all my gear from the same common outlet (in fact an online UPS) I shouldn't be having ground loop problems within my gear, so I wouldn't need a DI box there.

4- Should I feed my monitors from the mixer or from the DI box's throughput? It seems to me feeding them from mixer is the only way to let me control their volume while not affecting the total output level the FOH is going to get (I mean, other than tweaking the monitor knob itself, but they are physically away from me). But why is there a throughput in the DI anyway? I must be missing something big here.

5- Reading around, it seems that many people are preferring to set their keyboards to mono and feed the submixer (and the whole sound) in this way. Is there a reason to go mono?

6- Assuming the mixer has balanced outs in the form of 1/4 " jacks, can I still plug unbalanced TS cables from it to the DI? The DI is going to convert from unbalanced to balanced anyway, so I don't see the point of feeding the DI with balanced signal. But again I am not sure...

This was long and possibly filled with stupid questions... please bear with me as I am figuring all these things out now!
Thanks
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby ef37a » Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:25 am

One thing not in that Diagram Steven is an RCD. If you are going around various venues I strongly urge you to get one. I would get the 'inline' type and wire it into you main power feed then you can't forget it!
If you are in UK I cannot see the point of the UPS? OK if you already have it but what are you going to do in the dark with a panicked audience? Play them out while the building burns?

You have a couple of unbalanced feeds going to the mixer and you mentioned "ground loops"? Might be as well to put a 1:1 iso transformer on those feeds. Always a good idea to have a couple in the gig bag anyway.

The top sound men will be along shortly I am sure.

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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby BOD2 » Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:44 pm

I'm not a keyboards player and definitely an "amateur" sound engineer but my take on your setup would be as follows -

1. Your setup looks ok

2. I've read your other post and since you already have a UPS to give you a stable mains voltage then that seems ok.

3. My take on this is that you are using the passive DI box to isolate your setup from the FOH setup (to avoid any ground loop issues etc.) in which case the DI box would definitely be between your mixer and the FOH.

4. Probably best to feed your monitor from the mixer. Depending on the mixer you use you may even have a separate "MON" or "AUX" output which will allow you to feed a slightly different mix to your monitors and to the FOH if you wish. DI boxes are designed to be versatile problem solving units so a "through" on the box makes it more useful. You don't need to use it.

5. Most of your audience will not be ideally placed to hear a perfect stereo mix - only those in the centre of the venue. Many players therefore do not use stereo for keyboards and that way everyone will hear the same keyboard sound no matter where they are.

6. Probably yes, although it would depend on the actual mixer so you'd need to check the mixer specs. The DI box will convert unbalanced to balanced but this is not why you are using it here - you are using it to isolate your setup from FOH.

Happy to be corrected on any of the above points but at least this keeps the discussion going.
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby Steven11 » Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:15 pm

Thank you for your replies. I realize my questions must be very 'nooby' so thanks for bearing with me.

ef37a wrote:One thing not in that Diagram Steven is an RCD. If you are going around various venues I strongly urge you to get one. I would get the 'inline' type and wire it into you main power feed then you can't forget it!

Honestly I couldn't think of an RCD. Do I need one of those even if I'm going to plug an online UPS into the venue mains, and then feed all my gears from it? And to answer your other question regarding the UPS: I recently got a pretty expensive keyboard and considering how instable the tension is where I live, I decided I'd make the investment in the form of an online UPS. Since I already got it, I'm going to bring it with me wherever I'll gig, no brainer.

ef37a wrote:You have a couple of unbalanced feeds going to the mixer and you mentioned "ground loops"? Might be as well to put a 1:1 iso transformer on those feeds. Always a good idea to have a couple in the gig bag anyway.

I am not sure you mean it should be obvious that I would indeed have ground loops? Also I didn't think that unbalanced cables had anything to do with ground loops. The reason why I plan to use unbalanced cables is that my keyboards, like 99% of them out there, have unbalanced outs. I see no alternatives.



BOD2 wrote:3. My take on this is that you are using the passive DI box to isolate your setup from the FOH setup (to avoid any ground loop issues etc.) in which case the DI box would definitely be between your mixer and the FOH.

Yeah that was my supposition too. I ask this because, to bring back the ground loop problem, I am not sure that plugging 2 or 3 keyboards (all connected with each other via MIDI) into the same mixer, all plugged into the same main (the UPS), could give some kind of problems, including ground loop. There are too many cables going too many places at once... But in this case what should I do, buy a DI box for each keyboard I plug into the mixer? :headbang: Seems odd...

BOD2 wrote:4. Probably best to feed your monitor from the mixer. Depending on the mixer you use you may even have a separate "MON" or "AUX" output which will allow you to feed a slightly different mix to your monitors and to the FOH if you wish. DI boxes are designed to be versatile problem solving units so a "through" on the box makes it more useful. You don't need to use it.

Makes sense. Actually the mixers I was looking at (€ 100 range) only had headphones out, as an auxiliary out. Well, I assume I'd plug the monitors in that jack.

BOD2 wrote:5. Most of your audience will not be ideally placed to hear a perfect stereo mix - only those in the centre of the venue. Many players therefore do not use stereo for keyboards and that way everyone will hear the same keyboard sound no matter where they are.

This makes a lot of sense now that I think about it...

BOD2 wrote:6. Probably yes, although it would depend on the actual mixer so you'd need to check the mixer specs. The DI box will convert unbalanced to balanced but this is not why you are using it here - you are using it to isolate your setup from FOH.

I see. Makes sense as well. Speaking of the DI box and of the mixer, this is what I was thinking about getting: Radial PRO D2 and Yamaha MG-something (not sure about the model). There is a huge variation in prices among submixers... For example the ever-praised Radial Key Largo costs something like 5 times more than the MG6, and honestly I wonder whether it's really worth that much money. I understand it's got better sound processing and all, but...
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:00 pm

Steven11 wrote:1- Is this an OK setup or am I going to blow something up?


You won't blow anything up, and it's okay...

I presume this is solo work, just you and your keyboards? If that's the case I can see the reasons for your monitoring arrangements.

But if you're gigging with other musicians, it would be a lot easier to ditch your local monitoring (and mixer, actually), and use the stage wedges provided by the FOH people for monitoring/foldback. And then provide the two keyboards to FOH via two separate stereo DI boxes (or one stereo DI box if working in mono).

2- My belief is that the UPS and the DI box should be protecting all my gear from either noise/tension oscillations in the mains for one thing, and for another thing, from anything f-up that might come from the FOH mixer.

Yes -- but make sure your DI box is a decent one with a isolating transformer in it. Not all do (even some expensive ones!). For keyboards, a good passive DI box will be fine -- I use Radial Pro D2s myself... but don't cheap-out on it or you'll be wondering where all your bass has gone! And a good passive DI will literally last a life time, so the initial expense can be amortised over 40 or 50 years! ;)

3- Is it OK to plug the keyboards straight into the submixer, and put the DI box after that, between the mixer outs and the FOH?

Yes. You're unlikely to have a ground-loop problem with everything powered from the same (nearby) source and short cables between keyboards and mixer.

And as along as your mixer has balanced line inputs other options are available if you do have ground-loop issues.

4- Should I feed my monitors from the mixer or from the DI box's throughput?

From the mixer, for the reasons you state. Use balanced cables between mixer and speakers if possible.

For solo work, this arrangement is fine, but if you're playing with others how do you plan to hear them?

But why is there a throughput in the DI anyway?

Conventionally, a DI is normally inserted between a guitar and its amplifier. The 'through' or 'link' socket is normally wired directly in parallel with the input socket, so that the guitar remains connected to its amplifier, and the DI box effectively 'eavesdrops' on the signal.

5- Reading around, it seems that many people are preferring to set their keyboards to mono and feed the submixer (and the whole sound) in this way. Is there a reason to go mono?

On a big stage/venue very few people are placed to hear accurate stereo images -- they just hear the nearest PA speaker on its own -- so many PA systems are run in mono to keep things simple. However, there is a counter-argument that says the stereo spacious effects and movement of many keyboard sounds can still be beneficial, so many PA systems are run in stereo too...

However, there is a potential problem with many keyboards which is that while they may sound lovely in stereo, when summed to mono many can sound decidedly less impressive, and even quite horrible! Built-in effects can weaken or even disappear, and sampled pianos, in particularly, can sound quite phasey and cheap. For this reason, many performance keyboards have additional mono sounds and presets and it's worth experimenting to find what works best for stereo and mono gigs.

Personally, I have two sets of presets programmed into my stage keyboards, one with mono sounds and one with stereo sounds, and I use whichever is appropriate for each gig's setup.

6- Assuming the mixer has balanced outs in the form of 1/4 " jacks, can I still plug unbalanced TS cables from it to the DI? The DI is going to convert from unbalanced to balanced anyway, so I don't see the point of feeding the DI with balanced signal. But again I am not sure...

Yes, you can connect the DI box with unbalanced cables... with most DI boxes you'd have no option as they only have unbalanced inputs. As an alternative, you could use a line isolating transformer box instead which has the protective isolating transformer, but accepts balanced inputs and doesn't attenuate the signal to mic level -- so it presents the same line level out as it receives. Some FOH people prefer that approach, and some prefer the standard mic-level DI solution. the latter is probably the more usual and reliable choice.
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby BOD2 » Fri Jul 17, 2020 3:10 pm

An RCD is a safety device - it protects you from electric shock due to faulty mains installations. They are commonly used in the UK but you may have your own versions of these in your country. Your UPS may have some sort of protection built-in, but a low cost RCD can be a life saver.

Ground loops shouldn't be a problem within your own keyboard/mixer/monitor setup with everything powered from the same mains source. There is the potential for ground loops when you connect your setup to the FOH mixer - as this may well be powered from a separate source - but a good DI box with an isolating transformer inside should eliminate this problem completely.

No need for separate DI boxes between your keyboards and your mixer.

For monitoring, it is usually the case that a monitor feed is provided to you from the FOH mixer. This feed is mixed FOH and gives you all the instruments (your own and others on stage) at the levels you need to hear everything. If this is available then you do not need to connect your monitors to your mixer, just use the monitor feed and have the FOH give you the mix you wish to hear.
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby MarkPAman » Fri Jul 17, 2020 4:10 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
4- Should I feed my monitors from the mixer or from the DI box's throughput?

From the mixer, for the reasons you state. Use balanced cables between mixer and speakers if possible.

For solo work, this arrangement is fine, but if you're playing with others how do you plan to hear them?

More and more these days, especially with keys players, I'm asked to provide a monitor feed to go into their own sub-mixer. Often it'll be because they use an IEM system, but sometimes, it will be for their own speaker(s). It's easy to do*, and I can usually just treat in in the same way as any other monitor feed, just leaving their own instruments out.

Obviously it's important in this case, that their sub-mixer outputs for the PA & monitors are completely separate, and they don't send monitor signal back out to me again.

*OK, it's only easy if the desk/multicore system has enough busses/outputs available!

Oh, and obviously have something to block any phantom from the sub-mixer.
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Jul 17, 2020 8:33 pm

BOD2 wrote:An RCD is a safety device - it protects you from electric shock due to faulty mains installations. They are commonly used in the UK but you may have your own versions of these in your country. Your UPS may have some sort of protection built-in, but a low cost RCD can be a life saver.

In the OP's situation, an RCD on the feed to the UPS isn't going to offer any safety protection at all as the UPS will continue to generate mains volts whether or not the feed is tripped.

To be provide user safety, the individual UPS mains outputs feeding the equipment would need their own RCDs (GFCIs). I'm not aware of any UPSs with that feature, but they may exist. A plugboard with built-in RCD would be a good idea...
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby Steven11 » Sun Jul 19, 2020 11:22 am

Thanks to all of you. :)

Hugh Robjohns wrote:if you're gigging with other musicians, it would be a lot easier to ditch your local monitoring (and mixer, actually), and use the stage wedges provided by the FOH people for monitoring/foldback. And then provide the two keyboards to FOH via two separate stereo DI boxes (or one stereo DI box if working in mono).

Yes, I probably must have overlooked this aspect, in general, and not given it enough thought. I'd tend to think it varies from venue to venue, going from very small stages where the very concept of "monitor" kind of makes little sense (just a drum and an organ/keyboard playing jazz), to big stages with monitors provided by the FOH -- and everything in between. But it this this "between" that I am curious about, and in general how monitoring works on a stage.

The band I've joined I'll be gigging with, isn't exactly the Beatles in terms of popularity, so I am not going to be the next Jordan Rudess either :lol:

But nevertheless, at this moment where I am, still trying to figure things out and understand a bit more of the sound technicalities, I'd like to build a "default" rig setup for myself that could, without too much money involved, be "easily" expanded/converted to something bigger/versatile. But I need to understand these things more myself before even figuring out what would be more appropriate for each venue.

Let's say that, be the monitor feed provided by the FOH or not, I'd still like to have a couple of monitors close to me with the speakers I like just for myself, so I'd like this to be a part of my personal setup no matter what. I'd like also my own submixer because, no matter how many inputs the FOH mixer has, I'd like to be able to mix my keyboards myself, and then provide the FOH with just one single (well two, if stereo) feed(s).

Now, I was searching around the internet and I've come across the Radial Key-Largo, which seems to be exactly the kind of gear I'd need to do the above, because it also works as a DI-box, which then I wouldn't need to buy separately. Am I correct in assuming that I could connect it straight to the FOH and thus shield any phantom that may come from it? Hardware protection of my gear is a big priority of mine in all of this.

I've read Hugh's article on the KL and he seems to be giving a very positive view about it.

The only thing that I don't like about it is the price. :mrgreen:
But, a decent small mixer and a decent DI box kind of put me in similar price ranges... so...

Now, reading what Mark says here:

MarkPAman wrote:More and more these days, especially with keys players, I'm asked to provide a monitor feed to go into their own sub-mixer. Often it'll be because they use an IEM system, but sometimes, it will be for their own speaker(s). It's easy to do*, and I can usually just treat in in the same way as any other monitor feed, just leaving their own instruments out.

Obviously it's important in this case, that their sub-mixer outputs for the PA & monitors are completely separate, and they don't send monitor signal back out to me again.

I am not native in English and I may well be missing something here, but what you suggests here doesn't seem to me feasible if I used the Key-Largo (or any submixer for the matter). Even with a mixer with separate outs for the FOH and the monitors, if you give me an input for monitoring that goes into my mixer as if it were a keyboard, I'd be forced to re-route it to the FOH. But surely this can't be what you were referring to? Also you meant monitoring all the band instruments or just the keyboard?

Hugh Robjohns wrote:A plugboard with built-in RCD would be a good idea...

Is this the same as a surge-protected stripe?
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:02 pm

Steven11 wrote:Let's say that, be the monitor feed provided by the FOH or not, I'd still like to have a couple of monitors close to me with the speakers I like just for myself, so I'd like this to be a part of my personal setup no matter what.

Fair enough. I've done the same on occasions before, too. And if your local mixer is adequate with sufficient routing capabilities, you could mix a monitor feed from the FOH console to your own local monitor speakers.

I'd like also my own submixer because, no matter how many inputs the FOH mixer has, I'd like to be able to mix my keyboards myself, and then provide the FOH with just one single (well two, if stereo) feed(s).

This is where you need to be a bit more careful. You're on stage... the audience are not... So what you hear on your local speakers may not be much like what they hear, and there's a reason FOH engineers are located out at the back of the audience area! And if your local balance doesn't sound right out on the floor, there's absolutely nothing the FOH engineer can do about it!

So while there can be advantages to you providing a single mixed keyboard feed, there can also be significant disadvantages too... it's certainly one to think carefully about.

Now, I was searching around the internet and I've come across the Radial Key-Largo, which seems to be exactly the kind of gear I'd need to do the above, because it also works as a DI-box, which then I wouldn't need to buy separately.

Useful bit of kit... and there's also a rack-mounted version called the KL8.

https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/radial-key-largo
https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/radial-kl-8

Am I correct in assuming that I could connect it straight to the FOH and thus shield any phantom that may come from it?

Yes.

The only thing that I don't like about it is the price.

Radial is not known for making budget equipment... but what it does make is very high quality, incredibly robust, and long lasting.

but what you suggests here doesn't seem to me feasible if I used the Key-Largo (or any submixer for the matter). Even with a mixer with separate outs for the FOH and the monitors, if you give me an input for monitoring that goes into my mixer as if it were a keyboard, I'd be forced to re-route it to the FOH.

This is what I was referring to above -- you need a mixer with the capability of routing some inputs to the main outputs for FOH, an some only to a local monitoring bus. The Key Largo can't do that. The KL8 can, with limitations.... But many small mixers with either Alt or subgroup outputs, or multiple aux sends can be arranged to do what you'd need.

Hugh Robjohns wrote:A plugboard with built-in RCD would be a good idea...

Is this the same as a surge-protected stripe?[/quote]

No. I think the Italians call an RCD a 'salvavita'. Often built into the plugboard or mains plug. It automatically switches the power off to that device if it detects a fault where some of the mains current is leaking to Earth.
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby Steven11 » Sun Jul 19, 2020 4:50 pm

Thanks a million Hugh!

I think I'll pretty much go for the Key Largo. I like its simplicity yet capability at the same time. I plan to sit it ontop of the Stage 3. I already envision connecting the NS3 ch 1-2 and 3-4 into two different channels of the KL as if they were two different keyboards, then putting a Neo Vent II through the effects loop of the KL, and the possibilities of assigning the rotary effect to either channel pairs are really cool!

Also, the so-labelled "sustain" switch ontop of the KL, which I initially thought was pretty useless, could easily become a ontop-of-the-Nord rotor switch, which is currently operated by footswitch but thus leaving less pedals mess above the keyboard for when gigging. Nice!

Hugh Robjohns wrote:you need a mixer with the capability of routing some inputs to the main outputs for FOH, an some only to a local monitoring bus. The Key Largo can't do that. The KL8 can, with limitations....

The KL-8 is definitely a nice piece of gear but its price is way out of my range. The Key Largo is pretty much the maximum I can spend now for a mixer + DI.

By the way there might be a work-around to the monitor problem you mentioned that I was wondering about which uses the effects RECV as an IN for the monitor feed coming from the FOH mixer -- assuming I won't be using effects. Not sure it would work though, because it would mean leaving one of the 3 channels "empty" and turn its FX "send" knob to max. Probably I'd never try this...

But in any way that it may turn out to be, I'd still get the Key Largo. I understand that there may well be implications and pros and cons to wanting to mix my own keyboards, but again that's going to depend on the venue, the FOH mixer specs, as well as the personality/capability of the sound technicians. So yes for now I want my personal "default" rig to be like this. :)

Hugh Robjohns wrote:This is where you need to be a bit more careful. You're on stage... the audience are not... So what you hear on your local speakers may not be much like what they hear, and there's a reason FOH engineers are located out at the back of the audience area! And if your local balance doesn't sound right out on the floor, there's absolutely nothing the FOH engineer can do about it!

This would open a philosophical question about the very concept of monitoring itself that I'd have to think thoroughly myself before jumping to possibly silly conclusions. For now, I'll be satisfied knowing that, did I ever decide to let the FOH technicians do the mix for me, I'd need no mixer and as many DI boxes as many audio-out keyboards I have. At this stage, for me, just understanding all these things about sound and gear hooking is enough. :)

By the way there is one thing that I don't understand about the Key Largo, and this is due to my lack of understanding in electronics. Why does something like a volume pedal need not one but two "send" and "receive" stereo signals? Very naively, I'd have thought it works similarly to an expression pedal, which has one TRS plug. Has this something to do with balancing the signal or does the pedal/KL really need two stereo channels to operate?

By the way I'm purchasing the Key Largo. :wave:
Can't thank you all enough!
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:05 pm

Steven11 wrote:By the way there might be a work-around to the monitor problem you mentioned that I was wondering about which uses the effects RECV as an IN for the monitor feed coming from the FOH mixer -- assuming I won't be using effects.

Nope. The KL only has one mix bus, so all inputs are combined, including the effects return, to feed both the main outputs and the monitoring outputs. Check out the block diagram on page 12 of the manual.

By the way there is one thing that I don't understand about the Key Largo, and this is due to my lack of understanding in electronics. Why does something like a volume pedal need not one but two "send" and "receive" stereo signals?

Because the KL volume pedal works with unbalanced let and right audio signals, not control voltages.

The expression pedal plugged into a keyboard like the Nord works with a control voltage that changes all channels at the same time. As the KL is working with pure audio signals, each audio channel needs a separate send and return connection.

And if the volume pedal has separate dual mono ins and outs, as per the diagram in the manual, you'd need splitter cables.

H
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby ef37a » Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:12 pm

The Volume pedal send is stereo i.e. two hot signals, tip and ring and same for return.

Had it been balanced you would have needed four jacks!

BTW, should you HAVE a stereo volume pedal (never seen one!) you will need two TRS to mono TS cables according to the pikky in the book.

(Sorry Hugh but I was not warned this time.)

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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby innerchord » Sun Jul 19, 2020 5:56 pm

ef37a wrote:BTW, should you HAVE a stereo volume pedal (never seen one!) you will need two TRS to mono TS cables according to the pikky in the book.
Ernie Ball, Morley, Boss, Behringer etc. etc. Where have you been, Dave? :D
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Re: RIG set-up question from a noob

Postby ef37a » Sun Jul 19, 2020 6:05 pm

innerchord wrote:
ef37a wrote:BTW, should you HAVE a stereo volume pedal (never seen one!) you will need two TRS to mono TS cables according to the pikky in the book.
Ernie Ball, Morley, Boss, Behringer etc. etc. Where have you been, Dave? :D

Getting better mostly! I am, not and never have been a keyboard man so I have only had very slight dealings with volume pedals. Bought my son one for guitar work some time ago.Mono of course.

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