Which Keyboard, Synth, Organ?

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Ok I Cant play the piano.  I can figure out a melody kind of but I mainly record guitar and vocal stuff (my own and covers) for fun but I could really do with a simple way of adding some keyboards, organ or synth tones.  Perhaps using a keyboard that has one finger chords as an option.  I have an ancient Casio CA 10 and have been messing about with that but its rubbish.

What do I need?  do I need a Synth, organ or what?  Dont want to spend a fortune and will probably buy used.  I mainly record in Audacity via an Audio interface.
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  • Have a look in the Studio & Rec £ classified advertisements section of this forum. You will find several affordable, pre-owned keyboard and "workstation" instruments listed there.

    I feel obliged to declare that one of the items listed is mine. It is safe to do this because my item is a MIDI synthesizer module. It has no keys and, consequently, will be of no interest to you whatsoever.
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 20716
    Get the Roland XP50 that is the classifieds.
    Proper bargain.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 1026
    Alternatively, plenty of free softsynths out there if you are ok with vst plugins. Add a cheap midi keyboard (interface > midi in) or try jamorigin guitar to midi. 
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • goldtopgoldtop Frets: 956
    barryd said:
    Ok I Cant play the piano.  I can figure out a melody kind of but I mainly record guitar and vocal stuff (my own and covers) for fun but I could really do with a simple way of adding some keyboards, organ or synth tones.  Perhaps using a keyboard that has one finger chords as an option.  I have an ancient Casio CA 10 and have been messing about with that but its rubbish.

    What do I need?  do I need a Synth, organ or what?  Dont want to spend a fortune and will probably buy used.  I mainly record in Audacity via an Audio interface.
    What they said above, but if you really don't want to invest a little time and effort learning how to get what you want out of a piano-style keyboard, the left-field choice is one (or more!) of these:






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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 4013
    edited December 2018
    In similar vein to goldtop's suggestion, consider playing electric guitar through a Leslie cabinet simulator pedal. The strong association between organ and rotary cabinet can trick the brain into believing that sustained background chords are organ rather than mildly overdriven and modulated guitar. (This trick even works with Chapman Stick.) It helps to have the chops of product demonstrator Bill Ruppert.

    https://www.ehx.com/products/lester-g

    https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/electro-harmonix-lester-k-lester-g
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 20716
    If playing keyboard lines on a guitar it helps to understand voice leading, otherwise it just sounds like a bad impression.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    edited December 2018
    Wow! Bloody hell.  A lot to take in so thanks for those suggestions.  Those Electro Harmonix pedals are amazing! Who knew? Well not me obviously.  Not cheap though.  Ive been learning guitar for 45 years and Im still shit so if its not necessarily a question of being arsed to learn a completely new instrument its just I might be dead by the time I can play anything recognisable on it. 

    The Jam origin search turned up a Midi Guitar 2 video which looks quite interesting. Presumably thats just plugging your guitar through an audio interface which is what I do now with Audacity and my zoom g3 pedal.  That might be worth exploring.

    I think for now ill maybe look at seeing what the best and lowest cost option is for producing the sounds I want through my guitar.  I have an old Ibanez PF230 3 pick up (Les Paul), a Tanglewoood acoustic and an ancient Keller Spanish guitar with a decent pickup in it.  Will it make much difference to the sound through one of these Electro Harmonix pedals or through the Midi Guitar 2 software or could you pretty much put anything through them?

    That Roland XP50 that Digitalkettle is selling does sound like quite a bargain going by the comments.  I think I would like to see one in the flesh though to see if I think I could get to grips with it.  I bought my Rode Condenser mic off him, good bloke.  That was a good price as well.

    Anyway, much to think about.  Thanks for all the suggestions.  I think for now though Ill see what I can turn my guitar into and just cheat.  As usual of course my budget is zero to not very much (well what I can get away with).
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 1026
    Jamorigin is a pitch to midi converter i.e. You play into your interface, the software detects pitch and generates a midi note which you can then record in your daw. Or it can trigger a softsynth just like having a midi keyboard attached. The ehx pedals have their own pitch detection thing going on in the box so you can output to an amp if you want. The old way of generating guitar midi was to fit a hex pickup to your guitar, still an option but tracking can be an issue. If you have the cash, there is a boss synth pedal with pitch detection built in (sy-300).

    Or you could ask @HarrySeven how he is getting on with his beetle quantar.
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • barryd said:
    Those Electro Harmonix pedals … could you pretty much put anything through them?
    The “9” series pedals employ granular technology to extract pitch and sustain information from a guitar signal. The greater mechanical sustain from a solidbody electric guitar makes it the better choice for this application.

    If you have an Apple iPad or iPhone, consider Flux FX Play.

    flux.noii.se
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • blobb said:
    ask HarrySeven how he is getting on with his beetle quantar.
    In the realm of the H7 obsolete gear collection, form outweighs functionality. Always! ;)
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    blobb said:
    Jamorigin is a pitch to midi converter i.e. You play into your interface, the software detects pitch and generates a midi note which you can then record in your daw. Or it can trigger a softsynth just like having a midi keyboard attached. The ehx pedals have their own pitch detection thing going on in the box so you can output to an amp if you want. The old way of generating guitar midi was to fit a hex pickup to your guitar, still an option but tracking can be an issue. If you have the cash, there is a boss synth pedal with pitch detection built in (sy-300).

    Or you could ask @HarrySeven how he is getting on with his beetle quantar.

    The software route might be the way to go or at least try then.  I have both my Zoom g3 and an M Audio interface and both a PC Tower and a decent laptop so presumably I dont need any other hardware?  I wonder if there is a trial version.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 4013
    barryd said:
    Zoom g3
    It ought to be possible to program sustained chordal washes by combining a Slow Attack, a long Delay/Reverb and some Modulation. (Not necessarily in that order.)

    If the G3 does not offer pick-sensitive Slow Attack, use a volume pedal or the guitar's volume pot(s) instead. 
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    edited January 1
    Thanks.  Ive tried various things on the G3 as well as some of the questionable patch downloads and none come anywhere near a keyboard or synth.  There is a trial of Guitar Midi 2 but I get the impression it wont work with Audacity which is what I use.  Ive contacted them to ask. I think I got a copy of Cubase with my M Audio interface but I took one look at it and gave up. anguished  

    I was hoping I wouldnt have to learn how to use another DAW really.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 4013
    In that case, I second octatonic's suggestion to buy the Roland XP-50 from digitalkettle. Its basic onboard sound set covers a lot of musical possibilities. The quota of synth, organ and piano sounds can be increased greatly by installing the SR-JV80-04 Vintage Synth and SR-JV80-08 Keyboards Of The 60s & 70s expansion boards.

    The XP-50 spec includes a hardware MIDI sequencer. This would allow you to program drum and keyboard parts for hands-free replay, leaving you to play guitar and/or sing on top. 

    Various aspects of the Roland JV/XP instrument series may have been superseded some time ago but this does not necessarily prevent its sounds from sitting better in a mix than the newer, all-singing, all-dancing instruments. 
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 20716
    Also the orchestral board is pretty cool.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    Thanks.  Im a bit wary of buying twenty year old kit now since my Boss GT5 just died for no reason but Ill not rule it out until Ive fully explored whats possible with the guitar and both software and pedals.   Im going to download Midi Guitar 2 and see if I can get anything out of it or find a way of recording the output (assuming its any good).
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 4013
    barryd said:
    Im a bit wary of buying twenty year old kit
    You wouldn’t like my Roland Super JX-10, then. Thirty three years young. Only ever needed the occasional key contact cleaning job and replacement batteries for the memory cartridges.
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    edited January 2
    Im just thinking of an excuse for getting out of learning a new instrument probably. 

    Im sure its a fine piece of kit, I havent got £250 spare right now though unfortunately.  Well I have precisely £0 spare as far as Mrs D is concerned otherwise I would snap your hand off on your piano.  You never know.

    I spent an hour or so playing with Midi Guitar 2.  Well it took me most of that time just to get a sound out of it until I realised the interface was set to the wrong channel number.  The default settings certainly sound nothing like the youtube videos thats for sure.  The Piano sounds like some dodgy out of tune Saloon Piano from a bad western.  Everything else very much sounds like a guitar.  Trouble is it stops working after a couple of minutes with it being a demo.

    On the plus side I did figure out how to plug it into to record in Audacity.  It wouldnt record via the M Audio interface into Audacity and just recorded the basic guitar notes.  This probably sounds bonkers but I just took the output from my M Audio headphone jack and plugged it into my zoom g3 pedal with all the effects off and then chose that as the recording device in audacity and it works.  Not sure Ill stick with it though.  
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 1026
    my exp was with the first version of jamorigin, but imagine the logic is the same. The key to this is to realise that the pitch detection software is separate to the synth which makes the sound.

    In other words, once the guitar pitch has been detected and converted to a midi note (by jamorigin) it then sends the midi note to your synth or sound generator of choice.

    I'm guessing what you are doing is using the default sound source included with jamorigin? You don't need to use this if you don't want to. You can output the midi info to any software synth. Search on here for best free vst synths and you should get a load of suggestions.

    So the flowsheet would be: guitar in  >Jamorigin inserted as a vst on daw track > detects pitch and converts to midi > midi routed to vst soft synth on same daw track > soft syth makes the noise you want in response to midi note.

    The midi info is what will be recorded (so you need to be using a midi track, rather than an audio track). once you have the midi info, which in this case you are generating from pitch detection, you can change the soft syth at will. You can generate midi from a midi keyboard or even use your mouse to click on a piano roll in the daw.

    In most daw you create new track > midi track
    then insert plugin > vst plugin (jamorigin)
    insert plugin > vst plugin (softsynth of choice)
    record arm > record
    play guitar, midi notes generated and recorded to midi track
    stop > rewind >play loop selection
    change patch
    bounce to audio.

    SoS explain it better than i do...




    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    edited January 3
    blobb said:
    my exp was with the first version of jamorigin, but imagine the logic is the same. The key to this is to realise that the pitch detection software is separate to the synth which makes the sound.

    In other words, once the guitar pitch has been detected and converted to a midi note (by jamorigin) it then sends the midi note to your synth or sound generator of choice.

    I'm guessing what you are doing is using the default sound source included with jamorigin? You don't need to use this if you don't want to. You can output the midi info to any software synth. Search on here for best free vst synths and you should get a load of suggestions.

    So the flowsheet would be: guitar in  >Jamorigin inserted as a vst on daw track > detects pitch and converts to midi > midi routed to vst soft synth on same daw track > soft syth makes the noise you want in response to midi note.

    The midi info is what will be recorded (so you need to be using a midi track, rather than an audio track). once you have the midi info, which in this case you are generating from pitch detection, you can change the soft syth at will. You can generate midi from a midi keyboard or even use your mouse to click on a piano roll in the daw.

    In most daw you create new track > midi track
    then insert plugin > vst plugin (jamorigin)
    insert plugin > vst plugin (softsynth of choice)
    record arm > record
    play guitar, midi notes generated and recorded to midi track
    stop > rewind >play loop selection
    change patch
    bounce to audio.

    SoS explain it better than i do...




    Thanks for taking the trouble to explain all that but I can assure you SoS do not explain it better than you did.  It was all way over my head.  Ill keep looking and see if there is a step by step guide anywhere.  There are lots of videos but they are mainly of people playing wonderful sounds without explaining how they actually got them.

    I could just do what I normally do and how I learned to use my Zoom G3, just sit down with a bottle of decent red and bash buttons and stuff until something good comes out of it.  Or not.

    Im trying to think what I can Flog so I can buy DK's Roland.  Anyone want a 1970s 100w Marshall Combo (not working)?
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 4013
    barryd said:
    Anyone want a 1970s 100w Marshall Combo (not working)?
    What model name and number does it have? It might suit one of this forum's gear hoarders.
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 1026
    the other option, of course,is to embrace the wonderful world of online collaboration i.e. get someone else to do it for you!
    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 20716
    barryd said:
    Thanks.  Im a bit wary of buying twenty year old kit now since my Boss GT5 just died for no reason but Ill not rule it out until Ive fully explored whats possible with the guitar and both software and pedals.   Im going to download Midi Guitar 2 and see if I can get anything out of it or find a way of recording the output (assuming its any good).
    Things do happen but I have synths that are much, much older than that here and they don't have any issues.
    How they are stored/used/played makes more of a difference than their age.
    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    edited January 4
    barryd said:
    Anyone want a 1970s 100w Marshall Combo (not working)?
    What model name and number does it have? It might suit one of this forum's gear hoarders.

    I did post some time ago about it when I discovered it wasnt working but it mustn't have been on here as I Cannot find it now.  Ill have a look this afternoon.  Ive not used it for years but a couple of years ago I came to plug it in and the switch flickers on when you power it up but then nothing.  I was going to take it to the music shop in Northallerton (which is 20 miles from here) but never got around to it.  Im partially disabled so I cant get the fecker down the stairs let alone in the boot of the car so I kept putting it off.

    It looks like this one but ill find out. I think its 1970s.  Ive had it since I was at college in the 80s and it sounds (when it works) great but ill never use it again sadly I guess.  Its just gathering dust in the spare room.

    As said its similar to this but ill find out the model number

    https://tinyurl.com/y7d5zkbn


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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    blobb said:
    the other option, of course,is to embrace the wonderful world of online collaboration i.e. get someone else to do it for you!
    Ive often wondered about that.  I live in the middle of nowhere in the North Yorkshire Dales so finding like minded musicians around here is not that easy.  There was a group of four of us that used to jam in the studios in Barnard Castle for a while a few years ago but they all lost interest and frankly we were rubbish.  I just need to find an online keyboard player (and probably a guitarist, bassist, drummer and a singer  =) ).  
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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    This is my Marshall amp.  The only thing I am able to establish from the serial number is that (I think) its 1979 as it ends in "L" which is according to the various Marshall sites 1979.  Full serial number is 04205L.  That reverb unit (dunno if it works) is mid 80s as well.  Any ideas?  Maybe it needs its own thread.


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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 4013
    Interesting mixture of features.

    1. The triple input socket array is characteristic of the old, solid state, Master Lead chassis - in which case, there should be no requirement for a standby switch.
    2. The Mid Shift tone control is unusual.
    3. What are the last two controls? (To the right of the Presence control.) These are clearly not a Master Volume or similar. 
    4. The legend "Compressor" is clearly visible between the last control knob and the mains switches. Compression is a feature that might reasonably be expected in a bass guitar amplifier. 
    "It's no wonder the Pacific Ocean is blue."
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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    Interesting mixture of features.

    1. The triple input socket array is characteristic of the old, solid state, Master Lead chassis - in which case, there should be no requirement for a standby switch.
    2. The Mid Shift tone control is unusual.
    3. What are the last two controls? (To the right of the Presence control.) These are clearly not a Master Volume or similar. 
    4. The legend "Compressor" is clearly visible between the last control knob and the mains switches. Compression is a feature that might reasonably be expected in a bass guitar amplifier. 

    I cant quite make them out on a zoom of the photo, maybe you can. Ill have a proper look later. On a positive note I manged to load some orchestra VST files which work in Midi guitar 2.  Certainly an improvement on the defaults.


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  • barrydbarryd Frets: 5
    I forgot I had posted this three years ago.  General opinion is its a 4140 club and country.  http://www.marshallforum.com/threads/my-100-watt-combo-is-dead.87873/
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  • JMP220478JMP220478 Frets: 166
    blobb said:
    Alternatively, plenty of free softsynths out there if you are ok with vst plugins. Add a cheap midi keyboard (interface > midi in) or try jamorigin guitar to midi. 
    if you have an ipad or similar - look at options -chordpolypad is a good app for this type of thing - though there probably a myriad of alternatives
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