Crazy 88s: The Keyboard Player Species

Favorite keyboard player quote:

When I die, I'll probably climb out of the coffin and play the organ at my own funeral!
- Rick Wakeman

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Keyboard Related Articles

Great article on the Mellotron and Prog Rock in general

Friday, March 2, 2007

Great Keyboard Stories

Great Hammond B3 Story!

You just never know who might want to "borrow" your Hammond B3 and Leslie speaker for a show...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gear Spotlight

Hammond 70th anniversary

Unearthing the Mysteries of the Leslie Speaker

In-Depth Minimoog Demo

Good Yamaha CS-80 Article

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Crazy 88s Keyboard Player Video

Incredible Rick Wakeman Solo

Tori Amos - Cornflake Girl on Soundstage

Tori Amos - Desperado

Brent Mydland crushes the B-3 on "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" in '89

Keith Emerson on "Tarkus" from '72 in Tokyo

Keith Emerson gives his Hammond L-100 a workout with "Rondo"

Barbara Dennerlein - Great use of the B-3 footpedals

Another great Barbara Dennerlein performance

David Garfield - nice view of the keyboard

And then along came Dragonforce

Vangelis & Neuronium (In London 1982) - Good Prophet 5 footage

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Crazy 88s Keyboard Player Profiles

Melvin Seals

Melvin with Jerry Garcia

Rick Wakeman

Keyboard Player Web Sites

John Allair
Tori Amos
Patricia Barber
Barbara Dennerlein
Ben Folds (on MySpace)
David Garfield
Mike Garson
Laila Afsoon Gorosito (MySpace)
Herbie Hancock
Phil James Manchester
Phil's got a great bio page
Chuck Leavell
Mats Olausson
Melvin Seals (on MySpace)
Merl Saunders
Rhoda Scott
Jimmy Smith
Chris Stainton
Mark Stanway's Keyboard Forum (MySpace)
John (Iggy) Taylor
Rick Wakeman's Communication Centre
Richard Wright
Joe Zawinul

Monday, December 4, 2006

Keyboard Player Interviews

Tony Banks in interview with Christopher Thomas, March 2004

Rob Barraco: The Delicacy of The Dead By Eric Ward June 30, 2003

The AppleMatters Interview: Herbie Hancock - March 11th, 2005

Danny Louis of Gov't Mule interviewed by Dean Budnick 10-30-2004

A fireside chat with John Medeski

Music Box Interview with Melvin Seals

Rick Wakeman Interview

Keyboard Player Quotes

Here are some of my favorite quotes from some of my favorite keyboard players:

You don't want to lose that moment. You've got to do it, or you'll lose that moment.
- Keith Emerson

The studio is not the place to write. You need to be 75% ready when you go into the studio, and then the music can develop to the next stage
- Rick Wakeman

Crazy 88s Key Wikipedia Entries


Analog Synthesizer


Absolute Pitch (or Perfect Pitch)

Relative Pitch

Specific Keyboards
Hammond B-3


Yamaha CS-80

Sequential Circuits Prophet-5

Keyboard Players
Gregg Allman

Tori Amos

Rod Argent

Marcia Ball

Tony Banks

"Wild" Bill Davis

Rick Davies

Barbara Dennerlein

Bill Doggett

Keith Emerson

Matthew Fisher

Herbie Hancock

Nicky Hopkins

Garth Hudson

John Paul Jones

Jon Lord

Eddie Layton

Professor Longhair

Ray Manzarek

Goldie McJohn

Ian McLagan

Christine McVie

John Medeski

Thelonius Monk

Patrick Moraz

Art Neville

Alan Price

Mac Rebennack (Dr. John)

Gregg Rolie

Adnan Sami

Merl Saunders

Paul Shaffer

Jimmy Smith

Rick Wakeman

Fats Waller

Steve Winwood

Richard Wright

Friday, December 1, 2006

My Current Keyboard Rig

Roland RD-300s

This 20+ year old "tank" (nicknamed due to the fully weighted action which makes it weigh close to 80 lbs.) still has some of the best piano samples I've heard anywhere. I've lugged this beast to many a gig, which has been no easy task. I've been toying with the idea of replacing it with Clavia's Nord Stage 88, but I'm trying to play and hear one in person before making the expenditure. The Nord Stage is less than half the weight of the Roland, and includes a killer Organ section, effects, and supposedly great piano samples, but again, this is why I need to experience one firsthand.

Nord Stage 88 Stage Piano
Nord Stage 88 Stage Piano

Roland VK-8M Organ Module

This addition to my rig replaced a VOCE Micro-B, and provides excellent B3 sounds. Very small and easy to move around, but still, a seperate piece of equipment. Here are a couple of observations about its characteristics. First, it very accurately reproduces the tonewheel traits of the actual Hammond B3. Second, it has an excellent rotary speaker emulation. I have to say though that this module desperately needs a couple of simple yet critical modifications. For some reason, there is no input for a pedal to control the rotary speaker speed. This is handled by a button, but a pedal option would have been ideal. Almost all of the competing "clonewheels" as they're called have this feature. Also, this module incudes a D-Beam controller which you set to control specific sound characteristics or effects and use by placing your hand over its optical sensor and then varying the distance of your hand from the beam. For instance, it can increase rotary speed and volume for crescendos, control a ring modulator, etc. (although I don't use it much). But what was Roland thinking by placing the master volume control for the module right in its path so that if the D-Beam is enabled, your hand will invariably pass over the D-Beam if you make a volume adjustment, throwing in some crazy unwanted sound. Now I have a small 8-channel BOSS mixer that I use that lets me control the volume or sometimes I use a volume pedal, but still, these couple shortcomings don't really make it a performer's dream. Great in the studio though.

Roland VK-8M Organ Sound Module
Roland VK-8M Organ Sound Module

E-MU Proteus 1
Another 20 year old piece of gear that I still like. Just recently had to replace a power supply module ($15.00 on eBay), but apart from that, flawless. A multitude of nice-sounding patches, but the ones I use the most are: Hall Strings, 12 String Acoustic, Flute, Rock Organ if I don't have time to change a patch on the Roland VK-8M, and sometimes a MiniMoog Bass.

M-Audio RADIUM 49 Controller
I bought this primarily for use with some synth applications on my Mac. It was inexpensive and nobody had the 61 key version of Novation's X-Station available (the controller I really wanted). It's powered by the Mac's USB port which is handy and I can MIDI it to virtual instruments on the Mac (like those in GarageBand or Native Instruments Synths), OR control the Roland VK-8M.

Various Virtual Instruments on an Apple Macintosh PowerBook G4
While the Mac is not an instrument itself, I have to say that many of the Garage Band instruments and their accompanying control and effects paramaters are exceptionally good.

I also picked up
Native Intruments' XPress Keys which contains limited versions of their B4 (a Hammond B3), FM7 (a Yamaha DX7), and a Pro-53 (a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5).

I have to say that I really love the concept of a real piece of gear that has been reproduced in software. Between Apple's GarageBand and Native Instruments' Xpress Keys, I have a wealth of additional sounds to draw upon.

Here's how I use the Mac: I have the RADIUM or the RD-300s MIDI'd to the Mac, and then I just use an 1/8" to 1/4" adapter and a patch cord out of the Mac's headphone jack back to my 8-channel BOSS mixer. It really cranks through the PA when I bring it in. I do have to say that although I've used the Mac for a live gig, it is not my preference. It just seems too risky to rely on a computer, but again, excellent in a studio setting. Also, if you use a Mac, make sure you have plenty of RAM. Mine was choking at 256MB. I added a 1GB module and it hasn't blinked.