Alex’s Live Keyboard Rig for Shryne

January 2016

Present Rig - January 7, 2016. Photo by Kari Tieger.

Present Rig – M-Audio Axiom Air 49 on top and Kurzweil PC3 on the bottom. MacBook Pro and MOTU UltraLite mk3 are on the side. This show was at The Spot Underground, January 7, 2016.     Photo by Kari Tieger.

My latest version of the rig is entirely computer driven, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the results. I was tweaking the rig right through and after sound check and somehow ‘broke’ the sustain pedal from functioning just before the show without knowing.

 

 

Hardware:

Laptop: Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Mid-2009
Sound Interface: MOTU UltraLIte-mk3 FireWire
Top Tier: M-Audio Axiom Air 49
Lower Tier: Kurzweil PC3

 
Software:
Apple MainStage 3 (MIDI routing, E-Piano, Vintage B3, EXS24, custom synths, etc)
XLN Audio Addictive Keys
Native Instruments FM8
Apple Logic Pro X (Multitrack playback)

I relied on MainStage for everything–or at least that was the plan. My piano sound was from XLN Audio’s Addictive Keys–Close Mix. My Rhodes was Apple’s Deluxe Classic–I found that it didn’t have quite as much bite as the Kurzweil, so I will be rethinking this. I’ve been pretty happy so far with Apple’s Vintage B3 plug-in. The synth sounds for When You Touch Me come from Jon and are what he used on The Last Halloween soundtrack. The strings are EXS24 Smooth Strings and the synth pad is an older ES2 patch called Carpet Diem. I got to rebuild the sounds for Steady As She Goes for MainStage, which I use Panpipes with a little bit of Mellotron Flutes on the lower tier, and I am finally able to use a lead guitar patch on the top for the ’round’ section. Vanity Affair had a new patch built in MainStage using the Sullivan CP80 soundfont ported to EXS24, but since I was having sustain pedal problems I did a hotswap on the fly and went back to the Kurzweil original.


 

2015

2015 Rig at the Fatt Squirrel, July 19, 2015. Photo by Kari Tieger

2015 Rig at the Fatt Squirrel, July 19, 2015.
Photo by Kari Tieger

(Except RI PrideFest 2015, see previous rig)

Hardware:
Laptop: Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch Mid-2009
Sound Interface: Phonic FireFly 302 Plus, later MOTU UltraLIte-mk3 FireWire
Top Tier: M-Audio Axiom Air 49
Lower Tier: Kurzweil PC3
Software:
Apple MainStage 3 (MIDI routing, Vintage B3, custom synths)

Finally, a two-tier setup! The Kurzweil PC3 has been my rock for a long time, and so the second tier and laptop work with it in a complimentary fashion. When I got the MOTU interface, it also doubled as a submixer and audio router.
All of my primary sounds (including piano, Rhodes, etc.) would come from the Kurzweil on the lower tier, and my B3, Vox, EXS24, ES2 and DX7 sounds would be on the Axiom Air on the top tier.


 

2011-2014

2014 Rig at AS220, October 2014. Photo by Kari Tieger.

2014 Rig at AS220, October 2014. Photo by Kari Tieger.

Hardware:
Kurzweil PC3*
KORE64 Expansion ROM (added ???)

* I used my PC3x on our Limelight Awards performance in March 2011. When we resumed gigging in July 2011, I had purchased the 76-key PC3 I’ve used ever since. I love my full sized and fully weighted PC3x, but it’s a little to heavy to gig around with. The PC3 does everything that it does, but is smaller and lighter.

I was thrilled to finally be using a much more powerful master controller keyboard. An upgrade in every way, the PC3 had a much better sounding Leslie effect on my B3 organ sounds with OS 2.0. This board also had a new bank of strings and can load all kinds of custom programming and its setup mode could handle complex layers and splits. The Quick Access mode made it very easy for me to order my patches (Programs or Setups) for easy fast switches during gigs. At some point in 2013 or 2014 I got the KORE64 ROM, which to my delight gave me the samples that form the signature electric piano sound for Heart of Porcelain. It also has some great electric guitar and drum samples.


 

Mid 2006-2010

Side view of the SP88 and rack box containing the PC2R. Photo by Honey Campbell

Side view of the SP88 and rack box containing the PC2R at The Paradise Rock Club, May 2009.
Photo by Kari Tieger

Hardware:

Front view from the same show. Photo by Kari Tieger

Front view from the same show.
Photo by Honey Campbell

Kurzweil SP88
Kurzweil PC2R/O
Classic Keys ROM (added ???)

I sold off the ME1 and replaced it with a PC2R with Orchestral ROM. This gave me everything I had on the ME1 as well as a lot of new orchestral sounds to play with–primarily for my theatre work, but in covers as well, like Comfortably Numb. At some point I purchased and installed the Classic Keys ROM, which gave me a huge upgrade of my Rhodes patch and gave me the signature sound for Vanity Affair (80’s EP ChorusCP — a Yamaha CP70 with heavy chorus!) as well as a lot of other fun vintage sounds to play with. The PC2R also had KB3 Organ mode, but I had trouble accessing it from the SP88, so I ended up using some older VAST organs. I regret not learning how to better use the module.

 


 

2005-Mid 2006

Kurzweil SP88 with Kurzweil ME-1 on the floor; Show at The Century Lounge, December 2005.

Kurzweil SP88 with Kurzweil ME-1 on the floor; Show at The Century Lounge, December 2005.

Hardware:
Kurzweil SP88
Kurzweil ME1

The SP88 had some decent MIDI control, and my meager budget allowed me to expand with the Kurzweil Micro Ensemble, which had most of the sounds from the Kurzweil PC2. It was a step up, but to my disappointment it did not have the samples for the sound I use on Heart of Porcelain, so I had to run another line from the SP88 or use a different EP patch.


 

2004

Alex on the Kurzweil SP88--probably the first show with it at The Call in August 2004.

Alex on the Kurzweil SP88 at The Call in August(?) 2004.

Hardware:
Kurzweil SP88

The board that started it all. I purchased this board sight unseen and unheard, after having heard Kurzweils in touring musical orchestra pits. I do remember checking out some Kurzweils in a music store, but they didn’t have this one, for which the price was right!

This board had a lot of similar sounding pianos, a few interesting EPs, some organs that were okay, and some nice strings and one really good pad. Definitely a good starter board, but I soon outgrew what came on-board.