maybe i should have posted this under another thread, but i figured i would get more responses if i made a new one.

i recently bought a nord electro to use for gigs when there is no acoustic piano available. however, im not 100% satisfied with it. the velocity response is really strange and the piano sound is not very good. so im already thinking about getting something else. so i need some tips from you guys. i want something that is:

affordable, somewhere around $1500

portable and lightweight, i want to be able to carry it on the subway if i need to.

piano-like keyboard action and nice piano and rhodes sounds. i dont really need anything else since i only play jazz.

any tips would be greatly appreciated.
There are 39 comments, leave a comment.
rd300sx is certainly lightweight. 749 over the pond here in uk. great piano sound, roland action that you need to test before you buy (although really you should be able to play well on any keyboard ;) ). rhodes sound nowhere near as refined as the electro (i also have one of those), but you are right about the piano sound on that...i have no idea why nord made such a fuss about how improved it is!!!
at the l.a. namm show last year, i tried the over hyped nord.

it's action is sluggish and wierd. i hated it.

however, to get a good ascoustic piano sound you might consider buying an outboard sound module - rather that buying a whole new keyboard.

that is if you're satisfied with your current keyboard's touch and onboard sounds.
i think the nord is great for the rhodes/organ/misc electronics sounds, which you sometimes need for contemporary gigs. for a piano sound/feel go elsewhere. i'm happy with my roland fp thing for that.
7 do you have a reccomendation for a sound module? i am very happy with my keyboards touch, but it don't sound too good when i play it through an amp. i 've been wondering if i need a whole new rig, or if i could just midi it through a sound module. also what should you expect to pay for a good sound module?
you ought to have a listen for yourself.

i have a roland jv1010 with a "keyboards of the '60s & 70s" daughter board. it was $400 for the black box and $200 for the daughterboard.

i wouldn't say it's the best, but it's probably the cheapest that'll get you decent sounds.

imho the alesis all suck.

i would love to have a kurzweil, but the only sound that's any good is the piano sound (and some people don't even like that!)

then of course the korgs and yamahas.
have you heard the m-audio prokeys88 stage piano.??

sniper
ideally i would be using a roland rd-700x for digital piano with a srx-12 card installed for the rhodes if it weighed less, it's 53 lbs.

so.... i use this lighter similar roland setup
(note the digital pianos and speakers i replaced in search of my current preferred rig) :

live rig for jazz:  
srx-12 rhodes expasion board ($220) plus a srx-11 piano expansion board ($220) both installed in a little roland xv-2020 module ($200 used)with a roland fp2 keyboard as the controller (32 lbs)($999)  

ev sxa-360 powered speakers ($940 each)

at home use:
kawai es4, mason & hamlin acoustic piano

sold gear:
yamaha p250, p120 & p90. kurzweil pc2x, motif rack, bose pas. 2x mackie srm450 & 350, 2x jbl eon10, 2x roland kc350, 2x fbt 12" & 10"
i also sold my rd-300sx
ok thanks for the tips, i will check out all this stuff.

jazz+, what was it that you didnt like about the rd-300sx? can the expansion boards be used with that one as well?
i liked the rd-300sx at home but on gigs because with the piano sound pp to mf was muffled sounding and then when i accented a note at forte the bright sample layer would jump out much too loud and bright, it was disturbing to me. the jazz suitcase rhodes was the same as on all the fp rolands, ok but too mellow when soloing. and i prefered the bouncier early version action on my old fp2 and i preffered the more present old piano sound on my fp2 (same as fp3 and fp sounds). the suitcase rhodes sound is the same on the fp2, fp3, fp5 and rd-300sx.  
but now i have the rhodes (srx-12) and piano (srx-11) expansion boards which are much better. it's been a long process of trial and error getting to my current rig (see list above of gear i sold)
correction: i liked the rd-300sx at home but not on gigs.
they also designed the rd-300sx 3 inches longer than the width of my car!
re: the kurzweil: i played their sp88 (i think that was it) in a big band (it was the rehearsal piano) and did not like it. i found very little difference between the various acoustic presets, the electric piano sounds were all dxish, and the sustain cuts off way too soon on the acoustic presets, much sooner than an acoustic -- and you can't edit it.

remember also that regardless of what you choose, your pa / amp / speaker rig will also make a big difference in your sound.
i actually use the sp88 with a motif rack for gigs.  it is great!  the sp88 weights less than 30lbs, so it is easy on the back.  the great thing is.......while it works well as a controller, it has a few internal sounds if need be.  sometimes i'll use the internal sounds for rehearsals.
i use the kurzweill micropiano sound module along with a fatar controller.  i have been happy with the micropiano module for its piano sounds and actually have liked its rhodes sounds quite a bit and are expecially killer when layered with a dx 7 rhodes patch.  (you can hear that sound at my myspace page on a tune called "hello again".
actually.. you can link to my myspace pages at https://www.michaelcritch.com
the sp88 has the micropiano soundset, doesn't it?  i might be wrong here.  the one drawback to having a controller that has no internal sounds is that you must use the rack when you want to play.  being able to choose is really nice.  why would i wanna plug in my rack for a rehearsal?(unless, of course, the music was completely dependent on certain sounds that aren't built into the board)
yes, the kurzweil sp88 uses the same soundset that was in the old kurzweil micropiano. i was using it ten years ago. to me the midrange was harsh and sounded thin overall.
yeah, i'll agree with you there.  i don't really like the sounds(which is why i usually use the rack), although......it sure is handy to have them as a backup.
sorry for re-opening this old thread, but i have one more question for jazz+ :

do you think the rd-300sx would work equally well as controller for the xv-2020 and the srx cards? i can get a nice deal on one at my local music store...
that depends on if you like the rd-300sx action.

my first choice digital piano is the rd-700sx (for its piano sound) with the srx card installed in it for a great rhodes sound.
what do you guys think of the casio pivia its been getting good reviews.
sorry guys misspelled "privia"
privia:  ugh... feels like crap, sounds like crap. the piano sound is really boxy and harsh: 10x worse than the nord's! the rhodes sound is comparatively ok...until you hear it through an amp, where all volume levels are the same and you realize it sounds like a toy.
i practice on a privia and i couldn't disagree more. i think for the price it is absolutely unbeatable. the weighted keys feel far superior to me than keyboards costing three or four times as much. playing it through an amp is the only problem i have with it. it simply isn't designed for it. the only output it has are two headphone jacks, you have to use an adapter for a 1/4 inch plug into an amp.  

it's more of a practice keyboard, i guess since this thread is titled "keyboards for jazz gigs" i guess the privia doesn't qualify. the piano sounds really do sound fantastic, when played through the onboard speakers, at volumes really only practical for practicing. through an amp they sound tinny and boxy, but still far better than the nord's piano sounds. if i could figure out how to amp it i would gig with this keyboard. another possibility i've considered is just using it as a controllor for a better sound module, because the feel really is "just right" to me, very realistic, reminds me of this beutiful kawai grand piano i used to practice a lot on in college. also the privia is super lightweight, i think around 25 lbs.

if i picked up a good sound module (i'm researching this now) for around $600 and midi'd my privia through it i'd have a good sounding, good feeling, lightweight setup, and  still be under $1000. if anyone has any experience tweaking their amp so it sounds better with this keyboard, i would be interested in hearing about it. i find turning the eq down on the high end on the amp helps a bit.
ps i'm talking about the px-100, other models may have better outputs for feeding an amp.
it really becomes a matter of personal taste.  no digital is going to acurately reproduce the accoustic action or sound.  so you have to go to music stores and try them yourself to see which one you like the best.  i am still happy with my ratar studio logic controller and kurzwiell micropiano sound module i bought years ago.  jazz - thinks the kurzwiell sounds thin... there are others that hear like him i am sure... i know there are others that like it like me.  i used to be so picky about the digital piano sounds.  today i was fooling with this used proteus synth i bought recently and i was digin the acoustic piano patches big time ... i would gig with them no problem .. years ago i would have turned my nose up at using a synth piano sound for sure. ....  the action... there is no right or wrong because none of them have an actual hammer hitting a string..  it is a matter of personal choice....  you gotta check em all out your self and see which one you like the best.  there is no way around that.  when i made my choice years ago, i thought the studio logic felt more solid than the others.  and i wanted the sounds seperate from the controller, so i could change sounds in the future without changing controllers.
    so my advice:
   do not take anyones advice....
go to stores  and check them all out yourself because there is not correct choice.  
you can confirm this these days just by watching videos of great keyboard players... everyone is using a different one... there is absolutely no agreement at all on what digital piano/ controller is the best.
well said dr. mike
i still use the yamaha pf85 that i bought in '87.  it plays like a grand and the sound i get out of it is the sound i hear in my head.  every room is different according to size, crowd and even weather. so you have to tweak your amp until you find that sound.  then, with the nord electro 11 on top of my yamaha i have,imo, the best collection of vintage keyboard sounds.  everything on the nord sounds great except for the acoustic grand.  that really sucks.
um thank you good doctor, u know i try.
hey, here's an oddball question, since this thread seems to be wandering a bit.

some asshole spilled about half a beer right into my yamaha (after i had the action replaced on their dime because of the defective [sticking] keys).  

i've heard of some people putting the action in the dishwasher, but who in the hell has a dishwasher big enough to fit 88 keys in?  so many screws, so little time.
alcohol.

[do not use rubbing alcohol or you will rub your contacts right out of existence]
7,

i think "rubbing alcohol" and "denatured alcohol" are basically the same thing (that is, all stuff sold as rubbing alcohol is denatured, although not all denatured stuff is sold as rubbing, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/rubbing_alcohol).  my guess is that you need to know to use ethyl or isopropyl alcohol (both of which are sold as "rubbing alcohol"...i think i've even seen butyl alcohol being sold as "rubbing" before).  i'm not sure which is the preferred preparation for electronic contacts.
thanks 7 and cflat -- i'll stop putting off the minor headache of opening the housing and try to save the contacts before much corrosion can occur.

i'll do some research on the alcohol needed, but until then at the very least some distilled water and careful application should be better than nothing.
i did exactly what 7 describes and it worked well. i cleaned a beer out of the contacts by using an eye dropper and denatured alcohol (rubbing alcohol has water in it). i would put a drop in the contact and then blow on it to flush it out. the denatured alcohol dryes quicker and does not leave a water residue like rubbing alcohol.
drink & think :)

also, do not ever set especially an ice-cold drink on your keyboard, specifically on the sheet metal part as water can condense on the inside of your toy.
okay, based on what jazz+ says, it makes sense, you want alcohol without the water in it.  at least for chemists/pharmacists, "denatured" means that a chemical has been added to make the alcohol poisonous/undrinkable (presumably so it can be sold in stores without a liquor license and without paying federal liquor taxes), which, as noted, includes preparations sold as "rubbing alcohol".  what you want then is what a chemist would call "anhydrous" (that is, without water), which may be sold as "denatured" (i guess rubbing alcohol has some water in it...i've never bothered to check before).
i get mine from the hardware store, not the apothecary.
back to digital gigs - i carry a yamaha p80 and a yamaha pa to run it through. definitely not light weight but the sound is worth it.  the 15" speakers are needed with a good stereo pa.  it takes three trips to the car to drag it all in and that's a downside.
carry it on the subway you say?

i use the roland roland xv-2020 module ($200 used) because it's small and it weighs 3 pounds, with the srx-12 rhodes card installed ($220) plus a srx-11 piano card ($220). a lightweight controller of your choice (you will need one with a variable velocity touch setting to be compatible with the module)
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