i'll continue bumping this thread to make sure that everyone who wants me to check something out gets the opportunity ...
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wish i had something for you to do there, i don't keep up with that stuff much. i'd love to go to one of the namm conferences/shows/whatever they are some day, though.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
make sure it's on a day when i'm there so we can finally hook up after all these years.
last chance for anyone wanting to have a product reviewed.

time is running out ...
if ya bump into a korg kronos, or a kurweil pc3 i'd love to know what you think of them.  also, any kawai portable digital piano you might see.  no sweat though, just enjoy yourself:)
the korg kronos i reviewed last year:

korg kronos

next i went pretty much straight into a sit down demo of kronos - korg’s latest keyboard [half hour].

once again there were no hands-on versions. but it is a “game changer”. talk about big sounds. and the pianos were killer too. only $5k.

nine synthesizers on-board. graded hammer action (maybe next year they’ll let me put one through the paces to verify and quantify, ftr – c’mon guys, it’s me …).

the piano sound is no loops and 8 velocity samples per key.

it’ll make you a believer.

then the kronos’ rhodes. very ambient sounds. you can chain in fx pedals too.

700 rhythms

hammond organ. with drawbar control in real-time. leslie pure heaven.

classic analog synths.
all programmable. the past is now the future.
you can switch cables around and fool with all those filters, lfos and such.

they’re not done yet: fm synthesis too. you want dx7? and beyond …

16 channels of midi sequencers. 16 channels of audio sequencers. mix and match.

midi lives

combis (what a cute name) :
16 – but all 9 onboard synthesizers may be included.
16 seems to be the magic number, because there are 16 fx too you can put on any of these patches.

and then after the guy finished his demo, a guest artist joe lovato got up and did about 7 minutes of terrific keyboard playing (both the kronos and some other little board with a b3). there were about a dozen of us in the room.

it was great. these guys both rocked, rich and joe. got some fingers those boys.

the keybed and action are currently identical to the sv-1 (which i reviewed last year). the 88 keyboard of the sv-1 (if memory serves) had an upright style of action (not the style of a true grand piano gravity action) which made one-note trills on that bed to sluggish to keep up with “triple tonguing technique”.

but rich said that the next keybeds were going to be an upgrade.

also reviewed the kurzweil pc3 last year:

kurzweil pc3k8
according to the rep, this is the upgrade from the pc3x i was requested to review.

i found it to contain digital grit in the middle c to treble c area. i had a hell of a time trying to get my benchmark one-note trills to keep up. overall, the tone sounds digital rather than sampled.

i only tried 3 sounds: #1, #2 and nyc grand.

maybe it was the headphones, but if that were the case, you’d think that someone would audition the headphones in the morning to insure that those keyboards sound great!

i apologize, because i was expecting so much more out of one of my all time favorite brands.
i will put "kawai portable digital piano" on the to-do list.
thanks, jeff.  sorry i missed your earlier reviews.  

i will be playing on a pc2x sunday.  just curious, are you saying that the pc3 has weaker samples than the pc2x, or are you saying that they are inferior to earlier models? (in particular, the piano sounds)
i think what's really happened is that the signature kurzweil piano sound(s) have grown a bit long in the tooth.

compared to the latest and greatest from roland, yamaha, korg, etc, (not to mention "ivory") it just doesn't make the cut anymore.
probably too late for this request, but i wonder about the roland rd300nx.  i have the gx and i'm unhappy with the piano sounds.  

i've played the rd700nx. it is nice, but in my opinion not worth the extra gold and weight.
yup, too late on the rolands.

i'll give you my review of the kawais i tested tomorrow.
nord keyboards
hall a - far left towards the back
nord piano 2 as a gigging instrument for jazz
new yamaha and bosie sample

nord, kurzweil, and novation are all being repped exclusively by the same company and their display areas are right next to each other.  

the first nord that looked to be a possibility is the nord stage 2 (88 keys).

as opposed to most keyboards with the moniker “stage” in their name, this action is semi-weighted to give a solid feel to those raised on real pianos.

were their keyboard sounds convincing?  

it’s the 21st century, everybody’s sounds are convincing.

so if everybody has great sounds, that ceases to be the deciding factor, doesn’t it?

the action is by fatar. do i need to say anything more?  

one-note trills? negatory, captain.

the nord rep started talking to me while i was in the middle of demoing the nord piano 2. that keyboard has the same fatar keybed. fully weighted? not. kinda bouncy.

it turns out that that particular rep is based in the same town where i live.  

if i have any say in it, i will get nord to change to a more responsive keybed for a true grand action (what would it take to get fatar to up their game?).

i’m going to put in writing to the rep my qualms (the keybed has not been upgraded since my last nord review).

and the question was:  
“as a gigging instrument for jazz”

i would say define your needs exactly and then research the half-dozen major brands that have the features that you absolutely have-to-have.

a gigging instrument doesn’t need an onboard sequencer, unless you’re one of those karaoke-like guys who does gigs with minus-one tracks.

to the best of my knowledge, roland is the only manufacturer that has always had the fast repeating action. in my studio at work, i’ve got a suzuki digital 88-key piano that i know is at least 15 years old and it can do one-note trills, so it’s not a case of some technological bottleneck that prevents nord, yamaha, etc from making the keybed as responsive as a real grand – if roland and suzuki can do it, why can’t everybody else?

so as a gigging instrument for jazz, if you aren’t fussy about one-note trills then why not? it’s no worse than the other guys, and if the price point is right …


the best hammond b3
5100 between halls b & c right at front - next to moog

it occurred to me that the people who might make the “best hammond b3” would be the hammond company.

dr. lonnie smith was playing there – turban and all. that sure sounds like a hammond to me. they’ve got pedalboards too he’s playing.

the company now makes stage keyboards that sound just like the original behemoths. how wonderful!

single (sk1) or dual (sk2) keyboard. all the familiarity of the original organ but with the functionality of the modern world.

leslies are smaller nowadays too.

if anyone wants to buy me one, i’m not greedy – i’ll take the single keyboard model (only 15 lbs and don’t worry, i’ve already got a leslie).


then i went over to moog, just ‘cause i wanted a catalog. those things are so cool. they still make ‘em out of wood and now you can get ‘em in different finishes. rack mounts too. and stomp boxes (but maybe that’s old news).

theremins anyone?

even guitars.

“to be human, to be fully human, is to need music and derive nourishment from the music you hear. what you do with our instruments helps us to be more human, too, and i want to thank you all for that.”
– bob moog

they’re just so darned cute!


1439 hall e smack dab in the middle

i’ve recently become a huge fan of their pointy carbon nylon picks. i complained to the rep though that black picks are hard to find if you drop one on stage. he gave me a transparent yellow one to try for the next couple of weeks.

they seem to wear less rapidly than tortex and since they’re so pointy to begin with, it takes them much longer to go stubby.

i also suggested that their japanese elm logo on those pointy picks might seem to send the wrong message to youngsters.


sonic core

1164 hall e (downstairs)  
escalators between halls c & d
turn right at café turn left

the german manufacturer of extremely powerful dsp soundcards, sonic core, formerly creamware, are in booth #1164. they seem to have made some major breaktrough recently on their own software platform scope, which have reached revision 6 since its release in 1998.

i have used their luna and pulsar cards for 10 years now, and i would recommend checking out their system which is a complete studio in a box with excellent synths, mixers, effects and not to mention the extremely flexible routing possibilites. it integrates very well with any asio recording software. they probably have the best va emulations around in their minimax, prodyssey, profit 5, protone etc.

their hammond clone, b2003, is also a competitor to the native instruments b4. check it out at namm if it is available.

their latest products are the xite soundcards, worth checking out.


i checked out their hammond clone. it seemed fine. i didn’t have enough time to delve into their software possibilities (which are probably endless) because i had to get back upstairs for an appointment with my contact at hal leonard.

hal leonard
4618 hall c middle of second row from the front

i got to meet the guy from from hal leonard that made [url="https://www.modalogy.net"]modalogy[/url] happen. pretty cool. i just wish schell could’ve been there.  

i bought a crummy camera and the photos taken at the hal leonard area didn’t come out. probably because schell wasn’t there – obviously there was meant to be three people in that picture.


(upstairs 207a)

the kawai is the only keybed i demo’d at namm that had fully weighted keys. the question was “portable kawai keyboards”. that means the mp6, mp10, ep3 and es6.

i started off with the mp6 (256 sounds – 47.4 lbs) which was poised on a rack immediately above their mp10 which was sitting on a wood console stand. fully weighted keys, but no one-note trill action.

the mp10 (27 sounds – 70 lbs) has wooden keys (but also no one-note trill action). since they were right on top of each other i decided to check the difference between the feel of the mp6’s weighted action and the mp10’s wooden keys with the volume off. to be perfectly honest, there didn’t really seem to be much difference. and weighing in at seventy pounds is stretching the definition of portable.

i also took the es6 (32 voices – 45 lbs) out for a test drive. while this keyboard could be used on stage, it seems that at home indoors is its target market. onboard speakers. graded touch. 100 rhythm styles.

the ep3 is just like the es6, but with fewer bells and whistles.

and how do they sound? these are 88-key multi-samples of kawai’s most prestigious grand piano. so they sound like a prestigious kawai.

nothing wrong with that.

as long as you don’t mind the slight sluggishness of an upright action, this is probably as close as it gets to the real thing (except ivory of course).


yamaha mox8
offsite 100

“recording and composing, was told that it has good memory capacity.”

as regards recording and composing, i would prefer to hook a keyboard directly to my desktop so i don’t have to wince at a tiny little screen and so that my memory capacity is nearly limitless.

but workstations abound, and there must be a bunch of people that need on-board sequencing or else they wouldn’t sell so many.

as regards the pros and cons of having the bells and whistles associated with recording depends on what one plans on recording.

in general, i prefer to use real instruments when possible (drums, bass, guitar, sax, etc) and the only instrument that is digital is the keyboard.

but if someone wants to lay down a synth lh keyboard bassline over a canned rhythm and then throw some bogus sounding horns over top of that, it’s ok by me – just not my style.

if you just want to lay down your piano compositions for posterity in tangible form and don’t need all those rhythm tracks, bass sounds, horns, strings, etc then all one has to do is get a program for your desktop like finale or sibelius, connect the midi and start playing.  

much cheaper than getting a bunch of extra crap that you may never use. define your goals.

aside from that issue, there are only two things that matter: sound and action

the sound of yamaha’s full concert grand contains their signature metallic thunk.

i don’t know whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. i’ve always liked that sound, but i don’t know how much i’d like it if i used it all the time. there are other pianos (not to mention every other sound in the world), but that’s their “best” piano in their opinion.

yamaha has had the same distinctive piano sound for a long, long time now.  

is it multi-sampled? i suspect not.  

does the sound stack up against ivory? not really. yamaha’s signature acoustic piano sound is what it is.

the action came closest to achieveing a one-note trill of any keyboard i’d played all day. mind you, i never actually did get a solid one-note trill going, but i almost had myself believing that if i were to practice really hard on a yamaha keyboard several hours every day that one day i might “get it”.

thanks for your very detailed report, jeff!  you confirmed my suspicion about the kawai portables.  i played one of their home model digital grands ($10k) and it was fantastic.  i was hoping they would come close to that in their gig machines.  i will probably keep the roland rd300gx and just midi it to a soft synth piano like ivory or garritan.

i'm interested in the hammond too. i have the real thing here at home, so the digitals usually fall short to my ears.  (but at 450lbs, the real thing stays here at my home:)
moving a hammond around for gigs is more of a lifestyle than just moving an instrument!
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
wow!! i just got a mox8 keyboard and i love it! anybody else have one??
too bad i didn't know about this before namm.


i think it sells for $500ish, and probably rivals the nord
man, i don't even know when i bought a new piece of equipment!  my yamaha s90-es is still working. it has some battle wounds, but it's still playing great (except for the last low a.. sordid story that one)
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
sad to say, but it's been my experience when i find a keyboard i like, it is very hard to replace when it goes kaput.  i have played many of the newer keyboards and have not been moved buy any so far. (i bought the one i have because it is light weight and easy to use, not because i loved it)  i remember getting excited about new keyboards back in the day.

dr. whack; cynical old fart
i thought they no longer made the s90.  i was wrong!  i just played one.  it is very nice!  (but a little pricey at $2399)  i plan to check out some kurzweils, hopefully tomorrow...but i'm really leaning toward the s90
nord stage 2:  

i had a chance to jam on one of these the other day at the seattle guitar center.  i spend maybe and hour and a half with headphones on exploring the instrument.


positive side

i've never really heard anything sound as good as the nord stage 2.  the piano sounds rang, i could hear the soundboard and the strings and the pedal sounds, it was amazing.  the keyboard sounds were equally impressive. i also talked to someone who said you could get rid of some of the sounds you dont' want and download bigger soundbanks for the grand pianos and other instruments.  a friend of mine bought one of these recently and mentioned how he souped up the piano sounds.

i also love the buttons and knobs. i took a normal ep sound and within seconds, and i've never played a nord before, i turned into into a psychedelic monster wah with a phlanging echo reverb and is the kind of sound i've tried to reproduce on my s90es for years.  i did it in seconds on the nord.  super super cool.

negative side

i'd never be able to play one of these things- the keys are as light as feathers and are obviously made for flat finger organ players.  there is a bit of weight, but i can honestly say that if i played a nord stage 2 for a while, i would lose my piano chops.

this keyboard is not made for piano players. it's made for keyboard players.  i would not trade my s90es for it because my s90es has an amazing keyboard that feels as good as my piano.  the nord stage 2 has a keyboard that feels like a toy, and it's a feel that i know from somewhere, some other keyboard i tried or played on for a while had that kind of feel. i can't stand it.


i'd take a nord stage 2 and put it up along side of my s90es.  i would record on a nord stage 2 for sure because of how pristine the sounds are.  but if i was going to need a keyboard for every day work and/or a piano replacement, the nord stage 2 just doesn't cut it.  if they only would put a better keyboard in that monster, then it would be unstoppable.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
thanks scot. that's a slick board1  i just watched a couple demos on youtube.  i was beginning to regret buying my s90xs, but your comments and the $4100 price tag got me over that in a hurry.  i do love the s90xs!
how are you feeling about the s90xs a month later?
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
i love it!  i'm still trying to decide which piano sounds to use in different situations. i usually end up playing on gigs where the sound system is in mono.  not a prob if i use my in-ears, but the other night i was using a samson auro, and i was having trouble getting the sound i wanted.  oddly enough, the rhodes sounds work no matter what i'm playing through...killer, same with the wurlies and organs...it feels like and instrument, where my roland (rd300gx)felt and sounded like a toy
the only thing i miss about my roland a90 (and i think all rolands do this) is that when i hold the pedal down, or some notes, i can switch patches without losing the sustain of the previous patch.

the one gripe i have about yamahas is that they don't do this- as soon as you switch a patch, the current sound stops sustaining.

this makes for really choppy transitions if you want to change your sounds....

i talked to a yamaha rep about it one day and he actually said that it was better the way yamaha did it.  not a chance.  it seems obvious to me that if you are holding notes down with the keys or the pedal, they should still be held down even if you made a patch change so that the music - yeah, the music - isn't interrupted.

out of curiosity, is it any different with the yamaha s90xs?
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
yeah, i know it's an issue when i go from my piano/organ split (performance, to the piano only (voice)

it's still in the case from a gig, so i'll check later about going from voice to voice.  i seem to remember having the same issue with the roland too...hmmm

one thing i hate about the kurzweils is that you have to press the enter key after you select a sound.  i was on a gig once where i would use a dx rhodes sound, then would set up a pipe organ sound, switch to a real acoustic piano for another tune, then back to the pipe organ for the big finally (christmas tour with the air force band).  one night i hit the  pipe organ intro and all i got was the puny dx rhodes!  i had forgotten to hit  the damn enter key.  in a panic, i had to figure out where and when i could hit the key without causing a train wreck...but of course, the organ was transposed an octave away from the piano - i turned all shades of red as i stared at the conductor with an apologetic expression of some sort on my face...
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