Controller Keyboard for gigs


Let us know when your band is next gigging, Neil, it would be interesting, especially if you do stuff off Snowgoose (my favourite Camel album).

The VaxMIDI isn’t quite shipping yet - some last minute problems with some of the components apparently.



Seems that band hasn’t discovered the digital age yet? :wink: :smiley:


20 Drawbars, 6 Potentiometers.
1 Encoder, 22 buttons.
1 multiple button.
Pitch bender and modulation wheel.
Two 61-key “waterfall” keybeds
with Channel aftertouch.

But you say it now has Poly AT as well?


Sorry, it doesn’t have poly AT. I meant that the lack of poly AT was a shortcoming rather than a feature.


You’re most welcome, I’ll keep you posted. We also do the title track. We may have a go at Rhayader, but there’s a few on the todo list before that (Ice and Song within a Song)


The DMC 122 has the VB3 2 software in it. KILLER B3 !!


A little OT, but…

Cool. I am a huge Camel fan, and great to have a tribute band that is a little different (I’m in a Floyd tribute band but will be leaving soon (after 8 years) to do something different). I got into Camel after hearing “For Today” on internet radio and it blew me away. Had to get the album it was on there and then, and then delved into the back catalogue.

Do you play “For Today”? That would be awesome to do live.

Andy Latimer is a very underrated guitar player, but so many guitarists cite him as an influence.

Back on topic, I have used my trusty Yamaha EX5 as a Master controller since 2006 for whatever live rig I put together. As well as sounding great in its own right it has a great action 76 note keybed, 2 MIDI interfaces, and a lot of flexibility for controlling external instruments (inc Bank/Patch selection) in Performance mode.

Even little features like MIDI Echo are great live features. Which means I can have my FC300 pedal into the EX5 and the EX5 merges the MIDI streams onto MIDI OUT, which means you don’t need a MIDI merger and more cables (i.e. less to wrong on stage). I fail to understand why modern synth manufacturers ignore this feature. I have it on both the EX and a Novation Remote61 and it is so useful.


I’m pretty new to Camel too; it’s only been a year since our builder tipped me off. Then he got me out of retirement to have a go in the band. I’d not heard For Today, so thanks, it’s very good. It’s great to see members of the audience crying in a live version I just watched.

I too have an FC300 going straight into my controller. Nice and tidy. I should post in that FC300 vs Behringer thread but I’ve no hands on experience with FCB1010.


Heh - no need. Just hearing you both have had good experiences with the FC300 is enlightening to a degree. I guess it is built like a tank, eh?



I haven’t seen any video of it, will need to look it out. If you haven’t twigged, it’s about 9/11 and the man who jumped as an alternative to burning. Prior to hearing that track, I had heard of Camel, but never heard them (so to speak). For Today was so melancholy and beautiful with some cracking guitar playing (and keys of course) that I simply had to get it! Not many tracks hit me that instantly. I just love that CP80 intro as well (very reminiscent of Tony Banks).

Funnily enough, I listened to the whole album (A nod and a wink) tonight whilst cooking the Saturday night curry. Brilliant album all round. I’m a bit strange (I think) with my musical listening in that I find many albums are seasonal. I first heard this album in the Autumn/Winter so that is when I tend to listen to it - like I cannot play Fleetwood Mac Rumours unless it is summertime and I am in a car with the hood down!


Yeah it’s solid alright, reliable and flexible. I hung around on ebay for a while and one popped up that was only a few weeks old with a padded case for £250. They’re not all plain sailing though.If you don’t give the pedals a pretty confident push I’ve had double messages sent - not fun if it’s your ‘next state’ button. However, with a little practice and a cool head, I’ve not triggered any double messages for months. They are also part of Roland’s V-Guitar system and as such they send out ‘active sensing’ MIDI messages. These did cause issues with the DMC-122. Thankfully, Guido at GSI quickly got a patched firmware together that sorted it out. And the buttons/screen are right where you would want to carry it one-handed.
Sometimes it feels like overkill, and I remember reading one of Neil Durant’s ever sensible posts about his drive for simplicity with his pedals. But then again I’m tired of repositioning individual pedals and those 2 expressions always come in useful. (Most recently to have a sax fade into the distance via several bindings to a reverb and also control it’s portamento time)


I love my KK S88 but I’ve not really used all the controllers and things with Cantabile yet. I’d have a little bit of the fear with using a dummy board live, just in case the computer had a fart, just so I could make some noise whilst re-booting the computer!





I agree about some nervousness concerning relying on the computer alone. I have always brought my venerable Korg Wavestation loaded with useful sounds along. I have always used racks and hardware synths in the past.

Many here go with the laptop alone nowadays, it appears. I guess that is becoming as reliable as the CPUs inside our hardware gear has been!




I’ve said on this site many times that inclusive keyboards are also computers, and they are normally pretty reliable. Laptops are also more reliable than they were 5-10 yrs ago. I am not nervous about using my laptop IF I have tested everything thoroughly. I have a backup laptop and a sound module I used to carry with me…in case. The backup laptop has stayed in it’s case and the sound module now stays home. Laptop OS has much improved, RAM is much larger and reliable, VSTs are smaller and efficient, and C3 has a great engine. I do this several times a week. The only probs I have is usually power fluctuations, USB cable failure, or something stupid I created. I have many heavy USB cables and power protection now. My stupidity is not protect-able.


Nor is my own, generally speaking. Please keep this among ourselves, though… I’d hate to shatter people’s confidence! :slight_smile:



Oooops! Shhhhhhh! :flushed: (whispering) sorry! :no_mouth:


A lot of workstations are indeed computers in a case these days; my Korg Kronos being a fine example. The plus side compared to a laptop is they are heavily optimised and a closed environment, so they still have the edge on terms of reliability in terms of there is little risk of strange software/hardware interactions that you get on a generic laptop.

Having said that, I have been using Cantabile on stage for at least six years now and I have less problems on stage than most members in the band (with the “simpler” instruments), as I am a little more methodical, look after my leads, etc.


I use MPK261 in 1 single preset, you can assign any channel/control per control
3 banks of 16 Pads Toggle/Momentary any note, any channel per pad in same preset
8 knobs any note/any channel/any control per knob in same preset
8 Faders any controller/any channel in the same preset
1 CV Pedal jacks/any channel/any controller same preset
2 sustain like jacks/any channel/any controller same preset
1 5pin din out can assign any control to on any channe

I control Ableton, Play VB3 and other VSTs, switch an outboard hardware effects processor, all from only one of the 30 available presets

I own about 7 or 8 controllers. All are collecting dust after I got the MPK261. Ebay for $400.

I own hardware synths as backup, just in case, but I am almost exclusively VST. Still, the Nord Synths are hard to beat.


This is an interesting read. Different strokes for different folks.

All my money is sunk into the computer and software (i7, 48GB RAM, large SSDs, Komplete-U, Spectrasonics, et al) so my controllers are cheap. Here are the controllers I use:

  • Yamaha P-35 digital piano for my weighted 88-key controller
  • Studiologic 61-key “waterfall” controller
  • Korg nanaKontrol2 velcros to either of the above.

The P-35 cost me $250US in like-new condition and has been a workhorse since I bought it a couple of years ago. I’ve had only one occasion in the last few years where my computer rig went down, but I was able to cover the gig by using the built-in piano sound which isn’t horrible (ok, it is pretty bad but it does at least resemble a piano). It’s light and squeezes into a case for slim 76-key keyboards. The lack of pitch and mod wheels is its downfall. The SL-161 sits above it on most gigs giving me access to a pitch wheel.

In the past, I’ve had trouble with controllers and synths that lost knobs or buttons due to the rigors of gigging so having a “disposable” nanoKontrol for knobs/sliders/buttons has worked out well. Since these are fairly fragile, I have a backup in case one of the controls goes out.


I think that is a perfectly logical way to go these days.

Over Christmas I will be looking to get all of my soft synths onto my laptop and experiment with them in Cantabile, so I will probably be going this way as well. However, I wouldn’t want just a laptop with me on stage just in case it goes down. So I think I would always want a keyboard with sound capability so I can revert to an “emergency mode” that gets me though a gig.