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I've played keyboards in a band that plays pubs/clubs for a few years now. I'm thinking of trying some solo gigs where I try to recreate as much of the band sound as possible. I definitely want to avoid backing tracks.

I have seen some soloists use an acoustic guitar with a stomp box and maybe a vocal harmoniser to great effect. The percussive sound of the guitar along with stomp box seem to replace a drum kit quite well. I'd like to get a similar vibe from the piano/keyboard, but I feel the keyboard can't match the strumming nature of the guitar.

Here is what I'm considering:

  • Keyboard left hand: Bass sound, put through a bass amp
  • Keyboard right hand: Slightly overdriven Rhodes sound, through PA with vocals
  • Right foot: Bass drum or stomp box
  • Left foot: Hi hat w/ tambourine attached

I'm also considering getting a loop pedal to set up live percussion loops at the start of each song. This might be getting into overkill for what is necessary to keep an audience entertained...

I'm looking for guidance on what sort of setup would work well, especially to keep a crowd dancing!

Edit:

I play a Nord Stage, which rules out the onboard looping of percussion sounds. I also want to try for natural sounds as much as possible, which is why I've been experimenting with a Rhodes sound and a fairly dull synth bass sound.

The Nord Stage supports splitting the keyboard and sending different sounds to separate outputs, which lets you send the left hand to a separate bass amp. I'm not sure on the technical reasons, but for some reason it sounds so much better than through a single amp or PA system!

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1 Answer 1

A keyboard is a very versatile instrument and can make a nice full sound if you take the time to customize the sounds and learn how to use the features on it. While guitarists can get a lot of stomp boxes to fill out sound most keyboards come with enough features to fill sound without them.

On most keyboards you will be able to record your own drum loop and some even allow you to record another part or two on top of it giving you a nice full rhythm section that you can customize for each song. Every keyboard that I've seen that records drum loops will also let you play the recording back at any tempo. So if you want to record it at 50 bpm just to make sure you play it right you can then play it at any tempo and it will sound fine. Then you can play the loop and play a melody over the loop you just made.

Unless you can pan the low end to the bass speaker, you will get a lot of your melody coming out of the bass speaker which is most cases won't sound good. Instead you can advantage of the fact that keyboards allow you to play more than one sound at once. You can split the treble and bass sounds so you can give the treble whatever sound you want and the bass can be whatever sound you want (preferably some kind of bass instrument). You can also layer sounds so when you play one note multiple instruments play at the same time. Besides that you can usually adjust the sound of each instrument individually to get what you want like and what sounds full and works well with the other layered instruments.

If I were you I would learn what my keyboard can do before trying to get any extras because your keyboard itself may do a lot of the things you want to do. I don't know what keyboard you have, but as long as isn't a cheap keyboard it should be able to do most of what I said above.

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Thanks for your answer, I've added some more detail to the question. –  GavinH Feb 4 at 12:33

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