Pianos and Organs at NAMM 2000

At this years Namm show, I pried myself away from the Hohner booth (still couldn't convince them to make another Clavinet) where I performed, long enough to check out the new digital pianos and organs. There are many more to choose from in a variety of prices and weights (I like the lighter ones).

Yamaha was showing off it's Disklavier Pro 2000, a limited edition gold and brushed aluminum grand piano that was playing piano recordings of Bob James and Joe Sample while showing a video of their performances on the built in monitor/computer, all while doing some laundry (not really). At a price of $200,000, not too many gigers will bite, but might be more impressed by the P-80 digital grand ($1295). It boasts a great feeling keyboard, piano, strings, organ, split bass sounds, a 2 track sequencer and the very handy Yamaha computer interface (that I love) all weighing 37 pounds!

The Korg SP100 is priced for the economically minded with 32 voices, built in metronome, reverb and chorus, piano, organ harpsichord, layers and a small profile.

The EMU B3 rack module ($895) drawbars assignable to controller, great sounds, part of the new Emu modular series, with a slot for adding other sounds or flash rom from the Emu sampler. All drawbars are individually sampled with the rotating sound, using cross fading to bring in the fast setting.

Kurzweil had a few impressive products starting with their flagship/workstation K2600, an expansion on their 2500 series, with great piano sounds and the VAST organ generation, utilizing the 8 sliders as drawbars for a killer B3 tone. Of course, I sampled the new economically minded, purple SP series available in 76( ) or 88( ) keys with a semi-weighted action, 2 independent Midi zones, 2 ribbon controllers, and all the sounds that Kurzweil is known for. I was especially interested in the PC2-an updated version of the PC88 (definitely a hall of famer). The updates include 2 16mb expansion slots, extra buttons for brass, synth, drums and percussion presets, digital out, and the color purple.

I couldn't pass up checking out VOCE, now marketed by DR music, and playing their wonderful V5 ($975) drawbar B3 module attached to a Spin II ($525)rotating speaker simulator. These are lightweight, easy to use and great sounding. The electric piano (599) module featuring rhodes, Wurli, Clavinet and harpsichord sounds, rocked my world as well.

Oberheim had its new Italian OB-5, (3499) a two manual B3 style organ with built in rotating speaker simulator as well as 11 pin out for the real thing, chorus and vibrato, reverb and effects, roughly being a larger version of the OB3 Squared series.

Roland introduced the PK25 midi organ bass pedal kit for its highly successful VK series, featuring 2 octaves, a sturdy volume pedal and two assiganble foot switches as well as a very comfortable BNC-25 bench for the organ. Though not suitable for every gig, I was especially impressed by the C-80 digital harpsichord and C-280 pipe organ, sounding and looking quite like the real items. They both have alternate baroque style tunings, so get your Well Tempered Clavier out and start jamming. The pipe organ actually has pipes (I suppose with a speaker below them) and great organ style stops. I loved playing these!

The folks at Motion Sound put out a few more of their impressive rotating speaking products including the SR-112 ($549.95) a satellite 12" speaker (non amplified) to use with a guitar or keyboard amp (not unlike the Fender Leslie speakers from the 60's), but including built in mikes with 2 xlr outputs for your PA. The KBR-M ($1099) is a mono version of the KBR-30, featuring a rotating horn sent back into a 130 watt amp/12 speaker combo in a monitor style cabinet with inputs for non rotating keyboards once again with xlr out. The KT-80 ($499) doesn't have a rotating speaker, but a 12AX7 tube to warm up your keys before entering an 80 watt amp/speaker.

I also loved the Alesis DG8, Kawai MP9000 and the General Music Pro 2, digital pianos which have all been there a few times, but still are standouts.

2000 Gig Magazine
Reprinted with permission