Which keyboard do I want?

This seems to be my day for begging for help on the SDMB…

I play guitar in a band (available for bookings etc etc) and we’ve decided that we need another level of sound for certain songs (fairly mainstream rock). I have played keyboards a (very, very little) bit before, so I have been given the task of buying the band a keyboard. I went to the music store today, and they seem to ofer Korg pianos which have a decentish range of other sounds and Roland synthesisers which, frankly, baffle the hell out of me. We’re willing to chuck quite a bit of money at this so I’d best get it right - do I need a synthesiser or do I just need a piano / organ thing? We’ll need a piano sound, a decent Hammond sound and probably some synthy-souding things. But it’s got to be pretty professional.

Jeez, guitars are easy compared to this.

You probably want to check out the basic “workstation” keyboards - the Roland Fantom, Korg Triton, and Yamaha Motif. These three lines are very similar in both sound and features, so it’s up to you to check them out and see which one you like the best and which works for you. Since you’re looking at about $2k at the minimum, take your time and take liberal advantage of Guitar Center’s 30-day return policy if needed.

Another route to consider is using a laptop and a MIDI keyboard to play software instruments. There’s a great software B3 (Native Instruments’ “B4”) that sounds more real than the real thing, and there are a ton of software electric pianos that provide convincing results. Software synthesizers sound as good or better than ones you can buy in stores, and give you much more room for expansion than a keyboard workstation.

Thanks, VCO3. I noticed the Roland Fantom there - but I’ve no idea how it works. It doesn’t have little buttons saying “piano” and “organ”! I also live in Hong Kong but (shamefully) don’t speak Cantonese, so the guys in the store can only offer limited help. For example, how easy is it to switch from a piano sound to a Hammond sound? I really have no idea about how these things work! We’d like to have the thing up and running by next week - would it take me ages to figure out how it works?

I use Sampletank/Sonic Synth with Cubase at home and absolutely love it. However, every once in a while something goes ‘boo!’ and I have to fiddle with my system to get everything hunky-dory again. A computer running a virtual synth + a midi keyboard isn’t a setup I’d recommend for a gigging band unless someone in the band is a real geek with this kind of stuff. Even then you’d need some kind of backup, if just some midi module. My system’s a few years old, though, so robustness & reliability might have improved. I’d go with a workstation synth or better yet one of their scaled-down ‘lite’ versions to save a few bucks.

Lola, if you can play guitar and operate a computer you’ll have no problem finding your way around a workstation keyboard. They make it pretty easy.