The Electric Piano Forum

Misc => Amps, Effects & Recording Techniques => Topic started by: parisiano on May 23, 2011, 12:53:26 PM

Title: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: parisiano on May 23, 2011, 12:53:26 PM
Hi guys,

A small help please.

I've been in my music store to buy a pedal for my MKII stage and the salesman was good, so I'm back home with a Roland KC350...

I read here and there that it "isn't ideal" for the mid/treble range of the rhodes. Is that correct ? Anyway I think it will be already better than my hifi system. (he also tried to sell me a roland "leslie-like" cab but it was a little bit to big for my place )

Do you suggest me to buy an EQ to add to it ? If yes, do you have products to suggest me please ?


Concerning the effects, if I should buy only one, which one would it be ? (for around 100euros)

I know there is no objective answer. (my reference player is Joe sample and the crusaders, if you can advise me how to get a crusaders-like sound) ?



Thanks in advance !
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: Rob A on May 23, 2011, 01:03:12 PM
I guess it kind of comes down to what you look for in the amp. I personally look at the ideal amp as being pure, clean gain, where other people like the coloration that's added to the tone by their favorite (usually tube) amp.

I think where underpowered amps fall short on Rhodes tone is in the lower mids. If the piano's in tune, and you are having a hard time getting clarity in the two octaves below middle C, your amp could be the problem. I'd expect your new amp to perform pretty well in that range--it has enough speaker area to sound convincing at lower frequencies at stage volumes. My early years were spent paying a Mark II stage through an 1980's era Yamaha solid state 2x12 guitar amp.

I would suggest playing your setup for a month before you add any effects at all. Add effects (including eq) only once you have a clear idea what you want to change about the tone. Be aware that your room is coloring the sound drastically more than your amp and quite possibly more than your EQ does.
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: parisiano on May 23, 2011, 01:47:58 PM
Hi Rob, thanks for the answer.

That what I will do I think, I tuned and voiced the piano quite correctly the sound is ok in the bass and middle, but in the treble that's a brain breaker. I still got a metallic sound I don't like.

I cannot get the warm and smooth sound I heard in the records I like. I thought an EQ could fix this, but maybe I'm wrong ?
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: Rob A on May 23, 2011, 03:09:38 PM
We are getting close to a religious issue.

You may be able to improve the sound with EQ. Some people will undoubtedly say it's a characteristic of the Mark II that you are hearing. You seem to be describing more of a 70's Mark I tone when you say warm and smooth. Everyone likes what they like, no problem there.

I'd be tempted to spend more time adjusting the harmonic content before reaching for the outboard effects. Remember that your tine end position compared to the pickup can be adjusted to yield more harmonic, or more fundamental.

I think hardened hammer tips can also introduce "unnatural" brightness to the tone. Active EQ circuits will always introduce noise, although it may not be a problem if you can get what you want with just cuts rather than boosts.
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: parisiano on May 23, 2011, 03:12:54 PM
Ok I will spend more time on it so  :D

Can I post a record of the sounds and you may guide me a little bit ?


Thank you
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: Cormac Long on May 23, 2011, 04:35:30 PM
Yes post a link to a recording or you can also attach a small file to a post.

Looking at the manual..
http://lib.roland.co.jp/support/en/manuals/res/1811419/KC-550_350_e2.pdf

I'm wondering if you have the bright button enabled on your amp. If not, try reducing the mid and treble EQ on the amp. That may give back more warmth to the sound if you're finding the bell sound too extreme.

I have found with my Mk1 (1975) is that increases in mid-EQ (800Hz-2.5Khz) can enhance the treble bell-like sound of the mid and upper register. I actually like a little of that rather than keeping it more in the warm 70's tone. So I tend to be looking to add a little rather than take away. But its tine variations that seems to bring this about in general.

Also.. with the stage models, you've got the passive bass boost tone control. Make sure you've got the bass boost at max so its not messing with the sound. Use your amp to dial back the bass if its too extreme. In fact, if you can cable from the harp RCA direct to the amp, even better. It will give you the raw sound and then you can tackle the amps EQ to get a sound you like. I never use my front rail jack and passive controls as the difference in sound is incredible. I'd reckon, however that its more to do with aged pots and capacitor than anything else.
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: sean on May 23, 2011, 09:43:59 PM


I thought that the Roland KC-350 is made for MODERN keyboards with nice powerful line out signals.  The amp works great with your synths and digital pianos, but it doesn't have a preamp that is expecting the low level output from a stage Rhodes.   (Channel 1 has a mic input, but only on the XLR connector.)

With your Rhodes plugged into one of the 1/4" jacks, you probably can't get the dynamic range that you want with your Rhodes (you probably only get a useable sound when you have the namerail volume set near the max, and the amp channel turned up high.  (That might not be so objectionable playing at home, however, if you have another keyboard, or you want to compete with a drummer, you will probably not have much luck.)
 
I think that if you put an instrument preamp between your Rhodes and the KC-350, you will find that the sound will be more full-bodied, and you can get the full volume from the speaker.  (Of course,  you can still tweak it with the KC-350 EQ controls.)

Ask around to see if one of your friends can loan you a little guitar preamp, or even a little tabletop microphone mixer.  They will both have enough clean gain to prove me right or wrong.  Even some cheap stomp box "clean boost" preamps aren't that bad.  If you give your Rhodes a little signal boost before it gets into the KC-350, and you find that the KC-350 is behaving differently, then you might have to buy yourself a preamp.  If the signal boost makes no difference for you, then you can save your money and ignore my thoughts here.

I think that at low bedroom volumes, you might not hear much difference.  At higher volumes, or with the speaker 5 or 6 meters away from your ear, you might prefer the preamp-ed tone better.

Sean


Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: sean on May 23, 2011, 10:03:08 PM


Parisiano,

Is the "brain breaker" sound that your piano makes coming from the top three octaves being REALLY LOUD?  Sometimes, it isn't the topmost octave, but I find that there are two octaves that are much louder than my right hand would like them to be.

I haven't ever been satisfied with fixing this with EQ.

My solution has been to move the pickups a little bit back away from the tines in that section of the piano, so that my hand can hit it the way I am used to, and I get the volume dynamics that I expect, and the tone I like.

That is the beauty of the Rhodes:  you can adjust it to your personal preference.


Sean

Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: parisiano on May 24, 2011, 03:25:31 AM
Hi there,

Thanks for your answers.


So, undoubtably, the sound have much improved compared to my hifi system. The bass is clear and I can hear the treble better than before.

I agree with Rob, the pedal effect is not a need for the moment I still have to voice the piano according to my wishes, I will go to give back the phaser effect pedal I bought yesterday, it's really not a need for now.

Concerning the pre amp, I don't really know. In the actual state I find the volume enough loud, I plug the KB on channel 2, put the potentiometers of the piano on the max, and put the amp potentiometers on middle position (5), and I have enough sound for my use.
Will the preamp only give me more gain, or also a different sound ?

Concerning the upper octave, it's difficult to explain, first I have the mechanical noise of the hit that I don't like but I cannot do anything for this.
And secondly the tine vibration sound is not as loud and deep as in the medium. And also it sustains much less.


I will try to register the sound and post it here, you'll give me your opinions.


Thanks a lot guys

Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: Cormac Long on May 24, 2011, 05:05:33 AM
Based on Seans analysis of the amp, if you could get an jack-XLR cable, you might be able to verify the gain differences between the more sensitive mic input versus the line level inputs.

For the upper octave, the mechanical noise is unfortunately always louder. The tines are more rigid given the smaller length and the hammer tips are also much harder. So this noise is just part of the overheads of getting adequate sound from the upper tines. Moving the pickup ever so slightly away from the tine will reduce the volume and harshness of these notes if they are just too unbearable. You will also get some mileage from adjusting the inner tonebar screw to vary the position of the tine to the pickup. I would loosen this to raise it a little above the pickup and then tighten it as you continually test the note until you find the tone you like the most.

For the sustain, you probably just need to fit some tonebar clips. A simple trick to test this is to pick a high note that has poor sustain. Then take a screw driver and rest its tip on the tonebar. Start at the end farthest away from the mounting screws. Then strike the note continually, allowing it to sustain each time. Change the screwdriver position along on the tonebar and at some point you should get a more prolonged sustain. The clips are then a very handy way of making this change more permanent. I've fitted several on my mk1 88.
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: parisiano on May 24, 2011, 07:16:38 AM
Here is a test file of the sound.

http://www.2shared.com/audio/tsaUzziw/test.html (http://www.2shared.com/audio/tsaUzziw/test.html)

Without the mechanical noise, the sound is more acceptable in the treble but I think anyway that I have still voicing to do. Please feel free to suggest where you feel the voicing/tune is not acceptable.

PS : sorry for the quality it's the first time I record myself.. My first record if I can say  ;D


Thank you
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: Cormac Long on May 24, 2011, 11:06:58 AM
It may be the recording itself.. and I'm not certain how you recorded this.. but if its going through the amp, it does seem like there is a little too much noise versus sound.. and that could be due to the line input not having adequate gain.

In terms of the sound, there are several keys that probably have the pickups closer than others. You hear the volume variations as you climb the scale. You only need to adjust the pickup position to sort these out. The service manual lists the distances and details on this. Based on my own experience, I would recommend you concentrate on a distance no closer than the thickness of a 2 cent Euro coin or US quarter just to get things even initially. But you can just as easily sort this by ear on a note by note basis.

(http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/fig4-9.gif)

I've also heard a few overtone notes where the tine is either level or just below the pickup, causing more overtone (harmonic) than deeper fundamental sound. A very simple trick to doing this voicing is to untighten the inner screw to that the tine is above the pickup tip and then play the key hard repeatedly as you tighten it. Just when you reach the overtone harmonics (you'll hear less deep sound and higher octave harmonics from the note), untighten it a very small bit to bring back the more fuller fundamental tone. You're more or less at the ideal spot then. If you play the note gently, you'll get nice Rhodes warmth and then a little harder should deliver the bark.
(http://www.fenderrhodes.com/org/manual/fig4-8.gif)
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: Rob A on May 24, 2011, 04:06:09 PM
Will the preamp only give me more gain, or also a different sound ?

It also depends on what you buy. Some preamps are intended to color the tone, others are not.

I looked in the manual for the input impedance spec on your amp and did not find it. If the input impedance is high enough, you should have plenty of gain without resorting to the preamp. Channel 1 seems to have a mic preamp of sorts already there for you, according to this from the back of the manual:

Quote
Nominal Input Level (1 kHz)
Channel 1 (MIC/LINE): -50– -20 dBu
Channel 2--4 (LINE): -20 dBu
STEREO LINK INPUT: 0 dBu
AUX IN: -10 dBu

Added: here's a post I made about an outboard preamp I own. It has options to color the sound, or to leave it uncolored.
http://ep-forum.com/smf/index.php?topic=6243.msg30595#msg30595
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: jean-papa on June 04, 2011, 11:05:52 AM
For stage models,you have "El Potator".
I use it and i'm very happy with it.
the sound is great and powerfull.
you also have Bass,Mids and Treble controls.

it's plugged direct out of the harp,and installed on the rail.

more info here:
http://www.fenderrhodes.com/cgi-bin/service-display?id=254

all the videos i made are with it installed on my rhodes.

Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: zoooombiex on July 06, 2011, 06:11:33 PM
A very simple trick to doing this voicing is to untighten the inner screw to that the tine is above the pickup tip and then play the key hard repeatedly as you tighten it. Just when you reach the overtone harmonics (you'll hear less deep sound and higher octave harmonics from the note), untighten it a very small bit to bring back the more fuller fundamental tone. You're more or less at the ideal spot then. If you play the note gently, you'll get nice Rhodes warmth and then a little harder should deliver the bark.

This is a great tip - I wish I had read it a few months ago.  I ended up doing basically the same procedure and had great results, plus it's much faster than trying to look around and visually align the tips.
Title: Re: Amp / Pedal Effect
Post by: parisiano on July 19, 2011, 02:22:45 PM
Hi there,
Thanks for your assistance