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Keyboard Player Is a Piano Player

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by And I, Dec 17, 2018.

  1. In the almost 40 years (wow, I just did the math and it really has been that long) that I've been a gigging musician, the majority has been as a keyboard player. There is a big difference between a "piano player" and a "keyboard player". This guy may not know that and how a keyboard needs to fit in a band. Unless there's a signature left hand lick, there's not a lot of work down below E3 (the E below middle C). There's a reason rock organists started leaving the pedals to their B-3s at home. And you have to watch your chord voicings and inversions. A lot of times, piano-turned-keyboard players will try too hard to be technical and try to play full "correct and proper" chords when they're not needed and will clash with the voicings the guitarist(s) play. If the guy's willing to put forth the effort, there may be hope. Talk with him about it. If he doesn't grasp what is needed, let him go.

    As for the guy's "cheap" Yamaha and its lack of appropriate and/or needed tones (Rhodes, Wurly, Hammond), Yamaha makes several really good (and some not so cheap) digital pianos that don't have all the bells and whistles. My bottom keyboard these days is a Yammie P35 I bought from GC for $250. I use it for mostly for its acoustic piano sound. Nice weighted action and it weighs half of what my old Korg SP250 weighed and cost a fourth as much. My top keyboard these days is a Casio WK7600 (yes, a $500 Casio!). IMHO, it has very convincing Hammond tones (I own a Hammond M100 and an H100, and have played various A's, B's and C's) complete with 9 sliders that act as drawbars and a Leslie sim that ramps up and down well enough, although the fast speed might be a little too fast. The strings, brass, and woodwinds are very realistic sounding. The other sounds will get you through gigs if you need them. The keyboard has a decent enough synth-type action. It's durable enough to handle my heavy Jerry Lee Lewis when put into piano service (back in the 80's, American Music here in Jax used to keep replacement keys in stock for our band's Yammie PF10 because I'd routinely break them; our BL was stuck on the sound of that board for some reason) and has held up to Hammond glissandi without any issues.
    Holdsg, IamGroot, mmon77 and 2 others like this.
  2. Forty replies and only two or three of you hint that there’d be some benefit to sitting down with the new guy to work out the things that sound good vs. the things that conflict. Maybe even a bass and keys woodshed session?
    Mr_Moo, Sixgunn, dave64o and 4 others like this.
  3. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Keyboard players (especially pianists) are primarily trained to be soloists. Finding one that can instinctively stay within their allocated sonic space and not step all over the other band member’s respective turfs without some band experience under their belt is rare. Rare as in unicorn and golden fleece rare.

    As far as your guy goes, you gave your honest opinion that he’s not ready nor a good fit for the band at this point in time. (An opinion I agree with btw.)

    But you’ve done you part. I’d leave it at that for the time being.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  4. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    Tell that jackleg to stop stepping all over your sonic space with his crummy keyboard, and if he don't like it- he can git out!
    Sixgunn likes this.
  5. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Depends on if he’s that good, and you’re so gung-ho on adding keys, that you want to take on an apprentice training project.

    No one size answer fits every band or situation.
    Mr_Moo likes this.
  6. mmmmm…. Nord Electro... mmm

    (Rhodes, Hammond, Wurli, Piano, Clav)

    Have wanted one for ages.
  7. esoxhntr

    esoxhntr Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2007
    Markham, Ontario
    Seriously... start looking for another situation. If you can't even get these guys to let you stand beside the drummer at gigs in a 4 piece band, and they decided to bring this guy onboard without consulting you, it is clear that your opinion is not valued. Try and project that to further on down the road, when this dude is plopping keyboard turd bass all over your lines, and you are gong to get blamed for playing to loud or ignoring balance. In my humble opinion, a keyboard player that doesn't know how to fit in an ensemble (block chords and octave bass) will never learn.

    Since they decided in your absence to bring him on, be prepared to still be low man on the totem pole. Bottom line, if this guy is musically going to be a problem, you are going to get zero support in solving it. A band looking to gig, who is bringing on another mouth to feed without any consideration for proper musical contribution... well the chances for success are not great. It seems that for whatever reason, they think that your group just NEEDS a keyboard player.

    Sorry, but as @Wasnex said earlier, greener pastures... actually, I should have just quoted his whole post - he nailed it.
    Mr_Moo, instrumentalist and Wasnex like this.
  8. Adienn7


    Jan 26, 2007
    guys in metal we use samples and recordings very & limited keys.. it's much cheaper to get a 25 key midi controller and program the sample in a laptop.. that limited range would actually help him adapt to.. worse case scenario use a backing track that the drummer triggering the samples.
  9. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    Since my crippled left arm won't allow me to play guitar any more on gigs where I'm not the bassist, I've become a de facto piano player. Not keyboard...I bought a great 88 weighted key digital piano, and I'm mostly doing rhythm and fills. Simple stuff, and mostly above middle C. Every sound man I've worked with has complimented me on staying out of everyone's way.
    Mr_Moo, Holdsg, MG Wolf and 2 others like this.
  10. seilerbird


    Apr 12, 2012
    If he joins the band it will work just as well as the women who marry a flawed man thinking they can change his bad habits.
    Sixgunn, esoxhntr and dan1952 like this.
  11. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    Have you been talking to one of my exes?
  12. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I used to play jazz with a guy who had been a competition accordion player as a kid. He had amazing right hand technique on piano and keyboard, but never really developed a lot of left hand facility as the style of accordion he played used buttons for the bass. I never had any trouble with him stepping on my bass lines.
    Mr_Moo and dan1952 like this.
  13. Ekulati


    Jan 2, 2016
    Richmond, VA
    This. Again, I'm not saying don't give him a chance. But unless OP is playing big band swing or jazz, no charts. Dude needs to put on the big boy pants and figure out his own parts, from the record. Or whatever it's called these days...
    Sixgunn likes this.
  14. I don’t know about the guy’s skills but if he’s got some skills he should be able to adapt quickly to changes in his arrangements so the band sounds good. In the OP’s case it was the rest of the band that brought the guy. It’d be worth a good faith effort on the OP’s part (i.e. a few sessions, not a teaching career) to try to help him fit in. If he’s not a good fit then you made the effort and you’ve got a basis for reporting that it won’t work. Then be ready to be replaced (or stepped on) by a left hand if they want to keep him anyway.

    I am often taken aback at how many people here are uninterested in even trying to bring a new guy up to speed.
    Mr_Moo, retslock and 40Hz like this.
  15. esoxhntr

    esoxhntr Supporting Member

    Jun 21, 2007
    Markham, Ontario
    I think that is a reasonable thought, but the 40:2or3 ratio may also reflect the number of folks who have tried that solution (some more than a few times), and have experienced futility. Count me in the 40, no matter how nice a person is, style and groove are very hard to concepts to teach. You kind of either have enough of them to fit, or you don't, especially if - as the OP says - the group has professional ambitions.
    Ekulati and LBS-bass like this.
  16. dan1952

    dan1952 Commercial User

    Jun 27, 2012
    Anderson IN
    Artist Endorsement with Supro Huntington Basses / Owner, Dan's Music, Inc..
    John Cascella, who played keys with John Mellencamp until he suffered a fatal heart attack in his early 40's, was a national champion accordion player as a teenager (he studied with Ed Miller, a good friend of mine). This background made him the perfect band keyboard player, and he even spearheaded the return of the accordion on Mellencamp's records. Plus, John Cascella was a really nice guy!
    Mr_Moo, IamGroot and Wasnex like this.
  17. LBS-bass

    LBS-bass Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2017
    This was my thought, too. Been there done that. Not banging my head against that brick wall again. Life's too short. I'm all for being nice, communicative, and patient, but there are certain times when you need to bring your life lessons into play.
    esoxhntr likes this.
  18. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    The guy may be a super talented and skilled piano or keyboard player, and still not posses the required skills to play in this setting. I don't think it would take long to figure it out, so sure take a bit of time to see if there is any potential. But if the ability to translate chords into voicings appropriate for the repertoire are lacking, it's not an easy fix, and I don't understand why you think anyone in the band would be qualified to teach this guy how to play keys. It may be worth the effort to encourage and help the guy learn, but he has to demonstrate the ability to recognize there is a problem and show a willingness to take responsibility for fixing it.
    LBS-bass likes this.
  19. Bodeanly

    Bodeanly Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    How come nobody’s asked why he’s not allowed to stand by the drummer? Sounds like OP is more of an employee than a band member. I only say this because I know what it’s like. It sucks. And the best day I had this year was telling them where they could stick it. Thanks for listening. TB is cheaper than a therapist. ✌
  20. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    When it comes down to it, IMHO this should be viewed as an employment decision. The keyboard job requirements determine the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) the player must possess to perform satisfactorily. I would consider the keyboardist a conditional hire. If he isn't able to demonstrate the necessary KSAs, I would let him go and try to hire a qualified player.

    This is not personal, it's business. I am not saying it's how you should run a band, but it is what I would do.

    Course the OP is not the group leader...maybe he should start his own band ;).

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