Here is a description of your company. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut dapibus, felis id malesuada blandit, turpis lacus vehicula risus, quis rhoncus libero.

Two Ways to Set Up Your Keyboard Rig

Two Ways to Set Up Your Keyboard Rig


I’ll admit it, I love prepping my keyboard rig for performances. This weekend, I’m subbing in for a funk/pop group with a 50 song repertoire, making it challenging to switch patches quickly. Worse yet, I’m not going to be doing a practice beforehand with them. Keeping that in mind, here’s two options I’m attempting to pick between: 


Method #1: Song Specific Patches


Pros: every patch is customized, ability to alphabetize


Cons: time consuming to create, hard to find the right patch quickly when the band goes off setlist


Details: For most shows, this is the way I like to work. Custom designing each patch specifically for each song in the setlist is super-professional, and usually fits better than going with preset sounds. If you use Mainstage, you can also switch two keyboard’s patches at the same time using midi. 


The downside is if you get in the middle of a performance and you want to switch sounds on one keyboard, you’re stuck having to switch both keyboards since they're linked together. Also, if the band leader decides to change the setlist last minute (I find this happens frequently), you’re stuck scrolling through dozens of patches to find the correct sound. 



Method #2: Quick Recall Patches


Pros: super fast to program, quick to pull up onstage, and simplifies going off- setlist. 


Cons: patches aren’t as close to the originals. 


Details: Instead of creating individual patches for each song, I create a bunch of general use sounds for my keyboards, and then either map them to buttons in Mainstage, or program them to specific recall buttons on my Nord Stage. Here’s the sounds I like to use: 


1st Tier Keyboard (Nord): pianos, electric pianos, organs, pads


2nd Tier Keyboard (Mainstage): strings, accordion, brass, bells, synths, ethnic instruments, effects


When I’m in practice, I take notes on my setlist with the patch number or name that I should use for the specific song. In performance, I hit the buttons to select the correct preset according to my song patch notes from rehearsal. It’s much faster than the one-patch-one-song approach, and it allows me to improvise more onstage if a sound doesn’t work. 


The downside, of course, is that you simply can’t match the specific song’s keyboards as closely. Often live this isn’t as much of an issue because of sound system limitations in most venues. 



Which method should I choose? Which method are you using? Do you have another method I haven’t thought of? Leave a comment below!

The Never-Ending Fight For What Matters

My 5 Worst Nightmares Onstage, and How I’d Solve Them Now

My 5 Worst Nightmares Onstage, and How I’d Solve Them Now