Start of the Digital Piano Age For Me
Starting with a Fender Rhodes ” Suitcase” model which was loaned to me on a regular basis by another Sydney musician in the late 1970’s I have always had a portable digital / electronic / electric keyboard in addition to the regular pianos mentioned in the previous article. The Rhodes had a large speaker system shaped like a box or suitcase which doubled as a stand for the keyboard part of the instrument and weighed what seemed like a ton ! I had to remove the passenger seat in my car to fit it all in. In changing times, the age of the well maintained pianos in various venues was in decline and a large part of we professional musicians made our earnings from jobs [ AKA “gigs” ] where we had to arrive with our own keyboard instrument. At least we knew what the instrument we were about to play, was like.
First Digital Piano
The first electric piano I owned was a somewhat forgettable Roland model [ forgotten the model !] which was durable and heavy at 26 Kilograms, but it certainly earned its’ keep, even though it was never a great instrument to play compared to my home piano or the Yamaha C3 grand at the club where I worked. A side benefit of owning this one was the almost gymnasium style exercise I got by moving it. At this stage I owned an excellent Roland Jazz Chorus 80 amplifier and an even better and lighter Roland Keyboard Cube amplifier which has been a totally dependable quality instrument since the mid 1980’s to today  a run of over 25 years. This Roland electric piano served me well until I heard about a newer and lighter Roland EP9E model which had a good selection of sounds and at 15 Kilograms was a huge step up. Roland products are famous for their reliability and endurance, and I highly recommend them for all levels of playing.
As well as digital / electric pianos an important part of an instrument “arsenal” for a professional player was to have a synthesiser for a variety of sounds. A family member in the music industry sold me an excellent quality and almost unused Korg M1 which I’ve had for about 25 years – it doesn’t get much use these days as my latest digital piano has a wide selection of sounds available, but when I use it, there is a bracket attached to the keyboard stand and the M1 sits above the piano as shown.
I was about to replace the Roland EP9E for our Jazz at the Basement gig as it was getting a little tired, when the Arts Centre asked me to test various models of electric / digital pianos for the Centre to use for various areas there. Eventually I settled on a Yamaha P140 model which turned out to be a great choice for our jazz club room. The P140 has been superceded by the Yamaha P155 in recent times but is still rewarding to play. When the Arts Centre gig finished after 5 years, I continued with the Roland EP9E until quite recently, with some extra gigs in the book, it was time for a replacement. Here is a sample of the Yamaha P140 in duo form with Malcolm on trumpet https://youtu.be/qZo4IduDl-4 and here with Rachel singing https://youtu.be/fpHpx3zLbNw Enjoy.
My Latest Digital Piano
Funny how decisions can be made from out of nowhere. I was booked to play an hour of solo piano at the Tweed Valley Jazz Club to be followed by a 10 piece blues band. The piano player suggested I play his keyboard which was already set up for the band’s 2 sets to follow, rather than setup my own gear for one hour’s work. I willingly agreed and thus met what was to be my next instrument – I truly enjoyed Glenn’s Roland RD300 SX and was sorry to see my one hour disappear in what seemed like a few moments. I searched Ebay and other online markets for one, and settled on a Roland RD 300 GX the model after Glenn’s. It was part of a package deal with a 120 Watt amplifier and stand, and I’m delighted to say I’m having a passionate love affair with this model – a real quality instrument – I love it.