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Great Keyboard VSTs you may have missed!
Old 1st January 2016
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Great Keyboard VSTs you may have missed!

Hi all. Record producer/songwriter/musician/programmer here out of the Midwest.

I've been reading these forums for years. Mainly to get suggestions on gear. I noticed that a lot of the VST threads are dated by a few years and a lot of great VSTs have not been discussed (to my knowledge).

Here are a few VSTs that I think are worth your while, IMO.

It seems that the Holy Grail of VSTs is a great, realistic Hohner Clavinet sound. To my ears, I think I found the best one out there. Many of you swear by the Scarbee Clavinet. I have it and it's pretty good. But there was a quick mention of J Chris Griffin in another thread. He made a Mark II Rhodes, a Clavinet and a Wurly,. Let me tell you, his Clavinet is THE BUSINESS.

It seems he sampled a real Clavinet at The Power Station (now Avatar Studios). The difference in his and Scarbee's is that the JCG Clavinet is much thicker and dirtier (in a good way). He even got the key up/down noises in there for added realism. Put a wah on this thing and you're effing Headhunter's era Herbie Hancock. LOL.

Around the same time I got this VST, my engineer got a real Clav at his studio. I tracked them side by side and it does not pale next to the real deal. it works with EXS 24, Kontakt, and has a Reason refill.

Here's the backstory on it with sound samples, but the demo pales in comparison to what it can really do. Maybe I'll upload some of my stuff later:
J Chris Griffin Keys Vol. 1: D6 Clavinet [Renegade Media] :: Beatport Sounds
Old 1st January 2016
  #2
Here for the gear
 

Neo Soul Keys 4.0

For a while, I believed that Neo Soul Keys was the gold standard for Rhodes VST. Again, to my ears, Scarbee loses to Neo-Soul Keys but it seems that you guys have only talked about this VST in passing. The thing that puts this over the top again is the realism. The company that makes this have taken great pains to get every bump, squeak, and grunt of a real Rhodes along with amp sims, etc. I thought they were done after Neo Soul Keys 3X (Suitcase, Stage, and Wurly) but they're back at it with Neo Soul keys 4.0. This one is for UVI only, it seems that the Kontakt version was not pirate proof.

Of course, ol boy speaks about it at great length:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjRPrebiaVA
Old 1st January 2016
  #3
Here for the gear
 

Logic X Pro Electric Piano

Earlier in the year, I went to a buddy's house to do some writing. He had a Mac setup (I'm a PC guy). He fired up the electric piano in Logic Pro X and I was mildly impressed. But what knocked me out is when he sent me the Rhodes parts, it sat in the mix SO well and sounded SO real. What is missing from Neo Soul Keys (though I'm sure you can tweak that sound outta NSK with some patience) and other VST Rhodes, IMO, is the bell sound and that's what the Logic Rhodes had. It sang in the mix. When you get into the upper register with other Rhodes VSTs, that's when things tend to fall apart. I also notice that while other Rhodes VSTs sound good on their own, they get buried quickly in a mix. I keep Lounge Lizard 4 for that reason. Lounge Lizard sounds somewhat real but it sits nicely in the mix. So sometimes I double my Rhodes parts with Lounge Lizard to get it to sit right.

The **** sounded so good and so real, I actually wondered if I had to get a Mac just for this sound. But I'm not that desperate yet...

Go here. Scroll down to Vintage Keys and click on the Classic Electric Piano demo to listen.
http://www.apple.com/logic-pro/plugins-and-sounds/
Old 1st January 2016
  #4
Here for the gear
 

J Chris Griffin Avatar Rhodes

I raved about JCG Clavinet above but his Rhodes VST is killer, too. Same deal whereas he sampled the house MKII at The Power Station (now Avatar Studios).

I have Kontakt but I really like to work in Reason. I know Reason is looked down upon by gear/DAW snobs but I dont give a care. IMO, Reason is by far the most hassle-free and MUSICALLY intuitive DAW out there. I have Studio One (which is effing AWESOME, BTW), Ableton, Cubase, Reaper, and Bitwig (which I didnt like), but Reason is where I really build my tracks. I mention this because JCG's VSTs all have a Reason refill. Reason refills load up a HELLUVA lot faster than Kontakt on it's best day.

The difference with JCG's Rhodes VST is that it's an sampled MKII, where as most Rhodes VSTs emulate the MKI. Most of us tend to associate the Rhodes with the sound of the MKI. Technically, the only difference btwn those models is supposed to be the outer housing. But to my ears, there's a definite difference in the sound of the Rhodes MKI and MK II. The best way to explain the sonic difference is to say that the MKI is the Rhodes sound of the 70's and the MKII is the Rhodes sound of the late 70's/80's.

This VST is that definitive early 80's Rhodes sound. The Stevie Wonder All I Do/Steely Dan Hey Nineteen sound. There are even presets that tip you off to the Rhodes sound it was modeled after ("Pick Up Styx" "1979 Sunshine" and the blatant "Hey Ninteen!"--the misspelling is intentional).

JCG's stuff is only available through Beatport and a $60 each, it's a STEAL.

Here is the page with a sound demo, but again, these demos dont really represent the true quality of the VSTs:
J Chris Griffin Keys Vol 1: Avatar Rhodes [Renegade Media] :: Beatport Sounds
Old 1st January 2016
  #5
Here for the gear
 

CFrentzen Samples

About 4 years ago, German musician Christian Frentzen made some VSTs. He did a sampled MKI, a Wurly, and a Clavinet. I'll tell you right off the bat. I don't where you can score these VSTs. The website where they were being sold is down. Maybe someone can contact Mr. Frentzen for more information.

His clavinet is killer. If I could find this, I'd use only this and the J Chris Griffin clav. He sampled his own Hohner Clavinet for this. One thing you'll notice is that his clav says D6 but looks like an E7. There's a reason for that. Hohner had a transition period where the D6s had an E7 housing before renaming them E7. Here, he does a side by side comparison:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5Yq_pm1mjo

Here are the demos for all 3 VSTs:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fis2oDEfgHw
Old 2nd January 2016
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Radical Keys Rack Extension for Reason

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KyJBQZrWr20

I guess Propellerhead figured they wouldn't get left behind in the vintage keys innovations so they have this. This came out about 3 years ago but I didn't know about this until this morning, honestly. You get an MKI, a Wurly, and a Pianet (I dunno who is looking for a pianet but whatever).

Sounds nice, though.
Old 2nd January 2016
  #7
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Jeremy Ellis My Mark I & My Mark II

NOBODY talks about these excellent Rhodes refills for Reason and I dont know why. Right before NSK came through and crushed the buildings, musical freak of nature Jeremy Ellis dropped these sweet gems for Reason. I think these costs $29 bucks each, which is insane. The catch is you have to be a registered Reason owner to even buy these...and now that I think about it, I think that's why these excellent Rhodes refills didn't get any love.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQtdmzNxlek
Old 2nd January 2016
  #8
Here for the gear
 

RMI Electrapiano

There's only a couple of reasons to use the RMI Electra Piano, IMO. 1) If you're doing an Afrobeat track and you want Fela's keyboard sound or 2) You're looking to do some Lamb Lies Down on Broadway-era Tony Banks type stuff.

If so, yes...there is a VST for that.

Retrospective ReFill for Propellerhead Reason 4+
Old 2nd January 2016
  #9
Here for the gear
 

Korg Legacy Collection

When I found this, I was floored. Korg did what it would seem any keyboard manufacturer with a brain would do. They simply made VSTs out of their classic synths. No Arturia recreations here.

In this collection, you get MS-20, Polysix, Mono/Poly, WAVESTATION and M1 synths. Some of these synths have carried entire genres of music on their backs. To be honest, you couldnt listen to any mainstream music in the late 80s/early 90's without hearing the Korg M1. So many dance music records were made with the M1, it's not even funny.

The cool part is that these VSTs are available separately as well.

KORG Legacy Collection | Software | KORG
Old 2nd January 2016
  #10
Here for the gear
 

JCG Clav vs. Scarbee Clav

The first example (Fire Clav) is the J Chris Griffin Clav through an auto wah I made in Guitar Rig.

The second (BIY Clav) is the Scarbee clav through the same effect.

Here you can see what I mean when I say the JCG clav is thicker and more realistic.

BTW, I'm not a great clavinet player. Still working on it. LOL.
Attached Files

Fire Clav.mp3 (1.29 MB, 2523 views)

BIY Clav - MenudaClavB.mp3 (864.4 KB, 2189 views)

Old 2nd January 2016
  #11
Lives for gear
 
12tone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Essbee View Post
It seems that the Holy Grail of VSTs is a great, realistic Hohner Clavinet sound.
...really!?!

The Clavinet is the Holy Grail of VSTi's?!?

AFAICT, they're dime a dozen, as are Rhodes and Wurlitzers, and you'll get disparate opinions as to which are better and so forth. Many are really really good, but there's no one ultimate as context plays a major role in how a particular instrument might sound or sit in a mix. (the same applies to piano VSTi's)

Now, I've yet to hear a realistic CP-80 clone...(something like this, as played by the late great George Duke)

Old 2nd January 2016
  #12
Lives for gear
 

I'll admit, it's been 25 years since I played a real CP70/80 but I stopped looking for a VSTi version once I picked up Addictive Keys: Electric Grand - XLN Audio
Old 2nd January 2016
  #13
Here for the gear
 

Great keyboard VSTs - a dime a dozen?

A dime a dozen. Okay. Obviously this thread is only my opinion. But yeah...a lot of us who play keys want an authentic sounding clavinet vst. There are a lot of clav VSTs out there but very few sound like the real deal. Just because there are a lot of them doesn't mean they're any good. Do a google search for "best clav vst" and see how many results come up.

The clavinet is a strange instrument to start with and the sound of it is very unique. As with Rhodes and piano, you can get it kinda close or "good enough" but some of us want to get it as close as possible to the real thing. Quality counts. The closest to a real sounding clav we had was Scarbee, which is not bad. Acousticsamples Clavi D9 is pretty good, too. But that requires an iLok. Me and a few others there just dont support the idea of iLoks. But my personal favorite is the JCG. It sounds the closest to a real clav to my ears. I decided to highlight it since its not done by a major software company so there word isnt really out there on it. You can put those other "dime a dozen" clav VSTs on YOUR record if you want to.
Old 2nd January 2016
  #14
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Prominy Electric Grand PCP-80

I have both this and the EZ Keys Electric Grand. I haven't really formed an opinion as of yet, since my ear isn't really fine tuned to the Yamaha Electric Grands. I just know I like the sound of them. Primarily because of George Duke.

Here's someone playing the Prominy. You tell me.

Old 3rd January 2016
  #15
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JohnRick's Avatar
Anything by Soniccouture is excellent. Their Clavinet should likely not be any different:
Clav | Soniccouture
Old 3rd January 2016
  #16
Tui
Gear Guru
 
Tui's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Essbee View Post
Earlier in the year, I went to a buddy's house to do some writing. He had a Mac setup (I'm a PC guy). He fired up the electric piano in Logic Pro X and I was mildly impressed. But what knocked me out is when he sent me the Rhodes parts, it sat in the mix SO well and sounded SO real.
This is so funny and true.

I have all the usual suspects - 2 different Scarbees, Neo Soul, Sampletekk - but when I play with a band, the humble Logic Rhodes knocks them all out. It just blends so well with the other instruments.
Old 3rd January 2016
  #17
Tui
Gear Guru
 
Tui's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Essbee View Post
I have both this and the EZ Keys Electric Grand. I haven't really formed an opinion as of yet, since my ear isn't really fine tuned to the Yamaha Electric Grands. I just know I like the sound of them. Primarily because of George Duke.

Here's someone playing the Prominy. You tell me.

Agreed on George Duke. He was a treasure.

About that video, well, I can't really hear the sound of the library, there is some horrible FX all over it.
Old 3rd January 2016
  #18
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Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Essbee View Post
There's only a couple of reasons to use the RMI Electra Piano, IMO. 1) If you're doing an Afrobeat track and you want Fela's keyboard sound or 2) You're looking to do some Lamb Lies Down on Broadway-era Tony Banks type stuff.

If so, yes...there is a VST for that.

Retrospective ReFill for Propellerhead Reason 4+
How are the other sounds in this pack, specifically the CP70?
Old 3rd January 2016
  #19
Here for the gear
 

Yamaha CP-70 in Retrospective refill

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Mordo View Post
How are the other sounds in this pack, specifically the CP70?
You know what? I had totally overlooked the other sounds in the refill. This refill is kind of a sampler of the Hollow Sun VSTs. It seems like a kinda "budget" thing not painstaking renditions like the big boys are doing. I just got it for the RMI. I just fired up the CP-70. It's okay. It's thicker than the Prominy and EZ Keys versions, IMO but the signature attack of the Yamaha electrics is kind of over pronounced to my ears and the decay/sustain is kinda weak. But the upside is that you can tweak it to your liking...

The other sounds in there are kinda neither here nor there. They got these Moog patches and you only get one sound from them so those are forgettable. They got a Korg M1 patch with one sound which is dumb. If you grab it, go for the RMI and the Yamaha.
Old 3rd January 2016
  #20
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EWQL Yamaha CP-80

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tui View Post
Agreed on George Duke. He was a treasure.

About that video, well, I can't really hear the sound of the library, there is some horrible FX all over it.
Sorry, that was the only demo video I could find quickly. Here's the product page from the Prominy website. There are some demos at the bottom, both dry and with fx:

http://www.prominy.com/elec.htm
Old 3rd January 2016
  #21
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EWQL Yamaha CP-80

Totally forgot I had this one because it's at the bottom of my Kontakt rack and I only use Kontakt if I have to (I also dont remember how I got it). It's from their Colossus library (which I DO NOT have). Just fired it up and I like this the best of the 3 (EZ Keys and Prominy) I have...it's brighter than the other two and has better decay/sustain. I cant find any demos online. I may put something up later.
Old 3rd January 2016
  #22
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BTW thanks for that Sonny Rollins joint. I did not know that two of my favorites (Rollins and Duke) had worked together...
Old 4th January 2016
  #23
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12tone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Essbee View Post
BTW thanks for that Sonny Rollins joint. I did not know that two of my favorites (Rollins and Duke) had worked together...
No problem man - it's from a mid 70's Sonny record called Easy Living, on Milestones records.

While I'm a Newk junkie (I've everything he's ever released, both as a leader and sideman), everything he did after 1970 really pales in comparison to what he did in the 50's and 60's...like Saxophone Colossus, The Bridge, Sonny Rollins on Impulse, Way out West, Night At The Village Vanguard with Elvin Jones & Wilbure Ware, etc...

His tone really changed, got a lot more gruff and growly - most likely from getting dentures from having his teeth rotted out due to his long battles with heroine addiction.

This recording is anomalous for George, while he is trained both classically and in jazz - he is more synonymous with Zappa, JLP, and his funk explorations.
Old 4th January 2016
  #24
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Dr. Mordo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Essbee View Post
You know what? I had totally overlooked the other sounds in the refill. This refill is kind of a sampler of the Hollow Sun VSTs. It seems like a kinda "budget" thing not painstaking renditions like the big boys are doing. I just got it for the RMI. I just fired up the CP-70. It's okay. It's thicker than the Prominy and EZ Keys versions, IMO but the signature attack of the Yamaha electrics is kind of over pronounced to my ears and the decay/sustain is kinda weak. But the upside is that you can tweak it to your liking...

The other sounds in there are kinda neither here nor there. They got these Moog patches and you only get one sound from them so those are forgettable. They got a Korg M1 patch with one sound which is dumb. If you grab it, go for the RMI and the Yamaha.

I went ahead and bought it. For $10, I figured what the heck.

The RMI is pretty sweet (though they didn't include Electrapiano samples for any of the other sounds besides the electric piano), and I agree the CP70 is pretty good, but a little attack heavy. Personally, I think I prefer the EZ Keys. Everything else is pretty mediocre.

Still, can't complain for $10.
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