The Keys

Nord keyboards

Keyboard Three

This is probably the final setup. All by Nord.

Clavia Nord is a Swedish company, renowned for intuitive and high quality instruments. The Electro was my first, convincing me the way they provided hands-on controls was the easiest way to master the art of keyboards.
There are basically three kinds of keys:
The original: Weighted piano keys, giving you the feel of the mechanics needed for fingers to transmit their intention to the piano strings.
Semi-weighted, as in organs like B3: Easier to play fast.
Synth keys: (Almost) no weight and immediate response.

After the Electro the next step was the Lead. I could have choosen a Nord Wave, but there are financial concerns… These concerns prevented me from getting the latest versions that would probably triple or quadruple the costs. The Piano 2 emerged on the Norwegian trade site finn.no and is one of the few purchases from that one. Conor the seller sent me some excellent examples of Mellotron and other sounds, and I scrambled for my payment options. Thanks, Conor!

So, here are all three. The foundation is the Nord Piano 2, featuring a serious grand piano, upright and electrics, and various piano-related instruments like Clavinet and harpsichord. Along with these there is a Sample Synth section that provides everything from single violin to full orchestra, including accordion, vibes and reeds along the way.

In the middle is the Nord Electro, which could be set to the Organ section and never changed. However, the Clavinet is too good to miss out on.

Top is the Nord Lead, giving classic synth sounds.

Keyboard One
Arturia MicroBrute and microKorg, above the Korg SP-200

Keyboard Two, 2021.
Top: Nord Lead A1
Middle: Nord Electro 2
Bottom: Korg SP200 with MicroBrute

microKorg

microKorg synthesizer (2003)

Digital synthesizer/vocoder with a variety of very tweakable and storable presets.

KORG (named after founders Kato and Osanai, with added RG from the word oRGan) has been in the innovation forefront since 1962. The microKorg was launched in 2002 and is still in production in 2020. It is very compact; bigger fingers would be a real challenge.

I did not want (or need) an eighties rhythm unit or flashing keys; I wanted to control sounds. A MiniMoog was out of reach, so I chanced ordering this by phone. The photo in the catalogue did not have any fingers shown for size comparison, so I was slightly surprised when I unwrapped the toy-sized contraption. But a toy, soundwise, it is not. From traditional organ to fuzzy synths, this thing can emulate. Played on a number of songs post-(42), but as the Erik Hofsten Band was in the making, I purchased a stage piano.

Korg SP200

Korg SP200 Stagepiano (2005)

88-key digital piano with banks of 30 sounds.

I liked the sounds from the microKorg, so the search for a piano with weighted keys combined with various organ, string and pad sounds, took me to a Norwegian web shop.

Played experimentally by me in the studio, and near professionally by Erling Laland with the EH Band/EH Trio. I still can’t get over the headline in local paper KV after the Trio gig at a local club in 2005, billed as the Erik Hofsten Trio, presenting Erik Hofsten’s handwritten music: «The mayor entertaining at Amadeus». So much for fame.

In spring 2022 an upgrade put the SP-200 up for sale. Thanks for providing.

Arturia MicroBrute

Arturia MicroBrute (2016)

Mixable sawtooth, pulse and triangle waveforms, sub-oscillator, multimode filter, a super-fast envelope, a syncable LFO, sequencer, and a patchable matrix.

Again, back to the analogue way of thinking and sounding. No presets here, just the basic way of monophonic sound synthesis from the tone generators and LFO to be tweaked and modified until (with closed eyes and without swollen fingers) you are quite close to Minimoog territory. Fascinating how the parameters affecting the sound become clear by twisting the dedicated knobs, and there is a lot to be learned about sound and effects that helps me understand the signal chain from guitar to board as well. I had this synth riff in my head, totally impossible to play, but the sequencer enabled me to play it slowly in a practical key (I am fluent in c minor pentatonic), save it and play it back in any key or any speed.

Nord Electro

Nord Electro 2 Sixty-One (2021)

The simple description is organ and piano. The complex manual will exhaust your printer: Classic B3 sounds (including Leslie) from the virtual drawbars; various pianos and an amazing Clavinet to be pulled from the very logical controls to the right. The Wurlitzer, too, is very convincing. But the organ is what really draws me (pun on drawbars) to spend flowing ethereal amounts of time with this one.

Nord Lead

Nord Lead 1996 (2001)

Virtual analog synthesizer, it says. Comes with a number of presets, and also has the ability to create sounds from scratch.

Matching the Electro, the Lead provides great synth sounds with more finger-friendly keys than both the microKorg and the MicroBrute. Combining the basic synth modules from the Brute with the ability to store and the polyphony of the Korg, this is a natural step up.

The first instrument I started to learn was the piano. It’s time to proceed further.

Nord Piano

Nord Piano 2 (2022)

Key details

Tour

Off to the odd ones out at step 13.

The Miscellaneous