Roland Synth-tar Columbus OH
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, DJ Equipment
Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Print Music
Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music
Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music
Some things will always inspire debate: health care, financial regulatory reform, and mobile shoulder-strap keyboards. Though that last one may not have as much social import as the others, it’s every bit as divisive among musicians. Are “synth-tars” legitimate instruments to be played with guts and pride? Or are they toys that make keyboardists look like lame guitarist wannabes? Regardless of where you stand, Roland’s AX-Synth is an instrument worth noting, and if you’re a dissenter, it may just convert you. A sleeked-out younger sibling of the AX-7 MIDI controller, the AX-Synth gives the shoulder-keys vibe impressive curves, plentiful controls, and — for the first time — a built-in sound engine. If you’re a long-time believer in the power of the synth-tar, or a skeptic wondering what the hubbub is about, read on.
LOOK AND CONTROLS
First things first: The AX-Synth looks good. Roland created a design that feels current and just edgy enough, without resembling a self-parody or something from a bad ’80s movie. At assorted gigs and jam sessions, I got nothing but positive feedback on its appearance.
For my taste, Roland also struck a nearly-ideal balance with the number and placement of controls. The AX is easy to navigate, with a mild learning curve, and while all sounds are easily accessible, neither the front panel nor the neck feels overly cluttered or tweaky. At the same time, the performance control available to your left hand alone is impressive.
Structurally, the AX-Synth is solid and durable. Though it’s impressively light, the keys, buttons, and molded plastic casings all feel reassuringly resilient, even under rapid-fire, two-handed percussive assaults. It took some trial and error to get the keyboard to sit right for my hand position and stature, but multiple points to hook on the shoulder strap were a big help in getting a comfortable feel, and also made playing the 49-key keyboard with two hands easy to achieve. Once I had the synth adjusted (surprisingly, at an angle similar to what low-slung punk guitarists do), I was ready to rock.
The onboard sound engine features 128...