Roland Synth-tar Simi Valley CA

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.

Guitar Studio
(818) 883-9469
8451 Topanga Canyon Blvd
West Hills, CA
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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(805) 379-9888
28501 Canwood St
Agoura Hills, CA
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Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard

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(818) 993-0772
9240 Deering Ave
Chatsworth, CA
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Electronic Keyboard, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, DJ Equipment

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Owen Piano Co., Inc.
(818) 883-9643
7503 Topanga Canyon Blvd
Canoga Park, CA
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Electronic Keyboard

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Lowes Music
(661) 259-5502
22937 1/2 Lyons Ave
Newhall, CA
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music, DJ Equipment

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Instrumental Music Co
(805) 496-3774
1501 E Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Cma
(818) 991-7010
212 Concerto Dr
Oak Park, CA
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Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Drums & Percussion, Print Music, DJ Equipment

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Nick Rail Music
(818) 991-3750
5025 Kanan Rd
Agoura Hills, CA
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Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Kayes Music Scene
(818) 881-5566
19369 Victory Blvd
Tarzana, CA
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Band & Orchestral, Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Michael Boddicker Inc
(818) 430-0549
17328 Ventura Blvd
Encino, CA
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Electronic Keyboard, Organs, Recording Equipment, DJ Equipment

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Roland Synth-tar

0510 Roland AX-Synth Main HANDS-ON

  1. These buttons can jump octaves, scroll through tone variations, or transpose by hal-fsteps.
  2. Slide pitches around with the ribbon strip touch controller.
  3. The modulation bar is sensitive to how far down you push it, achieving a mod wheel-like range of intensity.
  4. Roland’s famous D-Beam lets you sweep pitch, filter, or assignable MIDI controllers with a wave of your hand.
  5. The keyboard doesn’t send aftertouch, but you can do so from the neck.
  6. Choose from 304 preset sounds, including four of Roland’s impressive SuperNatural tones, grouped into eight families here.
  7. Stereo 1/4" outs are here. To feed wireless audio transmitters that require low-level signals, flip the ATT switch to cut the output volume.
  8. Multiple strap points help you get a comfortable playing position, even for two-handed performance.

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.

SOUNDS

The onboard sound engine features 128...

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