Roland VR-700 Keyboard Washington DC

What gigging keyboardist doesn’t want it all? The B-3 and Leslie, the Rhodes, Wurly, and Clav, the rich grand piano — such is the stuff of rigrelated dreams. If such a pile of heavy, expensive goodness isn’t in the cards, check out one of the latest archetypes of today’s keyboards: the allin- one stage piano-slash-clonewheel organ. Roland’s V-Combo VR-700 is a light and powerful 76-key instrument that combines physical organ drawbars with the company’s tonewheel modeling technology, and throws in strong piano, EP, synth, and other non-organ sounds to boot.

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Roland VR-700 Keyboard

Vcombo_MAINWhat gigging keyboardist doesn’t want it all? The B-3 and Leslie, the Rhodes, Wurly, and Clav, the rich grand piano — such is the stuff of rigrelated dreams. If such a pile of heavy, expensive goodness isn’t in the cards, check out one of the latest archetypes of today’s keyboards: the allin- one stage piano-slash-clonewheel organ. Roland’s V-Combo VR-700 is a light and powerful 76-key instrument that combines physical organ drawbars with the company’s tonewheel modeling technology, and throws in strong piano, EP, synth, and other non-organ sounds to boot.

Appearance, Controls, and Sounds

joyThese buttons make the joystick do pitchbend and modulation, or control organ settings such as rotary speed.

Roland went with a simple and classy design—a wise choice, given the wide variety of contexts in which the instrument will no doubt be used. Given its dark earth-tone colors and dashboard layout, the V-Combo looks more like a clean, classy church organ than a spaceship console, a vibe that makes it appropriate for nightclubs, wedding receptions in hotel ballrooms, and houses of worship alike.

Roland does a great job of making the instrument non-intimidating, simple to learn, and easy to navigate on stage. The crown jewels are its nine drawbars, which feel like home for anyone familiar with a Hammond organ. Push and pull the drawbars, slap on the Rotary Sound controls, dial up some reverb, and you’re ready to rock.

stand_pedalsWith optional KS-G8 stand and PK-7A pedalboard. The PK-7A includes an expression pedal with left and right toe-kick switches for switching rotary speeds and other functions.

It’s very quick and easy to split and layer the keyboard, with up to three different Organ parts and two different Ensemble (non-organ) parts. Want to lay down some organ pads in the left hand and play piano melodies in the right? Hit the Split button, set your drawbars, dial up the piano of your choice (they’re all expressive and resonant—no surprise, considering they come from Roland’s stellar RD-700 stage piano technology), and you’re good to go in the time it takes for the applause to die down between tunes. One cool layering trick involves putting organ and synth brass together and using the dedicated red Ensemble Volume drawbar: Push the drawbar all the way in, start playing a high organ line, and gradually pull it out as you play for some instant ’80s excitement. Once you’ve gotten your tones, splits, and layers locked in, it’s easy to assign them to the Favorite buttons for easy recall mid-gig or mid-song.

To expand the V-Combo for a full console organ experience, optional pedalboards such as Roland’s PK-7A let you kick bass via the dedicated MIDI pedal in, plus there’s another MIDI in for hooking up a controller to act as a lower manual. Since there’s only one set of drawbars, you use buttons in the Harmonic Bar section to switch which part’s sounds you’re tweaking: upper, lower, or pedal.

Whether I was jamming on a Wurly EP sound or cranki...

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