5 Steps to Become a Keytar Shredder

Practice Tips and Tools

Contributed by Roland US Team Keyboard players from another era had a great idea: “Let’s get out from behind our boards and shine.” And, the keytar was born.
While some remember this instrument as a relic of the eighties, make no mistake, the keytar is back, and it’s racking up cool points all over the place! And that’s not just marketing speak. The proof is in the pudding, on stages all over the world. So, let’s discuss how some of the features on Roland’s most versatile keytar, the Lucina AX-09, can help you become a keytar shredder. And then you, too, can join your front man and guitar player on stage.

1. The Keytar Must Have Killer Sounds…

The sounds on the Lucina AX-09 were hand picked from the AX-Synth. We took our favorites and included a few more for good measure. You’ll get some aggressive leads and guitar sounds, too. Ed Diaz, our synth ninja, has a good demo playing the national anthem à la Jimmy Hendrix. Well, not quite Hendrix. Check out this video, you’ll get the idea.

2. Be Your Own Critic…

The Lucina AX-09 is the only keytar that gives you the option to trigger backing tracks from the keytar itself for jam-along sessions. The Lucina also allows you to load a USB stick with MP3, WAV, or AIFF files to play back and riff over. Yes, we understand that you can trigger songs from your iPod or portable jam box – we know that, but that’s more gear, more coordination, and more time fidgeting with stuff that hinders the creative flow. Plus, with the Lucina you can set the sound level of your patch to sit nicely in the mix. Before loading a track, I recommend editing your song in a DAW to repeat a loop for as long as it takes to master your solo – a simple drum and bass part works fine.

3. Practice with a Looper…

The Lucina keytar has great sounding leads, strings, pianos, organs, and pads. Simply add a looper into the mix to create your own tracks, with all parts originating from the keytar. BOSS’ popular line of Loop Stations allows you to mute and solo any part of your track, kind of like the playback option mentioned above. However, the looper gives additional flexibility, allowing you to mute a part for on-the-fly improvisation. For example, let’s say you have a lead sitting in your loop track. By hitting mute on the track, it drops out of the mix. This allows you to improvise and then bring the track back into the mix when you’re done with the improv part.

4. Express Yourself…

As a keyboard player, your comfort zone is probably to use a foot pedal and modulation wheel for expression, and maybe even a little D-Beam, if you’re a long time Roland user. These expressive controls are also built into the Lucina AX-09 with the exception of the modulation wheel – it’s been replaced with a modulation bar and touch ribbon. You can set the bar to sustain and modulate, and this is great for those electro-funk tracks. If you have trouble adjusting to the bar, simply plug in a pedal for a traditional feel – great for familiarity, not so great if you’re busking on the beach. Speaking about busking, this keytar is totally portable; it only weighs eight pounds, and you can power it with batteries.

5. Use it as a MIDI Controller…

The Lucina AX-09 has a MIDI Out port to connect to sound modules, other keyboards, soft synths, and anything else that accepts MIDI. Dream Theater‘s Jordan Rudess has a great example of the Lucina keytar being used as a MIDI controller to manipulate iOS apps. Don’t Swim with Your Keytar Published by: Jan Edward Vogels

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Created by Roland V-Drums specialist Simon Ayton, these patches were designed using the internal factory sounds and many of the techniques covered in the TD-50 guide. Enjoy exploring the possibilities!