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Would fully modular Clone-Wheels be good for Industry and Players? Thoughts?

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  • Would fully modular Clone-Wheels be good for Industry and Players? Thoughts?

    I've recently gotten serious about purchasing a full-blown clone-wheel (2M/25P). It's been a long time since I've bought a new keyboard, and it's exciting to see how far the technology has come. There are several great offerings out there that seem to be close enough to "the real thing" for me. But I don't see any in the configuration that I really want.

    Players will have different needs and preferences, and it seems to me this is fragmenting an already small/niche market. Some players will want a specific sound engine, some want one manual or a dual, or a dual with a removable upper manual for portability. Some are content (or budget constrained) with a single set of drawbars, some want two sets or two sets plus pedals, or four plus pedals. Players have preferences for keyboard actions, an octave of reverse-color presets versus size, and on and on.

    Industry can't support every combination, the R&D and inventory just makes that impractical and expensive. Players often can't get exactly what they want, so they may delay a purchase, and just hang on to what they have, hoping the next generation will fit their needs. Seems like everyone loses a little.

    Imagine if every element was a “plug & play” module. Players could either order their clone à La Carte and fully assembled, or put together the modules themselves over time as their budget/needs dictate. Here's one way I picture this working:

    A basic chassis for the upper manual and controls which could be set from 61 key width, to octave pre-set and controls width (or 88 key?). The chassis would accept a lower manual and side panels. The top manual and controls would be easily removed from the lower manual for portability. The chassis would have a space for a sound engine.

    The player could choose their favorite key controller(s), which would be in a bare-bones case to mount in the chassis, with just MIDI-out (and maybe a physical switch to set channel #?). Maybe they'd want a weighted key for one manual, for more piano-like playing? Mix and match anyway they like.

    Add drawbar controllers that would mount to standard rails in the top of the chassis. A 9-bar unit could be the 'master' as all configurations would have one, players could add 9 and 9+2 (3?) units as they wanted or could afford. Similar modules for the various control panels (vibrato, percussion, overdrive, parameters, etc) could be defined, so that they fit into some standard form. Maybe these 'slave' modules would use ribbon cable connectors, to save the cost/space of the 5-Pin DIN? If the control panels could be stacked alongside drawbars, or stacked on top of them, players could configure their organ either to maximize portability (barely wider than 61 keys), or lay it out wider like a traditional Hammond.

    Does this make sense at all? I sure would welcome it. I'd like a dual manual unit, but I want the upper manual to be removable for more portable use, and I'd like at least 2 sets of drawbars (plus pedal bars), but probably 4 sets+p. I think sales and innovation would increase with these choices available.

    The Diversi - Keyboard Partners Modules units are along the lines of what I'm talking about, I'd just like to see it taken to the next level. See: www.diversi.us/kppmodules.html

    What say you?

  • #2
    Looked at the site you had referred to. I like your post.

    I guess that you would want to start with the very core.

    Is that Diversi sound-generating module better, the same or not as good as all the best of the clone wheels on the market today? Jim Alfredson seems to have done quite a few nice comparisons among them. I would be interested in his viewpoint, particularly with respect to the more subtle features such as waterfall keys.

    If the module is at least as good, then adding drawbars and other components provided by Diversi (or others) might be done with enough economy to rival competitors with fixed configurations.

    Add a good cabinet maker and churches (as well as home players) may be able to afford something that looks like the Hammond Suzuki B3 clone for a much better price.

    I think you were referring to the DIY components, and I am wondering if the prices could quickly get up there.

    All of this is food for thought.

    Looking forward to comments from others.

    Dave
    1955 B3, Leslie 21H and 147. Hammond A100 with weird Leslie 205. 1976 Rhodes. Wurlitzer 200A. Yamaha DX7/TX7. Korg M1. Yamaha C3 grand, 67 Tele blond neck, Les Paul Standard, PRS 24, Gibson classical electric, Breedlove acoustic electric, Strat, P Bass, Rogers drum kit, Roland TD 12 digital drums, Apollo quad, older blackfaced Fender Twin, other amps, mics and bits and pieces cluttering up the "studio."

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    • #3
      @Tonewheel said: "Is that Diversi sound-generating module better, the same or not as good as all the best of the clone wheels on the market today?"

      Thanks for the feedback on this topic - part of what I'm trying to get across, is that if this fully modular approach was taken, it wouldn't matter if anyone felt that the Diversi module (which is an HX3 hardware based module) was better than the Crumar sound engine (Software VB3?), or a Hammond-Suzuki, or Nord or any other manufacturer. The sound engines would be offered as modules, and we'd choose the one (or two, or three!) we want, and/or upgrade - without needing to replace our entire instrument (keyboard, controllers, case).

      And if the chassis dimension was standardized (allowing for different width for preset keys, controllers at the side, etc), there would be a market for 3rd party cabinets, and even DIY plans (I'm a bit of a woodworker, I might decide to DIY the cabinet). Competition would be good.

      I do think this would be good for the industry (more sales, less inventory) and for players (more/better options, upgrade over time as $ permit). For me personally, there are a couple things in play:

      A) I want something close to the traditional B3 experience, sound-wise and 'feel-wise', so I'd like 4 sets of drawbars, for example. But... I also want some space savings and portability, so I would choose to compromise on the reverse-color preset keys, to save space (12 buttons on a control panel at the top would be fine for me). I also want the top manual, drawbars and controls to be easily removed, so I'd have a more portable single manual instrument to use outside the home.

      Unless I'm missing it, I can't get all this in any one instrument. So right now, I'm sitting on my hands instead of spending money and enjoying a new keyboard. Someone else with different needs/wants from me could order a package that suits them - we are not conflicting with each other.

      B) With the kind of $ investment these instruments require, I'm concerned about a failure and obsolescence. A totally modular design softens the blow if a component fails, and/or support isn't available. You can just replace that module, and/or chose a competitor's module if support is an issue.

      It all seems like a win-win to me. And I do come from a manufacturing background, so I know something about how standard modules can help reduce R&D costs, etc.

      Comment


      • #4
        This company may make the components you would need to cobble together an organ that could then control a module or probably more practically a computer/tablet running organ software.

        http://www.doepfer.de/home_e.htm

        Part of the problem with making components that can be purchased from various companies that will then work together is the logistics. These companies would have to be able to fill a huge pipeline with inventory in the hopes that somebody somewhere will want one. The stores, even online stores, would have to be convinced that stocking the individual components would be worth their while. The "organ" market is so small that there really aren't that many customers who want organs that they can walk out the door with and turn on and play. Hopeing there are enough customers that want to buy individual components (probably not all from them) in order to build their own is probably not a viable business strategy.


        Good luck.


        I read more of their website. They don't make the drawbar or 2 manual components anymore either.
        Last edited by JJMcS; 02-09-2018, 12:26 PM.

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        • #5
          Also I don't see these manufacturers playing nice in the sandbox. People on the forums give Hammond a lot of **** but they are very well aware of the competition I am told. As the OP suggested it's already a fragmented market partially as a Hammond Console means different things to different people. It's so bad that people are telling others a clone is better than a real console.

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          • #6
            Not exactly what you want, but an idea.

            http://www.analogoutfitters.com/midi-controllers/
            1964 A-122 / 21H
            XK1-C / Neo Ventilator

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by JJMcS View Post
              ... Part of the problem with making components that can be purchased from various companies that will then work together is the logistics. These companies would have to be able to fill a huge pipeline with inventory in the hopes that somebody somewhere will want one. The stores, even online stores, would have to be convinced that stocking the individual components would be worth their while. The "organ" market is so small that there really aren't that many customers who want organs that they can(n't?) walk out the door with and turn on and play. Hoping there are enough customers that want to buy individual components (probably not all from them) in order to build their own is probably not a viable business strategy. ...
              I don't think any of that will be a problem if handled properly, in fact I see it as a bonus for all.

              The stores would keep an inventory of probably a basic single manual and a basic dual manual organ, all configured with the most popular modules. The typical customer would buy one just like they do today - walk out the store, plug it in and play.

              The difference is, they could add more modules (say the basic single manual came with one set of drawbars, they might want to add a second set for B & Bb preset changes), etc. So instead of keeping two different full keyboard models in inventory ( @ ~ $1,500 each), they keep one keyboard model, and a few far less expensive ( ~ $200?) drawbar modules in stock.

              Less fear of buyer's remorse. No longer would you say "darn, I wish I would have bought the two drawbar model, now I'd have to sell this and buy new - which I won't do because I'll take a loss". Instead, you buy the added module. You are happy, store made an added sale.

              And that basic single manual could be upgraded all the way to dual with 4 drawbar sets. Maybe even the reverse key presets would be a module - you could go all the way from small/light gigging keyboard all the way up to a full home style B3.

              Originally posted by NittyRanks View Post
              Also I don't see these manufacturers playing nice in the sandbox. People on the forums give Hammond a lot of **** but they are very well aware of the competition I am told. As the OP suggested it's already a fragmented market partially as a Hammond Console means different things to different people. ...
              Well, we do see co-operation across manufacturers in all sorts of areas. MIDI itself replaced proprietary interfaces, and opened up the market. Same with USB - all sorts of examples.

              Originally posted by bsquared View Post
              Not exactly what you want, but an idea.

              http://www.analogoutfitters.com/midi-controllers/
              Yes, that's a start. They are using the HX3 module. But still just a few choices, and all from one manufacturer.

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