So what gear do I use?

I believe in using high-quality, reliable gear!

I use a variety of different keyboard rig configurations depending on the requirements of the gig. I have the choice of the following:

  • Nord Stage 2 HA-88
  • Korg Kronos LS-88
  • Nord Electro 5D
  • Roland A-49 (MIDI controller)
  • Novation Launchkey 49 (MIDI controller)
  • 1975 MK1 Rhodes (in studio)
  • Apple Mainstage (software rig – MacBook Pro)
  • iPad Pro (for charts and MIDI program changes)
  • iPad (for monitor mix)
  • Shure in-ear monitors
  • Mackie wedge monitors
  • Focusrite audio interface

My two main current musical projects, Hands Off and White Chapel Jak, require completely different approaches when it comes to what gear I need to use on stage.

In Hands Off, we aim to replicate the sound of the original song we’re covering, so given that we’re a 4-5 piece unit, it’s down to me to provide everything that isn’t a guitar, bass or drum sound. So, for Hands Off, I use the following rig:

  • Lower: Korg Kronos LS-88
  • Upper: Roland A-49 (MIDI controller for splits from the Kronos)
  • iPad Pro (chord charts and MIDI program changes using ‘OnSong’ iOS app)
  • iPad (for monitor mix)
  • Shure in-ear monitors

This rig is super efficient, and it allows me to have a patch (or more than one) set up for every single song, with splits and layers across both keyboards, and all I need to do between songs is swipe on the iPad.

This brings up my chord chart (if I’m using one) and also selects the required patch on the Kronos. It’s like magic! I set this rig up late 2019 to replace my Nord Stage/Novation Launchkey/Apple Mainstage software rig. The reason for this was simply reliability – the MacBook Pro crashed on me a couple of times during performance, so I switched to the Kronos for all of my live sounds, eliminating the need to run a computer on-stage.

My approach with Hands Off is very focused. I spend hours on end tweaking patches to try and emulate the original sound as closely as possible. This means doing a lot of research to find out exactly what gear was used in original recordings. I also try to employ technology to its full extent to allow me to cover as many parts as possible in a live setting. Sometimes it may sound like we’re using backing tracks, but I can assure you we’re not! It’s all 100% LIVE!

White Chapel Jak is a completely different approach. In this band, the focus is on playing some epically funky covers in the band’s unique signature style. My complete focus is on the music – the groove and the harmonic textures.

With this approach, I end up using only a few organic keyboard sounds, such as Rhodes EP, Piano and Hammond organ, therefore, the Nord keyboards come to the fore.

With White Chapel Jak I can use either the 88-key Nord Stage 2, or the 61-key Nord Electro 5D, or both for the big shows! The Stage 2 gives me beautiful piano and electric piano sounds, along with a beautifully weighted action for authenticity and feel, while the Electro 5D has a ‘waterfall’ (Hammond organ style) keyboard action and drawbars. I also use a Moog expression pedal on the Electro 5D so that I can emulate the sound of a real organ as closely as possible.

If I have to travel for a gig, I can select a rig which is small enough, yet powerful enough to do the job.

In my home studio, I use Logic Pro X for audio and Final Cut Pro for video. I’m also a massive fan of Spectrasonics Keyscape for recorded piano, electro-mechanical keyboards (Rhodes EP, Wurlitzer EP, Clavinet etc.) and other organic keyboard sounds.

I’m more than happy to answer any questions you might have about my gear! Please drop me a line if you’re interested in any of my current setup!

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