The New New Toy

Me at my new keyboard WHICH IS HUGE.
John Scalzi

For various reasons, I decided now is the time in which I would finally build out the part of the basement I keep my musical instruments, into something actually resembling a functional music studio. I had a drum set and a rather large number of stringed instruments, so it was time to add a keyboard. And because apparently I have more ambition than good sense, I purchased this: The Fantom 8, which is a workstation keyboard with 88 fully weighted keys.

Now, I will say that when I bought it, I expected that it would be large, but I did not expect, uhhhhh, this. The box it came in was nearly as tall as I am, and unpacked it’s still not that much shorter than me. It’s awesome, but I’m also clearly in waaaaaay over my head.

Which is fine! I bought it so I could have all those capabilities, and I intend to learn and use them. But, seriously, whoooof. We set it up and the first thought I had when I sat down at it was, I have no idea what I’m doing, seriously what was I thinking. I love it, but it is a lot.

This is, incidentally, the thing I hinted about a couple of days ago when I said when it arrived I was likely to disappear into my basement for the next month to fiddle with it. I may have underestimated the amount of time I’ll need with it.

Also, while I think that I’m largely done buying musical instruments for a while (lol), there are still a few more additions to be made to the music area including a desk, a computer and some hardware including microphones and preamps, and then also maybe some acoustic paneling, because bare concrete walls don’t play nice with musical instruments. But the centerpiece of the music room, I have to say, has clearly arrived.

— JS

53 Comments on “The New New Toy”

  1. Nice keyboard, but I was more intrigued by the six-necked monstrosity behind you (and now I’ve found the tweet about its acquisition).

  2. The gigantic grin on your face makes me smile. New instruments are a joy — I got my Fender Partcaster a couple of months ago, and I’m still amazed by all of the sounds that I can get out of it, after limiting myself to an acoustic for 40+ years.

  3. As mid-life crises go, I can think of many worse options than dropping a chunk of change on musical instruments that you haven’t yet learned how to play. And anything that makes you that happy should clearly be bottled and sold for mass consumption, anyway. So go, you!

  4. The amount of sheer happiness in the picture is great. I think that’s probably the correct reaction to something like this.

  5. The six-necked Beast is as much an art piece as it is an instrument, IMO. Is there a way to display it on a wall that still keeps it safe and accessible for when the mood strikes you so play it? I would be a little nervous about making it angry by keeping it on a floor stand!

  6. I get the feeling they’ll be a “cat walking across the keyboard” pic in our future! Congrats on the new addition to the music cave!

  7. Someday maybe your basement will resemble Rick Beato’s studio…

  8. “But the centerpiece of the music room, I have to say, has clearly arrived.”

    Six neck guitar: I’m right here.

  9. @Dave: And a velvet Elvis!

    A friend of mine (amateur musician) built a recording studio in his basement, complete with soundproofing, control room, etc. He’s recorded several albums in it. It’s pretty cool. His wife put her foot down on more instrument buying once he got over 20 (I think) instruments. But he does play all of them.

    I fantasize about having space for a wood and metal shop. But until I change careers so I can move to someplace cheaper, or get a fully remote job, it will remain fantasy.

  10. Very nice! My first keyboard ~35 years ago was a Roland. Yours has screens that weren’t even invented then. I’m officially jealous.

  11. The most amazing keyboardist who I have seen with my own eyes (TMAKWIHSWMOE) has to be the classical pianist Anton Kuerti. Saw him a couple of times, but most memorably I saw him perform two Beethoven Piano Sonatas. With no sheet music! He had those things completely committed to memory.

    I met him briefly afterwards and said how much I liked his playing.

  12. Looking good! And, um, we have a BIG upright piano, made in Germany in 1911, in our two-room apartment. So that keyboard doesn’t look big for its surroundings at all :D Hope you have a lot of fun with it!

  13. That is a seriously nice keyboard! Your hand position is pretty bad, though. My piano teacher would not be happy! LOL And I am not one to talk- I don’t as much PLAY the piano, as TORTURE the poor thing! Good luck with the new toy, and enjoy the learning process!

  14. Years ago I dropped a pretty penny for Cubase audio editing software, but in the last few years I’m mostly using Garage Band on my iPad and MacBook Pro. One of the best pieces of free software out there.

    Incidentally, the worst thing to my ear about audio editing software is auto tune. I understand it was originally intended for cleaning up an occasional off-key note, but when it actually became an instrument itself and an integral component of audio recording I think pop music took a big step in the wrong direction. I can’t stand that sound!

    Enjoy your new keyboard. My youngest son is a classically trained pianist and unfortunately he has no room in his apartment for the Baldwin baby grand we bought for him while he was still at home (as is the piano, which is like having a car parked in your house!) but he has a nice Yamaha full-sized, weighted key electronic piano that he is perfectly happy to play although it has nowhere near the features yours has. Have fun!

  15. Tis better to have an instrument that does more than you expected, than less… Go forth and ENJOY!!!

  16. That…is a whole lot of keyboard.

    I kind of figured you’d be getting something like an E-Mu Emulator (which I see hasn’t been made since 2002!) – powerful, but not huge like that!

  17. “maybe some acoustic paneling”

    Highly recommended. Proper acoustic panels will make a night and day difference.

  18. Congrats on the new acquisition! My dad had left me a full size Ya aha keyboard that was really cool, but I did not have the room for it in my small studio, nor the skill to really utilize it, so I sold it. When you start getting recording equipment, Focusrite makes really nice interfaces.

  19. can I be in your band?

    Srsly. Great choice of Keyboard.

    That or the Korg Kronos are well
    Pretty much the Ultimate keyboards on earth right now. And the one you picked does Juno and Jupiter and all the Roland type awesome stuff.


  20. If you are at all like me you will be done buying musical instruments about the same time I am done buying car parts. I expect a UPS delivery the day after I die.

  21. John: buys a SIX-GODDAMN-NECKS guitar

    John: “… this really isn’t impressive enough to be the centerpiece.”

  22. Looks nice! I know you’re not a total beginner at music because of the guitars and such, but I can still recommend the Alfred Basic Adult All-In-One Piano Course book for getting some good…well, basics…of piano technique. (I’m a piano teacher, and that’s what I use for my adult students.) You could probably start with book 2 and then get book 1 if it’s too advanced.
    Good luck!

  23. I saw the picture of the box, and I thought it was going to be a contrabassoon.

    I’m all disappointed now.

  24. You can’t stop buying instruments yet. You still haven’t had a pipe organ installed.

  25. So when will you be playing the opening (or all of) “The Final Countdown”?

  26. Wow!

    Your post impelled me to have a look at the manufacturer’s website and demo video. My only concern is that, while I wish you every joy of your new keyboard, it may result in a perceptible diminution of your writerly output. I know that I wouldn’t have the discipline to avoid spending countless hours playing, and playing with, it. The loop and effects box I use with my cello pales by comparison (if you want to see what someone far better than I’ll ever be can do with such a setup, check out Zoe Keating on YouTube).

    I should add, as a retired commercial pilot, that that thing has more knobs, dials, gadgets, and gizmos than the jets I used to fly! I would’t try to play “Chopsticks” on it without a copilot to read the checklists for me.

    Congratulations, and enjoy it!

  27. Peter:

    Since one pays me and the other doesn’t, you can be assured I’ll write as much as ever. I may not tweet as much, however.

  28. Congrats on the purchase, John. You look supremely happy at that keyboard. Also just a general comment for everybody, as in with most things in life, buy the best equipment you can afford. It makes the creation process all the easier and enjoyable.

  29. Man that is turducken of guitars. Even Jimmy Page would find it self-indulgent. But good luck with the keyboard, seems like a great deal.

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