Posts Tagged ‘Keytar’

Lucina Modulation Bar broken yet again…

September 7, 2014

Sigh… I was busking at a Farmer’s Market on Saturday and part way through the session I thought it sounded like the modulation bar was always on so I took the Lucina apart today to check it and sure enough the ‘hinge’ on the mod bar had broken again, but only on one side which is why it ‘sort of’ worked.

Thankfully I ordered two the last time this happened so I had a spare. Fifteen minutes with the screw driver and everything was working again.

Just for my own reference in the future (and yours too if you care), the Roland part number for the modulation bar is K214812801 and Roland customer support (ha ha) is at (323) 890-3740.

Lucina Fixed (again)…

May 17, 2014

So the replacement mod bars (I ordered two just to be safe) finally arrived so I did the fix today. I was very careful to test everything before I buttoned it all back up but of course I was so busy ‘messing around’ playing that I forgot to actually test the mod bar. Well, you know what’s coming next. Of course it did not work.

Take it apart, look at the old mod bar and there’s a small metal bar (circled in red) screwed to the bottom. Obviously I swapped this over from the original mod bar the first time ages ago but forgot this time.

 

LucinaModBar

So, take it all apart, swap the bar over, try again, good to go. Then I was looking at the picture above (second new mod bar on the left (first is in the Lucina), old on the right) and you’ll notice in the two top yellow circles there are two small bumpers. Well, guess who forgot to swap those over. They stop the mod bar being pressed down to far/hard onto the small contact on the circuit board that the mod bar screws to. So, take it all apart again, swap the bumpers over, put it all back together and finally, it is all good to go.

One of the things I really wish they had done with the Lucina is to bring the octave +/- and sustain jack as switches on the back near where your left hand is so that you could change octave without having to reach over to the front of the Lucina and also have a sustain without having to attach a foot pedal to the thing, which totally destroys any concept of moving around while playing since you have to keep running back to it to operate the sustain, plus it’s another long wire to trip over!

However from a cursory glance (I did not take things apart) I am not sure it would be that easy to connect extension wires to the circuit boards for the octave +/- switches since I think they use small surface mounted components for the contacts.

It ‘might’ be possible to connect something to the sustain plug since it has to be physically bigger but even that looks like a lot of messing. For the sustain I am thinking it might be easier to simple Velcro a switch to the back of the Lucina where I can operate it with my left hand and run a standard cable to the existing sustain jack. At least I’d then have sustain and not be tied to a pedal on the floor.

 

How to repair your Roland AX-09 Lucina Keytar…

September 22, 2010

The first question of course is why am I repairing an almost brand new instrument? Well, I was at a jam last week and I was getting ready to play so I picked it up by the strap like I always do. However this time the strap (the stock Roland one that came with it) came off one of the buttons allowing that end of the unit to fall. As it did so it of course, rotated the other button out of it’s strap slot allowing the whole unit to fall onto the floor.

Fortunately there did not seem to be any damage other than a very slight crack to one edge of the clam-shell case of the unit. At least it seemed to play ok and indeed has continued to do so since then.

I did notice however that the tremolo bar, that’s the one that you squeeze, not the touch bar,  just did not feel right after that. It still worked but it seemed ‘loose’ is the only way I can describe it. So finally I decided to heck with it, lets take it apart and have a look.

So the first task is to separate the two clam-shell halves. To do this you need to remove all the LARGER screws from the rear of the case. There are 14 around the edge and five along a recess in the center below the keyboard itself. You do NOT need to remove the smaller screws at all.

Once all the screws are out you can separate the two parts quite easily but be gentle, there are cable connecting the top and bottom parts together on the left side (where the grip is) and they are not very long. I quickly decided that I could not really even see inside there without fully separating the two halves so I disconnected the cables.

Three are connected with clips that go into sockets on the circuit boards fastened to the top part of the clam-shell whilst one is a ribbon cable that simply slides into a connector. To disconnect the clipped cables just pull gently on the top or sides of the clip. Do NOT pull on the wires that go into the clip, use a finger nail or small screwdriver if you cannot grip the clip to help remove them. They are not too tight. For the ribbon cable, securely grip the cable near the bottom which is reinforced and just pull it out of the socket on the circuit board. With the cabled disconnected you can separate the two halves of the clam-shell.

The touch pad and vibrato bar are mounted on a sub unit circuit board fastened to the top part of the clam-shell. The board is fastened to the clam-shell by four screws, one in each corner (yellow circles in the picture below). There are two other screws (red circles) that fasten the touch pad to the circuit board. I also removed these although I now know that I didn’t have too.

There’s also a plug (black circle) that connects to the circuit board that I disconnected. With all that done I could remove the sub assembly.

Once I had the sub assembly out it became clear what was wrong with the the tremolo bar. In the center of the sub assembly in the picture above there is a small spring that is circled (light yellow). This is the return spring for the vibrato bar. It hooks onto a couple of small clips, one end onto that metal piece above the assembly and one end onto a small plastic projection on the vibrato bar.  The fall onto the floor must have dislodged the spring so the bar did not return at all when released and just rattled loosely instead. Two sec0nds to reattach the spring and all was well.

Put it all back together and it’s as good as ever and the vibrato bar does feel a lot better too now.

As for the straps, I got a couple of Dunlop Ergo Guitar locks. A cheap and quick fix to the strap problem.

By the way, if you want to replace the strap buttons with some sort of ‘real’ locking guitar strap system then be aware that the strap buttons are BOLTED to the metal frame inside the lower clam-shell case half. This means that to change them you will still need to separate the clam-shell halves and the cables as you cannot really work with the cables still connected, they are just not long enough to get enough separation of the case halves.

Roland Lucina AX-09 Review

August 3, 2010

roland-lucina-ax-09

This is my new toy so I thought I’d write a review about it.

First up, it is NOT an Ax Synth. As much as I’d love an Roland Ax Synth I cannot really justify spending twelve hundred or so bucks on what is basically something to ‘mess around with’ at the jam session I go to. Well, not right now anyway, maybe sometime in the future.

However with a list price of $599 this is the next best thing. In fact I got it a deal on it (brand new) and only paid $539 for it before all the ‘extras’ of course. The extras were a new amp cable and a three year warranty and tax of course. In the end I paid $650 and walked out the shop a happy camper!

The only down side is that I promised the wife that I’d sell some of my old equipment to help pay for it, which is not that bad really as I don’t use it anyway.

The old AX series of keytars like the AX-1, AX-7 etc were simply fancy midi controllers so you still needed some sort of synth engine to actually hear anything.

The Lucina (like the Ax Synth) has its own built in synth engine so it becomes a self contained performance instrument.

First Impressions

This thing is cool, AND great fun. It almost makes me believe that I can actually play!

Shoulder Strap

Since I am a tall guy, the supplied shoulder strap is a little short for me but I can work with it for now. I suspect that I shall be getting something a little longer soon though. Since I’ve only ever played a normal keyboard or piano, playing a keyboard in the guitar position takes a little getting used to but I seem to have adapted pretty quickly to it.

Batteries & Power Supply

This thing EATS regular alkali batteries. It takes 8. The manual says they will last about 4 hours and that seems to be about right but 4 hours passes pretty quickly when you are playing this thing. I went and got some rechargeable ones the next day.

You can run it from the provided power supply but then you are tied to a mains outlet and now have at least two cables running from the synth, one for the power and at least one for the amp(can use two if you want stereo). That’s OK for home use but not on a stage or even in a jam session when you want to move around (which is why I got this baby, I got fed up of being stuck in a corner).

Keyboard

After playing a regular piano and keyboard I was worried that the three octave keyboard would be too small but in fact, it is fine. You only really play this baby with the right hand anyway and there are octave up and down keys to move the effective range of the keyboard up and down an octave at a time. These buttons are pretty easy to reach as well with either hand so it’s easy to change the keyboard range on the fly.

The keys themselves are pretty standard synth style sprung keys with little weight behind them so at least it’s not tiring to play. Personally I quite like the feel, such as it is.

Sounds

Well, this is why you buy these things isn’t it. Overall I think the selection of sounds is ‘adequate’. That’s a polite way of saying they are not earth shattering.

There are six banks of 24 sounds. Each bank is selected by one of the big buttons below the keyboard numbered 1 to 6 and then you have to scroll up and down the 24 choices to find the voice you want within that bank.

The buttons light up with this cool blue light when they are selected.

The current voice within the bank is shown on a dinky 3 digit seven segment led display. Think 1980’s alarm clock! Basic but it works.

So far I’ve found a few sounds that I like enough to use with songs. You can save up to 12 favorite settings (bank/voice combinations) in two banks of 6 (named A and B). Select the A or B bank and then the selection by pressing one of the 6 bank buttons to recall the setting. I’ve not messed with this yet but I suspect it will make changing settings during a performance pretty easy.

There are also 6 ‘special sounds’. The one I really like is called ‘Jazz Scat’. Sounds a lot like a voice going ‘ooooo’ but with a slight edge to it.

Although the keyboard itself is polyphonic, many of the sounds are mono so no chords which I think sorta sucks. Why not make them all poly and let me just play single notes if I want mono. I am guessing it’s down to limitations of the synth engine but I don’t really know for sure.

As I said earlier, this is NOT an Ax Synth. Although there is a USB connection so you can hook it up to a computer I did not see any mention of software in the manual (I could have missed it though, I have only skimmed the manual so far) but from what I’ve read elsewhere, I think sound editing is very limited. I shall update this when I know more.

Left Hand

The left hand controls consist of a modulation bar and a touch controller for bending notes. I ‘think’ you can change the effects that both of these have. Again, I need to read the manual again to confirm this.

I’ve got fairly chunky hands but I don’t have a problem using the modulation bar and touch controller controls in spite of the fact that you have to put your hand though the hole in the left side to grip the unit.

The are six buttons, a volume knob and a D beam sensor on the left side. To be honest I think the placement of these is pretty poor. You pretty much have to reach over the top of the unit and bend you head over the unit to see what you are doing and use any of them.

I don’t know why they didn’t at least put the D beam sensor on the back where you could use your thumb to control it. I think the Ax Synth is like that.

USB Slot

This has to be my all time favorite feature. Plug a USB drive in here with some mp3 (I think WAV are OK as well) files on it and you can play them though the unit and play along to them.

As you select each file, using one of the buttons on the front panel (which means reaching over the top of the unit and craning your neck to see shat you are doing) and the inc/dec buttons below the keyboard, the unit displays the first three characters of the file name on the dinky little 3 character 7 segment display.

If you’ve ever seen letters displayed on a 7 segment display you will quickly understand that this is pretty much useless. I have found it much easier to simply make the first three characters of each file name a number, 001,002 etc and have a list of what song corresponds to each file number. Plus, by numbering them I can easily renumber them to change the order they show up in as a scroll through them on the display.

User Interface

As already mentions the user interface consists of a load of big rubber buttons that light up this cool blue color when selected and the dinky 3 digit, 7 segment display.

I guess that in order to keep costs down and minimize the number of buttons, many of the actions require that you press several of these buttons in turn to achieve whatever it is you are doing.

Fortunately selecting sounds is pretty simply but for pretty much anything else keep the user manual handy until you’ve used it for a while and learn all the combinations. Or if you’re like me, just accept you’ll never learn it all and just keep the book around.

 

Conclusion

I’m not a professional musician, just some middle aged guy that like to make a noise once in while and have a bit of fun. I don’t regret buying this one bit, it’s the most fun I’ve had with my cloths on for a while (middle age sucks).

If you want to go the whole hog, save up and get the Ax Synth but for plain and simple fun I don’t think you can beat this thing.

I’ll let you know how it goes after my first jam with it later this week.