Your keyboard setup for live performance is something that is so often overlooked, however, it is important. Think of all of your favorite bands and how they look while on stage.
It is my opinion that your keyboard setup for live performance is something you can make look cool, with just a little effort. Tying your setup all together makes your band appear cohesive and it looks good to fans. Use the number of keyboards you own to get creative with your setup. This doesn’t mean to purposely use a ton of keyboards, it means to get creative with how you set them up.
This is a cool idea that is becoming very popular. I started doing this after I found out a band I really liked called The Killers did this. Basically, you take an old piano and hollow it out. You remove all of the hardware and put your keyboard inside of it.
If you do this, you can put wheels on the legs since it will be heavy. This isn’t as heavy as you would expect it to be. I have toured for 4 years now with a piano shell and at times it’s a pain, but it usually works in our favor.
I believe this is the most organized approach and possibly the coolest looking. You can put all of your internal cabling and power sources inside of the shell. This makes your set up much faster. You can also use the top of the piano shell to place another keyboard on top of.
Stagger Keyboard Stands
You can set your keyboard stands up in different directions. This allows for you to turn back and forth if appropriate. I always found that the crowd liked this as it allows you to put a lot of energy in when your switching keyboards.
You can place the keyboards on different sides of the stage. Plan out your songs so you know when you’ll be using certain keyboards.
Use An Unorthodox Stand
The best example of this is The Killers. For the longest time, they had a big “K” for Killers as their keyboard stand. This was iconic as you knew exactly who was performing when you saw the stand. They then switched to a lightning bolt, which was just as cool.
Do your homework on what other bands have done and try to create something unique to your own band. I’ve seen bands get creative with using tables and decorating them to disguise them. You can also use a road case and simply lay the keyboard across the road case.
Multiple Tier Stands
There are a lot of stands that have the capability of housing multiple keyboards. You can also get creative by adding attachments. I think bands who have keyboards stacked look kind of cool as the keyboard player looks like he is doing a lot.
They make double tier and 3 tier keyboard stands that get the job done and look pretty cool. These are nice because everything is right next to each other with the cabling. You can set up fast when everything is stacked next to each other.
Setting A Keyboard Up Near Front Of Stage
If you are typically set up in the back, sometimes it’s cool to place a keyboard at the front of the stage that you and your singer can play. Anything that gets the crowds attention is usually a good idea as you want to try and put on the best show possible each night.
Almost all venues will have quad boxes to plug into. However, bringing your own is always smart as you never know how many bands will need their power sources. Having your own is always a nice decision as you don’t have to rely on the venue.
Know Your Setup
Try to setup similarly every night so that when you get to a venue and talk to the stage manager you know your setup. Know what kind of power you need and how to work your system. You will want to know how to plug your keyboards into the PA as the sound guys will get irritated if you don’t know how. The more you learn how to do, the better in the touring world.