Anyone got any ideas on decent amps for keyboards & combo organs?
Something that looks and sounds cool would be best, & the more portable, & less expensive the better!
Also, I'm lead to believe that keys can blow guitar amps... is this the actual amps, or just the speakers? Would a guitar head going into a PA cab, or bass cab (with horn/tweeter) work?
or should i forget amps, & just use a D.I?
I use a Behringer Ultratone K1800 FX for situations I need a keyboard amp. It's heap and portable but nothing impressive about it tonally.
For most live sound settings I find venues have a DI box and I just run the keyboard straight into the PA, and the sound guys seem to prefer this too. But for smaller settings the small amp seems to work fine.
I find guitar amps too trebly, regardless of any explosive-type issues... I've always used a bass amp - much deeper and richer sound. I had a Dynachord 'Imperator' for many, many years... amazingly good & resilient amp!
D.I. is, of course, easier, and I guess it's OK for the portable Roland I usually use, but not really relevant for my Hammond & Leslie combo... and anyway, I like to use fuzz & other effect pedals on the piano so that needs an amp!
Sorry but I'm old-school and probably not the person to be answering your query... I doubt there are too many others lugging around similar monstrously heavy behemoths or putting electric pianos through guitar effects these days!
So basically, do whatever suits you best for the sound you want plus, as Kendall said, taking into account the size of the venue...
I recorded my keyboard with a Orange Tiny Terror tube guitar head and an Orange 1x12. You can hear the result here : http://garagepunk.ning.com/profile/Cosmicbernie (The song Jumping Around).
Now when I play with the band I use a Behringer Rotary Machine pedal between the keyboard and the DI. It's emulating the Leslie sound. Quite good for the price.
But you have to know that I'm using a Korg Microstation keyboard, no money for someting more old school :-(
I've never had any problems running a keyboard through a Fender Twin Reverb. That amp has enough clean head room to handle high output combo organs and it can take some low frequencies too. You do not want to use an underpowered amp or use an overdrive channel. You're likely to push the amp too hard and distortion on organ means static-heavy noise.
IMO The best amp for Keys is the Roland Jazz Chorus 120. We use it in my current band, (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) It's also what Dave Klein used in the Ghastly Ones & what Jason Savall used when he played in The Fuzztones. They are clean/clear/reliable amps that never ever break. Plus they have two seperate channels in case you are playing 2 different keys.
The main difference from guitar amps to keyboard amps is the speaker... a 'full range' speaker is more ideal because keys tend to operate outside the parameters of guitars... both higher and lower.
A bass amp might be a little more forgiving... especially with tubes. then you can get a little more grit out of it.