As is customary, we asked players with various styles and varied experiences about their projects, their gear, and the advice they've been given over time. Besides suggesting trips back in time to place strategic bets at the track, this year's lot--primarily independent artists--counsel you to step out of your comfort zone as a player and a listener and extend your vocabulary and chops.
CM: First keyboard you owned?
BW: Fisher Price.
RW: Yamaha P-80.
DW: A Fisher Price Xylophone.
DV: Korg M1 2.
JB: Other than acoustic pianos--an RMI like the one Doctor John used to have, an Elke String Synthesizer.
CM: Favourite Keyboard ever?
DL: A Casio SK-1.
KQ: A Melodica. It came from the toy store.
JLee: Roland Juno 106.
PC: Alesis Nanosynth w\Roland EP5 as a controller.
DS: Roland FP2.
MI: Yamaha DX7.
ML: A goldy-brown accordion. I can't recall the make. The first electronic item was an Ace Tone organ--bright red-black bass keys ... very hep.
SC: A Moog clone--basically a rip-off of a Minimoog, a Juno106, and a C Crumar Performer, AKA Multiman. The first one I used in the studio was an Emulator II+.
GP: The Yamaha SHS-10 Keytar--my little brother smashed it into pieces. The first one I bought was a Yamaha AN1X.
DG: Yamaha CS-60 synthesizer. Still works well and doubles as a boat anchor.
JLester: A Casio SK-1, that's first one I remember. They were the first sampling keyboards; you could make obnoxious noises and turn them into obnoxious songs. The first I used live was a Realistic Concertmate MG-1 (the Radio Shack Moog).
EG: Korg Poly 800. It was the first keyboard with a pitch wheel that loved me back.
CM: Favourite keyboard piece of gear ever?
RW: A Wurlitzer I once babysat.
DW: 1959 Hammond B-3 with a 147 Leslie.
DV: Fender Rhodes.
JB: Classic Wurlitzers, Rhodes, and Clavinets, but can't really carry them conveniently.
DL: My favourite, dream piece of gear is a lime green Mellotron. The favourites I actually have at my disposal are a '72 Fender Rhodes and a vintage Korg CX-3 Organ.
JG: A Fender Princeton amp--I always run my keyboard though an amp, preferably a tube amp. Nothing beats the sound.
KQ: The upright piano at Graffiti's in Toronto, ON's Kensington Market has been my sparring partner for over a decade. It's chipped, scratched, burnt in places, and has had insults, indignities, and drinks showered upon it--but it still has a friendly demeanor and a scrappy tone.
JLee: Roland Jupiter 6, but the Korg MS-20, Moog Minimoog, and Roland SH-5 all tie for a very close second place.
PC: Currently my favourite keyboard is my Wurlitzer 200a. An Akai mpc 2000, my new Moog Prodigy.
DS: Yamaha CP 70 and an Electro-Harmonix POG pedal, which may, depending on how much of a traditionalist you are, have no business in the keyboard world. It makes the CP sound like something out of The Phantom of the Opera.
MI: Still the DX7--once you're in the edit mode you can really come up with some unique stuff. This thing is a tank. It's heavy and indestructible.
ML: An Electro-Harmonix Phase Shifter pedal--I was trying to get my Rhodes to sound like Richard Tee's.
SC: I love the Ondes Martenot. It's similar to a Theremin, but you have a keyboard as a reference--very rare and very fragile. Johnny Greenwood from Radiohead is one of the few modern composers using it.
GP: It's not having what you want, its wanting what you've got ... my favourite that I own is the Korg Electribe ESX.
DG: Hammond is still the most emotive texture I can think of. I'm very fond of my Ace Tone Top-5 organ right now.
JLester: I don't think I can answer that--way too much cool stuff ... The Minimoog? The Fender Suitcase Rhodes? The Mellotron? The VCS Synthi ... and ...
EG: I wish I owned an old harpsichord, although I secretly wish to rock the three-tiered keyboard stand.
CM: Favourite keyboard currently?
RW: The 1950s NY Steinway grand piano I used to record my latest record.
DW: A Korg CX-3 (new generation) and a 330 Leslie.
DV: Yamaha P-300 3.
JB: I have a Nord, which has all these in it. The sounds are good, and it's light and easy to carry.
JLee: My Modcan modular system.
JLester: At the moment I have two loves: the Moog Voyager and the Analogue Systems Modular that I got to play when we recorded Carnavas.
CM: If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to yourself as a younger player, what would it be?
BW: Put everything on Secretariat. Woodbine Racetrack, October 18, 1973.
RW: Don't rely simply on talent to get you to your desired goals. Anything is attainable but it will always take dedicated hard work and planning. Just remember to smile along the way.
DV: Not to be so quick to pass up sticking with piano lessons and learning the details of proper composing and arranging for various instruments, especially strings. I slept through most of those classes, and now I'm always writing parallel fifths everywhere.
JB: The best two …