Live > Equipment
Advanced Moog Modular System IIIc (incl. ribbon controller with several 'theatrical' effects)
"Additionally, I have to tune it all up - for pitch, volume, tone color, and attack-decay. All of those elements of the sound must be tuned for each voice the synthesizer is producing. All of this is done on the patchboard on the face of the synthesizer, and it takes time - about an hour before each concert."
Bobby Richardson (Keith Emerson's personal roadie):
"Keith is a perfectionist about the way his equipment is set up and doesn’t stand for screw- ups. When Keith went to his organ, and found out something was haywire, he ripped it out and threw it off the stage."
Two Minimoog Model D
Keith used the Minimoog on top of his Hammond L100 / Hohner Clavinet combo mainly for the bass lines during Greg played on the electric guitar. The Minimoog, sitting on the Grand Piano, was only to perform the steel drum solo in the middle of 'Karn Evil 9 - 2nd Impression'.
Moog Lyra and Moog Apollo (Moog Constellation Synthesizer Ensemble)
The Moog Lyra and Moog Apollo were both prototypes that Keith used in the studio and on stage. The Constellation was intended to be a 3-part setup with a fully polyphonic keyboard (Apollo), a separate monophonic synth (Lyra) plus a pedal board working as a bass synthesizer (Taurus), but Keith never used the Taurus.
"The prototype which I took on the road was the very first one, held together by chewing gum and elastic bands. We were very dependent on that, and because it was a prototype on occasion it wasn't functioning, so we'd have to drop that number because nothing else would substitute."
Mike O'Shay (ELP's stage manager):
"Keith’s got this prototype polyphonic synthesizer - he can play chords on it - and it’s so goddamn delicate you always need somebody around who knows how it works."
Hammond C3 and Hammond L100 organs
Keith bought his original C3 around 1967. It was the organ that he played on all the ELP tours from the '70s. The L100 was known as the 'Keith Emerson organ'. Keith used it only on stage and was particularly known for the legendary physical abuse he puts his Hammond L100 organ through during the run of a concert (treatment with fire and knifes), but also to create feedback noises with the Leslie speakers.
Steinway & Sons D274 Concert Grand (available at every gig, believe it or not)
Steinway & Sons was founded 1853 in New York City, with a second factory established 1880 in the city of Hamburg, Germany. Both Steinway factories have undergone great changes, and still make Steinway & Sons pianos today.
A spinning baby Grand Piano (only for a few gigs)
"The spinning piano, I don't know what is going to be happening with that. I've got to make a call to my keyboard tech and see what's happening about that. It's not a thing that you can do at every venue because it does require a very high ceiling or a very low floor, you need room.
It was developed for me by the late Bob McCarthy of Wizard Productions in Long Island, and I am sworn to secrecy on how it worked. One time, I was spinning around and the roadie got my signal to stop the rotation and return me back down. Problem was, he stopped to quickly and jerked to an almost instant stop. The lid of the piano keys suddenly came crashing down on my hands and I was in massive pain. But, I acted like nothing happened. The show must go on.
"By that time I'd achieved my pilot's licence and I was pretty efficient in doing aerobatics. Originally it was a five-foot drop. I can handle that, although probably not if I've got a 400-pound piano landing on me, but it's rock'n'roll. When I looked at where I was going to be, which was right over the heads of the audience, there was a drop of a further 20 feet and I thought, 'Well, if I go out and people don't remember my music, they'll fucking remember this!'"
Lawrence Audio upright electric piano
Small (73-note) electric upright, tubular steel frame, folding keyboard. Struck strings, traditional piano action with soundboard, electromagnetic pickups. Built by Lindner in Shannon, Ireland under license from Dutch manufacturer Rippen. The Lawrence was built alongside Lindner-branded acoustics using the same novel lightweight construction and action.
"It was not really an electric piano at all, but an upright piano with the strings de-tuned to create a suitable honky-tonk effect for the 'Jeremy Bender' / 'The Sheriff' medley. A special pick-up was used to give the instrument its lively sound."
"I saw the Lawrence upright electric, believe it or not. This was back in the 90's. There is a town called Banff, located an hour west of Calgary, in the Rocky Mountains. There used to be a Hard Rock Café down there. The exhibit was behind a set of stairs to the restaurant's mezzanine. There was the Lawrence, complete with its touring case stamped with "Emerson Lake and Palmer, London UK" in white letters. Sadly, there are no more Hard Rock Café's in Canada; when the Banff location closed, it took the Lawrence also with it."
Hohner Clavinet D6
A clavinet is a keyboard instrument, manufactured by the Hohner company. It is essentially an electronically amplified clavichord, analogous to an electric guitar. Its distinctive bright staccato sound has appeared particularly various rock songs. Various models were produced over the years, including the model D6. It consist of 60 keys and 60 associated strings, giving it a five-octave range from F0 to E5. Keith used thr Clavinet when 'Nutrocker' was played as an encore.
Phase Linear 700 amps for the Moog power
Phase Linear 700 stereo power amp 350 wpc. Early 1973 rackmountable model with gain controls (no preamp needed).
Four HiWatt Custom 100 amps to drive the Leslie cabinets for his organs (two Leslie 760, two Leslie 122 plus tweeter tops), JBL horn with acoustic lenses
The sound of a fully powered HiWatt Custom 100 is really impressive. The pure strength blows you the socks off - guaranteed!
In the 70's, Keith used many different types of tube and solid-state amp Leslie's with various miking and amp combinations. They had high JBL or EV upper drivers and woofers to handle the power of the HIWATT amps. Most but not all of the Leslie's Keith used were equipped with a rotating upper (plastic) horn and lower (wooden) bass rotor that are belt driven by individual slow and fast Leslie motors mounted in 2 motor stacks. The upper horn drive belt engages a small pulley on the top of its motor stack. The pulley has 3 different belt slots of differing sizes which produces 3 possible horn speeds - Slow, Mid, and Fast. This pulley speed option is in addition to the 2 Leslie motor speeds. Emo often had multiple Leslie's operating with the upper horns in different pulley slots so they were traveling at different speeds in relation to each other. This is especially noticeable when the Leslie is on 'Chorale' or Slow speed, the upper belt is in the smallest pulley slot, and the horn is turning the slowest speed possible. This combination causes a slower rotation of the horn when the Leslie speed is switched from Chorale (slow) to 'Tremolo' or Fast speed. The most common pulley slot is Mid, but many players like one of the other pulley slots since the horn speed is very different at both Slow and Fast motor speeds.
The mikes Emo's techs used in the 70's were usually inexpensive model like the Shure 57 (one or two) on the upper horn and a single 421 bass mike in a shotgun stand on the lower bass rotor.
And...his obligatory bottle of spirit
"We worked damned hard at what we did because we loved the music. What was important was getting it played right. We didn't do drugs, we were very sensible in that regard. If we had three weeks off, then I probably did dabble with something up the nose just as a bit of fun, but I don't do that any more. You've probably seen me with a bottle of cognac on the top of the Moog, but that was mostly full of water; it was a spoof. Try playing Brain Salad Surgery when you're out of your fucking box!"
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