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So you are a musician, keyboardist, organist, but your budget does not cover the cost of an instrument you fell in love with at your local music retailer.

There is an alternative! With the birth of MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) about 25 years ago, the electronic music industry changed dramatically, which meant that musical instruments that had MIDI mounted could communicate with other MIDI equipment, audio modules, (audio modules were like synthesizers in a box) and to and with computers.

During the 1980s, computers like Atari STE were equipped with MIDI as standard. This made it a much sought after hardware to have. Many of the major recording studios around the world used Atari to have a devastating effect. Many top ten hits had Atari to thank. Paul Hard Castle, Eurythmics, Tears for Fears, Mega music producers Stock Atkin and Waterman probably used Atari and Cubase / Notator to produce countless hits.

Midi is still used today, which is a good interface to have. I myself am not the richest person in the world, so I have to work with what I want on a tight budget.

Getting a machine that I would feel comfortable with on a solo gig would cost in the region of £ 3000 up. What can I do to get around this? Here's how I did it:

I looked at a major auction site and I won a Yamaha Electone EL40, circ 1992 (ish) It has a not bad sound, the piano sound is one of its best features, for its age it still has its own. The rest of the machine is acceptable above. I now have an instrument that I can practice and even make small bookings without discomfort. But to get a bigger function I would need something more impressive.

Fortunately, I already have a computer that I used for artwork and the internet, that's not a bad specification for what I need. After looking around I finally found what I needed, a good midi sound card, an EMU and fortunately it also had audio outputs and inputs which is good because my Electone also has audio inputs and outputs, so I don't need any external amplification to hear something.

Software: This was an extremely easy choice to make, because I just want an instrument to play live, as opposed to playing backtracks, but at the same time I wanted reverse track quality. The software I bought is made by Steinberg, the same people who produce Cubase VST (virtual studio technology), a high end recording software. It's called V-Stacks, and as you can see, the first three letters of the name are VST! With VST comes VSTi, & # 39; i & # 39; which stands for instruments. A VST-i is a plugin used in Cubase, there are many different VST-i on the market and on the internet, everything from virtual synthesizers to emulators that are near exact copies to their real life counterpart, and everything in between including Virtual Guitarists, Bassists , drummer etc. But Cubase is not a "live" application, it is more focused on recording. This is where V-Stacks comes into their own, it allows the user to customize the VST-i in a "live" situation.

There was still an obstacle I needed to overcome and that was how to change a sound with a mouse while playing the instrument with both hand and foot (for the bass). Since I already have a monitor that buys a touch screen, my price was over. Return to the large online auction site. I simply flipped through the computer and monitor pages when I came across a perfect solution, it was a "touch screen kit", the price, a little under £ 50. It came in various sizes, one of which was perfect for the monitor I already have. I did not wait another second and bought it. A week later came a package. I quickly opened it, disassembled my screen and mounted it, my heart sank when I couldn't put the monitor back together. So now I was without a monitor. The next day I was out in my local center when I had a brilliant idea, I didn't know if it would work but it was worth a shot. Double-sided sticky tape. It was the best I ever did with 99 pence! At home, I used the double-sided tape to fix the kit on my monitor, and thankfully I placed the touchscreen glass in the right place because when it was stuck it wouldn't run out. I was now left with connecting the wires and uploading the drivers to the computer.

A year and a half later, the screen still works great, in this year and a half I have added many VST-i and playing Electone combined with PC is just incredible. I made some videos and uploaded them to YouTube. The comments included "I have an EL90 (which on me was THE top of the range Electon) and he couldn't get the sounds I produced".

All in all, Electone, the touch screen kit, the software amounted to about £ 750 and now performs the instrument which costs 3 and 4 times as much.

Thanks for reading