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Joey Defrancesco behind the VK-77

Boy, I always sound better in the shower. But, that's the way I felt after playing the new VK-77. Oh, I know, it's just another keyboard. If you've seen one keyboard, you've seen them all, right? At the NAMM show, believe me, I saw a lot of keyboards in four days. In fact, I was getting keyboard-itus. After viewing a mound of fake plastic keys surrounded by black painted steel or more plastic, I thought I had enough. The last thing I wanted to see was another keyboard. I had become jaded and frustrated. I have to be careful - I think I feel myself breaking into another song.

Then, I stepped into one of the largest booths at the NAMM show, the Roland display. There, I saw it. It looked like a VK-7, but it had two keyboards on it. An upper and lower set of ivories . . . um . . . I mean plastics. If you didn't notice the fact that it was perched on a stand, it looked an awful lot like the beloved Hammond B3 organ including the wood cabinet. I stopped my personal guide, Leanna Harshaw , in her tracks and exclaimed "What is That!". "Oh, that's the new VK-77", she states calmly and begins to move on. "Stop the Tour! Show Me This Now", comes my reply in excitement.

If you're a keyboard player and you're not familiar with the VK-7, get your tail out to the store and try one. The VK-7 is the current king of synth based B3 emulators. I've been wanting one since they came out a year or so ago. Now I don't want one anymore. The object of my desire has turned to the VK-77. The VK-77 is a very nice improvement over the VK-7 although I believe that Roland intends to keep selling the VK-7 as well.

OK, let's talk tech straight from the mouths of Roland's public relations department:

This full-featured, dual-manual version of the Roland VK-7 Combo Organ incorporates 77 orchestral voices, two "realistic touch" 61-key manuals, harmonic-bar operation, and Roland's proprietary "Virtual Tone Wheel" modeling technology to deliver realistic, classic organ tones and nuances in a compact, lightweight package.

Along with the extensive selection of onboard organ voices, a wide range of tonal variations can be added, including Wheel Type (Vintage 1, Vintage 2, Solid, and Clean) and Wheel Table (Mellow, Bright, and Low-Boost Mellow). Orchestral, Choir, Piano, Bass, Wind/Brass, and Synth sounds further fatten the VK-77's range of customizable sounds.

Roland's COSM sound modeling technology helps duplicate a variety of rotary cabinet sounds with stunning results, complete with adjustable rotary speed and selectable organ-type. Onboard organ-style reverb and rich, smooth vibrato and chorus effects can be added at any time. Additionally, a wide palette of overdrive sounds can be re-created via the COSM-powered Amp Simulator, which offers seven distinct amplifier types.

Powerful performance features include 21 independent harmonic bars and a new Bender/Modulation lever that can be used as a Wheel Brake for the rotary speaker or to modify the onboard Orchestral voices. Convenient Registration buttons allow for quick changes between registration memories, and an optional PK-7 20-Key Pedal board allows for a variety of pedal bass control options. An optional stand for the VK-77, the KS-77, is also available. If you see one great movie this spring, see the new Star Wars film. If you see one great movie, and try one great keyboard, play a VK77.

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