Beatmaker Powered Keytar

edited January 2017 in BeatMakers Showcase
Howdy! Just wanted to share my little science experiment. I started with a Rock Band 3 keyboard and then hardwired an M-Audio Uno and Apple camera connection cable inside the chassis. Mounted a 1/4" jack where the midi connector used to be on the keyboard and attached an ipod case with some double sided tape. Then I just snapped in an ipod touch running Beatmaker and I've got a self contained keytar I can load with customized samples. I play rhythm guitar in a cover band but on certain songs I use the keytar to play brass parts, auxiliary percussion or whatever else the song needs. For convenience while playing live I use Touch OSC to control the volume in Beatmaker. I only switch over to the Beatmaker screen to change patches. (Wish you could assign program change commands to patches in the sampler!!)

Haven't really seen anyone else do this but I highly recommend it! It's SOOO much fun to play. The keybed on the Rock Band 3 controller is really good! Actually reminds me of the action on the Novation SL MkII. Recently I added a few mods. Originally the controller was powered by 3 AA batteries. They lasted a long time but after I had them die on my in the middle of a show I decided to wire it to get it's power from the ipod. To save battery when I'm not using it, I added power switch to the top that shuts off both the controller and the m-audio midi interface. I also disconnected the ribbon controller on the handle since I never used it but found that I would accidentally hit it on occasion. And I rewired the overdrive button to be a sustain. Last but not least, by default the square and circle buttons function as octave changers but I didn't think that was a very convenient spot for them so I ran some jumper wires up to the handle and mounted my own buttons where I can reach them easily.

Here are a couple shots:


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Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And here are some samples I loaded recently:

Hope someone finds this interesting. If you have any questions or ideas for further improvements I'd love to hear them!


  • Hey @tdreeder !

    Thanks for sharing ! This is awesome to see your custom keytar ! Oh, the possibilities !

    All the best,
  • Awesome! Love how you've repurposed the controller, and the mobility of the setup. Very cool. Reminds me of some work I did years ago, using the DJ Hero turntable as a scratch deck in my live setup.
  • Hi @tdreeder,
    I've done something in the same path but I still need to implement the iPhone 4 (with Alchemy) for send sound into my rockotron talkbox :wink:

    It was an old idea (I have wondered something similar to yours in the meantime) but life show me go step by step... so first I need to finish this and later maybe go for something more similar to yours (with lighter and more beautiful than my edirol) so very glad to see other geeks tinkering with keytars :smiley:
    In my own I added a softpot and modulation mechanism from older roland to get the similar system to ax synth on the cheap :bawling:
    Both sensors connected directly into the internal connector (basic circuit bending) instead go nuts with midi kits of arduinos (one of the reasons to take so looong my projects: perfection and self-exigence) so I hope you like it as I love yours :heart:


  • I bought one of those rock band 3 controllers for $17 off eBay and I actually like the keys and action quite a bit. Haven't rocked it keytar style yet but now you got me thinking...
  • @dubbylabby Looks awesome!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Keytarists need to support ourselves, man!
    @tdreeder :wink:

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