Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Model D

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Mountain_77
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Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Model D

Post by Mountain_77 » Thu May 26, 2016 4:43 pm

I've spoken with one famous Minimoog player (who I will not name) but who is as credentialed as anyone you could imagine to be a leading authority, and he was always telling me he absolutely loved the Pratt-Read keyboard actions on his 1973 Model D and he thought the keyboard on the Voyager felt unplayable compared to it and not good to him which is one of the main reason he never embraced the Voyager. I do admit the Pratt-Reads I have played that have been refurbished do have a great almost ever so slightly semi-weighted feel as opposed to the springy feel. On the Voyager I used to have the Fatar keyboard I also recall as being identical or near identical to the keyboard found on a Kawai K5000 and an Emu Emulator IV keyboard. I remember the longer rounded/thinner feeling black keys as opposed to more squarish.

I'm very certain the sonics of the new Model D will be equal to or superior in playability (ie tuning stability and warm up time) compared to older ones.

Why do I bring this up? I want your opinion. We talk a lot about the SOUND of the Model D but now let's talk about the FEEL.

Both Fatar and Pratt-Read feel good to me but, I'm curious to those of you who are real players-old-school Model D owners, has the Pratt-Read keyboard to you been essential as part of the Minimoog experience? Does having any other keyboard mechanism like the Voyager Fatar detract in any way from your desire to love it as much as the original?

Also, the pitch and mod wheels on the reissue seem to be from what I've always associated with the Rev 3 oscillator board model D's. The ones in my mind I've always thought from the late 70's-'81 - what i always though looked like white oreo cookies- the white wheels with ribs and hollow sides.
All Rev 2 oscillator board Model D's I've seen and played have white wheels that flat on the sides and were smooth to the touch with no ribs and I've even seen ones with clear wheels with the same design. I much prefer the smoother wheels than the ribbed ones just because I felt they were smoother and more subtle.

I know some of you will sigh at minutia, but the original Model D is an icon worthy to picked apart in such fashion-especially since the playability, not just the sound of the thing is why so many players chose it back in the day and why the awesome licks have graced so many records we love.

What say you?

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MC
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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by MC » Fri May 27, 2016 11:48 am

I own vintage Moog synths along with modern such as Voyager.

I don't have a preference of wheels. Between the smooth clear ones on my RA Moog and the ribbed white ones on my Source, I can work with either. It pretty much comes down to usage. Some folks move the wheel with the finger on the detent, some with the side of their thumb. Using the thumb, it could slip with a smooth wheel and that is why they added the ribbing.

Being raised on piano, I do like a little weight for the keyboard action. The Voyager Fatar keybed has some weight to it and I like that. I have no preference of Voyager over P-R Model D keybed. Yes there is a certain appeal to the feel of the P-R keybed but people are going to have to accept that P-R is no more and new P-R keybeds are not available at any price.

What DOES detract me is the FULCRUM of the key pivot. Many cheap keybeds have a short fulcrum. This does affect my playing. The fulcrum on the Voyager Fatar keyboard is better, it is just shy of the P-R keybed but is "good enough".

I hate the featherlight actions - my Source and Memorymoog are about as light as I can tolerate, both are Panasonic keybeds. I have a USB controller with featherlight action and short fulcrum, and it is not a favorite regardless whether I am controlling a Minimoog or organ. I only use it for a "scratchpad" with GarageBand

Now controlling a Minimoog over MIDI from a weighted piano action (Kurzweil MIDIBoard)... ah, that's a playing experience. Especially when routing key velocity to filter cutoff on bass sounds :)
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thealien666
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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by thealien666 » Fri May 27, 2016 11:52 am

Nothing compares with the "buttery smooth" feel of a refurbished (new and lubricated bushings) Pratt & Read keyboard, for a synth-style action.
Fatar is good, but not great. Too light of a touch.

I know, I own a Minimoog D and have owned a Voyager (before selling it).

But since Pratt & Read have long stopped producing keyboards, we're stuck with either Fatar or some no name Chinese knock off (although some of them aren't that bad either).

My two cents on it.
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Mountain_77
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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by Mountain_77 » Fri May 27, 2016 2:48 pm

Thank you. Yes there's nothing like a P&R keyboard that's been reconditioned with new bushings all nice and smooth with even teeth.

Most people always make fun of me for liking modules but keyboard feel is a big deal to me. Some of my favorite controllers have been an Ensoniq ESQ-1 or a Kurzweil K2000 when playing synth leads. That's why I always wanted a Sub Phatty in rack verion or tabletop.

I've thought about going MacBeth Micromac D or Boomstar 5089 hooked up to my ESQ-1 and it might be a better playing experience and put a bigger smile on my face but I'm going to trust my gut and get one of the new Model D re-issues.

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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by EricK » Fri May 27, 2016 3:27 pm

Pratt-Read for the win. Plays like a dream.

I own three boards with P-R keys, including a Model D.
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Mountain_77
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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by Mountain_77 » Fri May 27, 2016 9:08 pm

Awesome. Yeah I'm surprised that no one else is talking about this. The whole Pratt Read vs Fatar thing. Keyboard/keybed-the action is what connects player to instrument and shouldn't be taken lightly or as an afterthought. I think especially to those who were classically trained and come from more of a 70s fusion jazz or prog camps like myself, this is important. When I owned a Voyager I was not in love with how the keyboard felt. I do however remember loving the key feel of a Kurzweil K2000, especially charming with yellowed keys and Felt strip peeking out the top strip of the keybed. Felt always equals quality. The Kurzweil K2000 and a Wurlitzer 400A and a Hohner Clavinet and various old acoustic pianos to me were the most fun to play of anything I've ever played on feel wise.

In the new Model D, I don't mind about the external power supply- although I've not seen it, I'm sure it's not a wallwart and probably closer resembles the power cord to the laptop I'm typing on right now.
However, playability and keyboard feel are super important to me. I know that no matter how good an instrument sounds, if and instrument doesn't feel great to me, I tend not to play it. I will buy the new Model D, but I'm anticipating exhaling a sigh of relief much like plop plop fizz fizz of antacid when I have it midi'd to a DX7, M1 or ESQ-1 as a controller, which is sadly why I always have to champion rackmount/tabletop units and to me why MIDI is not dead. I know MIDI seems antiquated and gets bashed on a lot these day-especially by knob twiddling EDM guys except of course when it comes to assigning CC's in DAWs but it is still an essential handshake to a getting a good sound source connected to a good feeling keybed IMO. The Slim Phatty was kind a disaster as it was Moog's last foray into the rack world and had so many tuning stability issues that are not acceptable in this day and age- some of them were perfectly fine and others exhibited tuning instability so you didn't know if you were going to get one that had issues with this or not. I would dare Moog to get back into the rack/module world with a 2osc or more synth. ie a racked Sub Phatty or their equivalent of a Studio Electronics Midimini. Rack up the Model D or I would have liked the Mother 32 to have more than 1 oscillator- that would have been problem solved for me. That's why the Midimini, Boomstar 5089 and MacBeth Micromac D still get my heart racing when thinking of them hooked up to a good controller.

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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by sunny pedaal » Mon May 30, 2016 5:02 am

I enjoy both the voyager and model-d keyboards, the voyager is more new and more reliable, which i prefer
. About the wheels: slight advantage over the old smooth wheels
Big advantage is the Non-spring pitchbend with the model-d, why not like that on all newer synths?
Last edited by sunny pedaal on Tue May 31, 2016 2:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

Stevie Ray
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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by Stevie Ray » Mon May 30, 2016 9:49 pm

Keyboard on the Voyager 'unplayable'?

Who is this mystery player?

Any half-decent keyboard player will be able adjust to the different actions of different keyboards. You have to do it ALL the time.

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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by luckynerd » Tue May 31, 2016 12:43 am

thealien666 wrote:Nothing compares with the "buttery smooth" feel of a refurbished (new and lubricated bushings) Pratt & Read keyboard, for a synth-style action.
They sure were fun to refurbish! Well, not when you'd send a spring flying across the room. :lol:

Yeah, PR keyboards are what we're used to on a Mini, but this the 21st century. We're getting aftertouch--I'll survive the keyboard action not being what I'm used to. :mrgreen:
Stevie Ray wrote:Any half-decent keyboard player will be able adjust to the different actions of different keyboards. You have to do it ALL the time.
Yep!
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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by stephenbennett » Tue May 31, 2016 3:16 pm

Mountain_77 wrote: he thought the keyboard on the Voyager felt unplayable
Wow.

Listen to this unplayable solo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwZBDKX6Pwc

Not sure how Adam Holzman (he's quite 'famous too)' managed to play it live on his crappy Voyager keyboard. :)

FWIW my Voyager OS keybed is lovely IMHO. And it's got aftertouch and velocity—which are pretty good things to have if you actually want to play a synthesiser.

Stephen

Mountain_77
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Re: Pratt-Read vs Fatar and pitch/mod wheels on the new Mode

Post by Mountain_77 » Tue Jun 07, 2016 12:46 pm

Without a doubt Adam Holzman is a great player. I have his album First Offense by the Fents on vinyl and he's one of the greats and I've always liked his playing. The Fatar action works and is of course playable, it's whether you actually like it better or not that some people are on the fence about. I'm just saying it's different. Without a doubt the keyboard on the Voyager works fine! Folks like Adam Holzman and Don Airey use the Voyager in their live sets all day long and they are some of my favorite players, sound great and those guys are keyboard royalty- no question. I used one live for years as well although I'm not a professional musician but it was not one of my favorite keyboard actions to use.

Some made a conscious choice during the whole time the Voyager has been out to NOT to use the Voyager and still use the Model D live because they like the feeling of the Pratt-Reed keyboard and prefer it to the Voyager Fatar keyboard. Sound and reliabilty are important to players but so is feel since the keyboard mechanism is what connects your body to the machine, it shouldn't be overlooked. People who never spent loads of time on a Pratt-Read won't care and that's fine but to those who did, it is different for sure. A good analogy would be it kind of reminds me of how it feels when you are playing B3 organ runs from a keyboard without waterfall keys. You can do it just fine, but it just always felt a bit "off" or different to me. That's how the Voyager always felt to me- just different. I still bought one and enjoyed it though and have owned a bunch of Moog products over the years, foogers, Taurus 1, Source etc...

I'm buying the new Model D regardless :D and am glad they remade it. But... do I wish it had a Pratt-Read keybed in it instead of Fatar? You bet!

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