Into The Spotlight with the Roland AX-09
Shoulder synths, or ‘keytars’ as they’re affectionally known, enjoyed brief popularity during the 1980s, before fading away in the early 90s into quirky obscurity. This fall from grace deprived many poor keyboard players who had stepped into the limelight alongside their guitarist bandmates.
While most manufacturers of shoulder-synths ceased production when the units went out of fashion, Roland has continued to develop the idea with the AX-7, AX-Synth and the latest synth in the family; the Lucina AX-09. With so many bands now looking back to the 80s for inspiration, and shoulder-synths once again a common sight on stages and in music videos, the Lucina AX-09 is poised to capture the hearts of glory-loving keyboard players everywhere.
Light and easy
The Lucina AX-09 weighs in at a mere 4kg, yet has a 37-note, full-size velocity-sensitive keyboard, a D-Beam controller, modulation bar and touch controller, provides considerable expressive control. The modulation bar and touch controller are built into a carry handle on the body of the AX-09, replacing the need for a neck, as is common on many shoulder synths, enabling the AX-09 to be more compact, easier to play for children and more suited for use as a desktop keyboard.
The built-in sound-engine provides a selection of 150 sounds, including a wide variety of leads, pads and basses. As well as browsing sounds using the category buttons you can programme up to 12 sounds to individual buttons, meaning you can switch sounds in a performance at the touch of a single button. Volume and reverb settings can be stored with each favourite. As well as the built-in sounds, the Lucina AX-09 can read mp3, WAV and AIFF files from USB storage via the built-in USB port, enabling you to play backing tracks along to your performance. Another USB port on the rear of the unit can be used to connect the AX-09 to a computer to control virtual instruments. Alternatively, a MIDI port can be used to connect to hardware sound-engines, enabling you to play sounds from your existing hardware and software instruments.
Of course there’s no point in having a shoulder-synth if you are tied to the spot by a power cable, so the Lucina AX-09 can be powered by eight AA batteries, which provide up to four hours of playing. Roland has also included a battery strength indicator on the AX-09 to ensure you can see how much life is left in your synth before you head out on stage.
The Lucina AX-09 comes in a stylish white finish, but will also be available in a premium black sparkle finish later this year.
Keyboard players rejoice, the keytar is back. Step away from the keyboard station and rock out centre stage.
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