We don’t need better arranger keyboards. We need better musicians to play what we already have because the law of diminishing returns, reference arrangers, is finally beginning to surface. Really.....the only thing left is for the manufacturer to stock up the OS with pre-set songs so you can just press the stop for whatever tune you want and move your hands like you’re playing.
Mark, I've been saying some variation of this for a long time now but that just gets me accused of being an "arranger hater". Why me and not you? Can't say, really. Must just be my 'winning personality'
Truth is, I don't 'hate' arrangers at all, I just don't view them as professional instruments that are normally used in your average professional venue. I think Gary's post bears this out. Truth be told, what I REALLY find annoying is the number of narcissistic chest thumpers who pass themselves off as musicians ('pro' at that) yet can't play a single instrument at even a semi-pro or advanced amateur level. Their trademark is the constant clamoring for more and more 'self-play' features (so as to better fool the public, I imagine). No matter how much you deny it, the use of specific song styles, SMF's, and MP3's just makes you a glorified Karaoke act with perhaps, better visuals.
Now don't get me wrong, it's not that Arrangers CAN'T sound good in the right hands (witness people like Marco Parisi) but it's because these guys are MUSICIANS. Nearly everyone here talks about this or that 'amazing' feature, but we rarely if ever hear a discussion about playing technique, arrangement concepts, practice regimens, or even artist (musicians) that they admire (most topics are about themselves and how they 'wowed' their audiences).
Personally, using arrangers for 1hr NH gigs is perfectly acceptable and makes good economic sense for those who can't keep a bunch of old folks entertained for one hour on an acoustic piano, but please, leave it there; don't take those things into upscale country clubs (unless you're booking it as a karaoke act) and fine dining venues. Leave those for the 'starving musicians' who've paid their dues and actually learned to play their instruments (and rarely brag about it - ever notice how people that are really good at something are the most humble about it).
Don't get me wrong. There are certainly a handful of 'pro-quality' musicians on this board - Russ, Al, DonM, to name a few, for whom this 'rant' does not apply, and have shown many times over that they are capable of 'pro-quality' performances, but sadly, they are a minority in the world of Arranger keyboard players and EACH is more than proficient on another 'legitimate' instrument.
So, will we soon see the end of the Arranger keyboard? Does it really matter? Good music will continue to emerge (but probably not from arranger keyboards). JMO.