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#505464 - 04/12/22 01:59 PM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: Diki]
bruno123 Online   content
Senior Member

Registered: 06/04/02
Posts: 4912
Loc: West Palm Beach, FL 33417
My Dad, was a professional piano player. His parents sent him to Italy to learn piano. When he came back to the states he was given a 15-minute spot on radio – that was before TV came into being.

My Dad felt my keyboard was a music toy; he would no touch it. As the years passed, he began spending sometime with it. After a while he used it almost every day.

Many opinions are based on what an arranger keyboard cannot do – instead, WHAT IT CAN DO.

I love my keyboard – and I also love my guitar,
because it is all about me.

Opinion, John C.

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#505465 - 04/13/22 03:24 AM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: abacus]
Bernie9 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 09/21/02
Posts: 5507
Loc: Port Charlotte,FL,USA
I have spent years in bands as well as OMB work, and I have to admit that the end product is more convincing for, especially, dances in a band setting. I look back on all of comradery, as well as the problems associated with band members. However, since I am not a solo piano player and solo organ is not getting it these days, my stable of arranger keyboards has remained my only option.

Thank God I have had this great alternative all these years. I would have been dead in the water otherwise. Viva la arrangers.


Edited by Bernie9 (04/13/22 03:25 AM)
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pa4X 76 ,SX900, Audya 76,Yamaha S970 , vArranger, Hammond SK1, Ketron SD40, Centerpoint Space Station, Bose compact

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#505478 - 04/17/22 06:44 AM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: abacus]
abacus Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 5336
Loc: English Riviera, UK
Interesting conversation, (And pretty much answers my question) and Diki probably summed it up in that if you play an arranger like most home hobby players (Using the easy play features (sophisticated style etc.) then you will be looked down upon when playing out live, however if you use it just as a keyboard (No accompaniments) it’s as good as any other instrument to them.

Bill
_________________________
English Riviera:
Live entertainment, Real Ale, Great Scenery, Great Beaches, why would anyone want to live anywhere else (I�m definitely staying put).

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#505481 - 04/17/22 08:38 AM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: abacus]
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14173
Loc: NW Florida
Interesting how the problems with full bands is the OTHER players, never ourselves!

Me, I can put up with a plethora of personal faults if that player can provide some magic onstage, and from time to time, push the music into something new and exciting.

I guess that perhaps the definition of ‘pro’ isn’t in whether you use an arranger or not, but whether you are completely content doing so! Sure, there are considerable financial considerations to using one, but you should never be happy about it! At least not musically…

I feel sorry for anyone that thinks they sound better with an arranger than with any real band they played with (if they ever did). They need to have played with better musicians. Real musicians may have their issues, but good ones will challenge you musically, surprise you, make you work to be better.

Can’t say an arranger has ever done that for me!
_________________________
An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#505482 - 04/17/22 11:45 AM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: abacus]
travlin'easy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/08/02
Posts: 15549
Loc: Forest Hill, MD USA
When I performed with a full band (5 & 6 piece), I played a 12 string guitar, 6-string electric guitar and a mandolin. We worked one day a week at best, and we were considered pretty damned good by our competition, often outbooking them by a 2 to 1 margin.

When I switched to an arranger keyboard, it didn't take long to be working 7 days a week, sometimes 2 to 3 jobs a day, got paid a Hell of a lot more money than when I had to split everything with 5 other guys, worked shorter hours, mostly during the day, and was in high demand for corporate parties, political fund raisers, weddings (which I turned down - hated them,) and high end restaurant jobs. Yep, I guess I was looked down upon by the "so called" pros out there that were lucky to book one or two days a week. However, I was never on stage to prove anything to a pro musician that may, or may not be in the audience. There were only one group I was there to satisfy - MY AUDIENCES! If I could not satisfy my audiences, I would have quickly been out of a job.

The band members I performed with, one of whom was Peabody trained, all had other sources of income. They needed to make enough money to support their families, pay for a home, afford health and life insurance, and have some sort of retirement plan other than Social Security. As a pro musician, they didn't have those benefits, but damned, they sure sounded good.

We had a bluegrass fiddle player that could play better than Charlie Daniels, a lead guitar player that had a photographic memory and after hearing a song a single time, he could play it as good, or better, than the original, a drummer who could play Wipe Out without missing a beat, and myself, strumming my 12-string and singing. (The ladies loved my voice. wink ) Our sax player was inducted in the Musicians Hall of Fame when he was just 45 years old. Unfortunately, Jim died while performing at local marina while playing his sax to backing tracks. He had a massive heart attack and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Now, some of you may recall a You Tube video that had a 6-piece band playing on stage, then one by one, the musician put down his instrument and walked off stage, while the music continued to play. After the last band member walked off stage, a small curtain was opened revealing an arranger keyboard being played by an OMB entertainer. He sounded exactly the same as the live band and no one could tell the difference until he was revealed.

Now, did I sound better with my lowly arranger keyboards than I did when performing with a live band of pro musicians. Probably not! However, I was working every day of the week, and my old band members still felt fortunate to get one or two jobs a week at a local bar or nite club. Anyone that has been in this business for more than 4 decades will tell you that bars, restaurants, country clubs and nite clubs still pay the same as they did 50 years ago.

Now, there are exceptions. Captain Russ, who frequents this forum, makes a lot of money with music, however, not as an onstage performer. Russ, unlike most pro musicians took music to the next level, creating commercial videos for some of the top corporations in the world. And, those corporations pay top dollar for his product.

I also went another route for many years, doing voice overs for local automotive dealerships in and around Baltimore. It paid much better than any music job I ever had, but the work was very demanding and I wasn't having as much fun as I did while performing onstage with my arranger keyboard. Consequently, I pretty much gave into being an onstage entertainer and never looked back.

Now that I have retired, I mainly play the arranger keyboard and spend time trying to create new sounds and styles, which I give away to others so they can enjoy them as well. I always thought how it was hysterical, at least to me, to be looked down upon by the "so called" pros, who in reality, were not as successful as the guy sitting behind his arranger keyboard and working every day of the week. I think they may have been a bit jealous! smile

Gary cool
_________________________
PSR-S950, TC Helicon Harmony-M, Digitech VR, Samson Q7, Sennheiser E855, Custom Console, and lots of other silly stuff!

K+E=W (Knowledge Plus Experience = Wisdom.)

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#505485 - 04/17/22 01:47 PM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: abacus]
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14173
Loc: NW Florida
If the full band was only working one day a week, that’s hardly ‘pro’..! I played for decades in bands up to 10 piece that worked at least 4 nights a week, and the rhythm section would do additional gigs on off nights.

I hate to say it, Gary, but it rather sounds like your personal experience has rather turned your mind against an experience that gives joy and a decent living for countless thousands of musicians.
_________________________
An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#505488 - 04/17/22 02:10 PM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: abacus]
travlin'easy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/08/02
Posts: 15549
Loc: Forest Hill, MD USA
Diki, I thoroughly enjoyed playing with a full band, even got offered a cruise ship job with a large band, but the money just was not there, and still, to my knowledge, isn't. I know, personally, dozens of pro musicians, many of which were in the US Navy and US Army bands, and none of them ever played 4 nights a week. You must know some musicians that I never encountered during the decades I performed here in Maryland and in the Florida Keys. I did have a high school friend that eventually went to Nashville, cut a record. He made some really big bucks, but not as a musician. He worked as a waiter in an upscale restaurant where the bands (usually 5-piece) got $300 a night,and that was for the entire band. As a waiter, he managed to pull down about $400 a night in tips and salary.

When I worked in Baltimore's Little Italy at Delanote's Restaurant, I was paid $150 for a 4-hour Friday night. Every waiter and waitress made over $500 a night in salary and tips, mainly because it was frequented by professional ball players and they spent huge sums of money on outlandishly, overpriced food. The average tip was about 20% of the total, which on average was about $500 to $700 for a group of players and managers. Keep in mind these individuals were all hauling in $-millions a year for playing ball.

My friend Helmut Licht has a 17-piece big band, plays some huge events, and pays on average $75 per band member.

I talked with the guy who ran the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and they mostly hired locals for $75 performance.

Jerry and Elsa Burns, who performed regularly at DiNimo's Restaurant in Baltimore's Little Italy, were the best duo in the entire metro area. Elsa had a fantastic jazz voice and could sing the telephone book. Jerry, was a Peabody trained pianist, but could play a dozen other instruments, including vibes with 4 mallets. I remember clearly the day he told me that he would be playing at the White House with the Zim Zimmarel Orchestra and doing a 4 hour job in mid June, a time when the daytime temperature hit 100 degrees and relative humidity frequently hits 100 percent. I said "WOW! That's really great. Bet you'll get a big paycheck for that job." He said he wished that he would turned it down, mainly because it was outside in mid-afternoon and it only paid $75 and no expenses were covered.

Diki, I don't know about you, but I cannot survive on $150 gross income a day. After you subtract your travel expenses, equipment cost, maintenance and repairs to your van and gear, you could make more money working at McDonalds. wink

Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed playing with groups, and we had a lot of fun together. But that didn't pay the bills, and in most instances, didn't cover expenses. As an OMB entertainer, I was able to meet all my financial obligations, set up a couple retirement accounts for when I was no longer able to work, buy a sailboat big enough to live on, and still enjoyed playing music with my favorite instrument - an arranger keyboard.
Good luck,

Gary cool


Edited by travlin'easy (04/17/22 03:11 PM)
_________________________
PSR-S950, TC Helicon Harmony-M, Digitech VR, Samson Q7, Sennheiser E855, Custom Console, and lots of other silly stuff!

K+E=W (Knowledge Plus Experience = Wisdom.)

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#505489 - 04/17/22 02:29 PM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: abacus]
Diki Offline


Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 14173
Loc: NW Florida
Sorry, Gary, but if making money is the sole goal in life, music is a TERRIBLE way of ensuring it. I could have made so much money as a doctor or a lawyer that even a fully booked arranger ‘entertainer’ wouldn’t come close..!

And if you think the ‘musicians’ in your arranger are world class, you’ve never played with one. Sorry to be blunt, but the worst guitarist I know that I would consider a ‘pro’ can play circles round the best arranger in the world. The best of them play circles round me!

I wonder, with money apparently so important, and waiters making so much more than you did playing, how come you didn’t drop playing? Your logic suggests that’s the goal… Or perhaps playing music actually IS more important than money!?!

At any level… 🎹😎
_________________________
An arranger is just a tool. What matters is what you build with it..!

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#505490 - 04/17/22 03:19 PM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: abacus]
travlin'easy Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/08/02
Posts: 15549
Loc: Forest Hill, MD USA
The reason I didn't drop playing was because I was making a good living and having a Hell of a lot of fun in the process. If you recall, I worked in the medical profession for the better part of 15 years, made a reasonable income, helped a whole lot of people overcome health concerns, but after 15 years and seeing nice people die and feeling totally helpless to prevent their untimely deaths, I burned out. For the next 7 years I owned and operated a fishing tackle and marine retail store, but the hours were brutal, and when the economy went to Hell, I opted to do the thing I enjoyed most - play music. And, there were folks out there willing to pay me a reasonable sum for doing so. I operated my performances as a full-time business, and like any business, I was in it to make a profit. I accomplished those goals! smile

Gary cool
_________________________
PSR-S950, TC Helicon Harmony-M, Digitech VR, Samson Q7, Sennheiser E855, Custom Console, and lots of other silly stuff!

K+E=W (Knowledge Plus Experience = Wisdom.)

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#505494 - 04/18/22 12:12 PM Re: Why do arranger players suck to pros? [Re: travlin'easy]
captain Russ Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 01/02/04
Posts: 7280
Loc: Lexington, Ky, USA
Actually, while most of my income comes from designing brochures, annual reports web sites, blogs, market research, packaging, P.O.S. collateral, etc., I have always played live. In the 62 years I have been working, before Covid, I had had 9 weeks off from playing at least 4 nights a week. I started at 12 years old at an Officer's Club at Ladd AFB in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Playing live, in real time keeps me grounded. I also used the time to rehearse. I'd go over a tune and have a similar tune in my head so I could "bail out" if I "bombed" and finish with the tune I was more familiar with. Never got caught, by the way.

I often use an arranger in a club (house) setting. It's always a Ketron, with the 13 note pedal-board. I have a piano of some kind at my right hand and a portable SKSS Hammond on top. That way, I initiate drum starts and stops, breaks, etc. with my foot, sweeten with the right hand, and access left hand bass and Hammond sounds with the top keyboard.

Basically, I'm using the pedal-board, combined with the left hand to take some of the automation feel out of the process when just using the arranger.

Pro's who come see me see three keyboards, foot pedals and lots of "run up" bass lines impossible to do in arrange mode. I get lots of questions, but not much criticism.

I do at least 3 film scores a month, but miss playing live. Thought I never would. but now believe that playing 2 hours live is better than practicing for 4 hours.

Calling me a pro musician is a bit of a stretch. I write, storyboard, shoot and edit the films I work on. Music is the "sweetener" not provided by most other producers. At a $15,000.00 budget for a 10 minute film, most producers use "needle drop" music; simply layering it and fading off at the end of the film. The resulting product is pretty dry.

Music brings me joy, pays the bills and gives me a real advantage in the marketplace. I also get lots of high end Corporate jobs from the people I produce for. And, they always want to grab the mike and introduce me as the producer of the project just completed. Then, I play the piece, and the film is run.


Man, has music been good to me!


Russ



Edited by captain Russ (04/18/22 12:18 PM)

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