Motif Rig

Time to bring back the equipment blog!

It's been over a year since the last posting, and while I'm still producing content out of my studio, I've decided to reintroduce my gigging journal. I'm still quite active as a live player, and I'm constantly shaking things up and trying new things (even if only slightly) from job to job.

As I've detailed here in the past, I've been using Mainstage to drive my rig for the last several years. The rig almost always consists of a two-keyboard stack: a Kurzweill PC88 or Yamaha P200 (88-key controllers), and either a Yamaha Motif 7 or MO6. While versatile, the dual-keyboard/Mainstage requires a fair amount of setup and maintenance. Mainstage alone accounts for easily 50% of my rig setup. I love the flexibility of sound that it offers me, but being able to simplify and streamline other setups has been a new goal of mine. In the last year, I've decided to try and wean myself off of using Mainstage on every gig, which is forcing me into programming my Motif 7 and MO6 to make up for the lack software synths.

It's also occurred to me that I might even get away with a single-keyboard setup in many settings. This is really where the Motif 7 has come in handy. On one recent gig, I decided to use just the Motif 7 and Mainstage. Surprisingly, the setup was still pretty involved in spite of lacking a second keyboard. But the Motif 7 had enough keyboard real estate for me to setup enough splits to cover most of the parts I needed to hit during the set. The 7 also has two expression pedal ports, so I could have a great deal of control over those sounds without using my hands.

In the absence of the second keyboard tier, I tested out adding a laptop mount just over the Motif, while using heavy-duty binder clips to secure the MacBook in place. This setup was effective and convenient, but somewhat cumbersome as the laptop stand sandwiched in between the keyboard and a flat wooden shelf that was resting beneath. Again, if my goal is to bring less gear into the venue, this didn't exactly do the job.

In this setting, the Motif was replacing the PC88 or the P200, both of which are fully-weighted keyboards and have a fair amount of space on the top of the chassis for placing a MIDI controller or USB interface. The Motif has a great deal of flexibility as a performance keyboard since it has a lot of on-board sounds. I'm not crazy about it on account of not have weighted-action, though. Tough to play some piano parts.


The next night I figured I'd bring back the MO6, and put the laptop mount on my equipment box. This turned out to be a pretty effective approach, as the Mackie 1202 fit nicely just underneath it. And there was still plenty of room for both the USB mixer and the Focusrite to fit on the top of the Motif. This setup is useful in the event that the laptop rig fails (which happened about a month ago an hour into the gig). I have both the Motif and the MO programmed as a backup to handle a laptop failure.

Gear list:

  • Yamaha Motif 7 Classic
  • Yamaha MO6
  • MacBook Pro 13" (Western Digital 2TB external HDD)
  • Mainstage 2.2
  • Focusrite Scarlett 4i2
  • Yamaha FC7 expression pedals (x2)
  • Mackie 1202
  • Radial Stereo DI
  • Shure SM58


  • Sonik Synth 2
  • Miroslav Philharmonik
  • NI Kontakt 5: Scarbee Rhodes/Wurly/Clav, Vintage Organs
  • NI Reaktor: Monark
  • Arturia: Prophet V, MiniMoog V, ARP 2600 V, Jupiter 8 V
  • Stock Logic plugins: EXS24 and Playback

2 thoughts on “Motif Rig

  1. What a shame that IK Multimedia orphaned Sonik Synth 2. The most recent version was released in 2009, almost seven years ago. They never updated it to be compatible with more recent 64-bit operating systems. Since I’m a computer technician first, I had to keep up with the latest Mac OS X operating system, and I just had to abandon Sonik Synth 2 (and most other IK Multimedia products) to the scrap-heap. I’m sure Sonik Synth 2 continues to be useful to you, which is why you are still running it on an older Mac OS X with MainStage 2.2 (which is also several years out-of-date). IK Multimedia put most all of their development efforts in recent years into products for guitars and for the iPhone and iPad; I wonder if they’re happy with how that turned out.

  2. Yeah, I use Sonik Synth 2 a lot in my live sessions. It’s a great grab-bag of stuff that I can get to pretty quickly, and it isn’t much of a CPU hog. Sample Tank 3 does have a Legacy feature that allows you to use your older 32-bit libraries from within the interface, so at least I can still use SS2, SampleTron and and the other IK stuff in Logic X and Mainstage 3 if I ever wanted to. I’ve not tried running MS 3 in a live setting yet, but I’ll hopefully get there soon. It still seems a bit wobbly on my old 2010 MBP 13″. MS 2 is usually pretty solid.

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