Tyler Adams is the keyboardist of Boston-based band The Jauntee. Tyler is an impressive keys player. running one of the largest rigs I’ve seen from the smaller scene’s keys players, and he can go from locked in grooves to bluegrass playing to trippy, exploratory synth sounds at the drop of a hat. He also plays keys in Boston- based jam band, Moxa. Check out Tyler’s playing in this set from The Jauntee’s opening slot during Dopapod’s Paradise run last April, footage courtesy of mkDevo.

Hammond Organs

1950 Hammond C2
1959 Hammond M3

“I guess we’ll start with the centerpiece, the 1950 Hammond C2 that I found on Craigslist for $50. It was a full console with pedals when I got it and I did the chop job myself. I disconnected the pedals from the tone-wheel generator, hacked off the bottom half, and gave it pipe legs and handles. I also wired up a 1/4” output and volume pot so I can run it into an amp or Leslie pre-amp. I run the organ with a 1965 Leslie “145” that is actually a 45 re-wired to have fast and slow speeds instead of fast and stop. My organ doesn’t have the correct hookup for my type of Leslie yet, so I go out of the organ, into a volume pedal, into a Leslie Combo Pre-amp, then into the Leslie. The combo pre-amp is the big silver pedal under the organ and it lets me control the speed of the Leslie with my foot, which is super helpful when I’m trying to play multiple keyboards at once.

My backup Hammond is a ‘59 Hammond M3 that I chopped and re-cased. I took out the electronics and the keyboards, or “manuals” from the original organ body. I built a smaller, lighter body, painted it sea-foam green, and installed the organ guts in the new body. This took about 100lbs off of the original weight. I also did a few mods to it to get it a little closer to a B3. First I added a line out box made by Trek ii. This made it so I can plug into an amp or Leslie. I then added what’s called “foldback” to the upper and lower manuals. This re-wiring made the bottom manual one octave lower so I could play left hand bass. The upperfold back doesnt quite work the same way. It just adds some upper harmonics and fullness to the top notes. I also fixed the percussion volume drop that Hammonds have. For some reason they’re designed so that when the percussion is set to soft volume, the organ volume is normal. Then when you switch to normal percussion volume, the organ volume drops. I rewired it so that the organ volume does not drop and you now have loud organ with a super loud and poppy percussion click on the attack of your notes. Helps a lot if I need some extra cut during a solo. Lastly, M3’s have these weird little metal tabs underneath the drawbars that make them stiffer and harder to pull out. I ripped those suckers right out and it made the drawbars just as loose as a B3. Shout out to Tyler Drabick of Boss Organ in Boston for that little trick and many others. I’ve always tried to repair, maintain and modify my instruments and amps on my own, but if I ever have no clue what I’m doing, he’s always had my back.”

Moog Synthesizers
2006 Little Phatty Tribute
1983 Moog Rogue
“On top of the Hammond, you’ll usually find one of my Moog synthesizers. I’m a huge fan boy of this company and firmly believe they can do no wrong, haha. If I have time and space, I’ll set up my ‘06 Little Phatty Tribute on the organ for lead sounds, and my 1983 Moog Rogue will go elsewhere for sound effects. The Rogue was modded by Tyler at Boss Organ. He added a power transformer and an output for a 3 prong IEC power cable. The original Rogue power system is just not reliable so it needed to be done. The Rogue has a really nice white noise that I mostly use for a “wind” sound effect, it also has some good robot/R2D2 type sounds in there too. Both synths can technically cover each others duties but I like to let their individual strengths shine when possible. The Rogue has an auto trigger that the Phatty doesn’t. This makes it so I can leave it always making noise, and fade the effect in and out with a volume pedal. The Little Phatty’s lead sounds have a certain way of cutting through a mix, and the pitch wheel springs back. Both things coupled with more keys makes it a little easier to be more expressive with leads than on the Rogue.

Interesting story about the Moogs and another reason why I like to have them on stage together. I got the Rogue on Craigslist in 2014. In 2016 I called someone on Craigslist about a Little Phatty. As soon as I dialed the number my phone recognized it as “Moog Rogue”. So I picked up the Phatty from the same person that sold me the Rogue two years earlier. I remember seeing the Phatty the day I picked up the Rogue too. So, these two synths have been together for much longer than I’ve owned them and fate brought them back together again. They’re homies.

But if I only have time to set up one Moog, it’s always the Rogue. To my ear it’s much closer to the classic Model D sound than the Little Phatty. Also, playing a show with no presets is a fun way for me to be more “in the moment” while improvising. With the Rogue, my synth tones wont be exactly the same from night to night, which helps add to the unique experience of a show with a lot of improvisation.”

Electric Pianos

1974 Fender Rhodes
1984 Wurlitzer 200a

“To the left of the Hammond, you find the electric piano. A lot of keys players like the organ to the left and the EP to the right so you can hold organ chords with the left hand and playing more active right hand parts on the piano. For some reason I’ve always felt more comfortable doing the opposite. Also, I’m a huge John Medeski fan and EP left/organ right has always been his setup.

There’s two EP’s I switch between. My baby is my ‘84 Wurlitzer 200a. This gal is my main practice instrument at home and I spend a lot of time with her writing songs and learning music. Unfortunately she is very fragile so I only bring her out for local shows or short weekend runs. I’ve brought her on some past tours but I always end up having to fix something every few shows.

My main axe in electric piano world is a 1974 Fender Rhodes Stage with 73 keys. I re-cased it because when we got it the original case was decomposing and was basically drift wood. Other than that it’s all original besides a few tines I’ve replaced. In general, it requires much less maintenance than the Wurlitzer, so it’s definitely the preferred electric piano for long tours.”

Digital Keyboards

2013 Nord Electro 4D 61
‘07 Kurzweil SP76
Korg Concert C4500
“I do have a couple digital keyboards that I use to fill in the blanks sound wise. I have a Nord Electro 4D that my grandparents got me as a college graduation present. In the Jauntee I use it for Clavinet and Mellotron sounds, though for most shows it just stays on clav all night. It’s also my backup organ if anything goes wrong with the Hammond or if it just cant fit onstage. Nord is another company that I’m a big fan of. A lot of vintage, analog keyboard players hate on Nord, and there definitely is nothing like the real thing, but if you dont have the real thing, a Nord is absolutely the next best thing. Hand made in Switzerland and bright red, they are the swiss army knife of the keyboard world. That said.. if any one out there has a Clavinet they’d like to “loan” me, that’d be real awesome.

My Dad got me a Kurzweil SP88 as my first real keyboard back when I was 16. I’ve always been a fan of Kurzweil’s acoustic piano sounds but I’ve never really needed all 88 keys for what I do live. So I found a 76 key version for cheap on Craigslist back in 2011 and it’s been my touring “piano” ever since.

Until very recently (Feb ‘18) I found a Korg digital piano with 88 fully weighted keys for dirty cheap at the Goodwill in Boulder. Surprisingly this is the first keyboard I’ve ever had that’s fully weighted. It feels much closer to a real piano than the Kurzweils so it’s now my touring piano as of Feb ‘18. Hoping to move to a real acoustic at some point soonish. Not a grand piano, but touring with a spinet would be fun.

Special mention to my Hohner 37 key Melodica that I’ve started using live here and there. Still trying to work it in and find the parts of songs where it vibes the best. It’s a fun little thing to play though and always is a crowd pleaser.”

Amps
1965 Leslie 145
2016 Fender Vibroluxe
1972 Music Man RD100 > 20?? Ampeg 2×10
“I run all my keyboards through amps. No DI’s allowed. All my amps and cabs have stock speakers. I run the electric piano, Nord and digital piano all through a 2016 Fender Vibroluxe Reissue. I did the grill cloth customization myself. Just took a tapestry I had laying around, cut out a rectangle and stretched it over the original grill cloth which is still there behind the tapestry. I used the rest of the tapestry to make my Leslie match. The Vibroluxe has two independent channels with two inputs each, and their own EQ and volume. This makes it real handy for running multiple keyboards and giving them all a nice tube sound. I run the electric piano into the first channel so it has it’s own volume and eq. The Nord and digital piano go together in the second channel and I just balance them with their own volume controls.

I grew up in FL, and in sophomore year of high school my Mom took me to the guitar center down in Miami to get my first real tube amp. I had started getting some real gigs on guitar and needed an upgrade from my old Peavy. So I found this 1972 Music Man RD100 head with a huge Fender Dual Showman 2×12 cabinet. The Music Man head was re-tolexed and badged to match the cab by the previous owner. I still have the big Fender cab at home but use the head now to power a little Ampeg 2×10 bass cab that handles the Moogs really well. I got the Ampeg cab really cheap from a friend of a friend a few years ago and use it all the time now. The head has two inputs so both Moogs can be picked up by one mic. Anything to make it easier for the sound engineer.”

Pedals

Signal Chain:
Moog M102 Ring Mod > Digitech Whammy 5 > AMT Japanese Girl Wha > Ibanez TS808 Reissue > MXR Phase 90 > MXR Carbon Copy > MXR Bass Compressor > ‘81 Ibanez CS505 > Boss DD7
“I went to college for guitar, so I’ve always had a love affair with effect pedals. And of course, I had to integrate my guitar rig into the keys rig. The electric piano is sonically pretty close to a guitar so I run the Rhodes or Wurly through my main pedal board. Again, can’t say enough about Moog. The Moogerfooger pedal series is amazing and the ring mod is a big part of my electric piano tone. Moog circuitry has a way if just making everything sound full and warm. So it’s first in my chain and I use it’s gain to make the Rhodes signal hot enough to hit the rest of the pedals correctly. I also use the ring mod as a tremolo for the Rhodes. Because of the harmonically additive nature of a ring mod pedal, when it’s set real low, it behaves like a deep tremolo and can create abnormal rhythms as you slowly turn the speed up. This pedal also has a low/high frequency switch making it very easy to go from tremolo to robot noises on the fly. I also have it linked up to a Dunlop DVP4 for expression set to the ring mod mix so I can easily fade the effect in and out.

The Whammy is my favorite for octave generation and pitch bending. It makes things sound all goofy real quick. I really like the small footprint of the AMT Wah. It sounds great and has multiple Q settings so you can make it sound how you want. Also, it’s purple. Not much to be said about the TS808. Classic. Sounds great with electric pianos and is almost always on for me.

MXR Phase 90 is another classic sound. I’m a big Steely Dan fan as well so that phased out Donald Fagen Rhodes sound hits a sweet spot for me. MXR Carbon Copy is just about the best analog delay for the money. Just sounds amazing, and can get all crazy and self oscillate while still being easy to control. I have the phase and delay upside down so that I can control the phase speed and delay time with my toe.

Next is the MXR Bass Compressor that I got from my buddy Nick Malkasian who is the bassist in one of my other bands, Moxa. I used this on my board when I was giging on guitar more and always loved it’s low end response. It translates over to electric piano very well and keeps everything smooth but still a little punchy. I leave it on 100% of the time.

Snagged the ‘81 Ibanez CS505 Chorus pedal from guitar center and it has been exactly what I needed to give the Rhodes that cheesy ‘80’s sound. Last is the Boss DD7. This thing has a great reverse delay and that’s what I leave it set to.

All of it’s powered by a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus and connected mostly by Solder-less Lava cables.  I also have another DD7 the I run the digital piano through so I can put normal and reverse delay on the acoustic piano sounds.

The lead Moog (Rogue or Phatty) goes through a Ibanez Echo Shifter analog delay which I like a lot. The time slider makes it really fun to get crazy analog delay warps. I also keep a tuner in the Moog signal path cause those analog circuits can go out of tune over the course of a show. I run the Moog Rogue with a Moog M107 Freqbox that belongs to Caton Sollenberger (Jauntee guitar). The pedal is kind of hard to explain but it turns the Moog sound into a bit-crushed fuzzy mess and it’s awesome. The Freqbox is in the signal chain normally but I also run a patch cable out of the Rogue’s keyboard trigger output, into the Frequency CV input of the Freqbox. This is so the Freqbox’s internal oscillator can stay in tune with the Rogue. So I guess there is a little bit of modular synthesis happening in my rig as well.”

Microphones

“I usually use all my own mics to in an effort to keep everything sounding uniform from night to night.

The Leslie gets two Shure SM57’s on the top panned hard left and right, but in a thin or small room I’ll only use one and go mono. The Leslie also gets a Shure Beta52 on the bottom. I really, really like the sound of the B52 on the bottom. It does great when I’m playing organ bass in some of my side bands, and it does great picking up big organ slides and rumbles when I’m not playing bass. The SM57’s on top are just the standard go-to’s. In the studio I’d definitely use a couple small diaphragm condensers, but the 57’s do a great job in a live setting.

My Fender Vibroluxe that runs the Rhodes, Nord and Piano gets a Sennheiser E609. I love this mic for anything with a lot of mid range like guitar, electric piano and clav. It does okay for acoustic piano sounds but that’s generally the sound I use least so I’m not worried about it.

The Ampeg 2×10 cab powered by the Music Man RD100 that runs the Moogs gets it’s own SM57.”

Photo credit to Coleman-Schwartz Photography