Guy Sells All His Synths, Keeps The Roland JD-Xi

Woody of Woody Piano Shack, who has been sharing some of the most interesting and musical synth video demos over the last few years, has sold all his synths….except for three. 

In this video, he discusses the pros and cons of each synth; talks about the three that he decided to keep; and raises some interesting questions about why we want and keep the synths that we do.

The most striking decision may be to keep the Roland JD-Xi over a variety of classic and modern gear. As Woody notes, though, the JD-Xi sounds good, is a very powerful synth and has a built-in drum machine – which makes it perfect as his beatmaking workstation.

How do you decide what synth is a ‘keeper’ and which synths have to go? Share your thoughts in the comments!

via David

49 thoughts on “Guy Sells All His Synths, Keeps The Roland JD-Xi

    1. lol, if he’s creative and knowledgable, i’m sure he wont. i’ve whittled everything down to a similar set up and it’s actually freeing!

  1. But he also kept a Nord Electro and a super powered Workstation board, so the JD-Xi is basically his portable groovebox with keys.

    1. Yeah, he kind of hinted in the video that it came down to the JD-Xi vs the Electribe, and being a keyboard player he preferred the keys to pads.

  2. “Man sells HO gauge train collection, keeps BNR locomotive, a 6 foot oval of track and a handful of miniature fake trees. Members of his model train forum question the decision and deride him as a fake train enthusiast.”

  3. I respect his decision. Haters are defending their own egos (“one of us is wrong here, let’s make it him rather than me”; idiots…)

    It’s curious to me that he kept the arranger when he justified selling off some of the synths based on VSTs that make them redundant.

  4. Also to answer the question in the post, a keeper for me has to be fun every time you turn it on, reasonably reliable (prefer to avoid waiting on repairs), and ideally not terribly redundant (ex: can’t do the elektron octatrack and digitakt, even though overbridge is alluring for its convenience)

    1. That’s funny because I honestly did sell all my gear except for an iPad and arturia minilab, and bought a boat.

      Had more fun making music on that boat than I ever did with 10k worth of gear. None of it sounds very great but it got me to love music again and woke up my creativity!

  5. The guy cares about making music. Sure, it would be cool to have the hardware originals of the vst’s but the vst’s more than suffice, they don’t have antiquated storage systems, and won’t break done anytime soon. Plus, they sound great, especially when you make music with them instead of obsessing over countless A/B comparisons. Woody made choices based on his needs, educated intuition, and foreseeable creativity in mind. He’s had the good fortune to play around with cool synths and I am thankful he was cool enough to share those experiences and impressions with the world…pretty righteous. Hell, my picks would have been different too…just like each and every one of us. As long as you bang out some good sounds and music, then whatever works for you is perfect!

  6. I think he doesn’t care for the hype, only sound and ergonomics count with him ! It’s a good move, i think. A high price tag does not always mean quality (this sentence also works in reverse).

  7. Definite keepers are the synth(s) used every time when the gear is switched on, year in / year out. The one(s) that are base to every composition. In my case that would be the D50. Wish I had two of them in addition with a case of memory cards.

  8. I have bought and sold some of those very same synths over the years. Others, I would not touch with a 10 foot pole. With regard to the DX7II, you’d have to pry my DX7IID out of my cold dead hands. Heck, I just bought a Grey Matter E expansion for it off eBay!

  9. I learned long ago to never sell any of my vintage gear, especially analog stuff. And Moog gear. Never sell. Digital stuff can come and go, doesn’t matter.

  10. I wish I’d seen this article before I saw the video. Would have saved me a lot of mind numbing video watching.

    Age is a big issue with keeping or selling gear. On the one hand, is it compatible with new gear? Does it cost a lot to maintain? Does it still sound unique?

    Workflow is the most important – can I use this easily? Does it help me create? Am I inspired when I hear this instrument.

    We are all making compromises all the time to try to create the best music we can. The hardware is never perfect, the sounds are never everything you want in one package.. I need more bass… I need a metallophone… where’s my 808? If you find a workflow you can adjust to and stay creative in then you’ve won the hardest battle.

  11. Fair play to him, less is more. A couple of choice boxes are better than a room full of stuff that detracts away from what is trying to be achieved. And a basket full of turnips. That is all.

  12. I love my jdxi. It’s not my only synth but it’s the best groovebox I have ever used. It sounds miles better than a lot of Roland synths. The drums are fantastic and now there is an iPad editor. For fun and creativity the jdxi is fantastic. In my opinion fun and creativity are vital.

  13. I enjoyed the video and the guy’s reasoning sounds solid. Also he says he got all these this year, so I guess he is new to synths and wanted to jump in and try everything then pare it down. Sounds like he didn’t lose any money either and sold stuff for what he paid for it, so it’s definitely no loss.

    “How do you decide what synth is a ‘keeper’ and which synths have to go?”

    Last time I pared down I got rid of the Memorymoog and the Minimoog because I hated their sound and weight, the Prophet 5 because I just wasn’t into it, a big mixed modular system and a Matrix 12 because they were heavy and unwieldy, a Rhodes Chroma because it needed service, the TB-303 and TR-707 because the sound was dated and they were boring, the TR-808 because I greatly preferred my R-8, and an Atari Mega 4. Around this time the D50 was stolen so I didn’t get to decide on that one.

    I kept the DX7, the Prophet VS, the ARP 2600 with sequencer and duophonic keyboard, the Synthi VCS 3, the DMP-7, Juno 60 and the R8.

    In retrospect, I should have kept the Matrix, the Chroma and the Atari. I will probably get an OB-6 to replace the sound of the Matrix. The stuff I kept since then some I sold, some was stolen, others just don’t work anymore. Of that stuff plus new stuff if I pare down again I will always keep the VS and the ARP, a Blofeld, a Monologue, and the various small custom hardware I designed and built to augment all of their features. Probably the MPK Mini controller or similar minikey thingy with some knobs since it’s convenient for carrying around. Reason for keeping stuff is basically the sound and the usability, but unwieldiness, size, and dead-and-can’t-be-serviced are all factors in tossing stuff that’s otherwise great.

  14. “Guy sells Roland FA, Roland D50, Roland D20, his Korgs, a Nord and a Moog – keeps a Yamaha PSR” (!!)

    Now, how does THAT headline sound like? 😉

  15. I agree with the guy, if I had to chose only three synths, I would make similar choices and go with what I regard as good all arounders and not the exotic. Roland Mc 808, Electribe 2 and Virus. These are my music making choices, not my synth junkie choices…..the synth junkie wouldn’t give up any of the synths. As for the missus, she always has to deal with the junkie: it’s not that there are to many synths in the house, the problem is that there too few in the kitschen.

  16. Hey, how can it be serious! Sorry, no intent to flame or whatever, but to compare the Nordlead even in simplified A1 form and the Roland JDXI on the basis of being synthesizers, while Roland is mainly a rompler with some little twist here and there, and Nord being a fulblown VA, saying that Roland is over the Nord – hmmmm, a funny joke or a complete eeehh – we all know what. Sorry again, but I just can’t understand guys like that. In the end there’s a positive side again, as Synthtopia is a good place to get synth news and sometimes, yes, sometimes a good hell of a laugh.

    1. JD-Xi is a hybrid based on Supernatural engine + real analog monosynth.
      Roland Supernatural is really far from the initial “rompler” engines when they first appeared in 1980x… So, you’re not right, briefly talking.
      Supernatural uses samples + special techniques to make sound more vivid and saturate it with behaviour of a real or complex instrument. Btw like competitors’ contemporary engines. Sometimes the line between modern sample-based multi-engine and VA/ physical modelling engine becomes semi-transparent actually.

      P.S. Nord Lead does not have a sequencer… And IMHO is highly overestimated. The fair price for this red box must reside under USD1000 (A1) and 1300 (Lead 4). Of course, it’s a personal affair, but I will buy JD-XA/ System-8 instead.

  17. jd-xi lacks song mode. electribe at least has a pattern chain function. roland sucks big time when it comes to construct songs from patterns (see also juno ds).

    1. That’s a fair point, but you can trigger patterns like you can trigger clips in Ableton – they line up musically on the beat at least, and you can set up different patterns and manually switch between them quite easily. I bet if you were recording into a DAW you’d be able to insert some kind of program change messages too.

  18. I keep telling people that the little Xi is the best value in a mini key synth. It’s a killer little piece. I can’t wait to check out the iPad editor to really get things going with it.

  19. Does anyone know any other ‘auto note’ keyboards etc.? Where I can sing or hum to control the synth/instrument instead of keyboard.
    Any suggestions?

  20. Clickbait title much?

    Seriously, this is a respected site. Don’t do this. People will visit (and continue to visit) if you write solid articles. This type of title is only necessary if you want to damage your reputation. You’re better than this.

  21. I’d go for an ESX electribe for mono sampled wave and drum duties, Novation Circuit for Poly and reasonable bar count and an Alesis I/O dock with an Ipad to run them both through for further sound processing un turnado and Samplr plus thumbjam and animoog and instruments in their own right

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