Our Guide to the Nord Keyboards range - which Nord is right for me?
Share email twitter linkedin facebook google+

Our Guide to the Nord Keyboards range - which Nord is right for me?

The Nord range is structured differently from many manufacturers - it doesn't follow a good/better/best model.  To decide on the most suitable Nord keyboard for you the two main questions you need to ask are:

1. What sounds do you predominantly play?
Think do I mostly play Piano, Organ or Synth, or a combination of the above. That’s because every series in the Nord range is targeted to suit specific needs and...

2. What type of keybed would suit me?  
Think, in terms of both size and weight, all the way from synth actions to Hammer Actions.  That’s because the Electro and Stage Series have multiple keybed options to best suit your playing style or perhaps portability needs.

This guide is intended to give an overview of all your options and ultimately help you decide which Nord is right for you.

But first of all a very brief look at why to choose Nord in the first place!

Why choose Nord?


Designed specifically for the live player

Nord’s very clear mission is to build instruments for the gigging musician. That means robust, reliable, lightweight and portable, designed to be easy to use quickly, and of course, with incredible sound. It is no surprise that you see so many musicians around the world using Nords live -it is because they are both beautiful sounding instruments and professional tools.  Every instrument is handmade in Sweden - you can take a peek inside the factory in Stockholm in this video. Also bear in mind Nord have no artist endorsement policy - everything you see being used is because the keyboardist has chosen to do so.

Intuitive front-panel

At first glance a Nord front panel may appear complicated - perhaps especially the Stage since it has the most features - but once you understand the thinking behind it you’ll find it’s simplicity itself.  First of all you’ll see the panel is very clearly divided into sections - for example, Piano/Organ/Global/Synth/Effects.  And the reason it looks full of knobs and buttons is because, very deliberately, no major function is hidden in a menu  - everything you need to see or adjust live is on the front panel for you to access instantly, with LEDs too so you can see it on a dark stage. Anyone who plays live will know that delving through a menu is the last thing you want to be doing on stage!

All sounds can be updated - for free - for years to come

This is a major Nord feature that’s not immediately obvious on first glance. Nord's built-in piano samples and presets are also all user-replaceable and updatable. New pianos and samples are regularly added to the exclusive Nord libraries and all are free to download. There are no extra costs for new sounds. All of the Programs can be re-arranged in any order you want and you can store your programs anywhere you want, too. You can even create and add your own custom samples using Nord's free Sample Editor software. A Nord keyboard is therefore an instrument that is not out of date the moment you purchase, it can be updated and customised over many years to come to suit any live situation you may find yourself in.

The sound!

But all of these features would count for nothing if the instrument didn’t sound good. So many Nord users purchase them simply because of the sound that they produce. From classic organs through to electric pianos, clavs, beautiful acoustic grands and uprights to Mellotrons and vintage synthesisers, the Nord range of keyboards all offer exceptional quality and authenticity in sound.  


So which Nord is right for me?


The Nord range of instruments cater for every musician. Whatever style or genre of music you play, there is a Nord keyboard for you - each one is designed for a specific role. As we said in the introduction, there isn't a good/better/best model. Nord's philosophy is that you buy the product that is best suited to your own particular requirements so you are never paying any extra for functionality that you do not need. Even the keybeds in the instruments are designed to match different styles of playing, allowing you to fine-tune your choice.

So, let’s take a look at the Nord product range to give you a clearer idea of what all the instruments can do and you can see which Nord would be best suited for you.

The Nord C2D

Image titleThe C2D organ is for the organ aficionado. This is a dual manual keyboard with physical drawbars, based on the B3 design. Naturally, it has the B3 sound but the C2D also includes Vox Continental and Farfisa organ models too. If you are a conventional or classical organ player then you will be pleased to hear that it also features a Baroque pipe organ sound too. Nord’s Pedal Keys 27 can also be added for full classic organ control. So, if you desire the ultimate portable organ solution, then the C2D is the instrument for you.


Here's a few C2D videos to check out:

The Nord Piano 4

Image titleThe Nord Piano 4 is aimed at the musician who simply wants great sounding acoustic and electric pianos. They can be split and layered with strings and pads, all via a straightforward layout. It is compatible with the Nord Piano and Sample Libraries, so can be expanded at any time, and the front panel has some easily tweakable effects and EQ. Perhaps most importantly the Piano 4 also features Nord’s new triple sensor keybed which makes it incredibly responsive to your touch and comes with the Nord Triple Pedal as standard. No frills, just a sublime stage piano.


The Nord Grand



The Nord Grand features an exclusively customised Kawai Hammer Action keybed. This new triple sensor keybed incorporates sensors that track the hammer action itself, rather than the kets, which adds even more dynamics and realism to the playing experience. Pianos just seem to 'breathe' when played on the Grand. The new bespoke wooden case adds a retro boutique profile to the Grand so it would look cool sitting in any studio, on stage or at home. At 20Kg, it is only 1/2 Kg heavier than the Stage 3 so is still easily portable enough for live use. It can sit on the optional Stand EX legs or the wooden keyboard stand. The new Nord Monitors can also be added and mount directly to the unit via the Nord speaker brackets.

The Nord Electro Series

So, what do you do if you are an organ player but also need some piano sounds? Look no further than the Nord Electro 6 Series. This collection of three keyboards combines both organ and piano. And, like the Piano 4, it also has a Sample/Synth section which allows you to load in synth sounds, strings and brass too. The Electro 6 range is three part multi-timbral so you can split the keyboard into two zones or layer all three sections on it. The ‘6D’ models come with physical drawbars and the 6HP version features the digital LED ladder-strip drawbars. The Electro 6 series comes in different size keybeds and different style keybeds too. This is important because you might be an organ player who just needs piano sounds occasionally, so the Electro 6D 61 or 73 comes with the same waterfall keybed you get on the C2D. However, if you are a primarily a piano player who sometimes needs organ sounds then the Electro 6 HP has a weighted keybed. Again, this is Nord creating instruments for your specific needs. 

The Nord Lead 4 & Lead A1

Image titleIf you are a specifically a synth player, then you have two options. The Lead 4 and the Lead A1. 

The Lead 4 is a fully fledged analogue modelling synth with oscillators, LFOs, filters and an arpeggiator to recreate all those classic synth sounds. It's interface is a traditional synth layout.

The Lead A1 is an incredible sounding analogue modelling synth but with a streamlined front panel to make the creative process quicker. 

Both synths are four-part multi-timbral, allowing you to create some incredibly fat sounds or complicated modulations by stacking your sounds together.



The Nord Stage Series









OK, all of those instruments sound great but can you get organ, piano, synth and sampling all in one instrument? Yes – if you want it all then there is the Stage 3 Series. This is the flagship of the Nord product range and has all the organ, piano, synth and sampling functionality of the other instruments but all in one. Plus, the Panel A and B buttons give you two front panels per program so you actually have two of everything – a six-part multi timbral keyboard which you can split into four zones. Naturally, there are different keybed sizes to meet your requirements from 88 fully weighted, 76 HP Hammer Portable and Compact 73 waterfall organ keybed.


The Nord Drum 3P


Image title


As well as making keyboards, Nord also make the Nord Drum 3P. This is a drum synthesiser and has many applications such as supplementing a drummer’s arsenal with great electronic and percussive sounds, or for use in the studio where you can create your own unique drum sounds in the same way you would create sounds on a synthesiser. The pads are highly sensitive and provide an incredible dynamic range of control over your sounds but the footprint is still small enough to fit in and around a drum kit. The included bracket allows the Drum 3P to be easily mounted on a drum stand.

It's All in the Feel


Nord go to great lengths to replicate the sounds of all those classic instruments and synthesisers, even deliberately including all the strange quirks and foibles that give the original instruments their character. 

However, the accuracy of an instrument’s sound is not just down to the noise it makes. It has to feel like the real thing too when you play it. The type of keybed makes a big difference to the way you play an instrument and can really enhance your performance. 

It's likely that your keybed preference will influence your choice of Nord keyboard.


Image title

Understanding the six keybeds used in Nord instruments.


1. Synth-weighted

The standard synth-weighted keybed that you would find in any vintage synthesiser. This keybed is found on both the Nord Lead 4 and the Lead A1.

 

2. Semi-Weighted Waterfall (SW)

At first glance the waterfall keybed looks like the weighted keybed. However you will notice that the keys do not have a lip at the front edge like the weighted keys do – they have a flat front, hence the term ‘waterfall’. Also, the black keys slope away from you rather than having a flat plane. The waterfall keybed is semi weighted and is the same type of keybed you would find on the majority of the vintage electro mechanical instruments. This is a deliberate design feature to give you the feel of those original instruments when you play. They are more robust then a non weighted keybed but they won’t shred your knuckles when performing an organ gliss. The waterfall keybed features on the C2D as well as the Electro 6D 61 and 73 and the Stage 3 Compact.

The way a key triggers a sound also affects performance. On an organ, the sound is instantaneous the moment the key is pressed. But, on a piano, the sound is heard once the string has been struck and this occurs as the key reaches the bottom of it’s descent. In the Nord keyboards that incorporate both Organ and Piano sounds, the keys have sensors at the top and bottom of each key so that you get the correct response, depending on whether you are playing organ or piano.

 

3. Hammer Portable (HP)

The fourth keybed is unique to the Electro 6 HP and the Stage 3 76HP. It looks like a weighted keybed but it feels slightly different when played. This is because the weights are positioned at the top end of each key under the front panel, rather than in the traditional location under the key itself. This is partly to give the correct feel, where the key would come up and strike the tines from underneath, but it also means that the weights are slightly smaller to reduce the overall weight of the instrument, hence the name ‘portable’.

 

4. Hammer Action (HA)

The hammer action keybed is the fully weighted piano-key version and this features in the Stage 3 HA88.


5. Triple-Sensor Grand Hammer Action

The Piano 4 features the advanced triple sensor Hammer Action keybed aimed specifically at the piano player. This is a fully weighted 88 note keybed, but the addition of a third sensor on each key makes it a much more responsive and dynamic keybed to play. Ideally suited for accurately reproducing the feel and versatility of an acoustic piano.


6. Kawai Responsive Hammer Keybed with Ivory Touch

This advanced keybed is designed by Kawai, exclusively customised for Nord, and is unique to the Nord Grand. Like the Piano 4, it is a triple sensor keybed but here its sensors track the action of the hammers rather than the keys. This provides an incredibly dynamic, even more authenticate playing experience. The keys themselves also have an ivory feel to the touch.





We hope this article has been helpful! It goes without saying the very best way of choosing the keyboard to suit you is to visit a store and physically try one!  



For more information on the Nord Keyboard range, please visit our Nord Product page

Subscribe to our mailing list


This new blog is presented by the team at Sound Technology Ltd, a leading distributor of musical instruments and pro audio equipment in the UK and ROI.