Clonewheel Controller Setup


Thanks in advance for your thoughtful replies. I realise there is some info on this forum already about this topic but felt a fresh thread might help. This is also a truncated version of a question I posted on Gearsluz, fyi.

This post will focus mostly on my desire to get a great ‘clonewheel’ controller but I also would like to consider a second controller keyboard for piano, or… a controller that covers both in the near-term with a plan beyond for a dedicated organ controller.

I am currently using an Alesis QS7 as my controller and I am happy with the Alesis from the standpoint that it’s casing is solid, it plugs into AC with a ‘real’ plug and that it has pretty extensive internal MIDI capabilities. With GIg Performer’s MIDI filter editors, this is less important of course. I am no longer impressed by any of the sounds on my vintage keys expander (which I used to use with a Pro-3 Motion Sound amplifier :wink: and the keybed and key feel on the QS7 are both pretty bad. After 20 years of on again off again use… it’s time for something fresh.

Today for my organ setup I am using Gig Performer and the Hammond B-3 X which is light years better than what I have played with before in terms of sound. I have a nanoKontrol 2 and the 4 data sliders on the Alesis (two mapped to a mixer in Gig Performer so I can turn up and down the piano and organ) which I have cobbled together into a clonewheel controller… but emphasis on cobbled. I’d like to take things up a notch… have ‘real’ drawbars, have waterfall keys with organ like action, have better dedicated switches for Hammond organ playability that works, ideally, with the Hammond B-3 X via Gig Performer.

Worth checking in about all this though and maybe this is short sighted? Despite my relatively modest investment in the B-3 X… maybe what I really want is a physical clonewheel like a Numa 2 Organ or a Hammond XK-1c or a Legend Solo and just use them as they are intended, as stand-alone clonewheels?

I mention those three clonewheels because they are near my price range and I believe @David-san uses the Numa Organ 2 as a controller? I don’t know if he uses the on-board sounds though or how well it midi-mapps to something like the B-3 X.

So the two main requirements or questions for me in terms of a clonewheel controller seem to come down to two main things: 1. Can the built in drawbars and switches communicate via MIDI and 2. Does it feel and play like an organ (waterfall keys, non-weighted action).

Some keyboards, like the Roland VR-730 for instance (which looks like a nice keyboard) apparently use proprietary SysEx data from it’s controllers and can’t be midi mapped to a VST. I don’t know enough about Gig Performer to know if SysEx can be communicated and translated reliably into something useful but since the VR-730 isn’t midi friendly that would be the kind of thing I would want to avoid.

Getting a Numa Organ or a Hammond (used perhaps? Like an XK-3 or XB-2?) might make for a good controller if they communicate everything out via MIDI, and I don’t know what models do and don’t… but the downside is I would be paying for the sounds, which in the Gig Performer model, I already have a nice solution for with the B-3 X.

There is the route of further cobbling something together and this is interesting: a lower manual only portion of a Crumar Mojo 61(B) paired with a D9-X. I just don’t understand how the lower manual is getting any power or if it needs any as that unit only has a MIDI DIN plug on the back face, nothing more: Assuming this works with Gig Performer… it’s a decent clonewheel controller for about $800. How supported this would be if something goes awry would be probably minimal.

There is also the notion of having a second keyboard that could work as a decent ‘lower manual’ when required but do the heavy lifting as a hammer action or semi-weighted action stage piano controller. I would also use this for more ‘studio’ based projects composing ambient music, etc…

Other keyboards I have researched and considered include the Novation 61SL which got bad keybed reviews… and I have all but ruled out a NI KK S61 because as I understand it, the NI keyboards are great if you want to work in their sounds but are very lacking as midi only controllers. The Roland A-800 PRO looks a bit like a toy and apparently the coatings on the encoders breakdown in a few years. M-Audio OxygenPro 61 and then file down the lipped edge of the keys?!? :wink:

Maybe a Kurzweil SP6-7 when available as a lower controller or a Studiologic SL73… and perhaps I could start with a SL73 with a D9-X drawbar controller as a hybrid setup and later add a dedicated organ controller… but in the meantime I wouldn’t have waterfall keys with organ action.

These are all nice to have problems of course. I’m not a good enough player to buy a dual manual controller just for organ or own the amazing Hammond XK5 with multiple contact keys, etc… This is primarily for fun, but having a good kit that feels and sounds good is where the fun comes from (in part).

So thanks for the read and your thoughts.


Hi Brandon,
have you had a look at the Numa Compact 2x already?
I still own one (even if i don’t use it at the moment) and maybe this device could be the right thing for you.
It works well with GigPerformer and there’s exactly enough space on the upper right corner of it’s top to place a Behringer X-Touch mini on it, so together with the drawbars, there are enough buttons and knobs to work with.
The keybed is made by Fatar and for me it feels quite good - better than most of the low- to mid-priced master keyboards i tested so far, but it’s not a Waterfall design (but light weighted).
So i can say that it is not exactly “the real thing” if it comes to comparing it with a real organ - it’s something in the middle of a synth, an E-Piano and an organ.
The internal sounds are mostly OK (some are good, some are crap), the built-in speakers are not really worth the name (but you can deactivate them, and for a quick acoustic jam session, they are better than no speakers at all)…
Looking at it as a “real” masterkeyboard, there honestly are way to many things that are missing for that.
But after all it still is a versatile and nicely playable keyboard controller for a reasonable price, and with a software like GigPerformer “under the hood” there is hardly anything that you can’t do.

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Thank you Schamass. I did look at it but i don’t really want an 88 key controller unfortunately. It’s a decent keyboard though and at a good price.

Choosing a keyboard controller is something very personal I think. I am mainly focused on keybed actions. So, I have a Kawai VPC1, which is the best controller for piano I could try, but it is so heavy that I had to design a clever custom flight-case to be able to move it when I am alone :grimacing: Above it I have a Numa Organ 2, which sounds pretty good and has a waterfall keyboard which is perfect for playing organ, but not only. It’s drawbars and most of the knobs and buttons can be MIDI assigned to GP widgets. I would love to have motiorized drawbars like on the Dexibell organ, but it is really expensive. Regarding the Numa Organ, its only drawback is that it has no aftertouch (I am thinking to add an aftertouch strip for playing synths). I have also a bunch of hardware synthesizers that I like as synth controllers. The strength of GP is that it transforms any older keyboard into a powerfull master MIDI keyboard. If some additional knobs or sliders are necessary there are lods of small controllers on the markt.

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Yeah, it’s a tiny little bit too long - that’s one of the reasons why i stoppd using it.
I bought it because i thought it was nice to have a bigger keyboard to build keysplits, have real drawbars and all that… but when i got it, i realized that i actually haven’t used the drawbars for playing organ sounds (i only use presets) and i also didn’t make use of keysplits… never got really used to that.
And it is not so easy to transport because of it’s length… though it’s not heavy at all (~7kg).
That’s why i stepped back to 61keys: The NI KK61 which is a really nice piece of hardware, but as you stated above, the use as a “pure” MIDI-keyboard is very limited, which is a pity, since this is just a software-problem (i guess), but NI’s customer support in their forum is just desastrous… i should have read more before buying it, but it’s OK - it could be even worse. :grimacing:

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Have you looked at GSi DMC-122? A friend of mine bought one from a church. He seems to like it, though he’s getting more synth oriented. He just bought a Moog Modular System 55 (lucky guy!).

But I thought these looked pretty good for running organ VSTi’s through.


Yes, I have seen this model and it’s very interesting… it’s basically exactly what I am looking for… only a little more so. It’s heavy… i’d ideally like a single manual version of this that could be expanded later but it’s worth considering.


Does it support velocity? A lot of organ keyboards have fixed velocity values

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The numa organ supports velocity, but not the aftertouch :confused:

“…velocity sensitive and six different velocity curves are
available, the first three are factory hard-coded and the other three can be freely edited using the graphical editor…”

it also supports aftertouch.

seems like a great controller

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I tour with three of these and have never had a problem. But they all get packed into an ATA case.

However, I don’t love the aftertouch…it’s far too jerky

DMC-122 is a good controller. Upper, Lower, Bass drawbars. Lots of buttons and pots. Multi selector button for Vibrato and Chorus. Modulation and Pitch Bend wheels. Outbound MIDI channels (by keyboard), Velocity, Aftertouch, Sustain, Split and Transpose are controllable. In addition, there are startup messages available. Snapshots of controls and drawbar presets can be setup. All of the above, plus physical controls, are assignable by SetUp (32 available).

I like the feel of the keyboards (dual 61 note waterfalls). Additional keys for presets are not included, unless you shorten the available note range. You can buy accessories (expression pedal and attachable Leslie half moon controller).

I use it as a Tonewheel and as my main synth board. I should point out that I also use Bome MIDI Translator Pro to fine tune the signals coming into GP.

The firmware is stable and comprehensive. However, the interface is outdated and unintuitive. A UI refresh would be a plus, but I dont find it a deal breaker. I don’t think any plugin has a preset for this device other than VB3, which is written by the company that builds the controller. I have no issues with function. Many of the setup parameters can be modified using controls on the machine. If you don’t mind taking the time to configure the device, it is very versatile.

This is long winded, but I thought I’d throw my 10 cents worth.


Does it support note on velocity? Note off release?

This is perfect and thanks for taking the time to respond.

I’ve actually found a used mint conditioned numa organ 2 on Reverb for cheap so I am going to go that route for starters. When I get it and get it setup i’ll post back here about how it’s going.


I don’t believe note off velocity is supported. I don’t see a parameter.

You can easily check this with the Midi-Monitor of GigPerformer… just play a few notes and see if there are, besides the note-on-velocity messages, also the corresponding messages for note-off-velocity. I don’t think, there will be a separate parameter for that.

Please give us your feedback if you buy it.

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I have to reply to myself for accuacy purposes. DMC-122 does send note off and note on velocity. My bad.

No Note On velocity would be a no go for me, but it is OK for a clonewheel if it is its unique use.

I had a Nord C2D for a while, a great twin manual organ with MIDI out but it had no velocity, and I gave up trying to use it as a controller