Lurking in the bargain bins of game shops is a surprisingly well-built keyboard. The Rock Band “keytar” controller may have been made for games, but the keybed is solid, the thing is light, and it can run on batteries. So why not turn it into a standalone instrument?

That’s what Jamie Robertson has done with his, and he shows you how.

The magic here is something he calls the WAV Trigger. Without naming any names, while there are a lot of cool Arduino shields and the like out there, a lot of them are pretty functionally limited. They’re cool to play with, you can build some fun projects, and they can teach you a lot — but the WAV Trigger is something different.

It’s built to play 14 tracks of uncompressed audio at once, with enough control that it becomes a viable, 14-voice, polyphonic sample playback instrument. MIDI is built in, and trigger latency is low (around 8 msec).

It’s also a bargain – under US$50.

The mod isn’t tough, either. Check out the full instructions from Jamie (“Robertsonics”):
Turn the Rock Band 3 keyboard into a sampling instrument with the WAV Trigger

And more on the WAV Trigger:
The WAV Trigger vs. MP3 players

RBK_Hero001

Fabulous bargain stuff.

  • Mark Powell

    I have a Rock Band keyboard in bits – might be time to put it back together methinks!

  • Mark Powell

    I have a Rock Band keyboard in bits – might be time to put it back together methinks!

  • James Husted

    A thing to note – There are TWO versions of the WAV Trigger being sold by SparkFun. The WIG-1200 for $44.96 and the WIG-12897 for $49.95. The WIG-12897 is the newer one that does 14 stereo “voices” and the WIG-1200 only does 8. I accidentally bought the 1200. I’m sending them back for the newer version. Just a head’s up.

  • James Husted

    A thing to note – There are TWO versions of the WAV Trigger being sold by SparkFun. The WIG-1200 for $44.96 and the WIG-12897 for $49.95. The WIG-12897 is the newer one that does 14 stereo “voices” and the WIG-1200 only does 8. I accidentally bought the 1200. I’m sending them back for the newer version. Just a head’s up.

  • Jamie Robertson

    Hi James,

    That’s only true if you can’t or don’t want to update your firmware. The 1200 ships from SparkFun with older firmware, but will run the latest 12-voice version of firmware just fine. The only hardware changes involve the on-board mono audio amp, and some addition expansion I/O on a new connector, neither of which affect firmware. You do need a USB-serial adaptor to update to update firmware, but the firmware flashing utility is free on the WAV Trigger download page.

  • Jamie Robertson

    Hi James,

    That’s only true if you can’t or don’t want to update your firmware. The 1200 part number ships from SparkFun with older firmware, but will run the latest 14-voice version of firmware just fine. The only hardware changes involve the on-board mono audio amp, and some addition expansion I/O on a new connector, neither of which affect firmware. If you aren’t using the on-board amp, there is no difference.

    Note that even the 12897 part doesn’t ship with the very latest firmware, which I’m continually improving and which is always available for download on my website.

    You do need a USB-serial adaptor to update to update firmware, but the firmware flashing utility is free on the WAV Trigger download page.

  • just passing

    Worth noting that the cheapest version of the RB3 keyboard is the Wii version – which can be had in the UK for well under ten quid. I don’t know why the other variants are more expensive. And there are other nifty teenysynths to pair them up with; other than obvious suspects like the Volcas or the Rocket, there’s the Ploytec PL2 or the dsp-Gplug (if any of those exist in the wild).

    • just passing

      Actually, the mystery isn’t why the others are dearer – it’s why the Wii version is so ridiculously cheap…

  • just passing

    Worth noting that the cheapest version of the RB3 keyboard is the Wii version – which can be had in the UK for well under ten quid. I don’t know why the other variants are more expensive. And there are other nifty teenysynths to pair them up with; other than obvious suspects like the Volcas or the Rocket, there’s the Ploytec PL2 or the dsp-Gplug (if any of those exist in the wild).

    • just passing

      Actually, the mystery isn’t why the others are dearer – it’s why the Wii version is so ridiculously cheap…