Bill Van Loo writes to tell us about a QWERTY keyboard that started its life as stock Apple hardware and wound up a custom-configured, custom-painted controller for Ableton Live:

I just finished reworking an old USB QWERTY keyboard to serve as a custom keyboard for controlling Ableton Live, and thought you might like a look. The whole thing is well-documented with photos and comments at my Flickr site:

flickr set: Custom keyboard for Ableton Live

The basic idea: instead of buying an expensive controller to expand my tactile control of Ableton Live (or building something custom with MIDI controllers), I decided to use an old USB QWERTY keyboard and custom-paint it to enhance its use as a live performance device.

The big idea behind the keyboard is that the humble QWERTY keyboard offers a ton of control possibilities, thanks to the flexible keymapping capabilities of Ableton Live. I’ve been using the built-in keyboard on my Powerbook for a while now to trigger clips in performance, but it’s tough for a couple reasons. First, it looks like you’re writing e-mail during a show, and that’s kinda boring. Second, all the keys look the same (minus the markings, of course) – there’s not much that lets you navigate easily in low-light conditions and in the heat of the moment on stage.

You can see a full write-up here:

custom USB QWERTY keyboard for Ableton Live [Ableton forum]

Great work, Bill! There are some particularly handy tips in the forum post about painting plastic — good stuff to know. Bill promises next-up he’ll have a custom-painted 16-fader MIDI controller.

I think we’re going to need a regular Pimp my Studio. I want some undercarriage light effects on my Roland SH-201.