It’s every keyboard player’s dream: The hardware synths
you’ve spent years acquiring all proudly displayed, plugged in, MIDI’ed
up, and ready to work. They’re stacked close together to evoke the
cascade of manuals on a pipe organ, but with enough space that you can
work the controls on every one. Arranged thusly, they become one big
instrument—and you become drunk with creative power.
PROS: Very sturdy. Easy to assemble and take down. Lightweight. Let’s you place and angle keyboards exactly how you want.
CONS: Models without locking flange aren’t suitable for heavy
keyboards that have large front-to-back depth--but the flange is available as an option on nearly all models. Euro-to-dollar factor
makes for added expense.
Bottom Line: No other keyboard stand solution deals with such a large number of instruments this elegantly.
A-frame as tested: approx. $435 direct | Four-tier system as tested: approx. $595 direct | jaspers-alu.de
Working for this magazine, I’ve visited a lot of studios
whose owners are living that dream. Even in a lot of bona fide rock
stars’ setups, the weakest link often comes down to the keyboard stands.
Usually, several two- or three-tier stands meant for stage use are
lined up along the walls. Often, the space between the tiers is big
enough to drive a Fiat 500 through, which is both inelegant to look at
and less than ideal for realtime multi-keyboard performance.
Some studios use retail display systems, with horizontal
slats on the walls that hold keyboard tier bars. If you rent, though,
your ability to attach stuff to the walls is likely limited.
Then there’s Jaspers, a German company that takes the
tubular aluminum “Tinkertoys” approach to new levels of quality and
flexibility. As of this writing, you order direct and pay in Euros, but
if I were a U.S. distributor, I’d be calling them up before someone else
Jaspers makes many stands for stage and studio use as well
as add-ons such as casters; music stands, iPad holders, monitor speaker
shelves, display mounts, integrated 19" racks, and more. I tested two
systems: the 6D-150, an A-frame stand with six (!) keyboard tiers, and
the KR-170, a four-tier studio rack with a rectangular footprint. The
three-digit numbers refer to inner widths in centimeters, with the
A-frame unit also available in 120 centimeters (likely enough if all you
have are 61-key instruments) and the rectangular rack in 150. I found
150 to be the “Goldilocks” size for my studio, as it accommodated any
76-key axe and many 88s.
Ever assemble an Ikea anything? Getting the Jaspers stands
together is easier. The key is to do a loose fit before tightening
everything down. With both the A-frame and rectangular models, I
assembled the sides first, laid one side on the floor, stuck all
keyboard tiers and structural cross-tubes in it pointing at the ceiling,
and then propped the other side on top of those. Next was the most
fiddly step: aligning the tier tubes with their receiving hardware so
that the side slides onto the tiers straight-on. I then tightened the
thumb wheels partway and flipped the whole thing upright.
For the all-important cascade factor, the keyboards simply
depend on the angle of the front of the A-frame stand. On the KR-170
unit, each pair of side tubes (i.e., the short ones that are
parallel with your keyboards’ cheek blocks) is dedicated to a vertical
position: The highest has the hardware into which the keyboard tier fits
placed the furthest back, the next highest has it a little more towards
you, and so on. During assembly, ensure that your left and right side
tubes both match and are at the proper level for their tier. This is
easy, as the side tubes are clearly labeled. Once you have them in
place, you can tweak the front-to-back positions of the hardware by
loosening it with a hex wrench. Since you’ll already have installed the
tier tubes per above, they’ll be your reference for a straight line.
One last assembly tip: The tier tubes come with the tier
bars (the things that actually touch your keyboards) pre-mounted, and
underneath each you’ll see a tension screw in the mounting collar. For
proper balance once synths are in place, install the tiers so that those
screws are on the musician side of the stand.
The bottom tier bars on the rectangular system are long
enough that their rear ends sit on the rear structural cross-tube, so
you have four points supporting the keyboard’s weight instead of two
(see Figure 1). I tried a Roland Jupiter-80, an 88-key Kurzweil
K2600, and even my Rhodes Stage Mark II on the bottom tier, and the
four-tier Jaspers unit didn’t flinch.
Tiers on the four-tier rectangular unit all have flanges on either end; these lock the angle of the tier in place (see Figure 2).
A-frame models, by contrast, depend solely on thumb wheel tension for
this. For this reason, I preferred the A-frame for shallower keyboards
that didn’t have much rearward weight distribution, e.g., Nord
Electro, Hammond SK1, Korg Krome, and Roland Juno. On such instruments, I
could shred on the A-frame with no bounce or unwanted keyboard
movement. Deeper, fatter keyboards, though, tended to twist alarmingly
backward unless I angled them sharply towards me, as shown with the
Jupiter-80 and Wersi workstation below it in the photo. Proprietor
Hermann Jaspers told me the locking flanges can be added to A-frame
stands as an option, and they really do make all the difference.
For having a lot of keyboards ready to rock,
there’s simply nothing like the Jaspers stands out there. They’re sturdy
and their range of adjustability lets you place and angle your synths
exactly how you want. Importantly, they cascade your keyboards nicely in
less waist-to-wall space than I’ve seen in any solution outside of a
retail store. (If you really want to go nuts, check out the “music shop
systems” page of their website, which details huge freestanding systems
that don’t require slats on the walls.) Plus, this review hasn’t even
scratched the surface of the customization options, e.g., extra
bars for putting two smaller synths on the same tier. The price of
admission is decidedly non-impulse, but I found that for how they’ve
turned my workspace into geek heaven with minimal fuss, the Jaspers
stands are well worth it.