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 does.
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.