I never thought I’d have a need for 61 mini keys in a USB midi controller, but a very specific use case presented itself to me this year: rehearsals for a musical, held in an improv space’s rehearsal rooms. These were little more than abandoned offices and, crucially, lacked pianos.
Since the performance space had an upright 88-key acoustic piano, I and my co-music director had written 88-key piano parts, using the far ends of the keyboard. It was frustrating for me to try to approximate the music on an Axiom 49 with an octave button. It just didn’t cut it.
After observing where my hands wanted to go as I failed to play the songs a few times, I figured I didn’t even need all 88 keys, just one more octave than the 49. So when I heard the microKEY came in a 61-key format with the same horizontal dimensions as a full-size 49-key board, I snapped one up.
One big thing missing from the microKEY 61, which I knew when I bought it, was a sustain pedal jack. (I’m still not exactly clear what sort of player would want 61 keys without even the option of a sustain pedal.) Luckily, you can find just about anything on the Internet now, and using the instructions in that link I was able to add a sustain pedal jack to my microKEY.
I only took a few pictures after the bulk of the work was already done, as I preferred to spare everyone some of the more “bumbling stumbling” moments of the process, including guessing too low on where to center the drilling, adding some character-building scratches to the inside and outside, and also buying a guitar-style 1/4″ jack from Radio Shack only to find it was too wide, and having to substitute a panel-mount jack that had been part of a pro-job contact mic I had previously bought.
Since I have a willful block when it comes to comprehending resistors, it was even better when I confirmed that the resistor shown between the new plug and the mod wheel was not necessary.
The biggest problem is having the wires get in the way of the mod wheel, which now must stay at zero, as any non-zero value activates the sustain. After I took these pictures I used some pro methods to secure the wires under right edge of the PCB so they wouldn’t get in the way of those two holes at the bottom, where the pitch and mod wheels rest at their lowest positions.
Party time may now be had!