• The secret tools used by Michael Bereal, Jason White, and other top musicians

    in Technology

    So you’ve heard them play on your favorite albums and covet their style.

    But you have no idea how these top musicians get such a full, phat sound, outside of the brilliantly-voiced chords they concoct.

    Well, here’s some tools that will get you one step closer.

    1) Roland MKS-20 (more information)


    Roland actually stopped producing this device in the 80’s or 90’s but it hasn’t stopped some of the world’s greatest musicians from grabbing one in the local pennysaver, recycler, craigslist, or on ebay.

    You won’t always find them on ebay but here’s a trick to make sure you know when one is posted right away.

    1) Search for “Roland MKS-20”

    2) If you find results, great! If you get 0 results, don’t worry. Scroll down to the bottom and find the “RSS” button. This stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” It’s been the hottest thing for the past couple of years!

    In fact, you can subscribe to your favorite blogs, podcasts, and online radios show via RSS. Of course, you should be subscribed to my blog … cough cough cough.

    But what you do is either click RSS and subscribe via your browser or you can right-click on the RSS button and copy the link. This will enable you to add it to your favorite RSS reader (if you’re using one) or you can add it to your favorite online portal’s homepage like google, yahoo, msn, bloglines, etc. And whenever that search comes up in Ebay, you’ll be notified within seconds.

    Basically, the idea with RSS is that you don’t have to remember to revisit some of your favorite sites that constantly post new information. You can subscribe and get their latest updates syndicated to you automatically. This has totally changed the web because search results (like on ebay or yahoo), breaking news, tips (like from this blog), audio shows, video shows, and just about anything you can think of, can now be subscribed to with a click of a button. I’m personally subscribed to over 100 different sites and services and get updates everyday, free of spam.

    (Click here for 10 reasons to subscribe to this blog via RSS… my shameless plug).


    3) Search for other things like “MKS-20” or “Roland Module” and follow the same steps.

    Other modules used by the pros:

    Roland JV-1080 (more information)

    Roland P-330 (little brother/sister to the MKS-20 / more information)

    I hope you find this post helpful! Until next time.

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.



    { 24 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Bill

    My god My god… now you stop this jermaine. You’re giving away too many of the secrets on this blog. :)

    Keep it up man,


    2 Julisa

    I heard jason mention this on the blog and i remember Jon talking about it in gospelkeys 600 interview but I forgot to write it down. thanks for this post.


    3 michael

    i have the mks-20 and got it on ebay so jermaien is right on if you can find it.


    4 FRED

    I’m happy beyond reason to own both (mks and jv-1080) need a good 88 note controller. suggestions anyone?


    5 MJ Jones

    Alesis QS8 is by far one of the best controller keyboards ever. I highly recommend it and guarantee that you will not be dis appointed.


    6 Quez

    Can somebody tell me whether the jv 1080 has the same piano and ep samples as the MKS-20?


    7 Jermaine

    I’m not extremely technical but I have both of them in the office. They are different. They complement each other though very well.


    8 Quez

    So you are saying that the patch Jason uses on Lord prepare me isn’t on the JV 1080? Or what about the piano patch thats on Bow down and Worship him by Paul Morton. Im in search for those two patches.


    9 DavidK

    Try the Kurzweil PC 88


    10 Daniel

    You will not a better setup than using the classic roland racks. MKS-20 unbeattable. You just gotta have it even though you will only use 3 patches from it. (Piano 1 & both Electric Pianos).

    As for the jv-1080, it’s a good choice but if you really wanna push the envelope, get an XV-5080. It’s like having a monstrous jv-1080.

    Pair these two racks with a Motif ES/XS and you have you’re west coast sound.


    11 MJ Jones

    If you can get your hands on vintage Roland RD 300 its just like having the MKS 20.


    12 Andre

    MKS- Roland…….love it got!


    13 Gilbert

    what its supose to do with playing the piando


    14 Shane

    I have the Kurzweil K2600XS & Kurzweil PC 88 & these keyboards are every bit as good as these machines, but thankx for the info Jermaine!


    15 deversace

    Man that’s great stuff but it’s a lot easier to get the same sounds with reason or kontakt, Jamal Hartwell made a good job about it.


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    17 Mark Crawford

    Hi Jermaine

    On the Jason White tutorial DVD he uses a piano mixed with a synthy sound on the shout demonstrations. Can you advise what sound/s are being used here? Id be grateful!



    18 Melanie Harp

    I’m a beginner, what I need to know is exactly what does this piece of equipment do? And why it is beneficial to use it?


    19 Dele

    Im kind of new as well and don’t understand what this does to the chords…?


    20 Jermaine Griggs

    Dele, these give your keyboard different sounds. Richer, fuller grand piano, electric piano, and rhodes sounds. Check out places like: http://gospelmusicians.com/sounds-and-samples/kontakt


    21 Jermaine Griggs

    There are iphone and ipad apps that now do the same thing, without having to lug around heavy equipment.


    22 Kareem

    There is a MKS 20 app that’s sounds very good. I believe it exists for android and Apple. These soft synths are not nearly as expensive as the hardware but you still get the privilege of having the sounds. There are other pros and cons to having the hardware versus the software but both can fulfill the need for creating that Westcoast sound.


    23 Pedro Neves

    What type of sound gospel musicians use with jv 1080?
    Best regards


    24 Mr swAT

    seriously i’m lost. how does this machines add to our play or rather what effect does it have on our cords?


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