There has been a lot of anticipation, curiosity and discussion of the new Crumar Seven on the various forums. Being very early days there still aren’t too many out in the wild, and there are lots of eager questions being asked, especially of the gigging musicians who've snapped one up.
Now that I've finally got my hands on one, I thought I'd do a mini 'review'. But first the disclosure - I sell Crumar instruments through my business (Composure Music Australia), so obviously I can't be trusted not to have a biased opinion. So let's call them 'real world observations' rather than a review. Having said that - I only sell the Seven (as well as the Mojo and other Crumar products) because I love them and have great enthusiasm for both the instruments and the company - I'm definitely not getting rich from it, and I would never sell one to anyone if I didn't think it was the right board for them.
Let's start with the looks… quite simply I think the Seven looks beautiful from every angle. It's quite obviously modelled on the Mark 1 Rhodes Stage, but in a beautiful 'modern vintage' way... think of a contemporary Danish furniture designer paying tribute to a 60's Hans Wegner sofa.
From the moment of unboxing it looks, feels, and plays feels like an instrument, not an emulation of one. I set it up as part of my writing/practice rig, displacing my Wurli which is my main inspiration board at the moment - and it hasn't shifted since. Every time I look at it I want to play it. I went back to the Wurli and the Rhodes after a few days for another project and I have to say it definitely wasn't a huge shift. In fact I had been seriously thinking of taking the 200A out on a new live project, it's such a magic instrument… but no, I'll be gigging with the Seven - and I can't wait.
The keyboard action is great - I have to admit I've been playing almost exclusively Hammond and synth-style keyboards for the last couple of years, so I am a little out of practice on a weighted keyboard (and they all feel heavy to me!) But having spent some time on the Seven now I think it's a good, solid, responsive and well weighted action that will have broad appeal - it has been well chosen. Obviously keyboard action preference is very personal and many people are incredibly picky, but it works for me. If I had to describe it - I would say that it is lighter than my 1975 Mark 1 Rhodes pre-bump mod, but not as light as it is post-mod - a good compromise, remembering that it has to cover a whole bunch of different keyboard playing styles.
I was initially somewhat sceptical about the multi-coloured LED encoders - both for their garish colours and the fact they have been used at all (instead of traditional pots). But I got used to them (and the colour adjustment system) almost immediately, and now I'm sold – it’s brilliantly intuitive, and the visual feedback is perfect. It has gone from something I was unsure about to one of my favourite features - it's a great interface.
A few people on the forums have asked about the weight of the Seven and it's gigability. Now of course one person's cumbersome is another one's svelte - but this is NOT a heavy instrument at all. Remember that it is built into it's own case - with the lid on and ready to go in the car, it weighs a good 5 or 6 kgs less than my cased Roland VR760, for example. Once set up on its legs (or a stand), it's quite light and easily maneuouvareable. The legs themselves are very sturdy - much sturdier than the original Rhodes legs - and do add a bit of weight when stored in the case. You could of course tote them separately (in the supplied bag, a nice touch) as they are reasonably hefty. When set up on the legs it's rock sold and just the right height (for me at least, I ride quite tall in the saddle). They were quite tight and a little difficult to fit first time, but by the second or third time they were fine - be patient and observe the correct angle, you don't want to damage the thread.
The recessed panel for the ins and outs is well placed and well laid out. And yes, right-angle jacks fit just fine - the recess is not too deep. It's a neat solution.
For those of you rocking a Seven/Mojo 61 rig - yes, the Mojo 61 sits nicely on top. It does hang out over the back a bit, but it's easy to find a sturdy balance. I would put something on top of the Seven panel to avoid scratches though - I've used some rubber matting that both protects from marking and provides a non-slip surface.
It's great that a sustain pedal is included to get you up and running out of the box. It's a fairly lightweight unit - I'll be using my more heavy duty pedal and keeping this one in the storage compartment as a spare - but a nice touch nonetheless.
As for the sounds - well what needs to be said? There are plenty of examples online (I'll be posting my own shortly). Owners of the Mojo 61/Gemini will already know many of the sounds. What is very cool though is finally getting to play them on a good weighted keyboard - they really come to life, and the detail in the expression is just superb. The Rhodes and Wurli are of course first rate, but I'm also really enjoying the CP-70 model - I've tweaked it into my own personal slice of the 80's and I'm very happy there!
Similarly, the effects will be familiar to Mojo owners - again, they sound fantastic and have been extremely well chosen and implemented. I especially love the phaser, which I'm guessing was modeled on the Mutron Bi-Phase - beautiful. And adjusting effects on the fly (along with the amp models/drive) using the rotary encoders is a breeze, and again, very intuitive.
There is of course a lot more to the Seven - I haven't even touched on the rest of the sounds, or the editing via the web app - so feel free to hit me up with questions. I can't wait to take this guy out on a gig ASAP - it will turn heads and ears!