Rob Cottingham endorsed by KORG – and takes on a “One Keyboard” challenge!

October 24, 2023

I am pleased to announce a recent endorsement by Korg and the recent acquisition of a Nautilus 73 as a one keyboard solution for future Cairo gigs.

But what led to this decision?

The Past

Many years ago – at what was Eddie Moors in Boscombe, they had an Aladdin’s Cave of keyboards upstairs to try out.

It was keyboard heaven – and I am pleased to say I am still in touch with Alan Barclay and Chris Orchard who set up Absolute Music in Poole after Eddie Moors shut up shop.

It was in that shop that I tried out a Korg Triton Studio which I took out with me in the early days of Touchstone.

That was my first foray into using Korg for my crisper; higher frequency digital sounds and getting used to programming their Operating System, while I used other makes – initially Yamaha and then mainly Kurzweil – to generate the warmer analogue sounds I was after, as I feel then that they edged it against other manufacturers, including at that time, Korg.

The Triton was replaced by – not just a ‘workstation’ but – a keyboard powerhouse in the Korg Kronos 73 in 2011 for my studio, and a Kronos 61 with lighter synth keys for live, complemented by Kurzweil PC2 then semi-weighted PC3K and an Access Virus Ti for those lush lead sounds.

The Present

But I have come to a point in my live keys career where keyboards and software should have developed to such a level where we don’t need to build a ‘small apartment’ of keys on stage and so set myself a quest to find ‘one keyboard to rule them all’ for live. Also mindful of potential gigs abroad.

My strategy?


It had to be light (the Kronos 61 is only 14.3kg); have 73 keys (to afford the range and keyboard patch splits I needed) and must be programmable from the guts up ie from just one tone being generated by one oscillator – but must have seamless layering; splitting and multiple synth engines.

Many synth players these days use a midi controller driving a laptop and the likes of Mainstage, which is a great solution but – sticking to my ‘simplify’ strategy – could I even avoid using a laptop?

It must also be able to replicate the big string and cathedral-esque organ sounds which is a mainstay of my keys sounds which I programmed years ago on the Kurzweil (used on and called ‘Wintercoast’ patch – re-named ‘Full Beans’ on the Nautilus).

I did consider a bigger Kronos for live but it was discontinued in 2022.

The more I looked at my options – the more it led me to the Kronos’ replacement – the snappily-named Nautilus.

On checking specs, the only limitation was to lose after touch (AT) but the benefit of course was that the keyboard bed – and therefore the workstation itself – is only a mere 14.6kg for a 73-note workstation – impressive.

It does have ‘dynamic touch’ which helps and is still velocity sensitive so ‘feel’ can be achieved live.

(I notice that recently Korg have introduced AT models now on the Nautilus 61s and 88s which is a good move.)

The upsides, however, are that you are presented with a simplified workspace and a wonderfully colourful screen to programme with and once you get used to the screen labelling – programming and editing is a breeze, to be honest – and a lot of fun, too.

In programming for the whole of the Nemesis album as well as other songs, I started from scratch and got the baseline programmes sorted within a matter of days.

One thing is for sure, Korg’s analogue sounds have come on leaps and bounds such that their pianos; strings and organ sounds now have the requisite analogue warmth, and can be layered beautifully.

It is then the tweaking which takes the time, as is often the case. As all musos know – you are never truly satisfied and have to get decisive and say ‘job done’ at some point. One cannot guarantee to replicate every sound – especially from a different make of keyboard – but it is fun having a go.

The finer programming is done and I am absolutely delighted with the Nautilus 73.

I am also delighted with Korg’s service, by the way – they literally hand-delivered the keyboard to my home studio and the next day popped round to take away the packaging for proper recycling, which I thought was spot on in these days where we have to take care even more about minimising waste, and looking after Mother Earth.

After service re: firmware and OS updates has also been top drawer.

The Future

Next stop will be live gigs.

Will this leap of faith and ‘simplify’ strategy work?

Come and see Cairo on 29th October in Milton Keynes (see here for details).

And be gentle with me…