Korg SV-1 Vintage Stage Piano Review

Korg Logo
Korg SV-1 Piano

The Korg SV-1 is an excellent vintage stage piano (available in 73 and 88 keys) that comes with a cool & retro look, is easy to use, and is affordable. Doesn’t come with lots of sounds & effects, not does it have any editing capabilities, but it comes with the hippest, and most in-demand keyboard sounds. A must-have for any jazz musician!

Korg SV-1 Review: Pros & Cons

  • Pros – Best vintage stage piano design, built-in tube power amp, RH3 graded hammer keyboard, excellent piano and Rhodes sounds. Many musicians also like the 73 keys size (not very small and not very bulky as the 88 keys).
  • Cons – You will need a good stand (It’s heavy). Okay sustain (more for rock songs than ballads). Lack of drawbars. Okay organ sounds, You need a computer to edit the internal sounds, Doesn’t come with lots of different sounds

Who is it for?
If you are looking for a piano that has thousands of different sounds, then this is not the keyboard for you. It is meant for piano players who play live (with other musicians). Its perfect for semi-professional musicians, aspiring artists, and gigging players.

  • Want that Steely Dan Rhodes sound? This one has it.
  • Want that Supertramp Wurlitzer sound? Its on this keyboard
  • Want that Hohner Clav sound from Cripple Creek? Its there on this keyboard

If you want a performance keyboard with tons of string/horn patches, then this piano is not for.

If you want a simple piano with the classic vintage pianos/organ sounds, that made all those old records so great, go for the Korg SV-1.

The SV-1 comes with several piano sounds, including vintage tones; the great thing about the piano is its cool design.

Korg SV1 Review

The Korg SV-1 73 is perfect for the gigging artist. You get the best analog and digital sounds in one single instrument (that looks like an eye candy). To fine tune your sound, just use the hands-on knobs.
Easily recreate classic sounds with this vintage instrument.

Its easy to find a keyboard that has several layers of technology, with tons of sounds and capabilities. However, most ofthe time, the good “vibe” of playing a nice keyboard instrument is missing. But not with this one, this piano will make you feel good about playing. Simple interface and layout, great sounds.

This is a brilliant classic instrument, that plays like an instrument, and not a computer. Also, its more about the quality of the sounds, and not the quantity of sounds.


Click here to buy the Korg-SV1 piano

Power Amps / Speakers
The keyboard does come with great sounds, but you need an appropriate sound system to fully appreciate the sounds. So it is recommended that you plug it into a good loud amp to do full justice to the sounds. For live stage use, you can plug it directly into the mains.

Looks & Design
It has a sleek and retro design with rounded corners, and fat metal toggle switch for the power button.

The analog dials and the built-in vacuum tube makes it look truly vintage stuff; one of the best & most authentic looking vintage stage piano.

The Preset buttons however seem to be a bit closer to the keys, so you need to be careful not to accidentally mess up any of the settings.

Keys
Available in 73 and 88 keys, it comes with RH3 graded hammer keys, which means the keyboard is like that on a piano and not a synth.

Sound
korg sv1 vintage stage pianos This is really not a workstation, synth, or a high-end arranger, and doesn’t come with hundreds of sounds, arpeggiators, drums, etc. You don’t even get a sequencer.

What you get is an excellent collection of vintage piano sounds that includes pianos, organs, fender rhodes sounds, wurlitzer’s, hammond and lowery organs, vox continental , etc.

There are many who feel that this offers a better value for money compared to some of its competitors, such as the Nord stage pianos; however the organ sounds are better on the Nord. But if you use more of wurli, rhodes and piano sounds compared to organs, than this one is definitely a good option.

You do get some cool effects on this board including the tube amp modelling sound.

Ease of Use
The best thing about this keyboard is that its built to be played, so you don’t really have to refer to the manuals every now and then. It doesn’t even have a screen; you need to use the buttons and knobs, which is actually quite useful when performing onstage.

This is one of the most authentic and best sounding vintage stage pianos around; if you’re a jazz musician this is definitely the one to go after.


korg sv1 vintage stage pianos

Competition Check
The best thing about the Korg SV-1 is that it has vintage sounds that were used in songs, which most of us have grown up listening to. Its very difficult not to like it.

It has excellent Rhodes and Wurli sounds, but somewhat okay acoustic piano sounds. But then Korg offers Sound-packs that has excellent acoustic pianos as well (you need to download them).

  • In terms of other options, you may consider the Yamaha CP33, which has excellent piano sounds and a great keyboard feel.
  • Nord Stage & Electro (nice analog synth sounds, pianos, strings) is another excellent option, but its much more expensive.
  • There are some other cheaper options as well from Kawai (MP6) and Kurzweil (SP4-7 or 8)

For someone looking for lots of onboard tweaking features and lots of great sounds, the SV-1 may not match the likes of a NORD electro.

But if its vintage sounds (electric pianos, rhodes) and effects that you’re looking for, something that’s reasonably priced, then there’s no beating the Korg SV-1. If you play more of Electric pianos, then just pick up the Korg!

Besides, the instrument panel is very easy to use, no complications and you can easily save your favorite sounds. Plus it has weighted keys. The 73 keys is just about perfect for those who just don’t want to lug around an 88 key piano.

If you’re looking for a workstation or a studio synth, avoid this one (no sequencer, no arpeggiator, no drums, etc.) But if you want vintage pianos, electric pianos, organs and clavs, for on-stage performance, look no further!

There are many things that you will like in the Korg SV1 – retro design, build quality, rich samples, instant-access presets, hammer-action keys, tube amp modeling and effects…and lot more.

If you like the sounds on the Rhodes Mark II, this Korg sounds exactly like the real deal (in fact better because of the onboard compression/effects). For the price, the Korg SV1 comes across as a better deal than the Nord.

Korg SV1 Specs

Here are the important features of the Korg SV-1 vintage piano:

  • 73 or 88 keys, RH3 weighted hammer action keybed, 8 velocity touch curves
  • Transpose to any key in +/- 12 half-steps; fine tuning; 8 tuning schemes
  • Sounds: 36 (6 banks x 6 sounds), Excellent Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds
  • Polyphony: 80 notes
  • 8 assignable Favorites for quicker program recall
  • Effects/Processing: Five Individual Sections (EQ, pre FX, amp model, modulation, reverb/delay, and limiter)
  • Equalizer: On/Off Switch; Bass, Mid, Treble Knobs
  • Amp modeling, Valve Reactor tube (1 x 12AX7)
  • Extensive studio-grade effects, including Reverb/Delay
  • MIDI In, Out plus USB/MIDI port
  • 3 pedal jacks: Damper (fixed), Pedal 1 (sostenuto; rotary speaker), Pedal 2 (volume/expression; wah)
  • Damper pedal is included
  • 1/4″ headphone out
  • 1/4″ unbalanced and XLR balanced stereo audio outputs (this is a big plus)

You also get a free SV-1 Editor/Librarian software that gives you full access to all the sounds and effects parameters.

Korg SV1 Demo / Video Review


Here’s a video review of the Korg SV-1 vintage pianos



Click here to buy the Korg-SV1 piano

Fancy more sounds for your music needs? You can download the sound packs (available from Korg) for your SV-1 Stage Vintage Piano! Here’s a video that demonstrates how to download and install the sounds, and how to make the most of them as you play.


Here are a couple of videos where the Korg SV piano is pitted against other top keyboards, and Korg does manage to hold on its own.


Here’s a video that compares Korg SV-1 to the Rhodes Mark 2

Here’s another video where the Korg SV-1 is pitted against Roland Fantom G7 ARX-02 E-PIANO, and the Clavia NordStage EX DEMO

Korg SV1 – Buying Links & Prices


An excellent vintage stage piano, the Korg SV-1 is affordable and offers some of the hippest keyboard sounds. Its a must-have for any jazz musician! The SV-1 comes with a weighted keyboard, which means it plays more like a piano than a synth.

Buying Options

Korg SV-1 provides a reliable, portable, and maintenance-free alternative to maintaining a vintage instrument.

8 Comments

Add a Comment
  1. I like the Korg for two primary reasons – RH3 keybed and its unique look/design. It’s Rock Solid. The sounds are superb – rich Piano, EP, and Clav sounds. The SV-1 is a tank with solid key-bed (have broken keys on other keyboards but not this one). This piano begs to be played.

    Like acoustic instruments, this instrument is like “furniture”. These are available on craigslist for $100-200 less then what a new one costs.

  2. Ashley from Stony Point, NY USA

    Having played non-weighted, semi-weighted, fully-weighted keys from Korg, Yamaha, Roland, Nord and other brands, this one just beats them all on every level. It comes in a neat design – rounded corners, analog dials, glowing vacuum tube and fat metal toggle switch for the power button instantly takes you to the 70’s!

    The SV1 is the holy grail for the gigging keyboardist.

  3. When I first checked out this keyboard, the tube glowing off to the side made me think that this was a special keyboard, and I was right. Its just amazing. Unlike other keyboards, the decay on this piano is fast (the notes die down quickly). So if you plan to play lots of slow ballads with lush acoustic piano sounds (no Gershwin or Beethoven), don’t expect the sustain to sound very good. If you play fast rock songs (with no pedal) then this is a great keyboard.

  4. Great blend ofclassic and modern sounds – Jeremy

    Really happy with the keyboard. Very easy to dial in to a particular sound with the selection and adjustment knobs. I like the Rhodes & Wurlitzer sounds. Key action is also great. Awesome electric piano sounds and piano sounds. Strings & synths are okay. Its built like a tank.

    You don’t need to be a techie to get killer sounds out of it.

  5. The SV-1 is extremely VERSATILE as your main gigging keyboard. This keyboard has a great touch and subtleties that a real grand piano has, it has all those subtleties due to multiple sampling levels — that allows a genuine piano playing experience.

    Fantastic dynamics, crystal-clear sounds, lusciously rich, great texture. You need one of these.

  6. There are many reviews that indicate that only some of the sounds on this keyboard are good. I beg to differ.

    The Rhodes are insanely phat and rich
    Crystal-clear bell-like sound
    Wurlies are nice, the tremolo effect makes it even more authentic.
    Vintage synths … reminiscent of Oberheim and Prophet — fantastic 1980’s mainstays.
    Strings sections are lusciously rich and have great texture.
    Smaller ensemble patches capture very authentic duets.

  7. Besides, you need to work with the editor/librarian to access the several parameters that aren’t on the front panel. The editor allows lot of fine tuning and provides a way of building up sounds and easily retrieving (since the the number of presets it holds at any one time are fairly limited).

    The editor worked fine in Mac OS 10.9, however since moving beyond that, the editor/librarian no longer works, and Korg shows no sign of fixing (I’ve emailed, no response). So unless you have an older Mac OS, you’ll have to be content with the front panel adjustments, which are roughly half of what’s available..a shame.

    And, unless you can craft a SysEx voice dump, you’re stuck with 36 presets. The sounds are great but the factory presets don’t do justice to what a bit of tweaking the editor can bring out (which you likely won’t have on a Mac OS 10 or later).

    If you have the money, would say get a Nord, Korg M3/Kronos Motif etc for your main board and the SV1 as a second board. Its the best substitute for a Rhodes/Clav

  8. Scott Cooper from Philly, pa

    Here are the pros:
    Great EPs. Front Panel is great for live alterations (no sub menus). Easily save your custom sounds. Looks cool

    Now for the Cons:
    The piano patches are awful. Tried changing every parameter to get a decent tone with no success. They all sound like a toy piano muffled in a pillow case. And no, tt’s not my amp. My Current Piano sounds are from a Yamaha S90-ES and they sound top notch.

    The Clavs are decent but nothing spectacular. There is only 1 decent Organ patch but the “Rotary” speaker effect is embarrassing.

    The Effects are pretty good as long as you use only one at a time. If you want a bit of reverb and some delay, you can’t do it – you have to choose one or the other, which Ithink is terrible.

    The wah effect is cool, but it takes ALL of the low end out of every patch, which makes them sound so tinny. I know, it was not invented for bass but why not give the option?

    The different amps are just lame. And the “Overdrive” is as laughable as the Rotary speaker effect.

    To all the gigging musicians, the underside of the board is just cheap particle board. Korg – why?

    Although I was very excited about this keyboard, its disappointing.

    The concept is perfect but the execution fell way short. If you are looking for a $1500 EP with a couple cool effects this board is for you. Personally, won’t buy this to use one sound (at a time).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *