Frequently Asked Questions

What is this thing?

The Ocean Beach Digital DB-1 Drawbar Controller is a MIDI drawbar controller specifically designed for use with the Nord organ keyboards. It's easy to use, and easy to set up. It can also be programmed for use with other keyboards or virtual instruments.

Why would I want one?

When playing a real B-3, being able to make subtle drawbar changes while playing is an essential part of the experience. We feel that an instrument that sounds so much like a B-3 ought to play like one too.

Can't I use some other Drawbar Controller with the Nord?

Over the years, a few other companies have made drawbar controllers, but none of them send the right MIDI commands for Nord keyboards and none of them are even programmable. The DB-1 is the world's first and only programmable MIDI drawbar controller.

Why is this important? MIDI standardizes some things, but not all things. If you play middle C on a MIDI keyboard, every MIDI module in the world understands the MIDI message for that. But there is no MIDI standard for drawbar position, percussion, vibrato, and other settings unique to the tonewheel organ world. MIDI does specify a bunch of general-purpose controller messages, but nobody agrees on what messages to use for various drawbar organ events. As a result every manufacturer is off doing their own thing, and tonewheel instruments made by different companies don't know how to talk to each other.

The Ocean Beach Digital DB-1 Drawbar Controller already knows how to send the right commands for every Nord ever made. The sliders have the exact same spacing as the drawbars on a B-3, and they move the same distance, all in a very small package that fits nicely on top of your Nord. It has an extra set of MIDI jacks so you don't lose the ability to communicate with other gear. It even has a MIDI merge function built-in, so you can use a second keyboard controller as a lower organ manual. You can use one DB-1 Drawbar Controller to control both manuals, or you can use two of them together to have dedicated drawbars for upper and lower manual. No other drawbar controller does all that.

What Nord models does it support?

Electro, Electro Rack, Electro 2, Electro 3, Electro 3 HP
Electro 4, Electro 4D, Electro 4 HP
C1, C2, C2D
Stage, Stage EX, Stage 2

Can I control both organ manuals with one DB-1?

Yes. A single DB-1 gives you control of both organ manuals on all Nords.

If you are using two organ manuals on your Nord, the DB-1's Top Button allows you to select which organ manual the DB-1 is controlling. On Stage and Electro keyboards, the DB-1 will control whichever manual is in focus on the control panel, and whether you use the control panel or the DB-1 Top Button, the two always stay in sync. It's very intuitive.

The DB-1 uses the Nord's MIDI jacks. What if I want to connect other MIDI gear?

The DB-1 has two sets of MIDI jacks. You use one set of MIDI jacks to connect the DB-1 to your Nord. The other set connects to the rest of your MIDI setup. MIDI performance data being generated by the Nord is sent out the second MIDI OUT jack, so you can still use your Nord to control external keyboards and rack equipment.

MIDI coming in the second MIDI IN jack is passed to your Nord, so you can continue to trigger your Nord's internal sounds with an another keyboard. This means you can use another keyboard as a second organ manual. The DB-1 has a built-in MIDI merger, so your drawbar movements are merged in with the MIDI data coming in from the external organ manual. No special configuration is required, this all happens automatically.

You don't lose any MIDI connectivity when you add a DB-1 to your setup. You can even connect two DB-1, one for each organ manual, and still connect the rest of your MIDI gear.

Does the DB-1 support other MIDI drawbar organs?

Yes. The DB-1 is fully programmable for use with any tonewheel organ or virtual instrument that uses MIDI Continuous Controller messages to control individual drawbars. This includes:

Support for new keyboards is continually being added. If you own an older DB-1, the new firmware is free to download from the support section of this website. No drawbars left behind!

What are the dimensions of the DB-1 Drawbar Controller?

width: 6.25 in (15.9 cm)
height: 0.75 in (1.9 cm) in front, 1.25 in (3.2 cm) at the back
depth: 5.25 inches (13.3 cm)

Those are the housing dimensions. The tops of the drawbar knobs are approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the top of the housing. The self-adhesive rubber feet add another 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) in height.

weight: 2.2 lbs (1 kg)

The body is entirely made of steel (not plastic), so it's got a nice solid heft. Or as several customers have described it: "built like a tank."

So will the DB-1 fit on top of my [Electro 61 | C1 | C2] ?

Yes, the Series II DB-1 Drawbar Controller is narrow enough to just fit in the space left of the control panel.

Does the DB-1 run off MIDI bus power?

Yes! With most keyboard setups, you don't need a battery at all. The DB-1 can run off the voltage present on the MIDI bus. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that it can do this for all setups because 1) there actually is no standard for drawing power off the MIDI bus, and 2) many manufacturers, Nord included, no longer run their MIDI bus at a full 5 volts.

To make the DB-1 run off MIDI power in as many configurations as possible, we have gone to extraordinary measures to reduce the nominal current consumption of the DB-1 to about 2 mA, which is geek-speak for "almost nothing." But the story is much more complicated than that, and there are some setups (usually involving multiple keyboards and/or multiple DB-1s) where there just isn't enough juice to go around.

As a general rule: if you are just using a DB-1 with a Nord (no other MIDI gear connected), you will be able to run off MIDI bus power. If you are using your Nord to control other gear, your Nord's MIDI signal gets routed to the DB-1's AUX MIDI OUT jack, and there may not be enough voltage on that signal to be recognized by whatever is downstream. In those situations you'll need to put a bettery in the DB-1. Because the DB-1 draws such a tiny amount of current, even with heavy use an alkaline 9v battery will last for 1-2 years.

Nord and Clavia are trademarks of Clavia DMI AB, the Swedish company that makes Nord keyboards.
Ocean Beach Digital designs and manufactures MIDI products and is based in San Diego, California.
The two companies are not affiliated. The palm tree icon is a registered trademark of Ocean Beach Digital.