Studio DIY: Custom Keyboard and Peripheral Dust Covers
COLUMN: One of my great joys in life is loving a product made by a great company that stays in business year after year and perhaps decade by decade. I can count these types of companies on one hand as I settle into my 40’s, and so I’m making an effort this year to spread the word about them. The first of these companies I’ll be talking about in my DIY column series is the wonderful CompuCover Company who has been around since 1979. These folks make custom-fit dust covers for any type of hardware, be it a mixer, a drum box, keyboard, or really anything that you can shake a measuring tape at.
I first became a customer back in the days of my IBM Selectric typewriter in the 1980s and then my SCI Prophet 600 and Pro One keyboards, then for my various Macintosh systems (Quadra 840AV, etc.) in the ’90s. When I needed a custom cover for my Kurzweil K2000 or Korg Wavestation keyboards, or MPC 3000 in the late ’80s, my first thought was to go back to CompuCover and have them make covers for me. Yes, you can buy those stretchy nylon covers at many music stores these days for most standard 61-key or 88-key keyboards, with the drawstring, but I find them to be slick and an invitation to drop the keyboard when picking it up endwise – and they often don’t fit odd shaped keyboards (think the Korg Oasys for instance, or the Open Labs MiKo and NeKo).
The custom-fit covers from CompuCover can be made to order in any dimension you can measure, and in a variety of materials, and they fit perfectly since you do the measuring. To order, you would simply go to the CompuCover Website (www.compucover.com), and using the form, first choose the material/color, and then the box style (see below). You simply enter width (i.e., the length of your keyboard), the depth (front to back), and the height (the length of the pieces which fall down from the top cover). This process works so well, I even made a custom cover for my Minimoog Voyager for keeping the back-panel open and tilted at all times, where the normal commercial covers require you to flatten the synth to cover it. With CompuCover, you can fit any shape you need to. One tip is to measure just slightly larger, so that there is room for anything like knobs, sliders, or whatever.
If you look at the images I’ve included (above), the first one shows an example of my Triton 88-key, Kurzweil 61-key, and Akai MPC 4000 uncovered, and then in the second image covered with CompuCover’s products. Black Nylon for the MPC, and anti-static Vinyl for the keyboards.
Pricing? Prepare to be surprised. Even after all these years, the direct pricing is equivalent to wholesale. If you’re used to seeing covers that cost $50-70, how about this: an anti-static vinyl, 2 inch down back open style, and 60Wx25Dx4H cover is just $16.95. Seriously — you can afford to cover all your gear for less than what some companies charge for one retail cover!
They used to only come in Black Nylon (and used to have the CompuCover logo on them, but they dispensed with the logo to keep the price low), but now come in Navy, Gray and Tan; and even frosted (semi-clear) anti-static Vinyl. New this year, they now have added an “Outdoor Canvas” cover material, which might be ideal for touring.
From their days of making covers primarily for typewriters and PC keyboards they offer options for how the covers are “boxed,” meaning the part of the cover that falls down from the top sheet covering.
For example, the default option would be “open in back,” which has room for wires, connectors, etc. The second option would be “2 inches down in back” which provides for a lip to help keep the cover on (useful if you have instruments on keyboard stands, tilted forward). The final option would be “four sides,” which provides essentially a box with an open bottom.
All nylon covers have black trim and are polyurethane coated for extra moisture resistance. Outdoor covers (priced higher than the normal covers) are made of rugged marine-use UV resistant outdoor canvas.
I’ve made covers for items as diverse as my Haken Audio Continuum Fingerboard, my Open Labs NeKo TSE and XXL, my Hartmann Neuron keyboard (with extra height to protect the joysticks), and my vintage gear like my Oberheim Matrix 12. They made a cover for my Korg Oasys 88 also (which really should have come with one for the price). I think the only cover I didn’t get from CompuCover was the OEM Europe Yamaha cover for my 02R96v2 digital mixing console, since the cover also was fit for the meter bridge.
An additional benefit of getting the custom dust cover made, besides keeping dust out of the keyboard (on the Open Labs XXL, you can’t do without one — it’s a dust magnet!), is if/when you choose to sell your instrument, you have an additional selling point which the other five Joes selling the same item on eBay that week won’t likely have.
If you look at the image of some of my keyboards on a custom keyboard shelf in the closet (subject of upcoming DIY column), you’ll see covers on all of them, and in the various color choices (except Tan). This keeps them safe and clean for when I want to use them. Nothing more annoying than having to clean a keyboard when the mood strikes to actually play it!
As to CompuCover, they have always delivered a perfect product (allow a week or two depending on their work load), their pricing remains unreasonably low for the quality, and these are a truly no-brainer “must have” for any studio. With the custom colors, it makes it easy to get a Navy, Black and Gray cover if you have three different keyboards. I like the Anti-static Vinyl format for some gear since you can see through it a bit. To protect vintage gear I tend to like the Black Nylon since it also protects from light (helps protect from fading). Simply nothing finer is on the market, and it helps protect the usability, resale value, and even the playability of your gear if you have any kind of humidity (I used to notice turning on my Triton Extreme 88, and the dust and my fingers would make the keys seem “sticky” – the dust cover solved that).
As an additional dust fighting tip, it also helps to keep a high quality dusting cloth handy (get the good kind which are designed for high end stereo gear and cleaning a LCD TV, with the non-scratchy fibers). I use the Quickie brand micro-fiber cloths (about $15 in a 3-pack at Office Depot, etc.).
So there you go; make your studio gear last longer and wrap that rascal affordably and professionally with covers from CompuCover.