Keyboardist Brett Tuggle has a résumé any musician would envy. A student of the piano since age six, the Los Angeles-based keyboardist and guitarist toured with Rick Springfield and David Lee Roth in the 1980s, co-writing Roth’s 1988 hit “Just Like Paradise.” He has also played with Jimmy Page, Steve Lukather of Toto, and David Coverdale of Whitesnake. Since the early ’90s, Tuggle has also held down the keyboard chair with blues-folk-rock icons Fleetwood Mac as well as its members’ many solo projects. For an upcoming tour with the guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, both he and Buckingham go with K10.2 powered loudspeakers from QSC.
“I first became aware of QSC quite a few years back, when the powered speaker craze was beginning to get big,” Tuggle recalls. “I really wanted to find the right speaker to reproduce all the frequencies keyboards are capable of. Synths can produce a big bottom, and I wanted the midrange to be clear and the treble to have some sparkle. We keyboard players want to hear our stuff back pretty real. We don’t want to color it, or if we do, we use the onboard effects in our instruments for that.
“I tried several brands — all the usual suspects — then at one of the NAMM shows I stopped by the QSC booth, and I was really impressed,” he continues. “They just sounded right to me, better than anything else I had heard. These were the original K10, which were a thousand watts as compared to the two thousand on the K.2 Series. They were very clean, had enough headroom, and with the multiple inputs, you didn’t need a mixer if you just wanted to plug in a keyboard or two and play.”
For this latest Lindsey Buckingham tour, Tuggle chose a pair of K10.2 loudspeakers, which carefully match a 10-inch woofer and 1.4-inch titanium compression driver with the aforementioned 2000-watt Class-D amplifier module, all in a featherweight package of 32 lbs. (14.5 kg) per unit. The I/O complement incudes two XLR-1/4-inch combo jacks (one Mic/Line, the other Mic/Hi-Z), each with its own pre-gain XLR through-out for connection to the house P.A; a 3.5 mm stereo mini input; and post-gain XLR mix output.
“It was, like, wow, this is perfect,” Tuggle beams. “The K.2 Series just take the sound to the next level, with even more headroom. I put my Korg Kronos 88LS keyboard and a Roland VG-99 guitar synth through them. I also love the routing flexibility on the K.2s and the ability to save and recall scenes for things like EQ and crossover points right on the little display that’s on the back. I don’t want to diss anyone or name names here, but I recently tried out another very popular brand of powered monitor at Lindsey’s studio, and it was mushy by comparison — like there was fur covering the sound. With the K10.2s, it is like taking a blanket off the sound.”
This led to Buckingham himself discovering the joys of QSC. “I turned Lindsey on to the K.2 Series a couple of weeks ago at rehearsal. They turned out to be the total answer for his situation,” Tuggle explains. “He needed to hear the backing guitar tracks, over which he plays live, within his guitar rig. He’s doing stuff where he triggers little clips as he plays, so that we don’t need another guitar player and so that it’s his own playing accompanying him. Those tracks are now coming back through a pair of K10.2s, which sit right on either side of his high-end boutique guitar amps. It has made all the difference in terms of us being able to pull off a theatre tour with minimum personnel.”
When Tuggle is not touring or recording with headlining stars, he plays local gigs in L.A. with fellow A-list musicians, for which he always carries his K10.2 speakers. “The K10.2s are so portable; I pop them into those fitted carrying cases they make, and they’re the perfect keyboard monitors,” he says. “The K.2s weigh almost nothing, so I always bring two so I can play in stereo. One in each hand, I throw them and a couple of keyboards in the back of the vehicle, and I’m good to go. I also have the TouchMix-16 digital mixer from QSC, which is killer as the core of P.A. for rehearsals and small-venue gigs. But again, if I’m just showing up as the keyboard player, the inputs on the K10.2 mean I don’t always need it.
“I’d recommend the K10.2s for anyone with my applications, whether that’s the monitors on your keyboard riser on a tour, or playing in your weekend band,” concludes Tuggle. “The 12-inchers one step up are nice, sure, but the tens really put out a magical amount of bass for their size and weight. They really have the punch, and they don’t sacrifice any detail to get it. They sound absolutely amazing.”