Akai MPK Mini MkII + iPad = Bass Rig Keyboard Setup

Let’s Multi-Instrument! Bass Rig Keyboard Setup

Ever since seeing Greta Kline from Porches alternate between bass guitar and bass keyboard duties, I’ve been semi-obsessed with creating a bass rig keyboard setup of my own. Greta plays a Novation Bass Station II. At some point I’d like to try out that keyboard out, but I ended up landing on the Akai MPK Mini MkII keyboard controller, with an iPad brain, and Garageband Keyboards for the software.

I play an Ampeg SVT-VR which has 4 inputs so I got this crazy idea that I should be able to use one of those inputs for the keyboard setup, when I’m not playing bass.

Bass Rig Keyboard Setup

My Bass Rig Keyboard Setup

I selected the Akai Mini because it has both keys and drum pads. It has enough features to be ‘professional’ but is simple enough for a beginner electronic musician such as myself. The final reason I chose it is because you can find them for as little as $20 buck or new for $99. I already had an Apple iPad with Garageband on it so I thought I could have a great keyboard/drum pad set up for about the cost of a round of beers…it’s never that simple.

Getting the iPad to connect the Akai was a nightmare…I easily connected my Android phone and my Macbook Pro to the Akai so I knew the Akai was working.

Here’s all the different crap I tried getting this stuff to work:

The Remedy

Bass Rig Keyboard SetupIn the end I recommend using the Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter because this is the simplest, least expensive, working solution. This adapter converts USB A to lightening and delivers power to the iPad. Any solution involving a hub, also requires a USB to Lightening adaptor…even if you think it doesn’t, it does.

If I end up loving this set up, I may switch the iPad with a iPod Touch that is dedicated to running Garageband. This would make my set up even more simple and compact.

My Setup Bass Rig Keyboard Setup:

  1. Akai MPK Mini MkII
  2. Apple iPad
  3. iOS Garageband
  4. Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter
  5. 1/4″ guitar to 1/8″ cable
  6. Multi-input Bass Amp

Here’s a quick video showing how I set it up: