The Leopold 660C was followed by a Realforce 87UB EK 45g. After that, a Realforce 55g with a nice 23U Numpad to go with that. But, look! Those beautiful sculpted keys on the 104UG Hi-Pro. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So I bid farewell to the Filco, the Galaxy, Pulse and Granite set. Each new keyboard fulfilled a parameter that I desired but none fulfilled all of them. None felt like that first night with the Type-S. Silencing mods and Krytox lube felt like Methadone on my heroin addled fingers. Every mod and new keyboard scratched a lingering itch that would not end.
My Topre Pilgrimage
My birthday was coming up. Earlier that week, my girlfriend asked what I wanted to do for my special day. I thought to myself how I wanted that stupid 10th anniversary 55g RF or that ridiculous Digilog case for my keyboard. My bank account had suffered dearly for my addiction and I knew those things were not within my grasp. I didn’t want a nice steak dinner at our favorite restaurant. “I want to go to the EliteKeyboards showroom”, I said.
Tucked in the sleepy town of Los Alamitos, the EK showroom was hidden in a nondescript set of small business. Only the sign on the door denoted I had finally reached my destination. I rang the bell and waited. I was greeted by Brian. Brian, who responded to my urgent emails about releases. Brian, who sent out my replacements before it even made it back to their warehouse. Brian.
The guy was friendly and eloquent. He’d been in the business long enough. He gave me a brief rundown of his experiences in the industry. The pitfalls and benefits to selling to a niche market. The obstacles he encountered while dealing with distributors and manufacturers overseas.
Every question I threw at him. He had an answer. He was incredibly knowledgeable, not just of the product, but about the market and the demographic. We chatted for a while as I stared longingly at the Realforce test models.
As I made the mind-numbing drive back to LA, I got to thinking. We all like to think of these businesses as some mindless, faceless corporation. Here we have a company that holds exclusive rights to Realforce in the United States. I’m sure many of you have some sort of positive or negative experience to share about EK.
The keyboard community can be fanatical at times. Whether entry level or enthusiast, we all share a passion for what we love. Those who read feverishly through reviews before they buy their first board. Or those who are working together to create that “perfect layout” or in pursuit of the “perfect feels”. In all of this, it is difficult not to scrutinize every detail.
I left that day with a newfound respect for the business of selling/making keyboards as a whole. I also caught of a glimpse of what life is like when you turn a passion/hobby into a business. I wondered to myself what the pressures of putting food on the table has on making that hobby into a career.