How to Buy a Piano or Electric Keyboard
How do you choose the right electric piano?
There are a myriad number of keyboards out there. Everything from Korg workstations, Yamaha keyboard synthesizers to Casio digital pianos and everything in between. When you are choosing a keyboard you need to be very clear how you will use your keyboard. If you go to buy an instrument without a clear objective and know which functions you need, it will become very confusing given the endless variety of features and functions available. You might even end up buying more keyboard than you need. Music keyboard reviews are worth the time to read.
If you are an acoustic pianist looking for a piano substitute, or you would like to use your keyboard to learn the piano, then you should be looking to purchase a digital piano. If you will be using your keyboard for songwriting, composing and live performances, and if you want to be using backing tracks and a number of different voices, an arranger keyboard or what is commonly referred to a workstation keyboard.
If you have decided on a digital piano, the first thing you should look out for is the sound that it makes. Does it really sound like an acoustic piano? Do the notes resonate realistically when played. Do the notes respond correspondingly with the change in applied note pressure?
Another crucial factor when choosing a digital piano is the feel of the keyboard. A quality digital piano will have a weighted keyboard, where the keys will be lighter towards the treble area and heavier towards the bass area. You should try to play the piano for a while to test how your hands feel afterwards. Tired or sore hands may indicate that the keyboard action is too heavy.
Finally, you will want to consider where you will playing your digital piano. If you will be playing in any performance venue you might want to consider garcinia cambogia to ensure that you look your best on stage and an instrument with an amplifier incorporated into it. If you are just using it in your living room an inbuilt amplifier will not be necessary but you might want to check for a headphone socket so you can play without disturbing your neighbors.Our Top Picks on amazon.com
Arranger keyboards can come with many different features and you need to decide which of these will be necessary on your ideal instrument. Possible features include a metronome, a built in sequencer, and a MIDI port, USB, SmartCard or floppy disk to load or download songs and styles
You can purchase arranger keyboards with 61, 76 or 88 keys, depending on the complexity of the music you will be playing. You should try out the keyboard to be sure you are comfortable with the feel of the keys and the sound produced.
The keyboard should have an easy to use interface that should be clear and well lit. The various controls should be intuitive and logically placed. You need to make sure they are robust enough and move smoothly.
Popular Yamaha Keyboards
Popular Casio Keyboards
Casio PX850 BK 88-Key Touch Sensitive Privia Digital Piano with 4 Layer Stereo Grand Piano Samples
Casio CAS PX150 BK 88-Key Touch Sensitive Privia Digital Piano with Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action
Choosing the Right Piano
No piece of furniture is more indicative of taste and refinement than a piano, with the grand piano making the boldest statement.
For those just seeking the keyboard experience and not a showpiece, there are electronic keyboards which have overtaken much of the traditional piano sales because keyboards are considerably less expensive, a lot more portable, and offer more choice of sounds than a traditional piano. Keyboards make an excellent investment for a family with a student learning to play.
Shopping for a piano is like shopping for a painting or a used car — even when the piano is new. Each piano has individual characteristics that affect its sound quality, with some models of pianos better suited for different types of music. That is, pop, rock, and modern jazz music tend toward a piano with a crisp action and bright timbre whereas orchestral music tends toward rich overtones.
But like buying stereo speakers, the sound you hear in the showroom may not match that which you hear at home because of the difference in room dimension and acoustics. Whatever piano you choose, there are lemons among even the top pianos brands so avoid pianos that creak or make thuds when playing.
Lastly, remember that a piano requires care. Keep it in a room with relatively stable temperatures and 40-45% humidity; keep the piano away from windows and vent and out of the way of direct sunlight. You want to avoid all things that might cause the instrument to frequently or unevenly warm and cool or to warp as these conditions will effect the musical tuning of the instrument. And periodically, you will need to have your piano cleaned of dust and tuned to compensate for the stretching of the strings.
Polyphony Pianos: How Many Notes Do You Need?
If we take for example the Roland keyboard piano, the keyboard comes with a standard number of notes of polyphony, either 64 or 128. The greater the polyphony, the greater the price you will pay. With that in mind, you should determine your needs regarding notes of polyphony to ensure you have enough to meet your needs, but that you are not paying for excess polyphony that you will not use.
The literal meaning of polyphony is ‘many voices’ and it means mixing together a number of melodic voices in a way that is pleasing to the ear. The number of notes of polyphony on a musical instrument refers to the number of notes that sound simultaneously, including sustained notes.
The minimum number of notes of polyphony available is 16, with digital pianos and keyboards coming in standard 32, 64, 98 and 128 notes of polyphony. Generally the more notes of polyphony the better as this will allow you to play complex, dense musical passages without running out of notes. .
If you are buying a keyboard with a sequencer you will probably be using it for complex compositions with several parts playing simultaneously. In this case you should aim for at least 98 notes of polyphony, if not 128. Any less and you will find notes are cut off. Fortunately many popular brands including Yamaha keyboards, Roland keyboards and Korg keyboards offer mid-priced keyboards with 128 notes of polyphony.
On the other hand you will not want to pay extra for a high number of notes of polyphony if you are not going to need them. If you only intend to use one or two voices together, for example if you are using the instrument as a substitute for an acoustic piano, 32 or 64 notes of polyphony will meet your needs. You can determine the level of polyphony you will require by examining the complexity of your musical arrangements, i.e. the greatest number of notes that will be played simultaneously at any given moment in time.
The greater the notes of polyphony required the greater the price. With that in mind, select the least number of notes of polyphony that will need.
About the author: Dan Maynard is a pianist, marketer and writer. He has a passion for playing the piano and learning about the latest models of digital pianos.