- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- No piece of furniture is more indicative of taste and
refinement than a piano, with the grand piano making the boldest
- 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
- 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.
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