TAC Family Forums

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  • Moonhare

    September 7, 2021 at 3:53 am

    Hey there – third time lucky – every time I post it just disappears! I won’t list off loads of specific keyboards as I hang on to mine for decades so haven’t played loads of new ones recently to be able to give you an informed opinion, but here are features to look out for.

    I’m a pianist so I’d always go for 88 (8 octave) given the choice however I do have a 76 (7 Octave) keyboard and I don’t find it limiting to play. It’s rare to use all 88 notes in one piece of music anyway unless you’re Rachmaninov. 61 notes (6 Octaves) does start to cause me problems with running out of space at either end but again when you’re learning it’s probably not an issue as you mostly play in the inner 6 octaves anyway. Obviously the smaller the keyboard range the more you’ll get for your money.

    Just a note on weighted keyboards – for pianists this is much more like playing an acoustic piano. You get the bounce back that allows you to play percussively and with expression. However it is harder to play than non-weighted – think barre chords on an acoustic compared to an electric – so is not so great for the casual player. There are two main types of non-weighted keyboards though. Semi-weighted gives you a better feeling keyboard. They are sprung, not actually weighted but give a stronger push back feel than a completely non-weighted synth style keyboard. I’d favour that to give you a better feel for expression and they don’t really weigh any more.

    Touch sensitivity is really essential on a piano and I can’t imagine you’ll find any serious pianos out there that don’t have this. It just means the sounds will change in volume and timbre the harder or faster you hit the keys. If it isn’t touch sensitive then don’t buy it.

    I’ve use Roland keyboards since I was a teenager and they are solid. (My old A90 has been horribly abused on tour and is still working after 26 years) but Yamaha make some fine instruments too. You can’t go far wrong with these brands. Worth investing in a sustain pedal (hold pedal) too so you can play those lovely hanging sustains you get with piano. I have a Yamaha FC5 which must be built from the same material as black box flight recorders because it has again been on tour with me for 26 years and is my main studio pedal too. They are cheap and the fact they still make them shows how popular they are.

    USB if you are linking into your studio is essential. Make sure it is MIDI compatible so if you want to control sounds on your PC/Mac it will be ready to do that. But if you want it to be standalone as well make sure it has piano sounds on board. I own several keyboards but my two main ones are just controllers and don’t have any sounds in them. I link them to the laptop to play all the many piano samples I own. Also if you intend to move the keyboard around and use it elsewhere without an amp or the studio then you will need in built speakers too. Alternative is to use headphones – there is usually a headphone jack on the back.

    Any other queries just let me know but I hope that helps.