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  • What size keyboard for guitarists?

    Posted by Deleted User on September 5, 2021 at 5:47 pm

    <div>I’m a guitarist and don’t plan to become a pianist, but a digital piano would help me with transposing, arranging, adapting piano scores to guitar, and understanding chords, harmony, and general music theory. I plan to buy one and since I have no experience, I’d be interested in TACers opinions. It needs to be reasonably portable so weighted keys are off the table, which narrows the choice a lot. Still some of the lightweight models approximate a real piano. That’ll be good enough.

    1. To maintain some reasonable quality, I’m looking at Yamaha, Roland, and Korg. I wold consider Kawai, but they seem to all be out of my price range. Any opinions on these brands? Others I should consider?
    2. Do I need 88 keys or will 76 or 61 do? I’m currently thinking since this will be my first piano, I should go with the full 88-key format so I would feel more comfortable on any acoustic piano. Does that make sense? There’s not enough difference in physical size to worry about, but there’s a substantial difference in price.
    3. Everything in my studio is connected to my PC, so I figure I need a USB port. Anyone have any experience connecting a piano? Traps I should avoid?


    If you can think of anything else I should consider, feel free to comment. Thanks in advance.



    Deleted User replied 2 years, 8 months ago 5 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • Loraine

    September 6, 2021 at 10:04 am

    I have a Yamaha E333 that I picked up used in shopgoodwill.com auction. I believe it’s a 61 key & it suits me for the guitar.

  • Bill_Brown

    September 6, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Maybe @Moonhare would have some advice on this matter😱

    • Deleted User

      Deleted User
      September 7, 2021 at 4:34 pm

      Great tip, @Bill_Brown. @Moonshare was indeed a font of knowledge. See below. Thanks.

  • tailsawaggin

    September 6, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    I have a Yamaha e363, which is a 61 key with lots of voices and features built in. It’s touch-sensitive so you get dynamics when you play, and it has USB for the computer and 1/4” line in and line out connectors for whatever external connections you might need. One of my favorite features is that it can run on battery power; I forget how many it takes, but it wants AAs and it runs for a good long time between charges.

    • Deleted User

      Deleted User
      September 9, 2021 at 3:10 pm

      Hey, @tailsawaggin & @Lorraine, thanks for the ideas. I considered both Yamaha models, and ultimately decided I’d never use all the electronic wizardry. Too old, I guess. So on reflection, I decided that I’m really looking for a real piano, or as close as I can get. Can’t get more real than 88 keys, so I found a good deal on a Roland GO:PIANO-88 and ordered it. If it works out well (or I guess even if it doesn’t) I’ll post a review in these TAC forums.

  • 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.

  • Deleted User

    Deleted User
    September 7, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    Wow, @Moonhare, that’s exactly the great info I was hoping for. Thanks so much; it’s great to hear from a real pianist. Ultimately I’d love to learn to play piano properly. Don’t know if it’ll happen in the years I’ve got left, but if I don’t have the right equipment, there’s no chance. I was skeptical of 61 keys and now you’ve confirmed it for me. I considered a 76-key (Yamaha NP-32), but at that point, why not just get the real thing and not wonder which keys I’m missing?

    Thanks also for confirming about weighted keys. It seems they add enough weight to take the keyboard out of the “portable” category, and I need to be able to move it around or put it away. I’ve heard good things about touch-sensitive semi-weighted keys on reputable brands from other actual pianists and it’s nice to get confirmation that I’m not giving up anything that matters to a beginner. By the time I’m Rachmaninov, I’ll just have to get a real piano LOL.

    Thanks for your real-life story about the durability of your Roland. I’ve always heard that Roland and Korg were solid brands, and I’m leaning toward the Roland GO:Piano. It’s priced a bit below the Korg B2N at Amazon.ca. Yamaha’s entry-level electric pianos seem really nice and easy on the wallet, but they’re light on the electronics stuff like USB and MIDI. Yamaha seems to have a blind spot about that. Most reviews pointedly criticize them for that.

    Great point about the on-board piano sounds and speakers. I wouldn’t have thought about it, but I would definitely not like to be tied to a computer just to play a key and hear it. I’ve taken any like that off my candidate list.

    Thanks again for all your great input. Let me know if you need any similar advice about guitars.

    • Moonhare

      September 9, 2021 at 2:22 pm

      No problem – glad to help. I’ve had so much great advice on starting out on guitar from everyone here it is nice to be able to pay some back for a change! I may be in touch some time when I need help with guitar stuff though. 😎🤟

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