What To Look For In A Keyboard
By Duane Shinn
Brand and Price
When looking for a new keyboard, consider the name brand manufacturers of piano keyboards. Look at your budget and then go from there. Does that budget allow you to check out some of the premiere makers out there? Does your budget require you to go with a lesser-known manufacturer?
Some of the names in piano are Roland, Kurzweil, Yamaha, Kawai, Alesis, and Moog. There are a host of others as well, some with a wide model line available. Check each manufacturer’s products from low-end to high-end and compare across companies for features offered. Sometimes a lower-priced model may suit you just as well as a higher-priced one that has many extra gadgets you may never use. The main thing is to make sure any model you choose has a clear, full sound resembling as close as possible a traditional piano sound. You don’t want a tinny sound that is more annoying than pleasing.
If you base your decision solely on price, investigate consumer reports and product reviews that may alert you to product flaws. You may find some high-priced models receive more bad press than lower-priced makes. Regardless, don’t let a piano keyboard purchase blow your budget. You can always upgrade down the road.
One important consideration when purchasing a piano keyboard is the warranty. If you’re buying a new brand, make sure the warranty is suitable with no unacceptable “except for” clauses. If you’re buying used, try to buy from a dealer who offers even a six-month warranty on a used product. They’re out there; you just have to look for them.
Type of Keys
Consider the type of keys your fingers will run across when you look at piano keyboards. Do you want traditional weighted keys that have the feel of an acoustic piano? Do you want touch sensitive keys that spring into action with little downward pressure? Both are available, and checking them out will ensure that it suits your touch. I would certainly recommend that you get both of these features so your keyboard not only sounds but also feels like a normal acoustic piano.
88 Keys or Less?
Consider whether you want a full 88-key piano or one with fewer keys. It depends on what you plan to play, how much you want to spend, and the space you have in a room. You don’t want to feel cramped with a keyboard whose length barely fits into a small room. On the other hand, if you plan on getting better in a hurry, then get an 88 key keyboard from the outset so you won’t have to worry about outgrowing it.
Controls and Voices
Another thing to consider in a piano keyboard is the number of controls a model has for sound modification. Many come equipped with settings to make the piano sound like different musical instruments. Some also have voice settings, so certain keys sound like a choir singing.
Features You Will Use
Again, if you want just your typical piano sound, you may not require all these sound controls. To keep your costs down, it’s best to buy a model with only the features you will use.
Sound Control and Headphones
An important consideration, especially if you live in an apartment or condominium, is sound control. You want a keyboard that allows you to set the volume as low as possible while maintaining quality and clarity of sound. You also want a keyboard that allows for headphone plug-in, so you can play as loud as you need without disturbing anyone.
With today’s “going green” concerns, you may want to investigate the energy use of keyboards. that are green friendly are sure to be the latest models and can save you dollars on energy bills. With that extra money, you can upgrade to a higher-priced keyboard later.
Additional things to consider are any special benefits or bonuses for buying. Some music studios sell and may offer lesson or music book discounts for purchasing from them. Some music stores offer music lessons on premises and may offer free introductory piano lessons with a keyboard purchase.
The final thing to consider when purchasing a keyboard is its capacity for attachments. Aside from the headphones (and you’ll want them for sure so you can practice silently), you may want outlets for an amplifier or a Musical Instrument Digital Interface outlet. This allows you to hook a keyboard into a computer. Of course, the computer also has to have a MIDI input. If your computer doesn’t, you have to buy a USB MIDI adapter. With the proper software program in place, you can play notes on a keyboard and have them show up as written music on your monitor. The computer plays the notes back, and the program stores the played notes on the computer. If this looks like an attractive option, seek a keyboard with this outlet.
Take the time to investigate all the piano keyboard options available to you on the market. There are makes and models to suit your exact requirements. All you need is an investigative attitude to search out the one that’s right for you.