You never thought those hours of piano lessons would ever pay off, did you? Till one day you were hanging out at a friend's and started fingering the electronic keyboard while the band was getting their instruments together. Startled, they looked up and realized you were really good.
While some people's love affair with electronic keyboards starts like this, others decide from the outset that they want to play the electronic keyboard. Some start with inexpensive beginner keyboards, while others are fortunate to find great deals on Yamaha keyboards or Korg keyboards. Other options include keyboards made by manufacturers like Wurlitzer or Casio.
For those who are constantly on the go, a portable electronic keyboard is convenient and handy. These also feature internal speakers, so volume isn't usually a problem. A portable electronic keyboard that includes dozens of pre-recorded instrumental sounds or percussion beats often works best for beginners. Advanced players will probably look for a more expensive portable electronic keyboard that allows them to record their own musical sounds and rhythms for playback.
Synthesizers are upgraded versions of a portable keyboard. These generally feature state-of-the-art technologies. Some use samplers, which are much like digital sound recorders, which allow the user to play back digital sounds that are stored by the manufacturer. These devices can also be used for recording and playback of originally created sounds as well.
Instruments that include percussion as well as other rhythm sound bytes are considered workstations. A workstation is much like a miniature recording studio, because it allows the user to create an entire musical piece without any other instruments.
Use Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI technology, with an electronic keyboard to interface with computers or other instruments. An inexpensive version of this is a MIDI keyboard controller. This is a keyboard that does not have an internal sound system. They can be connected to a computer, so that the music is played back through the computer's internal sound system.
While all of these create sound that is similar to the acoustic piano, only a digital piano can reproduce a sound that is almost the same as that of its acoustic counterpart. A digital piano also costs less and is more portable than an acoustic piano, so it works better for both beginners and professional musicians who travel a lot.
A digital piano uses a maximum of two to three pedals and must be placed upon a stand for playing. These instruments produce tones very similar to a real piano, and the majority of them also reproduce sounds similar to that of a real organ or harpsichord. The sound of many stringed instruments can also be produced with a digital piano.
The majority of digital pianos also include MIDI connectors so that they can be connected to computers or other devices that have MIDI capability. Many electronic organs also include these same features. These, of course, sound more like an organ than a piano.
The vast majority of electronic keyboards sold today reproduce the sounds of 128 different acoustic or electronic instruments. They also include 47 different percussion rhythms. Some of the specialty rhythms included are salsa beats and reggae sounds.
The more expensive electronic keyboards sometimes feature a drum pad or add vocal or other sound effects as well. Some also offer digital effects capabilities like delay or distortion, or even reverberation. To lower or raise a note's pitch, use pitch benders.
Choose from miniature, mid-sized, and full-sized keys on electronic keyboards. Children or people with very small hands often find the smallest-sized keys most helpful. If this keyboard is intended as practice for a full-sized acoustic piano, however, it's best to buy a keyboard that has full-sized keys at the outset.
The number of keys also varies from keyboard to keyboard. While the majority of electronic keyboards feature 61 keys, some smaller keyboards have only 49 keys. Intermediate-sized keyboards have 76 keys, while full-sized keyboards and digital pianos will almost always have the full number of 88 keys.
Some keyboards also use weighted keys or keys that are touch-sensitive. These allow players to vary their technique to demand harder or softer tones from the keyboard.
Learning to play the electronic keyboard isn't as difficult as it may seem. Most keyboards are equipped with instructional tutorials or song libraries that help users learn the ins and outs of their new instrument. Usually, song libraries offer a wide variety of songs that players can learn by playing as they listen.
Buy an electronic keyboard that has a MIDI port so that the instrument can interface with the computer or other electronic gear. Some keyboards will even let users download different song selections straight to the song library on the keyboard as well.
MIDI technology also allows players to record a musical composition, save it on a computer, and then edit the composition. This allows players to edit imperfections, alter note sequences, or even record multiple tracks for a piece.
Accessories: Knowing what to buy
To make an electronic keyboard perform at its potential, a few accessories are must-haves. First, consider investing in at least one keyboard amplifier. This allows the keyboard to deliver a louder, more powerful sound than the standard offered by the two internal speakers with which the instrument is manufactured.
Be sure to check to make sure the electronic keyboard's output is compatible with the amplifier. Different cables or AC adapters may also be required, so check the manufacturer's specifications when wiring the keyboard for sound.
Additionally, while a desktop may be sufficient for a smaller keyboard, players who have full-sized electronic keyboards or who play with bands will want to buy a keyboard stand or rack. A stool is also helpful unless the player intends to stand throughout the performance. If the electronic keyboard is going to a gig or going on the road, it's safer to carry it in a case or gig bag for protection.
For unique effects, add a sustain pedal to hold a note longer. Or, buy a keyboard that features a groove box. Groove boxes make editing or sequencing tracks or musical patterns less difficult.
Whether you're a serious musician whose band is planning to hit the top forty charts, or whether you just want an electronic keyboard that will help you relax and play old favorites, buy the keyboard that was made just for you. You may have to shop around a little, and do some checking, but you'll find it. Enjoy the music!