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  • Natalie Breen and Christine Bemko Kril

How to buy a digital piano or electric keyboard

There are incredible and amazing 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. Music keyboard reviews are worth the time to read.

If you are an acoustic pianist looking for a portable piano substitute or if 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, then an arranger keyboard or what is commonly referred to a workstation keyboard may be a better choice.

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 keys respond correspondingly with the change in applied note pressure? When you use heavier arm weight d the sound louder?

Weighted keys are very important in your decision to buy.

-What other sounds are possible with your keyboard? Many keyboards come with a variety of sounds besides the piano, from 2 to 200 and more different sounds, and many will have other features such as rhythm tracks and LED screens. These features add versatility and fun to your music making.

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 somewhat 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.

Finally, you will want to consider where you will playing your digital piano. If you will be playing in a performance venue you might want to consider if you need an instrument with a built in amplifier. You may be playing through a sound system where an amplifier is not needed. If you are just using it in your living room, a inbuilt amplifier will be useful but you might want to check for a headphone socket so you can play without disturbing your neighbors.

More advanced players will enjoy arranger keyboards which can come with many different features, and you will need to decide which of these will be necessary on your ideal instrument. Possible features include a metronome, a built in sequencer, and a MIDI port, USB, SmartCard or floppy disk to load or download songs and styles. You can purchase arranger keyboards with 61, 76 or 88 keys, depending on the complexity of the music you will be playing. You should try out the keyboard to be sure you are comfortable with the feel of the keys and the sound produced. The keyboard should have an easy to use interface that should be clear and well lit. The various controls should be intuitive and logically placed. You need to make sure they are robust enough and move smoothly.

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