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LetoII

What's a good keyboard for a beginning pianist?

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Hey guys,

Long time lurker, been listening to the remixes on Overclocked for years. Never registered on the forums until now but I had a question and I figured with the number of talented musicians in this community I could get some good info here.

The question's simple -- I've decided to take some lessons and start learning how to play the piano, but my apartment isn't big enough to house a real piano. So, I need to get a keyboard/digital piano to get started with. I'm wondering what the community here would recommend as far as something that's affordable, and decent at emulating a real piano (has things like good pressure sensitive keys). I am a software programmer so it's a huge bonus if I can interface with my computer and use software like Reason... but I doubt I need to tell this community that...

I'm pretty much a total beginner at this, btw -- I can read sheet music, and used to practice songs that I liked on a cheap Casio when I was young but my parents wouldn't get me lessons, so that's all I know. So, if you guys want to recommend any instructional material or resources, I'm all ears.

Thanks!

Leto

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You can get any old keyboard to practice on. Weighted keys don't really matter if you're just learning. The synth action/weighted action thing is just a preference.

You do need to tell us if you want midi! Though 99.9999% of digital keyboards have midi on them now, on the product description [or box] they'll say if they have midi and how [uSB or DIN5] I came across these keyboards by chance. One I got at a garage sale, two from the school district, and one that was in a dumpster [though I haven't had much use for that Yamaha SY-22 anyway]. They all have midi support.

Everyone at OCR is a computerwhore so most of us have basic MIDI controllers that run about $300 or less [or they click notes into a piano roll with a mouse, like a fucking tool]. I myself am using this Kawaii K11 that I got for free. It doesn't have any mappable knobs or faders or anything, but it's got 61 velocity sensitive keys and a pitch and mod wheel. And it was free. But few people come across hardware like that. These things are probably worth $50 on eBay so that's a deal there. The sounds are pretty dated but I never use them anyway since FRUITYLOOPS CAN'T RECOGNIZE MY LINE IN, THE PIECE OF SHIT

Anyway, there's your answers. Also, please don't just buy a keyboard on impulse. There are, outwardly, perfectly fine looking keyboards which totally suck on the inside. Do a bit of googling and you'll find some recurring top brands and you can average out some reviews.

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Try an M-Audio Keystation 88. Runs $200, full range, nice keys. Pick up an MP-2 sustain pedal while you're at it ($25). It doesn't have any built in sounds, but you can just hook it up to your computer (and reason) to practice via USB.

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Thanks guys. Funny coincidence Overcoat, I live in Seattle too.

My emphasis is actually more on learning the instrument than applying it to remix right now... I just figured I'd be crazy to buy a keyboard without midi. Thus I am more interested in something that has its own speakers, sounds reasonably like a piano, etc. as opposed to a midi controller. With that said, if I read what you're saying right it sounds like in the beginning there won't be much difference for me between a good keyboard and a mediocre one.

For starting out maybe I should buy something that is cheap, but that is a reputable brand, and has gotten good reviews. If it's not too expensive I won't feel guilty about upgrading down the road when I develop more discriminating tastes...

Zircon, I will look up the M-Audio, but when you say it doesn't have any built-in sounds, that means it doesn't have any voices, doesn't have speakers, can't generate any sound on its own, right? I am not really cognizant of the advantages here -- am I going to save a lot of money and be able to buy something that's better quality if I buy a controller instead of a full-fledged synth/digital piano?

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Yes, you are saving tons of money. A digital piano with speakers and built in sounds would cost several times the Keystation. $400 might get you a crappy keyboard in terms of feel, maybe not even 88 keys, bad sensitivity, etc. Possibly no MIDI capability, certainly no USB. My sister just picked up a middle-of-the-line digital piano w/ 88 weighted keys, MIDI, speakers, and built in sounds. $1100.

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Try getting the M-Audio Prokeys 88sx. No speakers, but it has on board sounds and midi. I'm very happy with it, I use it mainly as a controller for Reason.

http://www.zzounds.com/item--MDOPRO88STAGESX

So, if you guys want to recommend any instructional material or resources, I'm all ears.

http://video.google.co.uk/videosearch?q=scott+houston

Just look for the 'how to play' vids, you might pick up a few tips there.

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I have a keystation 88 I dont use, and dont need. if you want it its yours for the cost of shipping and an additional 50 bucks.

the shipping will be expensive,

but its in like new condition ( I literally only used it for about 5 hours.)

when I upgraded my studio I bought a Yamaha S-90 es and a Juno D.

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The synth action/weighted action thing is just a preference.

Nonono. If you want to learn piano, you cannot have a synth action keyboard. What Overcoat said can applying to remixing, not learning piano. Also, while you're at it, you may want to get M-Audio's piano-like pedal rather then those "click" sustain pedals. If you want to learn piano the weighted action is important. Practicing on light keys will get you accustomed to them, it's important to be able to practice on them.

I have a Keystation 88es. I do not reccomend it for learning piano. It's a much better investment to just save up a bit more money and buy something better. The 88es might be okay for using as a controller, but completely sucks learning piano. Every week I spend hours practicing on it, then during my lessons I have to re-adjust to the actual piano action and get used to it again.

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The synth action/weighted action thing is just a preference.

Nonono. If you want to learn piano, you cannot have a synth action keyboard.

Do you have any actual reason as to why this matters?

It's just a preference. I learned to play on all sorts of different kinds of keys. It's still the same layout. There are 7 white keys and 5 black ones, all in the same placement, usually the same size, on every octave of every keyboard in the entire world.

One thing I recommend is not getting a keyboard with super huge keys or little tiny keys since, of course, the fingering will have to be different. How heavy the keys are, however, does not affect piano technique. The only thing I can think of that's hammer-action related is the... fast repeating note thing, which works on grand pianos but not uprights.

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That's not really true. If you're aiming to actually become a proficient pianist, your touch has a LOT to do with it. There is a ton of high level stuff that has to do with how much pressure you put on the keys and how they react.

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How heavy the keys are, however, does not affect piano technique.

Well uh zircon already responded to this but I'll just end by saying there's quite a few hard piano pieces that I can play well with my Casio but is just too taxing when trying to play on my real piano. Piano technique is more then moving your hands fast, it's also dynamics, finger strength, which is obviously connected to the touch of the keys. It's best to get used to them instead of adjusting to them.

But why not just cut to a simpler answer - the most obvious reason as to why it matters is because it's far closer to the feel of the instrument he is trying to learn.....

Of course everything I say is from the perspective of taking lessons and learning technique from classical music. If you want to just be a keyboardist for a band, well....

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Speaking as someone who grew up around all manner of keyboards and pianos and juliard level pianists,

A weighted keyboard is actually counter-conductive to newer musicians.

If you want to learn how to play piano, a weighted keyboard is easy to fool, and your technique will suffer.

Even in ancient times, the most prodigial pianists used the lightest weighted keys when they were beginners, so much so, that there were special "student" models of keyboards for the young and beginning musicians of the time. This tradition has carried over, but now it means that the piano is built to an inferior quality to the one that costs more than some houses.

Learn on unweighted. Then when you are ready to play on a good piano, get one.

DO NOT start on an expesive keyboard, or buy a real piano.

Spend 140 - 500 dollars and no more on a keyboard, and learn on it. There is no use in investing in a 1000-10000 dollar keyboard only to discover you dont like playing. IM not saying you will hate it, but if its not your thing, its not your thing. If you end up dropping out, you dont want to be stuck with a quality instrument that cost an arm and a leg, just for it to collect dust.

And yes I sincerely think starting with a keyboard with semi weighted action, or no weight at all is a uch better way to learn.

If you are going to spend money on a decent keyboard, I'd reccommend a yamaha psr 530 or whatever the current Psr series is.

the 530 is cheap, and its a fun thing to bang around on. The drawback is that its got I think 61 keys and not a full 88.

Its not nessecarily a drawback though as a lot of modern pop music rarely uses the higher end of the keyboard.

I'd definetly visit a music shop. When the clerk comes to ask you if you need help, just say you are looking, and you have no plans to buy anything that day. Look at the stuff play with it, and ask to be left alone to try on your own.

when you find your keyboard, you find your keyboard.

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