Which Keys Are Right For You?
There was a time when this would be a very simple question to answer…
On the one hand, big money and lots of room meant you could have the luxury of an acoustic or digital piano. On the other hand those who wanted a compact, budget-friendly solution opted for the humble keyboard.
Technology has subsequently blurred the lines between varying budgets, but depending on your needs, the advantages of one style of keyed instrument could help define you as a stronger player over another.
Let’s have a look at some of the *key* differences.
The portable keyboard is responsible for helping many new players get started. The light weighted keys are ideal for building finger strength and stretching ability. Many portable keyboards also contain built in lessons. The Yamaha Education Suite helps newer players practice time and pitch exercises at their convenience.
Of course not all portable keyboards are aimed at the beginners, in fact you can get some really professional keyboards that are ideal for working musicians that want something light yet incredibly capable.
Synthesizers come in many shapes and sizes, some without a traditional keyboard function. As such, it’s unlikely to be the best beginner instrument if you’re learning keys.
One synth might be dedicated to perfect instrument modeling and performance whilst another may be used solely to create powerful electronic tone that can be heard on many tracks played in clubs today.
Further along your keyboard odyssey, synths could be your perfect match. If you’re into the mechanics of sound production, you will lose yourselves for hours in a good synth.
The term “digital piano” can be applied to any piano that operates from electricity, but here we’re referring to the cabinet style. The style that you would find most commonly in homes, places of learning and religious centres. The Clavinova range is a great example.
Digital pianos give you the best bang for your buck when it comes to features and usually contain recording capabilities, lessons and exercises as well as breathtaking voices and speaker systems and that all important fully weighted piano feel.
If you need an elegant instrument that will rarely need moving around then this is the best option for you.
The stage piano is the jewel in the crown of the gigging musician. It provides the fully weighted experience of an acoustic/digital piano yet remains easily transportable.
These machines don’t skimp on quality sounds either! The flagship Roland RD-2000 which weighs in at just over 20Kg can produce the sound of a concert grand and more wherever you need it. A stage piano really gives you all of the benefits of a digital piano. The only mark against it would be down to aesthetic preference…
This brings us to the Grandaddy of the list, the acoustic piano. Despite not having a volume control, regular tuning requirements and generally needing more care, some people simply cannot do without a fully acoustic piano. Whilst technology has made the digital piano nearly indistinguishable from acoustics in sound, some argue that you cannot beat the feel of the hammer hitting the strings when a key is pressed and let’s face it… there’s nothing quite as majestic as a grand piano.
So what’s right for you? When I began to play (nearly 30 years ago!!!), I attended weekly lessons on a fully weighted digital piano whilst practising at home on my portable keyboard. This gave me the best of both worlds and allowed me to develop proper technique whilst picking styles and pieces of music that were fun to play.
With so many great options out there, we’re confident you’ll find something out there to suit your keyboard-based needs.
Rob Mather is a multi-instrumentalist and DJ from Huddersfield, England. Rob enjoys an active career as a performer and writer of many styles of music. Rob is also heavily engaged in providing sound and lighting support for live music events and theatre productions.