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Practice Keyboard

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by lyla1953, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    Finally found a local bass instructor. He has recommended that I acquire a cheap keyboard ($100ish new).

    I'm not really stuck to that price point but I don't want to pay more for exotic features I won't use.

    Nor do I want to have to upgrade due to lack of (really nice to have for intermediate/advanced students) features later on. Something that will suit my needs for the next 3 years or so to speak.

    I'd appreciate any recommendations - manufacture/model/most desired features for learning.
    Thanks, guys
  2. Schmorgy


    Jul 2, 2012
    M-audio makes decent and cost effective midi controller keyboards that can be used to control any number of free vstis out there. Gives you the flexibility of investing in pricey piano vstis should you want to later.
  3. I have a 61 key Yamaha with more bells and whistles than I will ever need. You can find one like this used for just under $100. New will cost $200 - $300.

    If all he wants you to have is some drum tracks and some chord progressions, in memory, things like that - ask him to recommend a model number or go into more detail what he wants you do end up with. Most all in-expensive keyboards will do that.
  4. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    If your local classifieds are anything like mine, you will find people practically giving away old Casio and Yamaha keyboards. Yes, a lot of their tones are cheesy, but some of them also have built-in lessons and playalong songs that are useful if you're new at keys. I gigged with a Casio LK-94TV for 4 years because it had string tones that worked well for my hair metal band. I finally decided that I wanted something programmable, so last week I replaced it with a Casio XW-P1 synth.
  5. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    IMO, your instructor has it right.

    I have a Casio (49 keys) I picked up a couple of decades ago. It still works and I use it regularly for basic chord progressions and learning some tunes. It has a semi-decent organ sound that I even once used in a band reunion get together. A newer used version would probably cost you about $25-$40 today and would be fine to learn keyboard basics on.

    It has about 20 keyboard tones, internal recorder, tempo control/presets, chord progression presets, some touch pads for drums...real basic stuff compared to what I just bought for a family member. It's a Casio LK-280 with touch sensitive keys and tons of features. About $300 MSRP. Discounted on many sites.

    IMO, a basic model will be fine for your instructor's purposes and possibly be sufficient for many years to come. If not, upgrade later if you need to and get the latest and greatest.

    Learning basic keys is a great help for ear training and general musicianship. No downside as far as I can tell.

    Good luck.
  6. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    I picked up an M-Audio Keystation 88es for $100 a couple years back that suited me well until it was stolen at a gig. For the price, you can't get better: the keys were decent (semi-weighted, so feels good to play but not like lifting a car when you need to move it), real basic controls and features, easily expandable, and hey, 88 keys. It's single channel, as far as I know, but unless you're playing keys live and need to switch between patches in an instant, you really only need one channel. After getting jacked, I went for the pro version and managed to talk the seller down to $150 (pretty good, considering I see them going anywhere between $200-350 used). It has all the MIDI functionality I could ever ask for, and then some. Plus, it feels nice.

    Both of those controllers are out of production now, so it's used market, but you can probably find something comparable from M-Audio, Alesis, or Korg. You could also look for a synth that has its own sounds, but I think it is more fulfilling in the long run to get a MIDI keyboard and go the software route. If you have a Mac, you have Garageband, which has its own MIDI instruments (Quicktime also has soft instruments), and I'm not sure what there is for Windows, but it looks like you can easily find free MIDI instruments. http://mustech.net/2007/06/midipiano-freeware-midi-piano-player-synth-and-more/

    I personally use a hardware synth, as I don't like having to have my laptop around in order to play my keyboard. There are numerous cheap hardware synthesizers that have decent bread and butter sounds (strings, horns, organs, vox, piano, square/sawtooth/triangle/sine wave, maybe some leads).
  7. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    Thank you - great advice
  8. snowplow


    Jan 4, 2012
    I recently bought a rubber roll up 61 key keyboard for the same reasons youre looking. I picked up online for 30 bucks. I love it. It doesnt have great tone but it has 100's of tones, rhythms. I like it becuase its convienent, practical and doesnt take up space.
  9. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    What the keyboard is for? To play chords or bass synth?
  10. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    Pure bass study - so chords and ear.
    Of course one never knows how things evolve.
    I've got a line on a M-Audio controller and I have GB on my Mac already - Who knew!.
    Should have enough to get me into real trouble by this time tomorrow.
  11. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    OK, make sure you get a polyphonic keyboard LOL
  12. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    If you own a Mac, you'll have Garage Band with it. Just get a cheap 2 octaves keyboard controller and you'll be fine to play chords and for programming.

    I actually did professional tv gigs with just an iPad and Garage Band app for bass synth purposes, and it works great.
  13. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    Just picked up an new-used (in the box) MAudio 61es for $63. I'm happy!
  14. tyjacks

    tyjacks Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2002
    Memphis, TN.
    Need advice, going to but a keyboard for the same. First questions.. 61 or 88 keys ? Would like a keyboard that has bass synth such as a Roland Juno, Roland VR-09, or Roland FA-06. Thoughts and opinions wanted...
  15. You probably won't need an 88.

    On boards less than that they generally have "octave' and "transpose' buttons.

    Also:- some boards come with different type keys depending on which version you buy of the same model. 88's are usually weighted. A 76 in the same model may be graduated. And the 61 may be lighter synth-type oriented keys.

    I think 88's are geared toward concert pianist types.

    I've made whole cd's off my Yamaha XS6----61 keys. My Tyros is 61 keys too.

    As to what selections of bass tones (like synth) are on a board...well..you really have to look around.

    Casio comes up with some gems from time to time.

    First thing I check on any board is the key action. If they feel cheap,loose and rackety clackity then chances are they are cheapass keys.

    Some of the older Yamaha Motif XS series boards are very good. The newer ones seems to be made with cheaper keys in the budget line.

    The XS series has lots of synth sounds on it.

    I wasn't satisfied with anything Yamaha makes below the Tyros line for an arranger board.

    I tried a PSR 950 and it felt like junk.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2017
  16. tyjacks

    tyjacks Supporting Member

    Dec 23, 2002
    Memphis, TN.
    ZenG, thanks for your insight. You bring out a good point on how the keys feel which is important to me. I've noticed on most of the 61's the keys felt kinda cheap and plastic, the 88's feel great and they are weighted full length keys. Even the expensive Roland FA-06 felt kinda cheap as compared to the FA-08. I'm really liking the Juno DS88, but the 88 keys may be overkill for what I want to do. Also looked at the Yamaha P-115 digital piano, no synth but good feel/sound.

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