A Primer on Digital Keyboards

You may be curious about digital (electric) pianos and keyboards-

For instance, I get a bunch of questions about using keyboards for piano instruction.

Well, here are a few basic things to keep in mind. If you do not own a traditional piano- or your piano is in extremely poor condition you potentially might be better off looking into the keyboard option.

Benefits: Keyboards can work well in rooms with multi activities, such as tv, conversation, and living activities because Keyboards work with headphones. Once you plug these in you are all alone with your music.

Keyboards are generally more portable than pianos, they can be moved from room to room.

Keyboards usually have features which assist with practicing, such as, built in metronomes and recorders.

Requirements: Keyboards have become more widely accepted by pianists and teachers as the features have improved.

Your keyboard should have a minimum of 61keys ( 5 octaves). This number of keys is acceptable for beginners. As the student advances, a full 88 key model will be needed.

The keyboard should also have touch response, this means the touch of the keys should play louder or softer depending on finger touch alone.

Your keyboard also needs a sustain pedal.  These are the most essential features for beginning piano lessons. 

The next most common question is: How much do I have to spend?

Generally, if you want the basic features mentioned above you should be able to get a really nice keyboard for well below $1000.  Some of these features can be found on models costing less than $500.

If you want to spend more, you certainly will find plenty to fit the bill. A thought to keep in mind however is that keyboards are basically “technology” therefore the “bells and whistles” tend to become outdated. So, I tell my customers not to be mesmerized by a whole list of features that you will probably never use. Also some models are sold on their beautiful cabinetry. I don’t usually recommend this as a value added feature either, unless the keyboard is being used somewhere where looks really matter.  Once you start into models with these upscale features, you get into the price range of really nice acoustic pianos. Acoustic pianos tend to be a better investment over time because they don’t depreciate as much as electronics.

The last point is that if you are looking at higher end keyboards, you should compare and contrast their upgradability, and the cost of the upgrades. Also the more expensive you go, the more you should stick with a long term reliable company.

We handle a variety of keyboards and would be happy to visit with you more about any additional questions you might have.  Thanks, Mark.

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