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The category at Musician's Friend includes a broad range of products, from simple and basic to multi-thousand dollar workstations. Before diving in, it's important to know exactly what you're looking for. This guide will help you figure out just what sort of keyboard will best suit your needs. The products that Musician's Friend sells in our category can be divided into four sub-categories: , , , and . Below is a short synopsis of each category.
can be divided into two categories depending on their intended use. are generally intended for use in the home, while are designed for the performing musician who needs something more portable. The major difference in these categories is the design, as many stage and home pianos share the same features and sounds. (or slab) pianos
Important elements to consider when buying aare the responsiveness of the keys, the quality of sound the instrument produces, the amplifier and speaker system, and the design that best fits your needs. Many digital pianos include comprehensive learning systems that make them ideal for beginning keyboardists.
Arrangers and Portables
An arranger can be looked at as a songwriting partner. keyboards with professional sound engines and a number of compositional tools to enhance the songwriting process. Sometimes referred to as a "band-in-a box," an arranger provides the sounds and sequencing tools necessary to flesh out an idea and create a full-fledged song.
Portable keyboards are generally oriented toward beginning players. The sequencing functions are more basic than those an arranger offers, and like , most include learning functions. Many portables also feature USB connectivity for transferring sounds to and from your computer or the internet, saving projects, or even downloading songs for karaoke! If you're a beginning player, or perhaps you play another instrument and would like to have a keyboard to learn or experiment with, a portable is the way to go.
Synthesizers and Workstations
are keyboards that just produce sounds. Most synthesizers today use sample-based synthesis—that is, they use pre-recorded sounds, as opposed to analog synths that manipulate electrical signals to create their sounds. Analog synths still exist, though they are few and far between. The technology of analog synthesizers has improved greatly over the years, and they have distinct sounds that many players demand. Sample-based synths generally provide a much larger sound set, including piano, organ, horns, strings, and more.
While an keyboard workstation is much more like a complete workstations have a number of recording features, such as the ability to record audio, an internal hard drive, multitrack recording, built-in CD burners, etc. are the pinnacle of the professional keyboard world, and will provide the experienced songwriter or producer the tools needed to craft, record, edit, and finalize songs.serves as a songwriting partner, a
Before buying a , it's important to define what you need to control, and how much control you need. While MIDI controllers come in different forms, the most common ones have keys. Keyboard-style MIDI controllers can have varying numbers of keys and different response characteristics such as velocity-sensitive (the keys respond to the speed with which they're pressed), weighted (more realistic piano feel), and aftertouch (allows additional parameters to be assigned to a key such as vibrato).
MIDI controllers come in different forms including drum pads, control surfaces (for controlling a software mixer, for example), wind controllers, and combination controllers with keys, knobs, and sliders.