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Keyboards Keyboards, digital piano or - what's the difference?

Philly123

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Hi, I've been trying to use our old piano to help me better understand chords, triads, etc. It's quite old and probably needs retuning. The last time we had it tuned the piano tuner said that he didn't think it would survive many more tunings so I've decided to replace it with a smaller keyboard type thing. I don't want to spend too much (I'm also looking for a soprano sax - so have to watch the budget!). I've been looking online and have become totally confused by the plethora that's available.

I'm not sure if they just different versions of the same thing or are used for totally different things. I'm only after something that works like a piano and wondered if anybody would provide some advice. I've a found an old thread on here in which somebody was stressing the importance of having a touch sensitive keyboard but I'm not sure what the significance of this is.
 

kevgermany

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The cheap ones have keys which are on/off switches, so no expression or volume control from by playing. The sensitivity/response increases as the price goes up, but you'll probably never match the touch/control of the real thing. But for just learning the chords, pretty much anything will do.
 

Clivey

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If you are on an extremely tight budget. Keep on the search until you can buy an old keyboard or an old synth with both MIDI and Touch sensitivity.. Most of the decent Audio software these days will enable you to use the keys as a real time controller making the onboard sounds obsolete and thus enabling up to date and stunningly good samples and soft synths even when in Demo/crippled mode.

Realistically an old casio or yamaha may be as little as £40 on gumtree and if you are really lucky someone may be getting rid of an old home digital Piano with weighted action and pedals for not much more. Looky here for example.
(ADMIN: Dead link removed)
 
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Philly123

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The cheap ones have keys which are on/off switches, so no expression or volume control from by playing. The sensitivity/response increases as the price goes up, but you'll probably never match the touch/control of the real thing. But for just learning the chords, pretty much anything will do.

Thanks Kev, that's very helpful to know. I think I will look for something with that type of sensitivity as my daughter might want to learn to play (Although that's why we got the original piano and she hasn't started yet :confused2:)

If you are on an extremely tight budget. Keep on the search until you can buy an old keyboard or an old synth with both MIDI and Touch sensitivity.. Most of the decent Audio software these days will enable you to use the keys as a real time controller making the onboard sounds obsolete and thus enabling up to date and stunningly good samples and soft synths even when in Demo/crippled mode.

Realistically an old casio or yamaha may be as little as £40 on gumtree and if you are really lucky someone may be getting rid of an old home digital Piano with weighted action and pedals for not much more. Looky here for example.
(ADMIN: Dead link removed)

I was wondering about the midi thing and hope I'm in thinking that something which connects to a computer? On that basis I'm telling myself I don't need to bother with that but maybe I should rethink. Is the electric piano similar to this apart from size?
http://www.reidys.com/pr/digital-keyboards/yamaha-np31-black-package-17247/
 
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kevgermany

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Get 88 keys, always.

Midi - yes, but also other midi devices.
 

llamedos

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Try places such as Cash Converters - at least you can see what's on offer. I've seen some good bargains and you can probably persuade the staff to plug one in so that you can make sure it works! The advice to go for something with the full 88 keys is worth noting if you want to do more than get to grips with chords,scales,etc.

Dave
 

kernewegor

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88s are more expensive and are much less common on ebay (this is Mr Mean talking...)

About a year (?) ago I got a touch sensitive five octave Yamaha PSR-225GM for £17 (!) on ebay. There were plenty of touch sensitive ones which went for various prices, many less than £50 at the time.

I avoided Casio (far lesser quality, poor reviews) and also synthesisers on the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Stupid... and the latter go for more dough. I didn't go for weighted action, again, because of cost - but better if it is within your budget as it is closer to a 'real' piano's action.

One snag is many people won't post because of the size.

The big advantage of this is that if one comes up within hitting distance for you to pick up, then far fewer people will bid - so you could get a bargain - as I did! (I missed an 88 within 10 miles, which was a bit less than £100, which I didn't really want to spend at the time...)

I researched which Yamahas are touch sensitive so as to not waste time looking at others on ebay - touch sensitive is what you want, even if you mainly want it for learning about chords and helping yourself to memorize strongly a picture of the relationship between the black notes and the white ones (a great help for a horn player).

My list of touch sensitive Yamahas is floating around on this site somewhere, because Jane ML wanted to see it at the time.

All in all I'd suggest you go for a five octave touch sensitive Yamaha unless an 88 comes up within hitting distance at a good price. You ought to be able to get one similar to mine for less than £50 (which is what I decided was my limit) Older models replaced by Christmas presents are probably still hitting ebay...and at that sort of price they well worth having... and it will give you a much better idea of what to look for if you want an 88 later on.

It would certainly be good enough to get your daughter started - people have been known to gig on them - and if she takes to it you then have time to look around for an 88 at the right price. Then - if you want - stick the five octave back on ebay and you might even get more than you paid for it....

PS Just found the thread - it contains the touch sensitive list and various comments on keyboards which you might find useful:

http://cafesaxophone.com/community/...ayer-should-have-one.10912/page-2#post-133790

PS Late correction - got it for £14 :mrcool
 
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Philly123

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Thanks both. There are few Cash Converters around where I work so may try and pop out during a lunch break.

Although I like the idea of a an 88 key one, I think I might go for a smaller one (I assume a 5 octave is a 61 key one?) I think this size would be easier to accommodate in the corner I'm thinking of. I've got the list of the models suggested so that's an excellent starting point.

Thanks to you all for your helpful suggestions.
 

Sue

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Philly I have a 61 key Yamaha PSR295 which is fine for learning the chords and basics. Like kernewegor I picked it up for a few quid. Had it about 8 or 9 years and still going ok.
 

ProfJames

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Thanks both. There are few Cash Converters around where I work so may try and pop out during a lunch break.

Although I like the idea of a an 88 key one, I think I might go for a smaller one (I assume a 5 octave is a 61 key one?) I think this size would be easier to accommodate in the corner I'm thinking of. I've got the list of the models suggested so that's an excellent starting point.

Thanks to you all for your helpful suggestions.
They have all of their kit listed online.
 

Philly123

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South Wales
I'm on the trail of one! http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical-instruments/keyboards/digitalkeyboards/portable_keyboards/psr262/?mode=model
It's on Kernewegor's recommended list so that's a bonus. It's secondhand and according to the Yamaha products list is about 12-13 years old. Advertised as "great condition". It doesn't come with a stand but only £20 so could pick up a cheap one and have still have a good deal. What do you think? Any thumbs down?
 
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Philly123

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Thanks Colin. I had a go on this tonight. I had found a similar thing but it only had 2 octaves, which had proved very difficult when trying to identify some higher and lower chords for the online Berklee course I'm currently doing. My own voice doesn't seem to have much of range these days. Does one's voice drop in pitch with age ... I'm sure I used to be able to reach higher notes in my younger 'sing-a-long days'.:(
 
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kevgermany

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For that price you can't go wrong, even if it packs up in a few months.
 

kernewegor

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I'd go for it straight away if it works OK! At that price it would be silly not to - touch sensitive - great.

It is similar to mine, but mine has umpteen different instrument voices and including twelve different piano types (?) even more organ types and lots of other instruments I never use (I use the 'jazz organ' if I want to hear sustained chords)

Mine doesn't have a stand, either.

If you want to play standing up use an ironing board! That's what the stands look like anyway!

Let us know how you get on.
 

kernewegor

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BTW mine lost its touch sensitivity just on a couple of notes within a week of getting it.

It didn't affect the organ function, so if it got irritating I used that.

I googled (as you do) and hoovered the keyboard severely a few times which seemed to help a bit.

I also held it upside down and shook it a few times thinking it could be dust and I'd dislodge it. It didn't happen as often after that.

After a few weeks it stopped happening and hasn't happened since. Maybe it had been kept in a damp garage or just wanted a bit of use. It works great and does exactly what I want - which is a chord and scale mentor.
 

Greg Lee

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A keyboard translates the strikes of your fingers on a piano-like keyboard into electrical signals, and it may also have a synthesizer, amplifier and speakers.
A synthesizer generates the sounds of the notes of various instruments from keyboard signals, often including a piano as one option.
A digital piano is a keyboard with a synthesizer for piano sounds, often including amplifier and speakers.

There are moderately priced all-in-one devices with a keyboard, synthesizer, amplifier, and speakers that have a piano voice, among other selectable voices for other instruments. I have a Casio "keyboard" that is like this, with 61 keys, and many instrument voices, including piano. Mine is from 2010 and cost about $200. The piano sound is very good, I think, but by paying more, you can get a better approximation to a real piano.

More expensive or professional devices might separate out the various functions, keyboard - synthesizer - amplifier - speakers, in distinct physical gear.

A digital piano is the same sort of thing, but calling it this tends to imply it does a better job of emulating a real piano, having more keys, and keys that are sensitive to the way your fingers hit the keys, as a real piano would be. You would also hope that a "digital piano" contains a lot of data in it concerning how real pianos sound.

If you're concerned with performance values, maybe you'd want a pricey digital piano that does a relatively faithful emulation of a piano. Otherwise, for learning some music theory, most anything would do.
 
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