What is the best keyboard for me?
A keyboard is an electronic musical instrument that has the ability to reproduce the sounds of lots of other instruments. Pianos, organs, guitars, saxophones, orchestral instruments, drums and sound effects are among the most common sounds found on a keyboard, but the total number is often well into the hundreds! It's usually possible to add automatic accompaniments as well. These days, there are lots of different keyboard models available, so how do you decide which one is best for you? This guide provides answers to a number of frequently asked questions which will hopefully help you make the right choice. If, after reading the guide, you still have questions, don't hesitate to contact us and we'll do our best to help you find the perfect product.
Most keyboards tend to have 61 keys on board giving you 5 full octaves, but other models can have 49 keys (4 octaves), 76 keys (6 octaves) and even 88 keys, the same as you get on a full-size piano. If you plan to play your own accompaniments with your left hand and melodies with your right, we recommend investing in a keyboard that has at least 49 keys. If you plan on taking keyboard lessons and you want a model that offers more playing possibilities, a keyboard with 61 keys is an even better option thanks to its bigger range. Many keyboards let you assign different functions to different areas and having more keys available is handy for features like this too. If you only want to play simple melodies, however, a keyboard with 32 keys may be enough for you.
Touch-sensitive keys make it possible to hear the difference between when a key is pressed softly or firmly, rather than each key press simply resulting in the same sound. For playing piano pieces properly, you will need a keyboard with touch-sensitive keys. Most musical instruments have the ability to be played softly or firmly, so for a keyboard to be able to recreate the sounds of certain instruments as realistically as possible, a keyboard with touch-sensitive keys can be important. If you plan on taking keyboard lessons, a keyboard with touch-sensitive keys is recommended. On keyboards without touch-sensitive keys, it's only possible to adjust the overall volume. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, so you just need to decide whether touch-sensitive keys are important to you or not.
While it's possible to place a keyboard on a table or desk, we recommend getting a stand so that you can easily put your keyboard at the right height for the most comfortable playing position. A keyboard bench to sit on is also recommended for the same reason. If you want to practise in silence or avoid bothering others, a set of headphones can also come in handy. A bag or case is highly recommended if you want to transport your keyboard safely. If you don't plan on travelling with your keyboard, it's still wise to purchase a cover to protect it from dust and dirt when you're not playing it. Although many keyboards these days have built-in lesson functions, a keyboard book can be helpful too. Another handy accessory is a sheet music holder, which is normally included normally included with a keyboard. Finally, a sustain pedal can enrich your playing experience (see question 4).
Please note: some keyboards do not include a power adapter. If this is the case, it will be clearly stated and, in most cases, a suitable adapter will be offered as part of a Package Deal on the product page.
A sustain pedal allows the sound of a note to continue playing even after you've stopped pressing the key, giving you a spacious, reverb-type effect. It's a technique that's commonly used by piano players. Many keyboards have an input for a sustain pedal, but that doesn't mean you have to use one. If you play piano pieces on your keyboard often, however, you may find a sustain pedal a worthwhile investment for a more authentic piano-playing experience.
Keyboards and digital pianos can look very similar to one another because both are equipped with black and white keys, but there is a clear difference. A keyboard usually has lots of different instruments on board as well as built-in rhythms and automatic accompaniments. A digital piano, on the other hand, is designed to imitate an acoustic piano as closely as possible, in terms of both sound and playing feel. It usually has 88 keys on board (a keyboard normally has fewer than this) that tend to be heavier to play too, just like those on a real piano. As specialist instruments, digital pianos often have more convincing piano sounds than those on a keyboard.
A MIDI keyboard doesn't produce any sound of its own. Instead, it passes a signal on to another piece of equipment, such as a computer with audio software or another instrument with a MIDI input. If you're simply looking for a keyboard to play music on without any other equipment, then you should purchase a 'standard' keyboard. Many 'standard' keyboards also have MIDI functionality built-in and feature MIDI connectors, although many USB connectors can also handle MIDI functionality these days.
A standard keyboard normally has many built-in sounds that are ready to play, along with automatic accompaniments and built-in speakers. A synthesizer, on the other hand, is designed for people who want to create their own sounds and accurately adjust them in all sorts of ways. A synthesizer doesn't have automatic accompaniments and often doesn't have built-in speakers either.
This depends on what you want to use your keyboard for. In general, the more expensive a keyboard is, the more connection possibilities it will have. Almost every keyboard has a headphone socket, which is handy for practising in silence. A connector for a sustain pedal is also fairly common (see question 4). So is a line input that allows you to connect an external sound source like a smartphone or a computer so that you can play along with your favourite music. A keyboard with a line output lets you connect it to equipment like an active speaker, a mixer or a sound system. Sometimes a headphone socket doubles as a line output. If you want to sing along while you play, a keyboard with a microphone input can be a good choice. More expensive keyboard models may even have microphone effects like reverb and automatic harmonies built in.
Tip: by using the 'connectors' filter in the Keyboards category, you can find keyboards that have the connectors you require.
A keyboard is normally equipped with at least two internal speakers that are powered by a built-in amplifier. A higher wattage generally means that speakers can produce a higher volume without distortion. This can make the difference between soft and loud sounds clearer and more realistic, especially when accompaniments and rhythms are added. The size of the speakers can also be important because larger speakers tend to produce better bass. Some keyboards also have additional built-in speakers for even better sound. There are even keyboards without any speakers at all, although these tend to be designed for professional use and rely on external sound systems for their sound.
Tip: by using the ‘built-in amplifier’ filter in the Keyboards category, you can find keyboards that have the desired amplifier wattage.