What is it?
The keyboard instrument is an electronic piano, it plays like a piano but is able to replicate most instruments.
Not to be confused with
You may hear about it with other names like electronic keyboard or midi keyboard. Pronounced /əˈlektrikˈkēˌbôrd/, from the latin word “electrum”. meaning to produce from amber by friction and called teclado electrónico in spanish, clavier électrique in french and teclado elétrico in portuguese. A person that plays it it’s called a keyboardist.
The Keyboard family which means that it has a row of keys, buttons or levers that make the sound when you press them and from the subcategory electrophones meaning it makes sound through electricity.
Different types of plastic (celluloid, delrin, styrene, PVC) and metal (brass, high-carbon, steel).
Variants / Evolution
The types are determined by features, what we call keyboard today is just an evolution of the original electric piano.:
- Electronic: Original version, used oscillators and filters to produce sound.
- Frequency Divider: now with transistors, cheaper and less heavy than originals.
- Console: bigger, but with bigger range and made to substitute church pipe organs.
- Home: Build smaller for homes and with functionalities like tape players.
- Combo / Spinet / transistor: These versions become standardized, probably what most people think when they hear electric organs.
- Digital: Capable of making all organ sounds digitally (using electricity and a speaker).
- Synthesizer: Now able to play different instruments using a digital keyboard.
- Software: Non physical, you can have any instrument in your computer or phone.
When you search a keyboard today the biggest differences between the products will be the amount of keys the keyboard has 54,61 or 88. Of course the more keys it has the easier it will be to play bigger ranges.
Another difference is that some models have pre installed programs, the same way a smartphone will have apps, some have learning programs, performance improvers, playback, recording, effects, extra instruments and the ability to install even more programs.
The last difference you’ll find is that some models are more compact than others, some are called synthesizer and some digital pianos, because the term is used interchangeably, we will talk more about sorting all the differences in the brand section of this article.
For a MIDI keyboard, around $300 – $5000 USD, the cheapest we found was a Alesis Recital 88-Key Digital Piano and the most expensive was a Yamaha Genos 76 Key Arranger Workstation .
In the middle we have something like a Roland V-Combo VR-730 73-key Live Performance Keyboard for $1,600 USD.
|Variant||Lowest price*||Highest price*||Average*|
|Digital Workstation||$800 USD||$3,600 USD||$1,200 USD|
|Synthesizer||$300 USD||$1,000 USD||$500 USD|
|Arranger||$200 USD||$6,000 USD||$3,000 USD|
Weights and sizes
The size of Digital Workstation and Arranger goes around 48.6 x 18 x 5.4 In – 40.83 x 11.65 x 3.15 In (123.4 x 45.6 x 13.8 Cm – 103.7 x 29.6 x 8 Cm) and has a weight from 8.82 Lbs (4 Kgs) to 28.66 Lbs (13 Kgs), that’s the size of a surfboard and the weight is heavier than a typical full-size Electric Guitar.
|Portable Keyboard||37 x 4.1 x 12.5 in||8.13 lbs|
|Digital Piano||54.3 x 7.5 x 18 in||72 lbs|
|Compact keyboards||42 x 4 x 12 in||22 lbs|
Best brands and models
The best Electric Keyboard for a beginner is the 54-61 keys models since it is the most common variant it’s also very useful if the keyboard comes with a learning program installed on it., there’s also the compact keyboards that will be extra useful if you have to carry them constantly.
For kids we suggest a keyboard app for tablets or smartphone because the size is right for smaller hands and is a very low risk investment, specially if you don’t know if them will want to keep learning also for them or even toddlers Melissa & Doug Learn-To-Play Piano or any toy piano that lets them play note by note. It’s a good option for a gift because it lets them play without no knowledge of music theory.
If we look at famous players Jonny Greenwood had a Yamaha XB-2 Hammond and Rick Wright a Fender Rhodes Mark I Stage Piano so if you’re going professional, you don’t have any excuse with one of these or just any 88 keys model with the most programs you can find, if you want to be limited only by your ability and not the instrument.
Here’s a list of a lot of them, but for this one a stand (better if it’s portable), a dust cover to avoid doing so much cleaning and a cleaning kit because the dust cover won’t do all the work. There’s also stickers with the key names for beginners (make sure they can be removed no problem once you’re done).
We recommend learning to read sheet music to get the basics. We review resources to help you choose how you want to learn. Now that you know how to read them, you need to get some.
Sheets come in different notations so we recommend checking various versions of the same sheets, searching for “scores” to get all instruments and even the “song name for piano / keyboard to save on translations.
Remember,the keyboard is like any other pianos, it is easy to learn and for beginners it will take a couple of months of getting used to it, it’s also similar to the digital piano, electric organ, mellotron and synthesizer., so you can combine those resources to help you learn.