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Need Help Choosing a Keyboard

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  • Need Help Choosing a Keyboard

    I'm a classically trained pianist in high school who's been getting into the realm of more popular music. I'm now in a band with a few friends and I'm tired of playing on the fifty dollar plastic toy keyboard I've been using, and looking to buy a real keyboard. I've been looking around online but I have no idea where to start and need some suggestions for some keyboards I should take a look at. I would like a keyboard the is at least half-decent but I will probably end up buying one used to save the extra cash, as my price limit is somewhere around $500. Eighty-eight keys are a necessity for me as well as fully weighted keys because I've been playing on acoustic pianos for most of my life. A good piano sound is important to me as pretty often I'll be using that but I also am looking for a large variety of patches to use as I plan on using the keyboard for many different things, for instance I should end up playing wichever keyboard I end up buying in the pit of my school play. Any help would be great, thanks!

  • #2
    $500 will get you a Casio Privia, but it won't have a large variety of patches, and getting keys that feel "good" is relative with all digital pianos (and it depends on your budget); the best thing is to simply check them out at a local music store, since nobody can tell you what your fingers like.

    You could consider doing what you want in two steps; first, get a nice digital piano, then buy a separate module with a lot of patches. All you then have to do is to connect a MIDI cable from the digital piano to the module, hook up the module's audio outputs to the mixing desk, and you're good to go. The total'll go above your $500, but your initial purchase will hopefully last you a bit longer.
    "Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.
    Synthesizer Programming Megathread - add your tips & tricks or ask how to recreate sounds!

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    • #3
      I have a Yamaha S80 that's great and meets your needs for weighted keys and good piano patches (amongst other great features) used these days probably 700-800. Yamaha also makes a S08 that are less expensive but have the same nice weighted keybed. Not sure the used market on those. I believe they still make that model though so you should be able to try one out.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the input. The S08 and S80 do seem to be out of my price range, and getting a digital piano and module seems to have the same problem, unless you could suggest a module I could find cheap used. I've been looking around on ebay, and it seems like one of the alesis qs8 keyboards might be a good decision, if anyone could give me some input on that. I do think I will end up at the samash near me in the next couple of days though. Yoozer, what is the advantage of buying a digital piano and module as you suggested as opposed to just a synth with more sounds? If anyone could give any more feedback that'd be great.

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        • #5
          you don't have to buy the piano and module at the same time. Buy the piano, then buy a module when you have the money.

          I'm also in high school and i just spent $900 on my Juno-G. If you're going to use it, it's worth it.
          Gear:
          Nord Lead 2X
          Nintendo DS-10
          Squier MB-4 bass
          Washburn xb-120 bass
          MacBook Pro

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          • #6
            and you can pick up a digital piano with no stand for $400 or less
            Gear:
            Nord Lead 2X
            Nintendo DS-10
            Squier MB-4 bass
            Washburn xb-120 bass
            MacBook Pro

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            • #7
              500 bucks should be able to get you a nice used alesis qs8

              http://www.synthmania.com/qs8.htm

              I have the qsr, the rack version and the sounds on that website are pretty representational of what the unit can do. Only bummer is they drown EVERYTHING in reverb, but you have a user bank you can load with 127 of your own presets on top of the 512 or so factory patches. For a ton of sounds, 88 keys, and in your price range I don't think you can do much better.
              My web page of weird albums...I have chuck woolery! http://www.weirdalbums.herobo.com

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              • #8
                Yoozer, what is the advantage of buying a digital piano and module as you suggested as opposed to just a synth with more sounds?


                Generally speaking a digital piano will have a better quality keyboard than a synthesizer with just weighted keys, because for the price you have to make some kind of compromise. When you don't have to do all the work for a huge set of sounds plus a display, you can spend the rest of that budget on the keyboard quality.

                http://www.synthmania.com/qs8.htm - that's how the QS sounds, if that piano's good enough for you, then it's probably a better option than most newer gear .
                "Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.
                Synthesizer Programming Megathread - add your tips & tricks or ask how to recreate sounds!

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                • #9
                  500 bucks should be able to get you a nice used alesis qs8

                  http://www.synthmania.com/qs8.htm

                  I have the qsr, the rack version and the sounds on that website are pretty representational of what the unit can do. Only bummer is they drown EVERYTHING in reverb, but you have a user bank you can load with 127 of your own presets on top of the 512 or so factory patches. For a ton of sounds, 88 keys, and in your price range I don't think you can do much better.


                  I would not recommend that keyboard because of the action.
                  "Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

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                  • #10
                    Thanks for the feedback, and I was just about to say that the qs8 looks perfect until Outkaster mentioned the action. I may end up doing what Enx suggested.

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                    • #11
                      I would still check out the qs8, if you like the sounds. The keybed is a love or hate thing judging from the reviews
                      http://reviews.harmony-central.com/reviews/Keyboard+And+MIDI/product/Alesis/QS8/10/1
                      Again I only have experience with the module, but keyboard touch is a very personal thing and subject to personal preference. Try one in person if you can, and if it sucks, then move on. Another way to go would be to find a controller you like, and find a qsr if you like those sounds. They go for around 150 bucks or so, plus they have the qcard expansions. To get everything you want in one package you may have to compromise one thing or another, be it touch, sound, or portability (as is the case with a digital piano and a module) In the end, it's only you who can decide what you can or cannot live with. good luck!
                      My web page of weird albums...I have chuck woolery! http://www.weirdalbums.herobo.com

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                      • #12
                        I can only speak from a piano perspective (feel of keys and quality of piano samples).

                        The Casio PX-200 is available online for around $500 on sale right now. It is a very decent entry-level weighted/88-key digital piano. It is better than the other Privia's in your price range (the PX-110 and PX-310) due to higher polyphony. Action might be on the heavy side for some, so try before you buy.

                        I don't like the low-end Yamaha's, as I think their quality only begins to show when you spring for the higher-end models with the superior keyboard action (graded-hammer-effect).

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                        • #13
                          I'd have to agree with what Yoozer and 80k suggested or recommended.

                          Since you've been trained in classical piano and are more familiar with the typical weighted hammer action feel of a true piano plus the fact that you're looking for an 88-key keyboard with a good piano tone/sample/patch...it looks and sounds like you're looking for a digital piano with some nice instrument tones/patches as a bonus feature (I say "some nice instrument patches/tones" because there'd always be other tones/patches that you probably won't like in a given set of instrument samples either because they sound too "artificial" , dry or whatever other comments possible and there wouldn't really be a perfect 100% patch set)

                          However, budget is always a restraining factor. But a $500 budget can get you a Casio Privia Digital piano alright. Be aware however, that in as much as the PX-200 has a better/improved piano sound/samples with 162 instrument tones/patches and 128-note polyphony, it doesn't have a registration bank/memory that will make changing instrument sounds quicker than actually pressing the "YES/NO" buttons while the VARIATION/GM tone button is simultaneously pressed to select or change patch (i.e. it means you have to use two hands to change one instrument sound to another sound/tone...should the need arise during a gig or while performing a number with your band)...this is where the registration bank/memory feature becomes useful. This is what is lacking in the Casio Privia PX-200.

                          You're probably thinking why Casio of all the other keyboard/digital piano manufacturers out there?...well, it's because Casio Privia DP is a good example of an affordable digital piano that can provide you a decent piano sample, if not good/improved piano sound, for a relatively cheaper price. I'd suggest dropping by a music store and trying out one of the Casio Privia DPs to get the "feel" of its weighted-hammer action keys and hear the piano patch/sample/tones and other instrument patches as well.

                          Since you're planning on using a keyboard for gigs/performances with your band and you're budget is $500, may be you'd like to consider these suggestions as well:

                          1) Get a Casio PX-310 Digital piano: has a registration bank/memory feature, a decent piano sample/patch/tone and 200+ instrument tones/patches BUT only has 32-note polyphony and you may find a good deal somewhere near $500

                          2) Get a Casio PX-320 (which is essentially an improved version of the PX-310 with 128-note polyphony and SD-card storage...it has the same improved piano patches as the PX-200 but has more tones and has a registration memory) Check it out here: http://www.casio-intl.com/emi/piano/privia/px320.html
                          But it costs more than the PX-200 or PX-310 (currently it costs somewhere around $799 which might entail you to wait and save some more money for the next couple of weeks/months)

                          3) You might want to try the Yamaha DGX series (but these models only have 32-note polyphony and some lower models don't have the weighted-hammer-action keys) which has more instrument sound/patches. These are also "entry-level" DPs.

                          4) Save up and get either a Roland FP4 or FP7 (preferred) or better yet a Roland RD700SX or RD700GX (when it becomes available)...if you're willing to spend more than $1500 bucks.

                          You can always hook up a decent sound module later on. The Casio Privia digital pianos have MIDI-in/out ports through which you could interface any sound module. All you need to do is to familiarize yourself with the MIDI implementation chart of the Casio Privia DPs and the sound module of your choice later on to create a "gigging" rig
                          Creativity lies not only in your ability to make original music compositions but also in your ability to create your own unique interpretation/arrangement of another person's music (with the necessary permission/consent/acknowledgement of the composer, of course)

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the feedback, and I was just about to say that the qs8 looks perfect until Outkaster mentioned the action. I may end up doing what Enx suggested.



                            If possible, try one for yourself before you dismiss it.

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