Keyboard for a beginner


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Hi,
I’m a total beginner and would like to purchase a keyboard and start learning. The styles I like most are symphonic metal and progressive metal. I realize those are challenging and that it’ll take lots of time to be able to play these. Any recommendation for a keyboard to start with given those preferences? What should be my considerations?

Many thanks!
 
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I don’t really have a budget, I assumed I wouldn’t buy the most expensive one to start with, but overall I’m open to all options.
 

happyrat1

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Give us a number please.

$200-$300?

$500-$800?

$1000 and up?

Is used an option?

Not worth my time to list every keyboard ever made.

For less than $400 used you won't find much in the way of symphonic metal.

Gary ;)
 
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$1000 and up is fine, my only concern is that it’ll be user friendly enough for a total beginner.

many thanks!
 

happyrat1

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Perfect for your needs is a Korg Kross 2 or a Roland Juno DS.







They will have all the iconic sounds of the 70s and 80s and the control layout is relatively simple.

Available in 88, 76, 0r 61 key models depending on your preference and you might find a good condition used one or store demo for well under $1000 USD.

Gary ;)

PS. Keep in mind you will have to budget a couple of hundred for studio monitors or an amp.
 
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Welcome.

The keyboards Gary suggests are available in different forms.

Both manufacturers have versions with 61 synth action keys, the Juno has another option of 76 keys abd both are also available with acoustic piano like hammer action and 88 keys.
 
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There are many different keyboards that you can use for that type of music. The two recommended above may be your best bet. Of the two, I would almost recommend the Kross 2. I have the Kross 1 (the first generation of Kross) and the four that I have serve me well in both the studio and for live use. I seriously considered the Roland Juno DS as well, but found the features of the Kross to be more well-rounded for my application.

When I watch videos of the bands I like, I see a lot of them using Korg keyboards. In fact, they are using older Korg keyboards like the Triton, M3, Karma, and others. There are many who use the Kronos as well, and the Krome. The Kross is also used, because most of the sounds I hear from them have some orchestral components to them (strings, orchestral sections, etc...).

Korg does a pretty nice job of emulating those sounds. Leads are also particularly good on the Kross.

With Roland, I always had success with Strings and Leads as well...

As far as bang for the buck, I believe the Kross to be the winner in that category. The 61-key version of the Kross is very lightweight, although some people do not like the action of it. If you want to do more piano-centric work, then I would look at an 88-key unit. Both the Kross 2 and the Juno DS have an 88-key variant.

I would watch videos of the two and even try them out in a music store, so you can make a more educated decision.

Grace,
Harry
 
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I had a Kross 2 61 for a couple of years and I am one of those who do not particularly like the action.

Before I bought it I kept visiting my local Music Stores where I could play one back to back with a Roland Juno DS 61, it was a very close call with the Kross winning only by virtue of its lack of weight and compact overall dimensions.

Sound wise it was swings and roundabouts, but the recording capabilities of the newer Kross 2 eclipse the Juno.

I have not played either in 88 key versions but I have played the keybeds that both manufacturers use when I have played other models. In 88 key version I would chose the Juno simply because the keybed action is better for me than the Korg action.

As Harry suggest, try all four versions if you can, if you cannot do buy from a Company that has a free return within a specific period like 30 days.
 
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I had a Kross 2 61 for a couple of years and I am one of those who do not particularly like the action.

Before I bought it I kept visiting my local Music Stores where I could play one back to back with a Roland Juno DS 61, it was a very close call with the Kross winning only by virtue of its lack of weight and compact overall dimensions.

Sound wise it was swings and roundabouts, but the recording capabilities of the newer Kross 2 eclipse the Juno.

I have not played either in 88 key versions but I have played the keybeds that both manufacturers use when I have played other models. In 88 key version I would chose the Juno simply because the keybed action is better for me than the Korg action.

As Harry suggest, try all four versions if you can, if you cannot do buy from a Company that has a free return within a specific period like 30 days.
I do not have substantial experiene with the Kross 2, but a good friend has one (bought on my suggestion after all of her purchases of a Kross 1 turned unfruitful). I program her keyboard for her for use in her band. I did play the Kross 2-88 and the action felt the same as my Kross 1-88, but a little tighter. This is probably because it was a brand new synth instead of a used one like my Kross 1-88 is.

If memory serves, the actions between the original Kross 1 and the Kross 2 are identical on both the 61 and 88-key variants. I also believe that the Krome 88 has the same action, according to research and videos online.

The Roland Juno DS-88 has a similar action, but the keys are textured whereas the Kross 2-88 keys are not. This may make a difference for some.

As I have said before in this forum and in the Korg forums, I can play any action on any keyboard and I adapt to it.

With that said, I do prefer a good 88-key action for most applications, obviously including piano. For organ playing, I prefer a waterfall key action as it is designed for organ players and is very fast and responsive. For synth playing and fast soloing, I do prefer a good aynth action.

If a beginner wants to learn how to play, then my recommendation is a true acoustic piano, as that is what I learned on. I was classically trained on a real acoustic piano and I believe that is why I can adapt to any action out there. For the price point that we are talking about, you are NOT going find any action that is close to a real piano, with the exception of the Korg D-1. Casio is fairly close too, but the Korg D-1 comes closer. The D-1 has the same action as the flagship Kronos and that is saying something.

The action on the Korg Kross-88 is nicely weighted and feels good. I do not experience any fatigue when playing all day/night long and my hands are not tired on the drive home after a gig. The same can be said about the Kross 61 action. I also have a Korg PA700 and I believe that it has the same action as the Kross 61 and I use that thing all day long in my studio and there is no fatigue there either.

Please test out the units and see which one feels better for you.

Grace,
Harry
 
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happyrat1

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The Juno DS88 has Hammer Action Weighted Keys and the DS76 and DS61 both have Synth/Organ Action Keys.

I know this for a fact since I traded up from a 61 to an 88 in the first year I owned one.

For Progressive Rock style music that the fellow mentioned he wanted to produce the Juno is an EXTREMELY CAPABLE keyboard.

Over 1400 factory sounds and drumkits loaded at the factory and free expansion kits available from Roland via download. Very easy to use sampling and a vocoder and pattern sequencer as well.

They put out an excellent set of tutorials when they introduced the board and the OS has a lot of sophisticated features. My only disappointment so far with the board is that when recording MIDI from the STEP SEQUENCER*** into a DAW it does NOT Xmit MIDI Signals (nor USB) to the computer.

(correction*** step sequencer does not transmit midi. NOT the entire board. All other MIDI functions are nominal.)

There are workarounds else I would have sold it a year ago.

The Ivory Feel keyboard was weird for the first month or so but you adapt pretty quickly.

The 61 key model DOES NOT have Ivory Feel.

As my backup workstation it really has everything I need to do some composing with and overall I still say that even now it's still one of the best values per dollar on today's market.

For a SERIOUS, introductory keyboard, the OP could do a lot worse than one of these. If he finds a gently loved preowned unit for 30% off Retail plus taxes he would have an excellent startup for his future studio.

If he's planning to gig with it then he'd best pick up a solid, padded gig bag, because it weighs in at 34 lb.

I believe the Kross 2 88 weighs in considerably lighter (hence the less than great action) and if that is a major consideration to him then he would be as well off with that one.

Both keyboards have their merits and drawbacks, price positioned so as not to compete with their upscale workstations.

I have a decent bag for my Juno but I don't go out gigging with it either.

My advice to help make the OP's choice is to screen a few of the Youtube Tutorials for both and download and browse the manuals for both before he pulls the trigger.

Gary ;)
 
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happyrat1

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My final word on this is that either choice is an Excellent starter's workstation and as he said he is a total beginner so he will not be gigging any time soon.

At this point we've given the poor guy enough homework to do and we need not bombard him further with anecdotal bouquets and brickbats.

It's up to him to track down the options we've given him. All we've done and agreed on is narrowing the field to these two choices.

Now we wait to see if he has another question on the matter.

Give him some time to surf the company websites and youtube tutorials.

Gary ;)
 
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Harry
I note your comments.

I do like Korg sounds but there is a but, acoustic pianos leave a bit to be desired, with Reuben’s download being imo vastly superior to Korg’s Italian Grand.

Next the Korg D1, I tried numerous digital piano’s in the £500 range and in keybed order of personal preference was Roland FP30, Yamaha P125, Casio S1000, Korg D1, Korg 2N.

Even our own Cowboy has commented adversely in the past on the keybed action of his Korg Krome that he gigs with.

Korg keybeds are imo the weak point in their builds, certainly in the sub $1500 range.

A major problem with the Kross 2 is the vast Menu system, it goes on forever, the keyboard really needs a touchscreen.

I agree with Gary, the Juno DS 88 would be a better buy, and this recommendation is from this Korg fanboy.

EDIT

Throwing a curveball, a workstation is a bit OTT for a newbie, one could argue that learning to play could very easily take a back seat to learning the ins and outs of the OS and perhaps a more beginner focussed keyboard could be a better buy.

Yamaha PSR EW410 perhaps, only $430 and after a couple of years move on and upwards and sell the EW410.
 
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happyrat1

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I played around with a lot of Casio junk before I bought my first "real" workstation, (A Korg TR76) but once I heard the comparison the sounds of cheap Yamahas and Casios to the Korg I was hooked and I never looked back. Especially if the guy is into Orchestral and Progressive Rock.

Don't try to sell the man on a tricycle when he is looking for a Schwinn. :p

Arrangers have their place, but in a studio where you are trying to produce original pieces without the stigma of canned beats and basslines tainting your copyrights you have to be able to roll your own in a DAW with the best of them.

Gary ;)
 
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Gary, you do not have to use the Arranger features, it is just that they are cheaper than a complicated workstation and imo better suited for a beginner and the 76 keys of the EW410 give more real estate.
 
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happyrat1

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I'd say if he's serious he should skip the training wheels and get something he can take out on the autobahn :D

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

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And why are we still having this eternal argument?

All I'm saying is that he should explore some professional options instead of being sucked into Yamaha's saprophytic, co-dependent ecosystem complete with non standard MIDI specs and support that could care less if you live or die.

When it comes to getting Yamaha Low Budget Keyboards hooked up to other equipment you are SOL. No standard MIDI ports and proprietary USB drivers about which we are bombarded here with almost daily questions.

Sure, Yamaha sells a lot of those tablehooters as well as Casio and I call neither one acceptable if you plan to do some serious composing.

At least the Juno and the Kross give you proper MIDI ports you can hook up to a synth module later on.

Yamaha is a closed ecosystem. Their crap runs well only with their own crap and they don't offer a nickel's worth of support when it comes to connectivity to other brands.

Gary ;)
 
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Thanks everyone, it was really educating to read all the responses, and I appreciate the time and effort you put into it. I'll keep reading and then choose between the Kross 2 and the Juno DS.
 
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Thanks everyone, it was really educating to read all the responses, and I appreciate the time and effort you put into it. I'll keep reading and then choose between the Kross 2 and the Juno DS.
If you REALLY wanna have fun, then get BOTH the Kross 2 and the Juno DS. If you got the 61-key versions of each, then you would have a powerful MIDI rig for live use from both brands and have virtually all of your bases covered. I would say that in the USA, getting both would probably run about $1,600. That is not a bad price of admission.

I know that you are a beginner, but being able to have your rig and grow into it is something worthwhile, in my opinion.

In any case, we would welcome a message as to which of the Kross or Juno DS that you choose :)

Grace,
Harry
 

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