MIDI keyboard for total newbie?


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My first posting here and my question might be as dumb as dumb can get but here it goes...
In my late life (60) I have found a love for wanting to learn and play the keyboard.
I've been playing guitar for about 25-30 years and on a recent trip to a big box music store I got curious about the Korg 37 mini midi keyboard, took it home and for a couple of weeks I have seen an improvement from the first day but I'm noticing its limitations, small keys and not enough of them.
Being drawn to midi keyboards for their size and different sound options, I'm thinking of trading the small Korg for either a 49 or 61 midi keyboard with larger keys.
Am I making another mistake or should I go for something even larger and how's the idea of using a midi keyboard as a practice tool for a beginner sounds or would I be better off with one of the entry level Casio-Yamaha with the built in sound?
 
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Mini-keys are a bad choice for learning keyboard. (I have a microKorg XL+, and they're harder to control than full-size keys).

If you want to play classical piano music you need 88 weighted keys.

If you want to play with two hands, IMHO you need 61 keys or more. I strongly prefer weighted keys (I grew up with a piano), but most 61-key keyboards have synth-action (spring-loaded) keys, and they'll be OK unless you get into serious piano playing. They're standard for synth and organ sounds.

What are you using, now, as a sound generator? Is it built into the Korg, or are you using computer-generated sound? And what's your budget?

. Charles
 
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Charles
Thanks for replying. I know this question must have been asked many times before but I always like to listen and learn from the experienced.
The micro Korg feels like a nice instrument and I'm sure it has it's use but in about a week, I seemed to have "outgrown" it.
At this stage of my life I know I'll never become a pianist and I always liked the feel and sound of synths and organs so this is why I'm so hung up on midi keyboards.
As you mentioned, not only the key sizes on the Korg but I'm almost wanting to try my left hand as well and 37 keys is not very practical.
Right now I'm using computer generated sound M1 le.
Budget... Being something new for me, I don't want to spend a lot till and if ever I get decent at it.
Some of the keyboards on my mind....
Yamaha PSR E353
Yamaha NP-11
M Audio Keystation 49 or 61 midi.
 

SeaGtGruff

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As far as the number of keys, the general rule of thumb is that "more is better"-- i.e., if you buy something that has more keys than you need, then the "extra" keys are there for whenever you need them; but if you buy something that has fewer keys than you need, you're pretty much screwed! ;)

My own opinion is that 61 keys is the minimum you should even consider, although 88 keys is best, and 76 keys might be a nice compromise if you don't want to go with 88. Of course, if you've already got a keyboard or two with 61, 76, or 88 keys, then-- and only then-- it's okay to consider getting an additional keyboard that has 49, 37, or (if you want something that's more compact) 25 keys. But that's just my opinion.
 

Rayblewit

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My keyboard is 61 keys but has a facility to move it all up an octave or two higher (Yamaha PSR S650).

Hi Gilpi, I am like you in my 60's and took up keyboard just 8 years ago. You are leaps and bounds ahead of me because you play guitar. I still can't undestand guitar tabs. Anyway, with regard to keyboard, if you want to play piano bass with your left hand, I would be buying weighted keys and 88 keys. But if like me, playing accompianment with left hand, std keyboard keys are adequate. You being an experienced muso (you said 25 - 30 years) playing guitar, I think you would be unhappy with the PSR E353. It is more designed for beginners. If you decide on 61 keys and if you can expand your budget consider a more advanced level PSR S670 but may be too expensive! Consider also the PSR E443, would be a better choice than the PSR 353 in my opinion.
cheers.
 

SeaGtGruff

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The PSR-E443 and PSR-E353 should sound very similar to each other as far as their voice presets, and they should be nearly identical as far as their MIDI capabilities-- i.e., when they're being controlled by an external sequencer.

What sets them apart are their onboard features and controls. The PSR-E443 has a pitch bend wheel, two assignable control knobs, and menu functions for adjusting the attack/release and cutoff/resonance of the two right-hand voices (main and dual), whereas the PSR-E353 is lacking those things. If you want to play the keyboard as an instrument in its own right, those additional controls and functions allow for more flexibility and expression. And if you want to use the keyboard as a controller for virtual instruments or a DAW, the two assignable knobs can be mapped to different functions in the virtual instrument or DAW.

The PSR-S670 would definitely be an even better choice than the PSR-E443, with better-sounding voice presets-- plus the ability to add voice expansions-- a modulation wheel, greater flexibility with regard to the functions for the assignable knobs, greater flexibility in how the voices can be edited, the ability to play more variations per style (or auto accompaniment), and full XG compatibility versus the more limited XGlite compatibility of the PSR-E443 and PSR-E353.
 
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. . .
The micro Korg feels like a nice instrument and I'm sure it has it's use but in about a week, I seemed to have "outgrown" it.
At this stage of my life I know I'll never become a pianist and I always liked the feel and sound of synths and organs so this is why I'm so hung up on midi keyboards.
As you mentioned, not only the key sizes on the Korg but I'm almost wanting to try my left hand as well and 37 keys is not very practical.
Right now I'm using computer generated sound M1 le.
Budget... Being something new for me, I don't want to spend a lot till and if ever I get decent at it.
Some of the keyboards on my mind....
Yamaha PSR E353
Yamaha NP-11
M Audio Keystation 49 or 61 midi.

The microKorg has a _huge_ amount of functionality, and a gazillion sounds, hiding behind a difficult user interface. As a salesman said to me, it's a "pro synth" inside a tiny case. A great sound generator, but a poor mini-key action. It's fun to hook up, via MIDI, to an 88-key keyboard -- big sounds from a tiny package.

If you're used to computer-based synths ( = "soft synth"), you have a wide choice of them. I own "Lounge Lizard", a Rhodes/Wurlitzer soft synth. It's really flexible, and IMHO sounds great. And my preferred piano is "Pianoteq", not the sounds built into my PX-350. So a "MIDI keyboard", with no built-in sounds, would be a reasonable choice. But I agree with a previous post:

. . . get something with 61 keys or more;
. . . If you want to play with synths and organs (or synth guitars), get something with a mod wheel and pitch-bend wheel,
. . . . . or you'll buy a separate mod / pitch-bend controller pretty soon.

It's probably aesthetic bias, but when I look at most of the PSR keyboards I think "toy". As a previous post points out, the E353 doesn't have pitch-bend or mod wheels, and (IMHO) the built-in sounds aren't very good.

The NP11 and NP31 have better piano sounds -- not bad when played through a good speaker, or headphones. They have a limited on-board sound set, but they do "MIDI-over-USB", so you can use them with soft synths. No mod/pitch-bend wheel.

After a short look through the Web, the M-Audio Keystation 88 looks like a really good deal. It's got synth-action keys (which is OK for you), mod/pitch-bend wheels, and a few DAW controller buttons. And it comes with two soft synths (one piano, one "synth") and a DAW for composition. You'll be tied to your computer, but you didn't say that "portability" was a requirement. Hard to beat, for $200.

[a DAW is a "digital audio workstation" -- a fancy software-based audio and MIDI recorder.]

Have fun --

. Charles
 

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