Newbie keyboard buying advice

Discussion in 'Keyboard Purchase Recommendations' started by TJ1, Aug 30, 2018.

  1. TJ1

    TJ1

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    Hi

    I am really sorry if this kind of question has been asked before but I could not seem to download the keyboard buying guide posted previously on this forum.

    I want to buy a keyboard for arranging and writing music/songs. I would need it to meet the following requirements.

    1.On board recording facility.
    2. On board metronome.
    3. the ability to mix at least 4 tracks.
    4. Both a vocal and guitar input facility so that I can download my externally produced guitar and vocal sounds to it and mix them with the keyboard sounds.
    5. The ability to create MP3/4 files and upload them to my computer and ultimately to the internet and ideally the ability to burn CDs
    6. Simple. Some time ago I bought a Korg M50 from a pawn shop, unfortunately it came without instructions, and understanding it would seem to akin to qualifying as an airline pilot. All I can use it for is for learning the piano.

    Regarding budget I am fairly flexible but not superich. I have seen various demos of keyboards on youtube and the Yahama Genos seemed to have some pretty impressive sounds,- but all those buttons.. and the price..., i would much prefer something cheaper but still professional level of sound quality and easy to understand.

    Any advice gratefully recieved.
     
    TJ1, Aug 30, 2018
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  2. TJ1

    Biggles

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    Welcome.

    Alas if you struggle with the M50 please do be advised that all Workstations/Synths/Arrangers do tend to have a whole host of features and they all take a lot of effort to learn.

    If you have not yet found it a manual is available for your M50.

    Download the manual for your M50 here:-

    https://www.korg.com/us/support/download/manual/1/143/1837/

    Korg also have a whole mass of their official Video Tutorials on Youtube, they will all be labelled as by Korg and for the M50 they have ... in the studio .... in the title.


    .
    A Roland DS61 or FA06 or a Korg PA700/1000 will do what you want, there are many other options but seriously I would advise against a Genos and if I interpret your post correctly you are still learning and I would further advise on sticking with your M50 as long as it works OK until you are more profficient.

    I wrote a brief guide on keyboards, it follows and may help you.

    .

    Do you want to play a Piano or Keyboard?


    That is the question my Teacher asked when I took up playing keys after years with a guitar and bass.


    He qualified it by stating, there is a difference in how I teach you and in how you will develop.


    Piano.

    At its most basic level LH plays the Bass lines and chords, RH plays the melody.

    Independent LH & RH playing actions will need to be developed.

    A Digital Piano is just that 88 weighted keys with a variety of Piano sounds to call upon to be used, other sounds can also be incorporated within the unit.


    Keyboard.

    Two basic types, Workstation and Arranger.

    Both start with 61 keys and as the models increase in complexity and cost 76 key and 88 keys versions become available as budget increases.

    Each type of unit has hundreds if not thousands if instrument sounds that can be used as an example there can easily be over thirty different types of Piano sounds available to be selected.


    Workstation.

    Highly customisable, often with inbuilt recording, looping, and the ability to set sequence patterns of sounds that can be called upon at the touch of a button.

    Usually over one thousand instrument sounds available to be used.

    Orchestral sounds can be built up by layering one instrument on top of another to produce a Combination that can be saved into a User area and assigned to a Favourite button.

    Watch a Band and the person on keys will probably be playing a Workstation, if they have more than one unit then a digital Piano is likely to be there unless your name is Rick Wakeman then the number of keyboards he uses is often in excess of ten.


    Arranger.

    A keyboard that typically incorporates onboard amplification and speakers for a fully self contained unit.

    Instrument sounds or voices are categorised into families with typically thirty specific instrument sounds available.

    These keyboards include Auto Accompanying of styles that are or can be triggered by the left hand.

    The keyboard is electronically split (adjustable and can be switched off) so the Accompanying sounds are played with the LH and RH plays, melody lines, arpeggiated chords, improvisation, melody accompanying lines, syncopations etc.

    A beginner to keyboards will probably start off learning on a low value Yamaha or Casio unit and then progress to more complex keyboard.



    Synthesizer.

    Is an electronic sound generator, it can be a keyboard or non keyboard model.


    With all the above keyboard types, there is a considerable degrees of overlap and incorporation of functions within each category.


    The choice of which type will be best for you is dependent upon what you want to play, the style and long term plans.


    If you have doubts or just want to dip ones toes in then an Arranger will probably be the best unit to go for. With the auto accompaniment feature it will enable you to produce music relatively quickly.


    Technicals

    Polophony, this is the number of different instrument sounds that a keyboard can play at the same time.

    Styles, there are hundreds of presets arrangements including in an Arranger keyboard, each Style will have a specific number of musical instrument sounds included and when the Style is initiated it will provide sounds and rhythm related to a music genre like dance, r n b, waltz, rock, ballad etc


    Songs, some keyboards have a specific style, rhythm and instrument sounds that are intended to produce a sound similar to a popular song such as Ed Sheeran’s Thinking out loud, John Lennon’s Imagine, Elvis Presley The Wonder of You, Glenn Miller Moonlight Serenade etc songs that span many decades of music to cater for all ages.


    Sustain pedal, a foot operated on/off switch that if it is pressed and held as a key or keys are pressed the note(s) continue to sound until the pedal is released.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2018
    Biggles, Aug 30, 2018
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  3. TJ1

    TJ1

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    Thanks Biggles. This generally sounds like good advice.

    But if the Korg M50 is typical of the complexity of music workstations then I would have thought there is a rather large gap in the market for technical morons like me.

    I just want something that can auto-play a few basic drum beats, that I can play the piano on, input my own guitar playing / vocals and to be able to record the outcome. Its a bit of a mystery as to why simplicity does not seem to be a priority in the workstation/synthesizer world.

    Basically I have already put a lot of effort into understanding basic musical notation and I don't want to put further effort into understanding technical music production or computing technology

    Of course I could just buy a basic keyboard but would it have the features I need?
     
    TJ1, Aug 30, 2018
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  4. TJ1

    Biggles

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    I believe that the M50 when it first appeared was about $1000 which would have made it mid range.

    Today the Daddy of Workstations is the Korg Kronos which at between $2500 and $4000 it is a superb keyboard for the Pro Musician.

    All keyboards from the very basic Yamaha to their very popular PSR E463 do have a lot of functions, conversely a Roland GoKeys has a very simple layout but is limited in direct functions.

    The E463 will do what you want but it will have a learning curve.

    A better choice moving up in performance is the Roland DS 61 (or Korg Kross 2) which has onboard drum beats, a split keyboard if you want it and you can play pre recorded backing tracks, it has its own onboard sequencer. But again there is a steep learning curve, there is no getting away from this if you want to do what you want to do with recording.

    There are drum machines out there that can be played through a keyboard and a seperate laptop based recording system could be used.

    To just learn to play a keyboard is straightfoward but to add on recording, other instruments and vocals makes the task far more onerous.

    The good news is that once you have spent two or three months learning the techie bits, they are learned and your tasks become a whole lot easier.

    I have had my Korg PA 700 for a year and I am still learning its features, I am in no hurry, but what I can now do is go to any new keyboard and extract sounds from it and can even use many of its features, you learn the skills on one keyboard and then adapt them to others.
     
    Biggles, Aug 30, 2018
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  5. TJ1

    TJ1

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    Thank you again Biggles = this is useful reality check given that I had thought I should be able to master a work station and the principles of producing/recording mixed tracks in an intensive weekend.

    I think I might take your suggestion and stick with the Korg M50 for the time being- just for mastering the keyboard(the only instrument I know is the guitar). But it is tempting meanwhile to live on baked beans for a few months and save up for a really top notch workstation. You said that you would advise against the Yahama Genos - is there a particular reason for this?(other than the price), It seemed in the youtube videos to produce some amazing professional quality sounds and the design looked nice.
     
    TJ1, Aug 30, 2018
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  6. TJ1

    Biggles

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    The Genos is a very capable Arranger, to me it is simply far to expensive for what it is.

    A Korg PA4X is far cheaper and just as capable.

    But even my own Korg PA700 is a very good Arranger I am finding that I enjoy playing my Korg Kross 2 more hence would not buy the 700 or any Arranger again.

    So hence my advice, stick with your M50 and learn about the other keyboards in your price range before you decide on a shortlist, then if you can go to a large music store and test as many keyboards as you can.

    As is is I played a Genos last Monday and was impressed but not 3x more impressed than my 700, I use 3x because the Genos is over 3x more expensive, for less money than a Genos I could and would buy a Korg Kronos workstation.

    Search our Jordan Rudess on Youtube as he demos a who range of keyboards and you will learn a lot from him and others about the capabilities of each keyboard
     
    Biggles, Aug 30, 2018
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  7. TJ1

    cpcohen1945

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    IMHO, and FWIW:

    You are underestimating the complexity of the job you want to do. The question isn't:
    . . . "How hard could it be?"

    Rather, it's:
    . . . "why should _any_ of this be easy?"

    I sympathize with you about the Korg M50. I have an old Korg X5D (a poor cousin to the M50, I think), and programming its voices is a PITA. But _playing_ it isn't difficult, if you stick with the stock voices.

    I agree with everyone else:

    . . . Don't buy a Genos.

    The more expensive the gear is, the more complicated it's going to be. I know someone who has a full-frame digital SLR, with a gazillion options, and no idea how to use it effectively. Don't be like that.

    As you learn about the gear, keep this in mind:

    . . . You may want to do your audio recording (guitar, vocals, etc) on a computer with DAW
    . . . (digital audio workstation) software.

    . . . You may want to do your MIDI recording, and pattern construction, and rhythms,
    . . . on a computer with DAW software.

    In which case you can use a simpler keyboard (e.g. one of the Yamaha MX61 / MX88) as a "controller keyboard" and sound generator, and have the "smarts" (rhythms / sequencer / recorder / mixer) in the DAW.

    I hope I haven't been too confusing . . .

    . Charles
     
    cpcohen1945, Aug 31, 2018
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  8. TJ1

    TJ1

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    Thank you Charles - using my computer and specially bought DAW software would certainly seem to open up a lot more choice and value regarding the available keyboards. I am guessing it would also have the advantage of being a more upgradeable package in the future ,as if I bought an expensive all bells work station I suppose I would be permanently stuck with the machines technology.

    I might come back to you all with some more questions in a couple of weeks.
     
    TJ1, Aug 31, 2018
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  9. TJ1

    Biggles

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    For a computer based system with great software instrument VSTs start your research with:-

    Native Instrument Komplete package of keyboard controller and software instruments.

    Meanwhile go to banblab.com register and download their free Cakewalk DAW it is packed with all the features you need to get started and best of all its free.

    A pretty good system can be had with Novation and Ableton Lite which is free with the controller that should cost c$200.

    Good luck.
     
    Biggles, Aug 31, 2018
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