What are the advantages of full-sized weighted keys?
Keyboards, no matter the type, can recognize how hard a key is pressed and will make the appropriate sound. However, as a piano player, it’s important to be aware yourself of how you are playing. Weighted, full-sized keys are vital for anyone who wants to feel the rhythm of the music they are making. These keys are even more critical for traditional piano players that are new to the world of keyboards. There is a certain intimacy in playing a piano, and full-size weighted keys on a keyboard help replicate that feeling.
Features to consider before buying a keyboard
Before purchasing your next weighted keyboard with 88 keys, it’s important to understand the most common features you’ll come across in its specification sheet. Below are important details to aid in your purchase.
Weight and dimensions
Digital, weighted keyboards come in all different types and sizes. The Yamaha P125, for example, is a tabletop keyboard and therefore is not only portable but also lightweight. It comes in at just 26 pounds. Most other models of this type weigh between 75 and 80 pounds.
As for dimensions, because weighted keyboards have the same number of keys, 88, the width will be relatively the same, between 50 and 55 inches. The depth will also be similar among products, usually between 11 and 16 inches.
If you are a larger adult, be sure to find a keyboard with a sturdy stand. Not all stands and benches are created equal. While it may seem like a good idea to find a keyboard weighing less than others, that will be reflected in the construction. You don’t want to be afraid of pounding the keys for worry that it will topple over. If the intended user is a child, then be sure to look at bench height. Most are not adjustable so you may have to use extra cushions, or even a different chair if you have a small child who will be playing the instrument.
Unlike its name would suggest, preset voices don’t have to be voice sounds. Instead, preset voices refer to any pre-recorded sounds that come with a keyboard. These can range from sung notes to musical instruments, and even to sounds from nature. The more preset voices that come with a keyboard, the more options you have for composition.
Some keyboards come with as little as ten preset voices, and these instruments are usually more designed for beginners. Other weighted keyboards come with as many as 500 preset voices, and are stylized for the advanced composer.
While preset voices come with the keyboard, some devices will allow room for you to record your sounds. Look for keyboards with USB ports or Bluetooth technology to connect to other recording devices with which you can create your own samples.
Polyphony is a complicated concept but means the maximum number of notes that can be produced by a keyboard at one time. This number usually ranges from 64, as is the case with the Yamaha P45, to 256, as with the Casio Privia PX-870.
Normally you won’t be able to produce a whopping 256 notes all at the same time, but the more options you have, the less constraints there are.
If you are a beginner, then a simple 64-note polyphony will be plenty. If you are an advanced composer that wants deep layers of sound, then you should look for a keyboard that has a polyphony of at least 128 notes.
The speakers largely determine just how crisp the sounds will be. While the original recording needs to be amazing, if the speakers are fuzzy or worn out, that will be heard in your music. Most weighted keyboards have two speakers. However, the Casio Privia PX-870 has four speakers which further amplifies the music. If you plan on composing in your room, or just playing around, then two speakers will be adequate. If you want to play for large crowds, then more speakers will be needed to really amplify the music.
Warranties are important with any machine. The standard warranty length for weighted keyboards is one year, and the warranties themselves are often limited in scope. However, there are a few keyboards on our list that have an excellent three-year warranty.
If you are worried about the technical side of keyboards, then be sure to consider the warranty term, and if necessary, opt for extra protection.
Beginner vs. advanced
Are you new to the world of keyboards and just want a space to play around, learning from a few YouTube videos? Or are you a composer who needs the latest equipment so that your career can flourish? While the budget is usually in-line with this classification, sometimes you can find yourself purchasing a keyboard that is really unnecessary for your needs.
For children or beginners, choose a weighted keyboard that is stable, functional, and well within your budget. For advanced musicians, you will undoubtedly be more informed and know your specifications. Be honest about what you need the keyboard for, and this will be reflected in your purchase.
It’s always nice when your purchase comes with a bit of help. Many manufacturers will realize that their product is being purchased for a beginner, and will do their best to help those out. Keyboards may come with an instructional book or DVD. Within these are not just directions on how to set up the keyboard. Rather, it will show you how to get started to make your own music. Beginner lessons could be featured including how to position your hand, common scales, and even sheet music for popular songs. The more knowledge you can attain, the better musician you will be.
Some people want a weighted keyboard to fiddle around with in their spare time. Others need a weighted keyboard for composing the next hit. Whatever your reason, the extra features included in a weighted keyboard will likely set each model apart. While all of the models on our list come with 88 keys, other features could be the type of technology employed in delivering the music. The music catalog that is attached to a model could have just a few songs, or possibly an infinite number. The Nord Piano 3, for example, regularly updates its catalog with innovative samples.
Another extra feature could be the type of inputs and outputs. Whether it has a USB connection is essential to know, especially if you plan on syncing your keyboard with a smartphone or computer.
Finally, the accessories included are necessary to consider. Most keyboards have the option of purchasing a stand and chair, but the price is often adjusted for this.