Help! Starter keyboard

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Help! Starter keyboard

Postby blues4u2go » Wed Jun 01, 2005 12:11 am

I am wandering into unknown territory here. My 10 year old daughter wants to take piano lessons. What would be a decent (but not too expensive!) keyboard to look at??

I know nothing about keyboards. If this were about National tricones, or good parlor sized guitars, I could handle it.

(Of course, this also falls neatly into my secret desire to play piano as well like my keyboard heros, Dr. John, Jimmy Yancey, Professor Longhair, etc)

Any suggestions??

Thanks,
Mike
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby jeffl » Wed Jun 01, 2005 2:38 am

There are digital keyboards available at Best Buy,and other chain outfits, which do not have "real piano" type, weighted key action, and those can be bought for $80, to $250; they will do all kinds of wonderful things, but they won't get her accustomed to real piano feel. These same boards are available on the internet, used, and new. If you are in a mood to spend 3 or 4 hundred, or even more, the big keyboard stores have sales which offer their demos,weighted action digital pianos (with headphones)_, which have been used for instructional purposes in their studios, but they only offer these once a year, on average. For this same price, you can probably get a real spinet piano from a private owner in the newspaper-but you'd better play it first, and then, you gotta move it.There are occasionally pianos available for no charge, if you will haul them away. Often times, these are in very bad shape, and just tuning them won't help, cuz' the action is damaged. Beware of these- but there can be some real steals in this category, cuz people don't know what they've got. Don't get a piece of junk,in any category, cuz its problems will just be an obstacle to your daughter's learning. Having said that- any instrument is better than no instrument.
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby fred » Wed Jun 01, 2005 11:30 am

Hello All! Bubba offers excellent advice (as always!), & I would add that you need to revisit earlier posts in this forum that deal w/subject. Having said that, my GEMWX2 died this spring, & I've gone thru the exp. of finding a new board--I purchased (paper ad) an Alesis '96 QS8 w/studio hrs. for reasonable $'s. However, here's the poop: We may find "deals," but if they die, we foot the cost to reresurrect or scrap. All this to say a couple of things based on my recent safari!
1) MAKE SURE you buy a board w/88 weighted action keys. On board speakers or no--no problem w/availability of low cost multi-task external amps. Buy a new board for less than $500 & you get a warranty that may save you $'s while you/others learn to play--you should know in a year where the experience is going to lead--after that, buy what you want! If you don't visit KB related forums, read reviews, talk to, email, talk to, email, hound, hound, etc. pro players who haunt those forums, only you will be the loser!
2) Here's a place to start (operative word is start!): A couple of years ago Musician's Friend offered the Studiologic series for reasonable $'s. Now--do your homework--find out all about them! Plug into Google & Go! READ REVIEWS OF ALL KB'S listed @ Harmony Central--I read for hours & days about the Alesis products. I wish you the best of luck & hope you will share your progress! Regards Fred
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby papatex » Wed Jun 01, 2005 1:43 pm

Listen to these boys, Blues, they wouldn't steer ya wrong! 88 weighted
keys is the only way to go if you're talking "Piano". I believe
nearly any experienced player would tell you this cannot be
overstressed. Unweighted keys will not develop the necessesary
muscle memory for piano playing. Mike
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby jeffl » Wed Jun 01, 2005 2:18 pm

Digital keyboards with weighted keys can be good,too, cuz the student can play through the headphones, which removes all household distractions. Some digital boards with weighted keys do not have good true action,though, or good true piano sounds. In general, it is nearly impossible to make a mistake with Yamaha, for sound and action, but for other options, such as Technics,Roland,Casio,etc., I have no personal experience. Kurzweil is also a "can't miss", but they're hard to find used, and can be expensive.
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby fred » Wed Jun 01, 2005 9:16 pm

There is a good thread--show me some action (last post approx. 05/19,p.5 on the KB forum) @ Music Player Network, http://www.musicplayer.com. I think--& Ric may agree--that this thread provides a quality seminar on the issues of weighted, simi-weighted, non-weighted, etc. keys. These guys nail it rather well! Fred
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby ricochet » Wed Jun 01, 2005 10:20 pm

It's in this board, which I'm rather fond of:
http://musicplayer.com/ubb/ultimatebb.p ... /f/18.html

Substitute a 9 for the 8 in that URL, and you'll get their guitar board.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby meilankev » Thu Jun 02, 2005 4:06 pm

Blues4u2go,

I'm afraid I disagree somewhat with the others on this thread. While an electric keyboard with weighted keys is a reasonable option, I always advise people (who are putting their kid(s) into lessons) to rent an acoustic piano instead. For me, there is no substitution for the real thing when learning the piano.

Also, most piano stores will make this as pain-free as possible. The monies paid in rent will apply towards the eventual purchase; they will deliver the piano to your home; they will come pick up the piano when/if your child loses interest.

As many folks will tell you, it is difficult to predict how long a child will stick to any new hobby. To my way of thinking, a rent-to-own program is the least risky choice a parent can make. It also removes a lot of pressure from the child - otherwise you can end up with the parents screaming at the child "I paid $500 for this damn keyboard - I am not going to let you quit!!! Now get in there and practice!!!"

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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby jeffl » Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:06 pm

Geez, I thought we got rid of all the practical guys on this forum.... oh,well- that's a good option you've brought up, Kev. Spoken like a band teacher... are you a band teacher....?
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby meilankev » Fri Jun 03, 2005 12:57 am

Bubba,

You are a funny man!!! As you are obviously confusing me with someone else on our site!! I'm the one here who has minimal formal musical knowledge, remember? Don't you think that if I were a band teacher, it's likely I would at least know which notes comprise a C-minor chord? :P

But over the years, I have counseled a number of adults who have started their children into formal piano lessons. Just because I don't have a clue about the piano doesn't mean that I think this is a good way to learn an instrument. I fully admit it's not. I'm just someone who feels there is no substitute for an acoustic piano when learning how to play.

In fact, I would personally prefer to play an out-of-tune $150 creaker from 1910 over any modern $2000 electric piano with all the gizmos. (Actually, I own a decent electric piano that I bought for just under $2000. But I almost never use it - just when I'm writing songs, as I have a bare-bones sequencer hooked up to it.)

Me a band teacher - now that's funny...

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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby jeffl » Fri Jun 03, 2005 1:57 am

It's not hard for me to get confused about who's who...with time, I get things straight. But, your advice was spoken like it came from an environment like that; I've got an old friend who's spent his whole career selling band instruments to schools, working for a big chain- and, playing in a very good Dixieland band, and he has alotta these ,what I would call ,"old school" opinions, most of which hold alotta water; it makes for some fun conversations. I've spent alotta time learning on both types of pianos, and I don't really have a favorite. The digital Yammy I've had for about 5 years was purchased for its combination of a good furniture chassis (to suit my wife), great piano sampling, and good action- and I've played it through headsets alot, so as not to wake up anyone in the house, after hours. The music stores around here are teaching nearly entirely on digital studio pianos, which is what makes them available used. It's a great topic for discussion.
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby papatex » Fri Jun 03, 2005 3:38 pm

But you have to keep the #@%&* thing tuned! M.K.
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby j_tour » Sat Jun 04, 2005 3:31 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jun-04-05 AT 11:54 AM (EST)]What is your price range? You can be out the door with a Casio Privia or Yamaha P60 -- both 88 keys, fully weighted, with nice piano sounds (not a whole lot else) -- for $500-700. I'm pretty sure both these boards have built-in speakers and amplifiers. Less dough than that and you would *probably* be able to find something used, low mileage, all that, if you look around.

That said, I grew up around an upright piano -- very old, not tuned regularly, but a pretty damn good instrument which I'm sure would not bring more than 100-200 dollars, if anything at all, were it to be sold today. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed learning to play as much on a digital or on a spinet (acoustic) with very light (uncontrollable) action. Most acoustic pianos have their own character and sound which, I'd imagine, would be a learning experience in itself, as one tries to coax the most from it. You *might* be happier with a nice full-sized upright, with decent action -- combined with a going-over by a very good piano technician (you might try asking at a local college, for starters, especially if you can chat up a professor/adjunct who performs on piano regularly and get a personal recommendation of whom he or she employs as a piano tech), I'd be surprised if you paid more than the costs of a low-end digital piano.

There's nothing quite the same as having the *sound* emanate from the soundboard of a real piano -- amplification is a huge issue, for me, with the digital pianos, about which I'd be happy to discuss more from my own experience if anyone wants to throw in any comments. However, there are some real bad (by which I mean terrible) acoustic pianos out there, even or especially brand-new or recently-made low-end models, and, for me, a good digital would be preferable to a lot of them. But there's a lot to be said for finding a real *instrument*, on the cheap, of course, and getting to know it up close and inside out as you master your tunes.

As a sort of oddball suggestion, you might even consider buying a Fender Rhodes piano -- I use one, in fact, more than my digital, for practicing, which was the original purpose of these Fender Rhodes/Rhodes pianos, anyway. On my own Rhodes, the action is more than satisfactory (real hammers, etc.), and can be worked on by yourself if something isn't right or needs tweaking, and the tuning can be easily done at home as well, in about an hour, unlike an acoustic piano. It's not very good for boogie-woogie or very demanding classical pieces -- in my opinion -- but it's a *great* blues instrument and *more* than adequate for everyday playing, including a lot of classical things. I bought mine for $250 locally and use a Peavey guitar amplifier with it -- it's a lot of fun and has tons of character, and is *very* playable. If your daughter (I forgot how old) has some interest in science or stuff, it might be a good *safe* (the piano itself doesn't require electrical current) toy to tinker with as well as to learn scales and repertoire on. Plus, it's sort of hip these days, with pop musicians and stuff. Justin Timberwhatshisname and all those guys whatever. If you've seen the flick "Piano Players Rarely Play Together" (or whatever it's called), you'll see Allen Toussaint (I think) playing the Rhodes on the jam with Fess, Toussaint, and Tuts Washington. I think Fess had a special hidden compartment in his wall in his house which hid a Rhodes -- when you hit the switch, the piano would fold down like an ironing board or a Murphy bed, at least according to Dr. John in his autobiography (if I remember right). Good piano, good funky blues instrument, good for playing bebop, too.

GL,

John.
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby nizer » Sat Jun 04, 2005 5:05 pm

I've played guitar for 35 years but a Yamaha electric fell into my lap last year - I'd never played keyboards. It retails for under $500 and has weighted keys, good built-in speaker. Has a ton of pre-programmed sounds but I usually just keep it on straight piano. I figured out how to play 12-bar boogie in C pretty quickly and it's a blast to wail on. Found myself drawn toward rolling New Orleans stuff like "I Hear You Knockin'" and "Iko-Iko". Also fooling with Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich and Floyd Cramer.

It also got me writing in a different way - forced to go back to simple stuctures and concentrate on melody - which is cool. Like when I first started guitar.

Like I said, I'm a completely uneducated neophyte here, but it might be an option if you want something you and your daughter can learn on. My 9 year old daughter loves it - she's already making up songs.
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RE: Help! Starter keyboard

Postby blues4u2go » Fri Jun 10, 2005 9:05 pm

Thanks for all the great advice. I should have been a little more specific in my original post. Dollars are an issue here, as I don't know if keyboards will stick with my daughter. I've been looking on E-bay at Yamaha keyboards in the $150 or so range. I know that this is not much. I just spent $1,800 on a National Tricone last Sept., so I do understand about getting what you pay for. If she is still interested in piano in a year or two I will do the upgrade to a higher quality instrument. I would love to get a used upright, but we just don't have the space at the moment, two adults, 3 kids, 1 large dog in a 3 bedroom cape. Maybe someday if I put a great room on.

Anyway, the problem with entry level Yamaha keyboards is that there are probably a dozen or more in this price range. I have tried to do some research on Harmony Central, but it is all a bit confusing.

Thanks,
Mike
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