Keyboards give you the beautiful, classic sound of the piano, though with a cheaper price, better mobility and the ability to create a broader range of sounds. While pianos are typically 88 keys, keyboards can range from 88 keys down to 25 keys (two octaves) on some of the smaller MIDI controller models. Keyboards typically have sounds that range from classic piano, to organ, synths and percussion. Most keyboards also come with functions that help you play, such as play-along tracks, a built in metronome and recording features.
Types of Keyboards
Keyboards are categorized by the number of keys they have, and this in turn determines the range of tones your keyboard will make. If you want a smaller tone range, a 49-note keyboard may be better for you. It will be cheaper than the larger 88-key version since the models with more keys usually cost more.
Keyboards also come in 61 and 76-note versions.
The term “electronic keyboard” is used to describe both the traditional keyboard as well as the digital piano. However, there are differences. Digital pianos are usually larger, heavier and not intended to be as portable as a keyboard. The sounds produced by digital pianos are made by "sampling" the sounds of a real piano, rather than synthesizing them and so they usually have 64-88 keys, whereas the keyboard tends to have less.
The digital piano has fewer different sounds, usually the piano, with jazz keys and harpsichord sounds. The keyboard can have hundreds and hundreds of different sounds.
Points to think on
Research the type of keyboard you need and what accessories and features you might want. The number of add-ons will determine price, so decide which features and functions you need and which ones you can do without.
One consideration might be the number of keys that can sound at one time.
If you are intending to learn the keyboard as a prelude to learning the piano, the keys need to be the same width as those on a piano.
Be sure to keep in mind accessory costs such as a stand and bench.
If the keyboard doesn’t have internal speakers, does it come with a jack and cables to plug into an external speaker?
Check out brands such as Yamaha, Casio and Roland.
What to know about buying a pre-owned Keyboard
Like pianos, keyboards are built for longevity. Therefore, buying a used keyboard is worthwhile option and can save you money on your overall purchase.
When looking to buy a used keyboard, you need to make sure that it has all the features and functions that you are looking for. Do you want built in speakers, an earphone jack, the capability to run off mains power or just batteries? Do you want recording features? A certain sound? A metronome?
The next thing to check for is that all the electronic features and functions are working correctly and there are no broken jacks, or that none of the touch sensitive keys are sticking, etc.
If buying from a reputable dealer, you should be fine and have very few problems.
What to know about buying a new Keyboard
Many people prefer to buy new keyboards. Reading the specifications of the keyboard before you buy will ensure that you have all of the features, sounds and add-ons that you are looking for in a keyboard.
Buying new will cost you a bit more, but many keyboards give great value for your money.