There's so much you can do with a keyboard. From the '70s into the present, they've been an integral part of rock bands, are essential in the recording studio, and define whole subgenres of electronic dance music. Yet, while keyboards share much of their appearance and functionality with digital pianos, they're vastly different instruments.
Types of Keyboards
To begin, a traditional piano offers 88 keys and a set of pedals. Keyboards, however, aren't based on this standard. Instead, a mini keyboard, geared toward creating sounds, may be designed with a far smaller number, while a portable piano keyboard - a quick and convenient replacement for an acoustic - includes all 88 white and black keys.
In addition to this significant variable, keyboards are divided into a few types:
- Synthesizers: Although many use synthesizer and keyboard interchangeably, a synth is nearly strictly used for recording, producing and playing back sounds, harnessing sampling technology. In turn, not every synthesizer includes a proper keyboard - many have just a series of buttons and knobs. Synthesizers, as well, may be monophonic - allowing for one tone at a time - or polyphonic.
- Workstation: A workstation essentially is an all-in-one system designed for playing, recording, and producing. In turn, these keyboards feature an internal hard drive, can connect to a computer, utilize sampling technology, and have the same polyphony capabilities that digital pianos offer.
- Portable keyboards: These models tend to have basic functions for beginners interested in learning about recording and sampling technologies and also offer the full functionality of a digital piano.
- Digital Pianos: Sometimes casually called a piano keyboard, digital pianos aim to reproduce the feel and action of an acoustic piano and have a few recording features. Models also let the player switch between sounds and play with pre-recorded beats or instrumentation.
Pianos Versus Keyboards
Aside from the number of keys, most keyboards are geared toward individuals who have some knowledge of how music fits together. In turn:
- A digital piano often has weighted keys, while a keyboard offers no resistance.
- Because keys are more touch sensitive, players can do dynamics on a digital piano, but rarely will a keyboard offer this feature.
- Keyboards offer multitimbrality - different from polyphony - allowing for several sounds to be played or performed at once.
- MIDI technology is at the heart of most keyboards, while a digital piano seldom offers these capabilities.
- Similarly, because they are used for production purposes, keyboards often have a built-in sequencer, arpeggiator and sampler.
- Because they're designed for composing and no longer have a floppy drive, keyboards nearly by default connect to a computer through multiple methods, and usually feature input/output functionality.
Find a Keyboard at Alamo Music Center
Whether you're a producer wanting to explore synths or a performer needing an instrument to take to a gig, find a full spectrum of keyboards at Alamo Music Center, including new and pre-owned instruments for sale from Roland, Casio, Yamaha, Kawai, Korg and more brands. We offer multiple financing and layaway options, including 12- to 48-month, no-interest options at times, plus trial lessons and an extended warranty.