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Buying a Keyboard 

There are many different questions when it comes to buying a
keyboard.  How much should I pay, how many keys it needs and so
on.  A lot of it really depends on the buyer and your own
personal preference. 


The best way to tell if the keyboard is right for you is if it
"feels" right.  But, in saying that, there are a few simple
guidelines that can help you out come purchase time.  
One of the great things about having so many different keyboards
to choose from is that you can find one at a suitable price.  The
first thing is you want to make sure the keyboard actually works. 
The problem with keyboards is that as they get older they tend to
decay a bit.  So be careful buying a keyboard before you've
actually played it and checked the keys, all the buttons and so on. 
The next step is looking at how many keys it has.  I'm often asked
"how many keys should I get?"  The answer is really down to
personal preference and what exactly you're using your keyboard
for.  My advice is to get a keyboard with the full 88 keys.  But
76 and even 61 will usually be enough.  If you have the choice I
think either 88 or 76 keys is best. 
If you were just using a small range of the keyboard and it's
more for recording interesting samples and so on, then fewer keys
is fine.  Most professionals will use 88 keys.


The next thing to look at is weighted keys or "synth" action. 
This means what the feel of the actual keys is like.  This again
really depends on personal taste.  There are weighted keys – keys
on the keyboard have the same feel and weight as keys on a
standard piano.  A lot of trained pianists will go this route,
myself included. 
I don't like to use synth style keys but that's entirely my
personal taste.  One of the benefits of playing on a keyboard
with weighted keys is that if you never played an acoustic piano
before you should easily be able to adjust quickly because your
hands will be used to it.  Synth style keys also have their
advantages.  Because they're not weighted it's a lot easier to
play them faster.
Another important aspect is the velocity and after touch of the
keyboard.  Velocity refers to whether how hard you hit the keys
affects how loud the sound that comes out, so that if you lightly
touch the keyboard you will get a nice quiet sound. 
Similarly if you hit down hard you will get a nice loud reaction. 
After touch refers to the sensitivity to the sound and touch
after you hit the note and hold it down.  If you play a note and
you want it to ring the way an acoustic piano does, after touch
is very important. 
Personally I believe that velocity and after touch is VERY
important and any keyboard you have should really have these
things catered for.
So there are a couple things to consider when looking at
keyboards.  Ultimately I believe a lot of it comes down to
personal taste and what your instincts tell you about the
keyboard itself.  Remember, you want it to be something that you
can spend a lot of time on so make sure that you are completely
happy with what you end up with.

Article by George Russell

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