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[Beginner] Need help choosing a Keyboard...


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Well I've spent the last two days doing research and searches here on this forum and others in attempt to keep from making a new post like this. But there's still alot I can't seem to wrap my head around so I figured that it's finally time I asked this question.


On a quick side note, I was originally going to put together a post that tried to address all the finer points a newbie should consider when buying a Keyboard. Weighted vs. Non-Weighted, Number of keys, etc. Unforunately I myslef am a newbie and the more research I do, the more I realize I don't know about Keyboards. I'll probably still make that post eventually but right now with the Holiday Season on the horizon I simply can't learn about stuff like Arpeggiation, Phrasing, and Sequencing over night and then talk intelligently about it all here.


Ok so, several months ago I actually came to this site and started doing research to buy a keyboard. I didn't know anything about anything so I just searched several of the "what should a beginner/newbie buy" and made a list of the most common suggestions people responded with and from there started wheedling them down. But it wasn't the holiday season or near my birthday so I put all of the information I'd collected aside to work on other projects. I have since lost that information and forgotten all the research I did. The only thing I can remember is that I believe I had almost settled on buying one of the Yamaha DGX's probably the DGX-505AD. It certainly looks cool and has tons of interesting looking buttons. But looking over at Amazon it seems there is a great deal of disagreement over whether or not the keys are actually weighted. Some reviewers seem to firmly insist that they are and some reviwers just as firmly insist that they are not. The other issue is that in my recent research here in the last few days it doesn't seem like people are mentioning the DGX's at all anymore so I'm assuming that there have been some newer and better keyboards that have come out since the last time I was here several months ago.


Anyway, to assist in keyboard suggestions for me I'll try to answer all of the personal preference questions that I've seen asked several times before...


Current Skill Level: Beginner/Total Newb - Never touched a keyboard in my life.


Budget: $500-$700 is pretty much what I'm shooting for. But I'd be interested in any suggestions that are under $1000.


Musical Interest: This is a toughie because my musical interests really only extend to the music that I've been introduced to. I like classical, but I certainly wouldn't call myself a "Classical Buff". Jazz, Blues, Rock, are all nice from what I've heard of them. I also like Sythesizer sounds, but I haven't really heard that much. Although, "The Final Countdown" uses a synth I believe and I love that song, lol. I'm a huge 80's music fan. :) So what I've heard of synth sounds I enjoy as well.


Keyboard Style: Another toughie. My basic intent to is to "learn to play the piano". But that doesn't mean I'm completely closed off to other areas of learning in the electronic keyboard arena. The problem is that I kinda, really just don't know what they would be. I mean what else does a person do with a keyboard beside play it like a piano? Alot, I'm sure which shows how much I have to learn. Any suggestions in this area would be much appreciated. I am pretty sure, that although my primary intention is to learn to play the piano, I don't want a keyboard with just a few boring variations on piano sounds. I'd like one with a bunch of different bells & whistles and Syth stuff as well.


Key Number: 88 is most preferable since learning to play the piano is my intention and that seems to be what people agree is important when doing so.


Key Weight: Again since I'm looking to be able to sit down at a regular piano and play it with little to no trouble (this will take years, I know), I should probably start off by training and toughening up my finger strength. Which means that I'll need something with weighted keys, right? I've also been reading about something called "Graded Hammer Action". I'm not sure if this is the same as Weighted Keys. From what I gather Graded Hammer Action means that the harder you slam the key the louder the note is played. This sounds like something I would need to better simulate a piano as well does it not? Also is this the same as "Touch Sensitivity"?


MIDI/PC Interface: I've fairly computer savvy, so working with my Keyboard on my computer sounds like fun and something I can learn alot about. So Sure, MIDI sounds good. USB preferably as my computer doesn't have a firewire port.


Speakers: I live in an apartment complex so I'll be spending most of my time listening to my keyboard sounds with headphones (so I good headphone jack will be required). But that doesn't mean I want to have to plug my keyboard into a seperate set of speakers everytime I want to hear it out loud. So built-in speakers are preferable.


Software: Particularly in regards to built-in tutorial software is always nice. I've read that Yamaha has some good tutorial stuff that comes along with it. There are even some keyboards that come with "lighted keys" as a way to help you learn to play. I don't know which ones do this or if they are in my price range but I might be interested in something like that. Obviously it's no substitute for a live teacher but every little bit helps. Dunno which ones have those options though.


Bells & Whistles: Arpeggiation, Phrasing, Sequencing, Sampling, Voices, Arrangers, Modulation controllers, Pitch Blenders, Sound Effects, Back Tracks etc. I don't know what any of this stuff is or what it does or why I would want it or not care about it. Anyone that can help in this area would be a saint.


Other: What other things should be considering? What other questions should I be asking? Are there any other personal preferences you need to know?



Anyway I'm open to any and all suggestions. Any help or advice is very much appreciated. I hope I answered at least a few of the regular questions. Feel free to ask me anything. And thanks again for the help. :)


EDIT: Oh and I almost forgot to mention...Pedals...yay or nay?

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Well I've been spending this time doing more research here on the forum. I've identified several possibile options that are in my price range....


Casio Privia PX-310

Yamaha P70

Yamaha YPG-625 (same as the DGX-620)


Having already found several threads that compare them. I'm leaning towards the YPG-625 (in the form of a DGX-620b at my local Costco, I figure if I have any problems they have a good return policy).


But there are a couple of issues with the YPG-625 I would like to discuss with the folks here...


Pedals - The YPG-625 apparently has no "soft pedal jack." I was wondering what people thought about this? What kind of effect it would have in regards to learning to play the piano? On a side note this guy here mentioned that he recieved a "pedal" with his keyboard. I did some checking at it looks like it was a "foot switch" that came in a Yamaha Survival Kit that he got with his keyboard. I'm assuming this "foot switch" is used for something other than the traditional piano pedal? Sorry I'm not really well versed on this stuff.


MIDI - The YPG-620 apparently has no "real" MIDI connections, which simply means the computer must be used as a link/bridge. I originally thought that MIDI simply meant the ability to connect to my computer. But apparently it means the ability to connect to other types of MIDI equipment (although I still havn't figured out what those are, lol). In any case the YPG-620 has at least the computer connection through USB and I think that's enough for me, unless others would care to provide more information in this area.


Weight/Action - There have been a few reports that the Weight Action on the YPG-620 is not as heavy as it should be or as it would be on traditional piano's. Any comments on this?


Polyphony - I'm not even sure what the heck this means, but some people say the YPG-620 has some drawbacks in this department, being that is has 32 instead of 64. Anyone care to explain what the deal is?


Am I missing any other considerations regarding drawbacks of the YPG-620?



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Sorry that that this isn't going to be the most detailed response to your questions.


You will probably want/need a sustain pedal. The Yamaha Fc4 is a good option.


Polyphony means the number of notes that can be playing at once. Keep in mind some sounds are layered meaning they have 2 or more sounds couting towards overall polyphony number. More is generally better in most cases.


The weight and action is a preference thing. Make sure its weighted but get whatever feels best to you.


At this point the three your considering are pretty much similar each with strengths and weaknesses. The YPG-620 will have the most sound choices out of the three your considering.


My advice is this: Play them all and get the one that feels and sounds best to you. Also don't let a salesperson talk you into anything, decide for yourself. Hope this helps.

Begin the day with a friendly voice A companion, unobtrusive

- Rush

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Hi Blackadder, many of your statements about the YPG 625 are inaccurate.


It does have MIDI. In fact it connects via USB to a computer which is a superior way of connecting as no special hardware will be required.


The YPG has a sustain pedal jack (like all keyboards).


The weighted keys on the YPG is lighter than that of the Casio or P70. But not the kind of "light" that would be non-functional. It's just a matter of taste. The weight of the Casios emulate a real piano more but this difference is found even in high end digitals like the S90ES -- that also has lighter keys. If you like the feel of the keys, it will be ok for you.


The YPG and Casio Privias have a lot of "arranger" features, extras that are shunned by the more serious players here so I don't put much importance to them other than for a "gee whiz" factor. The P70 has none of that stuff.


If you can afford the slightly higher price, I would say that the P70 and YPG 625 would have better sounds. What you need to do is actually feel the keyboard of these two as the "Graded Hammer" of the P70 will be heavier. Graded Hammer means that the lower keys are heavier than the upper keys, simulating the weight of a damper on a real piano. (I personally don't like graded as I feel the weight of my acoustic is pretty even but the heavier weight is better if you don't have an acoustic).


All these keyboards are good choices for a beginner. You have researched the models well. Refining your choice from these three is a personal choice.


Polyphony on all of these keyboards will be 32. Nothing for you to get concerned about until you're deep into this.


At that point you'll be getting GAS and will be budgeting $2K for your board + $2K in accessories.


Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1


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Thank you so much for the replies. It's great to hear that I was wrong about certain aspects of the YPG-625. I'm not sure how it happend, all my research was based on searches from this site. Mostly coming from Rickidemuses posts, I must have misinterpeted a bunch of stuff along the way. Anyway, also thanks for the recommendation for a sustain pedal. I'll definitely check that out as well.


I'm really excited about this and have already started measuring the parts of my room that I want to put it in, hehe.

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My ypg came packaged with the stand, power supply AND pedal (foot switch), but I decided to go with a better aftermarket one (so now I have a spare); I didn't bother with the survival kit, just asked to exchange that for a better quality headset.


BTW, I bought mine in mid september and can honestly say I still love it, even more so as my playing improves (I'm an adult beginner). No buyer remorse yet, it's a pretty decent instrument for the price.


I posted a pretty extensive review of it here (maybe I'll copy it over to this forum if people find it useful):




Hope the info helps...

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Originally posted by Jazzwee:

The YPG and Casio Privias have a lot of "arranger" features, extras that are shunned by the more serious players here

...hmm, they are? What's a "serious" player, one who starts threads like "real men don't use appeggiators?" :D Seriously, arrangers are of use to people who are "serious" (depending on the style of music, of course)... they can be used in songwriting for instance. Of course the arranger backing won't be used for the final recording. They're fun for beginners, too, nothing wrong with that.
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Originally posted by soundscape:

Originally posted by Jazzwee:

The YPG and Casio Privias have a lot of "arranger" features, extras that are shunned by the more serious players here

...hmm, they are? What's a "serious" player, one who starts threads like "real men don't use appeggiators?" :D Seriously, arrangers are of use to people who are "serious" (depending on the style of music, of course)... they can be used in songwriting for instance. Of course the arranger backing won't be used for the final recording. They're fun for beginners, too, nothing wrong with that.
C'mon soundscape, we're not talking Oasys here or PSR 9000, etc. We're talking about arrangers with hokey rhythms that are found in cheap keyboards. They're so hokey that a serious musician wouldn't use these particular ones.


Whether beginners want to use them or not is not the issue. The issue is a buyer going to make a decision to buy a keyboard heavily influenced by these accompaniment features, which are really toy features. All I'm saying is that they are not as important as the basic sounds and key action. As a point of comparison, one can compare the P70 against the YPG. P70 has no accompaniment bells and whistles. But against the YPG, the action is different and sound is different, though both Yamaha models. Those are the more important factors to consider.


Same comparison can be made between the Casio CDP 100 and Casio PX310. The difference is the accompaniment "toys". So it's an extra $100 value for that. One can decide if it's important or not. It is not important to more serious players for sure.


My Definition of Serious Player: One who doing some serious learning. Not goofing around.

Hamburg Steinway O, Crumar Mojo, Nord Electro 4 HP 73, EV ZXA1


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I think Jazzwee makes a good point. I still haven't used the accompaniment features on the ypg (and probably won't in future as I'm trying to learn piano and not synthesizing as such), and ultimately it does come down to sound and action.


But to be fair some of these features are legitimately useful (I'd rather have the larger voice library than not; that said the ypg has only 2 main stereo grand piano voices, a couple more would've been nice to have in place of some of the useless fx voices; the other stereo voices are pretty well done, gm is ok, drums sound pretty decent). The rhythm styles library should be useful when my study gets that far. The interface on the ypg is much more intuitive (especially with the display).


I understood that they were both GHS action? Not sure if their main piano awm sampled voices are the same or not, but p70 does have half pedaling and direct midi outputs (but other than that the p70's features list seems pretty impoverished for the price, the interface is not at all intuitive...and it doesn't even have a metronome, not to mention smaller speakers). When you add in the free stand on the ypg , I think the ypg may be a better value overall and doesn't give up anything v.v. the p70.


I was struggling to decide between these two and ultimately went with the ypg.

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Thanks for posting your experiences Sydneylocks. I'm also glad to here that a pedal comes along with the board. I'll probably still go with a different one anyway but it's nice to know.


Although my primary focus is learning to play the piano as opposed to using the arranger to learn to do other things, I'm swayed by the extra's on the YPG, it doesn't seem like the downsides are all that extensive in comparison. Which is to say you end up getting more than you give up.


Also I think all of the veterans here would agree that if I ever decided to become more than a novice/beginner than I should really invest in one of the higher-end "proffessional" style keyboards or even an actual piano. But for right now at least this will be great to get me started in learning to the play the piano and it'll also be a nice introduction to the other aspects of music that keyboards can offer.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Jazzwee said, "C'mon soundscape, we're not talking Oasys here or PSR 9000, etc. We're talking about arrangers with hokey rhythms that are found in cheap keyboards. They're so hokey that a serious musician wouldn't use these particular ones."


You sound a lot like a purist film camera user who just can't bring himself to admit that digital photography, or Photoshop editing has any real value. I've been playing semi-pro for several years now and just finished buying a YGP 525. To be honest with you, the rhythms that are installed on the 525 weren't the selling point for me as I was interested in sound, quality and appearance. There is a reason why a violin can be nothing more than a squeek box in the hands of a novice, and why, in the hands of a virtuoso the same violin becomes priceless. I have heard TYROS users who sound awful when there are others like Vonken and Baartmans who leave you gasping for breath. There are two reasons for this, the first is simple mechanical familiarity, and the second is giftedness.


The reason I wasn't interested in knowing about the rhythms wasn't because I don't use them, but because I have about forty floppies full of high quality rhythms patterns because I have used a DGX 300 for the last three years. It still comes down to the technical capabilities of the machine (which seem to be nearly universally recognized as of very high quality), the mechanical capabilities of the player and the giftedness that God has given him or her.


Honestly, when I'm out playing for an audience, I don't let anyone touch my keyboard, but in my living room, the DGX 300 has called out to nearly everyone who enters the door. Most of those who sit down at it are greenhorns at best. Then there are those who are gifted and soon learn their way around it. It's a joy to hear the difference. Hope you're one of the gifted ones.


Well, I get my 525 day after tomorrow. I'll let you know what I think after I've used it for a week or two.

Robert Christopulos
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