Types Of Electronic Keyboards
Choosing an electronic keyboard these days is complicated by a vast range of choices. Not only are there different types from high to low end, but there are many brands within types sold at various types of outlets.
Each musical instrument has its start somewhere, as well as a period of time when it was most significant. The electronic keyboard is no exception and has a fascinating history from its invention in the 1800’s, to its popularity in the 1980’s. Most of these keyboards look fairly similar and can be identified easily, but there are different types.
Beginner keyboards are designed with the novice student in mind. Beginner keyboards generally range from two to four octaves and offer a limited selection of digitized instrument sounds for entertainment variety. These keyboards don’t have weighted keys like real acoustic pianos, since keyboard keys are made from plastic, not ivory.
Arranger keyboards break away from the simplistic features of beginner keyboards. Arrangers offer extensive libraries containing prerecorded accompaniment tracks in nearly every music style imaginable (indie rock, reggae, classic country, techno). Arranger keyboards are all the rage for solo artists who compose spontaneously and aim to produce the effect of a one-man band. Arrangers generally come with voice back-up capabilities, chord recognition software and USB ports. Music played by the keyboardist can often be recorded and saved into a memory bank.
For those musicians who want to shape every aspect of an original composition, a workstation keyboard offers the most control. Data can be meticulously recorded and digitally manipulated note by note. Workstations have everything arrangers have and more. Depending on the type of workstation, it may come standard with its own integrated synthesizer.
The word “synthesize” means to create something new, either from scratch or by distorting existing material. Synthesizers are a means for producing man-made digital sounds and effects. A synthesizer might look like a conventional keyboard, but its purposes and functions are completely different. Synthesizers are used to invent exotic sounds that standard keyboards cannot produce, using analog or digital signal processing.
Modern organ keyboards do not use metal pipes, are reduced in size and attempt to mimic the tones of traditional organs. Certain organ keyboard models have tried to preserve standard characteristics found on traditional organs such as drawbars, pedal boards and multiple key decks (called manuals).
Mix and match any combination of an arranger, digital workstation, synthesizer, organ or piano and a hybrid is born. Hybrids possess the best of all worlds in a single package. Some musicians have the need for multiple functions, and this saves them from having to buy separate individual keyboards to satisfy their need.
Digital pianos cap the spectrum of electronic keyboards. Grand piano keyboards mimic the external looks of traditional grand pianos but internally lack strings and hammers. Thus, digital pianos don’t deliver acoustic sounds. Rather, computer chips inside store digitized recordings, released through amplified speakers when keys are pressed.