February 21, 2012
Fancy getting your hands on a vintage piece of Hohner kit? The Hohner Bass 2 Keyboard is from the 1960s. This auction offers up one in very good condition and fully functioning.
Seller ringobellini says that they run it through an SVT with a tube driver to get a great fuzz bass tone.
The Hohner Bass 2 features decay, volume controls, 3 voice selector buttons, slot for stand/mount, battery life meter, 9V power input, and 1/4″ audio output.
The casing is olive green.
Here’s a video comparison of the Hohner Bass 2 and Hohner Bass 3.
January 22, 2012
It includes 100 preset songs designed to help beginners learn to play the keyboard.
It features 392 built-in voices including realistic acoustic instruments including drums, plus synths and sound effects. There are 100 preset accompaniment styles on board.
Finally, the Yamaha Education Suite offers various lessons and tutorials for the budding pianist.
Available now for a RRP of $299. Buy now at zZounds.com.
January 16, 2012
The answer to this question boils down to how authentic you want your piano-playing experience to be.
On the surface, there really isn’t much difference between an acoustic piano, a digital piano, and any of the multitude of music keyboards and synthesizers.
This means it’s possible to play the same notes on both a piano and a keyboard.
However, all instruments vary in how they feel and how they respond to a player’s touch.
Acoustic and digital pianos often have heavier keys which are weighted more heavily at the lower end (left-hand side) of the keyboard and have a lighter touch at the top end (right-hand side). Most standard keyboards and synthesizers do not have this.
Additionally, nothing can completely rival a true acoustic piano in terms of sound. High-end digital pianos come close. Every digital instrument is only giving an approximation of the sound of an acoustic piano.
Cheaper instruments, and those for whom a realistic piano sound is not a priority (such as some synthesizers which are more geared to creating non-acoustic sounds) may not offer all the nuances and subtleties you’d expect from an acoustic piano or a very good digital piano.
However, the average musician and listener may never notice the difference. A seasoned classical or jazz pianist might do, but could still use a digital piano or keyboard from time to time for convenience.
It’s also worth considering that most pianos have at least 76 keys on their keyboard, and usually 88 keys, whereas some keyboards and synths have 49 or 61 keys (four or five octaves). This means that some pieces of music which have a wide range might be very difficult to play seamlessly.
So yes, you can play piano notes on a keyboard but you should be aware of its possible limitations.
April 28, 2011
If you’re enamoured by the range and quality of Yamaha keyboards, you’re not alone. Laden with features and available at attractive prices, Yamaha instruments are a great buy whether you’re new to keyboard playing or a seasoned pro.
We’ll save the range of Yamaha’s digital pianos for another article. Here, we’ll take a look at the main categories of keyboard and make suggestions as to which is best for you.
Types of Yamaha Keyboard
Yamaha Portable Keyboards
These might be considered Yamaha’s entry level keyboards, but in fact they don’t skimp on features.
Recognisable by their PSR or YPT product codes, they generally consist of five octave (61 key) keyboards with a light touch that’s sensitive to playing pressure. They usually include a wide range of natural and synthetic sounds, including acoustic pianos, auto-accompaniment styles and built-in speakers.
Yamaha Piaggero Series
The Piaggero keyboards (NP Series) offer a bit more keyboard real estate. They feature a 76 key keyboard (about six octaves), plus improved built-in speakers, sounds and accompaniments. They cost a bit more as a consequence but are more suited to styles of music where a wider range is useful. See the current range.
Yamaha Lighted Keys
Just one Yamaha keyboard features lighted keys. The EZ-200 can make it easier to learn pieces of music by lighting up which keys should be played.
Yamaha Synthesizers and Workstations
Yamaha’s synthesisers and workstations are great when you want to take your music making and creation further than is possible with the standard keyboards.
Available in a range of sizes, they usually have more advanced features such as the ability to edit sounds, record on multiple tracks at once, and have more real-time control over playing.
They are generally a lot more expensive.
Yamaha Arranger Workstations
Yamaha’s arranger workstations include the Tyros series and a few higher end PSR keyboards. They’re really useful when you want more advanced control over performance or want to build multi-track compositions from the single instrument.
They are usually expensive.
Choosing the right keyboard
My keyboard buying guide is a useful read. It’s not limited to Yamaha keyboards, but you can simply narrow your search. It tells you what features to look for and what types of keyboard are best suited to the music you want to play.
If you’re buying specifically for a child, read buying a child’s first electronic keyboard instrument for advice.
After that, you can use our keyboard finder to pick out current models which match the features you want.
Yamaha keyboards are high-quality instruments that can give you many years of enjoyable music making. If you have any questions, leave a comment below.
April 27, 2011
Bit late off the mark on this one. In January, Alesis announced its latest controller keyboard. The QX49 USB/MIDI keyboard offers four octaves (49 keys) of controller goodness.
It’s got most everything you could want from this kind of controller keyboard: velocity sensitive keys, drum pads, rotary knobs, long-throw faders, snappy buttons, pitch and modulation wheels and footswitch input.
It powers via USB so there’s no additional wiring or power socket needs. The controls are fully assignable so it should work with most of the music production and sequencing software available for Mac and PC, or indeed any piece of MIDI hardware you connect it to.
It has a MIDI out port plus a MIDI thru, routing on any data sent from a connected computer. It will ship with a copy of Ableton Live Lite Alesis Edition.
Exact availability is to be confirmed though it’s likely to be in the second quarter of this year. It should have a retail price of around $259.
April 26, 2011
You love your piano or synth, right? But what else can you do to show your appreciation apart from playing it (naturally), taking it on gigs and talking to everyone about the latest pieces of music you’re playing or sounds you’ve created?
Wear a themed T-shirt of course!
We present the ultimate list of piano, keyboard and synth-inspired short-sleeved tops for your pleasure.
We’ve set the bar rather high by calling our list “ultimate”. Call us out on this one — if you’ve seen or designed an amazing (relevant) tee, let us know.
Now go, adorn.
Who said that tee-shirts had to be merely printed? Here are two designs that can be played. We’re thinking you might get into a spot of trouble if you try to play someone else’s tee, particularly if they’re female, but if you’re wearing this yourself, feel free to prod away at your chest.
Electronic Music Synthesizer Shirt
Synthesizer Battery Operated Keyboard Design
Red Synthesizer Filter Shirt
Keyboard: Vintage Synthesizer: 3D Model
Vintage Keyboards: 3D Model
If you really have this many synths you may not have any money left to buy this tee-shirt. Unless you’re Rick Wakeman.
The Moog T-Shirt
Robots Are the Future, apparently.
Puppetbox Synthesizer Logo
Some nice knobs going on this three-octave beauty.
Filter Tee Shirt
Frequency, resonance, mod depth. What more could you ask for on your chest?
Grungy Moog goodness.
Danger Synth Shirt
Perhaps the owner has been circuit bending. I’ve never touched a synth and received a bodily injury, but there could be a first time.
Keyboards != Coasters T-Shirt
’nuff said. If you’ve been there, you know.
Colorful Synthesizer Tee Shirts
It is. Synthesizer.
I Love Distorted Synths
Analog Synthesizer Tee
Nice bit of generic synth action and ’80s style futuristic writing on this one.
Schematic of Moog Synthesizer Tee-Shirt
Now you know why nerds keep staring at your chest and smirking.
Modularman Scarab Synthesizer T-Shirt
Weird beastie connected up to a load of synth inputs and outputs. Freaky.
Roland TB-303 Acid Synth Tee-Shirt
This long-coveted patchable mono-synth has been used by cutting edge and retro artists for decades, and was the first Korg synthesizer to be re-created in software in the Korg Legacy Collection. The shirt features a popular 1970s Korg sticker design featuring one way-cool dude, jamming away on the legendary MS-20.
The first polyphonic and programmable synthesizer from Korg first turned heads in 1980. Since then, musicians have searched far and wide for their own vintage Trident. With additional string and brass sections, this instrument was three synths in one, hence the Trident name! Taken directly from the original owner’s manual, this design captures all the fun of this VCO, VFO, and LFO-equipped legend.
Travel back to 1982 with this old-school Mono/Poly design. This massively fat sounding, four-oscillator lead synth is still coveted by collectors and performers today. The vintage cream colored shirt features the original Mono/Poly logo, dressed up with an “era-appropriate” treatment.
This style pays tribute to Korg’s very first product—the Doncamatic! First used in a Japanese night club in 1963, the Doncamatic started it all! This artwork is lifted directly from the extremely rare Doncamatic product manual, complete with Japanese text!
Keyboard vs Piano T-Shirt
I really couldn’t choose.
Embroidered Piano T-Shirt
Cute little neon embroidered grand piano icon.
Piano T-Shirt – No Problem
88 keys – 10 fingers – no problem.
Grand piano and manuscript music.
Zebra Piano Tee-Shirt
It had to happen. Zebra goes piano.
Piano Text T-Shirt
Eat, Sleep, Play Piano Tee
If only there were more hours in the day.
Short Broken Piano Tee
I’m not a fan of smashing up piano keyboards, but this design is kinda cool.
Pianos and Cats
I’m not sure what it is about pianos and cats, but it would be remiss of me not to include a few here.
Game Over Cat on Keyboard Tee-Shirt
Very 8-bit retro video game cat. (Were there ever any video games featuring cats?)
Three Keyboard Cat Moon T-Shirt
Three cats, bathed in moonlight, luxuriating by a piano.
Keyboard Cat Tee
Yes. A keyboard cat.
So there you have it. Perhaps not quite ultimate… yet. Show us your favorites.
April 26, 2011
Feeling patriotic? Have an event where it would be good to play the United States’ National Anthem music? Here are some simple free piano/keyboard arrangements for The Star-Spangled Banner.
The Star-Spangled Banner is written here in B-flat major. This is the key I’ve most often heard it played in. It means you have two flats to contend with. B flat and E flat.
It’s written in 3/4 time. That means there are three quarter notes to each bar. For interest’s sake, the British national anthem (God Save The Queen) is also written in 3/4 time.
Here’s the music score.
Here’s a PDF file you can download.
The melody is fairly easy to play. You probably already know how the timing of the notes goes, so the dotted eighth note (quaver) followed by sixteenth note (semiquaver) found in bars 1, 3 and 9 shouldn’t phase you. Similarly, the dotted quarter notes (crotchets) followed by eighth notes (quavers) in 6, 15, 23 and 25.
The first ascending notes (in bar 2) are in fact five successive notes of a B-flat major arpeggio. B-flat, D, F, B-flat and D.
Note the E natural in bars 4 and 17.
You know from the anthem that the first part of the melody repeats. This is marked in the music by way of repeat marks and 1st/2nd time bars.
When you see notation like this, it means that you play everything from the start up until (and including) the bar marked overhead with “1.” The repeat mark (looks like a colon (:) means to go back to the last repeat marks. You can see that’s at the start of bar 2.
Play everything through again, but when you get to the “1st” bar, skip it and jump to the “2nd” time bar. Play that bar and then keep going. This is a form of shorthand and saves printing out repeated passages of music again.
Simple Bass Line
Here, a simple one note bass line has been added.
Here’s the music score.
Here’s a PDF file you can download.
Right Hand Chords
If you’re playing to accompany singing, it’s useful not to play the melody line itself but to fill out the accompaniment with chords. These can be played in the right hand, while the left hand plays the bass line.
Here’s the music score.
Here’s a PDF file you can download.
I hope that helps you when it comes to playing The Star-Spangled Banner.
April 11, 2011
If you love the Nord style get excited, because the company have used Musikmesse 2011 to unveil their latest offering: the Electro 3 HP.
It features a 73-key hammer action weighted keybed and is designed to pack in a whole gamut of authentic vintage sounds, accessible via a live-performance-friendly interface, and yet with portability in mind.
The main feature set of the Electro 3 series:
- C1 Organ Tonewheel/transistor modeling
- Nord Piano- and Sample Library support
- String Resonance (generation 1)
- Exclusively licensed Mellotron and Chamberlin sounds
- Rotary Speaker simulation
- Flexible Effects
- Light weight
- Physical controls for all vital functions
Comparison: Nord Electro 3 and Nord Electro 3 HP
Nord Electro 3
Nord Electro 3 HP
40/60 (stereo/mono pianos)
Nord Piano Library
185MB allocated to piano instruments
Yes, Generation 1
Yes, Generation 1 (on/off)
Dynamic Response Curves
Nord Sample Library
68MB allocated to sample instruments
Rotary Speaker Simulation
Pan, Tremolo, Auto-Wah, Pedal-Wah and Ring Modulator
Phaser, Flanger and Chorus
Yes (available when not using Delay)
3 band, sweepable Mid
JC, Twin & small w/overdrive
61-key (F-F) or 73-key (C-C) velocity sensitive Semi Weighted Waterfall keyboard
73-key (E-E) Hammer Action weighted keyboard
2 Program buttons x 64 Pages (128 locations)
4 Program buttons x 32 Pages (128 locations)
Live/Auto save programs
7.65kg (15.3 lbs) / 9.1kg (18.2 lbs)
11kg (24.25 lbs)
Exact pricing and availability to be confirmed.
March 19, 2011
You’ve just bought the perfect keyboard. Now it’s time to accessorise!
Forget the bling factor that normally goes with fashion accessorising. These accessories are all practical additions to your stash of equipment, helping you to play better, sound better and protect your prized instrument.
Read on to see why you need these accessories.
The speakers that come with most portable keyboards leave a lot to be desired. Some keyboards don’t have built-in speakers at all.
You can hook up the keyboard to your hi-fi system, but this isn’t always the best option in your home, and it’s certainly no good if you intend to take your keyboard out on gigs or performances.
Buying a decent keyboard amplifier will make the sounds your keyboard can produce come alive. Rich bass, mid-tones and treble, and with a much needed volume boost.
Pick the best amplifier you can afford from a well-known brand and you won’t go far wrong. Some even allow more than one input, including microphones and line-level gear, allowing for greater versatility.
Read more on keyboard amps.
A good quality seat will improve your keyboard playing no end. Forget about using chairs from the dining room or folding chairs with cushions balanced on top. Buy a proper height-adjustable bench instead. Sitting correctly at your keyboard will allow you to maintain good posture and improve your playing technique.
Read more on keyboard benches.