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.
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.
Benches come in two prominent styles. One is a solid framed affair, often with a padded seat and sometimes storage for music books. These are often seen permanently in front of a piano. The other is a collapsible metal-framed design which can be useful if you are a travelling musician needing to take a seat with you. They are arguably less sturdy but more suited to the rigours of the road.
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Whether you’re connecting from keyboard to amplifier, computer or other keyboards and sound modules, you need decent cables.
Decent audio cables are required when you connect your keyboard to an external sound source or PA system.
MIDI or USB cables are necessary for connecting up to a computer or other electronic instruments — useful if you want to start investigating the exciting world of sequencing and recording.
Invest in a decent brand, particularly when purchasing longer cables.
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If you ever need to transport your keyboard between locations, a decent case is a must. Smaller keyboards will probably do OK in soft cases, whereas larger, heavier keyboards deserve the respect of a well-fitting hard case.
If you’re likely to be gigging a lot, invest in a rugged case.
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Keep your instrument free from dust and spillages by investing in a cover to use when it’s not in use. You can make your own out of material, but investing in a good quality cover will prevent damage occurring from any accidents.
Many keyboards now come with a sustain pedal, allowing you to use your foot to control if notes are sustained when your fingers aren’t holding down those keys. For those that don’t, or when you want a higher quality one, invest in a decent pedal that’s well constructed.
Ensure you buy a pedal that’s compatible with your keyboard. Sticking to the same manufacturer is usually helpful.
Some keyboards can use expression and soft pedals, but these aren’t usually supplied. Buy decent, compatible pedals to increase your playing creativity.
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Like a good bench, a sturdy keyboard stand is essential for safe, comfortable playing. Buy a decent stand that can accommodate the weight and size of your keyboard. Ideally, a height adjustable one will allow you to play both seated and standing, should you so desire.
Generic keyboard stands such as the single and double X braces as pictured are quite durable and height-adjustable, although take care not to exceed the stated weight as it is possible for them to buckle and twist, often being made of hollow tubes of steel.
Some keyboard and digital piano models have stands designed specifically for them, although they can be more expensive and may not be as adjustable. A matching stand for a home-based digital piano can make the world of difference though.
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Though many keyboards have a built in metronome or rhythm/accompaniment section, it can be quite useful to have a standalone metronome that will help you to keep to a specific tempo.
You can buy a traditional clockwork metronome or a digital one, and it’s really down to personal choice. I’ve always liked the clockwork ones, ticking away like an upside-down pendulum, but digital metronomes can be slightly more practical, particularly away from home.
Some keyboards don’t come with a music stand, or they’re inadequate for holding larger manuscript books. It’s possible to buy quite a wide range of portable music stands, from lightweight to heavy duty. Most fold up to make them quite transportable. Very useful if you need music, chord sheets or lyrics.
Be aware that you may well need to buy a more heavy duty stand if you intend to use it with an iPad, tablet or other device, as they are not traditionally designed to take the weight of more than a few sheets of paper or thin manuscript book.
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When you want to practice but you’d be disturbing others by using the internal speakers or an amplifier, a decent pair of headphones is the alternative. Don’t skimp here. Earbuds are only just satisfactory to reproduce the dynamic frequency range your keyboard can produce. Invest in a decent pair of headphones.
Many keyboards and even some digital pianos can be powered with batteries, which is great if you are on the move and away from power outlets, but less convenient with the expense and hassle of replacing or recharging batteries, and the extra weight of the instrument.
Often they have the option to be powered from a power adapter, which removes the need for batteries and allows them to be used wherever there is a standard power source.
Not all keyboards can be powered this way, in particular the smaller, cheaper keyboards. However, for those that can, they don’t always come with the power adapter as standard. You’ll need to purchase this as an add-on. It soon works out to be a cost-effective move when you add up the savings on batteries.
It’s usually safest buying the power adapter recommended by the manufacturer for your particular model. However, if you are careful to match the power requirements, you can get third party generic adapters. Be wary, though, that any warranty you have will be voided if you fry your keyboard with a non-recommended adapter.