Analog and Digital Keyboards
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Traditional KeyboardsTraditional pianos have 88 keys; with their rich and full tone qualities, they are a great way to develop the budding musician's ear. The keys of traditional pianos have a certain weighted feel and are touch-sensitive, which means that the harder you press the key, the louder the sound. If you plan to play traditional, classical melodies, a traditional piano is most likely the way to go. Traditional pianos are available in spinet, upright, baby grand, and grand models. It is worth noting that the strings on a baby grand are shorter than those on the other models, which affects sound. If you don't have room for a grand sized piano, you might be better off with an upright piano.
Pianos, and other traditional keyboard instruments like the clavichord and the harpsichord, are essentially stringed instruments. Each key on their keyboards corresponds to a string, or pair of strings, which are housed in the instrument body. These instruments differ in the mechanism which is used to play each string.
Other traditional musical keyboards include pipe organs, accordions, and reed organs, which produce sound by means of air-blowing bellows. Pipe organs feature many pipes of various lengths and diameters, through which air is blown to produce a variety of rich sounds. Accordions feature hand-held bellows and a set of reeds which vibrate as the air is blown across them. Reed organs, popular in homes and small churches during the early 20th century, produce sound by pedal-driven or electric bellows which force air across a set of vibrating reeds.
Electronic KeyboardsElectronic pianos, organs, and synthesizers have become popular during the last 50 years. Featuring a variety of electronically-generated sounds, these instruments are often more portable and less expensive than traditional pianos and organs. Digital electronic pianos offer a limited repertoire of sounds, but they include sustain pedals as well as keyboards which mimic the weight and action of traditional piano keyboards. Electronic organs can typically generate 10 or 20 different sounds — and combinations thereof. More sophisticated analog synthesizers can generate many different sounds and sound combinations, as well as customized sounds!
SynthesizersDigital synthesizers consist of a piano-style keyboard, a display device, and a microprocessor-based sound generator. This computer module is typically programmed to control each sound's amplitude envelope via a series of push-buttons, rotating knobs, sliders, and switches. Most synthesizers feature internal memory as well as digital MIDI and analog audio interfaces. Amateur grade synths often incorporate a stereo amplifier, dual speakers, multiple rhythm selections, and various prerecorded sound tracks. Professional grade synths generally feature higher quality sounds, more flexible sound customization, enhanced polyphonic capabilities, and data storage devices.
Keyboard AccessoriesAccessories will increase the enjoyment of your digital keyboard. A stand will allow you to adjust the height of your keyboard, and a proper adjustable bench is also a good investment. Headphones, a pedal, and a metronome should complete your keyboard experience.
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Analog Keyboards - Digital Keyboards