Portable Keyboards have come on and developed so much over the last few years, with each new model featuring some new buttons, sounds, effects and exciting new features! However, the first thing I say to look for in a model is, (you’ll never guess,) touch sensitive keys! Look for a touch sensitive keyboard!
What is this you ask? Basically, as in a traditional piano, the harder you press a key, the louder the sound. (It works the other way around as well!)
So, why do you need it?
Practically every piece of music you hear or play will at some point change volume. This is what gives music its emotion, contrast and variation.
Listen to any work by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Liszt, Beethoven......... or even Jools Holland......you'll notice how the sensitivity of their performance continuously changes; you need this!
Touch sensitivity is designed to replicate how you would play on an acoustic piano. When you press the key harder, the hammer will strike the string with more force, creating a bigger, louder sound. Play softer, the hammers will simply bounce off the string, creating a lighter sound. As you would expect, keyboards don’t have all the strings and hammers within the case, and so explains why ‘touch sensitivity’ was developed.
Some keyboards don’t offer this, which is okay for people just wanting to have a go, without spending hundreds. I’d say to anyone looking to take it up seriously, get the touch sensitivity! Any music teacher will most likely recommend this, as it is a principle that you will use when playing piano. It’s better to start getting used to it from the beginning, rather than half way through your tuition.
Anyway, enough waffling. I’ve picked out my personal ‘Top 5’ keyboards which offer this function, to try and help anyone whose buying their first keyboard. Starting at #1…
The AXP2 is exclusive to Normans (Shhh, we don't want anyone else to know how good it is!!), and is the first keyboard around the £100 mark which offers touch sensitive keys. Designed for beginner players in mind, it is the ultimate keyboard to learn on without spending an absolute fortune. It features lots of built in styles and voices, plus very tactile and traditional boxed keys and even utilises the pro-style pitch-bend and vibrato wheels! Without doubt, the best 'value-for-money' touch sensitive keyboard going! Within the keyboard, a massive 200 instrument voices and 128 backing rhythms can all be played and enjoyed, plus the keyboard also includes its own recording feature to keep an eye on your daily/weekly lesson progress as you learn the basics in piano playing. On the back of the unit, the 'Audio Input' is ideal for plugging in your MP3 to listen and play along with your favourite songs. The built-in lesson function can be used alongside the 10 included demo tracks, which is ideal for giving you an easy starting point to get you going.
A flagship model in terms of Yamaha entry level keyboards, the PSRE363 is a very popular keyboard for beginner players! Within this instrument, you get a wide variety of high quality voices (including the amazing Yamaha sampled Grand Piano sound) and accompaniment styles, plus functions such as recording, lessons, and great connectivity. With the touch sensitive keys, take advantage of the Yamaha Education Suite and start building up your playing skills! Next stop; Glastonbury..........not just Bury!
Yes, it only has 37 mini keys.....but you only have 8 fingers & 2 thumbs! Within the small body of this instrument lives big, pro-level sounds. The Yamaha PSS-A50 Portable Keyboard gives you everything needed to make your type of music. Perfect for beginners and use as a MIDI keyboard (can connect to a lap-top or PC), this can be taken everywhere thanks to its compact size and design.
The built-in arpeggiator inspires a whole new range of ideas, creating various melodies and beats to record and playback. You can even connect this to an existing home recording setup to enhance your abilities. The touch sensitive mini keys ensure a fantastic feel whilst you are playing, allowing you to sculpt your perfect tone.
Oooh, now we're talking! Going to more of a digital piano feel rather than a keyboard, the NP12 is perfect for musicians who need an instrument to practice and perform on. Being very lightweight, this 61 Note wonder is perfect for taking to different events. The keys are slightly weighted and also touch sensitive, making it feel very similar to an acoustic piano! And the sound quality; different league! All of Yamaha's expertise has gone into this keyboard, offering some amazing deep and luscious sounds you'll find at this price range. Plus....if you want to expand your range.....upgrade the the wonderful 76 note NP32!
My Yamaha favourite! Why? Simple! If you thought you needed professional-level skills or abilities to enjoy making music like a pro, think again! With the new PSRE463, all you need to turn your ideas into music is inspiration. With a range of instrument voices and styles to choose from, and a selection of different digital settings, you will be creating your own music in no time at all.
It has a 61-key touch responsive keyboard with powerful on-board speakers and easy-to-use professional features like assignable Live Control knobs, Quick Sampling, Groove Creator and USB Audio Recorder.
Featuring 758 instrument voices and 235 styles to suit any genre, you can be sure to produce high quality music without spending hours having to set it up. You also have a range of connectivity options to ensure you can plug your keyboard into various devices, to enhance your playing experience!