If our top pick isn’t available or you’re looking to save $50, the Yamaha P-45 is an excellent alternative. It was the favorite of one panelist, and the other three each ranked it second. It plays as well as our top pick, although I found the key weight to be a bit heavy for my tastes; it took a little more finger effort to play. Jack liked that heavier feel but could see it causing problems for beginners. Brent thought the action was about as good as it gets in this price range, and Liz thought it was easy to play.
If you’re looking for something that better mimics an acoustic piano and can serve as the focal point of a room, check out our digital console piano recommendations, which are better at emulating the action and sound of a traditional piano than the keyboards in this guide. However, they are also much heavier and cost three to four times more than our most expensive pick here.

Five strings usually tuned B0–E1–A1–D2–G2, providing extended lower range. Another common tuning on early 1970s five-string basses added a high note instead of a low note: E–A–D–G–C, known as tenor tuning. This tuning is still popular among jazz and solo bassists. Other tunings, such as C–E–A–D–G are rare. Some bassists like C as the lowest pitch because that's the lowest note on an upright bass with a C, and C is a common note in a few popular keys C (e.g., C major, G major, F major). Some players may detune the lowest string to B♭ or A. B♭ is common for bassists who play in brass bands, as B♭ is an important and common key for this type of ensemble. Relative to a four-string bass, the fifth string provides a greater lower range (with a low B, C, or A) or a greater upper range (with a high C or B is added) and provides more notes for any single hand position. The earliest five string was created by Fender in 1965. The Fender Bass V used the E–A–D–G–C tuning, but was unpopular and discontinued in 1970. The type of low B five-string was created by Jimmy Johnson as a custom instrument in 1975. He bought an E–A–D–G–C 5-string Alembic bass, replaced the nut, and used a new, thick low B string from GHS. Steinberger made a 5-string headless instrument called the L-2/5 in 1982, and later Yamaha offered the first production model as the BB5000 in 1984.

Microphones ("mics") are used with drums to pick up the sound of the drums and cymbals for a sound recording and/or to pick up the sound of the drum kit so that it can be amplified through a PA system or sound reinforcement system. While most drummers use microphones and amplification in live shows in the 2010s, so that the sound engineer can adjust and balance the levels of the drums and cymbals, some bands that play in quieter genres of music and that play in small venues such as coffeehouses play acoustically, without mics or PA amplification. Small jazz groups such as jazz quartets or organ trios that are playing in a small bar will often just use acoustic drums. Of course if the same small jazz groups play on the mainstage of a big jazz festival, the drums will be mic'ed so that they can be adjusted in the sound system mix. A middle-ground approach is used by some bands that play in small venues; they do not mic every drum and cymbal, but rather mic only the instruments that the sound engineer wants to be able to control in the mix, such as the bass drum and the snare.
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Bass bodies are typically made of wood, although other materials such as graphite (for example, some of the Steinberger designs) and other lightweight composite materials have also been used. While a wide variety of woods are suitable for use in the body, neck, and fretboard of the bass guitar, the most common types of wood used are similar to those used for electric guitars; alder, ash or mahogany for the body, maple for the neck, and rosewood or ebony for the fretboard. While these traditional standards are most common, for tonal or aesthetic reasons luthiers more commonly experiment with different tonewoods on basses than with electric guitars (though this is changing), and rarer woods like walnut and figured maple, as well as exotic woods like bubinga, wenge, koa, and purpleheart, are often used as accent woods in the neck or on the face of mid- to high-priced production basses and on custom-made and boutique instruments.
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Electronic drum sets provide a great way to practice without rattling the whole house. These sets provide volume control so you won’t wake up the neighbors, but you can also plug in headphones to achieve a very quiet percussion session. That way only you will feel the noise. Electronic drums make ideal beginning sets, so students who are a little shy to practice out loud can just play to themselves. An extra benefit of electric drum sets is that some come equipped with built-in metronomes to keep you on time.

In the 1930s, musician and inventor Paul Tutmarc of Seattle, Washington, developed the first electric string bass in its modern form, a fretted instrument designed to be played horizontally. The 1935 sales catalog for Tutmarc's electronic musical instrument company, Audiovox, featured his "Model 736 Bass Fiddle", a four-stringed, solid-bodied, fretted electric bass instrument with a 30 1⁄2-inch (775-millimetre) scale length.[8] The adoption of a guitar's body shape made the instrument easier to hold and transport than any of the existing stringed bass instruments. The addition of frets enabled bassists to play in tune more easily than on fretless acoustic or electric upright basses. Around 100 of these instruments were made during this period.[9]

Another common form is the stage piano, designed for use with live performances, professional audio, or in recording studio. This type of digital piano normally makes no attempt to imitate the physical appearance of an acoustic piano, rather resembling a generic synthesizer or music workstation. A distinguishing feature of most stage pianos is a lack of internal loudspeakers and amplification - it is normally assumed that a powerful keyboard amplifier or PA system will be used. However, some stage pianos are equipped with powered speakers.
Chinese troops used tàigǔ drums to motivate troops, to help set a marching pace, and to call out orders or announcements. For example, during a war between Qi and Lu in 684 BC, the effect of drum on soldier's morale is employed to change the result of a major battle. Fife-and-drum corps of Swiss mercenary foot soldiers also used drums. They used an early version of the snare drum carried over the player's right shoulder, suspended by a strap (typically played with one hand using traditional grip). It is to this instrument that the English word "drum" was first used. Similarly, during the English Civil War rope-tension drums would be carried by junior officers as a means to relay commands from senior officers over the noise of battle. These were also hung over the shoulder of the drummer and typically played with two drum sticks. Different regiments and companies would have distinctive and unique drum beats only they recognized. In the mid-19th century, the Scottish military started incorporating pipe bands into their Highland Regiments.[9]

Detuners, such as the Hipshot, are mechanical devices the player operates with the thumb on the fretting hand to quickly retune one or more strings to a pre-set lower pitch. Hipshots typically drop the E-string down to D on a four-string bass.[34] Rarely, some bassists (e.g., Michael Manring) add detuners to more than one string, or even more than one detuner to each string, so they can retune during a performance and access a wider range of chime-like harmonics.


Some cymbals may be considered effects in some kits but "basic" in another set of components. A swish cymbal may, for example serve, as the main ride in some styles of music, but in a larger kit, which includes a conventional ride cymbal as well, it may well be considered an effects cymbal per se. Likewise, Ozone crashes have the same purpose as a standard crash cymbal, but are considered to be effects cymbals due to their rarity, and the holes cut into them, which provide a darker, more resonant attack.
After spending 29 hours researching 21 models and testing seven with a panel of professional and amateur pianists, we think the Casio Privia PX-160 is the best budget digital piano for beginners. It suitably replicates the feel of an acoustic piano and has some of the most realistic sounds we’ve heard in this price category, and its dual headphone outputs accommodate both student and teacher.
"Jazz" pickups (referring to the original Fender Jazz Bass), also referred to as "J pickups", are wider eight-pole pickups that lie underneath all four strings. J pickups are typically single-coil designs, though there are a large number of humbucking designs. Traditionally, two of them are used, one of them near the bridge and another closer to the neck. As with the halves of P-pickups, the J-pickups are reverse-wound with reverse magnetic polarity. As a result, they have hum canceling properties when used at the same volume, with hum cancellation decreasing when the pickups are at unequal volume, and absent if the player uses only one pickup. 'J' Style pickups tend to have a lower output and a thinner sound than 'P' Style pickups. Many bassists combine a 'J' pickup at the bridge and a 'P' pickup at the neck, so they can blend the two sounds.
In most drum kits and drum/percussion kits cymbals are as important as the drums themselves. The oldest idiophones in music are cymbals, and were used throughout the ancient Near East, very early in the Bronze Age period. Cymbals are most associated with Turkey and Turkish craftsmanship, where Zildjian (the name means cymbal smith) has predominantly made them since 1623.[17]
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Six strings are usually tuned B0–E1–A1–D2–G2–C3—like a four-string bass with an additional low B string and a high C string. Some players prefer B0–E1–A1–D2–F♯2–B2, which preserves the intervals of standard six-string guitar tuning (an octave and a fourth lower) and makes the highest and lowest string the same note two octaves apart. While less common than four or five-string basses, they appear in Latin, jazz, and other genres, as well as in studio work where a session musician's single instrument must be highly versatile, and to facilitate sightreading in the recording studio. Alternative tunings for six-string bass include B–E–A–D–G–B, matching the first five strings of an acoustic or electric guitar with an additional low B, and E–A–D–G–B–E, completely matching the tuning of a six-string guitar but one octave lower allowing the use of guitar chord fingerings. Rarer tunings such as E–A–D–G–C–F and F♯–B–E–A–D–G provide a lower or higher range in a given position while maintaining consistent string intervals. In 1974, Anthony Jackson worked with Carl Thompson to create the Contrabass guitar (BEADGC). Later, Jackson brought his ideas to Fodera and worked with Ken Smith to create a wider-spaced Contrabass guitar, which evolved to the modern six-string bass.
Some basses, particularly expensive boutique instruments or custom-made guitars, use more unusual pickup configurations. Examples include a soapbar and a "P" pickup (found on some Fender basses), bassist Stu Hamm's "Urge" basses, which have a "P" pickup sandwiched between two "J" pickups, and some of funk bassist Bootsy Collins' custom basses, which had as many as five J pickups. Another unusual pickup configuration is found on some of the custom basses that virtuoso bassist Billy Sheehan uses, in which there is one humbucker at the neck and a split-coil pickup at the middle position.
The late Bernard Edwards, bass player with the Disco group Chic, was known to use a technique called chucking to pluck the bass strings with the forefinger of his right hand, in a manner similar to how strings are plucked with a plectrum.[58][not in citation given] Chucking uses the soft part of the forefinger and the nail of the forefinger to alternately strike the string in an up-down manner. The thumb supports the forefinger at the first joint, as though using an invisible plectrum. With a flexible wrist action, chucking facilitates rapid rhythmic sequences of notes played on different strings, particular notes that are an octave apart. Chucking is distinguished from plucking in that the attack is softer with a sound closer to that produced by the use of fingers. Chucking allows a mix of plucking and finger techniques on a given song, without having to take up or put down a plectrum. Examples of Edwards’ use of chucking on his Music Man Stingray bass can be heard on the intro and solo section of "Everybody Dance" and the foundation bass line of "Dance Dance Dance".
Much the same considerations apply to bass drum pedals and the stool, but these are not always considered breakables, particularly if changeover time between bands is very limited. Swapping the snare drum in a standard kit can be done very quickly. Replacing cymbals on stands takes longer, particularly if there are many of them, and cymbals are easily damaged by incorrect mounting, so many drummers prefer to bring their own cymbal stands.
If you choose to venture beyond the traditional acoustic drum set, the variety here will reward you for it. One great way to expand your percussion options is with an electronic drum kit, which gives you the opportunity to program any samples you want into the sound module. That means you get not only a huge range of natural drum sounds, but also the ability to queue up virtually any other effect you want. As well as electronic drums, there are plenty of world percussion options here for you to peruse. Those range from hand drums like the cajon and djembe to all kinds of distinctive instruments such as tambourines, chimes and, of course, the iconic cowbell.
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Electronic drum pads are the second most widely used type of MIDI performance controllers, after electronic music keyboards.[19]:319–320 Drum controllers may be built into drum machines, they may be standalone control surfaces (e.g., rubber drum pads), or they may emulate the look and feel of acoustic percussion instruments. The pads built into drum machines are typically too small and fragile to be played with sticks, and they are usually played with fingers.[20]:88 Dedicated drum pads such as the Roland Octapad or the DrumKAT are playable with the hands or with sticks, and are often built to resemble the general form of a drum kit. There are also percussion controllers such as the vibraphone-style MalletKAT,[20]:88–91 and Don Buchla's Marimba Lumina.[21]
Some cymbals may be considered effects in some kits but "basic" in another set of components. A swish cymbal may, for example serve, as the main ride in some styles of music, but in a larger kit, which includes a conventional ride cymbal as well, it may well be considered an effects cymbal per se. Likewise, Ozone crashes have the same purpose as a standard crash cymbal, but are considered to be effects cymbals due to their rarity, and the holes cut into them, which provide a darker, more resonant attack.
A drum kit — also called a drum set, trap set (a term using a contraction of the word, “contraption”), or simply drums — is a collection of drums and other percussion instruments, typically cymbals, which are set up on stands to be played by a single player,[1] with drumsticks held in both hands, and the feet operating pedals that control the hi-hat cymbal and the beater for the bass drum. A drum kit consists of a mix of drums (categorized classically as membranophones, Hornbostel-Sachs high-level classification 2) and idiophones – most significantly cymbals, but can also include the woodblock and cowbell (classified as Hornbostel-Sachs high-level classification 1).[2] In the 2000s, some kits also include electronic instruments (Hornbostel-Sachs classification 53). Also, both hybrid (mixing acoustic instruments and electronic drums) and entirely electronic kits are used.
All cymbals other than rides, hi-hats and crashes/splashes are usually called effects cymbals when used in a drum kit, though this is a non-classical or colloquial designation that has become a standardized label. Most extended kits include one or more splash cymbals and at least one china cymbal. Major cymbal makers produce cymbal extension packs consisting of one splash and one china, or more rarely a second crash, a splash and a china, to match some of their starter packs of ride, crash and hi-hats. However any combination of options can be found in the marketplace.
The five-piece kit is the full entry-level kit and the most common configuration. It adds a third tom to the bass drum/snare drum/two toms set, making three toms in all. A fusion kit will normally add a 14" tom, either a floor tom or a hanging tom on a stand to the right of the bass drum; in either case, making the tom lineup 10", 12" and 14". Having three toms enables drummers to have a low-pitched, middle-register and higher-pitched tom, which gives them more options for fills and solos.
Although there are far fewer university programs that offer electric bass instruction in jazz and popular music, some universities offer bachelor's degrees (B.Mus.) and Master of Music (M.Mus.) degrees in jazz performance or "commercial music", where electric bass can be the main instrument. In the US, the Manhattan School of Music has a jazz program leading to B.Mus. and M.Mus degrees that accepts students who play bass (double bass and electric bass), guitar, piano, drums, and melody instruments (e.g., saxophone, trumpet, etc.).
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The bare minimum requirements for a budget digital piano are to have 88 keys (the same number found on traditional acoustic pianos) and internal speakers to facilitate practicing without an amplifier. Beyond that, some amount of weighted key action (either semi-weighted or hammer action, more on this in a moment) and an accurate piano sound were the primary deciding factors for our picks. An included stand and sustain pedal were not requirements, as aftermarket options are readily available and inexpensive. (We discuss some options below.)
The keyboards all came in to our Los Angeles office. After unboxing them and setting them up, I invited Liz, Jack, and Brent to come in and try them out. I asked them to rate the key action and the sound of the piano and to evaluate features from the perspective of a beginner. After playing through all of them over a couple hours, we talked through the pros and cons of each keyboard, and they gave me their top three choices.
If a second hanging tom is used, it is 10" diameter and 8" deep for fusion, or 13" diameter and one inch deeper than the 12" diameter tom. Otherwise, a 14" diameter hanging tom is added to the 12", both being 8" deep. In any case, both toms are most often mounted on the bass drum with the smaller of the two next to the hi-hats (on the left for a right-handed drummer). These kits are particularly useful for smaller venues where space is limited, such as coffeehouses and small pubs.
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I then set out to a few local Los Angeles music stores to get my hands on some keys, talk to the store employees who work around these instruments every day, and start to whittle down the list. After contacting manufacturers to request samples and/or to get suggestions on pianos that might better fit our guidelines (or, in one case, to inform us of a model that was being discontinued), the list was narrowed down to seven keyboards.

If you’re looking for more traditional hand drums, you can travel the world with our assortment of hand drums from all over the world. Djembes are rich-sounding, African drums that can produce a variety of tones. Check out our selection of doumbeks, Arabic drums, usually made of metal, that provide crisp, melodic cracks and pops. Hand drums and other handheld percussions, like tambourines and shakers, are great for impromptu jam sessions and for kids to learn basic rhythms. Our bongos are fun for reliving the glory of the beat poets of the 1950s, or for a foray into the lively musical traditions of salsa, son, or samba.
The five-piece kit is the full entry-level kit and the most common configuration. It adds a third tom to the bass drum/snare drum/two toms set, making three toms in all. A fusion kit will normally add a 14" tom, either a floor tom or a hanging tom on a stand to the right of the bass drum; in either case, making the tom lineup 10", 12" and 14". Having three toms enables drummers to have a low-pitched, middle-register and higher-pitched tom, which gives them more options for fills and solos.

Regardless of the model or series, a bass typically has four strings. They are tuned the same way as the first four strings on a regular guitar: E, A, D, and G. Some musical genres have alternative tunings, though. For example, metal often uses "drop D" tuning, where the E on the lowest string is tuned down a step to D. Most alternative tunings involve tuning down. Some basses have a fifth string. Usually this is added to the low end, where it becomes a B in standard tuning. In rare cases. it will be added to the high end, where it is known as a tenor fifth string and becomes a C. In even rarer cases, a bass can have six strings, using both the low B and the high C. The neck of the bass can be comprised of woods that range from maple to rosewood.


A digital piano is a type of electronic keyboard designed to serve primarily as an alternative to the traditional piano, both in the way it feels to play and in the sound produced. It is intended to provide an accurate simulation of an acoustic piano. Some digital pianos are also designed to look like an ordinary piano, both the upright or grand piano. Digital pianos use either a synthesized emulation or samples of an actual piano, which are then amplified through an internal loudspeaker. Digital pianos incorporate weighted keys, which recreate the feel of an acoustic piano.
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