Once the basic parameters were established, I reached out to colleagues who are piano teachers or musical directors to get a sense of what models were in highest rotation in the professional world. I also played several models at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in January. From there I searched through Amazon, Musician’s Friend, and Sweetwater for available models, then cross-checked that information with manufacturer websites and added anything that was missing. After considering all that information, I decided to limit the price to $500. That was high enough to include several quality-built keyboards that met all (or most) of the criteria without being too pricey. This gave me a list of 21 models from nine different companies.
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I have been playing piano since the early 1980s, and I earned a Bachelor of Music with an audio production and piano focus from Ithaca College as well as a Masters in Music in keyboard collaborative arts from the University of Southern California. For the past 20 years, I’ve been a professional music director and have performed myriad musical styles on different instruments in concert halls and on nightclub stages. I also taught music for 10 years at a private Los Angeles middle and high school.
Like the electric guitar, the electric bass guitar is almost always connected to an amplifier and a speaker with a patch cord for live performances. Electric bassists use either a "combo" amplifier, which combines an amplifier and a speaker in a single cabinet, or an amplifier and one or more speaker cabinets (typically stacked, with the amplifier sitting on the speaker cabinets, leading to the term "half-stack" for one cabinet setups and "full stack" for two).
At the heart of most stages is the acoustic drum set. It's made up of tom-toms, snares, at least one bass drum and an array of cymbals. You'll find all of those here, and there are choices for anyone. If you're just getting started as a drummer, you can get up and running fast with a shell pack or drum kit that gives you everything at once. Or, if you prefer, you can pick individual pieces ""a la carte"" to customize your own set from the ground up. The choice is yours.
The keyboard action of an acoustic grand piano is composed of black and white keys, graded hammers, and numerous other components working in harmony when each note is pressed. This beautifully designed mechanism allows gifted pianists to express a wealth of feeling and emotion in their music, as they appreciate and respond to the tactile nuances transmitted through the keyboard.
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In other less mainstream genres, such as hardcore punk or metal, the pedagogical systems and training sequences are typically not formalized and institutionalized. As such, many players learn by ear, by copying bass lines from records and CDs, and by playing in a number of bands. Even in non-mainstream styles, though, students may be able to take lessons from experts in these or other styles, adapting learned techniques to their own style. As well, there are a range of books, playing methods, and, since the 1990s, instructional DVDs (e.g., how to play metal bass). In the 2010s, many instructional videos are available online on video-sharing websites such as YouTube.


As the music of the world was evolving, so was the drum set. Tom-tom drums, small crash cymbals, Chinese cymbals and hi-hat cymbals were added to the drum set. The hi-hats were the primary way for the drummers of the big band era to keep time. Before 1930, while playing the New Orleans jazz and Chicago styles, drummers would choke the cymbals on the "ands" of eighth note figures as an alternative to playing a buzz roll, the rim of the drums, or on the woodblocks to keep time. This muting method of keeping time by choking the crash and china cymbals proved to be awkward, so the drummers of that time came up with the idea of having a foot-operated cymbal. This resulted in the creation of the snowshoe cymbal, a foot-operated cymbal. It enabled drummers to play the eighth note figures between the right and left foot, improving the ergonomics and facility of drumset playing and helping drummers to keep a more steady rhythm.
In the mid-1970s, Alembic and other boutique bass manufacturers, such as Tobias, produced four-string and five-string basses with a low "B" string. In 1975, bassist Anthony Jackson commissioned luthier Carl Thompson to build a six-string bass tuned (low to high) B0, E1, A1, D2, G2, C3. In comparison with a standard four-string bass, Jackson's six-string adds a low B string and a high C string. These 5 and 6-string "extended-range basses" would become popular with session bassists as they reduced the need for re-tuning to alternate detuned configurations like "drop D", and also allowed the bassist to play more notes from the same position on the fretboard with fewer shifts up and down the fingerboard, a crucial benefit for a session player sightreading basslines at a recording session.
The standard design for the electric bass guitar has four strings, tuned E, A, D and G,[32] in fourths such that the open highest string, G, is an eleventh (an octave and a fourth) below middle C, making the tuning of all four strings the same as that of the double bass (E1–A1–D2–G2). This tuning is also the same as the standard tuning on the lower-pitched four strings on a six-string guitar, only an octave lower.
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.
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.

For the lion's share of rock and pop music, you're looking at a classic drum set: tom-toms, snares, bass and cymbals. You'll find a huge selection of these staple instruments here, in as many varieties as you could name. If you're just starting out with the drums, take a look at shell packs and drum sets to get up and running in a hurry. On the other hand, if you're a veteran drummer, chances are that you'd prefer to pick and choose your instruments individually and only the best holders for your sticks will do. For the adventurous among us, there are electronic drum sets, which open up the unlimited potential of customized samples. Whatever you want to do to distinguish yourself from other drummers, this is where you can find the instruments to get there.
We all agreed that the keyboard action felt the most like an acoustic piano. It has what Casio calls “tri-sensor scaled hammer action,” which involves the use of three sensors instead of the usual two. This makes the keyboard more responsive with repeated notes because the key doesn’t need to return to its resting position before being struck again. In our testing, this seemed to allow more musicality than just the on/off trigger switch that most synthesizers use. In the transition into the second half of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, for instance, the tri-sensor action will allow you to better control the dynamics of the quickly repeated C-sharp.

Combining rich acoustic sound with modern music technology, digital pianos are sophisticated instruments that are played and favoured by professionals and amateur musicians around the world. More lightweight and affordable than full-size grand pianos, today's digital pianos sound so close to their classic counterparts that untrained ears would have a hard time telling the sound produced by the two apart! In this section you'll find a wide variety of home and stage digital pianos from all the big brands. Yamaha, Suzuki, Roland and more, they're all here, so if you're in the market for a digital piano that was designed to perform, you're definitely in the right spot.
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