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.
There's a lot to be said for tradition when it comes to the bass guitar, and it's a tradition that ultimately goes back to the originals: the Jazz Bass and Precision Bass. With some stellar options available from Fender and Squier, you're in a good place to get started with those iconic bass guitars. On the other hand, if you'd prefer something a bit more unique, you've got no shortage of options. Over the years, the bass guitar market has grown hugely, and there are now a ton of choices ranging from beginner-friendly instruments like Rogue and Dean models all the way to professional masterpieces from luthiers such as Warwick, Schecter and Rickenbacker.
Sticks were traditionally made from wood (particularly maple, hickory, and oak} but more recently metal, carbon fibre and other exotic materials have been used for high market end sticks. The prototypical wooden drum stick was primarily designed for use with the snare drum, and optimised for playing snare rudiments. Sticks come in a variety of weights and tip designs; 7N is a common jazz stick with a nylon tip, while a 5B is a common wood tipped stick, heavier than a 7N but with a similar profile, and a common standard for beginners. Numbers range from 1 (heaviest) to 10 (lightest).
Most bass players stand while playing, using a strap over the shoulder to hold the instrument, although sitting is also accepted, particularly in large ensemble settings, such as jazz big bands or in acoustic genres such as folk music. Some bassists, such as Jah Wobble, alternate between standing or seated playing. It is a matter of the player's preference as to which position gives the greatest ease of playing and what a bandleader expects. When sitting, right-handed players can balance the instrument on the right thigh or like classical guitar players, the left. When sitting, no strap is required. Balancing the bass on the left thigh usually positions it in such a way that it mimics the standing position, allowing for less difference between the standing and sitting positions. Balancing the bass on the right thigh provides better access to the neck and fretboard in its entirety, especially the lower-pitched frets.
The standard design for the electric bass guitar has four strings, tuned E, A, D and G, 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.
A digital piano should be as similar to an acoustic piano in feel and sound as possible. If you’re learning piano technique and piano music on a digital instrument, you should be able to easily transition to an acoustic piano. While each digital piano’s sound and feel were our primary concerns, we also carefully considered the extra features, which can be confusing and overwhelming for beginners.
Over the decades, the possibilities of what a musician can do with a digital piano have grown tremendously. With technology advancing by the second, players are discovering new, innovative ways to manipulate their sound - even beyond the use of volume, expression and sustain pedals. MIDI (short for Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was introduced in the early 1980s and allows digital pianists to connect their instrument to a computer so it can control (or be controlled by) other sequencers and instruments. MIDI digital pianos often have a disk drive to upload other MIDI data. Common effects and instruments that MIDI can offer are: tremolo, phasers, chorus, stringed instruments and drum sounds. Digital Pianos (including models with MIDI connection) are offered by many respected musical instrument brands, with Williams and Yamaha being among the most popular.
Casio definitely thought about the student/teacher relationship when designing the PX-160. It has a duet play mode, which splits the keyboard into two halves. Each half is the same octave range (about three and a half octaves per side), so a teacher can demonstrate on one side while the student plays on the other at the same pitch. Two headphone jacks allow both players to use headphones without the need for a splitter. If the speakers are being used, they can also be configured to output sound from the left keyboard side to the left speaker and vice versa.
The bass guitar (also known as electric bass, or bass) is a stringed instrument similar in appearance and construction to an electric guitar, except with a longer neck and scale length, and four to six strings or courses. The four-string bass is usually tuned the same as the double bass, which corresponds to pitches one octave lower than the four lowest pitched strings of a guitar (E, A, D, and G). The bass guitar is a transposing instrument, as it is notated in bass clef an octave higher than it sounds. It is played primarily with the fingers or thumb, by plucking, slapping, popping, strumming, tapping, thumping, or picking with a plectrum, often known as a pick. The electric bass guitar has pickups and must be connected to an amplifier and speaker, to be loud enough to compete with other instruments.
The crash cymbals are usually the strongest accent markers within the kit, marking crescendos and climaxes, vocal entries, and major changes of mood/swells and effects. A crash cymbal is often accompanied by a strong kick on the bass drum pedal, both for musical effect and to support the stroke. It provides a fuller sound and is a commonly taught technique.
Some drummers arrive at the venue with their drum kit and use the mics and mic stands provided by the venue's sound engineer. Other drummers bring their all of their own mics, or selected mics (e.g., a good quality bass drum mic and a good mic for the snare) to ensure that they have good quality mics for each show. In bars and nightclubs, the microphones supplied by the venue can sometimes be in substandard condition, due to the heavy use they experience.
Drummers use a drum key for tuning their drums and adjusting some drum hardware. Besides the basic type of drum key (a T-handled wrench) there are various tuning wrenches and tools. Basic drum keys are divided in three types which allows tuning of three types of tuning screws on drums: square (most used), slotted and hexagonal. Ratchet-type wrenches allow high-tension drums to be tuned easily. Spin keys (utilizing a ball joint) allow rapid head changing. Torque-wrench type keys are available, graphically revealing the torque at each lug. Also, tension gauges, or meters, which are set on the head, aid drummers to achieve a consistent tuning. Drummers can tune drums "by ear" or, in the 2010s, use a digital drum tuner, which "measures tympanic pressure" on the drumhead to provide accurate tuning.
On early recording media (until 1925) such as wax cylinders and discs carved with an engraving needle, sound balancing meant that musicians had to be literally moved in the room. Drums were often put far from the horn (part of the mechanical transducer) to reduce sound distortion. Since this affected the rendition of cymbals at playback, sound engineers of the time remedied the situation by asking drummers to play the content of the cymbals onto woodblocks, temple blocks, and cowbells for their loudness and short decay.
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.
With the explosion of the popularity of rock music in the 1960s, many more manufacturers began making electric basses, including the Japanese manufacturers Yamaha, Teisco and Guyatone. First introduced in 1960, the Fender Jazz Bass was known as the Deluxe Bass and was meant to accompany the Jazzmaster guitar. The Jazz Bass (often referred to as a "J-bass") featured two single-coil pickups, one close to the bridge and one in the Precision bass' split coil pickup position. The earliest production basses had a 'stacked' volume and tone control for each pickup. This was soon changed to the familiar configuration of a volume control for each pickup, and a single, passive tone control. The Jazz Bass' neck was narrower at the nut than the Precision bass — 1 1⁄2 inches (38 mm) versus 1 3⁄4 inches (44 mm) — allowing for easier access to the lower strings and an overall spacing and feel closer to that of an electric guitar, allowing trained guitarists to transition to the bass guitar more easily.
The fretting hand can add vibrato to a plucked or picked note, either a gentle, narrow vibrato or a more exaggerated, wide vibrato with bigger pitch variations. For fretted basses, vibrato is always an alternation between the pitch of the note and a slightly higher pitch. For fretless basses, the player can use this style of vibrato, or they can alternate between the note and a slightly lower pitch, as is done with the double bass and on other unfretted stringed instruments. While vibrato is mostly done on "stopped" notes—that is, notes that are pressed down on the fingerboard—open strings can also be vibratoed by pressing down on the string behind the nut. As well, the fretting hand can be used to "bend" a plucked or picked note up in pitch, by pushing or pulling the string so that the note sounds at a higher pitch. To create the opposite effect, a "bend down", the string is pushed to a higher pitch before being plucked or picked and then allowed to fall to the lower, regular pitch after it is sounded. Though rare, some bassists may use a tremolo bar-equipped bass to produce the same effect.
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Drummers use a variety of accessories when practicing. Metronomes and beat counters are used to develop a sense of a steady pulse. Drum muffling pads may be used to lessen the volume of drums during practicing. A practice pad, held on the lap, on a leg, or mounted on a stand, is used for near-silent practice with drumsticks. A set of practice pads mounted to simulate an entire drum kit is known as a practice kit. In the 2010s, these have largely been superseded by electronic drums, which can be listened to with headphones for quiet practice and kits with non-sounding mesh heads.
Something else that you might like to consider is taking a cue from the bassists who have inspired you. Music is an art in which there's no shame in having an idol, and with plenty of signature bass guitars available, you can gear yourself up to follow in legendary footsteps. Take the Fender Jaco Pastorius Fretless Jazz Bass Guitar, for instance. Meticulously modelled after Jaco's own instrument, it carries on his spirit with a fretless design that lets you really unleash your creativity on the stage.
Tapewound (double bass type) and flatwound strings are sometimes used with the fretless bass so the metal string windings do not wear down the fingerboard. Tapewound and flatwound strings have a distinctive tone and sound. Some fretless basses have epoxy-coated fingerboards, or fingerboards made of an epoxy composite like micarta, to increase the fingerboard's durability, enhance sustain, and give a brighter tone.
During the 1990s, as five-string basses became more widely available and more affordable, an increasing number of bassists in genres ranging from metal to gospel began using five-string instruments for added lower range—a low "B" string. As well, onboard battery-powered electronics such as preamplifiers and equalizer circuits, which were previously only available on expensive "boutique" instruments, became increasingly available on mid-priced basses. From 2000 to the 2010s, some bass manufacturers included digital modelling circuits inside the instrument on more costly instruments to recreate tones and sounds from many models of basses (e.g., Line 6's Variax bass). A modelling bass can digitally emulate the tone and sound of many famous basses, ranging from a vintage Fender Precision to a Rickenbacker. However, as with the electric guitar, traditional "passive" bass designs, which include only pickups, tone and volume knobs (without a preamp or other electronics) remained popular. Reissued versions of vintage instruments such as the Fender Precision Bass and Fender Jazz Bass remained popular amongst new instrument buyers up to the 2010s. In 2011, a 60th Anniversary P-bass was introduced by Fender, along with the re-introduction of the short-scale Fender Jaguar Bass.
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.
Electronic drum pads are the second most widely used type of MIDI performance controllers, after electronic music keyboards.: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.: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,:88–91 and Don Buchla's Marimba Lumina.
As with any instrument, the perfect digital piano for you is going to be based on one part function and two parts preference. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or a master pianist: the first step to your new digital piano is simply to decide which one suits you best. With that accomplished, you're well on your way to making the next step in your career with a brand new instrument you can truly call your own