When a floor tom is added to make a four-piece kit, the floor tom is usually 14" for jazz, and 16" otherwise. This configuration is usually common in jazz, classic rock and rock and roll. Notable users include Ringo Starr in The Beatles, Mitch Mitchell in the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and John Barbata in the Turtles. For jazz, which normally emphasizes the use of ride cymbal, the lack of second hanging tom in a four-piece kit allows the cymbal to be positioned closer to the drummer, making them easier to be struck.

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.


In piano lingo, “action” describes the way the piano keys feel when you press on them. With a digital piano, the closer the action is to that of an acoustic piano, the better. Semi-weighted action uses a spring to create the resistance felt when pressing a key and its rebound when you lift your finger. Hammer action uses a hammer mechanism like that found in an acoustic piano to replicate the feel. Graded, or progressive, hammer action takes that a step further by increasing the weight of the action as you descend to the lower notes on the keyboard. Using a keyboard with weighted action is beneficial for multiple reasons. It helps build finger strength while practicing (a spring-based action will only minimally address this), and it allows for more variation and musicality in the way you play a note. While a piano keyboard might look like nothing more than a bunch of on/off switches, in reality there’s a range of volumes and timbres that can be achieved depending on how quickly or strongly you depress the keys. Hammer action best replicates those possibilities.

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.
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.)
A well-known bass humbucker is the pickup used on the Music Man series of basses; it has two coils, each with four large polepieces. This style is known as the "MM" pickup for this reason, and many aftermarket pickup manufacturers (companies that make and sell pickups that you can custom-add to your bass) and custom bass builders incorporate these pickups in their designs. The most common configurations are a single pickup at the bridge, two pickups similar in placement to a Jazz Bass, or an MM pickup at the bridge with a single-coil pickup (often a "J") at the neck. These pickups can often be "tapped", meaning one of the two coils can be essentially turned off, giving a sound similar to a single-coil pickup.
At Sam Ash, we offer digital pianos for any type of budget. Premium models will offer features like weighted keys, LCD menus for simplified setup, and more after effects such as reverb. With weighted keys, the lower keys feel heavier and the higher keys feel lighter, just like you would find on acoustic models. Higher-end digital pianos will even offer keys made out of wood for a real premium response. Another specification to consider when it comes to choosing your piano is how many notes of polyphony is offered. Polyphony signifies the maximum number of notes that an instrument can produce at one time. If you are interested in layering notes, complex chords, and playing over accompaniment tracks, you should consider a model with higher polyphony. The amount of voices or different types of sounds and the quality of those sounds are also critical features that differentiate digital pianos. These days, most digital pianos offer more than just a traditional grand piano tone. Less expensive models will include four to five presets including strings, harpsichord, and drums. The top-of-the-line digital piano models can offer hundreds of different sounds spanning any genre of music you can think of. Other advanced features on today's best digital pianos include built-in recorders, compatibility with iOS apps for playing along with your favorite songs, and effects that simulate settings like lid positioning and performance venue. Be sure to check out our extensive Digital Piano Buyers Guide and our Digital Pianos: Everything You Need to Know article for further guidance on selecting the perfect digital piano for you.

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.
Three sounds (Grand Piano Concert, Grand Piano Modern, and Elec. Piano 1) have dedicated buttons on the control panel. Selecting any of the other 15 sounds requires the player to press the Function button and a corresponding piano key labeled with the name of the sound, such as Vibraphone or Jazz Organ. The keys used for instrument selection are in the middle of the keyboard, starting at middle C, for easy accessibility. Some other keyboards that use this selection method have the selection keys assigned to the bottom octave of the keyboard, which can make changing sounds a bit more difficult because you have to look and reach down to the far left end of the keyboard. If you have a library of sounds on your computer, the Casio Privia PX-160 can be used as a controller by connecting it to your computer via USB.
If you're a beginner, you'll love an option like the Yamaha RBX170 Bass or the Epiphone Thunderbird IV Bass. These bass guitars offer great tone and style all at a price you can easily afford. Best of all, their durable construction will withstand all the paces an eager learner will put them through. Maybe you're already an established player and are looking for a new challenge? If that's the case, you'll love the American Deluxe Jazz Bass V 5-String Electric Bass from Fender. This beautiful five string is loaded with updated electronics and Noiseless pickups for a tight low-end response you're definitely going to appreciate. Its alder body helps to give it a wonderfully clear tone that any bassist will want to hear every time they strap in. You'll also find acoustic basses in this section such as the EAB Acoustic-Electric Bass from Dean and the stunning A5 Ultra Bass Fretless SA 5-String Acoustic-Electric Bass Guitar from Godin. These basses are perfect for performers who demand the ultimate versatility. It won't matter where you're gigging with these gorgeous basses, you'll have the freedom to play them acoustic or plug in for a louder sound that can fill larger venues. The bass has always been an unsung hero in popular music, but that doesn't mean it doesn't play a crucial note. With any of the top quality basses available here, you'll have no trouble keeping the band in the groove and having them sound tighter than ever before.
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