No matter which digital piano you choose, you're in for something special. The instruments found on these pages all offer different features, so take a few minutes to think about your needs as a musician and go from there. Whether you go with a higher-end stage piano like the top-selling KAWAI MP11 Professional Piano or a student model Yamaha's NP12 61-Key Entry-Level Piaggero Ultra-Portable Digital Piano, any digital pianos here will enhance your musical journey.
There are many different types of keyboards available. On the lower end are keyboards that you’d find in a toy store, while music stores have keyboards that are more fully-featured and intended for serious musicians and producers. These types of keyboards are commonly loaded with different voices, tones, rhythms, and sound effects to give a player or producer a lot of control over their sound. Within this type of keyboard, you’ll find synthesizers and MIDI controllers. Another differentiator among keyboards is the number of keys. Some keyboards have fewer than the traditional 88 keys you’d find on a digital piano. This allows certain keyboards to be more compact and generally doesn’t impact the ability for the player to create music. While some keyboards have keys that are weighted, many do not. This means that keyboards do not move or react like piano keys.
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.
The shell almost invariably has a circular opening over which the drumhead is stretched, but the shape of the remainder of the shell varies widely. In the western musical tradition, the most usual shape is a cylinder, although timpani, for example, use bowl-shaped shells. Other shapes include a frame design (tar, Bodhrán), truncated cones (bongo drums, Ashiko), goblet shaped (djembe), and joined truncated cones (talking drum).
A fully electronic kit is also easier to soundcheck than acoustic drums, assuming that the electronic drum module has levels that the drummer has pre-set in her/his practice room; in contrast, when an acoustic kit is sound checked, most drums and cymbals need to be miked and each mic needs to be tested by the drummer so its level and tone equalization can be adjusted by the sound engineer. As well, even after all the individual drum and cymbal mics are soundchecked, the engineer needs to listen to the drummer play a standard groove, to check that the balance between the kit instruments is right. Finally, the engineer needs to set up the monitor mix for the drummer, which the drummer uses to hear her/his instruments and the instruments and vocals of the rest of the band. With a fully electronic kit, many of these steps could be eliminated.
While the electric guitar is mostly played with a pick, the bass or jazz bass can be played with either a pick or your fingers. Because of the sensitivity of the pickup on the bass, the two tend to produce somewhat different tones. For example, finger style play can create additional sound from the impact of the strings against the frets, while playing with a pick offers a sharper, more staccato sound. Neither style is better than the other, and there are many famous examples of players using each one. Sometimes, there are conventions of play for a particular genre, but more often it comes down to how a bassist originally learned to play.
Manowar's bassist Joey DeMaio uses special piccolo bass for his extremely fast bass solos like "Sting of the Bumblebee" and "William's Tale". Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt played a bass solo on the song "Welcome To Paradise" from the 1994 album Dookie and on the song "Makeout Party" from the 2012 album ¡Dos!. U2 includes a bass solo most notably on "Gloria", in which Adam Clayton uses several playing techniques. Matt Freeman of Rancid performs a very fast, guitar-like bass solo in the song "Maxwell Murder". Blink-182's "Voyeur" has a bass solo, which is featured on both their studio album Dude Ranch & their live album The Mark, Tom and Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back!).
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.
Traditional digital pianos vaguely resemble an electronic organ or a spinet harpsichord but usually lacking a fully enclosed lower section, while some models are based on the casework of traditional upright pianos with a fully enclosed bottom part and pedals that look like actual piano pedals. An opposite and recent trend is to produce an instrument which has a unique and distinctive appearance, unobtainable with a conventional instrument. Yamaha , Kawai and Casio makes a model which is designed to stand against a wall and is far shallower from keyboard to back than any possible upright design, as well as shorter height.
Among digital pianos, there are several differences. The three main types of digital pianos are standard digital pianos, upright digital pianos, and stage pianos. Upright vertical pianos are built with a large cabinet, not unlike a real upright piano. They are often fitted with the best hammer action key systems and tone generation engines so that they are comparable to real upright pianos. Obviously, they still take up as much space as a real one, but there is less maintenance required. Stage pianos are digital pianos designed to be used in live performances, or on stage. They are much more portable than traditional pianos, and much sturdier than standard digital pianos. Standard digital pianos are intended more for practice and play at home. They are not as large or fully featured but offer an excellent balance of sound and portability.
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.
A three-piece drum set is the most basic set. A conventional three-piece kit consists of a bass drum, a 14" diameter snare drum, 12"–14" hi-hats, a single 12" diameter hanging tom, 8"–9" in depth, and a suspended cymbal, in the range of 14"–18", both mounted on the bass drum. These kits were common in the 1950s and 1960s and are still used in the 2010s in small acoustic dance bands. It is a common configuration for kits sold through mail order, and, with smaller sized drums and cymbals, for kits for children.
There are several reasons for this division. When more than one band plays in a single performance, the drum kit is often considered part of the backline (the key rhythm section equipment that stays on stage all night, which often also includes bass amps and a stage piano), and is shared between/among the drummers. Oftentimes, the main "headlining" act will provide the drums, as they are being paid more, possibly have the better gear, and in any case have the prerogative of using their own. Sticks, snare drum and cymbals, and sometimes other components, are commonly swapped though, each drummer bringing their own. The term breakables in this context refers to whatever basic components the "guest" drummer is expected to bring. Similar considerations apply if using a "house kit" (a drum kit owned by the venue, which is rare), even if there is only one band at the performance.
In a jazz setting, the electric bass tends to have a much more expansive solo role than in most popular styles. In most rock settings, the bass guitarist may only have a few short bass breaks or brief solos during a concert. During a jazz concert, a jazz bassist may have a number of lengthy improvised solos, which are called "blowing" in jazz parlance. Whether a jazz bassist is comping (accompanying) or soloing, they usually aim to create a rhythmic drive and "timefeel" that creates a sense of "swing" and "groove". For information on notable jazz bassists, see the List of jazz bassists article.
A number of accessories are designed for the bass drum (also called "kick drum"). Ported tubes for the bass drum are available to take advantage of the bass reflex speaker design, in which a tuned port (a hole and a carefully measured tube) are put in a speaker enclosure to improve the bass response at the lowest frequencies. Bass drumhead patches are available, which protect the drumhead from the impact of the felt beater. Bass drum pillows are fabric bags with filling or stuffing that can be used to alter the tone or resonance of the bass drum. A less expensive alternative to using a specialized bass drum pillow is to use an old sleeping bag.
The first fretless bass guitar was made by Bill Wyman in 1961 when he converted a used UK-built ‘Dallas Tuxedo’ bass by removing the frets and filling in the slots with wood putty. The first production fretless bass was the Ampeg AUB-1 introduced in 1966, and Fender introduced a fretless Precision Bass in 1970. Around 1970, Rick Danko from The Band began to use an Ampeg fretless, which he modified with Fender pickups—as heard on the 1971 Cahoots studio album and the Rock of Ages album recorded live in 1971. Danko said, "It's a challenge to play fretless because you have to really use your ear." In the early 1970s, fusion-jazz bassist Jaco Pastorius had the fingerboard of his de-fretted Fender Jazz Bass coated in epoxy resin, allowing him to use roundwound strings for a brighter sound. Some fretless basses have "fret line" markers inlaid in the fingerboard as a guide, while others only use guide marks on the side of the neck.
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.
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.