General keyboard questions from an aspiring rock keyboardist


New member
A very good morning to everyone who might be reading this, I am currently 18 yrs old and I've been playing the piano/electone for about 10 years now, 6 years under a formal class ( YAMAHA ), and 4 years as just a personal hobby.

I'm familiar with pianos and electones and a friend of mine has approached me to join his rock band as a keyboardist. As a result of this, I have certain questions which I wish to consult from those who have been/are in the scene of rock keyboardists.

#1 : Keyboard Technical Information
Surfing through the net, I have come across several keyboard manufacturers, namely YAMAHA, KORG, ROLAND and CASIO. The thing that has struck me is the presence of categories such as keyboards, portable keyboards and synthesizers.

Are there any significant differences between these musical instruments? If so, which would you recommend for someone who's starting out like myself. I have come to realise that standard musical keyboards and synthesizers tend to be more expensive than portable keyboards, is there a reason for this?

Another thing would be, for portable keyboards, which already have in-built speakers, do audio-outputs exist for connection with amps? Because i believe that a keyboards in-built speakers would not be sufficient for performances.

#2 : Keyboard prices and recommendations
As an 18 year old, I have a tight budget for purchasing a keyboard. Are there any brands of keyboards that are able to provide adequate sound, audio-outputs and generally the criteria required for an aspiring rock keyboardist like myself?

Also, are there any places in Singapore which are popular keyboard outlets?

#3 : Keyboardist skills
Wanting to improve myself, what are the recoomendations for someone like me in taking steps to improve myself in terms of my keyboarding skills, improvisations and song creation? Reading through the forums, I believe that rock magazines would do a great deal of help.

Finally, it's really gratifying to be able to find such an active online community for singaporean keyboardists, and I would hope that I would be able to contribute much to this community.

Thank you so much for your time =)
I don't know how you clasiffied Keyboard & portable keyboard (as some of the synthesizer also quite light weight...).

Normally I classified it as MIDI Controller, Entertainment Keyboard, Arranger Keyboard/Workstation, Synthesizer.

Generally, MIDI Controller are those keyboard without any sound library, you may need some plug-in board or connect it to computer.
Entertainment Keyboard are normally with a lot of preset rythme pattern or arpegiotors,some even have keyboard with colour light. mainly for entertainment (like those some of those CASIO leyboard).
Synthesizer normmally allows you to tweak the sounds available. some of it have build-in sequencer and with Sampling capability.
Arranger Keyboard/Workstation are some how between Entertainment keyboard and synthesizer.

the choice is very subjective, depend on your needs.

normally people will choose Arranger Keyboard or synthesizer. MIDI controller may be one of the choice but you may need the sounds library.

I don't think entertainment keyboard will suit your needs in this case.

Sounds wise, Korg may tend to those electronic sounds but Rolland more thend to orchestra sounds. Yamaha are somewhere in between Korg & Rolland. (you need to try it out to see the different)

Of course, there are some other brands available.

You can go to the shop (Music Plaza @ PS, Swee Lee, City Music, ... etc) to try out those keyboard yourself to see which one really suit you.

you can looks for some shops under the dealer link.

if you having tight budget, maybe look out for those 2nd hand keyboard.
there might be some good offer. what is your budget?

or maybe you should list down your expectation on keyboard in more specific so other people can give you some suggestion.

Normally keyboards which have in-built speakers may still have audio-outputs. but it varies from model to model.

improving Keyboardist skills?
hm... See more... read more... listen more... practice more...
Or you may go attend some classes if you want.
Re: General keyboard questions from an aspiring rock keyboar

Keyboards buyers' guide:

General checklist:
- Sound quality
- Price
- Availabilty of additional sounds
- Quality of documentation and availiabilty of how-to books
- Number of voices and multi-timbral operation
- Built-in effects
- Built-in sequencer
- Keyboard feel and wheels/pitch-bend feel
- Good match for the rest of your setup
Thanks so much for the quick reply =) I'm looking through the websites you've cited and they've proved to be very useful.

However, a question about the audio of keyboards. citing the example ( CLICK HERE ), would there be any way to determine if this keyboard actually allows you to connect the audio out to an amplifier? Or is it understood that all keyboards should have this function already?

Also, what is the substantial difference between a sythesizer and a keyboard?

Thank you very much =)

These keyboards with speakers are meant for home use. Normally not many people use them for performance. But it still depends, Yamaha has some high range PSR series with superb sound and I've seen people using them in small setup.

What is the definition of a high-range or med-range keyboard? And when you meant small setup, did you mean that it was connected to an amp?

Sorry if my questions seem newbish, cause I'm only starting to get to know about keyboards better.

Thanks so much for you patience =)
Quick definitions:

1. Synthesizers - lets you create and manipulate sounds from their core waveform using various technology (analog, FM, etc etc) - eg: Yamaha S series, Roland RS series/Juno/V-synth etc.

2. Workstations - one step up from synthesizers. Have function of synthesizers but also added in sequencing functions (ie lets you program a song using midi). Some also adds in CD-ROM capabilities. The idea is an "all-in-one" keyboard so you can produce your music in one keyboard (although many of us don't believe that there is or ever will be a keyboard that will serve everything). Eg: Yamaha Motif series, Roland Fantom series, Korg Triton series etc.

3. Digital Pianos - purpose is to emulate the piano in terms of touch and sound. Targeted at the pianists and used mostly at home. Hence they usually have build-in speakers and have weighted keys. Cannot manipulate/create sounds like synthesizers. Eg: Yamaha P series, Roland FP series and ep series (some actually semi-weighted here), Korg SP series.

4. Stage pianos. Different brand have different names for this - but doesn't matter. The main thing is that stage pianos are meant for stage performance targeted at pianists who need all the bread-and-butter keyboard sounds at their disposal. Very similar to digital pianos (some them put in the same category). These are usually user-friendly and lets the keyboardist access/layer sounds easily during a live performance. Not a synth so cannot create sounds. Eg: Roland RD series, Yamaha P250. Most does not have build-in speakers (exception P250). Although Yamaha calls their P250 a stage piano, I would categorize it under digital piano since it has more featuers of the former.

5. Portable keyboards/arranger keyboards. Mainly for portability and playing with auto-accompaniment (like the Electone you are used to). So has rhythms etc. These range from the cheapo looking toys to the really expensive ones. They come, of course, with build-in speakers. Eg: most Yamaha PSR series, Roland EXR/VA series. You'll come across terms like "arranger workstation". Just another fancy term for a high-range protable arrranger keyboard with good sounds and more functions. Eg: Yamaha Tyros series, some PSR, Roland G1000, some Roland EXR/VA series.

6. Midi controllers. As mentioned by bongman and mingguan, these serves only as controllers. Most come with no sounds (exceptions are the Roland A70 and A90 which are expandable by adding in soundcards). Since they have no sound, they will need other external devices to generate sounds (ie other keyboards, sound modules, PC). The main feature here is controllability. You'll get lots of knobs and faders - lets you control midi devices with more versatility. Eg: M-audio has lots of them, Roland A series (most already phased out), CME, Fatar etc.

Category names varies according to the manufacturers, but the concept remains the same. The most important question to ask is what is your need. What do you intend to use the keyboard for. Live performace, playing at home etc?
sklate said:
...a question about the audio of keyboards. citing the example ( CLICK HERE ), would there be any way to determine if this keyboard actually allows you to connect the audio out to an amplifier?

bongman said:
websites to checkout: - listen to Motif ES mp3 files...

For demo on PSR 295 & other YAMAHA product,
The phone/output terminal can be hooked to headphones or speakers. It is a stereo line output. The "line-out" terminals has L and R mono line outputs - so 2 outputs instead of 1. That's what the Casio website seems to indicate.

If you're thinking about arranger/portasound keyboards, I strongly suggest the Yamaha PSR series instead of Casio.
Yeah, i visit luthermusic's store today and tried out the CASIO WK-3000, and later went to Carrefour to try out the CASIO WK-1800 and finally to YAMAHA to check out the S03.

What impressed me the most is the crispness of YAMAHA's s03 series. Though the price is a bit steep. I'll be hoping to find out more information about the s03. Hopefully, if someone has it, would they be kind enough to give a little low-down on his own experience. A pity was that i spent more time using the WK-3000 and only about 10 minutes with the S03 because of time constraints. I will probably be going back down to YAMAHA to have a better look at it.
Sklate, you have to compare apples with apples. Casio WKs are arranger/portasound keyboards - ie low end keyboards with auto-accompaniment (please see definitions above). S03 is a synthesizer. They are totally different breed of animals - different price, different functionalities etc. If you want to compare the Casio WK with Yamaha, you'll have to try the Yamaha PSR. I don't think there's a Casio equivalent of the S03 - so you can't compare S03 with any Casio products.

You can find more about the S03 from the Yamaha website.
Thanks Cheez for the input, and yup, initially when i didn't have a clear enough idea of the differences between arrangers/portasounds and a synthesizer i thought that keyboards were all generally able to serve the same function.

After talking to the owner of Luther Music and learning more about them from reviews and the websites, i feel that a synthesizer would be towards what i'm looking for.

I wish to extend my deepest gratitude to all who have posted and the patience showed in responding to my somewhat amatuer knowledge of keyboards and also wish to say a big thank you to bongman, ming guan and you cheeze =)
Yup, I will probably be going for a second hand synth. Nothing too high-end because it is rather unncessary. But I will definitely pursue this course of music and will hope to improve myself over the next couple of years =) Probably get a decent job next time and purchase my own gear and stuff.

I'm just really glad that such a keyboard community exists and I will definitely make full use of it to improve.
Buying a 2nd hand keyboard

Hey there, i might be purchasing a second hand keyboard off one of the ads at and I was just wondering what are the standard procedures/precautions that ought to be taken in terms of proof that the deal went through and that i didn't just burgle into the guy's house or something?

Heh, i know it sounds really kiasu but i thought i'll like to know what people normally do to prevent any form of cheating that might occur
hey bongman!

thank you so much for all your help, i've really learnt alot from your input and actually, your first initial post gave me a wave of reassurance =)

regarding the controller w/ used sound module, i figured that it might be something that i would want to try out. but i'm a little short on cash, and i managed to find a pretty good second-hand deal for a synthesizer which suits me really well =) I was really happy to be able to come across it at a good price and i think i will go ahead with getting it. I will post more about it when i actually lay my hands on it! ( probably sometime next week )

bongman, you're really the bong =)
Looking for keyboardist for a glam rock band!

Hey I know this is out of topic but I hope I can get more replies by posting onto this thread.
My band will be performing songs frm the 80's band like Motley Crue, Skid Row, Lita Ford, Vixen.
I hope to hear frm keyboardist who like classic rock.
Add me on msn and we'll chat,