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Absolute beginners advice please

For fans of synths, pianos or keyboard instruments of any sort.

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Absolute beginners advice please

Postby 1024-QAM » Tue May 04, 2021 10:58 am

Hi Team.

So my story is I have always loved audio from as far back as I can remember. And that is a looong time.

I dabbled in my late teens working in live audio. Every chance I had I would work for free in theatres at concerts wherever there was a desk and microphone. I started getting paid work from bumping out, stage crew for professional theatre productions, ballet companies (being a teenaged boy working with a ballet company was a treasured time). Eventually I was doing live mixes for bands corporate events and all that. I even spent a short period working in broadcast after knocking on the door and introducing myself and just started working fixing small problems stuff like that.

But I stumbled across a barrier that kept coming up when I tried to progress in the audio world. I am not a musician and any serious level in production seemed to require that skill. I seemed to have a natural ear for what is correct. I could pick up issues in people’s singing and make suggestions on what I thought might help in a situation and have a reasonable success rate even though I can’t actually sing myself. Probably something I picked up working on amateur musicals.

But I am not a musician. It was something that never actually appealed to me. I didn’t want to perform. I hate the spotlight. I just wanted to be involved in the creative process and be around talented people because I appreciated what they could do. And if I could make something pleasing to the ear I was happy.

Now I am older with a career in a different technical field I think I want to learn to play an instrument. After much thought I narrowed it down to a string instrument violin or such or piano.

I have a little arthritis in my fingers and they are big ham fitted man fingers so I have landed on piano. I think I will be trying to teach myself to a certain point and then get lessons when I reach basic understanding.

So the core of my question is what should I buy?

My probably poorly conceived wish list in order of importance to get me started is
Electric - I don’t want to deal with an elephant.
Second hand - I don’t want to over capitalise on something that I may well abandon if life gets in the way.
Weighted keys - I suppose my brain is fairly analogue and I think I will need that feedback to modulate pressure ect.
Reasonable sound through headphones - I don’t want it to be terrible but it doesn’t need to be perfect I don’t know enough to know what’s really good vs barely ok.

As cheep as possible to meet those requirements if my options outweigh my budget I will have to make a compromise between the two.

Thanks
M
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Re: Absolute beginners advice please

Postby The Elf » Tue May 04, 2021 11:19 am

I'd just question why you want to learn to play piano?

I'm not saying it's a bad idea, or saying anything against it - just suggesting that you ask yourself the question.

If you want to learn to play piano, then go for it. It will be an incredible journey of discovery. I wish I had done that many years ago.

But if you want to *make* music then take a step back and ask yourself whether all that technical training is really what you want. Pick up a cheap keyboard and a DAW and you could be making music in minutes.

I repeat that I'm not saying don't do it, just saying that you should ask yourself what your aim truly is.

I speak as one who has had to give that same advice to a family member very recently - they are now making their sixth song since lockdown, regardless of their playing ability.
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Re: Absolute beginners advice please

Postby 1024-QAM » Tue May 04, 2021 1:39 pm

That is a good question.

It’s a couple of things.
I want to understand what I enjoy. I suppose I could just fire up garage band and punch something out and I would be making music. In my mind that’s a technical process. A+b=c. Not that I think that it’s a lesser valid form of making music but I suppose I want to feel it be more connected with what it is I am doing. I actually think that making quality music electronically would be harder for me. Because I don’t know anything about making music so I suppose piano is where I am probably going to start.

Maybe I am romanticising it a bit but learning piano is leaning about music not just sound. I love the technical aspect of almost anything. But I think playing in instrument would be more than that. For me it’s purely a pleasure pursuit if I find it’s not for me I can step away and be no worse off for it.

And I just simply enjoy learning.

I don’t expect I will ever be what I would call a good musician. But as the old saying goes anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.



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Re: Absolute beginners advice please

Postby ef37a » Tue May 04, 2021 1:59 pm

Now that they are open again check out charity and second hand shops.

A few months ago I saw some very nice 'organs' and keyboards in my local Scope and an RSPCA shop. Cash Generators also have them at silly money.

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Re: Absolute beginners advice please

Postby James Perrett » Tue May 04, 2021 3:14 pm

I always say that I started making music because I wanted something to record on my tape recorder. Having recorded some fine musicians over the years, I know that my musical abilities aren't going to match my ambitions so I stick mainly to the technical side of things.

However, I like having a few instruments around and, when I want to plonk around on a keyboard, I tend to go to the electric piano first. I find that weighted keys are more satisfying to play and you can often buy discarded electronic pianos with weighted keys very cheaply when their previous owners realise that piano playing isn't for them. The one thing that I would look for on it is a MIDI output, whether on a DIN socket or USB, so that you can use it to control either real synths or soft synths in a computer which will greatly open up your horizons.
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Re: Absolute beginners advice please

Postby 1024-QAM » Wed May 05, 2021 11:09 am

Thanks for the advice so far. Can anyone offer advice on particular makes or models that are worth looking at?

I like the idea of having midi. It will probably be a dead technology by the time I use it but options are always good.
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Re: Absolute beginners advice please

Postby flozzi001 » Wed May 05, 2021 12:56 pm

I can just give you my own preference. I´m not a piano professional either. I just use it to record some ideas.

I have the Kawai ES-110.
I like it a lot especially the mechanic of the keys.
Also, it has MIDI In and Out which was a must have for me cause i use it mainly as a master keyboard with a VST Piano. The build in sounds are good too.
I´m happy that it has DIN MIDI ports instead of Midi over USB cause the driver support sometimes isn’t that great with MIDI over USB (especially in the long term).

Also consider the bigger brother the Kawai ES-520.
It seems to be easier to use due to an inbuild display. Also, it has the advantage that you can upgrade to three pedals down the line.
And it has DIN Midi Ports and MIDI over USB so basically all your needs should be satisfied.

The price point is around 720£ for the ES-520 and around 400£ for the ES-110 (new).

I also would recommend you (if current situation allows you do to so), to go to a big music store and try a few different pianos. It is the easiest way to find out which mechanic and which sound you like most.
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Re: Absolute beginners advice please

Postby The Elf » Wed May 05, 2021 1:25 pm

There are hundreds of options. You will have to help us narrow it down. At the very least:

Budget?
Number of keys? (I'm guessing 88)
Built-in speakers?
Other?
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