Pro Keyboard Recommendations?

WaveriderWaverider Unsigned
edited October 2012 in Rock Band
I'm looking for recommendations for a keyboard to use in the real world, as well as in Rock Band 3. Both my wife and I are former piano players who would like to start playing again. We also live in a small home and have plans to move in a couple of years, so a full-tilt piano is not in the cards right now. We would, however, like to get a solid keyboard that we could play in the real world, but also plug in to Rock Band 3. I have snooped around but haven't come across something that meets our requirements of a good keyboard, USB connectivity, and MIDI connectivity, so I was wondering if there were any suggestions out there? All brands and price points considered; just really wanting to know what's out there!

Thanks!

Comments

  • jimhenryjimhenry Opening Act
    edited October 2012
    Since both you and your wife play piano I think you will want an 88 key digital piano that has a weighted keyboard to give the feel of an acoustic piano. Keyboards in that category start at about US$ 500 and go up pretty fast. The feel of the keyboard is a subjective matter. I'd suggest that you and your wife go to a music store that has a variety of electronic pianos that you can play to get some idea of what you do and don't like in terms of feel.

    If playing piano music is going to be a major use of this keyboard, you are probably also going to want to shop for a piano sound you like. You can get some pretty realistic sounding digital pianos these days. A big question is how important are non-piano sounds to you. Many digital pianos have a limited number of sounds they produce, e.g. maybe a half dozen different pianos, harpsichord, a few organs, vibes, and strings. You can find digital pianos that include many more sounds but you'll pay a bit more.

    For use with Rock Band you want a legacy 5 pin round MIDI Out that you can connect to the MIDI Pro Adapter (MPA) for your game console. Unfortunately, many keyboards have dropped the 5 pin connector in favor of a USB connector for MIDI. To get a 5 pin MIDI out you either have to look at more expensive keyboards, older used keyboards, or using a computer plus MIDI to USB cable to convert to 5 pin MIDI. I would focus on getting the 5 pin MIDI Out because a good MIDI to USB cable to connect to your computer is only about $30. If you only have the USB connector on the keyboard, connecting to an MPA is a problem that is cumbersome and/or expensive to solve.

    Rock Band wireless keyboards seem to be selling for about US$30 dollars these days! I'd suggest you pick one up at that price for playing Rock Band. Even if you also eventually get a digital piano and the necessary gear to hook it up to Rock Band, you might find you prefer the 25 key RB keyboard for playing the game. It does have some advantages for playing the game. Plus it is not a bad little MIDI controller.
  • ZoiloCruzZoiloCruz Rising Star
    edited October 2012
    Well IDK know a thing about actual keyboards, but I do know how to play some simple songs on them xD If you had the MIDI adapter from Rock Band you could play almost any keyboard parts in the game. Well that's if you get the keyboard and plug it to MIDI adapter.
  • GNFfhqwhgadsGNFfhqwhgads 99% Washed Up
    edited October 2012
    ZoiloCruz;4892714 said:
    Well IDK know a thing about actual keyboards, but I do know how to play some simple songs on them xD If you had the MIDI adapter from Rock Band you could play almost any keyboard parts in the game. Well that's if you get the keyboard and plug it to MIDI adapter.
    Congratulations, you ALMOST read the original post!
  • AlternityAlternity Road Warrior
    edited October 2012
    There's a way to use USB MIDI with the Rock Band MIDI adapter. I don't remember where exactly I saw that but I'm pretty sure if you use google you'll find it, all you need is a computer and either a MIDI out, or a USB <-> MIDI cable.

    There you go: http://www.ndolger.com/configuring-usb-keyboard-with-rock-band-3/
  • ZigZag2005ZigZag2005 Road Warrior
    edited October 2012
    I'm not much of a player myself, but was mighty impressed by the Korg SV-1.

    A tad pricey perhaps, but the action is trippy!
  • TheHundredDollarHeadacheTheHundredDollarHeadache Pedantic Broken Record
    edited October 2012
    ZigZag2005;4892726 said:
    I'm not much of a player myself, but was mighty impressed by the Korg SV-1.

    A tad pricey perhaps, but the action is trippy!
    The Korg SP250 has the same keyboard action (Korg RH3) for way less, though it has fewer sounds.

    Alas, neither have a pitch bend, so you will be at a slight score disadvantage.
  • skyp1eskyp1e Road Warrior
    edited October 2012
    Don't flinch at the brand name but I strongly recommend any of the Casios from the Privia line of digital pianos.

    If you can get past the stigma of the Casio name you could do a lot worse.

    They're inexpensive starting around $399.
    Most models have both MIDI and USB outs on them.
    The action in a word is superb. I've been playing piano for over 30 years and I was completely blown away by the action on the Privia keyboards. I participate on some professional keyboard forums and I was almost embarrassed to praise this keybed for the realistic feel of it, but I simply couldn't deny what my fingers were telling me. As it turned out it was an "Emperor's New Clothes" situation because once I complimented the action with high praise my fellow keyboardists felt it was safe to echo the same impressions.

    Nothing in the price range comes close and that includes my favorite brands.

    Hope that helps you.
  • ZoiloCruzZoiloCruz Rising Star
    edited October 2012
    GNFfhqwhgads;4892715 said:
    Congratulations, you ALMOST read the original post!
    I don't like your tone and I've did read the the whole post and I'm just pointing stuff out to them. Not everyone would know what MIDI adapter would do. Not everyone is you.
  • GNFfhqwhgadsGNFfhqwhgads 99% Washed Up
    edited October 2012
    ZoiloCruz;4893023 said:
    I don't like your tone and I've did read the the whole post and I'm just pointing stuff out to them. Not everyone would know what MIDI adapter would do. Not everyone is you.
    Really? So when they said they want a keyboard with MIDI/USB connectivity that could plug into RB3, they had no idea keyboards could plug into RB3? THAT is what you got out of that post?
  • ZoiloCruzZoiloCruz Rising Star
    edited October 2012
    GNFfhqwhgads;4893024 said:
    Really? So when they said they want a keyboard with MIDI/USB connectivity that could plug into RB3, they had no idea keyboards could plug into RB3? THAT is what you got out of that post?
    I didn't say that they had no idea that a keyboard could plug in RB3. I was simply pointing out the MIDI Adapter.
  • Bront20Bront20 The Writing's on the Wall
    edited October 2012
    jimhenry;4892709 said:

    Rock Band wireless keyboards seem to be selling for about US$30 dollars these days! I'd suggest you pick one up at that price for playing Rock Band. Even if you also eventually get a digital piano and the necessary gear to hook it up to Rock Band, you might find you prefer the 25 key RB keyboard for playing the game. It does have some advantages for playing the game. Plus it is not a bad little MIDI controller.
    This is my suggestion as well. It's not fancy, but it's cheap, and has all the functions you need without the adapter needs. There's no reason you can't also get a full MIDI keyboard and the adapter, but if you don't want to drag it out all the time (they're a bit bigger than the RB keyboard), the small one might be a nice alternative.
  • jimhenryjimhenry Opening Act
    edited October 2012
    Bront20;4893180 said:
    This is my suggestion as well. It's not fancy, but it's cheap, and has all the functions you need without the adapter needs. There's no reason you can't also get a full MIDI keyboard and the adapter, but if you don't want to drag it out all the time (they're a bit bigger than the RB keyboard), the small one might be a nice alternative.
    Plus you can do way more cool rock star stuff with a keytar than a 25 pound digital piano (assuming you have light one, otherwise make that 50 pounds). Of course, if you can do cool rock star stuff and still play accurately on the keytar, then you deserve MAJOR props.

    On a more practical note, having the OD button conveniently located is no small thing if you want to rack up high scores in RB.
  • AssassinOfManyAssassinOfMany Opening Act
    edited October 2012
    If you are going to buy a keyboard, buy a keyboard. You can get a Rock Band 3 keyboard for $30 on Amazon.com , all you need it a Rock Band drum pedal or any keyboard pedal with a 1/8 adapter for overdrive activation and you're good to go.

    I personally use this keyboard:

    http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-DGX640C-Digital-Piano-Cherry/dp/B003KVKT0M/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1349200109&sr=1-2&keywords=yamaha+640

    And just the standard Rock Band keyboard for the game with my old Yamaha pedal after I upgraded to a triple pedal:

    http://www.amazon.com/Rock-Band-Wireless-Keyboard-Xbox-360/dp/B003RS19N4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349200155&sr=8-1&keywords=rock+band++keyboard


    Pretty much all of the top pro keys players on Rock Band can play piano outside of the game well, but all of them use the standard game keyboard for the game. It's the best option to go with.
  • defdog99defdog99 Road Warrior
    edited October 2012
    Implementing Overdrive stinx on the Midi pad.

    They should've added the 1/8th adapter like all other RB3 instruments.
    Then you can use a foot pedal.
  • LegatoSuzukiLegatoSuzuki Unsigned
    edited October 2012
    AssassinOfMany;4893198 said:

    Pretty much all of the top pro keys players on Rock Band can play piano outside of the game well, but all of them use the standard game keyboard for the game. It's the best option to go with.

    Speaking as somebody who is pretty high on the leaderboards, I would have to disagree actually.

    I started playing the game with the basic RB keyboard and while my scores were ok, it felt like there was something missing from the experience. The big thing being that faster, more complex runs were difficult to hit because I simply wasn't hearing myself play.

    I realized I had a 5 year old Casio sitting in storage, so I dusted it off and set up the adapter. I can now consistently get in the top 10 of any pro keys leaderboard, where as before perhaps the top 50.

    The reason why, and this is HUGE, is the ability to hear yourself play. When score attacking, I will actually turn off the instrument volume so that the person playing the chart is me, and not the song itself. Not only does it add IMMENSELY to immersion, but it makes more complex note runs (i.e. that lovely arpeggio at the end of Angry Young Man) much more doable.

    The trick with a real keyboard is to find one that has an easily accessible pitch bend wheel. Mine happens to be on the far left of the keyboard, and I've set up the overdrive button to be directly above it. This allows me to effortlessly keep my thumb on the pitch bend wheel, and my index finger on the overdrive button. Bottom line is, if you want to score attack then you must find a keyboard that has an easy to use pitch bend wheel. Otherwise you're playing the game at a major disadvantage.

    Honestly, in terms of accuracy and just overall immersion and enjoyment of the game, I can't recommend a real keyboard enough. When I'm in an Xbox Live party and others hear me playing the actual part, they're always blown away by how awesome it is.
  • GNFfhqwhgadsGNFfhqwhgads 99% Washed Up
    edited October 2012
    LegatoSuzuki;4893749 said:
    When I'm in an Xbox Live party and others hear me playing the actual part
    Don't do that. Your audio comes through later than the game audio, so your playing is behind the actual song to everyone who has to hear it. Come on. Rookie mistake.
  • Bront20Bront20 The Writing's on the Wall
    edited October 2012
    GNFfhqwhgads;4893756 said:
    Don't do that. Your audio comes through later than the game audio, so your playing is behind the actual song to everyone who has to hear it. Come on. Rookie mistake.

    It shouldn't live in person...
  • LegatoSuzukiLegatoSuzuki Unsigned
    edited October 2012
    GNFfhqwhgads;4893756 said:
    Don't do that. Your audio comes through later than the game audio, so your playing is behind the actual song to everyone who has to hear it. Come on. Rookie mistake.

    I mute during the actual song. :P I just usually play what I can remember from songs people are picking, and the mic ends up picking it up, somebody inevitably asks about it.
  • AssassinOfManyAssassinOfMany Opening Act
    edited October 2012
    LegatoSuzuki;4893749 said:
    Speaking as somebody who is pretty high on the leaderboards, I would have to disagree actually.

    I started playing the game with the basic RB keyboard and while my scores were ok, it felt like there was something missing from the experience. The big thing being that faster, more complex runs were difficult to hit because I simply wasn't hearing myself play.

    I realized I had a 5 year old Casio sitting in storage, so I dusted it off and set up the adapter. I can now consistently get in the top 10 of any pro keys leaderboard, where as before perhaps the top 50.

    The reason why, and this is HUGE, is the ability to hear yourself play. When score attacking, I will actually turn off the instrument volume so that the person playing the chart is me, and not the song itself. Not only does it add IMMENSELY to immersion, but it makes more complex note runs (i.e. that lovely arpeggio at the end of Angry Young Man) much more doable.

    The trick with a real keyboard is to find one that has an easily accessible pitch bend wheel. Mine happens to be on the far left of the keyboard, and I've set up the overdrive button to be directly above it. This allows me to effortlessly keep my thumb on the pitch bend wheel, and my index finger on the overdrive button. Bottom line is, if you want to score attack then you must find a keyboard that has an easy to use pitch bend wheel. Otherwise you're playing the game at a major disadvantage.

    Honestly, in terms of accuracy and just overall immersion and enjoyment of the game, I can't recommend a real keyboard enough. When I'm in an Xbox Live party and others hear me playing the actual part, they're always blown away by how awesome it is.

    i did not actually know you could use the pitch bend wheel on a real keyboard to build up the overdrive. Knowing that it would be rather interesting using an actual keyboard. A few problems though with what you are talking about.

    Hearing yourself play: While this could work for songs that have very little notes, as soon as you get into a song that plays outside of two octives, the sound on your keyboard would just overlap its self thus making the chart just sound bad. They fit the right handed piano part of a song played on a 88 key keyboard onto two octives, trying to play the chart in real time on a keyboard does not work well. "Unless that is for the game use you really don't mind it"


    In this case where they want to buy a keyboard for both use out of the game and in the game, it would be better for them to just buy the real keyboard they like, plus the cheap one for the game. if they try to limit themselves to buying a keyboard that has 88 keys, weighted, plus a midi out, they will be highly limited on the keyboard they can get. When I bought my Yamaha, I wanted mainly a keyboard that had a vast amount of sounds, 88, weighted, if possible as a bonus to have midi out port. While it does have a midi out, it is a usb. To find a keyboard with all those specs in one "including a real midi out", you would be looking at around $1500 and up.
  • IIICCIIIIIICCIII Unsigned
    edited October 2012
    I just use the game keyboard when I play Rockband. It's simple and cheap and gets the job done.

    In terms of a full-sized digital, go to a music store and see what you like. Personally, I just use a Korg SP170.
  • LegatoSuzukiLegatoSuzuki Unsigned
    edited October 2012
    AssassinOfMany;4893870 said:
    i did not actually know you could use the pitch bend wheel on a real keyboard to build up the overdrive. Knowing that it would be rather interesting using an actual keyboard. A few problems though with what you are talking about.

    Hearing yourself play: While this could work for songs that have very little notes, as soon as you get into a song that plays outside of two octives, the sound on your keyboard would just overlap its self thus making the chart just sound bad. They fit the right handed piano part of a song played on a 88 key keyboard onto two octives, trying to play the chart in real time on a keyboard does not work well. "Unless that is for the game use you really don't mind it"


    In this case where they want to buy a keyboard for both use out of the game and in the game, it would be better for them to just buy the real keyboard they like, plus the cheap one for the game. if they try to limit themselves to buying a keyboard that has 88 keys, weighted, plus a midi out, they will be highly limited on the keyboard they can get. When I bought my Yamaha, I wanted mainly a keyboard that had a vast amount of sounds, 88, weighted, if possible as a bonus to have midi out port. While it does have a midi out, it is a usb. To find a keyboard with all those specs in one "including a real midi out", you would be looking at around $1500 and up.

    The sound is interesting with the pitch bending, for sure. I just got lucky with having a keyboard that happened to support it. Prior to knowing that my initial plan was to use the wireless for score attacking and the Casio for learning songs.

    Speaking from experience here, I'd have to disagree with you on the octaves issue. Out of the 600 or so charts I've played, I can count on one hand the number of songs that have the charts altered to accommodate the range. For example, "We Built This City" has that opening line after the first two chords that spans over a full octave. They just took the last note and bumped it up an octave. When played, it doesn't sound bad at all, it's simply a different octave.

    I understand how you would perceive a problem with the actual playing of the song being a full octave or more lower than what the actual track wants you to play, especially for higher melodies. Believe it or not, I found a simple solution. I know my DLC well enough to be aware of which tracks fall victim to this - before these begin, I will hit the "transpose" key on my Casio and enter a value of 12. This shifts the pitch of whatever I play up 12 half steps, or in other words a full octave. Thus, charts that would have sounded too low sound perfect.

    Another minor issue is that some older tracks have the pitch ever so lightly altered for whatever reason, meaning that there will be dissonance if played. The only two tracks I can think of that have this problem are Total Eclipse of the Heart, and one of the Cinderella tracks.

    All in all, it is fun as hell to play like this, and I'd recommend it to any pro keys player that is willing to invest. I'll usually change the sound to coincide with what I'm playing. (Sax on Huey Lewis & The News, for example)

    I agree about keyboard selection. It's a considerable investment. For myself, this game is a big enough hobby that I would probably have bought a keyboard to use, but I realize that most wouldn't. I simply got lucky with the one I had. I'm not knocking the wireless option at all, but if this game is a large enough hobby for the OP, then finding one that is compatible wouldn't be such a bad long term investment.
  • GNFfhqwhgadsGNFfhqwhgads 99% Washed Up
    edited October 2012
    Bront20;4893822 said:
    It shouldn't live in person...
    Then you're not in an Xbox Live Party if everyone is within arm's reach.
  • Bront20Bront20 The Writing's on the Wall
    edited October 2012
    GNFfhqwhgads;4893973 said:
    Then you're not in an Xbox Live Party if everyone is within arm's reach.

    Sorry, I read "Live Party" as "Live in person" not "Live from New York"
  • skyp1eskyp1e Road Warrior
    edited October 2012
    As an interesting note to the discussion about using the MADCATZ controller for the game and playing a digital piano outside, I'll add my two cents.

    For me the optimal thing is to have a dedicated out of game full size digital piano (I have a few and soon will be making another purchase in that direction) and a dedicated 25 key MIDI controller with a modified MPA that supports a regular sustain pedal for OD.

    I only had such a setup for about one day before a fire took my toys. It was glorious though while it lasted.

    When my house is rebuilt I will again modify an MPA for pedal, and use something like this for playing RB3.

    Nothing like a decent keyboard action that is inherently limited to 25 keys for getting great scores in the game.

    And there you have my contribution to the discussion.
  • ZigZag2005ZigZag2005 Road Warrior
    edited October 2012
    skyp1e;4895027 said:
    When my house is rebuilt I will again modify an MPA for pedal, and use something like this for playing RB3.
    I use that, and as a bonus, use this to control pitch bend, which is limited to a very tiny range by that.

    Just enough to register as a whammy, but not enough to be annoying.

    :cool:
  • skyp1eskyp1e Road Warrior
    edited October 2012
    ZigZag2005;4895074 said:
    I use that, and as a bonus, use this to control pitch bend, which is limited to a very tiny range by that.

    Just enough to register as a whammy, but not enough to be annoying.

    :cool:

    Eh, I'm happy using the pitch wheel to do the whammying. I play RB with one hand so I don't mind. If there were a way to assign OD to say a drum pad on the keyboard I'd do that instead of modifying the MPA.
  • TheHundredDollarHeadacheTheHundredDollarHeadache Pedantic Broken Record
    edited October 2012
    I was going to recommend the Roland A-90EX here:

    http://roguemusic.com/keyboards.html
    http://roguemusic.com/gearpix/a90.JPG

    It is considered one of the better controller keyboards (as in, no sounds, and you hook it up to other MIDI gear). Actually, the EX means it has a card containing the sounds - more sounds than new digital pianos in this price range.

    (I think you have to e-mail them - they ship)


    But then I found out at Guitar Center today that the Casio Privia skyp1e recommended had a pitch wheel (for Rock Band whammying). The Casio is somewhat cheaper, has USB to my knowledge (the Roland predates USB), and plays well.
  • jimhenryjimhenry Opening Act
    edited October 2012
    The Casio Privia CDP-330 (old model) and CDP-350 (just released) have mod wheels, USB and 5 pin MIDI connections, and a large number of sounds. They go for about $700 and $800 respectively. For someone who wants a feature rich digital piano that is well suited to playing Rock Band, the Privia CDP-3x0 should be on the short list.
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