Electric pianos have top notch sounds and an easy-to-use interface which makes them ideal for performing onstage. An electric piano keyboard usually comes with synthesizer features & are quite portable.
Long back, when sound synthesis technology was not in existence, electric pianos use to produce sounds mechanically and the sounds were turned into electronic signals by pickups.
And since the tone was quite different from a usual piano tone, these instruments became quite popular.
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Synthesis Technology on Electric Pianos
Now, with sound synthesis technology becoming available in almost all the digital pianos and keyboards, it is easy to produce sounds that depict the sound of an electric piano.
In fact, the high-end portable digital stage piano, which is commonly used by gigging pianists, is now referred to as the electric-piano.
These instruments usually have sound synthesis features, and give you various variations of the electric piano sound.
Also Read: Electric & Digital Piano Reviews
Electric pianos have been so popular because it gives you all the flexibility of a digital instrument. Issues like Space, Maintenance, and Portability, that were commonly associated with acoustic pianos does not apply to an electric Piano.
A top-of-the-line electric piano will use the best sound samples, will incorporate the best digital effects, will have pitch bend / modulation wheels, and will have graded hammer action which emulates the action on an acoustic piano.
The layout of the piano itself will be quite intuitive so that you can easily change settings and parameters on the fly while performing. Some of the most commonly used digital effects with the electric piano sound are the Tremolo, Chorus, Phaser, and EQ
Some of the models will have Lock-on features to prevent accidental changes, whereas others may have lots of knobs and sliders so that you don’t have to depend on the screen for making the selections.
Buying the Best One?
Pro keyboards are expensive instruments, and if you are going to spend around 3000 dollars, then there’s no doubt that it’s going to sound good. However, which is best out of the lot is something that only you’ll be able to decide.
After all, everybody has a different need!
As you can see, the permutations are many.
And because each of us has a different preference on what should be the perfect piano sound and feel, it’s a bit difficult to reach a consensus of which piano is the best.
Also Read: Electric & Digital Piano Reviews
Are They Built for the Road?
The pro ones are definitely built for the gigging musician! And that is why besides the top quality sounds and features, the manufacturers ensure that they are robust (some of them are almost built like a tank).
And because they are built for the road, and if you add on factors such as the weight of 88 weighted keys (some also have built-in speakers), some of them can really become heavy.
But if you really like a specific brand or make, there’s not much you could do but live with it. After all, you need to perform well when onstage (there are some players who buy a spare pro keyboard for smaller and lesser important venues).
But over time, even the toughest of them do go through wear and tear and instances such as plastic on the keys chipping off, or losing springs/keys are quite common and are easily repaired.
Irrespective, well known keyboard/synth brands and models continue to do well in the second-hard market, so in case you decide to upgrade to a new one and want to get rid of your existing one, you should get a good price for it.
The Best Brands
So long as you go for an expensive model and something that is from Yamaha, Roland, Nord, Kawai, Korg or Kurzweil, you are in safe hands.
If you are piano player, it’s actually a good idea to focus on the ‘piano’ instrument sounds when evaluating a product. For the sounds that you are missing you may get a separate board.
Or If you are still not happy with the overall piano sounds on these boards, you can also consider using software piano like Galaxy or Ivory, and play it using the piano or synth that has the best keys (as per you).
As you can see, most of the time you have to find a happy trade-off between the piano sound and the piano action.
So it does make sense to spend as much time as possible in a music store, and take along your headphones as you check out the various models of electric pianos & keyboards.