36 Enough?
July 2, 2010 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Are thirty six keys enough to get my feet wet in learning piano?

I've been given a Yamaha electric keyboard, and was wondering if it's sufficient to get started learning. I've checked out some books from the library, and most strongly suggest 88 keys.
I don't want to make such an investment until I know I'll stick with it.
I'm interested in Blues/Jazz. Many thanks!
posted by JABof72 to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Absolutely! In my opinion, the biggest difference between playing an electronic keyboard and a piano is the "feel" of the keys under your fingers, not the number of keys, but with 36 keys you'll definitely be able to play the kind of blues chord progressions and stuff you'd need to decide if it's something you like enough to continue with. Or, who knows, you might decide you actually prefer the feel of a keyboard to an actual piano, and end up getting yourself a Hammond organ or something.
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:20 PM on July 2, 2010

You'll eventually want a full-sized keyboard, but 36 keys is 4.5 octaves - plenty of room to learn on.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 7:25 PM on July 2, 2010

Thank you. That was the slap on the back I was hoping for. I'm going to get started this weekend.
posted by JABof72 at 7:25 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you don't read music and have never played the piano, I'd say that 36 keys will keep you busy for a little while if you're going the self-taught route and need to start with the very basics. It's better than nothing, certainly, and I don't see any harm in messing around with a small keyboard for a few months before deciding if you want to get a larger and more expensive keyboard.
posted by drlith at 7:26 PM on July 2, 2010

Oh, I meant to ask: are they full-sized keys? Because if they're tiny keys, that'll take a little more getting used to once you switch to a normal-sized instrument. But it's not a huge deal at all. I learned to play piano on a tiny 36-key Yamaha keyboard for the first year, then followed that with another dozen years or so on full-seized pianos.
posted by infinitywaltz at 7:27 PM on July 2, 2010

Thanks Spiff. I figure if I put in a "quality six months in learning, I'll start shopping.
posted by JABof72 at 7:27 PM on July 2, 2010

Infinity; they're full-sized. Not the best feel. or action, but has a very nice sound.
posted by JABof72 at 7:28 PM on July 2, 2010

You can find many fullsize real pianos for free or very cheap on craigslist. Many people just want you to come and pick it up.
posted by allthewhile at 7:41 PM on July 2, 2010

36 keys is 4.5 octaves - plenty of room to learn on.

36/12 = 3 octaves
posted by wackybrit at 8:49 PM on July 2, 2010

Agree with what other people are saying: Key sensitivity is more important than number of keys. I think as little as two octaves is playable. Size of the keys is important too.

If you don't have a sustain pedal, you should invest in one.
posted by Happydaz at 9:16 PM on July 2, 2010

Wackybrit: *facepalm* I knew my math was wrong. Still, not bad.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 9:36 PM on July 2, 2010

Sustain pedal plus weighted keys: tactile pleasure. That's the key to learning, in my opinion. There's just nothing like the feel of a good piano or the pleasure of pushing the keys with pedal down, lifting off, holding it, then releasing the pedal. Especially if you're a kid.

So number of keys less important. Lord knows lots of people never play outside of two octaves.
posted by davejay at 10:15 PM on July 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you buy a top-of-the-line DSLR camera if you're just interested in taking pictures? Of course not. 88 keys is the top-of-the-line - make sure you like it- and actually learn it - before upgrading.
posted by chrisinseoul at 8:04 AM on July 4, 2010

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