What should I look for when buying a keyboard (musical)?
April 21, 2005 6:14 PM   Subscribe

I don't know anything about keyboards, but I want to get one for my sons and I to fool around with. We want to be able to do hip hop/rap stuff. The boys are 6 and 7 and think they are Eminem. I would like a solid drum machine feature to help me compose guitar and bass stuff. I've seen lots of things at GuitarCenter.com and musiciansfriend.com but I'm not interested in a midi controller, just a good, fun music tool. Willing to spend about $1000.
posted by snsranch to Technology (11 answers total)
Response by poster: The kids were bugging me, hence my not asking a specific question. Note the "keeping the kids occupied" tag. Please suggest good all around keyboards. I don't need speakers as I can play it through an amp or into the pc while recording. Also, I don't know anything about available features. Can you give me an idea?
posted by snsranch at 6:29 PM on April 21, 2005

AKAI MPC -- the choice of many a rap pro.

is it a little complex for a 6 year old? maybe -- but heck, kids are good at raising to meet challenges.

what it's NOT is a keyboard -- but I think that might be advantageous in this situation. rap is mostly about loops, bass and beats, and these are things that the akai mpc rules at.
posted by fishfucker at 6:39 PM on April 21, 2005

I can't attest for this personally but I want one of these. USB, under $300, perfect for casual use.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 6:54 PM on April 21, 2005

Response by poster: Right on guys, thank you.
posted by snsranch at 7:19 PM on April 21, 2005

When I was a child, I used the ridiculously easy to learn but semi-professional sounding Boss SP-202 sampler and DR-202 drum machine plus thrift store keyboards to make lots of awesomely bad hip-hop. I'm sure all of those can be had for around a c-note each on eBay. Still, at their age, I think you should look at something a little more toy-like, with built in speakers, and as many gimmicks as possible--say something like a Yamaha DJX (I or II, again around $100 used). For a step up from that, I'd suggest a Roland EG-101, and I'll even sell you mine.
posted by glibhamdreck at 8:28 PM on April 21, 2005

raising to meet challenges?

rising, damn it, rising!

posted by fishfucker at 9:40 PM on April 21, 2005

Please, don't waste money on something that isn't MIDI. If your boys take to this, MIDI will allow plenty room to grow. In music, you seldom want to be rid of old equipment, rather you want to add more. With a lot of modern music, cheesey cheap sound can be a real plus, at least in some of your layers! And MIDI isn't likely to add to your price.
posted by Goofyy at 9:55 PM on April 21, 2005

Most of the good "all-in-one" beat/production machines nowadays aren't keyboards at all. I'm no expert, but my brother has a Roland MC-505 (can probably be had for a few hundred nowadays) and it's pretty chock full of features and sounds. Lots and lots of built-in patterns and a sequencer as well.
posted by neckro23 at 11:42 PM on April 21, 2005

i'd say if you're looking to hit something lower-end then I'd definitely agree with nekro on this one. A sequencer with x0x style programming (like that on the famous 303, 808, and 909) is going to be really easy for a young kid to pick up as it's real immediate -- it's easy to understand the placement of the sound within a measure using the interface.

the only downside is that it makes making phrases longer than a measure or two tedious, imho.
posted by fishfucker at 1:49 AM on April 22, 2005

ANother vote for the MC-505.
posted by sophist at 2:05 AM on April 22, 2005

I say get a Mac mini and a keyboard to plug in to it for Garage Band (which comes free with new Macs)if you have that kind of dough for this project. Jam Pack 2 for Garage Band looks good for your nascent hip-hoppers too. Plus you could do all the other stuff too, make music videos, MP3s of thier work to share, etc.
posted by Scoo at 6:08 AM on April 22, 2005

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