Arranger Keyboards

Arranger keyboards generally come with 61 or 73 / 76 un-weighted keys. The quality of the keybeds will vary tremendously from model to model. If you are wanting to learn classical or jazz piano, one of these would not be a good choice. Although piano pieces can be played on them, weighted keys give more control for this type of music. But for just about any type of piano playing I would advise at least 73 keys (6 octaves).

All arranger keyboards will have a fairly large selection of pre-installed sampled sounds which may or may not be editable. The quality and polyphony of these sounds will vary very much, although there are some surprisingly good sounds on some of the less expensive models.

Additionally, arranger keyboards have the ability to split the keyboard at certain (variable) points enabling different sounds to be played in each part of the board,  (i.e. bass on the lower half  / piano on the top half), and / or to use the lower half of the keyboard to trigger auto-accompaniment enabling the player to effectively be a one man-band. In deed many of the better quality arrangers are used for live gigging by solo players.

Most arranger keyboards have built in speakers, which are suitable for home use, but many also have the facility for adding external speakers for better quality and more volume. The most expensive models (Korg PA 4X / Yamaha Genos) tend not to have built in speakers as is the norm for professional equipment.

Most also have recording features, in some cases as many  as 16 fully editable tracks enabling a fair degree of quality music production on the better models (Korg PA 700 onwards).

Arranger keyboards are available from as little as £50 up to more than £4,000. A good entry model is the Yamaha PSR E363 and the top professional model (in my opinion) is the Korg PA 4X.

So who are they good for?

The lower priced models are ideal for anyone who wants to learn music in a fairly casual way and just have fun (for classical or jazz go for a digital piano). The more expensive models are ideal for solo gigging, or music production  by more experienced musicians.