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#1326900 - 12/16/09 06:16 PM Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A?
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A?

We had a Kurzweil SP76 for a while and my wife, who usually plays a real piano, would complain about her left hand falling off the end of the keyboard trying to play non-existent notes on it.

She would much rather they just take a normal 88 key keyboard and chop off the top octave, and says the lower notes are much more useful than the upper octave.

Comments?
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#1326920 - 12/16/09 06:39 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: dewster]
ChrisA Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Most short keyboard have a "octave shift" function that moves the keys left or right so you can have it any way you like.

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#1326925 - 12/16/09 06:47 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: dewster]
edt Offline
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Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 210
dewster the wurlitzers start on A, casio normally starts their 76 keyboards on C, but the biggest influence was the rhodes electric piano built by harold rhodes for injured soldiers in world war 2 as a part of their rehabilitation.

The first models that harold built sounded much better in the lower registers than the upper ones, so he started it at E so it could replace the upright bass. Later, when Fender got Rhodes to build a 32 key version that only has bass, it also started on E. Fender didn't like the sound of the upper register.

But by the mid 60's harold had fixed the electric piano so it sounded good in the full range of a regular piano all 88 keys, but due to history, the shorter 76 electric pianos still started on that E, to this day.

So there you go. It's some combination of history, and matching that bottom E of an upright acoustic bass, and the demands of Leo Fender.

but not all digital keyboards start on that E, some start on A, others on C.


Edited by edt (12/16/09 06:49 PM)

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#1326943 - 12/16/09 07:04 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: edt]
snazzyplayer Offline
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Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Lowest note being E, is most useful for playing left hand bass, in lieu of the absence of a bassist.
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#1326946 - 12/16/09 07:13 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: ChrisA]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: ChrisA
Most short keyboard have a "octave shift" function that moves the keys left or right so you can have it any way you like.


It's more of a physical anchor thing for my wife, I believe. Not that she keeps her hand down there all the time, but she expects those notes to be there. She says she rarely uses the top octave and wouldn't miss it much.
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#1326954 - 12/16/09 07:18 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: edt]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: edt
dewster the wurlitzers start on A, casio normally starts their 76 keyboards on C, but the biggest influence was the rhodes electric piano built by harold rhodes for injured soldiers in world war 2 as a part of their rehabilitation.

The first models that harold built sounded much better in the lower registers than the upper ones, so he started it at E so it could replace the upright bass. Later, when Fender got Rhodes to build a 32 key version that only has bass, it also started on E. Fender didn't like the sound of the upper register.

But by the mid 60's harold had fixed the electric piano so it sounded good in the full range of a regular piano all 88 keys, but due to history, the shorter 76 electric pianos still started on that E, to this day.

So there you go. It's some combination of history, and matching that bottom E of an upright acoustic bass, and the demands of Leo Fender.

but not all digital keyboards start on that E, some start on A, others on C.


Wow, thanks for the history lesson, edt! I suspected legacy had something to do with it.
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#1326957 - 12/16/09 07:20 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: snazzyplayer]
dewster Offline
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Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Lowest note being E, is most useful for playing left hand bass, in lieu of the absence of a bassist.


My wife claims she uses the notes below that E all the time. Or often enough to really miss them when they're gone, anyway.


Edited by dewster (12/16/09 07:20 PM)
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#1326981 - 12/16/09 07:59 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: dewster]
ChrisA Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Lowest note being E, is most useful for playing left hand bass, in lieu of the absence of a bassist.


My wife claims she uses the notes below that E all the time. Or often enough to really miss them when they're gone, anyway.


That history lesson was great.

Modern keyboards allow you to move the usable range around. Even the little 25 key keyboards can access the full range of 88 notes but obvoiusly only 25 of those 88 notes at any one time.

It does take some getting used to, that Middle C can move left or right over a two octave range

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#1326989 - 12/16/09 08:16 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: ChrisA]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
The shorter (non-88) Rhodes has 73 keys...and of course, starts on E (again, to get down to the low E on a Bass Guitar).

I have an early Rhodes that's being restored.

Another historical tidbit...

Over the life of the Rhodes, the keybeds were supplied by two companies: Pratt Read and Wurlitzer.

The earlier models were Pratt Read and the later models were Wurlitzer; mine has the former.

Snazzy
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#1326997 - 12/16/09 08:28 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: snazzyplayer]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
So anyway, if y'all had your druthers, what's the lowest note on your shortened (less than 88 keys) dream keyboard, and why?


Edited by dewster (12/16/09 08:28 PM)
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#1327006 - 12/16/09 08:35 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: dewster]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
In my case it would be the low "E", since I play a lot of left hand bass on gigs.

I'm also looking at a mint Fender Rhodes Piano Bass Keyboard, which is an even shorter instrument...it consisted of the bottom 32 notes from the 73-key Electric Piano, and again the bottom note was "E"...used by Ray Manzarek of "The Doors" fame for playing bass.

Snazzy
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#1327015 - 12/16/09 08:43 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: dewster]
edt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 210
right now i'm used to having a C as my bottom note, I have one 5 octave and one 6 octave keyboard both of them start & end on C. I'll probably eventually buy the kurzweil sp3x. I don't mind missing the A & B on the bottom, but I don't know if I would be happy with your SP2 . . . not having the C & D seems annoying, and if you use the tranpose octaves down button you end up with less than 6 usable octaves.

If I had your SP2, I think I would sell it and use the money to help pay for an 88 key kurzweil SP (that is if you like kurzweils). It really sounds like your wife would like an 88 key keyboard more.

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#1327022 - 12/16/09 08:54 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: edt]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: edt
right now i'm used to having a C as my bottom note, I have one 5 octave and one 6 octave keyboard both of them start & end on C.


A 6 octave keybed starting on "C"? That's an unusual range. Can I ask what instrument you are using?

Snazzy
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#1327078 - 12/16/09 10:30 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: snazzyplayer]
edt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/07/09
Posts: 210
this style keyboard is not too unusual for a MIDI controller, for instance all the korgs and casio 73 key keyboards start & end on a C, mine is some ancient casio, I only use it for MIDI to drive my software.

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#1327131 - 12/16/09 11:46 PM Re: Why do 76-key keyboards start on E rather than A? [Re: edt]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4354
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: edt
It really sounds like your wife would like an 88 key keyboard more.


Oh, it's long gone, we donated it to a friend who plays it to death, which is really great.
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