Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys?

Posted by: turnstyle

Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/10/12 08:10 PM

Hi all,

I'm close to purchasing a new keyboard, and it comes in 76 or 88 key versions (both have the same nice weighted action).

It'll be used by an adult who took 10 years of lessons as a child, as well as another adult and a young child with little experience.

I do see advantages to the 76 key version. Notably, it takes up less space, and is more portable. And the adult who took lessons doesn't feel like she must have 88 keys.

OTOH, we don't want to wind up regretting not having 88.

Can anybody give some examples of why we should get 88 rather than 76?

Thanks very kindly!
Posted by: Rusty Fortysome

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/10/12 08:37 PM

I had a Yamaha 76-key electronic cheese board, and it was great... for what it was. Then I found that some of my have classical pieces went off the ends of the 76-key device.

A month later I had an 88-key Yamaha digital piano sitting in my house.

OK, you might not have any pieces that go to the ends of the 88-key standard, but it you ever do, you will feel cheated.
Posted by: griffin2417

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/10/12 09:04 PM


I think you'll have regrets later if you purchase the 76-keyboard.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/10/12 09:28 PM

Welcome to the forum! smile

The main argument in favor of the 88-keyboard is that you will be learning piano in the context of the space/geometry of the full length keyboard, which will make it easier if you ever want to play on an acoustic piano or upgrade down the road. (Hard to put in words, but when you learn various jumps to different locations on the keyboard, you are anchoring them with respect to where they fall on the keyboard, and it can throw you off to perform the same jumps on the longer keyboard if you're not used to it.)

I have played several pieces that used the extreme ends of the keyboard; I suspect that sooner or later you'd come across some that do, too.
Posted by: Little_Blue_Engine

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/10/12 09:59 PM

I would say go for the 88. Like Monica K. says, the switch between the keyboard and piano will be easier.
Posted by: keystring

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/10/12 09:59 PM

It's not much fun drumming on top of the instrument and pretending it's music because your instrument doesn't have enough notes. That includes the Fuer Elise that so many people want to learn to play.
Posted by: Sand Tiger

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 12:52 AM

Someone that studied piano for 10 years will have numerous examples where those extra keys are needed. In this case, the choice is rather clear, 88 keys. The space difference is small, as is the price difference, and the size and weight.

With all that, I play a 61-key Yamaha with semi-weighted keys. I am happy with it for now.

As a bit of trivia, Mozart's piano had five octaves (like my modern digital), and one wire for each note (vs. three on modern pianos). Mozart's small, low quality piano probably did limit him, but he was able to do quite a bit with it. However, he didn't have the same choices that modern day piano buyers do. So I would tell someone that has the space (space is my biggest problem), and the modest amount of money, to go for 88. Especially because three people are going to use it, including one intermediate to advanced pianist.
Posted by: BenPiano

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 01:13 AM

Originally Posted By: keystring
It's not much fun drumming on top of the instrument and pretending it's music because your instrument doesn't have enough notes. That includes the Fuer Elise that so many people want to learn to play.


I think a 76 key board would accommodate this, no?

Honestly, I don't think I've ever used the top few notes nor the bottom few - they all sound terrible on the piano, IMHO.
Posted by: albynism

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 01:39 AM

Is this keyboard going to go around places? Are you using it for classical music? I have a friend who is content with a small keyboard as he carry it around with him to gigs and he mainly just play chords to accompany singers. But if you are going to play classical music on it then get the 88 keys.
Posted by: TheodorN

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 03:52 AM

Originally Posted By: BenPiano
I think a 76 key board would accommodate this, no?

Well, the top notes in Für Elise are the highest D and E - in the run up near the end - on an 88 key keyboard and the lowest one, the second lowest A. In other words, the two top notes are out of reach on the 76 key thing.

Some keyboards allow the possibility to transpose up or down an octave, but in the case of Für Elise that would just make the piece go outside the keyboard at the bottom instead. Besides, it's not good to learn the placements of the notes and find out they're not the same on an 88 key piano, acoustic or digital, making it a bit hard to apply what you've learned to the "real thing" as Monica K. points out.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 05:55 AM

Beethoven wrote as low as C1 (and up to F7) but only rarely so you might not need the full 88 keys for his music (and never for anyone before him).

Chopin and Liszt had access to the full 88 but I can't think of any examples where it's needed. Brahms frequently makes use of the lower octaves but does restricts himself to F7 at the top. I can't think of any pieces where I play higher.

The main reason for getting a full size keyboard is the peripheral vision and fast glances for leaps where it's difficult to get your bearings on a 76-key keyboard when you're used to 88 keys.
Posted by: Euphonatrix

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 06:40 AM

Have you ever tried DIY with a too light hammer, a not so good saw or a not really powerfull drill? Have you tried sewing with a machine that skips stitches or does not have enough power to punch three layers of fabric?
Insufficient tools can be really frustrating, especially when you are starting any kind of activity (= child just starting on piano). You will attribute shortcomings to yourself instead of blaming your tool for it. And you just won't be able to do certain things. Others have given examples in this thread in how far 76 keys might limit playing.
My advice: If you want to learn/play piano, get the device closest to a real piano you can get for your money. And that includes 88 keys. smile

BTW: Welcome to the forums!
Posted by: turnstyle

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 07:45 AM

Originally Posted By: Euphonatrix
If you want to learn/play piano, get the device closest to a real piano you can get for your money.


fwiw, I wouldn't actually say the goal is to "learn piano" -- rather it's something more like "encourage a lifetime of fun making music." In fact, for my daughter's lessons I also want her to learn how to use the keyboard itself, in addition to learning notes/scales/chords. Meaning, I'm looking at "the instrument" as a "keyboard" rather than as a "piano" so to speak.

Elsewhere a friend made a helpful point: the bigger keyboard is better for two people to play side-by-side, and I think that could be lots of fun for us.
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 08:14 AM

I've just read the OP and the latest response, pardon my tardiness.

There are no 76 key keyboards with fully weighted keys that I'm aware of. If the 'same weighted action' is used in both it's not a 'fully' weighted action. Playing piano demands a 'fully' weighted action. Nicely weighted keys are for players of organ and synthesiser.

You can, with prior experience of playing a fully weighted keyboard, use a 'nicely' weighted one but the young child will be very restricted, probably to organ music, and will be very frustrated if they ever move to a properly weighted piano keyboard.

If your daughter is going to take lessons, the keyboard will undo much of what she's learning unless she's actually taking organ lessons - which are very hard to come by with less than a few years of piano under your belt.

She will also be very frustrated at her inability to control her teachers instrument.


Organists do not move to piano as easily as pianists to organ. Pianists sensitively controlled fingers on an organ keyboard still create an even tone. An organists non-sensitive fingers on a piano keyboard sound awfully coarse and are notoriously difficult to re-train.
Posted by: Sam S

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 08:52 AM

Originally Posted By: turnstyle
Hi all,

Can anybody give some examples of why we should get 88 rather than 76?



The Khachaturian Toccata! - you can't play it without all those keys:



Sam
Posted by: turnstyle

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 09:05 AM

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
There are no 76 key keyboards with fully weighted keys that I'm aware of.


My understanding is it has the same action as this Fatar controller:

http://www.fatar.com/studiologic/pages/VMK_176.html

("weighted keys and hammer action")
Posted by: zrtf90

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/11/12 09:25 AM

Hmm. The times they are a-changing.

For you it looks good but I would still exercise caution regarding your daughter and piano lessons. It's not just about fingers. Check with a prospective teacher first.
Posted by: Kymber

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/13/12 11:40 AM

12 more keys!
Never know when you might need them smile
Posted by: BinghamtonPiano

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/13/12 04:04 PM

I'm surprised no one else asked this, but what style of music are you interested in playing? If you are learning primarily classical music, then 88 keys is better. If you are playing anything other than classical music, 76 keys are more than enough.
As someone above mentioned, even Mozart didn't have 88 keys, and he did just fine.
Posted by: Inlanding

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/13/12 04:13 PM

I think a good example might be that once you get a 76 key electric piano, you will find yourself wanting a full-sized, 88 key version. If you ever sit down at an acoustic piano, it will have 88 keys. If other folks come over to enjoy your piano, they will be used to an 88 key keyboard. If you ever take lessons, it will be on an 88 key instrument. You mention doing duets with your children...you will instantly be out of room if you use a 76 key platform.

Go for the gold - get an 88 and don't look back - you won't regret it. Have fun with it

Glen
Posted by: turnstyle

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/13/12 05:44 PM

Hi all, thanks again for all the input.

We're not really much of a classical music listening family, so my guess is we'll be playing more pop/rock/r&b -- but I certainly want my daughter to be able to follow her interests, wherever they might lead.

In the end, the most "immediately obvious" reason to get the 88 is so that I can play a duet with my daughter. I totally understand that many of you have other "immediately obvious" reasons, and I hope we grow into those.

btw, do you have any favorite Web sites and/or YouTube channels for beginners? (We'll also be getting a proper teacher, but I'm curious to see what's out there...)
Posted by: rnaple

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/13/12 05:47 PM

Ya get more keys for your money....da da.da da...more keys for your money...da da. da da...more keys for your money...and middle C stays in the middle to!...da da...da da da da

Oh just ask Rossy's Basset Hound... He knows everything. smile
Posted by: TheodorN

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/13/12 06:43 PM

For whatever reasons you get 88 keys, I'm sure it's the wisest choice. As for favorite websites.

http://www.youtube.com/user/bbdhrggl/

Don't be shocked by the introducing math tutorial, the piano tutorials are a little more down the page. Diverse tutorials, classical, jazz, pop and rock, besides basic things like scales, chords and rhytm practice.

http://www.youtube.com/user/Lypur

Mostly classical, but great videos on music theory and the basics of playing for beginners.

http://www.youtube.com/user/pianojohn113

Billy Joel, Beatles and Elton John song tutorials. Maybe not suited for beginners, but most people should be able to learn the songs, just takes time and practice. Unfortunately the lessons are not sorted by difficulty, that would be helpful.
Posted by: Jonathan Alford

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/13/12 07:22 PM

Can I pick which 12 are missing? I never use G4# so I choose that one first.
Posted by: TheodorN

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/13/12 10:35 PM

With most digital pianos you can shift the 76 keys all the way to the ends of an 88 keys keyboard, left or right. Not sure if the shift has to be in steps of octaves or single notes. By default, usually the top and bottom notes are cut off, about six at each end. If you imagine you put the 76 keys keybed on top of an 88 keys one, it would rest somewhere in the middle, with (at least roughly) the same number of notes on either side, missing on the 76 keys keybed, compared to the bigger one.

You can't just take a note out somewhere in the middle, like G#4 is, and shift all other notes to the left (or right for that matter.) If you did, it wouldn't be a regular piano anymore, because the keybed is based on certain rules, mathematically and musically.
Posted by: Lopan

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 01:27 AM

Fur Elise fits comfortably on my ancient ensoniq 76 keyboard. The low A is five keys from the bottom and the high E is 3 keys from the top. The top and bottom keys on particular instruments may not be the same.

Mine cannot handle Chopin's prelude in C minor. I could shift the range to make that fit, but I played that one enough on my childhood baby grand.

Despite the erred claim regarding Fur Elise, I would go with the 88 keys. The price difference could not be that much and I will likely run into other pieces that don't fit.
Posted by: turnstyle

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 06:22 AM

Originally Posted By: Lopan
The price difference could not be that much and I will likely run into other pieces that don't fit.


fwiw, it's not about price difference. Rather, the appeal of the 76 is that it saves space -- not just in our small apartment, but also if we ever get to the point where we want to take it someplace in a car.
Posted by: justpin

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 10:12 AM

Why is that a problem?

A few days ago I moved my Casio CDP (in box) using a bicycle with the thing strapped to my back. It was a tad wobbly but it was fine grin

Strangely enough my CDP doesn't fit properly in my dad's Toyota in the back I mean. It won't fit on the back seats either. You have to put it through the driver and passenger seat and rest it on the hand (parking) brake in the middle. If it wasn't an automatic the gear stick would get in the way.
Posted by: Sand Tiger

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 10:39 AM

Originally Posted By: turnstyle


fwiw, it's not about price difference. Rather, the appeal of the 76 is that it saves space -- not just in our small apartment, but also if we ever get to the point where we want to take it someplace in a car.


Have you decided on a company and model and checked the specs? Are we talking about five inches and maybe five pounds? You can argue those points if you like, but it doesn't seem like a lot, unless you have to make major changes in furniture to accommodate the 88.

I did choose my 61-key model because of weight and size. The size difference to 88 is about 8 inches in width. For me, the weight was a bigger factor. Mine weighs 11 pounds and I have to set it up every time I want to play. I keep it under the bed at other times. A 25 to 40 pound model would be more strain on my back and shoulder.

How often might you realistically travel with the keyboard? Even so, the small differences don't seem worth much, especially if two people are available to move it.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 12:11 PM

"...Fur Elise fits comfortably on my ancient ensoniq 76 keyboard. ...Mine cannot handle Chopin's prelude in C minor. I could shift the range to make that fit,"

I've waited years to hear someone mention the Ensoniq here--- I still have mine. Made by geniuses way out ahead of their time, I loved it, and I hated it. Shifting the 76-key board's range by using the keypress combination got really old after so-many-thousand times, and I got so much over it that I would never waste my shopping time looking at a DP with less than 88 keys (unless I wanted a synth-style non-weighted keyboard with aftertouch). The feature was really intended so that one could take advantage of using the keyboard split to make room for the string bass or electric bass, or the upper registers of the clavinet and Rhodes.

You can still run out of keys a lot faster than you think. We have 88 keys because composers used them and pushed manufacturers to make them. (And, because that's about as much usable frequency range as you can get out of a hammered string.) And BTW, keyboards these days have three or four splits--- even more keys to run out of on a short board.

As for Fatar keysets... well, they make better and worse ones, but before you jump off that bridge, try the Search feature and see what other members of this forum have had to say. I would not touch one with a barge pole.

If you don't have room for 12 more keys in your house, do you really want one at all? Get rid of something.
Posted by: TheodorN

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 01:11 PM

This is where I keep my digital piano (88 keys of course.) Not sure if this is the best place for it, in the storage room, but the room is equipped as a work room, with a table and electrig plugs.

Posted by: tangleweeds

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 01:50 PM

I also live in a very small room, and my DP actually lives in front of my closet (I guess i'm not much of a clothes horse anymore... my closet is mostly storage). Here's a pic of my setup (the room is so small you can see a corner of my bed in the lower right, which I was kneeling upon when I took the pic)
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 04:44 PM

"...As for Fatar keysets... well, they make better and worse ones, but before you jump off that bridge, try the Search feature and see what other members of this forum have had to say...."

Whoops--- disoriented. I forgot what forum we are on. I should have said, "the Digital Pianos, Synths and Keyboards forum."

And btw, good luck with the Search feature.
Posted by: Albany

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 07:36 PM

My harpsichord has 48 keys. 48.

I have never missed a key. So unless you play extreme repertoire from romantique and post romantique era, you don't need 88 keys.
Posted by: Newman

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/14/12 08:26 PM

I wonder too. I never seem to get beyond 2nd C above middle C or 3rd F below middle C.
Posted by: BrokenChord

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/15/12 02:31 AM

Um...because a piano has 88 keys and not 76.

Pretty simple concept.
Posted by: Colin Dunn

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/20/12 04:43 PM

I second the recommendation for 88 keys. Then you can play any piano repertoire you want, now or later, without worry.

The 76-, 61-, and 49-key digital keyboards don't have full piano range. They were meant to be portable, to be used on stage performing mainly synth/organ parts.

The cost savings going with the shorter keyboard isn't worth it, particularly with a 76- vs. an 88-key keyboard. The 49- and 61-key boards can be much cheaper, but they often have "organ-touch" instead of "piano-touch" keys.

With a 48-key harpsichord, that shorter compass was commonplace during the Baroque era, and if you play mainly Baroque harpsichord music, it will fit within this range. But many piano students are interested in learning to play music from the 19th-20th centuries, when piano keyboards had at least 85, and usually 88 keys.
Posted by: polyphasicpianist

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/22/12 01:06 AM

This is 97 keys. More is always better . . . its just a fact of human nature.

Posted by: Tubbie0075

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/22/12 02:51 AM

It of course depends on the music you want to play with your keyboard. There are quite a number of classical pieces requiring 88 keys but they are generally at a very advanced level (e.g. Liszt Campanella, Ravel Jeux D'eau, Rachmaninov G# minor prelude etc). If you aren't going to play these say in the next 5 years, no harm with 76 keys. If you do end up needing 88 keys after 5 years, well, it's time for an upgrade anyway.

Good luck!
Posted by: DougMorgan

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/23/12 12:33 AM

In addition to the other, very good points, on an acoustic piano the sound quality would suffer with fewer than 88 keys.

With an acoustic piano when the sustain pedal is pressed all the related strings will vibrate in addition to the notes actually played, giving a fuller, more complex sound. A digital piano might have sustain samples that include the missing keys but I would suspect with fewer than 88 keys that other corners were cut as well and the unit may not sound all that great.

I started on a digital piano and I found that the keyboard touch was critical to learning to play with expression so I would make sure that the piano you are looking at has the most realistic action possible.

Doug
Posted by: Augustina

Re: Can you give examples of why we want 88 rather than 76 keys? - 07/23/12 12:55 AM

I would recommend a full size keyboard. 88 keys. A Year ago I had a keyboard that only had 61 keys on it. I got frustrated with it often as I was unable to play a lot of the pieces that I wanted to. So I finally got a keyboard that has 76 keys.

My keyboard works for most of the pieces I play. I have also noticed a big difference in the way it sounds compared to my other keyboard. However; There have been a few songs where there are not enough keys. The one I am working on now for example: There are not enough keys on my keyboard to play the ending.
So my recommendation is a full size piano/keyboard.
grin