Arranger keyboard?

PlexiFuzz

I know karate. Voodoo, too.
Messages
9,695
Is that what I'm looking for?

I'm looking for something where I can create quick backing tracks on the fly. Some drums ... maybe add in a bass line chord progression. I'll probably be doing some basic keyboard stuff, too. Nothing fancy or pro.

I see things out there from $99 up to the thousands. I want something on the cheaper end. It's for home use and doesn't need to have the best, most realistic sounds (though decent sounding drums would be nice).

Just trying to add a new dimension to my playing time. And at all costs trying to avoid opening a laptop when I play.

Thanks for the help!
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,780
Most arranger keyboards have "accompaniment patterns" you can play to. Many of them have the deals where you can do a "one finger accompaniment" where you play, say an F in the left hand, and it gives you an F Major chord in whatever pattern it's set to.

Most of them do not let you "create" backing tracks in the sense that you can "write" the drum parts or bass lines. Instead they come pre-loaded with a variety of patterns, like so:



Here's another, and you can probably go through as many of these as you like to hear what's available:



Generally speaking, the quality of the patterns probably go up as you get into higher price ranges.

They also typically include features like like intros and outros, as well as drum fills, and sometimes variations on the patterns if you press a button while it's playing.

Obviously the thing here is, your have to PLAY the keyboard to "trigger" the pattern. It will hold a chord once you play one, so you can take your hand away, but any time you want to change chords, you have to play new notes.

On some of these, there are built in "recorders" so you could record a chord progression with all the backing stuff, then when you're done, play that back and play guitar to it.

So on that level, you can "create" chord progressions and songs.

I'm not totally familiar with it, but my assumption is, the higher the price, the more memory space you'd have for storing songs like this, and some of them may allow you to export the song via USB or SD Card as a wav file (or midi file, etc.). So you may only be able to have 10 songs loaded in the keyboard, but can store hundreds on a card and load them up 10 at a time.

When you record a song like this, you can generally play 1 live part and record that along with the accompaniment.

You may be able to go in and mute certain parts of the accompaniment and thus record your own bass line for example, but you may be limited to only 1 live recorded part.

If you want to "create" more parts - like say you pull up an accompaniment pattern that has maybe drums and percussion, and a decent strummy-sounding rhythm guitar part or backing organ pad - but you want to add a bass line, and an electric piano part - you need a SEQUENCER for that.

A Sequencer is a device (hardware or software) that mutli-track records MIDI messages - basically, the keys you play.

Unlike an audio recorder, a Sequencer records only the actions you make on the keys, not the actual sounds themselves. That means you could record on an electric bass sound, but once recorded, you could go back and call up an acoustic bass sound instead if you like, and have the same notes played.

A "recorder" as mentioned above is really just a 1 or 2 track Sequencer.

Again I'd say the number of tracks you get really depends on the price range - higher equals more features.

This one explains it pretty well:



So that one's around 700 to 800 USD.

What you have to do is decide on how much you want to spend, and see which gets you closest to all the features you need.

HTH,
Steve
 

PlexiFuzz

I know karate. Voodoo, too.
Messages
9,695
That is an extremely detailed and helpful post. Maybe the most thorough answer I've had on this forum in nearly 12 years! Thanks so much for taking the time to write all of that. It clarified a lot that I was more than a bit fuzzy on and definitely helped me narrow my search down.

I still need to check out some keyboards in the store if possible, but based on the ones I've been looking at, I think the Korg Microarranger might be the one for me. Especially if I can find it on sale. It seems to do everything I'm looking for, more or less, and isn't horribly expensive.

Thanks again!
 

stevel

Member
Messages
15,780
Watch out for things with "micro" or "mini" in the name @PlexiFuzz, those are very often miniature-sized keys. Many people want full-size keys instead.
Also, some manufacturers are creepy in that they don't specifically state anywhere you can see that a particular model is mini-keys. Most of the time this is on the 49 key and under keyboards (some of those numbers of keys are still full size keys though).

If you're going to play two-handed in any kind of piano-like style (even just holding chords), I really recommend a 61 key keyboard.

49 is tolerable, and may be more practical if you're using it near a computer on a desktop or want something a little more portable.

But you can run out of range pretty quickly for both hands - on below 61 you tend to have to switch the octave more to cover the range you want. That's OK if you're doing a bassline, then switching the octave and doing a lead instrument, then switching it again to do some pads, but if you want to use both hands at the same time it's a little tricky - check out how they feel when you go to the store.
 

PlexiFuzz

I know karate. Voodoo, too.
Messages
9,695
I'll definitely try before I buy, @stevel. The Microarranger does have mini keys (61) and I think that's fine for what I'll be doing. I'm not a keyboard player and really only want to build some backing tracks for home guitar practice). But I'll check it out and see.

Other than that, the onboard sequencer, record functions, and ability to mute instruments in accompaniments all sound good to me.
 




Trending Topics

Top Bottom