casio 1.JPGA piano student could be anyone! They range from 3 to 99 years of age, and could be of any level, be it beginner, intermediate or advanced. Maybe you’d like to provide your 4-year-old with their first experiences making music. Perhaps the student is at an intermediate-level, and is now looking for a more sophisticated digital piano to help get to the next level of playing and creative activity. As an advanced student, you’re probably ready to “go big” with your music making, and you’re looking for a keyboard to help you do just that. There is a huge selection available, and you’ll find that Best Buy features many of them. There is a digital piano or keyboard that will fit your needs, and your budget too!


I’ve been fortunate enough to see a student’s development before my very eyes. I have children, and being a professional musician, it’s a no-brainer that music is a part of everyday life at our house. If you can believe it, we had a piano keyboard before my kids had a baseball glove or a bike! We started out with something for the beginner, and the instrument was accepted in the home. Piano lessons have helped everyone improve, and we have since graduated to something more intermediate. Although the kids are still young, I’m starting to get a glimpse of what’s ahead for them as we move along. I myself use keyboards for my work, together with a Digital Audio Workstation. I also work with other professionals who are using even more complex machines such as the KORG KRONOS and NORD Piano 2. It truly is a progression from one machine to the next, from beginner to advanced.

Here in Canada, people are just discovering the wide range of musical instruments available at Best Buy. We’ll take a quick look at a few models and see what they offer. Each model is available at BestBuy.ca for you to have a closer look!

The three models that we’ll look at today are:

  1. CASIO SA-76 44-key electric keyboard
  2. CASIO CTK-2400 61-key electric keyboard
  3. YAMAHA Piaggero Portable Keyboard (NP-V60)

For the little musician in the house


CASIO SA-76 44-key electric keyboard

The CASIO SA-76
The CASIO SA-76

CASIO doesn’t mix words when describing the intended use for the SA-76. They come right out and say it; the SA-76 has “all the essentials for playing those first tunes.” In other words, it’s designed for kids. It has smaller keys (for smaller hands), and has a well-dosed amount of features that inspire creativity and learning for the young burgeoning pianist in your home.

It’s very modestly priced, especially considering the number of features it includes. It’s affordable enough that you can jump right in and see if you or you child enjoys playing piano. If it ends up not being your favourite, there’s little investment lost.

It has 100 built-in tones to help encourage your little talented one to create their own special melodies. The SA-76 also has 50 different pre-programmed rhythms which are easy to access and fun to play with! One of the coolest features is CASIO’s Melody Cut Rehearsal System. This tool features an automatic accompaniment for when the student practices or tries to learn a song. The piano “waits” for the correct notes to be played before continuing with the accompaniment, assisting the student to accomplish the whole song, one step at a time. It’s great for learning!

You’re getting better! Time to creative, time for something more sophisticated!

Intermediate-Level Fun!

CASIO CTK-2400

Imagine for a moment that you or your child has worked hard to learn some favourite songs. They’re played well, using some great sounds to add some fun to the experience. All this time, you or your child has been using the CASIO SA-76 to do this. Advances have been made, hands have grown bigger and a desire for a more sophisticated sound is needed.

This is where the CASIO CTK-2400 enters the picture. It’s a definite step forward with its many sounds, its larger keys, its expanded keyboard range and higher-quality stereo sounds. You get this for around $60 more than the SA-76, which seems to me to be a safe investment as you test the waters to see how both study and creativity can evolve.

The CASIO CTK-2400
The CASIO CTK-2400

 

The CTK-2400 is definitely a forward-looking instrument as it features a built-in microphone and a sampler. Using the sampler you can integrate your own sounds in to the keyboard. It also features MIDI and USB outputs so that you can make that next step to creating music with your computer. You can use a combination of onboard drum beats, sampler and the 400 included sounds to create something really special … with your computer too! Whereas the SA-76 is truly a beginner/introductory keyboard, the CTK-2400 serves as a great gateway instrument to much more diverse musical worlds. In this age where so much music can be made with so little equipment, this keyboard is built to encourage exploration of new ideas and directions, as well as taking care of more than your basic needs!

On to the Big Show!

YAMAHA Piaggero (NP-V60)

The Yamaha NP-V60
The Yamaha NP-V60

So many hours have been invested in practicing the piano, learning and enjoying the music along the way. There’s one thing missing however—the sensation of expression. It’s here the Yamaha Piaggero NP-V60 can add its character and reputation to your music. This unit also features Yamaha’s graded soft-touch keys, which is similar to the Yamaha Piaggero NP-32B which I review here. The price reflects this feature, however in return you get much closer to the feel and expression of an acoustic piano. Yamaha’s digital pianos have a fantastic reputation for their authentic piano sound as well, which is a huge plus. The NP-V60 also has a 6-track sequencer built in, which allows you to record up to 5 songs. Quite simply, this unit would be great for some high-quality work!

There are many makes and models of digital pianos and keyboards to explore. As I mentioned before, there is a large selection available through Best Buy.

Now that we’ve spent some time thinking about which type of keyboard might be a good fit for you, I’d like to ask: What are your needs at this time? What will your needs be in the future, say 3-5 years from now? Do you imagine yourself getting really creative with one of these items? Visit the digital pianos section at BestBuy.ca and have an even closer look.

Then jump in, and get started making music!

Clinton Ryder
For over 20 years, Montreal bassist Clinton Ryder has been on the Canadian music scene. With over 20 album credits, he works with musicians of all genres and generations. In recent years, he’s performed with Jim Byrnes and Petru Guelfucci, and a member of the Félix Stussi’s 5 (featuring trombonist Ray Anderson). He continues to freelance on his instrument of choice while honing his skills in Logic Pro, Sibelius and other interests, including his website www.country-music-hoedown.com.