Finding the right piano to start with is no easy task. There are many options and quite a lot of different terms to wrap your head around. Amongst the digital piano makers that stand out, Roland has an excellent reputation for offering models of great quality—at all price points. For beginners in particular, they have many different choices, including the GO:PIANO 88. This unit presents a streamlined and portable design, while featuring everything you need to get on with your musical journey properly. Let’s take a look at all the features and see why this could be the ideal keyboard for your needs.
I recorded a video with my general impressions of the GO:PIANO 88. It also includes some sound samples, so you can have an idea of the sound quality.
Everything you need to start learning piano
The GO:PIANO 88 features the full range of a conventional piano, thanks to its 88 keys. Although there are 76 and 61 key variants, it’s always nice to have access to the whole register of the instrument as it was intended to be played. This will also simplify duets, which are sometimes impossible to perform in their integral form, especially on a 61 key model.
The keys themselves are full-sized. This is great for both beginners and more experienced players. Beginners won’t have a hard time moving to a regular keyboard. This jump is quite problematic if you’ve only experienced mini keys or smaller sized ones in the past. For the pianists and keyboardists that have already developed a certain technique, it won’t require any sort of adjustment to smaller keys on their part.
The action feels slightly bouncy, but less so than on a quick synth, at least to my hands. It’s not weighted like an acoustic piano, though, so you won’t get that resistance and feel when you play. That’s the necessary trade-off for a portable option, though. It enables the keyboard to be very light and more convenient for carrying it around anywhere you go.
The keys are also touch sensitive, meaning that the nuance in your dynamics will be represented accurately. The keyboard ships with a music rest, a small sustain pedal, and a power supply.
Great features for playing on the move
One of the greatest features of the GO:PIANO 88 is the fact that you can power it with 6 x D batteries. When you combine that with its portability, it makes this model an excellent choice for the travelling pianist, ready to practise or perform in any setting.
This keyboard has two built-in speakers. These are rated at 10W each and provide a good amount of volume for most spaces. They are also top mounted, so the keyboard can be laid on a desk, bed, or even the floor, without muffling the sound. A headphone jack is also present for silent practising or simply hooking up to a PA system when more volume is required.
A Bluetooth connection is available on the GO:PIANO 88. That’s great news because not only will you be able to play some tracks for your own pleasure, you’ll be able to play backing tracks for performances or simply for rehearsing your repertoire. You’ll also have access to your favourite app-based or online learning material and can follow along without any extra connections.
There are four basic sounds on the GO:PIANO 88. You’ll find the piano, electric piano, organ, and strings tones easily accessible with the dedicated buttons. All four are taken from Roland’s extensive, high-quality sound collections, so they provide a high caliber. You can also combine two separate samples to make interesting layers, giving you a total of 16 different timbres. The beginning sound sample in the video, for example, is actually the piano with strings. You’ll notice the piano in the forefront, while the strings provide a nice cushion underneath.
You can also add various degrees of reverb to enhance your tone with some ambience. It’s a good thing to have, especially if you miss the added feel of the sonic reflections of your space while playing with headphones. I’ve used it to varying degrees in the video.
Ideal for several types of players
The GO:PIANO 88 is a great choice for beginners. With full-sized keys, it’s a great place to start developing your technique without breaking the bank. The portability is also very welcome when travelling to your teacher or friends to learn. Even if you don’t have a teacher, the fact that you can connect your mobile or tablet by Bluetooth means that you’ll have a very convenient learning partner thanks to countless apps and online tutorials. You’ll also benefit from having a built-in metronome, helping you to develop rhythm and groove.
Even experienced pianists and keyboardists could find this unit very useful. There’s something to be said about having a simple and very convenient portable keyboard at your disposal. Its compact footprint won’t take up much space in your music room, but will provide many advantages. It’s really easy to pick up and bring to the cottage, writing session, or just have nearby for those fun, improvised performances. Combined with the built-in speakers and battery operation, you have the perfect travelling buddy. The headphone out can also act as a line out for plugging into a mixer or PA system.
Some will say that the number of tones is limited, but that really depends on the player. Some beginners can get distracted by many options, and it’s preferable in their case to have a streamlined learning tool. The sounds are high quality and will keep you inspired to play and practise for a long time. In the future you can even connect the keyboard to a sound library (on your computer, for example, through USB). This will increase your options if you want to explore different possibilities.
Great choices from Roland
I’ve recently reviewed several other Roland products that might also interest you. The FP10 offers a realistic piano experience in a compact format. The GO:KEYS 61 is very portable, but it also features an extensive sound bank—notably a deep synth selection.
Check out the Roland GO:PIANO 88 on Best Buy’s website.
[NOTE: the previous version of this article erroneously stated that this keyboard required AA batteries]
This unit just dropped in price to $499.99 (Nov 1 2020) permanently
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