I'm always happy to be able to report that something that I've complained about has changed. A couple of years ago, I complained loudly that there were very few good, affordable (under $750) keyboards. At that time, there were only a couple of decent-sounding instruments out there -- Korg's X-50 and PS-60 (both of which I own), Roland's Juno-D, and Yamaha's MM-6. I'm happy to report that the market is responding! There are now at least 15 sub-$750 professional-level keyboards available from a variety of manufacturers, with two new models on the way from Casio.
That's right, I said Casio.
Casio brought out some of the first of the affordable synths and samplers (you can read an interesting history of Casio keyboards here and here), but with the exception of digital pianos, they've pretty much ignored the pro market until now. Casio will be releasing two exciting new instruments in the next couple of months -- a pro-performance-level model called the XW-P1 (slated to ship in March) and a loop and groove oriented model called the XW-G1 (arriving in April). MSRPs on these models are right around $700, with one dealer listing prices of under $500! While I need yet another keyboard like I need a hole in my head, the XW-P1 is on my short list for purchase later this year -- despite the fact that I just acquired a Casio CTK-6000 arranger keyboard.
I'm really excited by the resurgence of lower-cost instruments in the market. There are a lot of us weekend-warrior musicians who just don't have the cash assets to plunk down a lot of money on equipment, but still need reasonable quality keyboards for our garage bands that only gig a couple times a month at best.
- Casio Music Gear (casiomusicgear.com)
- On The Hunt: Keyboard Amps (gerenm.net)
- A Thought on Music (gerenm.net)
- When One of You Just Isn't Enough (gerenm.net)
- Casio's New Synth Keyboards: Workstation Keyboards for Synth Rockers, DJs, Organists? (createdigitalmusic.com)
- Casio WK-6500 Workstation Keyboard (coolest-gadgets.com)
- Casio Returns with the New XW-P1 and XW-G1 Synthesizers (bhphotovideo.com)
Of course, I found some more info on the new Casio XW-P1 after I posted and shared. Here's a video from Casio: