Sunday, January 30, 2022

Product Survey: Best Keyboards For Busking and Street Music. Part One.


Best Keyboards for Busking. 

So with my recent look at Casio's latest keyboard/synth offerings, and reaching the conclusion that they might find a niche as being among the best keyboards for buskers, I thought I'd take a look at the entire market and see what other manufacturers and keyboard ranges might have to offer the keyboardist itching to take their art to the street. 

What To Look For In A Busking Keyboard.

Some of the features and criteria for the perfect synth for street music. 

Dimensions, Weight and Portability.

Ignoring the image  at the top of the page for a moment, I would consider the keyboards dimensions and weight an important factor. If you want to use public transport to get around then this is going to be crucial. A four or five octave synth action keyboard is going to be much easier to get on a Number 372 than a fully weighted 88 note electronic piano. 

If you're driving between destinations then, of course, you could consider equipment that's a little bulkier, but I think jumping around and public transport is a much more fun way to busk. 

You also have to consider your 'footprint' as a street musician. Larger instruments are going to take up much more space which might be a major factor if you're playing or planning to play in underground railway conduits and such. 

Built In Speakers.

This could be a real plus. There are some great small and portable street music amps around, but on board speakers could save you carrying one around with you and the additional expense, those Roland Street Cube's aren't exactly cheap. On board speakers will maintain a stereo output whist an amp may only be mono.

But you will need to consider whether the on board speakers will be powerful enough for you and the spaces you intend to play. 

However, even if you are using an external amplifier, you may still find an onboard speaker system useful for monitoring, so you can hear yourself if your amp is pointing away from you towards 'the people'. 

Casio's CT-S Series are lightweight, battery powered, and their cunning eliptical speakers means their size is kept to a minimum. Prices start at just over a hundred pounds. More details in Part Two. 

Microphone Input.

Many modern keyboards with speakers now offer the option to plug a microphone into them and even route it via the effects for vocals, introductions, and jokes. Again, you will have to decide if it's powerful enough and also consider the fact that they are pointing up at you and not 'the people'. See note above on monitoring. 

Powering Options. 

Generally, I think you're going to need battery powering for your keyboard. Something that gives reasonable playing time using rechargeable batteries, preferably small ones such as AAs. I know there are other options now available to the weight conscious electronic troubadour such as power banks, but you'll probably need to know what you're doing with these kind of devices and make sure you don't cause any damage to your expensive digital friend by feeding it the wrong kind of 'juice'.  

Roland's Go Piano offers battery power, built in speakers, high quality piano sounds and a keyboard that feels a little more 'piano-like' without being overly weighty. 


Top Keyboards for Busking. 

So in the coming parts, we'll break things down a little bit and take a look at keyboards that are more pure pianos in Part Two, auto accompaniment style keyboards in Part Three, and then some fully programmable synthesizer/workstation type keyboards in Part Four, that might be a little more to your taste if you're looking for something that can provide custom sequencer recordings and maybe backing tracks for vocalists. 

If you want something that's a little more along the lines of a programmable synth/workstation that can be battery powered then Korg's amazing Kross 2 packs a lot into a battery powered keyboard.  


The information contained within this blog post is offered on an informal basis and is correct to the best of my knowledge. I accept no responsibility for outcomes arising from the mis/interpretation or use of this information and/or associated download files. Always download files via security/scanning software.

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