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Buying Guide: Our Top Instrument Recommendations Part 2

Posted on November 20, 2020

In the market for a new instrument? Here are some of our top picks, straight from the Yousician team! Check out Part 1 here.

Whether it’s a jam session during work (when we could go to the office) or a gig at a local pub, the team at Yousician is always playing something. So, we asked everyone which instruments they reach for most. If you’re looking for the best acoustic guitar or the best beginner electric guitar, we’ve got you covered. Need ukulele recommendations? We’ve got those too!

At the start of each section you’ll see some Things to Know, where we’ll highlight some musical instrument-lingo and specs to keep in mind while making your decisions.

To make your holiday season bright, we’ll be offering weekly Guitar Center gift card giveaways on our Instagram! Make sure to follow us for details on how to enter.

Part 2 covers ukulele, digital keyboards and audio interfaces. Click here for Part 1, covering guitar and bass.

 

Ukulele

If you’re learning ukulele, it’s a good idea to start with a concert sized instrument.

Things to Know:

Soprano: 53cm long / 20 inches
Concert: 58cm long / 22 or 23 inches
Tenor: 66cm long / 26 inches
Baritone: 76cm long / 30 inches

1. Luna Heartsong

This concert-sized ukulele features a Fishman Kulu preamp and USB output that lets you connect to your device, letting you record anytime. It has a solid spruce top that sounds great acoustic as well! This instrument also comes with a gig bag, making travel a breeze.

You can find it at LunaGuitars.com.

2. Cordoba – 15CM

You wouldn’t know it based on its $99 price tag, but this ukulele is completely handmade with mahogany. Unlike most instruments in this category, it has an authentic abalone rosette and satin finish that really elevate its look.

You can find it at Guitar Center here.

3. Mitchell MU40C

This concert ukulele has a lindenwood body for bright tone and a natural finish. The walnut fingerboard offers comfortable, easy playability for players of any skill level.  It also comes with an instructional booklet to help you get started.

You can find it at Guitar Center here.

 

Keyboards

Things to Know:

Number of keys: Full pianos have 88 keys, but some more compact models have less.
Voices: Sometimes called “sounds” or “tones”, refers to the sounds your keyboard can make (grand piano, electric piano, organ, etc.)
Weighted keyboard: Keys that are weighted to resemble a true piano. Weighted keys build finger strength and encourage better overall playing technique and habits. There are many different types of weights, which you can read more about here.

1. Yamaha P-45

The Yamaha P-45 is a great sounding instrument. It’s one of the cheapest 88-key digital keyboards available with Graded Hammer Standard weighted action for the keys. This writer owns the Yamaha P-45 and loves its sound. It has two “Grand Piano” voices sampled from a Yamaha grand piano. It’s the cheaper digital keyboard on this list, but certainly doesn’t play like it.

You can find it at Guitar Center here.

Roland FP-30

2. Roland FP 30

This was recommended so many times, we lost count! Check out Sweetwater’s video review and you’ll understand why so many people gravitate toward this instrument that truly sounds like a grand piano. It’s 88 keys feel great, and help you build your finger strength. It has a great speaker, meaning it delivers impressive sound, but also has headphone output for quieter sessions. One feature we love? “Twin Piano” mode lets you split the piano in two, perfect for a teacher and student playing side by side in the same octave.

You can find it at Guitar Center here.

3. Casio PX-S1000

Another great 88-key option, the Casio PX-S1000 features keys with hammer weighting, key resistance, damper position and key release time. Boiling that down: it simulates a real piano extremely well, allowing full expression of every note. This digital piano also features bluetooth playback, USB connection and a touch panel that turns dark when not in use.

You can find it at Casio’s website here.

 

Compact Keyboards

If you don’t have space or money for a full 88-key instrument, or you want something that’s more lightweight and easier to travel with, there are a few compact options available.

GO:PIANO

1. Roland GO:PIANO

Here we have another recommendation from Roland. The new GO:PIANO is lightweight, has built in sounds and speakers, and connects wirelessly to your mobile device. Concetta Abbate, musician based out of Brooklyn, recommends this if you tend to travel for gigs.

You can find it at Guitar Center here.

2. Yamaha Piaggero NP-12

The Yamaha Piaggero NP-12 has 61 keys instead of 88, but does have an octave shift mode which will allow you to hit those higher or lower registers. Some other features we like are the auto power off mode and the ability to play with batteries or power adapter (this is not included–be sure to add one to your cart if you go with this model!), making this a great portable keyboard. This keyboard has MIDI output as well, but you need a USB adapter to connect to your phone. Our team says: “very nice sound and I love the feel of the keys – similar to real piano.”

You can find it at Guitar Center here.

Yamaha P-121

2. Yamaha P-121

The Yamaha P-121 is a compact digital piano with 73 keys that combines incredible piano performance with a user friendly minimalist design. Easily portable and extremely accessible, this instrument allows you to experience the joy of playing the piano on your terms.

You can find this at Guitar Center here.

 

Audio Interfaces

iRig HD 2

1. iRig HD 2

The iRig HD 2 comes with AmpliTube, a powerful multi-effects processor with an integrated music player, a dedicated recorder, a tuner and a vast collection of ultra-realistic digital models of some of the most famous amplifiers and stompbox effects of all time. Now everyone can take their playing to the next level with iRig HD 2, the ultimate high-quality digital interface for mobile musicians.

The iRig allows you to connect your instrument to your phone, where you can use amp apps and play directly to Yousician. It’s a great option if you don’t have room for an amp in your budget, or if you plan on learning an instrument with Yousician. Read more on compatible audio interface devices here.

You can find the iRig HD 2 at Guitar Center here.

Apple AirPods

2. Apple AirPods

Do AirPods really need an introduction? They’re a great versatile headphone compatible with many bluetooth-enabled amps.

A few updates ago, we added bluetooth capability to Yousician, so you can learn your favorite songs without the extra wires! Read more about it here.

You can find AirPods at the Apple Store here.

3. JBL Tune 660BTNC

Here’s another great bluetooth-ready headphone set, this time with powerful noise cancellation capabilities with an over-ear design. The Tune 660 boasts 12 hours of playtime, and a quick two-hour charge time.

You can find them at the JBL Website here

 

We hope these recommendations help you on your musical journey! Be sure to follow us on Instagram for updates and information on our weekly Holiday giveaway!