The best keyboard for a gigging musician is going to be a keyboard that allows for a lot of different sounds and is relatively light-weight. The quality of the keyboard is going to be based on how often you perform and what style of music you are performing.
Amazing controller or gigging
- 1 Arturia Keylab MKII 61
- 2 Quick Look At The Best Gigging Keyboards
- 3 Best Keyboards For Live Performance
- 4 Conclusion
Arturia Keylab MKII 61
It is my opinion that the best keyboards for gigging musicians are MIDI controller keyboards. However, I will highlight a couple of different keyboards as not every musician likes MIDI keyboards. I want to focus on affordable, yet quality instruments for the touring musician.
Quick Look At The Best Gigging Keyboards
One of the most popular MIDI keyboards on the market for touring.
Great keyboard for gigging. Mid-level workstation that works really well for touring.
I own this workstation and I personally love it. The sound engine is great and the key-action is some of my favorite.
Keep in mind that there are many types of keyboards that can be used for live performance. If you’re looking for a synthesizer you can find my post on them at best synthesizer for live performance.
Below I will be talking about keyboards that will give you a lot of sounds for a cheap price.
Best Keyboards For Live Performance
We’re going to be taking a look at controller keyboards & workstation keyboards below.
MIDI Controller Keyboards
These are the keyboards that you use with a laptop. It sounded complicated, but once you figure this out, you can access 1,000’s of sounds in just seconds.
These keyboards have begun replacing the ever-popular Nord’s as they’re so much cheaper and they can do so much more. If you want to learn more about MIDI controllers you can check out my favorite options here.
Are you looking for a digital piano? I recommend checking out the Roland FP10 as I think it’s one of the best for its price range.
Arturia Keylab MKII 61 Key – Great Controller
The Arturia Keylab MKII is a fantastic MIDI controller keyboard that can basically do anything you will want it to do. A lot of old-school musicians are hesitant to use MIDI controllers, but that’s just because they’re not familiar with them. You can be extremely expressive with this product as it has aftertouch.
The Keylab MKII comes with 61 or 49 keys. Yes, I know it doesn’t have your full 88 keys, but you can always use a cheap digital piano that has 88 keys if you are just looking for a piano sound. This is meant more so for synth players and not just classic rock band sounds.
This is a brand new keyboard and it has some incredible features. You can read more about the Arturia Keylab MKII here.
Novation 61SL MkIII
This is one of my favorite keyboards available right now. The MIDI technology is phenomenal and it is really a product that can do everything that you will desire to do. It has aftertouch and it has 16 RGB lit pads that you can use as trigger pads.
I did a full review on the Novation 61SL MKIII here.
Akai Professional MPK249
The Akai Professional MPK249 is a perfect keyboard for gigging musicians. I see this keyboard used more than most for live performance. It is made for the road and it really gets the job done. Pretty much every band that I have performed with has one of these.
You have so many options with this keyboard including the 16 different back-lit pads.
I recently did a review on Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol 32 Mini and I think you would enjoy the read here.
Keyboards And Workstations
These are keyboards and workstations that offer you something you different than a MIDI controller.
The Roland JUNO-DS88 is a great synthesizer keyboard that gives you some amazing sounding pads and synths. It is light-weight and not super expensive, which is a big plus. I don’t recommend buying a super cheap keyboard for gigging, as they’re just not going to sound quality.
This is a keyboard that has pretty much everything you need on it and it competes with the best keyboards available. It is a staple of Roland keyboards.
The Yamaha MX61 is a great option for playing live and it is fairly cheap. This keyboard only has 61 keys, but it is a workstation that is loaded with a bunch of different sounds that you can use live. You can also use this keyboard as a MIDI controller. You will just need to a USB cable to do so.
Roland Fantom FA 08
This is an extremely light-weight workstation that can handle any sounds you are looking for. I have used this for two years now in extensive touring. The way I use it though is as a MIDI controller. I am obsessed with Roland keyboard beds as I feel their keys feel super real.
I also like to have 88 keys when I perform live. The best part is this keyboard works as a MIDI controller flawlessly. I get the best of all worlds with this as it instantly connects with Ableton live and is read as a controller.
It has 16 pads that I used to switch between my different sounds on my laptop. You can read more on the Fantom FA 08 here.
There are only 76 keys on the Casio CT-X700, but this is a budget option. If you don’t want to break the bank, yet want to perform live, this is a good pick. It has surprisingly decent sounds and it is extremely cheap. By no means, do I think this an amazing keyboard for advanced players, but it is a keyboard with a ton of different sounds that is light-weight and affordable.
You will be able to find sounds for most types of songs on this keyboard.
I did a full review on this key and you can read about the Casio CT-X700 here.
There are a lot of different keyboards you can use for gigging. I don’t recommend to use a cheap keyboard since you are going to be playing for people every night. If you found this helpful, let me know in the comment section below.