Hip Hop Production Keyboard

Best Keyboard For Making Beats – Hip Hop Production

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When it comes to the best keyboard for making beats, there are a couple of different routes to go. It all depends on what the musician or producer is comfortable with and what their background is.

Music producers have long been using the best resources to create beats and music with. Hip-hop and EDM music are both styles of music that require catchy and fun beats for their tracks.

Best Keyboards For Making Beats – A Quick Glance

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS 
Editor’s PickNovation SL MK III
  • 49 Keys
  • Built-In Sequencer
  • 16 Pads
  • Best Option For Ableton
Best WorkstationKorg Kronos
  • 88 Weighted Keys
  • Best For Pianists
  • Built-In Recording Studio
  • Internal Sounds
  • For Those Without Laptop Setups
AlternativeAkai MPK 249
  • 49 Keys
  • Great For Touring
  • Bundled Software
  • Great On-Board Controls
BudgetAkai MPK Mini MK2
  • 25 Mini Keys
  • 8 Pads
  • Most Popular Budget Option
  • Bundled Software

There are two options that I think are great choices for keyboards for making beats. One is the workstation keyboard and the other is the MIDI keyboard. Check out my thoughts on both below.

Keyboard Workstation

Example Of Beat Production Keyboard
Roland Fantom

A keyboard workstation combines a keyboard with sound modules and a sequencer to create electronic music. A big plus is they have loads of different samples from drums to synthesizers.

Workstation keyboards allow you to mix right from them if you desire to. Many people refer to workstations as a keyboard beat maker because it’s an all in one package.

These are set with hundreds and sometimes thousands of different patches that you can fully edit to your liking. They are basically big computers with keyboards attached. Workstations come with 61,76 or 88 keys. The high-end workstations have really nice key beds and weighted keys.

If you come from a piano background, I recommend a workstation with 88 weighted keys. Workstations also have sustain pedal inputs more frequently than MIDI controllers do.

When using a keyboard workstation to write a song or make a beat, you simply find the sounds you want and start building the track. These are fairly easy to use and they have a huge learning curve.

I am still learning things about a workstation I have had for 10 years. The power of these workstations is just incredible, especially when it comes to laying down some beats.

What Companies Make The Best Workstations?

The big three are Roland, Korg, and Yamaha. Some people really like Kurzweil as well, but they aren’t as popular in the workstation world as these three companies. This comes down to preference, but I will say that Roland is currently making the cheapest workstation and it is also high-quality.

MIDI Keyboards

MIDI keyboards are the other option for keyboards to make beats or electronic music with. These are ever-popular today and they are good for musicians who might be more producers than just piano players.

These come in different sizes being anywhere from 25, 32, 37, 49, 61, 76 or 88 keys. The most popular one being 49 because it’s right in the middle and can be used for studio purposes or live music.

To read more about MIDI keyboards and how to use them with your laptop check out our guide on the best MIDI controller. You will need a laptop or computer to use with your instrument as this is how you will access the sounds and record with it.

A new advancement in MIDI is the invention of the Bluetooth wireless MIDI controller. These are cool because you don’t need to plug them in with anything.

MIDI keyboards don’t actually have sounds on them. You access the sounds through VST’s. There are hundreds of VST’s out there and they are used all over the hip-hop and electronic music industry.

With these types of instruments, you will want drum pads so you can make the beats manually and not have to draw them in on your laptop.


Workstations

Roland FA 08

FA 08 Keyboard

The Roland FA series is Roland’s best workstation and also most popular. The keys on this workstation feel like real ivory keys which is really hard to find on a keyboard. The customization is really nice on this product as it has faders that allow you to mix and tweak sounds to your liking.

I recently did an in-depth look at the FA 08 and you can read that full review here.

There is a built-in arpeggiator along with the Roland staple D-beam synthesizer. The D-beam is basically a synthesizer in which you hold your hand over a sensor and it makes crazy noises.

I haven’t found a ton of use to them yet, other than they look cool when you’re performing live. This instrument performs well in the studio and for live performance.

Korg Kronos 2

Korg Kronos 2

The Korg Kronos 2 is a very powerful workstation is used by a lot of hip-hop producers currently. It has 9 different sound engines and a nice feature is how easy the screen is to use. For musicians who are touring, you can set different set-lists that contain all of your different sounds.

All of the drum sounds might seem a little thin at first with this workstation, but you can tweak and edit them to your liking. The 88 hammer-action keys are a big plus as they feel just like a real piano. You can sample and install different sounds with this as well.

Yamaha Montage

Yamaha Montage 8

The Yamaha Montage is the newest workstation on the market today. This is so powerful that it will take years to learn all of the features and effects you can use with it. It has a fantastic key-bed and a purely analog circuit. This is extremely rare in a workstation and one of the nicest things about it.

It comes with 2 completely different sound engines for different styles of music. If you liked the Yamaha Motif, this is the next step up in the Yamaha workstation. It has similar sounds and plays similar, but it goes further with the editing and controls you have at your fingertips.

If you’re looking for something cheaper by Yamaha, check out these beginner keyboards by Yamaha.

MIDI Keyboard Options

Akai Professional MPK249

Akai Professional MPK249

This MIDI controller is revered among the MIDI keyboard world because of its versatility and rather a cheap price. It comes with 16 drum pads that can be programmed for live music.

The control screen on this is very easy to navigate and helpful for users who are new to these instruments. Akai is known for giving musicians loads of software so that when you buy an Akai product you can immediately start accessing new sounds.

If you’re looking to spend less, you can also look at the mini version, the Akai MPK Mini MK2.

Alesis VX49

Alesis VX49

The Alesis VX49 is an instrument that isn’t going to give you the headaches that some of the controllers we won’t mention will. If you’re using fruit loops studio or a DAW that isn’t extremely popular, you don’t have to worry about the compatibility with this controller.

It comes with a full-color screen with 8 knobs and 8 drum pads. The best feature on this MIDI controller is it comes with aftertouch for the keys. This is extremely useful and can give the musician amazing textures.

Novation Launchkey49

Novation Launchkey49

The Novation Launchkey has come along with since when it first hit the market. This controller is really good with Ableton as it was practically built for Ableton. It still works well with all of the DAW’s, it is just really user-friendly for Ableton.

The Launchkey has 16 drum pads and a lot of extra software for free.

If you’re looking for a cheap keyboard for making beats, this is definitely a great option with adequate keys.

Things To Consider When Purchasing A Keyboard For Beat Production

Price: Price is going to be important because there is a big jump in pricing from MIDI controllers to workstations. Knowing your budget will allow you to figure out which is best for you.

Experience: Do you have any sort of background in keyboards or playing the piano? If you come from a classical or jazz background and you know how to play, you might want to look at workstations as the key-beds are typically better. MIDI controllers typically have a smaller number of keys and they can have weak key-beds.

Music Production Background: If you have producing experience you may want to go with a controller as there are so many DAW’s that you can access and take advantage of. This is the reason that I personally prefer them. Unlimited sounds is really something that is hard to beat.

If you are an aspiring music producer, I suggest to check out my guide on the best free DAWs.

Number Of Keys: Check to see how many keys are on the keyboards you’re looking at. Some workstations and controllers don’t have a ton of keys, whereas others have the full 88 keys on them.

Conclusion

I hope you found this review of the best keyboards for making beats helpful. All of these options have their own purposes and it’s up to you as the musician to decide what’s best for your needs.

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