MIDI keyboards are becoming the standard for live music and studio purposes. Having the right sustain pedal for MIDI keyboards is important. There are a few different factors that determine which you’re going to want to use with your MIDI controller or digital piano.
After spending hours playing on different products, I came to the conclusion that my favorite is the Korg PS-1. You can check it out on Amazon here.
A sustain pedal is one of the most useful tools to a keyboardist for live performance. Having one that is sturdy and put together is essential. The biggest problem in most is that they break easily and they stick while you’re playing. Having something that sticks on you is the most frustrating problem you can have while performing live. Below I outline my favorite in much better detail and tell you ones to avoid.
Best Sustain Pedals – A Quick Glance
*When I first started touring, my sustain kept sticking during shows and holding notes down. I ended up realizing that it was because it was a problem with having cracked software and a laptop wasn’t properly updated. After a few weeks, we realized we had to stop updating my laptop or buggy problems would happen.
What Is A Sustain Pedal?
The sustain pedal is the most common in music and especially in the piano world. This allows you to play a note or chord and have the note right out even though your hands aren’t still pressing the notes down.
It is essential for any serious musician as you will need to sustain notes out during different parts of songs. Having the right product for MIDI keyboards is necessary for all musicians.
MIDI keyboards are my favorite on the market today. I recently spent 2 weeks testing out different MIDI controllers and you can check out what I learned about my favorites here.
No matter what kind of keyboard you are using, you will find yourself desiring this tool. I think it’s kind of an overlooked product as so many companies make them. I hope you find what you need in this post and find it helpful.
Things To Consider
Live Or Studio?
Are you using your pedal for live music or for studio sessions? This is important because some of them have rubber stoppers on the bottom and keep them from moving.
Traditional Or Foot Pedal?
The difference between these is that the traditional resembles a piano sustain pedal. The foot-switch products are little square box-shaped sustain pedals that can be preferred. I only use the foot style because I find the traditional is a pain to try and hit with my foot when performing live. The square products are lower on the ground and my foot doesn’t kick it as much.
How Much Use Do You Want To Get?
You can find ones for very cheap, the problem is that some of them break easily. The difference between using a pedal with a normal keyboard and with a MIDI keyboard is that you want to make sure everything is working properly if using with a MIDI controller.
If yours has problems sticking then it will send MIDI messages to your laptop and your synthesizers will stick too. This is frustrating when performing live.
How Much Money Should I Spend?
This depends on how often you want to replace it. Something that will increase the lifetime of your product is to not stomp as hard as you can on it. This sounds like common sense, but when you perform live it’s easier said than done. This tip will increase the life of your product by a lot.
Best Keyboard Sustain Pedals
The Korg PS-1 is built from steel and extremely durable. It comes with rubber on the top for grip and also rubber on the bottom so it doesn’t slide around the stage. I like this because technology has made it great for MIDI controllers.
Click here to view my favorite MIDI controllers.
A lot of pedals are put together poorly and the rubber falls off after a couple shows making them slide around. This is put together a lot better than most and won’t fall apart on you right away.
Having something that is made of metal also helps because cheap products can fall apart fairly quickly if not tightened weekly.
This is a good look for the price. The M-Audio line does seem to break over time, however, they all come with a 1-year warranty. If you break it you can send it back and get a new one.
These are a bit cheaper, but they do work very well until they break.
There is a polarity switch so you can switch from having positive and negative polarity.
This just means that you can have it so when you hit a note it automatically sustains, rather than having to use your foot to sustain. I typically don’t like this function on any pedal, but some people like to have it.
The Yamaha FC5 is a fantastic product. I like this because they spring-action feels really good with your foot.
This isn’t your traditional pedal as it is rectangle shaped, but for live use, I prefer these.
These aren’t going to break as fast as M-Audio products.
You can change the polarity on this and it works with products other than just Yamaha keyboards.
I really like this product by Roland. This is another example of just a quality product that isn’t going to break on you or wear out extremely fast.
This is a traditional style product that has nice rubber stoppers on the bottom so it doesn’t slip on you while playing.
Roland is a company that just makes high-quality products and for this reason, I typically talk highly about them.
I recently did a post on all of the Roland products I have tried and tested and I talk in great detail about them here.
The Casio SP-20 surprised me when playing on it the other day. I do like Casio, but in the past, I have run across some of their products that I just found to be super entry-level.
This is not the case in any way with this product. As you can see, it is a traditional style that has a sleek design.
Something to note with this is that it is rather slim compared to other products. The cable is really nice and doesn’t rip easily and I think this is something I look for in products as it’s frustrating replacing them.
How To Use Sustain Pedals?
This may sound like a silly question, but some people might not have a ton of experience playing the piano yet. I believe this is personally of the more important techniques in playing the piano. Having proper technique with sustaining notes is going to take you a long way.
You will notice that songs with have pedaling patterns for you to follow and if you don’t properly follow these, the songs really won’t sound the way they should. Now, this is an easier technique to learn, but don’t take it for granted.
How Are The Products Ranked Compared To On Other Websites?
I started taking piano lessons when I was 8 years old and have been playing now for over 20 years. I have spent the last 8 years touring the country and playing in a band and have had a fascination with everything related to keyboards.
With pedals, I have found that there is a lot to know as so many companies make bad unreliable products.
When I first started taking piano lessons I had a music instructor who was incredibly helpful and I realize now how much the internet can help musicians who are looking for knowledge.
Every product that is reviewed has been played and reviewed for the reader’s knowledge. When I started getting new gear I had no idea what to look for and I always wished there was a website to teach me about what I’m getting. That is our main goal for the reader.
How To Keep It Feeling Brand New
A big tip here is to make sure that the screws are always tightened on the sides of your products. These screws are what is going to keep your device from falling apart on you from heavy use. I have run through dozens of these just from being lazy and not wanting to tighten them.
It is really easy to do and it is one of those things that will put life into your device if you just take the time.
Protect Your Pedal On Stage
Be sure that when you’re playing shows you don’t leave your cord hanging out of your keyboard in open range. I like to gaff tape mine to the back of my instruments and make sure the cord can’t be stepped on. The cords are very cheap and they can get ruined pretty easily. Make sure that you try and just baby them so you’re not going through a bunch of products.
When picking a sustain pedal for your MIDI keyboard or digital piano there is a lot to consider. We hope this guide broke down exactly what you want to look for and helped you decide which is right for your needs. If you found this helpful, leave us a comment below!