Arranger Keyboards: Portable One-Man Bands
Arranger keyboards are more lightweight, and usually more inexpensive than workstation keyboards. (Workstations tend to have more complex hardware and software, making them heavier and pricier.) Arranger keyboards are built for ultimate portability and rugged durability, even for full-sized 88 key models. And while workstation keyboards are made for studios and touring ensembles, arrangers are ideal for solo performers, entertainers, and producers. They also present a modestly priced way for keyboard players to experiment with a wide spectrum of sounds and rhythms.
Arranger keyboards are most famous for their built-in auto-accompaniment features. Auto-accompaniment refers to the wide variety of rhythms, styles, and backing sequencers built into an arranger keyboard. With the click of a button, a keyboard player can turn on a backing drum beat from any number of different genres: like metal, salsa, country, jazz, etc. Beyond just percussion, arranger keyboards can also flesh out your playing with backing harmonies/accompaniment in real time. It's like having a team of musicians - drummer, guitar player, brass - at your command. It's little wonder, then, that arranger keyboards are known as portable one-man bands.
Different Kinds of Arrangers: Notable Examples
Other capabilities depend on each particular make and model; some have built-in speakers, while others require external speaker connection. Arrangers also differ in price range and size (88 keys all the way down to 61 keys). Take, for example, Casio's WK-245: this 76-note arranger weighs only 15 pounds, and has 600 onboard sounds. For auto-accompaniment, the WK-245 boasts 180 backing rhythms, and built-in sampling. Beginners can benefit from Casio's helpful lesson system, and simple USB MIDI connectivity. While built-in recording is more associated with keyboard workstations, the WK-245 Arranger allows for basic 5-song/6-track recording - helpful for keeping track of song ideas.
For a larger investment, the Roland E-A7 has more than 1,500 built-in instrument sounds, 156 function buttons, and 61 keys. The E-A7 has a particularly advanced auto-accompaniment system, with seven faders for different instrument parts, a huge variety of backing patterns, sampling, and a dual-screen (one for backing styles, and one for sound selection). The Korg micoARRANGER is another great option - at only 61 keys and less than ten pounds. Despite its small size, the microARRANGER comes with over 650 instrument sounds, a 16-track sequencer, and over 300 backing styles, or "grooves." Each style has four variations (ranging from sparse to lush), and the microARRANGER boasts 89 effects to help users customize each performance. Other arrangers - like the Roland BK-9 - have an XLR input for mics, so you can add live vocals into the mix.
Whether you're a beginner looking for a more fun way to practice, or a performer looking for a more versatile live setup, Sweetwater has the perfect arranger for your budget. Learn More
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