What is an Arranger Keyboard?
Published on 10 May 2022
They might not be quite as sexy as guitars, but there is a special place for arranger keyboards in a musician's arsenal. Offering a unique toolset that appeals to those looking to plan and create musical performances, an arranger keyboard can be a helpful tool that will enhance your creativity and make your life easier. Many arrangers also have the ability to form chords from single notes, so you don't need to be an advanced keyboard player to find an arranger a helpful asset.
Workstation Vs Arranger
Unlike the notes of a keyboard, the difference between the two is not exactly black and white. There is a fair amount of crossover, and both platforms could be used across several different applications. In short, Workstations are geared more toward sound design and arrangers towards planning and performing. If you are in an environment where it is important that you have maximum control over the sound you are generating, then a Workstation will be the keyboard for you. Applications such as recording studios or live performances where the end sound needs to be finely tuned are where the Workstation shines. An arranger's features are geared more toward arrangement songs. So you will often find bigger screens that will deliver information such as notation, chord progressions, and lyrics. Built-in band functions will also allow you to hear your arrangement in different styles. For example, if you want to know what a Latin inspired Shape of You cover would sound like, then an Arranger Keyboard could answer that question without hiring a spicy Latin band.
Who needs them?
One of the most popular uses for arranger keyboards is solo performances. Maybe you are tired of keeping your bandmates in check, just wanted a bigger slice of the financial pie, or perhaps you just struggle to make friends. Whatever the reason you chose to go solo, an arranger keyboard will cram a full band into a programmable, easy to use interface.
Arranger keyboards are great companions for those looking to quickly form musical ideas. As aforementioned, the ability to program an entire band can be extremely helpful for painting a picture of how a song could come together. In addition, an arranger keyboard could allow you to quickly splice together demos that can be shared with band members prior to rehearsal.
An Arranger can be a hugely useful tool for a bandleader. It is often the responsibility of the bandleader to roughly plan out parts for musicians to play, and an Arranger gives you the perfect platform from which to build your own arrangements of popular songs, adding a tonne of spices to your cover set. Some arranger keyboards, such as the Korg PA1000, also allow you to share their screen onto a second screen, allowing you to incorporate live karaoke into your service. Just think how happy Gary from the local will be belting Sweet Caroline with your band backing him up!
Who makes them?
The main manufacturers of Arranger Keyboards are your big music tech companies such as Korg and Roland. For those looking for an entry-level arranger keyboard, the Korg PA300 is a great place to start. However, if you are working professionally or looking for maximum functionality, either the Roland BK-5 or the Korg PA1000 would be great options.