Great arranger keyboards flood the market, but the best of them, overall, has to be the Yamaha PSR-SX900 Arranger Workstation. It’s got an incredible array of instruments, voices and features to utilize.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro on the lookout for a new arranger keyboard, you’ll probably, at some stage, want one that will help you focus on stuff such as song structure, melody words and chords. If you perform, you’ll require perfect backing effects.
Having a blast while you concoct an array of instrumental combinations is the goal. For those killer tunes, be adamant about what you want from your arranger keyboard, and stick to it when shopping.
You want to be the best keyboard arranger you can be and the dream board is out there, oozing with potential, and begging for its keys to be tickled.
Top 5 Best Arranger Keyboards Reviewed in 2021
- Yamaha PSR-SX900 Arranger Workstation
- Yamaha PSR-S670 61-Key Arranger Workstation
- Korg PA600 Professional Arranger Keyboard
- Casio LK-265 61-Key Lighted Portable Touch Sensitive Keyboard
- Alesis Melody 61 MKII
Best Arranger Keyboard Overall
The Yamaha PSR-SX900 is a 61-key arranger keyboard surpassed only by the Yamaha Genos. It features a touch screen, in color, which allows you to view the voice and style arrangements easily. The screen also lets you adjust features and settings to your liking.
With this keyboard you can access a variety of pitch and modulation combinations. The wide array of styles are present in several world music genres. This is all accessible via the joystick controller — very handy.
There are 986 voices, 41 drum kits and 480 XG voices for you to experiment with. The 487 preset effects will help boost your sound and creativity. The effects are reverb, chorus, compressor and EQ — and you can create 150 brand new presets as you experiment with them.
Yamaha makes arranging easy with the control knobs. These are assignable, so you can set them any task you need them to perform. They let you adjust and filter your sound the same as an analog synthesizer would.
A great feature allows you to record your chord progressions; then, the style engine will loop them for you. This frees you up to experiment with two-hand playing — or bang out a stunning solo without worrying about background or playing chord changes.
This is a great keyboard for accompaniment, too, thanks to the style selection reset. It allows you to go back to the first beat of the last bar with the touch of a button. If a fellow musician comes in too early or late, you can get your part back on track in a heartbeat.
The keyboard has pro-level connectivity and has an input for a mic or a guitar. It has 4GB of internal memory and allows recording, which you can export as a WAV or MP3 file.
You can connect the keyboard up to two pedals at once, and it also connects to a computer or cell phone — useful if you’re writing and arranging music.
For performances, the keyboard is ready to go. There’s a supplied power cable, but you can also power it with six AA batteries. The batteries combined with its decently light weight of 23.37 pounds let you take this instrument wherever you go.
Best Arranger Keyboard Under $1000
To make your playing experience the best it can be, punchy features pack the 26 portable pounds of the Yamaha OSR-S670 arranger keyboard. It comes equipped with 61 keys and a ton of extras.
A range of voice and style expansion packs (not included) make the Yamaha PSR-S670 highly customizable. The diverse content comes from all over the world. You have instant access to new sounds, rhythms and backing in any musical style you like.
You can create full arrangements and play back songs using the 16-track recorder. This is ideal if you’re writing something new, or just having some fun.
The accompaniment styles let you have a backing band — yet you remain in full control of arrangements and chord changes. You can even capture and save them on a USB drive.
Top keyboard features are two assignable controllers for your pleasure. There’s also a pitch blend wheel, modulation wheel and two assignable foot-pedal inputs. You have complete control over all 416 voices, 34 drum kits and 480 XG voices.
A new performance mode called “DJ Styles” comes inside this keyboard. It features a collection of chord progressions, eliminating the need for continuous left-hand chord changes. With two hands free, playing melodies, using live controllers and triggering external audio is easy. You can do the latter with the Multi-Pads, making your performance even more unique.
The Yamaha Chord Tracker app can identify the chord sequence used in an audio track. This is great for those who don’t read music and may not have the best memory. Take notes of what chords you’re playing, so you can do it all over again later. The app is available on iOS devices.
Everything this keyboard offers is available in real-time. Alter your sound as you play for impromptu performance changes. This helps you deliver a unique, authentic result.
Something else unique about this keyboard is the wireless connections with compatible iOS apps. Hassle-free wireless audio and MIDI are possible over WiFi. All you need is Yamaha’s UD-WL01 USB Wireless LAN adapter.
Best Bundle Package
The Keyboard is part of a wonderful bundle that includes a wide and comfortable padded piano bench, a stand, large headphones and a sustain pedal.
The keyboard has an enhanced RX and DNC sound engine, which gives improved realism and vivid sound experience. You might fool people into believing you’re playing a grand piano with this, so long as they keep their eyes closed.
The Korg PA600 delivers 950 sounds and 64 drum kits in high sound quality by the massive internal PCM. Each style is uniquely expressive, with something right for everyone.
You can use these styles easily, as the keyboard features a simple-to-understand layout. If you’re still lost, there’s a search function in the graphical interface. Everything you need is at your fingertips, if only you could remember its name!
One of the intuitive features to name is the chord sequencer function. It can record any chord progression, even on-the-fly. It’ll capture the rich, detailed, natural sound you produce with instruments from every genre.
To add further realism, you can add easily controlled natural sounds that are part of playing the instrument you’re mimicking. It achieves this with DNC (Defined Nuance Control) and RX (Real eXperience). An example of this is fret sounds on a guitar — who’d have thought you’d be able to make that noise on a keyboard?
Every sound on this keyboard is crafted expertly. One of them was precisely sampled from a Concert Grand.
Each sound is fully customizable to your taste. For later convenience and use, you can save every change you make to store and find with ease any time you’re itching for it.
You may wonder if the sound delivered is as good as the sound captured and crafted. With the Pa600’s four Stereo Master Effect processors — worry no more.
The Stereo Master Effect processors deliver 125 effects, including, but not limited to, standard FX, reverb, delay and chorus and some renowned REMS guitar-driven effects. You can achieve an authentic guitar tone using these effects — those fret sounds, for example, offer a degree of realism that only a true musician’s ear can pick up.
You can play with these superb features on the go, on stage, or in your home studio. It weighs 30 pounds, so it’s not as easy as others to carry around all day — but if you need to, you could probably manage it.
Best Arranger Keyboard for Beginners
If you’re looking for a compact keyboard, the Casio LK-265, 61-key, is it. The 7.94 keyboard lets you make music reliably, anywhere. You can power it by an AC adaptor or six AA batteries.
The keyboard comes ready with 400 tones and 150 rhythms for a massive variety of musical explorations. You can listen to this through the built-in speakers or via headphones for your secret compositions.
One of those secrets may be a brand new dance composition, made with the Dance Music Mode. You can quickly create and remix electronic jams and be the life of the party wherever you go.
Use a variation of drum beats, basslines and synth parts, then add filter, flanger, gate, roll, low-fi and more. The keyboard has all the classics and beyond.
For beginners who wish they could play with these effects but can’t even play the board, use the Step-Up Lessons! These intuitive lessons paired with the lighted keys make learning the 60 built-in songs a breeze. You’ll be a pro in no time.
You can connect to any iOS or Android device to use the free Chordana Play app. It shows you how to play all your favorite songs on the keyboard’s LCD screen. This entire world of opportunity is available for you, no matter who or where you are.
Best Arranger Keyboard Under $500
The Alesis Melody arranger keyboard is full of great features that a beginner or an advanced player can enjoy. It’s the best arranger keyboard under $500 and a great choice for a musician on a budget.
The keyboard has 61 semi-weighted full-size keys with adjustable touch response. Increase or decrease the sensitivity to suit your playing style, or the style your song requires.
The built-in speakers fill the room with crystal clear sound, which the option for a sustain pedal can add to. Alesis doesn’t include the pedal, but the input is there. There’s also an input for ¼ inch headphones, allowing private practice. Alternatively, plug in an amp and start the party.
You can split and layer your tracks, with 128 notes of polyphony. Fill this out with 300 built-in tones and the same number of accompaniment rhythms. Use these to play 40 demo songs, or record your own!
The keyboard comes with a 3-month premium subscription to Skoove for interactive, expert, online piano lessons. This makes it a great choice if you’re just starting out. It also comes with two months of Free Unlimited Live Classes from TakeLessons.
Learn faster than ever! There are hundreds of classes to choose from.
More suited to those in the beginning stage of their keyboard journeys, the package includes a ton of extras to add to the experience. A stand, bench, headphones, music rest, power adapter and a microphone.
The bench lets you adjust the height to three different settings — for comfort, no matter how tall or short you are.
Once you’re at ease with both your setup and your playing, you can record your performances. Not just your playing, but your singing too. And do it all on the go — the keyboard only weighs 8.73 pounds for convenient transport.
How to Choose the Best Arranger Keyboard
What keyboard you choose will largely depend on where you are in your keyboarding career. A beginner won’t need one as advanced as a pro. Alternatively, a beginner might want one fit for a pro, because it has more features and will serve its purpose for longer.
More flashy features to hide behind conceals the fact that you’re a beginner — later, you can grow into your keyboard and not rely on the tricks so much.
But that’s only one part of a broader picture. There’s plenty more that goes into it.
If you want to save your performances or document ideas, a recording function is ideal for you.
Recording your performance night by night to hear your progress might be helpful. Still, if you’re just using it to perform and not produce, no recording facility shouldn’t be too much of a con.
Keyboards have a standard of 61 keys, but pianos have a set of 88. The 61, plus all the tones and effects, are plenty to create a masterpiece. That’s not what we’re talking about today, though — 61 keys will do you fine.
More important than the number of keys is the touch sensitivity. If you’d like to add subtlety as you play, this is an essential factor. Being able to turn it off would also be helpful because sometimes it’s just another level of detail you don’t want to deal with.
Weighted keys are also a bonus, giving the keyboard a more piano-like feel. Lighter keys may lead to faster play, but weighted ones equate to playing quality.
For the modern performer, the option to connect to devices is often vital. Loading up externally composed music, or loading your keyboard compositions somewhere else for later is an excellent resource.
It’s not just phones and computers you need to think about. Pedals are important in keyboard playing, adding a lot to your sound — sustain or reverb pedals, even ones mapped to play percussion. Whether your keyboard supports pedals — one at a time or more — is something to look at.
It’s okay for an arranger keyboard to have a wealth of features. But if they’re hard to use, then they’re not so wealthy.
A keyboard with assignable knobs and sliders lets you put what you want where you need it. Instead of having to learn an interface, you get to create one. If you’re moving on from an old keyboard but want the effects laid out the same, assignability is perfect.
What Is an Arranger Keyboard? Arranger VS. Workstation
Where musicians who only want to produce music find a keyboard workstation the most useful, an arranger is more for performance. An arranger keyboard typically lets you choose drum grooves and offers you pitched accompaniment patterns. For example, baselines that change pitch whenever you play a new note.
They design arranger keyboards for people who want to fly solo but need the backing of a band.
The two instruments are alike, but the arranger will usually have less function within features. For example, it may have the same number of instruments and manipulation abilities, but the in-depth recording and sequencing features on a workstation aren’t usually necessary on an arranger keyboard.
What’s the Best Way to Use an Arranger Keyboard?
The best way to use an arranger keyboard is on the stage. Be a one-man-band, or a one-man-backing-band to a vocalist — arranger keyboards are perfect for this do-it-all attitude.
The accompaniment abilities that arranger keyboards have makes them unique. Arranger keyboards let you control every aspect of your musical compositions and share your vision with the world.
You can use an arranger keyboard for music production, which is also a popular activity. Production is more suited to a workstation, but it’s not impossible — if you have access to a home studio, you’re set.
Are Arranger Keyboards Suitable for Kids?
Arranger keyboards often come with many advanced features. All those fancy buttons and knobs, surely they’re for pros or beginner adults?
Some of these keyboards aren’t the best keyboards for kids, but that’s not to say they’re unsuitable. A driven child could have some real fun with one of these keyboards and learn an incredible skill.
Budding musicians will take the keyboard seriously as a tool, not a toy. They’ll need a committed adult who can pave the way for a great future hobby, or even career, to guide them.
So, with the right companion, an arranger keyboard is definitely suitable for a child.
Some heavier-duty keyboards — that’s the ones that require a power source and not batteries — can be demanding little beasts. Be sure to take precautions against electrical shocks and short-outs. Keep your cables in check, and if they’re frayed or cracked anywhere, replace them.
Try to keep your connections organized. If your mic, pedal and PA system cables are tangled, it’s not only untidy and dangerous, but it makes dismantling and locating faults more difficult. Keep the knots out of your cables and keep different cables as far apart as you can.
Don’t forget to store your cables safely when not in use. Coil them neatly and secure them if you can. Keeping them away from liquid — be it weather, sweaty and tipsy dancers and their drinks in a club, or your water bottle in the studio — is a must.
Finally, keep your keyboard clean. Any dust on the outside of the keyboard can filter inside and cause a commotion. Nobody wants an exploding, dusty board, so wipe it down as often as you can. Just be sure not to wipe it down with a wet cloth, or you’ll have another kind of explosion coming.
The best arranger keyboard is the Yamaha PSR-SX900 Arranger Workstation. The vast number of connections and features make this a perfect keyboard for pros, or beginners who want to live it up large.
The Yamaha PSR-S670 61-Key Arranger Workstation comes a close second. Both keyboards have great assignable features for convenient operation.
There’s something for everyone on this list, categorized to help you pick the one that is best for you. These categories overlap in places, too — plenty of these keyboards are great, even for beginners.
No matter what way you want to go musically, or what category your choice falls under, hopefully, this list will help you make a great decision.