So you’re looking for some MIDI keyboard alternatives?
MIDI keyboards are a staple tool for music producers, but there are alternative options that offer unique and exciting ways to create and manipulate sound.
From virtual controllers to MIDI guitars, this article will explore the best electronic production tools – and, how they can help you take your music to the next level.
Key Takeaways – MIDI Keyboard Alternatives
Drum Pads – drum pads give you a hands-on way to create drum patterns and rhythms
Electronic Wind Controllers – wind controllers allow you to capture the subtle changes in your breath that occur when you play a traditional woodwind instrument.
Touch Screen Controllers – a touch screen controller provides some of the benefits you’ll get from using a physical MIDI controller without investing in additional equipment. All you need is a touchscreen device.
MIDI Guitars – there are MIDI guitars that come in analog form and MIDI pickups that turn your analog guitar into a MIDI device.
The Top 4 MIDI Keyboard Alternatives
Many MIDI keyboards come with 8 to 16 drum pads.
But, if you like to create unique drum patterns, consider using a dedicated MIDI drum controller.
They offer much more flexibility.
For instance, the Novation Launchpad X offers 64 velocity and pressure-sensitive drum pads, scale, note, and custom modes, and clip and scene launching in Ableton Live.
It lets you create complex and dynamic drum patterns since you’ll have more pads at your disposal.
Plus, its customizable modes make it a versatile tool for both live performance and studio production.
While some MIDI keyboards offer basic drum pads, a dedicated drum controller like the Launchpad X can take your drum programming to the next level.
The Launchpad X may be overkill for some.
There’s also the more affordable AKAI MPD 218 which comes with 16 pads.
It even has 3 sound banks giving you 64 pad combinations – plus 6 assignable knobs with 3 banks letting you control volume, filters, etc.
This unit is a great budget-friendly choice for those new to drum programming.
Despite its lower price point, the MPD 218 is still customizable with its assignable knobs and multiple sound banks.
Whether you choose the Novation Launchpad X, the AKAI MPD 218, or another unit, a dedicated drum controller can greatly enhance your drum programming capabilities.
Electronic Wind Controllers
For musicians looking to add more expression to their woodwind melodies, a MIDI wind instrument may be just what you need.
A MIDI wind instrument can capture subtle changes in your breath and embouchure, allowing you to record more natural-sounding melodies.
One of the best electronic woodwind instrument options is the AKAI EWI Solo.
This model includes 200 built-in sounds and FX controls, allowing you to add reverb, delay, and chorus while playing.
There’s also the popular Yamaha WX5.
The WX5 features a responsive and expressive mouthpiece that accurately captures the nuances of your woodwind performance.
This unit even offers a wide range of customizable settings, including octave shifting and pitch bending.
With its compact and lightweight design, the WX5 offers the flexibility of an electronic wind instrument without sacrificing portability.
Overall MIDI wind instruments are better for woodwind musicians than MIDI keyboards due to their wide range of customizable settings, built-in sounds, and responsive wind and lip sensors.
Using a MIDI controller allows you to take a hands-on approach to music production.
Fortunately, a touchscreen can give you the feeling of using a MIDI controller.
And the best part… you won’t have to invest in additional equipment.
Many music production apps and virtual instruments offer touchscreen interfaces, allowing you to play notes and control effects with a tap or swipe.
But what’s the catch?
A physical MIDI controller offers more tactile feedback and customization options.
However, a touchscreen controller provides a more immersive and hands-on music production experience than traditional mouse and keyboard inputs.
Creating guitar melodies with a MIDI keyboard doesn’t feel as natural as playing an actual guitar.
While you can use a MIDI keyboard to record guitar melodies, not having physical strings makes it difficult to mimic the nuanced playing style of a guitar.
If you’re a guitarist, there are many MIDI guitar options available.
You have the Fishman Triple play which is a MIDI pick up.
Strap it to your favorite guitar and it transforms your string instrument into a MIDI controller.
From there, you can control virtual instruments and record MIDI into your DAW.
It’s like magic!
You even have models like the Jamstik Studio that come in the shape of an analog guitar but function as a digital controller.
Summary: What are the Benefits of Using a MIDI Keyboard Alternative?
Creating a natural sound guitar or woodwind melody with a MIDi keyboard can be challenging.
You’ll need to understand how to play notes and manipulate velocities to mimic the nuanced playing style of each instrument.
In other words, the way you’d play a keyboard is totally different from how you’d play a flute or guitar.
Using a device that reflects the unique playing style of the instrument you’re trying to emulate can make a huge difference.
Realism is everything in music production.
Fortunately, there are MIDI controllers on the market that are designed to mimic guitars, woodwinds, and drums.
If you’re aiming for more realistic melodies, consider using one of these specialized controllers.