If you’ve landed on this article, you’re looking for the best MIDI keyboard for Garageband beginners, without spending a fortune on your first controller.
The Acorn Masterkey 49 is probably the best keyboard for Garageband beginners, for a number of reasons, but mostly due to its price and quality.
While there are certainly better MIDI controllers out there, the Acorn Masterkey 49 is much less expensive than the others, and it functions just as good as a more expensive MIDI keyboard.
If you’re looking to get started in music production, assuming you’ve become sick of Garageband’s Musical Typing feature, then this is the perfect controller for you to start with.
What The Acorn Masterkey 49 Comes With
1) The Actual MIDI Keyboard
2) A 6-foot Firewire to USB cable – Good for PC/Mac
3) A User’s Guide
4) A Random DVD advertising other products
Features and Specs of the Acorn Masterkey 49
- Large 4-octave MIDI keyboard with 49-keys. Compatible with every music software and MIDI device.
- Standard size keys that are velocity-sensitive. In other words, they’re responsive to light and hard touches.
- Modulation and pitch wheels for more musical expression, as well as 4 pots and 1 fader that controls the Software Instrument track’s volume.
- On/Off Switch. Make sure you remember to always have the ‘On’ switch turned on. I’ve run into problems before where I thought there was something wrong with the keyboard, but it turns out that I just had it turned off.
- Rubber stops on the bottom of the keyboard to stop it from moving around on your table/desk.
31.5 x 7.5 x 3 inches
4.5 pounds (2.04 kg) (This is what the manufacturer says, but I would argue that it actually weighs a bit less than this)
Without further ado, let’s explore some of the reasons why I think the Acorn Masterkey-49 is the best for the price.
Why The Acorn Masterkey 49 is The Best Keyboard For Beginners
1) It’s inexpensive
Like I mentioned above, the price of the Acorn Masterkey 49 is perfect. In fact, I’ve noticed that they’ve even dropped it down in price since the last time I checked.
Make sure to check out the amazon link for it at the beginning of the article.
Truthfully, you can spend a decent amount of money on a MIDI keyboard.
Some of them can cost around $200-$500 or even upwards of $1000, depending on the size, the brand, and its functionalities. Usually, you’re paying for the brand though, let’s be real.
The great thing about this specific controller is that it’s not going to hurt your finances to get your hands on this thing. It’s very inexpensive, and anyone can buy it.
2) The Size
The Acorn Masterkey 49 has 49 keys on it, as the title suggests. This was one of the main reasons why I wanted a MIDI keyboard. I wanted the range that comes with having more keys.
Initially, I planned on getting the AKAI Mini 25-key controller, but I ultimately decided that it wasn’t big enough, even though the AKAI Mini is way more popular and typically the most recommended unit out there.
Range is far more important to me than having a MIDI Keyboard that comes with a bunch of added features that I’ll never use, such as the drum pad and the knobs that other controllers come with.
It’s really up to you to decide what is the best product for you. As I just mentioned, having a much larger keyboard with a bigger range in pitch is more important to me.
If you want a MIDI keyboard with a drum pad and other functions, then maybe you’re better off to get an Akai Mini. You can find one on Amazon at this link here.
If you’re like me and want more range, then grab the Acorn Masterkey 49.
3) Its Simplicity
While there are some added bells and whistles on this thing, the special functionalities on the Acorn Masterkey 49 are nothing fancy.
All you really have is the modulation wheel, the pitch bend wheel, some knobs for adjusting the master volume, and that’s about it.
There are some other functions on it as well, including the octave switcher, which just transitions from one octave to the other on the controller. I find this function to be quite useless, but maybe there is a reason for it.
Ultimately, it’s quite simple to hook up.
I have a video/article on how to hook up your MIDI keyboard, which you can check out at this link here. The tutorial runs how to set it up, and also some troubleshooting tips in case it doesn’t work properly, which I have to say is quite unlikely.
To hook this thing up, you just have to use the Firewire to USB cable that comes in the box.
Like I mentioned in my other article if you have one of the newer computers from Apple, you’re going to need the special adaptor.
I recommend not getting a simple 1-purpose adaptor.
Due to the changes that Apple has made in the last few years, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to buy a hefty multi-port adaptor with multiple USB ports, such as a headphone jack, an HDMI jack, and more.
Don’t cheap out.
You’re going to discover that you need another adaptor anyway for some other device that you own, so it’s a good idea to just grab a superior adaptor that handles everything for you.
With that said, you don’t have to get one of these adaptors to use the MIDI keyboard if you don’t want too. It’s just a recommendation that I’ve made because it’s going to save you time in the future anyway.
4) It’s Easy To Use
While the Acorn Masterkey 49 isn’t the best keyboard out there in terms of its playability, it’s still quite easy to use. The keys are responsive enough where you’re not going to have any issues.
It’s also very lightweight due to being made out of plastic.
Moreover, due to the lack of sophisticated bells and whistles on the Acorn Masterkey-49, it’s very easy to hook up, use, and make music with.
Cons Of The Acorn Masterkey 49
1) Keys aren’t the most responsive
The keys are about what you expect to get for the price of the keyboard.
If you’ve ever tried out a very high-quality MIDI controller before, for instance, a model that costs $1000 and more, you’ll know that the keys are often weighted to give it a more realistic feel.
While the Acorn Masterkey 49 does have velocity-responsive keys, they don’t have that heavy tactile feel that a real piano often has.
Truthfully, a MIDI controller with high-quality keys is hard to come by anyway, unless you’re willing to pay for it.
2) It’s Made Out Of Plastic
It’s also made out of plastic which is likely how every other MIDI keyboard on the planet is made, but frankly, I’m not a big fan of that.
If you’ve read my review of the iRig HD 2, you’ll know that despite my love for the little audio interface, I’m not a huge fan of the fact they chose to make it out of plastic.
If I could find a MIDI Keyboard that was made out of more solid material, at least partially, I would get my hands on it for sure.
I think I’ve only dropped this thing maybe once or twice, so I know that it can take an impact. I would err on the side of caution, however, and argue that you probably shouldn’t drop this thing on a daily basis.
Common Questions that People Have
1) This keyboard should work with every single type of software out there, and it should also work with both PC and Mac.
From what I’ve seen personally, it works with Logic Pro X and Garageband, but it should work with every other software as well.
2) It comes with a Firewire to USB cable
This is the same cable that your Printer uses. In case you lose the Firewire to USB, you can either use the printer’s cable or use the MIDI keyboard’s cable for the printer.
3) The keys are nonweighted and standard size.
This is echoing what I mentioned above. The keys are standard size and they haven’t been weighted like a more expensive keyboard.
4) You have to have a software open to actually use the Masterkey 49. For instance, to use a MIDI Keyboard, you have to be using Garageband, FL Studio, Logic Pro, Reaper, or some other DAW.
You can’t just plug in the controller without a DAW open and expect it to make music.
5) The Laptop/Computer powers it. No need for phantom power from an audio interface or anything like that.
6) There is a Sustain pedal port on it in case you want to hook up a sustain pedal to the Acorn Masterkey 49.
Youtube Video Tutorial and Review
There are some obvious drawbacks to Acorn Masterkey 49 but I stand by my position that this is the best one to get for a Garageband beginner. In conjunction with its functionality and cheap price, you honestly can’t go wrong with it.
Eventually, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a more serious MIDI controller, but in the meantime, the Acorn Masterkey 49 is perfect for someone who’s brand new to music production.
I think of the Acorn Masterkey 49 as the Fender Squire of MIDI Keyboards. It’s just meant to get you started on your journey and isn’t necessarily meant to be your main piece of gear for your entire life, although, it could be if you really wanted it to be.