I've begun learning to play piano on a keyboard. I would like to learn to play a synth. Watching videos it seems synth playing is nothing like playing piano.

Synth players press and hold a few keys and let the synth do the job mixing in some melody.

My question, should I get a synth now or wait until I can play well on my piano keyboard?

I'll continue to practice my piano/keyboard skills but really like sound from a synth and want to learn to program one.

2 Answers 2


There's no reason to wait until you are at a certain level at piano until you get a synth. Playing the keyboard and learning how to program a synthesizer are distinct skills, even though they complement each other well. Learning how to use continuous controllers and aftertouch is yet another skill.

If your current keyboard outputs MIDI or has a USB interface, You may not even need to buy a synth - you could use your existing keyboard to control a software synthesizer, such as a VST instrument. This would probably be a cheaper way to find out what type of synthesizer you like.

You might even consider using a synthesizer that's NOT (or doesn't have to be) controlled by a keyboard - again, there's a range of possibilities here - MAX/MSP, and Audiomulch are examples.

  • I had looked at a Nord Lead A1 as i think it sounds awesome, no menu diving and simple Osc section. Would that be a bad choice for a beginner keyboard/synth player
    – CodeMonkey
    Aug 16, 2016 at 11:02
  • @CodeMonkey it probably depends how much money is a factor. If the cost of an A1 doesn't hurt, and you find it inspiring to play, it could be a great choice. If it's a scary amount of cash you may want to consider buying it second hand or looking at cheaper options. Aug 16, 2016 at 11:13
  • sure its expensive but reviews say they are build to last and I can grow on it :)
    – CodeMonkey
    Aug 16, 2016 at 11:19
  • @CodeMonkey I once bought an Access Virus synth for a similar amount of money, which is also built to last and has a lot of depth, but I found out it wasn't for me - actually it made me realise that keyboard synthesizers in general weren't for me. I sold it at a huge loss (though the lesson was worth something). Of course you might be different! Aug 16, 2016 at 11:25
  • I hear you, but I've just tried a A1 in a shop and its a lot of fun I think I'll go for it :) now I just need to lobby the girlfriend!
    – CodeMonkey
    Aug 16, 2016 at 15:48

Synth playing can be remarkably like playing piano or can be completely different.

  • Keys can be weighted to feel like piano keys, or unweighted
  • Synths can use attack, sustain and decay parameters that are similar to piano characteristics, or they can be entirely different (eg slow attack, variable sustain etc)
  • Synths can be configured to play the notes you press, or trigger arpeggios, sound effects, harmonies, whatever

You say "Synth players press and hold a few keys and let the synth do the job mixing in some melody" - this is an incredibly limited view that is also wrong in most cases. A good synth player has most of the skills of a good piano player, but also can add to this with programming.

If you want to learn to play any kind of keyboard, in the beginner and intermediate stages, most of the finger exercises and practice are going to be the same.

The programming skills will require a synth to learn, however, so at some point you will need a synth or other MIDI-capable keyboard.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.