Musicians are in a continuous pursuit of the perfect sound. To achieve that, they will constantly improve their performance, they will invest time and energy in becoming the best. That is not an easy task. It takes years to perfect a piece of art, but once they succeed, they have this feeling of satisfaction which cannot be compared to anything in the world.
Fortunately, there are plenty of methods to improve the quality of the sound. A keyboard or a piano, for example, are not just a bunch of strings with hammers. A musical instrument is much more than that. Accessories, however, will make them better. A perfect example of such an accessory is the sustain pedal. A lot of people call it an optional accessory, but as far as I am concerned, it’s an optional necessity.
The functions of a sustain pedal
I don’t know how much you know about this subject, but there are in fact three pedal on a grand piano. The sustain pedal, the soft pedal, and the middle pedal (also known as sostenuto pedal). We are going to talk about the sustain pedal because it is the most commonly used, and you don’t find it on keyboards. If you do a little research, you will see that there is just a sustain pedal that goes with an electric keyboard.
You may be wondering what the purpose of a sustain pedal is. Trust me, you know this. You heard what a sustainpedal does to a performance. It’s just that you probably don’t know the mechanism behind it. I will try to be as short and as explicit as possible. There are two primary functions of a sustain pedal.
- It allows the sound to keep going even after you take the finger of a particular key. You know that long sound a piano or an electric keyboard makes on the same note. How did you think that was happening? The secret lies with the sustain pedal. As long as you keep the pedal pressed, the dampers will stop working, which means that the sound will continue. It’s different for electric keyboards because they don’t actually have strings and dampers as a piano does, but it has a system that imitates them, and the pedal is designed in such a way that it has the same effect. Long story short, a sustain pedal will lengthen the sound.
- It changes the timbre of the sound, and it makes it more intense, deeper, and warmer. Some people refer to that sound as more alive. From my point of view, a sustain pedal gives emotion to the music. It gives life. When you don’t use one, the sound is short and empty. But when you press the sustain pedal, the entire song comes to life, you can actually feel and live the music in a way that only a true musician can. There is a difference for the audience as well. They too can live the music better, and they can enjoy those goosebumps to the tears. I don’t know if I am exaggerating the feeling right now, but each musician feels in his or her own way.
Even if you have little experience when it comes to a piano or an electric keyboard, you can still tell that the sustain pedal will improve the quality of your music. And let’s face it, the mistakes you are making are easier to cover up with that accessory than without. I suppose you see the logic behind it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think I painted a pretty good picture of how I feel toward the sustain pedal, but make sure to practice without it as well. Without a pedal, you can master the art of coordination. You can do that with the pedal as well, but if you are a beginner, it will be rather difficult to multi-task at that level. You need to hear yourself and master the keys before introducing yourself to the sustain pedal.
What to consider when buying the best sustain pedal
There are plenty of models for you to choose from. Some are perfect, some not so much. You need to be careful about what you are purchasing because that small thing will directly affect your performance. So here are the basic requirements of a high-quality sustain pedal.
- Non-slip feature – you may think it’s silly how I started with this particular feature, but the lack of it will cause you to lose the pedal deep under the piano or keyboard. Sustain pedals that are not adequatelygrounded tend to slip away, which means you are left without. It’s fine when it happens at home, but if you are performing in front of an audience…not so much. Choose a model that has a rubberized bottom, and a rubber-coated pedal so that you can have precise control.
- Versatility – I don’t know what instruments you have, but if you go from one to the other, that means you need a sustain pedal that is compatible with all of them. Some people have a piano and a keyboard, so buying two sustain pedals doesn’t make much sense, does it? Especially when you can purchase one that goes with both. When you make the purchase, look at the specifications to see the compatibility. All manufacturers disclose this piece of information, so you won’t have trouble finding it.
- Construction – the sustain pedal will be under your foot. That’s one. And second, sometimes you may get into some sort of trance when your emotions take That sometimes translates into aggressiveness. You’ll be pressing that pedal hard, without even noticing. That is why you need a pedal that has a strong, durable construction. Chrome pedals have proven to be quite resistant when it comes to this aspect. But any sturdy metal will do.
- Switchable polarity – not all single polarity pedals are compatible with all keyboards, bu that is less important. Polarity will help you when your songs require long notes and short ones. You can change the polarity as you see fit, whatever is convenient for you.
- The length of the cable – I don’t know why is that even an issue, but I’ve seen people complain how the cable of the pedal is too short. How can that possibly happen? With electrical keyboards it’s ok, but when you have a piano, you need a pretty lengthy cable. Usually, a five or six feet cable should be enough. Just make sure to keep an eye on that when you buy your sustain pedal.
What are the best sustain pedals?
A few years back, sustain pedals used to be more expensive than they are now. Maybe because they weren’t so many back then. Now, there are hundreds of models available for purchase. However, not all of them qualify for the best sustain pedal title. Some are poorly made, some don’t have a non-slip feature (which we established that is imperative), and some of them just don’t do the job well. To save you from any confusion, I put together three sustain pedals reviews that will make your job a little bit easier.
Luminously Universal Electric Sustain Pedal
Apart from the practical features, I must say that this sustain pedal has a pretty nice design. I can’t say exactly what makes it so lovely in my eyes, but it just does. Maybe it’s the semi-transparent rubber on the pedal, but we don’t always have reasons to like a particular design.
The Luminously sustain pedal is compatible with virtually all electronic keyboards, synthesizers, pianos, drum machines and tone modules. It can enrich the sound and will make it better. The pedal is designed to give the feel and the sound of an acoustic piano. It also has a dual polarity switch, which you will see that it will come in handy when you perform. The cable is long enough. It measures 6 feet, and it ends in a ¼ jack input.
This sustain pedal will improve your performance a lot. It can accurately provide a classic style to your music. The music will sound richer, warmer, and deeper. It will achieve the purpose for which it was created successfully.
The pedal itself is made of high-quality chrome, which ensures durability, and it is covered in rubber for a more precise control. The non-slip bottom will keep the pedal perfectly in place. You won’t be losing it underneath your piano or keyboard anytime soon. It will stay exactly where you put it. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
M-Audio SP-2 Universal Sustain Pedal
This sustain pedal is designed only for electronic keyboards. It is meant to give that acoustic sound to your songs, even if you are playing on an electric keyboard. Not everyone can afford a grand piano, and such a pedal is the closest thing some people will get to a real piano. The design is classic, and it looks terrific.
The M-Audio is designed to work and feel just like an acoustic piano’s sustain pedal. What is even better is that the manufacturer created the whole piano experience by providing all three pedals (the soft, the sustain, and the sostenuto). You can choose from the sustain pedal only, the sustain and the soft, and all three of them. I think it’s brilliant.
The bottom of the pedal is slip-resistant. It will grip the floor while you play. The pedal itself, however, is not rubber coated. That means you need to pay attention to the shoes you are wearing during a live performance in front of an audience. As long as the sole of your shoe is adherent, you should be okay.
The sustain pedal will last a very long time, mostly because it is made of high-quality chrome. It also has expressive half-pedal capabilities. You have to admit that for the price this pedal has, you get a lot of features. That is why I chose it in the first place. The package includes a 6-foot cable with a ¼ -inch jack input. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
LESHP Universal Sustain Pedal for Keyboard
The LESHP sustain pedal is another high-quality product that is compatible with all famous brands that manufacture electronic keyboards. As you may have realized, this pedal will only work on electronic keyboards, not on real pianos.
This pedal is designed to give you the same feeling a real piano’s sustain pedal gives. It is chrome plated, which means that you will have it for quite some time. Chrome is one of the best metals a sustain pedal can be made of. The shell is made of high-strength plastic. The overall product issturdy and durable. You can put as much emotion as you can in pressing it. It will not break.
You have the option of switching the polarity when your performance requires it. The bottom of the pedal has rubberized stands, which means that it will not slip on the floor. However, the pedal is not rubber-coated, so I am going to give the same advice I told you above. Make sure that you wear adequate shoes. Otherwise, your performance may suffer. The cable is 5 feet long, but given the fact that this pedal is designed for keyboards only, it should be more than enough. The plug is a ¼-inch jack. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
I have to admit that in my mind there was quite the battle between the M-Audio and the Luminously. That is because the former gives you the option of choosing the number of pedals. But in the end, Luminously won. I think it’s one of the best sustain pedals on the market. It can be connected to both pianos and keyboards, it has the most stable and precise grip, and it looks fantastic overall. That is why I strongly recommend the Luminously Universal Electric Sustain Pedal.
It’s funny how such a small accessory can turn your music from a hollow sound to a rich and warmer one. I can only imagine the reaction of the person who invented it. A sustain pedal can change the entire meaning of a song, and that is one of the most valuable aspects for artists. Click here to buy on Amazon
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