Alesis is known for their innovative drum kits and digital percussion instruments, specializing in using advanced technology to make high-performance digital instruments more affordable. They aren't well known in the digital keyboard market, but the Alesis Melody 61 MKII has a great looking setup at an incredible price, so it's worth taking a closer look.
Quick overview of the Alesis Melody 61 MKII
The Alesis Melody 61 MKII is designed for kids, and meant to appeal to slightly older kids who want a grown-up style piano keyboard setup, and don't want to feel like they are playing with a toy. It's a great way to introduce children to playing the piano, and has all the accessories and functions that will make any kid feel like a rock star.The Alesis Melody 61 MKII is a 61-key keyboard with an astonishing 300 instrument voices and 300 built-in accompaniment rhythms. It has 40 demo songs, and comes complete with a keyboard stand, bench, music rest, headphones, and even a microphone. You can even record and play back your own songs through the keyboard. It has all the functions that a young aspiring musician is looking for.
Summary of the Alesis Melody 61 MKII's Features and Specs
61 full size keys
40 built-in demo songs
Can be AC powered or use 6 AA batteries
Split keyboard mode
Dual keyboard mode (other companies would call this “layer mode,” where you play two instruments with the same note)
Built-in instrument sounds
Record and playback functions
Who is the Alesis Melody 61 MKII Most Suitable For?
The Alesis Melody 61 MKII is perfect for young kids and pre-teens who have an interest in music. The huge array of instrument voices and sounds are fun to play with, the built-in rhythms and demo songs will have them playing full songs in minutes, and the microphone and headphones will make them feel like rock stars. It's also capable of being powered by batteries, and is lightweight, so the keyboard can go with them to parties or picnics.
This is not a great keyboard for very young children. The keyboard itself, and the included stand and seat, are not particularly rugged in construction, and won't withstand a lot of banging or wobbling.
The Alesis Melody 61 MKII is also not a great choice for more serious young music students. Most piano teachers would prefer that children practice on a weighted keyboard, to build finger strength and techniques that will transfer better to traditional pianos. It also doesn't have any onboard lesson functions, and Skoove Online may not be the best piano instruction option for children. Finally, it doesn't have any ability to connect to computers or digital devices, so you can't choose other apps or online tools that may have better instruction.With all these weaknesses, though, the Alesis Melody 61 MKII definitely looks cool and is fun to play, and is an extremely affordable digital keyboard. For kids the right age, it's an excellent way to further their interest in music.
What’s Included with the Alesis Melody 61 MKII?
The Alesis Melody 61 MKII comes with:
An X-style keyboard stand
An X-style keyboard stand
A music rest
An AC adaptor
Altogether, it's a complete digital keyboard setup, right out of the box
Overview of the Alesis Melody 61 MKII's features
When it's all set up, the Alesis Melody 61 MKII has a stylish look. The stand, bench, microphone, and headphones give the instrument a professional studio feel that is appealing. 61 keys are often used for beginner keyboards, because it's an ample range of notes for beginners to learn with and produces a satisfying range of songs and musical styles, before upgrading to a full 88-key keyboard.
It's easily removed from the stand, and is compact and portable. The ability to power it with batteries make it easy to take anywhere, so your kids can perform and share their music.
Skoove is an online piano education website that walks you step-by-step through the act of playing and reading music. Because the Alesis Melody 61 MKII doesn't have online connectivity, you have to set up a nearby computer to access the website through your browser, and then allow your browser to “listen” to your piano playing through the computer's microphone in order to evaluate and progress through lessons.
It has a huge library of 300 instrument voices, some of them including fun and funny sound effects kids will love. It also has 300 auto-accompaniment rhythms, so you can start playing complete songs right away, with just the press of a button. The 40 built-in demo songs are fun to play and sing along with.
Dual keyboard mode allows you to play two instrument sounds at once, while the split keyboard allows you to play different instruments with each hand. Onboard recording and playback features allow kids to listen to and share their performances.
Skoove shows you the correct hand positions and pauses lessons until you play the right note, giving you feedback and progressing you through the learning process. Skoove is an effective way to learn the piano, and a great way to try the service (although but the user experience and song selections aren't particularly child-friendly, and may not appeal to short attention spans and encourage kids to practice.
Pros & Cons of the Alesis Melody 61 MKII
An Alternative Product to Consider
The Alesis Melody 61 MKII is something more than a toy, but not quite an instrument. When considering alternatives, it's natural to look at the sister model of this keyboard, the Alesis Melody 61. The two models look very superficially similar, and come with very similar accessories, so it comes down to a few crucial differences:
Alesis Melody 61 MKII
Alesis Melody 61
One would expect that a keyboard with USB is more expensive than one without; it's a feature that many keyboard manufacturers attach a premium value to, despite the fact that the capability actually costs the manufacturer very little. However, the Alesis Melody 61 is so much more expensive than the Alesis Melody 61 that the cost difference is truly staggering.
The Alesis Melody 61 MKII is an excellent bargain for the purchase price. The Alesis Melody 61 simply is not; there are exceptional beginner keyboards in that price range that are far superior to this one.For kids who really want to feel like a rock star, and for a digital keyboard with better sound, better construction, and a better learning experience, a great alternative to the Alesis Melody 61 MKII is the Hamzer 61-key Portable Keyboard. Like the Alesis Melody 61 MKII, the Hamzer 61 has:
The Alesis Melody 61 MKII has some advantages over the Hamzer, because it has:
However, despite being virtually the same price as the Alesis Melody 61 MKII, the Hamzer is a much higher quality instrument, and has features the Alesis lacks, including:
While the Hamzer 61 is not a professional instrument, the better sound, higher quality construction of the keyboard and accessories, better onboard learning tools, and greater range of instrument options make it an overall better choice than the Alesis Melody 61 MKII, for just a few dollars more. The Hamzer is a good instrument for beginners of all ages, with a wider range of capabilities than the Alesis Melody 61 MKII.
While Alesis continues to make groundbreaking drums and percussion instruments, the Alesis Melody 61 MKII isn't an impressive entry into the competitive digital keyboard market. With affordable options from legendary piano brands like Casio, Roland, and Yamaha, and a feature set that even a simple Hamzer can beat, the Alesis Melody 61 MKII has a way to go.
It also has the advanced digital features that acoustic pianos don't have, including a wide selection of tones, rhythms, polyphony, and even simple volume controls to make it easy to live with. Recording and playback, transpose, and split keyboard functions offer a range of possibilities and capabilities that invite learning and exploration, as well as affording unique opportunities for growth and expression.Most keyboards offer a fraction of the features at more than double the cost. This powerful, versatile, handsome digital console keyboard simply cannot be beat in its price range, and is a fantastic choice for piano lovers everywhere.