Beginner keyboards are often black plastic affairs with little in the way of personality, so the forthcoming Loog Piano could make for a refreshing alternative.
Loog made its name with its simplified three-string mini guitars, but has since branched out into making kid-friendly six-string models, too. The piano follows the same ethos: it has a stripped-back design and is said to be easy to play.
Stripped-back doesn’t mean dull, though - first impressions are that the Loog Piano looks gorgeous. There are three octaves of what appear to be full-sized, velocity-sensitive keys, built-in speakers and a built-in rechargeable battery. There’s a lot of wood on show, too, including the end cheeks and the volume knob.
Unlike the majority of home keyboards, the Loog Piano features just one sound - that’d be a piano, obviously - which is based on a combination of sampling and modelling. The photos indicate that beginners will be able to learn to play using a system of flashcards, which will indicate which notes to play and when. There’s no screen and a complete absence of flashing lights.
So far so simple - our only slight concern is that Loog might have stripped the Piano back a little too much. The lack of a wider sound palette might not bother you - a piano is all that a lot of beginner players want - but the absence of a sustain pedal input could quickly become a problem for a lot of pianists, however old/capable they are. Indeed, the only connectivity options appear to be headphone and USB-C sockets (MIDI over USB support is unconfirmed).
The other potential issue is that, while the 3-string Loog Guitar was effectively creating a market of its own, the Loog Piano is launching into a well-established, highly-competitive space. It’s not like Loog has removed some notes - that would have been a non-starter - so you could argue that it’ll be no easier or harder to play than any other keyboard. How long before beginners start craving an octave or two more of keys, too?
The proof of the piano pudding will be in the playing, though: The Loog Piano is set to hit Kickstarter on 26 September at an early bird price of $249. You can sign up for email notifications on the Loog website.