Great Keyboard Sound On A Budget

You don't have to break the bank.

I’ve received a lot of questions lately as to how to get great sound on a tight budget. For the most part, if you spend cheap… you’re going to get cheap!  But that doesn’t mean you have to ‘break the bank’ in order to get good sound.

It all boils down to quality, flexibility, and ease of use. If you want all of these elements, then you are going to shell out some cash. Fortunately for us keyboard players, there are a lot of options out there. Now if you want to have the exact patches and sounds that they use on Hillsong, Jesus Culture, Bethel, and other albums, then you are going to have to invest. This means having a ‘host’ like MainStage 3, Pro Tools, or Logic. It also means having Virtual Instruments like Omnisphere, Trillian, Native Instruments Komplete, or Ivory. These can run anywhere from $200-$500. Plus you need a good computer, and external hard drives, not to mention your keyboard (enter Captain Obvious). So what do you do if you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on gear and software? I have two words for you: MainStage and MultiTracks!


Apple’s MainStage 3 program is a great host software. And it's not only a host, it’s a great synth in its own right. The best part is that it’s only $30! You can’t beat this price for the features. The only downside (if you're a PC person) is that it is Mac only.

MultiTracks now sells patches and sounds made by top keyboard producers for artists like Hillsong, Jesus Culture, and more. Best of all, they are making these patches for MainStage by itself for those who don’t have all the software toys. Simply create an account with Muiltitracks and you can purchase sounds on the cheap. If you want a really good sounding acoustic piano, Mellow Pianos by Peter James is the way to go. You simply need to download a free Steinway Sample Library and purchase the Mellow Pianos pack for about $25, and you’re golden! 

Learn From The Pros



Tempo: Down

Song Key: G

It Is Well With My Soul

Artist: Hillsong Chapel

Tasteful update of an old hymn. Lead really works the tremelo picking and acoustic keeps it simple. Includes bonus content.


Tempo: Down

Song Key: C

Come Alive (Dry Bones)

Artist: Lauren Daigle

Nice and easy ambient guitar and a clear acoustic part.

A good groove at the beginning and pretty straight forward.


Tempo: Medium

Song Key: A

Great Are You Lord

Artist: All Sons And Daughters

One of Jason's favorite songs. Some interesting ambient lead techniques in this one.

Relaxed 6/8 vibe all the way through this one!

Not too tricky and has some beautiful parts that are under the radar to learn.

Time for the piano!


Tempo: Down

Song Key: F

I Surrender

Artist: Hillsong Worship

This slow burner is all about soft picking and reverbed tremolo

Simple song to learn.

Its straight forward with a great Groove in the second half.

Pretty pad heavy on this one.


So if you already have a good computer and a nice keyboard, you can get into the software world for under $100 and have really good sounds. This would be the first place I would start if I were just getting into it… especially on a budget. 

Ryan is currently the Worship Director at The Church at Wills Creek in North Alabama. He has been the keyboardist for many Christian artists and has served with several churches including Christ Fellowship and Church of the Highlands. Ryan is the keyboard instructor for and also works as a producer, music educator, and studio musician. Ryan has two children, Josiah and Vivy, and they love spending time on their 100 acre farm.

Great Keyboard Sound On A Budget

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music lessons

hi im interested in taking the instrument lessons but not sure whether u offer right from beginners package for every musical instrument!


Hi David. All of our lessons are designed to teach you how to play no matter what you skill level. Each lesson has something for everyone. So whether you are highly skilled musician or just starting out, you can definitely benefit from signing up.

Feel free to click here and signup.

"That" Pad Sound

Hi Ryan,
Unfortunately I'm a PC guy, so for the moment, Mainstage is out of reach for me.
At the moment I'm invested in Propellerheads Reason software. I love it for many reasons and I'm hoping to start using it live rather than just in my home studio. But among the hundreds of pad sound presets I've not been able to really find the right go-to sound. There is a pad sound that Bethel music seems to have running like 90% of the time in between their songs. It's smooth and beautiful but I don't know what it's called. I figure someone in-the-know might know the patch name and sofware it's running on and maybe I could find a comparable sound that will run on Reason?
Thanks for all you do!

"That" Pad Sound

You should check out Ian McIntosh's YouTube channel. He actually talks about his pad sound and how he gets it. Basically a multi-voice saw synth with a low pass filter... good videos on there!


Non-Mac user

Hi Ryan,

I don't own a Mac. Any suggestions for a good Windows DAW that won't break the bank?