DIY keyboard stand

Written by gretchen maron
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DIY keyboard stand
Electronic keyboards need a sturdy stand. (Getty creative)

Commercial keyboard stands for your electric keyboard are expensive and usually have a utilitarian appearance. You can make your own keyboard stand to create one that's less expensive, more attractive and a better match for your needs. You'll need basic carpentry skills and tools as well as a few pieces of hardware to get started.

Plan

Think about how and where you'll use your keyboard stand. If you will play the keyboard only at home, then you'll need a sturdy, permanent stand, and you might also want it to look like an attractive piece of furniture. However, if you are a working musician, you'll want a collapsible, lightweight and easily portable keyboard stand that you can transport from gig to gig. If you're moving your keyboard from place to place, think back on the kinds of gigs you've done. If you always set up on a sturdy stage, you need a stand that will be sturdy and straight, but if you find yourself setting up outdoors on the lawn to play for a wedding ceremony or company picnic, it will be important to build a stand that will keep the top-heavy combination of keyboard and stand from toppling over on uneven surfaces.

It's also important to assess the keyboard. A full-size keyboard with all 88 keys will be bigger and wider than one with fewer octaves and with narrower keys. Some keyboards are surprisingly lightweight, while more sophisticated keyboards with lots of computerised special features are quite heavy.

Decide if you want a tabletop on which to place your keyboard, or if you only need a framework to support it at the correct height. You may need the keyboard stand to be height adjustable. You might want to add a music holder or music stand at the top if your keyboard doesn't have one, and perhaps you'd like a pencil tray and a music caddie, as well.

Finally, assess your skills. If you have good basic carpentry skills and a supply of tools, it makes sense to make build a wooden stand. If you're more crafty than craftsman, consider building a stand out of PVC pipe.

Build

After you know what you need, what you want and how you can best build it, sketch out your plan. Remember that the correct height for the keys is somewhat lower than a standard tabletop. To ensure good playing posture, your knuckles should be at about the same height as your elbows when you are in playing position and your shoulders should be relaxed. The best height varies with each player, but full-sized pianos place the top of the white keys at about 66 cm (26 inches) from the floor. Remember to factor in the height of your keyboard when planning the keyboard stand height.

If your design includes a tabletop, make it at least one inch wider and longer than the keyboard, and even more if you're including a pencil tray. Stock shelving available in 91-cm (36-inch) widths and varying lengths is ideal, and you can even purchase it pre-finished. However, any boards of the right width and length will work. Or you can build a skeleton-like support structure out of PVC pipe: Build a roughly rectangular section, with at least three support spans across the narrow width. Glue these sections together for extra stability. Glue non-skid carpet padding or another similar rubberised material across the top so the keyboard will not slide on the PVC surface.

Remember that you'll need space beneath the keyboard for your legs, and to allow easy access to the foot pedal. Incorporate a triangular brace at the top of each leg; corner brackets are a good choice. For a collapsible design, look for hinge hardware that also includes a bracing arm. Hinged shelf supports, for example, or a table leg hinge of the kind used for folding tables. The triangular brace will stabilise the keyboard stand and prevent any side-to-side sway.

For further stability for keyboard stands that will be used on uneven surfaces, specify a "U"-shaped leg bottom at each side, spanning the two legs on each side with a long 5x5-cm (2x2-inch) or other long section. Add a non-skid, rubberised fabric to the bottom of the feet to prevent slipping and skidding. You'll have to plan and measure carefully to ensure that the legs will fold up neatly beneath the table for collapsible stands. You'll have to mount the legs and hinge on one side of the table to a spacer block so that the other leg will fold underneath it.

If you use PVC pipe, leave the leg sections unglued just under the top support structure or table so that you can remove the legs quickly and easily when you need to transport the keyboard and stand. They'll friction fit in place without the glue.

If you're a working musician, you'll likely prefer to paint your stand with flat or satin black paint so that it will be unobtrusive. However, if your keyboard will be on display in your home, sand, stain and varnish a wood-built stand and add decorative trim as desired. PVC pipe won't be as decorative, but a carefully chosen paint colour will help the stand fit in with your decor.

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