How To Use Your Keyboard or Digital Piano As MIDI Controller

Do you happen to have a music keyboard or digital piano lying around somewhere at home? Put that keyboard into use by using it as a MIDI controller.

It would still work even if the keyboard you have is really old.

All you need is for your keyboard to have a MIDI OUT port to use it as a MIDI controller. Check out the video below.

If you prefer to read, here we go

Turning A Cheap Keyboard / Digital Piano Into A MIDI Controller

First, check if you have MIDI out port on your keyboard. MIDI has existed for over 30 years now, so you can imagine even a very old keyboard sometimes have MIDI outputs. After all, before the USB MIDI controller came about, MIDI is what we use to connect gear so they work with each other.

This is what you should look for on your keyboard, the MIDI out

This is what you should look for on your keyboard, the MIDI out

So your keyboard has a MIDI out?

Great! Here’s what you’ll need.

  1. An electronic music keyboard with MIDI out
  2. A USB to MIDI adapter cable (Don’t be cheap and get the cheapest one. I’ve tested them and the cheaper cables are usually very low quality & sometimes don’t work)
  3. A midi software or DAW on your PC or Mac

The USB to MIDI adapter cable would have USB on one end and three MIDI ports (MIDI in, MIDI out & MIDI thru) on the other.

What you’ll have to do is to connect the MIDI in of the cable to the MIDI out of your keyboard. Connect the USB end to an available USB port on your computer. At this point, you can hit the keys on your keyboard and check the indicator on the adapter, checking to see if any MIDI signal is being sent. The USB adapter will normally be installed automatically on your Windows or Mac computer. If it doesn’t and Windows reports it to be an unrecognizable USB device, chances are you received a faulty cable adapter.

Once your computer has successfully recognized the USB to MIDI adapter, launch your MIDI software or DAW next. Most DAWswould be able to detect the MIDI inputs on your computer automatically, but if it doesn’t, you can check your MIDI inputs settings and select your USB to MIDI adapter as the input.

And that’s really all to it. Load up and instrument and start playing away!

Don't buy these cables. They don't work and is not reliable when they do.

Don’t buy these cables. They don’t work and is not reliable when they do.

Warning: Don’t buy the extra cheap MIDI to USB cables. Those usually don’t work or have very bad latencies. Buy a midrange USB to MIDI adapter cable like the one I recommended above and you’ll never go wrong. You can also choose to buy from a reputable brand like Alesis, but I don’t think it’s necessary to spend extra on a cable.

Did The MIDI to USB Adapter Work For You?

Let me know if you were successful in hooking your old keyboard to your computer as a MIDI controller. If you need help, please comment below.

Drop Your Comments Here


  • Pangarith Savun

    I have bought exactly the cheap one in the picture. I was wondering if my MIDI port isn’t work anymore or what. So is there anyway that we can test our MIDI port? and could you recommend best USB to MIDI adapter cable?

    • Reuben Ch’ng

      I’ve actually mentioned which cable to get in the article above. This would be the one in amazon: . To test the MIDI ports, look at the LED to see if there’s MIDI signal coming in or not when playing.

  • YuNiq Cheah

    I am able to connect my Clavinova by USB MIDI Adapter to PC. Question is, is it also possible to connect a keyboard using MIDI cables to PC via Audio Interface i.e. MIDI OUT from keyboard to MIDI IN on Audio Interface, then USB from interface to PC?

    • Reuben Ch’ng

      Hey Cheah, yeah thats possible. In this case, your audio interface has a built in MIDI interface as well. So MIDI out from your keyboard to MIDI IN on audio interface and you should be able to control your DAW with no issues.

      • YuNiq Cheah

        Hmm… it’s not working. No signal in DAW. Need to contact service support then. Thanks.