A Quick Fix to MIDI Keyboard Playing the Wrong Notes


For those of us that love home music recording, your MIDI keyboards are an essential item in the age of software music production. If you own a MIDI keyboard, you might have been busy cutting tracks and making recordings. Then, suddenly, you notice that your MIDI keyboard is dishing out the wrong notes. What do you do?

So, what’s a quick fix to a MIDI keyboard playing the wrong notes? One quick fix is by making sure your “Note On” capabilities are working, and that your keys are cleaned. You can also enable the No Transpose option in your Track Inspector. 

Since there isn’t a lot of information available on the Internet today covering how to fix a MIDI keyboard that’s playing the wrong notes, we’ll cover a few quick solutions for you below. We’ll outline a few ways you can get your MIDI keyboard back on track and dishing out the sounds you want to record once again.


Fix #1: Cleaning Your Keyboard to Solve Key Detection Issues


One reason why your MIDI keyboard might be playing the wrong notes is that the micro-switches or sensors on the keyboard aren’t working reliably for some reason. There are a few reasons why those detectors might not be giving you the notes you want.

You can test out your possible key detection issue by doing a few things with your MIDI keyboard. First, we need to explain how the MIDI keyboard works so that you understand how to approach the fixes.

  • When you are using your MIDI keyboard, something on the keyboard needs to be able to detect that a key has been pressed. If it detects that a key is being pressed, it should switch into “Note On” and play the sound at speed and rate the key was pressed.
  • That means that how you get your note depends on how you press your key, or how you give the key its velocity. Of course, that all depends on whether you have a velocity-sensitive keyboard or not. If you do, then you know about what rate and speed the notes should play at as you hit the keys.
  • Once you release the key on your MIDI keyboard, something else needs to detect the fact that you’ve stopped pressing the key, letting the keyboard know it needs to go into “Note Off” mode.


If you are noticing that the notes play correctly sometimes and they don’t at other times, then something is probably wrong. If your keyboard is velocity-sensitive, check to see if the key that isn’t playing is one that you are pressing quickly. You may merely be pressing that key too promptly at this point, and the keyboard is not detecting the note.

However, if the keyboard worked previously at the same rate and timing, you pressed the keys, then you know something is possibly wrong. For some reason, the MIDI keyboard isn’t switching into “Note On” correctly when you need it to work.


You Could Have Dust Issues


One of the biggest reasons why we see this type of mechanical problem is dust (and sometimes other grime) interfering with the keyboard’s contact. That might explain why this only happens with individual keys and not all of them. However, it could still affect all of your keys depending on how dusty your keyboard is, or if you spilled something on it recently.

You can assess your keyboard issue by figuring out whether specific keys usually play. If they do, you might want to play around with those keys and hit them more quickly to see if they will start showing the same problem over time. You’ll want to assess if the problem is happening to all of your notes or just some of them.

So, to solve this problem, try to figure out what keys you are having your issues with, and plan to do a thorough cleaning of that entire area of the keyboard that seems to be affected.


Cleaning Your MIDI Keyboard


So, how do you clean your MIDI keyboard? Luckily, MIDI keyboards are relatively durable, and you are dealing with modern technology in your cleaning. You’ll find your MIDI keyboard is made from plastic and other materials, so you won’t have to be too careful about how you clean it, you’ll need to do a complete job of cleaning.

There are a couple of materials you could use to clean your MIDI keyboard.

  • You could, for example, use some Windex and a paper towel and wipe it out if you are on a budget. However, if you are worried about the paper towel on your keyboard, we’ve got another option.
  • You can also clean your MIDI keyboard with some laptop cleaning fluid and putting it on a laptop screen cleaning cloth, or a cleaning cloth you use to clean your glasses.
  • Using laptop cleaning supplies is probably the safest and least invasive method, and it will get the job done safely.


Fix #2: Software Fix for Incorrect Keys


The fix we described above works best when the keys on the MIDI keyboard themselves aren’t working correctly. However, something else could be going on, and we’ve got a fix for that something else, too.

For example, one day, I opened Logic and realized that my MIDI keyboard wasn’t working correctly. I had assigned twenty-five samples to twenty-five slots on my keyboard covering drum samples I wanted to use. I hit the first key on my keyboard, which should have played the first drum sample I had on file. However, it played the thirteenth sample instead.

I took a look at the digital keyboard interface that’s assigned in Logic. For some reason, where before I had the first key programmed to hit a C1 note, it as making a C2 note. I noticed that my primary key played sample 13 instead of 1 now, my second key played sample 14 instead of 2, and so on. So suddenly I couldn’t play the first twelve keys I had programmed into my MIDI keyboard.

I immediately went on a frenzy of activity, trying to figure out what was wrong.

  • I unplugged the keyboard, plugged it back in, and restarted it.
  • Then I uninstalled the drivers, rebooted, and reinstalled drivers.
  • I tried installing new projects in Logic.
  • I even reset all the MIDI drivers and tried to attach a second keyboard and still had the same problem.

Luckily, I saved you the time and trouble of having to figure out how to fix this. Although it took me a few hours, I eventually figured it out.


Software Fixes


So, if you wake up one day and find that Logic is triggering the wrong notes from your MIDI input, we’ve got a fix for you. While it feels impossible since you’ve realized the notes have changed and you probably feel like you’ve tried everything to reset the MIDI keyboard, not to worry, there are a few simple software fixes that should help you out.

We’ve broken down what you need to do to your software below to complete the fix.

  • Go into Logic and check on the Transpose parameter. Check Region as well as the Track inspectors and set those to “0.” You probably have one of them set incorrectly, to something like +12 or however many notes you are off by when you play.
  • If you check and notice everything is set to “0,” then make sure you haven’t messed something else up through the corresponding global track.
  • If you need a more straightforward, faster, and temporary fix, you can enable the No Transpose option in the Track inspector, which should also solve the problem.


In Summary:


  • Give your keyboard a good clean.
  • Factory reset your DAW and your Keyboard/ Controller
  • Turn off or try changing presets to make sure there isn’t some weird transpose or pitch shift setting




Rob Wreglesworth

Rob has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous rock star....but that hasn't stopped him from writing and recording music in his home studio. Rob has over 15 years experience of recording music at home.

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