Learning to play the piano is usually the ultimate goal of every beginner. And sometimes you are better off purchasing a keyboard instead of the authentic acoustic piano that can cost a fortune and weight lots.
Well, it's not that simple. If there was “the best keyboard” then why would there be tens if not hundreds of options on the market? It's because there are different factors people base their searches on.
We'll start with 88-key keyboards and go until we get to the ones with only 61 keys.
88-Key Weighted Keyboards To Learn Piano
Most digital keyboards with weighted keys indeed have 88 keys. That's because most people buying the full-sized keyboards are either already experienced and look for an upgrade or are seriously determined and want the best to kick-start their journey.
When you invest in an 88-key digital piano or keyboard, you subconsciously understand that this is not a two-week hobby to forget about but a serious commitment that will let you grow. There are not cheap, but are still for various budgets!
Williams Legato 88-Key Digital Keyboard
With Williams Legato, you get 88 semi-weighted keys and five voices in total. If you want to plug in headphones or a sustain pedal, the inputs are there for you as well.
If you are looking for the cheapest ones, stop right there. Even though this keyboard is on the affordable instruments on the market, it's not cheap. It's not fully weighted either, but you get a good feel for what resistance feels like.
It's not as easy to carry around as a 25-key MIDI keyboard, but it's not bad. And, surprisingly, the keyboard is not as fragile as most digital keyboards on the market.
Even though it doesn't come with a lot of features top Yamaha and Casio keyboards may surprise you with, it's a great keyboard for beginners. You don't have to worry about getting overwhelmed with learning all the features when you don't have many.
Not necessarily. Unless you are already experienced and search for ways to expand your knowledge and mastery, how many sounds banks, rhythms, and voices do you need? If you don't an answer to these questions, there is a very high chance you don't need any at all.
Advanced musicians will see better full-sized weighted keyboards down the list with more options to tweak. For beginners and the ones learning the piano, Williams Legato is an excellent choice.
Alesis Recital 88-Key Digital Keyboard
This keyboard is another excellent choice for a beginner who is looking into getting a full-sized keyboard. The keys are semi-weighted only, and it doesn't have many voices or rhythms. Doesn't sound so great, but hold on.
It offers you way more than you'll ever need at the beginning. Of course, you may think long-term, but do you really want to base your choices on the future you've imagined in your head that may never happen? Most people do, even though it's a bad practice.
Well, beginners will get the most value out of it. If you are starting to learn the piano, you only need so much.
Even after you've been playing for a while and feel like upgrading, this 88-key digital keyboard will be a great backup choice or something to take to a live performance.
Yamaha P-45 88-Key Digital Keyboard
Yamaha keyboards have always been the top-notch contestants for the play of the best keyboard to learn piano. And for a good reason. They have been making musical instruments in all price ranges for years now without compromising the quality.
This keyboard has 88 weighted keys that will replicate the authentic acoustic piano feel. That's not essential but beneficial for beginners and intermediate level players. It's relatively pricey, but peanuts for what you are getting out of it.
Not at all. All it has is a few inputs for the headphones (preferably studio headphones), sustain pedal, etc., and 10 voices. However, you have to think. It's not a high-end, $1000+ digital piano with 500+ voices and effects.
It's already a digital piano with 88 weighted keys that will let you play as many musical pieces of various difficulties as you want. And you get to choose the genre as well. Go with classical, jazz, blues, ballads, or any other style, and this Yamaha will help you get there.
Casio Privia PX-160
The principal and biggest competitor of Yamaha in the music industry Casio also has many different musical instruments for customers of various wallet sizes and preferences.
Of course, if you are looking for 88 weighted keys digital keyboard, it's not going to be cheap.
With an input for headphones and sustain pedal, you get a lot more flexibility. Moreover, this digital piano has an output for speakers as well. The only drawback would be the weak keys' sensors, so playing at higher velocity can be difficult.
The developers didn't go above and beyond but have included a fair amount of voices which is eighteen. Doesn't seem like a lot but most of the time you don't use them for practice and learning, but rather for entertaining yourself when you feel bored.
With a tri-sensor and hammer action, the keys offer you a perfect feel of an acoustic piano that will help you switch to the original instrument easily. That's what most beginners should look for in digital keyboards in the first place.
Alesis Coda 88-Key Digital Keyboard
Alesis is a great 88-key digital keyboard with semi-weighted keys. The only drawback is the fact that the keys are not weighted fully. Other than that, it's a fantastic musical instrument that will be a gem for every beginner and an intermediate level player in the music industry.
It's incredibly light for a digital keyboard as well even though twenty-four pounds doesn't sound light at all, most full-sized keyboards weight a lot more than that.
Surprisingly, Alesis Coda comes with quite a few cool things. First, you get a decent amount of 20 voices to play. Second, you are getting 50 accompaniment patterns that will make your practice a lot more interesting.
Lastly, you can use the 60 preset songs to practice so that you won't run out of ideas for the longest time.
You don't get any good hammer action or fully weighted keys, but they add a bunch of effects, voices, and presets to make up for it, so everything evens out. Overall, if you like to have some fun with a keyboard to spice up the boring practice, that's a perfect choice for you.
Korg B1 88-Key Digital keyboard
This keyboard was designed for both beginners and advanced pianists who look to save up some space in their house and don't travel a lot. It's great, but not made to be transported and is incredibly fragile.
Moreover, the full pedal assembly this keyboard was initially designed for is included in the set as well. It only has eight voices, but who needs them anyway? To sum up, fantastic choice and quality for an affordable price.
Yamaha P-115 88-Key Digital Keyboard
This Yamaha keyboard is statistically the best selling among the higher end musical instruments. And there is clearly a reason for that. First and foremost, 88 weighted keys with authentic “piano feel” hammer action.
Second, you get many various effects and 14 voices. Moreover, the capability to record, so you can replay and listen to how you've performed. It is relatively portable, so you get to decide if it's worth the hustle to carry almost 40 pounds around.
Finally, a fully integrated app that's called “Digital Piano Controller.” It would probably take another article to describe everything it comes up with, but the main thing is that it's free for the ones who purchased the keyboard.
So far, this keyboard to learn piano is not flawless. However, the pros completely overweight the cons. If you can afford it, the Yamaha P-115 is excellent for players with various skill levels, from beginners to professional pianists.
76-Key Weighted Keyboards To Learn Piano
There is only one option when looking for a keyboard with 76 weighted keys, as it's been dominating the market for ages. Let's take a look.
Yamaha YPG-235 76-Key Digital Keyboard
You've undoubtedly seen it before somewhere. It's incredibly popular and widely used all over the world. Moreover, it has an authentic look that a lot of pianists know.
It's called “graded soft touch.” In its essence, the lower keys have more resistance than higher keys. This is similar to an authentic acoustic piano which has heavier lower registers and lighter higher registers. Therefore, it feels like you are playing a real piano.
It works for pretty much every proficiency level piano player out there. With tons of voices, it's fun for a beginner to practice with. Add its portability, and it's great for people who travel a lot.
And the weighted keys are appealing to intermediate and advanced level player.
For example, the number of keys. While 76 keys make the digital piano a lot more portable, if you are going for a large keyboard like that anyways, 12 extra keys won't be an issue.
Overall, YPG-235 is an excellent kick-start for beginners to develop muscle memory and grow their skills but can be limiting to advanced players for the reasons described above.
61-Key Keyboard To Learn Piano
When shopping for a weighted keyboard, there are not many options that you are going to find with 61 keys or less. However, they can still be handy as they are a lot more light and portable.
Casio CTK-3500 61-Key Digital Keyboard
This musical instrument's keys are not weighted, but touch sensitive. This means that it detects the velocity of you pressing the key, so the output volume is adjusted accordingly.
Don't think of it as the best option, but rather a good bang for the buck. As opposed to investing $500+ into a digital piano that you may give up playing in a couple of months, you'd rather spend less to test it out.
Indeed, this Casio keyboard has a bunch of rhythms, presets, etc. Like the most unweighted keyboards, it makes up for the lack of the resistance mechanism with a lot of built-in settings that you can tweak.
The slightest drawback is the fact that you won't be able to grow with the keyboard. However, it should last you long enough to find out if playing the piano is what you want to do or not.
Moreover, it's not nearly as expensive as the rest of the keyboards on the list. And don't forget that if you ever decide to upgrade, Casio CTK-3500 can still be a backup keyboard of yours.
Common Questions When Picking a Keyboard to Learn Piano?
Let's go over the most popular questions people have when looking for the best keyboard to learn piano.
How much does the keyboard cost?
If money weren't a factor, everybody would go for the best and most popular keyboards by famous brands. However, money is not an issue only in the perfect world.
Buying a baby Grand can be reasonable for a suburban citizen who works at a bank, but is entirely out of reach for someone with minimum wage job or student debt.
Why would you pay so much for something that you may not even like? The moment it's been taken out of the box and wrapping, the keyboard loses a lot of its value. And most people take longer than a month to give the keyboard a shot.
Once the enthusiasm and inspiration are gone, they give it away or leave it in the basement to never see it again. The best bet for a beginner will be getting something more budget if he or she is not sure if playing the keyboard would be up to their liking.
How much space do you have?
Most people don't own big houses. If someone does, there is a reason for that. A family can be large, or you may be renting out the basement who knows.
It would've been nice to have a piano in the living room, but not everyone got the space. A lot of people debate if even an 88-key keyboard would be a good idea. When purchasing a bulky item feels overwhelming, go for one with fewer keys.
Shouldn't a keyboard have 88 keys?
Well, that's really up to you. Keyboards are made in various sizes, the smallest ones with only 25 keys. They aren't used to learn piano as much as to produce music digitally.
If your goal is to find the best keyboard to learn piano and you don't have a lot of space, a smaller 49 or 61-key digital keyboard will be your best bet. You don't need 88 keys in the beginning anyways. And in a year or two, you can always upgrade if feeling passionate.
Do you need to connect your keyboard to your PC?
If you are purchasing a keyboard solely to learn how to play piano, then this should be much of a concern. However, a lot of people out there using different audio software to record, modify, mix, and master their music.
If you produce music and need piano lines and tracks alongside your melody and beat, consider purchasing one with a MIDI input. They are usually called MIDI keyboards.
Are MIDI keyboards expensive?
Like everything else, they can be both cheap and expensive. The more expensive versions have a lot more features.
Moreover, a lot of them come with knobs, switches, buttons, and drum pads that you can assign specific functions to make the process of producing music easier.
They are made with a purpose to be used with sound generators which a digital audio workstation usually has. So if you need the one that does both, check for digital keyboards with a MIDI input. Then you can both learn the piano and produce music at the music studio.
Do you need any particular features?
Some digital keyboards offer built-in songs (or you can simply learn to play easy songs on keyboard yourself) and voices. Others have keys light up when a note is played.
If you are about to start learning the piano, you don't need a bunch of voices and effects to make the learning process even more complicated.
The more, the better is not necessarily true. Why overpay for the functions that you won't be using? Exactly, there is no reason whatsoever to do that.
Do you need weighted keys?
A lot of people think that weighted keys are a must for no particular reason. They've heard that the weighted keys are better for a keyboard to have to make the transition to playing the piano smoother. And this is true.
However, how many people really use acoustic pianos? They are incredibly bulky, expensive, and fragile. Most of the time you can see one used for a decoration in a wealthy house.
Weighted and semi-weighted keys are great indeed, as they give you the “feel and respond” of an authentic acoustic piano. The lower end of keyboards would more often than not have a cheaper plastic feel and offer no resistance whatsoever.
Think about this differently as well. If you are a beginner, do you need the top-notch keyboard to learn piano? If you can't recall a single chords progression or a popular melody or still think where to put your hands to start playing the piano, do you need to focus on the keys' weight and action?
The debate is whether it's worth the price at the end of the day, for beginners in particular. Depends on how serious you are to find the best keyboard to learn piano, purchasing one with the weighted key can the best choice you'd make.
What's the difference between touch sensitive and weighted keys?
These two may sound similar to an extent but sure are different in nature. The main difference is the “feel” of a real acoustic piano.
It's a more expensive and complicated manufacturing process, so most keyboards with weighted keys will cost more than any touch sensitive keys keyboards.
In essence, weighted keys will prepare you to play the real instrument by training your brain to apply a certain level of pressure on a key to get the desired sound.
Are touch sensitive keys any different?
These keys also detect what force you apply with special built-in sensors. The more force you apply, the higher the velocity is going to be. Therefore, you'll end up getting a louder sound.
This kind of response lets piano players develop more dynamic and musical playing skills. Eventually, you'll be able to recreate the same sound, but not the same feel. This is the crucial and most significant difference between weighted and touch sensitive keys.
Do you need hammer action?
Hammer action is a complex mechanism in your digital piano or keyboard that acts like a real-life hammer inside an acoustic piano that hits the strings when the key is press. That's how the sound is generated in pianos.
Conclusion: Best Keyboard To Learn Piano
To wrap up, by now you should have an idea of what you are looking for when purchasing a keyboard to learn piano. The typical questions were answered, and the best contestants were listed.
Now everything is up to you! Purchase a digital keyboard and get to work. It's not going to be an easy journey but enjoy it as much as you'll enjoy the destination.
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Last update on 2020-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API