Why You Should Trust Us
I have been playing piano since the early 1980s, and I hold a Bachelor of Music degree with an audio production and piano focus from Ithaca College, as well as a Master of Music in keyboard collaborative arts from the University of Southern California. For the past 20 years, Ive been a professional music director, and Ive performed myriad musical styles on different instruments in concert halls and on nightclub stages. I also taught music for 10 years at a private Los Angeles middle and high school.
Since Wirecutter launched this guide in 2018, Ive brought in several pianists to participate on our test panels. Liz Kinnon is a pianist/arranger/composer/educator from Los Angeles who has performed with artists such as Dizzy Gillespie and Andy Williams. She was an orchestrator on the animated shows Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Histeria. At the Colburn Community School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, she teaches jazz piano and is the director of adult jazz workshops.
Jack Smith was an editorial assistant for Wirecutter for over two years. He is a lifelong musician and works with other musicians in production and mixing out of his own studio.
Phil Metzler is a lifelong musician who plays keyboards in the pop/rock band Just Off Turner, which has released five studio albums. He also composes music out of his home studio in Los Angeles.
How Many Keys Should I Get On My Keyboard
A full-size piano or keyboard features 88 keys and thats the best number for most players. Still, that doesnt mean that smaller numbers are bad. For example, many keyboards feature 61, which is enough for a beginner to learn to play.
Also, these keyboards are more compact and travel-friendly. However, its hard to imagine anyone playing classical or jazz music on less than 88 keys .
What Kind Of Instrument Is A Keyboard Piano
Many people feel confused when it comes to keyboards. Whats the difference between a keyboard and a digital piano? The simple answer is: a keyboard has many sounds and is perfect for pop and rock, while a digital piano is what you buy instead of an acoustic piano. It has less sounds to choose from and is just a more convenient instrument to keep at home than a big, bulky piano.
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Ideal For Students And Beginners
While the Roland GO:KEYS 61-key music creation keyboard is ideal for the musician on a budget, this portable piano is loaded with high-end features. Boasting 500 high-quality instrument sounds, the GO:KEYS is more than ready to tackle any sonic situation from powerful bass tones to punchy percussion to a vast assortment of traditional piano and electric keyboard tones. When the gigs over, the GO:KEYS is equally capable as a composing tool, sporting a built-in recorder and Loop Mix function to streamline your workflow and construct songs in real time. Finally, full Bluetooth functionality provides easy audio streaming for practice sessions, backing tracks, or even wireless MIDI control.
Best Keyboard Brands For Beginners
The keyboard brand you choose depends on multiple factors. Childrens interests and tastes can change quickly, and the student whos thrilled to be learning keyboard today might have a very different opinion on the subject in six months. The cheapest keyboard brands often have smaller keys than their higher-quality counterparts. Their sound quality isnt as good as higher-end keyboards, and theyre usually made from cheaper parts that can break easily.Fortunately for your wallet, some of the best keyboard brands are quite affordable. Yamaha, Roland and Kurzweil all offer inexpensive boards with different key ranges, built-in speakers and a wide variety of sound options.For the more advanced or motivated student, consider Korg or Williams boards. The full-size weighted keys of a Williams keyboard make a good choice for adults and any student planning on learning traditional piano in the future.
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Types Of Piano Keyboards
Next, are the types of a piano keyboard. As we mentioned, there are several different types of piano keyboards to know about before making a decision to purchase. Each type of piano keyboard varies from others in different ways including sound, range, cost, size, performance, and more.
The first type of piano keyboards are beginners keyboards, which are the best piano keyboards for beginners. They are usually limited in their sound and range in that they dont have the complete range that others have. However, these piano keyboards generally tend to cost a little less. On the other hand, their keys are usually made of lesser quality material than higher quality keyboards . A beginner keyboard is the best piano keyboard for players that are just starting out or want to learn how to play. They are also great for younger children!
Next up, are arranger keyboards. These are one step up from a beginner keyboard and generally offer a wide range of built-in sounds and ranges that the keyboardist can use. This is a great keyboard for players who like to compose spontaneously and create the one-man-band sound with just one instrument.
The third type of piano keyboard is called a digital workstation. A digital workstation is great for keyboardists who want to have complete control of their sound. While most digital workstations come with pre-programmed music and sounds, the keyboardist is able to record and manipulate their own sound to create the music they want to make.
The 8 Best Digital Piano And Keyboard Brands
James is an USA-based writer and musician with a passion for audio production. Growing up he was surrounded by talented musicians and different forms of music, which set the path for both his personal and private life. He played several instruments during his childhood, dipping his toes into all sorts of musical genres, but once grown-up he discovered that his true calling is music production, rather than creation.
Consordinis articles are written by musicians who independently research, test, and recommend the best instruments and products. We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links in our articles, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you should be familiar with the best digital piano and keyboard brands available in 2023. With so many different models available, choosing the perfect instrument can be a bit confusing. Getting to know the best brands, what they are good at, and sometimes what they arent good at, will help you avoid many unsuitable options. A little brand knowledge wont only save you time in your search it will help you make the right choice, whatever you need. So, lets check out the best-loved manufacturers in the industry.
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Best Value For Money: Yamaha P45
Yamaha is one of the renowned digital pianos brand that never disappoints. The P45 is enough proof of this claim. Its a inexpensive yet comes with impressive performance.
The P45 uses Graded Hammer Standard and excellent tones. Just like other Yamaha keyboards, the P45 has a sleek matte finish which not only looks great but is less slippery too.
The P45 also comes with an Advance Memory Sampling feature. Its performance is further enhanced by CF sound from CF-IIIs and graded hammer action that makes the keys lighter on high registers and heavier on low registers.
It gives you 64-note polyphony which is better than most digital pianos in the same price range. The packages comes with the instrument, pedals, adapters, bench and the stand.
The P45 is a super easy to use. Unlike other instruments that require you to learn algorithms before you can play, the P45 is a lot simpler.
You can easily change your settings using a single button. It even comes with a power supply and a handy sustain pedals.
Final Thoughts On The Best Digital Pianos
Digital pianos are versatile instruments that expand on one of the most revolutionary instruments in Western music and usher it into the digital age. These instruments model the tones in top-notch acoustic pianos and often expand on those voices with broad synth sets. Some of them use perfectly weighted wooden keys that feel just like acoustic pianos of yore, while others focus on connectivity. For a synth piano with lush traditional tones and a vast library of possibilities, the Korg Krome EX series is a stunning synthesizer digital piano that will be the darling of any contemporary producer. For a budget digital piano with an impressive voice library and good connectivity, the Casio CT-X700 delivers. However, for the best all-around digital piano for most users, the Yamaha P515 has an exceptional wooden weighted keyboard and a delicious traditional voice library sampled from some of Yamahas flagship acoustics.
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Vintage Vibe Brought Into The 21st Century
What does the SV stand for in Korgs SV-2 88-key piano? Stage Vintage those two words encapsulate everything that makes the SV-2 a modern classic of the keys. It offers stage-ready features, old-school tones, and a streamlined display-free workflow. The SV-2s massive sonic range spans the breadth of music history, offering everything from organs to clavs to grand pianos to everything in between. Once youve picked out your preferred sound, a comprehensive effects section takes studio-level editing straight onto the stage. Theres even a true 12AX7A vacuum tube in the Korg Valve Reactor circuit to give your tone a warmth and harmonic richness that only glowing glass can provide. Truth be told, these features arent even half of it: MIDI over USB, favorite sound banking, velocity-sensitive Korg RH3 keys, a fully featured software editor, and much more place the Korg SV-2 at the pinnacle of portable piano power.
Can You Learn Piano On A Keyboard
Yes! Keyboards are a great way to learn how to play piano.
Just keep in mind that they are much smaller than a piano. Not only do they have fewer keys, the keys will be smaller as well. Because of this difference, playing a keyboard feels different than playing a piano.
Beginners learning on keyboards are encouraged to at least try playing a digital or acoustic piano to get a feel for them, especially if they want to improve their playing skills.
Can you learn piano on a computer keyboard?
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What Are Things To Consider When Buying Piano Keyboard
Before you buy a piano for a household with musical aspirations, ask yourself, What kind of music do I regularly practice? If you’re a beginner, you’ll want a compact, light, and responsive piano that sounds great to you. If your weekly jam sessions revolve around classical music a heavier, richer instrument is required. A piano with a unique, rounded sound will help you play in the key of A or B. Think about where you want to put your piano and what kind will fit it. While most people move their full piano from room to room, its worth considering a small, portable model that can go to the office or to a friends house.
Do I Need A Touch Sensitive Keyboard As A Beginner
First, lets establish what it means that a keyboard has touch sensitive keys. This simply means that the keyboard senses how hard you press, the harder you press, the louder the tone, just like a real piano. This is not a feature that you necessarily need as a beginner, but if you can afford it, it will enhance your music automatically. You will also feel the need for touch sensitivity as you improve.
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Digital Piano Buyers’ Guide
There was a time when the only form of a piano was an acoustic piano. Acoustic pianos are large and it’s difficult to easily keep such a big instrument in a house.
There was a need for a piano that was both portable and didn’t take up loads of space. This led to the invention of the digital piano, a compact instrument that solved these problems for the consumer and also came with additional features that aren’t available with traditional pianos.
It’s hard to say whether one is better than the other it’s a matter of personal preference and the application. Some people might like the acoustic piano over a digital one because they are used to playing in big auditoriums and aren’t concerned with portability. On the other hand, you’ll also find people who will opt for a digital piano over an acoustic one because of their features and the portability.
There are some very important things that you should consider before purchasing a digital piano which we’ve outlined below.
Sound Quality of the Digital Piano
The job of a digital piano is to emit sounds as close as possible to that of an acoustic piano. Therefore, it’s important for a digital piano to reproduce a realistic acoustic piano sound. A key factor to look for is digital memory. The greater the digital memory of the piano, the more realistic the sound it will produce. Some of the very best models are equipped with a larger digital memory and offer better quality sound.
Tools for Learning
Korg B1sp 88 Weighted Key Digital Piano
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Why we like it: The Korg B1SP 88 Weighted Key Digital Piano has the Natural Weighted Hammer system for realistic, satisfying play in a digital piano. It has three levels of touch sensitivity and a three-pedal system, so people who are used to playing a traditional piano will have natural, expressive play.
It has an incredible sound system, with powerful speakers, MFB speaker technology, and a passive sound radiator that create the depth, power, and complexity of a grand piano. The Stereo PCM sound engine delivers 8 piano voices with nuance and character, and 120 levels of polyphony allow for overlapping chords and sustains with no clipping. It also has transpose, reverb, and chorus effects to maximize your sound.
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Professional Playability In A Portable Piano
The Casio CDP-S360 compact digital piano is the first full-size entry into our list of the best portable piano keyboards, and its loaded with 88 scaled hammer-action keys to capture the feel of a traditional acoustic piano. Better yet, simulated ebony/ivory surfaces, precise key weighting, and five adjustable levels of touch response take the CDP-S360s action and response far beyond its humble price tag straight into the realm of grand piano playability. But, while the CDP-S360 is sure to please straight-ahead pianists, a library of over 700 built-in tones allows this portable keyboard to cover any keyboard duty in the book from classical concertos to worship services to rock cover gigs. Still, these are just the beginning of the CDP-S360s utility: 200 rhythms, 100 arpeggiator styles, built-in songs, a recorder, key transposition, powerful speakers, and more make the CDP-S360 a piano thats well within reach of the beginner while remaining powerful enough to stay relevant throughout your entire musical career.
Best Portable Piano Keyboard: Alesis Melody 61
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Why we like it: The Alesis Melody 61 MKII is a 61-key keyboard with a whopping 300 instrument voices and 300 built-in accompaniment rhythms. It also has 40 demo songs, and comes complete with a keyboard stand, bench, music rest, headphones, and a microphone for a complete practice and performance setup right out of the box.
Record and play back your own songs through the keyboard with the onboard memory, and split the keyboard for easy duets and practice. It comes with 3 months of online piano lessons to help beginners learn and practice with just a web browser.
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What To Look For When Buying A Keyboard
Buying keyboard accessories
How Many Keys Digital Piano Should You Get
This is something that is often overlooked. It is important to consider the number of keys on a digital pianos keyboard. The keys affects the overall performance of the instrument and exactly what you can play.
Most products have 66, 88 or 72 keys but most players recommend going for a model with at least 88-keys.
66 keys will suffice for beginners while learning to play but as your skills progress youll need to upgrade keys to improve your performance.
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