Buying a good acoustic piano is a big investment. Even an intermediate upright model can set you back several grands and you may not end up loving the experience.
That’s where keyboards and digital pianos come in. They are far more affordable as well as portable. However, for an introduction to your ultimate goal of playing the piano, you might as well start with an inexpensive model.
Best Keyboards to Learn Piano as a Beginner
To help you pick the right one, I’ll cover my top beginner keyboards in this article. Any of them would be perfect for learning to play the piano.
Table of Contents
- Best Keyboards to Learn Piano as a Beginner
- Build Quality
- Size and Number of Keys
- Basic Features
- Educational Features
- Connectivity Options
This is the upgraded MKII version of the popular Alesis Melody 61 portable keyboard – 61 for the number of keys. This one is a great option for those who are eager to learn how to play the piano without making an overly big commitment.
The MKII is loaded with a bunch of interesting features. For example, it has 300 sounds to choose from, including guitar, clarinet, piano, and many more. All sound colors feature split and layer modes. There are also 300 rhythm patterns and for practicing late in the evening, there’s also a 1/8” headphone jack.
You can opt to play along and practice with one of the 40 built-in demo songs. Alternatively, you can record your own original songs.
The package, though affordable, is jam-packed with accessories. The box includes the keyboard, a microphone, a pair of headphones, bench, music rest, foldable keyboard stand, power adapter, user’s guide, and safety manual.
Yamaha is one of the biggest and well-regarded manufacturers of music instruments, including keyboards. The EX-220 is one of Yamaha’s most popular all-in-one beginner packages. The keyboard itself is a pretty standard 61-key model with loads of sounds, built-in demo songs, and beats.
One of the highlights of this affordable keyboard is that it is very easy to connect to an iPad. iOS users will surely find this feature useful.
This keyboard also features a learning mode which, when engaged, it lights up the next key that you should play. This is a great feature for absolute beginners and those who aren’t familiar with music notes.
On the technical side, this model is equipped with almost 400 sounds. The included Y.E.S. – Yamaha Education Suite – feature makes learning to play much easier.
The all-inclusive package comes with the bare minimum necessary accessories. These include a foldable stand and a power adaptor. The included apps are EZ-220 Page Turner, Visual Performer, Piano Diary, and Note Star.
What we have here is more than a regular budget keyboard. It comes with weighted keys, and this means that the keys are pressure-sensitive and the volume depends on how hard you press the keys. The keys are also adjustable, which means that you can make them more or less responsive.
The Recital has 88 keys, just like a real piano. They’re designed to give you a more realistic feel than the non-weighted keys commonly found on keyboards. This model has five built-in sounds: bass, synth, organ, electric piano, and acoustic piano. While it might not seem like much, all five are very well done and faithful to the particular instrument.
The Layer mode allows you to combine any two sounds. Alternatively, you can assign one color to the left and another to the right side of the piano. The Recital has 20W speakers as well as built-in chorus and reverb effects. The maximum polyphony is 128 notes.
The package includes the electric piano, a foldable stand, a padded stool, and a power adapter. You also get a three-month subscription to Skoove Premium.
The Smart Piano Keyboard by The One Music Group is affordable and beginner-friendly. It is great if you’re looking to present your children with their first big keyboard.
The One Smart Piano Keyboard is pretty standard fare for a budget model. It features 61 lighted keys, two on-board speakers, and a ton of built-in sounds and beats. The controls and an elegant tablet holder are nicely laid out on this sleek keyboard.
It can be connected to a computer via USB if you wish to use it to record music. It is also compatible with iOS and Android. The oldest supported iOS version is 9.0 and Android is 4.4.
The One Music Group also includes a free app with this keyboard, which allows you to access video lessons, educational games, and sheet music. It also allows you to choose among 128 instrument sounds.
The keyboard is offered either standalone or bundled with a bench and stand.
This Hamzer is an all-in-one electronic keyboard bundle. It is very affordable and includes all the accessories a beginner might need to start learning to play the piano. This is also a good option for your kids as a starter keyboard.
The keyboard is equipped with 61 keys but they are non-weighted and won’t give you the feel of playing on an acoustic piano. However, the package includes transparent stickers with note names to help you learn faster.
Electronically, this model features a 255-sound bank, including the sounds of the piano and various string, brass, and wind instruments. There are also 255 built-in beats, as well as a set of 24 demo songs to play along with.
The package includes the keyboard, a set of headphones, a microphone, a stand, a power adapter (110-120V), and a padded stool. There aren’t any included apps or memberships to learning sites.
The RockJam 61-Key Electronic Keyboard Piano is an all-in-one keyboard package designed especially for beginners. The keyboard features standard-sized keys for a pretty realistic feel of piano key size and spacing. For this reason, the RockJam is great for players of all ages and sizes except for very young children who might find the instrument a bit too big.
This keyboard is equipped with a big sound bank that features 100 distinct sounds. Several types of acoustic and electric pianos are included, as well as string ensembles, choirs, guitars, brass sections, and synth pads. The record and playback features are also included.
The rhythm section offers 50 different drum and percussion patterns, suitable for a wide array of styles and genres. Another beginner-friendly addition is the metronome with adjustable tempo.
This all-in-one electronic keyboard package has all the necessary accessories for you to start playing right away. The list includes a pair of headphones, a microphone, an adjustable chair, a power adaptor, and a stand. A free one-month subscription to Simply Piano app and a two-month subscription to Face to Face lessons are also included.
7. Casio LK190
The LK190 by Casio is a portable keyboard with lighted keys. This model is equipped with a standard set of 61 keys which is in line with many other beginner-oriented keyboards. Since this is a budget keyboard, the keys are not weighted.
This Casio is loaded with a huge sound bank featuring a staggering number of 400 MIDI sounds. It also has 100 built-in rhythms that cover a wide range of musical styles and genres. There’s also a Dance Music Mode which allows you to remix and make electronic music.
Another great feature is the keyboard’s ability to light up the keys that you are supposed to play when you’re in the Lesson Lite mode. This feature is common to the entire Casio LK range of keyboards.
The main accessories included are a pair of Samson HP30 headphones, a foldable keyboard stand, and the power adaptor. The headphones are closed-cup and have an excellent frequency response range. They’re also lightweight and comfortable. The compact stand takes up barely any space at all when folded and stored away.
Keep the following things in mind when you're trying to pick the best keyboard for learning piano for you.
As with any instruments, you should always take the build quality into consideration. Even beginner-level instruments should ideally be made to last.
To begin with, check the housing of the keyboard and the feel of the keys. The case should look and feel solid to the touch and the keys shouldn’t be flimsy or too stiff.
Most beginner keyboards come with accessories, which may include a keyboard stand and a pair of headphones. Sometimes, a microphone might be included as well. The point is that you wouldn’t want a chair or stand that can collapse in the middle of practice.
Size and Number of Keys
The key count can vary dramatically from one model to another. However, for the purpose of learning how to play the piano, look for keyboards that have at least 61 keys. Some come with all 88 keys, which make them more like digital pianos. You can also find keyboards that have 49 keys and even as few as 25 keys.
Regarding the size of the keys, both 61 and 88-key keyboards are likely to have standard-sized keys. Smaller keys may help younger children. Be that as it may, standard keyboard keys are most often smaller and shorter than those found on an acoustic piano.
The basic features to look for in the best beginner keyboards include built-in sounds (instrument voicings/colors), drum beats, and demo songs. Generally, budget keyboards already come with over a hundred sounds and beats. Some might offer 300 or more sounds and well over 200 beats.
Likewise, it is not uncommon for a beginner model to have a wide selection of demo songs, perhaps 20 to 100 of them.
However, it’d make sense to focus on the quality than the quantity. You don’t need me to tell you that it’s more desirable to have a handful of well-made presets and beats than a boatload of useless ones.
You should also inspect whether there are any useful built-in effects, such as chorus and reverb. Also, check the playback and recording functions and whether you can split the keyboard.
Many beginner keyboards come with built-in educational features as follows.
Many beginner keyboard models are available in bundles. In addition to the instrument, a bundle would include a selection of accessories that a beginner might need or find useful early on. The most common accessories are a keyboard stand, chair, and headphones. Some might also include a microphone.
Whatever included chairs are almost always padded and the stands are foldable. Included headphones are typically closed-cup to minimize noise propagation when you play at night.
Some less frequently seen accessories might include music sheet stands and key-name stickers. Beginner keyboards may be battery-powered or wall-powered or both, though you’ll definitely want to plug yours in if you’re serious about playing at all.
The available connections are another important consideration. Many models these days come with a USB port for connecting to a computer. Some may feature MIDI ports, too.
If you plan on using a tablet with your keyboard, you should also inspect the supported mobile OS. In the United States at least, most available keyboards support iOS devices. But Android could be more of a hit or miss.
The World in Black and White
Beginner keyboards are a great option if you want a low-cost instrument with which to learn to play the piano. This list should give you a good idea as to where to start the search. May you be looking for a real piano soon after.