Who doesn’t want to learn at least a few favorite songs on the piano? But this is not the most accessible instrument, no matter how much money and room you have in your home.
I suggest you consider an alternative – one of the best budget keyboard pianos. If you want to start learning or play for your entertainment, one of these will fit the bill perfectly.
The sound quality on affordable keyboard pianos can be quite good, with the right setup. And, more often than not, you’ll find these instruments loaded with songs, rhythms, voices, and effects. You may not even get to use all of them after years of playing.
9 Best Budget Keyboard Pianos That Will Surprise You
Table of Contents
- 9 Best Budget Keyboard Pianos That Will Surprise You
- Understanding Key Configurations
- Most Important Voices to Look for
- How Important Is a Recording Function?
- Build Quality – What to Expect
- The Feel Explained
- Do You Need Pedals?
Some may refrain from calling the Yamaha PSR-E263 a digital piano since it only features 61 keys. That said, the keys are full-sized and have a nice feel to them. Many features on this piano compensate for the lack of a full-sized keyboard.
The PSR-E263 comes with 130 backing tracks, has duo mode support, an exhaustive library of sounds, and even some pre-loaded piano lessons to get you started. As far as cheap beginner-friendly keyboard pianos go, few are as loaded with features as this one.
A 61-keys configuration is more than enough to learn the basics. And, it’s also enough to play some complex tunes too. I also like the use of a wide range of voices from various instruments. That can make playing the piano much more entertaining when someone starts hitting a wall.
Due to its smaller size, the PSR-E263 is also much more suitable for traveling. The speakers are clear enough, but I recommend using an external sound system to maintain clarity at higher volume settings.
Also, it’s a bit unfortunate that a power adapter is not included. That doesn’t set things up for a plug-and-play experience out of the box.
Casio’s WK-245 digital piano is one of the most versatile budget keyboards out there. Although it doesn’t offer a complete note range, it does have 76 keys. That's more than enough for most beginners, and it may even be enough for some intermediate players.
There’s an extensive library of sounds to access from instruments to tones. The built-in songs can help you learn to play faster. I also like that there are 180 preset rhythms included. These are accessible with just a few button presses.
This feature is the best if you’re looking not just to learn piano but also how to write music in different genres. And speaking of writing, you’re unlikely to forget your ideas since the keyboard has enough memory to record up to five songs at a time.
The control interface may be somewhat intimidating at first. However, every effect, rhythm, and tone has visual indicators so that navigating the piano will be easy.
A power supply is also in the box. I like the LCD, which is large enough and has excellent visibility from multiple angles. Also, it can show musical notes.
Although it doesn’t have a sheet music stand or a full set of keys, the PSR-EW300 has plenty going for it. For one, it features a 76-key configuration, which makes it more useful to intermediate and experienced players.
The built-in speakers are not very powerful but show impressive clarity, regardless of the voices you use. In the voices section, the keyboard has a library of 574 timbres you can use. There are also over 100 styles and genres you can access for backing tracks, as well as 154 full songs to jam along with.
Like all other cheaper Yamaha digital keyboards, the PSR-EW300 features the Yamaha Education Suite. IT should help you learn the fundamentals of piano playing and learn some music theory too.
I will say that the absence of a larger LCD is a bit disappointing. However, the backlighting is good enough to help you practice in poor lighting conditions as well as very bright rooms.
The USB connectivity brings it all together as it allows you to take your playing to the next level, once you’re ready. It will also allow you to import and export MIDI files with ease.
Equipped with decent speakers, a 61-key configuration, and a Loop Mix function, the Roland GO is one of the best cheap keyboard pianos. What’s more, it can double as a recording studio.
Perhaps the red color is not for everyone. That said, it’s the quality and performance that matters to me the most. In terms of existing features, the Roland GO boasts over 500 different sounds in its library.
You have access to many voices, from the traditional piano sounds to synths, strings, and even brass instruments. That’s hard to come by in the budget-friendly price range.
I like that this piano has just 61 keys as it makes it more accessible to young beginners. However, it does make it drop off in value as you get more experienced and develop an understanding of music theory.
Still, you won’t always need an 88-key configuration to play hip-hop, pop, rock, and other popular genres. So, unless you’re getting the piano strictly to study classical music, you shouldn’t be worried about the key count.
The user interface is super simple, too, compared to other keyboard pianos/recording stations. And, the one-touch control makes it easy to adjust and manipulate the loops you create.
Equipped with semi-weighted keys, built-in speakers, and a full-sized keyboard, the Alesis Recital 88-Key is one of the most convenient digital pianos for a beginner. It’s cheap, offers a complete note range, and it also has a good feel to it.
I like the adjustable touch response, especially when dealing with semi-weighted keys. The inclusion of five high-quality voices is good too. Although other pianos may offer a lot more in terms of sounds, this library contains everything a beginner needs. You will get acoustic and electric piano, synth, bass, and organ.
Along with the voices, there are two effects too, the reverb and chorus. So, there is some tone customization you can do. Apart from being able to escape a bland tone, you should also get enough volume from the integrated 20W speakers.
The sound is clear and loud enough for practice purposes. And you can make things better if you connect the Alesis Recital to powered speakers.
Although beginners may not have a lot of need for one, the piano does feature a sustain pedal support. Unfortunately, the pedal doesn't come in the package. I will say that the battery life is not that great, even for a budget-friendly digital piano with minimalistic features. Luckily a power adapter is included.
One of the best things about the Ypt260? It comes with a power adapter. Not all Yamaha budget-friendly keyboards do. The 61-keys configuration helps bring down the price a notch. It makes it so that kids, beginners, and adults with small hands can pick up the instrument faster.
In terms of sounds, you get to play with 400 voices and 130 accompaniment styles. Backing tracks are also there, as are 112 complete songs.
There’s a lot to jam to, improvise, experiment with, and learn with this portable keyboard. You can also take advantage of the Yamaha Education Suite. It will provide you with nine lessons to understand the basics of using the piano.
I also like that there’s a record and playback function, even though the Ypt260 only has 32 polyphony. That said, it is a good-sounding digital piano, for what you pay. It’s not as versatile in terms of recording, but that’s because it doesn’t support a USB connection.
But I do recommend it as a practice instrument nonetheless, as well as a travel keyboard due to its size. Decent speakers and a vast sound library are more than sufficient for beginners.
If you’re less concerned with sound quality, then this Hamzer bundle may be the thing for you. This keyboard comes with a bunch of accessories and will help you get off the ground fast.
It has a ton of features, and its 61-key configuration makes it very easy to pick up the basics. Its smaller size and lightweight construction also make it an ideal travel digital keyboard.
Within its memory, the Hamzer digital keyboard has 24 demo songs, 255 backing rhythms, and 255 voices combining traditional and modern instruments. Tone customization is easy to achieve, and the possibilities are many.
You may also appreciate the included microphone, headphones, and Hamzer piano chair. Using these and the record and playback functions, you can record your original songs. You can record songs at whatever tempo you want and with as many effects as you wish.
The voices may not have the highest quality. And, the keys are not as sensitive as what other manufacturers offer. However, if you’re looking for as many features and functions as possible for cheap, you may be hard-pressed to find a better bundle.
I like the use of semi-weighted keys as well as a full-sized 88-key keyboard. Ten voices are available, including the staples of any good digital piano – acoustic and electric pianos, and two organs.
That should help you not only understand more instruments faster but also experiment and play in different genres. The keyboard has two 12W speakers, which combined offer a more than decent output.
What sets this instrument apart is the fact that it has support for three pedals and a microphone. The package contains none of them, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the RockJam 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano is very versatile for its affordable price tag.
You can also use it with various audio recording software as an interface to create songs in almost any genre.
Along with the piano, you’ll also get a sheet music stand, a power adapter, and key stickers to speed up the learning process. I think this is a good enough bundle for the money, especially since not all digital pianos come with power adapters.
It is one of the most affordable digital keyboards on the market. It’s ideal for beginners due to its 61-key configuration. It also offers a wide range of voices, rhythms, and full songs to help you experiment and learn at the same time.
A USB port is also there so that you can import your songs and use audio recording software. Of course, it can help you enhance the volume and audio clarity.
I like that the AC adapter is in the box, so you won’t have to rely only on batteries or buy an aftermarket adapter. Three hundred tones are in the piano’s memory. You have your choice of classical piano, electric piano, various strings, and brass instruments. Synthesizers, organs, and many other voices are at your disposal, too.
It’s a remarkably versatile keyboard piano, with an intuitive user interface. That said, the audio quality is somewhat lacking, as is the volume. Without taking advantage of the USB connection, an intermediate player may not fully appreciate the instrument.
The build quality is ok but nothing too impressive given the budget-friendly price tag. And, I should also point out the lack of weighted keys. While the feel is not as realistic, I think that for the early stages of playing, the three learning modes may compensate for this.
Understanding Key Configurations
The most common configurations include 61-keys, 76-keys, and 88-keys. 88 is the classical piano configuration, as it offers a full note range.
When searching for cheap keyboards, you can expect to see a lot more models with 61 and 76-key configurations. These are also considered more beginner-friendly and can’t offer a feeling just as real as that of an 88-key model.
Some other advantages of configurations with fewer keys include less weight, a compact design, and better portability. They can also be very competitive as long as the keyboard happens to have enough voices, rhythms, and instrument presets.
Most Important Voices to Look for
For the average beginner, having an electric piano voice and the grand acoustic piano voice is enough. The good news is that all keyboard pianos have this. The quality will differ, of course, in terms of nuance, volume, and clarity.
But I think that it’s also essential to find a good organ voice. It can help you escape the monotony of the piano and allow you to play more genres too.
There are two types of budget keyboard pianos – those that offer the standard, classical voices, and those that provide extensive libraries. I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other.
To me, voice quality matters the most. So, if I wanted to play piano on a budget, I would pick a keyboard with five or six high-quality voices over something with hundreds of mediocre tones.
Of course, when you’re talking about big-time manufacturers, the voice quality should be there, even when it comes to cheap pianos.
How Important Is a Recording Function?
Unless you plan on composing, there’s no urgency to have a recording function. You can always connect your keyboard to your computer or laptop and record your playing with the help of recording software.
I think that the recording function is only necessary if a USB connection is not available.
Build Quality – What to Expect
You can’t ask for much when it comes to cheap digital keyboard pianos. The plastic is going to be light and not very impact-resistant. However, it shouldn’t easily crack or bend if you’re handling it with care.
I think that the quality of the keys is something you should concern yourself with more than the actual housing. The keys should be sturdy but also smooth.
You’ll also want to find a good quality grille covering the speakers. If the piano has built-in speakers, those are perhaps the most vulnerable points on the instrument.
The Feel Explained
How to get a realistic feel on a keyboard? Well, as you probably know, piano keys are weighted. They are also velocity or touch-sensitive. That means that a soft touch will produce a quieter sound, while a harder press will result in a louder sound.
Keyboard pianos tend to come with three types of keys – standard, semi-weighted, and weighted. Standard keyboard keys don’t have a realistic feel because they have no sensors. They don’t register the difference between a soft tap and a hard tap.
Semi-weighted keys are usually adjustable. Depending on how you set the velocity meter, they will register different velocities differently and translate the sounds accordingly.
Fully-weighted keys are just like piano keys. Well, at least they feel like piano keys. They use more advanced sensors and can respond to the faintest nuances of your fingering technique to reproduce unique tones.
It’s going to be hard to find cheap keyboard pianos with fully-weighted keys. Semi-weighted keys you will find. Standard keys are the most common.
So how do you pick between what’s available? If you want a more realistic feel, the configuration featuring semi-weighted keys will be more enjoyable. It will also help you have a smoother transition to an acoustic piano.
If you want to save even more money, and if you’re more interested in synth work rather than piano tunes, then a standard keyboard configuration will do just fine.
Do You Need Pedals?
You don’t need them. Not when you’re just learning piano. But, after a few months, you will feel the need to learn how to use at least a sustain pedal. It’s used quite a lot in both modern and classical music.
So, here’s how you can look at it. The more pedals that the keyboard supports, the better. It means that your instrument is not just a starter instrument but that it can transition well into intermediate and advanced playing.
Unfortunately, pedals are not often included in budget keyboard piano bundles. But it’s still good to know that you can use them when you’re ready to learn and when you can afford them. Some keyboard pianos don’t even have a sustain pedal support.
While they may have an on-board dial to simulate sustain, I think that pedal support is mandatory if you plan on transitioning to a real piano later on.
You Don’t Have to Pay a Fortune to Learn
The best budget keyboard pianos can end up costing you less than buying a cheap guitar or violin. And, they’re more versatile, as long as they have enough voices and pre-loaded tones.
As you can see from the options in this article, there’s a lot to look at when buying a piano, even if it’s a cheap one. But it’s not rocket science. So, as you have the basic principles down, it’s going to be easy to make the right choice for your needs.