When your child begins developing a passion in music, and perhaps even shows a knack for being musically inclined and highly talented, it’s time to begin shopping for a quality digital piano.
But that doesn’t mean that finding a good instrument is easy to do. In fact, you’ve probably asked yourself the following questions over the past few days or weeks:
- What are the basic requirements when you consider buying a digital piano for kids?
- Should I necessarily buy a digital piano, or should I consider a keyboard too?
- How many keys should it have?
- How much will it cost?
In this article, we’ll guide you through the best piano options for kids by selecting five different models that are suitable for learning the basics.
Below, we’ve created an interactive table where you can compare and contrast a variety of affordable pianos and keyboards that are ideal for kids:
|Yamaha NP12||61||Uses Six AA Batteries|
|Yamaha DGX 670||88||601 Voices, 29 Drums, SFX Kits|
|Yamaha NP32||76||Graded Soft Touch (GST) Keyboard|
|Casio CDP-S350||88||700 built-in tones|
|Korg LP-380 U||88||Now features USB Audio/MIDI|
Piano or Keyboard?
For your convenience, we picked a list of five products that include both keyboards and digital pianos, which will compare and contrast against one another in this article.
The following instruments are all good products, and can all be acquired for under $300:
- Casio LK-280
- Casio WK-225
- Williams Legato
- Yamaha EZ-220
- Yamaha Piaggero NP-31
As you can see, we picked two 61-key digital keyboards with lighted keys (LK-280 and EZ-220), two 76-key digital keyboards (WK-225 and NP-31) and one 88-key digital piano (Williams Legato).
Below, please take a look at some of our favorite digital keyboards and pianos that we think are great instruments for kids to use:
|1) Casio PX-S3000|
|2) Casio PX-780|
|3) Casio PX-870|
With that out of the way, let’s dive right into it:
- Yamaha EZ-220
The Yamaha EZ-220 ships for $159 and it is a 61-key digital keyboard with an integrated key-light system, which is helpful for kids to learn the position of each note while studying a particular song. It has a responsive organ-style keyboard that allows children to master the different dynamics that the piano is capable of giving by playing harder or smoother.
It offers a 392-tone sound engine and a complete educational suite (called Y.E.S.) that, together with a Lesson mode, is particularly great for learning the 100 integrated songs and several technique exercises. The EZ-220 also features a USB port and a built-in wireless connectivity that allows use of an iPad and the free Page Turner app. All those features are available in a compact and extremely lightweight chassis (only 11 pounds).
Its affordable price is, however, the classic example of smoke and mirrors: the EZ-220 ships with no AC adapter (it can still be used with batteries) nor sustain pedal, and if you want to buy all the optional accessories, you will easily pay for the cost of the Casio LK-280.
Speaking of the LK-280, let’s dig into this instrument now.
- Casio LK-280
This is a 61-key lighter action digital keyboard with a key-light system that, different from the EZ-220, features a great piano-style keyboard with a 2-layer responsiveness (while the Yamaha’s only has one layer). This product ships for $199 and includes the AC adapter.
The Casio LK-280 offers more polyphony than the Yamaha EZ-220 (48-note vs. 32-note), more sounds (600 vs. 392) and rhythms (180 vs. 100) and has some interesting exclusive features such as a SD card slot, a Step-Lesson/Step-Teacher mode and a Karaoke option to turn the keyboard in a piece of entertainment.
The LK-280 also includes a built-in digital recorder that is absent from the EZ-220. If you need to transport the keyboard and play on-the-go, you can use the batteries and carry it over thanks to a lightweight chassis of only 11 pounds. Combining all these features, you’ll get a more convenient product that is also better for studying the basics, thanks to a keyboard with a look resembling the one of an acoustic piano.
- Check out our review of the Casio LK-165 here.
- Casio WK-225
Now, if 61 keys are not enough and you want a bigger keyboard for the child in your life, the Casio WK-225 may be the next best solution. It has basically all the features of the aforementioned model (except the SD-card slot), plus some unique advantages.
Having an additional octave is a great option to start practicing more complex pieces of classical music, but also two-hand scales and arpeggios. This 76-key piano-style digital keyboard from the Japanese manufacturer includes the Casio’s renowned Step Up lesson mode, a Sampling mode to create your own sounds using a microphone, a Music Challenge mode and even an automatic Harmonizer.
The Casio WK-225 comes with an included AC adapter, but can also run on batteries if you want to take it with you on gigs or rehearsals, thanks to its lack of heft (this keyboard weights just 15.9 pounds).
You can read our review of the Casio WK-225 here.
- Yamaha NP-31
With the Piaggero-series, Yamaha has created a compact and lightweight portable keyboard that features a responsive 76-key graded semi-weighted keyboard. It shares the same AWM engine with the company’s P-45 digital piano (you can read our review of the Yamaha P-45 here), a 32-note maximum polyphony and 10 different voices.
As we now move into a different approach to instruments with the NP-31, you won’t find any kind of Lesson mode or digital recorder. The NP-31 is designed with portability in mind, but offers a great piano tone and good key action to learn the basics while waiting for upgrade to a proper digital piano. A built-in metronome with adjustable tempo is also available to help kids while practicing.
Despite a heavier keyboard than the other products of the group, the Yamaha Piaggero NP-31 is extremely lightweight overall (just 12 pounds) and can operate even without the power supply, using only 6 AA batteries. While being the most expensive keyboard of the group (shipping for $279), the higher quality of its sound engine may really be worth the price.
- Williams Legato
If you think that 88 keys are an indispensable requirement for your children’s first digital piano (and some people most certainly do), then you might be interested in the Williams Legato, a 88-key semi-weighted piano with a compact and portable cabinet that is perfect for both practicing and performing live.
Just like the NP-31, the Williams Legato does not offer lots of features because of a street price of $199, which is a true benefit if you’re looking to acquire your first 88-key piano without breaking the bank.
The Legato offers a fair sound engine with a good piano sample and four other sounds, such as electric piano, organ, synth and bass. There’s also a built-in metronome for practicing and a music rest where you can easily read your sheet music.
Unfortunately, the Williams Legato does not ship with an included AC adapter, and while you can still use the piano with batteries, you’ll need to buy the optional ESS1 Essential Pack to enjoy the power supply, sustain pedal and headphones. Even so, the total price is really affordable for an 88-key piano.
What’s the Verdict?
Considering the sound, the keyboard action and the overall features, we think the best solution for a kid learning piano is the Casio WK-225.
Due to a fair price, a reasonable number of keys to learn the basics of scales and arpeggios, a great polyphony and over 600 available sounds, this product from Casio is the best option under the $300.
It’s obvious that choosing a product in this matter is highly subjective (we encourage you to do your own personal research and even sample a few pianos if you can), so the final verdict only depends on your individual needs.
With that said, if you don’t want to exceed a $199 budget, you may want opt for the Casio LK-280, which offers the best overall value in that range.
In the same way, if you desire a better sounding product instead of lots of sounds that you will never use, our advice is to spend a slightly higher amount of money and buy the Yamaha Piaggero NP-31, which has the same sound engine of the $449 Yamaha P-45.
If your goal is to buy a digital piano that has 88 keys (and ideally be a thrifty spender while doing so), then we suggest to you consider the Williams Legato, despite being the less-convincing product in terms of its sound engine quality.
Finally, note that this list does not include any proper 88-key hammer-action digital pianos. So if you’re interested in those kind of instruments, please visit our Best Entry-Level Digital Piano article!
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