In this article, I’m going to talk about some of the criteria that should go into the decision making process for those that are beginners looking for a new keyboard. I’m also going to take a little bit of time to discuss the difference between a digital piano and a keyboard, and how that factors into this overall process.
This article will also focus on some of the needs and purposes for beginners who want to use keyboards, and how that informs what they should buy. If you are a beginner piano player, you have certainly come to the right place, and the tips you receive here should hopefully help you down the road to come.
Below, take a look at our interactive table where you can compare great beginner keyboards such as the Yamaha NP 11 or NP31 against the likes of helpful Casio instruments like the CTK-2300 and CTK-4200. Keyboards are compared based on things like weight, price, and average customer review ratings.
$ = $500 or less | $$ = $500 – $1,000 | $$$ = $1,000 and up
|Yamaha NP-12||61||$||Uses Six AA Batteries||★★★★|
|Yamaha NP-32||76||$||Graded Soft Touch (GST) Keyboard||★★★★|
|Yamaha YPT-255||61||$||385 Voices||★★★★|
|Yamaha PSR-E253||61||$||Use Batteries or Power Adapter||★★★★|
|Yamaha PSR-E353||61||$||Touch-Sensitive Keys||★★★★|
|Yamaha PSR-E453||61||$||48 Note Polyphony||★★★★|
|Casio CTK-2400||61||$||400 AHL Keyboard Voices||★★★★|
|Casio CTK-4400||61||$||Touch-Sensitive Keys||★★★★|
The Best Keyboard for a Beginner
Before we decide what we need to buy as a beginner looking for a keyboard, we must make sure we are clear that there is a difference between a digital piano and a keyboard.
Many people use these terms interchangeably, but that could not be farther from the truth.
It is understandable that a few beginners may not recognize this distinction because they may come from a background that does not involve pianos or musical instruments. They may know nothing about the action of a real piano or the authentic sound that a real piano possesses.
Ultimately, this is the main difference. A full size digital piano most likely has been manufactured to be a practice substitute or replacement to a real acoustic or grand piano. Because of this, many times piano players are looking for something that is going to replicate the keyboard action, breadth, and sometimes size of the real thing.
Most keyboards, however, have a different focus. Many times these are not focused on a specific grand piano sound, but rather a large number of electronic and synthesized sounds. Also, they usually do not focus at all on keyboard action and are fit with spring-loaded keys.
Now that you have learned more about the differences, you can hopefully make an informed decision on what you really want. In truth, it would not be bad to make the switch from a keyboard to a digital piano. In fact, for many people who are serious about piano, this would be ideal and expected.
In the end, it is of course up to you.
We’ve also provided a list below of the some of the best selling digital keyboards available on Amazon–all of which would be great for beginners:
Some of the Best Beginner Keyboards
A great place to start for beginners looking for keyboards would be with the Yamaha Piaggero NP 12, which we recently reviewed here.
The NP-12 is designed exactly to be a portable keyboard, providing the best of what Yamaha has to offer but still being light and very portable. In trying to fulfill the portability portion of the piano, Yamaha has chopped off about two octaves of keys, making this model a 61 key version.
If that’s not enough keys for you, you can always check out the comparable Yamaha Piaggero NP 32, which has 76 keys. This piano features Yamaha’s Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) sound engine, which is certainly top of the line and can be found in many of their digital piano models.
There are only 10 voices here, so a whole lot of notes of polyphony are just not needed, although you get a fairly decent 64 notes of polyphony here.
One great feature about the NP-32 is the 10 preset demo songs that come corresponding to each voice. This is such a great feature, as it allows the beginner piano player to practice and learn how each instrument is supposed to sound. It gives the player a benchmark to shoot for.
This is one of my favorite keyboards and it goes for just $160 online. Check out a great demonstration of it in the video below:
Another great piano option for beginners looking for keyboards is the Casio LK 165. While this keyboard does offers many of the same things its competitors do, it ups the ante by adding keys that light up when you press them.
The more that I look at a piano like this, I realize how genius it really is. I think about myself, and how I learned the piano, and it was basically by memorizing finger placements and shapes. I saw things very visually, and I definitely did not learn by memorizing note names and chords.
This machine is perfect for the way many people learn.
The machine can play whole songs while lighting up certain keys, showing you how to play songs with ease. This way, it is almost as if you have your own personal teacher with you.
This is also a 61 key machine, but it has a total of 90 demo songs, all of which are compatible with the lighted key feature. There is also a major upgrade here with over 400 tones available.
Any beginner should not be able to exhaust what this keyboard has to offer very quickly. I would recommend this keyboard to anybody who is a visual learner and likely anyone that is completely brand new to pianos, keyboards or musical instruments.
The LK-165 can be had for $150 online.
Lastly, another keyboard I would love to recommend is the Huntington KB-61 Portable keyboard. Huntington is certainly one of the lesser-known makers of musical products–in fact, to many including myself at one point, they were completely unknown.
But as I have expressed in a past article, sometimes we are afraid of change, or we are afraid of what we do not know. But that does not mean it is not of benefit to us. It just means we have to try it out.
The KB 61 is a wonderful option for beginner piano players because it gives exactly what is needed for a bargain price. There are 100 voices and tones matched perfectly with 100 rhythms, so if you ever need any accompaniment or just something to help you keep tempo, you have what you need.
There is also a chord function that allows you to press one note and have the LED display show you the chords that form from that note. This is a perfect teaching component absolutely necessary for young piano players. I think I can say pretty safely that no piano will beat this one for price, coming in at just under $75 for the 61 key version. This piano also comes in a 54 key edition, as well.
Drawing Some Conclusions
While getting a keyboard can be great, one must always keep him or herself informed of some of the drawbacks that can come with these instruments.
An the biggest one I see is this: if you are a serious piano player, you always need to remember that it is important to keep your fingers and piano technique as crisp as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to practice on an instrument that’s as closely replicated to that of a real piano as you can find.
This is mostly done using hammer action technologies, which many keyboards simply do not have. So it is important, especially if you plan on perfecting your craft to one day upgrade to a good digital piano, that it may actually be in your best long-term interest to search for a beginner piano rather than a keyboard.
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