5 Best Piano Keyboards for Beginners

best piano keyboard for beginners

Whether you’re starting to learn an instrument or buying gear for someone who is, there are familiar questions regardless of the discipline. Most of these come down to questions about what features you need, what type you should choose and, of course, how much you should spend. Only the buyer can answer the last one, but there are a few guidelines for the others. In this post, we’ve covered virtually the full range of beginner keyboards in terms of price. We start with an option under $100 and end on one just under $1,000. Each buyer and player will have a different set of criteria by which to judge what they consider a beginner piece and the market has options for all of those interpretations.

For those looking to start their careers as piano prodigies, here are our best piano keyboards for beginners.

What are the best piano keyboards for beginners?

Plixio piano keyboard Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Very inexpensive
  • USB port
  • Full sized keys
Price: $68.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Casio piano keyboard Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 61 full-size keys
  • Two levels of touch sensitivity
  • 48 note polyphony
Price: $169.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Alesis piano keyboard Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 88 full-size, semi-weighted keys
  • 128 note polyphony
  • Can use two voices at once
Price: $235.42 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Yamaha piano keyboard Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 88 full-size, accurately weighted keys
  • 64 note polyphony
  • Realistic piano tones
Price: $499.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
yamaha piano keyboard Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 88 GHS weighted keys
  • Built-in sustain pedals
  • USB connectivity
Price: $1,800.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Plixio 61 Key Electric Music Keyboard Piano

    Pros:
    • Very inexpensive
    • USB port for playing back MP3 files
    • Full sized keys
    • 100 rhythms and 60 demo songs for practice
    Cons:
    • No touch sensitivity
    • Can’t be used with a sustain pedal
    • Only 10 note polyphony
    • Some quality control issues

    While you can certainly find keyboards for less, this one offers a good mix of functionality at an extremely low price. It has a few things that a beginner’s keyboard should, including 61 full sized keys, built-in drum rhythms and demo songs to play along to, as well as a USB port for playing external music during practice sessions. It’s light and portable, so practice anywhere will be no problem.

    It doesn’t have touch sensitivity of any kind, which will certainly hamper the transition to acoustic pianos, but this is a good choice for absolute beginners that need to learn note placement and chord shapes. For $40 more, there’s a competitive option in the Yamaha YPT260, which adds touch sensitivity, 130 auto accompaniment styles, and a nine-step lesson function.

  2. 2. Casio CTK-3500 EPA 61-Key Educational Keyboard Pack

    Pros:
    • 61 full-size keys
    • Two levels of touch sensitivity
    • 48 note polyphony
    • Bundle includes headphones, USB cable, learning software, stand and power supply
    Cons:
    • No bench included in the bundle (available here)
    • Built-in piano sound not quite authentic
    • Middle C is offset compared to other options
    • Some users find it overly complicated

    Casio is well-known in the keyboard world, though usually for the noise-making toy units from the 80s. This is a proper learning piano keyboard which combines 61 full-size keys with two levels of touch sensitivity so you can determine how it responds to your playing. Though a beginner probably won’t use them, there are 400 different voicings on board, as well as 100 rhythms for playing along.

    This bundle includes the all-important headphones (a must for beginners on any instrument, really — that’s something you can’t replicate on acoustic options), a stand, a USB cable, a power supply, and a supplementary CD to help get your learning started. In addition, Casio announced the availability of the Chordana Play app last year, which allows you to connect the keyboard to your smartphone to further enhance training.

    This is the middle of the range for the CTK series, with the CTK-2550 bundle coming in at $129.99 but foregoing touch sensitivity and the CTK-6200 bundle coming in at $229.95 and adding more voices and effects that aren’t super useful for beginners.

    Competitive bundle options include the Yamaha PSRE263, which includes a bench at $219, and the Alesis Melody 61 which has light-weighted keys at $119.99.

  3. 3. Alesis Recital 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano

    Pros:
    • 88 full-size, semi-weighted keys with adjustable touch sensitivity
    • 128 note polyphony
    • Ability to combine two voices or split the keyboard between them
    • Includes three month subscription to Skoove online piano lessons
    Cons:
    • Sounds might not appease some listeners
    • Keys can feel stiff and on the cheap side
    • Built-in speakers can’t quite keep up with the low end
    • Some quality control issues

    Moving into the realm of things that look a bit more like professional digital pianos, the Recital includes a full 88 keys. Those keys are semi-weighted, but also include adjustable touch sensitivity, which should be an excellent compromise for beginners. Additionally, while the previous keyboards were littered with buttons, this option simplifies everything to five voices, a split function, two effects, and two mode buttons.

    You can combine any two voices at once for a larger and richer sound, or you can split them so your right and left hands play different voices. This is probably a touch advanced for the beginner just trying to learn the piano, but it means that it will grow as they improve. There are 20-watt speakers built in, as well as inputs on the back for USB, a sustain pedal, RCA out, headphones, and power for the included adapter. Finally, this ships bundled with a three month subscription to Skoove, an interactive online piano lesson service.

    The price underlines that this is for beginners, so those with experience shouldn’t expect a pro-level unit. For a higher end feel, you might consider the Alesis Recital Pro, which offers hammer weighted keys to get even closer to an acoustic piano.

  4. 4. Yamaha P45 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano

    Pros:
    • 88 full-size, accurately weighted keys
    • Ability to combine two voices or split the keyboard between them
    • 64 note polyphony
    • Advanced processing recreates acoustic piano tone
    Cons:
    • Starting to get pretty pricey for a beginner
    • Weighted keys means its heavier and not as portable
    • Lower notes are louder than higher ones, leading to imbalance
    • Some quality control issues

    If you or the piano beginner in your life is taking in-person piano lessons, chances are good that those lessons will occur on an acoustic piano. While piano teachers might have room in their homes for an acoustic piano, it’s not as likely that everyone will.

    This option from Yamaha, who make a number of pianos in every possible category, offers a full compliment of 88 fully weighted keys. These make use of the company’s Graded Hammer Standard and are appropriately weighted with the lower strings playing heavier than the higher ones.

    Like the Alesis, this uses a minimum of buttons that allow you to combine two voices, which use a proprietary processing system to recreate the tones of an acoustic instrument. There are some drawbacks to this, with some users finding that the note volume isn’t as accurate as it could be, but beginners are unlikely to struggle with this. A sustain pedal is also included.

    If you want to upgrade along these same lines, you’ll want to look at the Yamaha P125 which is modeled on the Yamaha 9′ CFIIIS Concert Grand piano and goes for $599.99.

  5. 5. Yamaha YDP103R Arius Series Digital Console Piano

    Pros:
    • Console digital piano promotes proper posture and technique
    • 88 GHS weighted keys
    • 64 note polyphony
    • Built-in sustain pedals and USB connectivity
    Cons:
    • Very expensive
    • Nearly the size of an upright piano (though with the advantage of being silent with headphones)
    • Some units ship damaged
    • Hardware to build is on the cheap side and some units ship without a complete set

    If you have the budget and the inclination, one of the best at-home solutions for learning piano will be a digital console piano. They combine the proper set up and height of an acoustic piano with the advantages of being able to play in silence with headphones. Like the previous Yamaha option, this uses GHS weighted keys, including black keys which are coated in a special matte finish to absorb moisture to prevent from becoming slippery.

    This ships with everything you need to set up a dedicated piano space, including the bench, stand, and the built-in sustain and damper pedals. There’s a technology called Stereophonic Optimizer on this which compensates for using headphones and, together with the processing system, help recreate the sound of an acoustic instrument. There’s a USB output for use with smartphones and computers, which allows you to not only control aspects of the piano, but interact with piano lesson software.

    The 103 is the most basic of the Arius range, which offers five different options that top out with the 184 at $2,199.99. As you move up the range, you get more polyphony, MIDI connectivity, upgraded keys and additional voices, including careful models of some of Yamaha’s most highly-regarded acoustic pianos. The entry level is already overkill for the vast majority of beginners, but it’s good to have options if you want them. The competitive Casio PX-860 doesn’t ship with a bench, but could be worth considering, as well.

With keyboards and pianos, just as with guitars and drums, the most fundamental question comes down to whether you should opt for the full experience right out of the gate or keep the price down by going with a cheaper version. With both guitars and drums, this might mean opting for a cheap electric option versus an acoustic one. For keyboards, often the question is whether you can get away with very inexpensive keys with no weighting for the first little while.

In both considerations, you're making a decision about how touch, posture and technique will develop. When you buy a beginner a cheap instrument with a very light touch, you could save a lot of money, which is a good hedge if they decide not to stick with it. However, if the beginner never develops the proper feel, it could hurt them in the long run. An acoustic guitar, a keyboard with weighted keys and an acoustic drum set all make learning more challenging at first, which could increase the likelihood that they give up. However, this approach will build strength and proper coordination faster, which will likely be better in the long run.

In this range of keyboards, you'll find the following options for keys: unweighted, touch sensitive, semi-weighted, fully weighted and hammer weighted. These go in order from least ideal to most ideal and the most like acoustic pianos. You should opt for the most realistic keys you feel comfortable affording, but even touch sensitive, which uses digital means to estimate how hard a key is pressed, is better than nothing.

To that end, when buying a piano keyboard for a beginner, it makes sense to at least insist on full-sized keys. Some cheaper keyboards skimp on this, but that spacing is necessary to properly learn fingering technique. Additionally, you want at least 61 keys; while they make smaller keyboards, it really isn't worth the savings. While beginner piano technique keeps the range limited, it won't be long until those additional octaves are needed. If you can afford it, go for the full 88.

By contrast, what you don't need is the best of the best. You don't have to splash out on a very high quality piano right out of the gate, as long as you've bought something decent that will grow with you for a little while. You also don't need a million sounds and voicing — leave that stuff to the synth players of the world.

Other things to consider is polyphony, or the number of notes that can be played at once. Very inexpensive keyboards are known to limit these to just a few, which won't do. You should also look for a model that can accept a sustain pedal, but you could sacrifice this option for price at first, if necessary. Finally, consider options with built-in training, accompaniment, or at least the ability to playback music to help reinforce lessons during practice.

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