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the best piano keyboards

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Find the best Keyboard for you

Our aim is to give you the most up to date, comprehensive guide of the best piano keyboards out there. Whether you are looking for a digital piano, a stage keyboard or a beginners keyboard, you are in the right place. Here is a selection of our keyboard reviews and categories:
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  • Under $150
  • $150-300
  • $300-500
  • $500-1000
  • $1000+
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Yamaha CLP-765GP

Yamaha CLP-765GP Review

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Casio PX770

Casio PX-770 Review

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casio px-s1100

Casio PX-S110 Review

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kawai ES920

Kawai ES920 Review

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yamaha psr e473

Best Digital Pianos Under 500

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Kawai ES520

Kawai ES520 Review

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Kawai KDP120

Kawai KDP120 Review

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Kawai KDP75

Kawai KDP75 Review

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Yamaha PSR-EW300 Review

Yamaha PSR-EW300 Review

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Yamaha Clavinova CLP 735

Yamaha Clavinova CLP 735 Review

How to Navigate Best Piano Keyboards

Our website is divided into two main sections: Keyboard reviews, and Blogs. Let us help you find the best music keyboard for you, and teach you a bit of music history, (and how to practice!) along the way. Welcome!

Blog

Learn how to play piano, curiosities and buying guides.
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In this section, you can also find articles such as ‘Top ten piano keyboards” “Top piano keyboards” and more. We’ll teach you a little bit about everything here. Want to learn about famous players or the first piano that had more than 88 keys? Then you’ll probably enjoy our blogs! We will also give you guidelines on how to purchase your first piano, how to teach yourself piano online, how to care for a new digital piano, and more.

Keyboards Reviews

The most comprehensive database of digital keyboards online, reviewed by experts.
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This section is divided again into two main subsections: Piano Price, and Piano Type. If you’re here, you’re probably wondering what music keyboard to buy. The truth of the matter is the best keyboard to learn piano is going to differ greatly depending on your musical wants and needs. We’re not afraid to tell you what the best digital pianos and the worst digital pianos are. We’ll get more into how to pick out the best instrument for you later on this page.

Piano Price

The most comprehensive database of digital keyboards online, reviewed by experts.
The piano price section will be divided into 5 smaller sub-section. In the below guide, I will talk you through what is and is not possible in most of these price categories. That being said, we do believe that there is a piano out there for everyone and that BestPianoKeyboards can and will help you find it. So, if you’re wondering “What is the best keyboard to buy?” The best keyboard to buy is the one that is within your budget! We have separated out the instruments into the following five price ranges:

Pianos Under $100

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We rated the Casio PX-S110 a solid 8/10. This model meets its target audience well, and is an economical instrument. The Casio PX-S1100 has had a sound system redesign since the previous model (PX-S1000) that we really love. The sounds are good, and it has unique touch sensor controls. That being said, I found to action to be too light for my tastes, and wish that the non-piano tones were more convincing (and that it had more tones overall!). But as a whole, this is a great instrument to get started on, to have as a backup, or to travel with.
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We rated the Casio PX-S110 a solid 8/10. This model meets its target audience well, and is an economical instrument. The Casio PX-S1100 has had a sound system redesign since the previous model (PX-S1000) that we really love. The sounds are good, and it has unique touch sensor controls. That being said, I found to action to be too light for my tastes, and wish that the non-piano tones were more convincing (and that it had more tones overall!). But as a whole, this is a great instrument to get started on, to have as a backup, or to travel with.
PROS:
  • The instrument is updated, while keeping the same slimline design as the well-loved PX-S1000
  • It is less that 11 inches deep, so it’s a real space saver
  • It has good connectivity, including Bluetooth
  • The grand piano tones in the AiR sound engine are lovely
  • Similarly, the German Concert Piano is a stunner
  • It works with apps like Chordana
  • Because of the USB-MIDI jack, you can use it as a MIDI controller
  • The VSTs go a long was in making it sound more realistic
  • It is compatible with a plastic stand, or the CS-68P stand, which is wood
  • The low end of sounds PX-S1100 really shine with this speaker system!
  • Smart scaled action has a third sensor for more expressive and accurate playing
  • The touch sensor controls light up, so you can see them while playing in the dark
CONS:
  • There is no screen
  • The PX-S1100 isn’t all that different from the PX-S1000
  • It only has 18 tones
  • The sound quality of the non-piano tones leaves something to be desired
  • The controls can be difficult to navigate
  • Advanced players may want more polypony
  • The key action is light, and some don’t care for it
  • Other musicians have said the sound quality at loud volumes is lacking
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We rated the Kawai ES920 a 9.5/10, because of its lush sounds, light, portable build, and versatility. Our favorite features in the instrument are the key action, stellar sound system, and overall bang for your buck. It also has a gorgeous redesign, which looks more modern with its rounded edges, and narrow depth. We ended up taking just one-half of a point off, because the OLED display is in black and white, and the non-piano sounds could stand to be a bit more polished when compared to the acoustic piano tones. But overall, we think that a wide range of pianists would do very well with this flagship model!
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We rated the Kawai ES920 a 9.5/10, because of its lush sounds, light, portable build, and versatility. Our favorite features in the instrument are the key action, stellar sound system, and overall bang for your buck. It also has a gorgeous redesign, which looks more modern with its rounded edges, and narrow depth. We ended up taking just one half of a point off, because the OLED display is in black and white, and the non-piano sounds could stand to be a bit more polished when compared to the acoustic piano tones. But overall, we think that a wide range of pianists would do very well with this flagship model!
PROS:
  • The piano tones are beautiful and accurate
  • The build is equally gorgeous as the sounds are
  • It is a higher quality instrument than some of the more expensive stages
  • It has simulated ebony and ivory key tops
  • The instrument has adjustable touch sensitivity
  • It includes a newer action, which has 3 sensors under the keys
  • The instrument is compatible with a free-floating triple pedal, or a (triple-pedal) furniture bar
  • The ES920 is highly adjustable, meaning that you can get tons of tones out of it
CONS:
  • There is no mod or rotary wheel
  • More expensive pianos with features like this one (string resonance, damper resonance) can make pedaling more difficult, and your sound can become muddy if you don’t lift all the way
  • The 3-pedal unit is not included
  • There is no escapement on the instrument
  • Some of the non-piano sounds aren’t quite as high-quality as the acoustic piano tones
  • It does not have a built-in audio interface
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We rated the Kawai ES520 a 9/10. This $1,200 intermediate instrument is user-friendly and has an excellent dynamic range. It’s responsive, and has a solid built-in speaker system. Advanced intermediate players will especially enjoy the grand piano tones, as well as the lightweight and moveable built. Another big plus for the mid-range instrument is that it has significantly more sounds than the beginner models by this maker.  If you are looking for a medium to heavy action, however, this keyboard may not be for you. The Kawai ES520 has a relatively light touch, especially when we stack it up against instruments Yamaha’s GH3. We ended up taking one point off the score, because we wish the instrument had Kawais newer action (Grand Feel III) and felt the onboard recorder could be more advanced.
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We rated the Kawai ES520 a 9/10. This $1,200 intermediate instrument is user-friendly and has an excellent dynamic range. It’s responsive, and has a solid built-in speaker system. Advanced intermediate players will especially enjoy the grand piano tones, as well as the lightweight and moveable built. Another big plus for the mid-range instrument is that it has significantly more sounds than the beginner models by this maker. If you are looking for a medium to heavy action, however, this keyboard may not be for you. The Kawai ES520 has a relatively light touch, especially when we stack it up against instruments Yamaha’s GH3. We ended up taking one point off the score, because we wish the instrument had Kawais newer action (Grand Feel III) and felt the onboard recorder could be more advanced.
PROS:
  • The instrument has a 3-year warranty
  • The dynamic response of the instrument is stunning
  • The damper pedal is included
  • It is more portable than comparable models from other brands
  • The instrument is also more portable than other Kawais before it
  • It has 4 touch sensitivity options, so players can change the instrument to their preference
  • It has a lot more sounds than entry-level Kawai models
  • It has the renowned Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand piano sound sample
CONS:
  • The stand is not included in most ES520 packages, including the one on Amazon
  • While older ES models had metal in the frame, this one is comprised of plastic
  • The keys are matte but are not made up of synthetic ebony and ivory
  • There are newer, more updated Kawai instruments out there
  • The RCH II keys face some stiff criticism from some
  • The song recorder doesn’t have any more storage space than in the beginning models
  • The string sounds could be better
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The ES120 Kawai instrument is impressive and fresh on the market to boot. This instrument was designed to be portable and serves its market audience (Advanced intermediates and up/ stage performers) extremely well. Because the ES120 has such stellar sampling, connectivity, action, and more, we decided to give it a full 10/10.
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The ES120 Kawai instrument is impressive and fresh on the market to boot. This instrument was designed to be portable and serves its market audience (Advanced intermediates and up/ stage performers) extremely well. Because the ES120 has such stellar sampling, connectivity, action, and more, we decided to give it a full 10/10.
PROS:
  • The instrument supports both internal and external recording
  • The sound samples are high-quality
  • The vintage Rhodes were updated
  • The felt/action was updated
  • The instrument only weights 25 pounds, making it extremely portable
  • The updated action is buttery, and a real crowd-pleaser for Kawai fans
  • The spatial headphone sound improves your experience when using speakers isn’t an option?
  • It is both Bluetooth and MIDI compatible
  • It’s economical and multi-purpose
CONS:
  • It doesn’t have aftertouch
  • The soundbank is relatively small
  • The piano remote controller app is rated ⅖ stars, indicating that it may not be the best way to navigate your instrument
  • The internal recorder only has one track and holds 3 songs
Do you want to get a gift for a younger student (or even, for yourself)? Under-150 keyboards will suit the needs of many casual players who aren’t ready to commit to studying formally. And who am I to judge? Any music practice is good music practice. Most instruments in this section are going to be unweighted, light keyboards. Oftentimes, they will not be full-sized. Smaller keyboards typically come in either 61 keys or 76 keys. You may find some fun effects in the ‘Under $150’ category, but don’t expect too much realism. Another term for pianos like this would be ‘practice keyboards’. Remember, it’s better to have an instrument, rather than no instrument at all! It doesn’t actually have to be one of the best piano keyboards in order for you to enjoy practicing on it. It’s difficult to definitively say what is the best keyboard to buy for beginners, but the Casio CTK-3500 is one of the best piano keyboards that we’d highly recommend for this category. We have separated out the instruments into the following five price ranges:

$150-300

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You get a lot for your money with the Yamaha PSR-EW300. This is a keyboard designed for beginners as it has a lot of built-in lessons, but it’s got enough bells and whistles on it that it might interest an intermediate player. However, it doesn’t have the full 88-note keyboard with weighted keys that an advanced player would require. Let’s have a look at all the functions.
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PROS:
  • Price and features
  • The biggest pro with the Yamaha PSR EW 300 keyboard is that it’s such a great price for a keyboard that does so much. It’s a lot of bang for your buck. You can’t go far wrong with this for children who are just starting out on the piano, if you just want to try piano to see if you like it or if you want to have fun making your own tracks.
  • The Yamaha PSR-EW300 comes with the Yamaha Education Suite that enables you to practice with preset songs and make learning easier. With the feature, you’ll find a nine-step lesson function that enables you to practice with one hand at a time, making it easier for beginners. It also includes scoring capability where you track your progress, therefore, motivating you to improve to achieve higher scores.
  • Sturdy construction
  • If you’re buying for children, it’s built to stand the battering that children might give it.
  • Auto shut-down
  • This keyboard has an automatic power off where it automatically shuts down when it has been idle for a while, saving energy.
CONS:
  • Keys
  • The biggest drawback of the Yamaha PSR-EW 300 is that it has 76 keys, not 88, and that they are not weighted. However, this is the reason why this keyboard is so affordable and why it’s very light and so can be moved about easily. This drawback really only applies if you are an advanced pianist.
  • No Wireless connection
  • This keyboard does not have wireless capability, meaning you have to plug a cable in to transfer data.
  • Accessories
  • One other drawback is that it doesn’t come with accessories as standard. You can buy a bundle, but then you’re still paying extra for them and not necessarily choosing the best accessories. Before you decide to buy this keyboard research stands, headphones and foot pedals rather than just opting for the inexpensive ones that come with the keyboard bundle.
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The Williams Allegro 2 is a simple piano that’s made for beginners. With only 10 sounds in the soundbank, it’s clear to see that this instrument is designed with simplicity in mind. The full-sized, fully-weighted keyboard sounds like a great deal…. But we ended up rating this one a 3/10 because, while we wish some of the non-piano tones were a little more realistic, and the action isn’t up to par with our standards.  While this one does have a lot going for it, once we tried out the action, we couldn’t quite give it a resounding ‘yes’!
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The Williams Allegro 2 is a simple piano that’s made for beginners. With only 10 sounds in the soundbank, it’s clear to see that this instrument is designed with simplicity in mind. The full-sized, fully-weighted keyboard sounds like a great deal…. But we ended up rating this one a 3/10 because, while we wish some of the non-piano tones were a little more realistic, and the action isn’t up to par with our standards. While this one does have a lot going for it, once we tried out the action, we couldn’t quite give it a resounding ‘yes’!
PROS:
  • It is easy to use
  • It has a variety of sound effects
  • It has weighted keys
  • It has an adjustable volume
  • It has excellent audio
  • It has touch-sensitive keys
  • It is somewhat portable
CONS:
  • The action is quite poor
  • It is a little bit heavy for frequent gigs out on the town
  • Some of the sounds could be more authentic
  • This model is outdated (The Williams Allegro 3 is now the newest model)
  • It does not have Bluetooth capabilities
  • The speakers could stand to be higher quality
  • The software is outdated as well
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We rated the Yamaha PSR E 353 a 7.5/10. This instrument is a good starting point for many players. That being said, it’s a little out of date. The PSR E 353 really excels in its portability. Since it’s a shorter keyboard under 10 pounds, it’s super easy to travel with. The other big selling points for this one include its connectivity (ISO and Bluetooth), learning tools, and touch-sensitive keyboard.
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We rated the Yamaha PSR E 353 a 7.5/10. This instrument is a good starting point for many players. That being said, it’s a little out of date. The PSR E 353 really excels in its portability. Since it’s a shorter keyboard under 10 pounds, it’s super easy to travel with. The other big selling points for this one include its connectivity (ISO and Bluetooth), learning tools, and touch-sensitive keyboard.
PROS:
  • Portability is the main aspect of the Yamaha PSR E353, it’s only 10 pounds
  • It can be taken anywhere for practice
  • It has touch-sensitive keys
  • It comes with a lot of accessories!
  • It has the Yamaha Education Suite or Y.E.S., which is an added advantage
  • The PSR R 353 really proves its modern digital worth. It has both iPad and computer connectivity options.
  • It also has Bluetooth capability, so you can pair your instrument to your device
  • It is also compatible with ISO
CONS:
  • The keys are not weighted
  • There are only 61 keys
  • The stand and headphones that come with the package are low-quality
  • This model needs a power adapter that is sold separately/ or is battery powered
  • It is not on the market anymore
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We gave the Casio CTK 2400 a 7/10. It isn’t very clear who the target audience is for this particular model. The built-in sampling microphone, rhythms, and lessons are big wins for this CTK model. That being said, even though it has sampling, it does not actually have a record feature. This Casio could serve beginners well. But because the sounds in the sound bank are unrealistic, we couldn’t quite give it a high mark.
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We gave the Casio CTK 2400 a 7/10. It isn’t very clear who the target audience is for this particular model. The built-in sampling microphone, rhythms, and lessons are big wins for this CTK model. That being said, even though it has sampling, it does not actually have a record feature. This Casio could serve beginners well. But because the sounds in the sound bank are unrealistic, we couldn’t quite give it a high mark.
PROS:
  • Very portable
  • Works with batteries as well as power cable
  • Sampling feature
  • 400 sounds
CONS:
  • Only 61 non-weighted keys
  • Not very realistic sounding instruments
  • No record function other than sampling
If you want more voices (and maybe even a few better effects) consider upgrading to the $150 + tier. These pianos usually have a better build and are more reliable. The difference between the Under $150 and $150-$300 tier of pianos is astounding. However, keep in mind that the following keyboards will still likely be in the beginner / entry-level instrument category. They will also probably be portable keyboards, a lot of the time. You will be able to get semi-weighted keys pretty easily in this price tier.

$300-500

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We rated the Roland Go: Piano 88 an 8.5/10. We really like the connectivity, weighted hammer action, and Bluetooth speakers on the Piano 88. The transpose and record features serve budding composers and arrangers quite well. The biggest cons we saw were 1. There are not many voices and 2. That Piano Partner is incompatible with the rhythm feature. That being said, neither of these cons are going to be deal-breakers for this piano's target audience- Enthusiastic beginners! Overall this is a great starter keyboard that many will enjoy.
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We rated the Roland Go: Piano 88 an 8.5/10. We really like the connectivity, weighted hammer action, and Bluetooth speakers on the Piano 88. The transpose and record features serve budding composers and arrangers quite well. The biggest cons we saw were 1. There are not many voices and 2. That Piano Partner is incompatible with the rhythm feature. That being said, neither of these cons are going to be deal-breakers for this piano's target audience- Enthusiastic beginners! Overall this is a great starter keyboard that many will enjoy.
PROS:
  • This instrument is portable
  • You can plug it into power or use batteries
  • It is economical
  • Roland is a large household brand name
  • It comes with nice sounds
  • The connectivity is great
  • You can learn using your smartphone or tablet
  • You can connect the speakers and stream via Bluetooth
  • It comes with two kinds of learning software
  • It comes with pedals
  • There are three touch modes, so you can adjust the sensitivity
  • It comes with effects too!
  • You can use it to record
  • Because of its weighted keys and full-sized keyboard/ keys, making the switch to an acoustic will be simple
CONS:
  • Ultimately, it is an entry-level piano
  • The are very few voices
  • It does not have layer mode
  • It does not have split mode
  • The rhythm function will not work on Piano Partner 2
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We rated the Donner DEP-10 a 7/10. The DEP-10 is a full-sized digital piano with half-weighted keys. The piano comes with 8 tones. It has MIDI transpose, comes with a pedal control, and dual voice function, and comes with a sustain pedal. If you are in the market for an economical piano to get a young student started on, the DEP-10 is a decent choice. While we wish it had more tones and more weight, it will suit beginners just fine.
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$308.99
We rated the Donner DEP-10 a 7/10. The DEP-10 is a full-sized digital piano with half-weighted keys. The piano comes with 8 tones. It has MIDI transpose, comes with a pedal control, and dual voice function, and comes with a sustain pedal. If you are in the market for an economical piano to get a young student started on, the DEP-10 is a decent choice. While we wish it had more tones and more weight, it will suit beginners just fine.
PROS:
  • This instrument has built-in speakers, so those just starting out won’t have to worry about connecting external ones
  • It has a full-sized keyboard
  • This instrument is very economical
  • The interface is simple and easy to use
  • It has a chorus effect
  • It has split mode, so you can use two sounds at once
  • The metronome has 4 types of beats
  • The DEP-10 has a pedal socket and supports 3-pedal units
  • It has a MIDI interface inside
  • It is also compatible with MP3, making it versatile when it comes to connections
  • It is only 18 pounds, making it extremely portable for those on the go
  • In addition to this, it is slim, and designed for small spaces
  • It comes with a sustain pedal
CONS:
  • The Donner DEP-10 does not have adjustable touch sensitivity
  • It only has partial weight (It is not fully weighted)
  • There are only 8 total sounds
  • It does not have duo mode
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We rated the Casio CDP S100 a 7.5/10. The S100 is a compact digital piano with aftertouch, and touch sensitivity. The simulated ebony and ivory keys make for a really nice key feel. This model was designed to be light and portable, while still keeping Casio’s brilliant sounds. We think they did an amazing job at achieving that goal! While we do really wish it had more sounds, the CDP S100 is still a lovely basic portable instrument.
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$449.99
We rated the Casio CDP S100 a 7.5/10. The S100 is a compact digital piano with aftertouch, and touch sensitivity. The simulated ebony and ivory keys make for a really nice key feel. This model was designed to be light and portable, while still keeping Casio’s brilliant sounds. We think they did an amazing job at achieving that goal! While we do really wish it had more sounds, the CDP S100 is still a lovely basic portable instrument.
PROS:
  • The scaled hammer action weight feels more true to a piano than other, velocity-sensitive models
  • The full-sized keyboard allows the doors to more complex repertoire to open up
  • The sustain pedal is included
  • The speakers are really good given their small size
  • Customers and other piano reviewers have said that there is little to no distortion with these tiny speakers!
  • It is one of the slimmest Casio pianos out there
  • It can run on batteries for a very long time
  • The small sound bank will help keep younger students on task with their piano studies
  • The MIDI player, MIDI compatibility, and USB to host connections make the portable piano ideal for producers and performers alike
CONS:
  • There are only 10 tones!
  • There aren’t very many physical buttons on the device itself
  • It doesn’t have very many bells and whistles
  • It only has 32 notes of polyphony
  • The stand and bench are sold separately
  • There is only one pedal input available
  • There is no internal recorder on the instrument
  • Ultimately, this is the lowest entry-level piano within Casio’s CDP line
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We rated the Yamaha P45 a 9/10. This portable digital piano is an excellent starter instrument that many private music teachers recommend. The resistance of the P45 sets up students for success later down the line. The demo songs, along with dual and duo mode, add to this instruments educational value. We took off just one point, because this keyboard has a small sound bank, and doesn’t have a record feature.
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We rated the Yamaha P45 a 9/10. This portable digital piano is an excellent starter instrument that many private music teachers recommend. The resistance of the P45 sets up students for success later down the line. The demo songs, along with dual and duo mode, add to this instruments educational value. We took off just one point, because this keyboard has a small sound bank, and doesn’t have a record feature.
PROS:
  • 88 fully weighted, graded hammer action, touch sensitive keys
  • AWM sampling gives realistic piano sound
  • Very portable at 25lbs
  • Long lasting first piano for the beginner to intermediate pianist
CONS:
  • Only ten instrument sounds can be a drawback for some
  • No built-in recording capability
  • Limited buttons makes selecting functions a bit clumsy
While I have a hard time saying that you can always find a high-quality instrument in the other two tiers, you can definitely find a high-quality instrument in the $300-500 tier. Pianos in this range should suit many intermediates, as well casually gigging instrumentalists/singer-songwriters. Instruments in this range and up often are geared towards one of two crowds- Producers, or performers. The best keyboards are definitely here and up when it comes to price. In this range, you can get a small MIDI controller to attach to your DAW, or, a nice standard digital piano that is fully weighted and full-sized. The big difference between this tier and the last is that you can’t usually find full-size plus full-weight for under $300 instruments.

$500-1000

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We rated the Casio PX-870 a 9/10. Some of the best selling points of this Casio model include the powerful speaker system, slim design, driverless connection, and volume sync EQ. We gave it a high rating because we think it will serve a lot of people really well. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but that makes it accessible to a wide range of audiences. Overall, this is a simple yet high-quality instrument.
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We rated the Casio PX-870 a 9/10. Some of the best selling points of this Casio model include the powerful speaker system, slim design, driverless connection, and volume sync EQ. We gave it a high rating because we think it will serve a lot of people really well. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but that makes it accessible to a wide range of audiences. Overall, this is a simple yet high-quality instrument.
PROS:
  • It has a full-sized keyboard
  • It has four speakers instead of two
  • The speakers are strategically placed for a bigger and better sound
  • It has a great-quality low end
  • It is touch-sensitive
  • It has USB to MIDI recording capacities
  • It has a built-in recorder too
  • It also has a USB flash port
  • It has a built-in metronome
  • It can be plugged into an amp
  • It has several digital effects
  • You can connect it to the app Chordana so that you can play along
  • It has a really user-friendly lessons feature
  • It has an auto-power off in case you forget to turn off your instrument
  • You can adjust the touch sensitivity
  • The available polyphony is very large, at a whopping 256 notes
  • The volume sync EQ helps you get a better sound, even when you’re playing in low-volume settings
  • It has several features that other instruments in the Privia line don’t have
CONS:
  • It only has 19 tones
  • No extra accessories come in this package
  • This piano is not the ideal gigging piano
  • It’s quite heavy - The delivered box weighs about 100 pounds
  • You’ll have to put it together
  • The updated cabinet has no dust lid (but it still has the keyboard cover that you can pull out)
  • The cabinet is made of fiberboard instead of solid wood
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We rated the Casio Privia a 9.5/10. This instrument reaches a really wide range of players, and serves them well. The 88 fully-weighted keys will make intermediate to advanced pianists satisfied. The sounds are gorgeous, and it has a high polyphony. We took off half a point, because we wish there were more sounds in the soundbank. But overall, this piano is a steal.
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We rated the Casio Privia a 9.5/10. This instrument reaches a really wide range of players, and serves them well. The 88 fully-weighted keys will make intermediate to advanced pianists satisfied. The sounds are gorgeous, and it has a high polyphony. We took off half a point, because we wish there were more sounds in the soundbank. But overall, this piano is a steal.
PROS:
  • Full-size keyboard with fully weighted graded hammer action keys.
  • The Casio AiR sound is one of the best in the price range.
  • Big 8W X 8W output with improved speaker system
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Good looking keyboard that comes in a choice of three colors - black, white and gold.
CONS:
  • Limited amount of additional sounds.
  • Limited variation in reverb.
  • Recording capability is very limited.
  • Unlikely to ignite a lot of creativity like some keyboards might.
  • Less robust than other high-level piano keyboards due to plastic casing.
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We gave the Yamaha P71 an 8/10 because this instrument does what it was designed to do, quite well. It is a fully-weighted, portable keyboard that easily fits into tight spaces, and has a lot of features, making it an overall crowd-pleaser. The two things I wish this keyboard had were 1. A record feature and 2. More polyphony, which is why it clocked in at 8/10.
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We gave the Yamaha P71 an 8/10 because this instrument does what it was designed to do, quite well. It is a fully-weighted, portable keyboard that easily fits into tight spaces, and has a lot of features, making it an overall crowd-pleaser. The two things I wish this keyboard had were 1. A record feature and 2. More polyphony, which is why it clocked in at 8/10.
PROS:
  • It is an 88-key, fully-weighted piano
  • It features 10 different tones
  • It is compact, slim, and has a stylish design
  • It has a great sound quality, including for solo playing
  • It has a built-in metronome
  • It has transposition tuning
  • The pedal is included
  • It has a duo and a dual-mode
  • Last but not least, it’s affordable
CONS:
  • It has no MIDI recording features
  • There is no LED display
  • It only has 64-note polyphony (in comparison, another model in the P line has 115 note polyphony)
  • It does not have a split mode. Most pianos in this price range that have a dual-mode also have a split mode. Unfortunately, this one is an exception to the general rule.
  • It does not have a midi recorder
  • The piano package itself doesn’t come with many accessories. You will not receive a stand with the instrument. A lot of buyers would expect an instrument stand for a piano over $400.
  • Some reviewers have remarked that the piano keys make a slight clicking noise when pressed down hard. This is a likely dealbreaker for professionals, but not necessarily for beginners or intermediates.
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We rated the Yamaha YPG a 7.8/10. This keyboard seems to be aimed at intermediate players. We think this will serve them extremely well. With over 500 sounds, players will feel inspired to get creative. It has a big LCD screen, performance assist, and a lot of on-board songs and accompaniments. But because of the limited polyphony of the instrument, we had to knock some points off.
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We rated the Yamaha YPG a 7.8/10. This keyboard seems to be aimed at intermediate players. We think this will serve them extremely well. With over 500 sounds, players will feel inspired to get creative. It has a big LCD screen, performance assist, and a lot of on-board songs and accompaniments. But because of the limited polyphony of the instrument, we had to knock some points off.
PROS:
  • 88 keys, graded, semi-weighted keys
  • Huge number of different sounds to choose from
  • Good recording capability
  • Large selection of songs to play along with
  • On-board lessons
CONS:
  • 32-note polyphony will limit what you can play
  • Not the most realistic sounding instruments
  • Although it’s portable, this probably wouldn’t be the best choice for a gigging keyboard player with a total of 12W output, unless you also had a portable amplifier.
Instruments in this price range will give you a decent intermediate (and in some cases, an advanced) digital piano. It is common to find graded hammer action and some progressive hammer actions in this tier. You can usually find an entry-level piano for serious classical students in this price bracket. You can also expect to start seeing more powerful speakers, including sustain pedals, and acoustic simulations such as cabinets. You can get a better sound, and oftentimes, a sound projection that mimics acoustic uprights and grands quite well. Pianos on the upper end of this range often have triple sensors rather than double sensors in the graded hammer action, which means that the keys are much more expressive and responsive to your subtle pressure differences as a player. The nicest keyboards out there will respond to minute touch and have cleverly placed speakers that mimic real acoustics. The best keyboard to learn piano classically will definitely be in this bracket and up. It’s hard to go wrong with pianos like the Casio Privia PX-870.

$1000+

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We rated the Yamaha Clavinova CLP 735 a 9.5/10, because it has great practice aids, a realistic touch, and is an overall crowd-pleaser. One of the biggest selling points of this particular model is the Imperial Bosendorfer sound sample-And for good reason. In addition to sounding great, this Clavinova has a very sturdy build. Yamaha’s VRM, or virtual resonance modeling, adds the icing to an already delicious musical cake. While we wish it had a few more non-piano tones, we think that traditional pianists will love this model.
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We rated the Yamaha Clavinova CLP 735 a 9.5/10, because it has great practice aids, a realistic touch, and is an overall crowd-pleaser. One of the biggest selling points of this particular model is the Imperial Bosendorfer sound sample-And for good reason. In addition to sounding great, this Clavinova has a very sturdy build. Yamaha’s VRM, or virtual resonance modeling, adds the icing to an already delicious musical cake. While we wish it had a few more non-piano tones, we think that traditional pianists will love this model.
PROS:
  • It feels and sounds like a real piano
  • It comes with a great book and a bench
  • It comes with a 5-year warranty
  • The sound samples are top-tier
  • It has GHS, weighted-hammer keys
  • This piano has a lot of upgrades from the CLP 635
  • It has powerful speakers
CONS:
  • It has a high price point
  • The voices are predominately all piano voices
  • It is the lowest level of CLP pianos
  • It isn’t very portable
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We rated the Nord Stage 4 a 10/10. This instrument is the newest piece of technology from Clavia Digital. While it is quite expensive, it serves the target audience (performing professionals) extremely well. The voices are both stunningly realistic, and plentiful. And, speaking of plentiful, the memory bank is huge. Between the sturdy build, stellar effects, and close attention to detail, we find ourselves thrilled with this digital keyboard.
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We rated the Nord Stage 4 a 10/10. This instrument is the newest piece of technology from Clavia Digital. While it is quite expensive, it serves the target audience (performing professionals) extremely well. The voices are both stunningly realistic, and plentiful. And, speaking of plentiful, the memory bank is huge. Between the sturdy build, stellar effects, and close attention to detail, we find ourselves thrilled with this digital keyboard.
PROS:
  • In buying a Nord piano, you know that you are purchasing the very best in the piano keyboard industry
  • It has a sturdy build, with many parts being made of metal and wood
  • There are many, high-quality sounds
  • You can adjust almost all the features within those sounds
  • This instrument also contains a plethora of features, like the split function, wah pedal sound effects and more
CONS:
  • It has a high price tag
  • You can’t multitrack playbacks
  • It does not have built-in speakers
  • The interface is difficult for new pianists to navigate
  • Like other Nord Stage pianos, this instrument does not come with speakers
  • This instrument is over 50 pounds, so it isn’t super portable
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We rated the Yamaha Arius a 9.5 out of ten. Color us impressed! This cabinet-style digital piano is expressive and has a beautiful sound bank and key bed. While we wish the speakers were a bit more powerful, the Arius excels in all other categories, from features to price. The pedal performance is stellar, and the record function serves both students and composers well. In addition to this, the accessory package is a really great deal.
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We rated the Yamaha Arius a 9.5 out of ten. Color us impressed! This cabinet-style digital piano is expressive and has a beautiful sound bank and key bed. While we wish the speakers were a bit more powerful, the Arius excels in all other categories, from features to price. The pedal performance is stellar, and the record function serves both students and composers well. In addition to this, the accessory package is a really great deal.
PROS:
  • It comes with a Smart Piano app, which helps you learn your favorite songs from your library with its chord-tracker technology
  • The black keys are textured, so the piano keys will not get slippery even if it is humid or your hands are moist
  • It comes with a lot of accessories!
  • It has a half-damper pedal,, which is not super common to find in electric pianos
  • The DSP damper feature leads to a really high-quality, acoustic-like sound
  • The piano has a two-track recorder that helps players to take their music to different levels
  • This piano can be connected to computers for professional recordings
  • The piano has 50 different songs built-in for practice
  • The touch sensitivity in the piano is unmatched
  • It has a sliding cover that will protect the keyboard from dust when it’s not in use
CONS:
  • The speakers are not very powerful
  • This piano is not currently being made
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I really like Kurzweil’s newest release. The PC4 SE has been impressing a variety of musicians, including us here at Best Piano Keyboards! If you are into pro workstation keyboards with a bit of a lighter touch, look no further than this model. This instrument has created a ton of buzz in online piano forms. Some of its best selling points are its sound engine, and that fact that it iis chock full of polyphony! Another big thing about this keyboard is that it has onboard recording, editing, and mixing- You can do it all from the piano bench. We did have to take off just a half of a point, because we feel that a few small things on the keyboards’ interface could be improved, such as the sliders. All of that aside, this instrument has excellent sound patches, feel, and a high-quality build.
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I really like Kurzweil’s newest release. The PC4 SE has been impressing a variety of musicians, including us here at Best Piano Keyboards! If you are into pro workstation keyboards with a bit of a lighter touch, look no further than this model. This instrument has created a ton of buzz in online piano forms. Some of its best selling points are its sound engine, and that fact that it iis chock full of polyphony! Another big thing about this keyboard is that it has onboard recording, editing, and mixing- You can do it all from the piano bench. We did have to take off just a half of a point, because we feel that a few small things on the keyboards’ interface could be improved, such as the sliders. All of that aside, this instrument has excellent sound patches, feel, and a high-quality build.
PROS:
  • The piano is portable, and economical for it’s style
  • It has really excellent sounds
  • The onboard controls are extremely user-friendly and fast to learn
  • The sound engine and FX engines are well-rounded, editable, and flat-out stunning
  • There are plenty of tracks and zones
  • The included ‘quick tips’ help you learn how to use the features without having to look up a manual or get on an online form
  • The instrument has a ton of polyphony for a synth-style workstation
  • Most importantly: It’s a fun keyboard!
CONS:
  • It is too complex for beginners and young people just getting started
  • You will need to buy external speakers
  • Some musicians aren’t a fan of the sliders
  • The build has no real wood grain in it
  • Some have reported that the action makes a tiny bit of noise
  • There is no aftertouch on the instrument
The longest-lasting piano keyboards are usually the most costly! While pianos over $1000 are usually for serious players, you’d be surprised how pricey classical digitals can get! If you are looking for an entry-level classical piano to last you years, it very well may end up in the $1000+ category. These instruments are usually very realistic and have truly stellar sounds. In short, there are a lot of reasons why an instrument can and should cost over $1000. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. These over $1000 instruments almost always have weighted keys (oftentimes with a high-end action, such as PHA-4 or PhA-5 ). If they aren’t weighted, these instruments are likely top piano keyboards such as workstation keyboards designed for pro producers, performers, or composers. Professional synths with multiple sound engines are also usually in this category. (We’ll get more into piano types in just bit). My personal favorite pianos from this over $1000 section are the Nord pianos. I think they are some the niecest digital keyboards that you can get, but don’t just take my word for it- Read up on them, and then try one out for yourself! The best keyboard to learn piano classically will definitely be in this bracket and up. It’s hard to go wrong with pianos like the Casio Privia PX-870.

Piano Types

We cover 5 main types of pianos: Digital Pianos, Portable Keyboards, Stage Keyboards, Synthesizers, MIDI Keyboards. The best music keyboard to buy is going to be one that fits your preferred genres, and lifestyle! Here are the differences between each of them, so you can better decide which one just might be for you.

Digital Pianos

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Yamaha CLP-765GP Review

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Casio PX770
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Casio PX-770 Review

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Casio PX-S110 Review

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Kawai ES920 Review

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Best Digital Pianos Under 500

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Digital pianos are instruments that are designed to be lighter than traditional pianos but have a heavy keybed (usually, graded hammer, or at least semi-weighted). Because they are designed to imitate acoustic pianos, they also typically have 88 full-sized keys. Though, it is common to find makes that are considered ‘slimline’ which means that the piano itself is smaller, without compromising the width of the keys themselves. Slimline is usually in reference to the depth of the piano. Slimline digital pianos are highly sought-after, because they fit so well into small spaces like apartments, and sometimes, bigger dorms.

Side note: A lot of people think keyboards = digital pianos, but that’s not exactly correct. While people often throw around the term ‘keyboard’ and use it for any piano-like instrument, a keyboard is technically a portable piano that you would take around gigging. (Now, even I call digital pianos keyboards sometimes, so don’t come for me! Anyways…).

There are three main types of digital pianos: Upright, Digital, and Stage. Digital uprights, like regular upright pianos, are designed to lean again the wall. This type of piano would traditionally stay stationary in a living room, so you wouldn’t take it with you for a coffee shop gig. We’d recommend the Yamaha YDP-144. Standard Digitals are (typically) economical pianos that have weighted keys and are designed to be more portable than acoustic pianos. We’d recommend Yamaha’s P (portable) line or Casios PX Privia line.

The last large subsection of digital pianos are stage pianos. Stage pianos are digital pianos that are designed to be played on a stage (how fitting! ). We will cover more on-stage pianos later in this section.

Portable Pianos

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Kawai ES520
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$269.00
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Nord Stage 4 Review

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$2,999.00
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As the name suggests, portable pianos are designed for musicians on the go. Oftentimes, portable pianos are smaller than standard digitals. They might have 61, 66, 72, and sometimes, 88 keys. Portable pianos are built with…You guessed it! Portability, in mind. Hence, the materials it will be made out of will be lighter (oftentimes, it is comprised of plastics). There are portable digital pianos, synthesizers, and other sub-types of keyboards that fall into this category. We’d recommend the Yamaha P-45 for starters.

Stage Pianos

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Yamaha Clavinova CLP 735
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$2,699.99
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$999.00
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Gewa DP140
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$1,055.00
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$6,000.00
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$749.00

Stage pianos are digital pianos designed for stage performances. These keyboards are usually used in jazz and pop music performances. They are built extremely sturdy, so they can handle the wear and tear from going on the road.  Most all stage pianos are full-sized, with 88 keys. We would recommend stage keyboards for gigging keyboards who are intermediate to pro.

Stage keyboards are mainly used live. They almost always have graded hammer action. If you need an instrument for live performances with a band, consider this type of keyboard.  While some people call these ‘portable pianos’ stage pianos are usually of a higher caliber than just regular portable keyboards. And, as we mentioned earlier, we’d highly recommend the Nord Stage 3!  Other great stage pianos include Yamaha CPs.

Keep in mind that stage pianos seldom have built-in speakers, which makes them pretty unideal for music newbies.

Syntesizers

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$46.00
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$4,000.00
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$199.99
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According to Britannica.com, a synthesizer is a “machine that electronically generates and modifies sounds, frequently with the use of a digital computer. Synthesizers are used for the composition of electronic music and in live performance.” 

Synthesizers, or synths, for short, can be found in music from post-punk to new wave, and rock to electronic music (and of course, synth-pop!). They’re versatile instruments that are frequently talked about in the world of music. There are many different types of synths, but of course, we will mostly be covering the ones that look (and feel) like pianos).  One unusual feature that you will often find in synths and not digital pianos are sound engines with different timbres. These instrumentals are called ‘multi-timbral’. There are also two main types of synths: Analog, and digital

Analog

Analog technology means that there is a continuous (physical) signal. If something is analog, it is not digital. If you delve into synths, you’ll also probably hear the term “Analog modeling”. Musicians also use the term VA for this, (or rather, virtual analog). According to Wikipedia.org  “An analog modeling synthesizer is a synthesizer that generates the sounds of traditional analog synthesizers using DSP components and software algorithms. Analog modeling synthesizers simulate the behavior of the original electric and electronic circuitry in order to digitally replicate their tone.” So, an analog modeling synth is not a true analog synthesizer, but rather, a simulation of one! Now, more about digital synths.

Digital

Digital is a type of signal that is binary. Largely, the synthesizers that you will find on the market today. That being said, some synths do have both digital and analog capabilities.  These ones are typically more expensive. I would personally recommend this synthesizer made by Korg, called the Nautilis. It is a digital synthesizer that has analog modeling, and a whopping 9 sound engines to keep you busy!

MIDI Keyboards

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Korg RK-100s

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MIDI keyboards, by definition, are keyboards that have a MIDI output built inside of them. These are also known as controller keyboards, The biggest ‘pro’ to this type of keyboard is that it can quickly and accurately send (musical) information over to other (digital) music devices, or computers. While some regular digital pianos have a MIDI out, others do not. If the main feature you want is a MIDI output, consider getting a MIDI keyboard. Some MIDI keyboards are only an octave because their main purpose is to help composers, producers, and arrangers get the notes into their computers. Other MIDI keyboards/controllers are more hybrid instruments, that work well in love performances as well. You can connect MIDI keyboards to DAW’s, or, digital audio workstations.  One of the most basic (free!) DAW’s is Garageband. MIDI keyboards can be hooked up to pretty much any DAW, be it Logic, Reason, FL Studios, or Ableton!

Please note that many MIDI keyboards are only an octave or two, because their purpose is to help producers input music. While there are full-sized MIDI controller keyboards, the bigger they are, the morse expensive! I’d recommend full-sized MIDI keyboards for those who are both looking to learn how to perform, and produce, whereas I’d recommend little one-octave MIDI controllers for those looking for an easier way to input musical information. (There’s not much repertoire you can teach yourself on a one-octave keyboard!).

A Sidenote on the Term ‘Keyboards’: The term ‘keyboard’ typically refers to an unweighted digital instrument. Whereas the term ‘keyboard player’ seems to refer to just about any pianist who plays outside of the classical genres (think pop, rock, blues, etc). The Rockjam models of keyboards are certainly keyboard keyboards- Small lightweight instruments with unweighted keyboards that are just enough to get you started. 

Meet Your Writer
Aleah Fitzwater is the main writer of Best Piano Keyboards

Hey there! I’m Aleah. I am a writer here at BPK. I keep you up to date on things like the newest and hottest top ten piano keyboards and teach you what music terms like escapement and PHA mean. I am a licensed music educator based in the midwest US. I hold PK-12 teaching licensed in the state of Ohio. I have experience teaching elementary school music, concert band, and jazz band. The main two instruments that I perform on are flute and piano. 

When I’m not writing about music, I often jotting down new sonic ideas in my home recording studio. You can also listen to my classical flute covers and songwriting on Spotify! 

You can listen to some of my projects here.

You can also find my other writing at Scanscore.com and Aleahfitzwater.com. When I’m not doing something music-related, I’m probably reading a fantasy novel, cooking, or gardening.

How to Select The Best Keyboard For You

The process of selecting the best piano for you can be a tricky one. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. But keep in mind that the way we go about selecting the best portable keyboard greatly depends on what type of keyboard we’re looking at. Here’s what to look for in a piano keyboard. 

  • Something that suits you or the player you’ll be giving it to
  • Something has the capabilities required of the genres you’re interested in
  • An instrument that is within your budget

Now, it’s time to ask yourself some questions. Who, what, and where are good places to start. 

  • Who am I getting this instrument for?
  • What am I using this keyboard for?
  • Where am I (or the intended player) going to play the piano?

Other essential preliminary questions are: 

  • What type of genres am I interested in learning how to play? 
  • What is the best keyboard to buy for my current budget?

In the following section, I will go into greater detail regarding prices, deals, and how to decide what features you want in a piano, versus what you actually need. Get ready for some musical lingo, because I’m about to teach you the ABCs of purchasing pianos, from aftertouch to PHA! 

Price:

Speaking of price, be sure to live below your means. That is, buy the nicest you can afford, but not nicer than you afford.  The addition of things like graded hammer action, more sound banks, and better speakers are all common reasons why the price of an instrument goes up

Consider what type of keybed you will want. Do you want to have your student learn a few basic pop or folk melodies, and that’s it? Or, are you sure you are going to play Rachmaninov as your end goal? This will make all the difference in where your price range will fall.  That being said, I do have a small tip that will help you save some of that hard-earned cash. You can strike a deal with one of our affiliates. 

Striking a Deal at Sweetwater

We have partnered with Sweetwater, Guitar Center, and Amazon. While all of the following are great instrument dealers, I want to let you in on a little secret. If you are a loyal Sweetwater customer, you can actually call your respective Sweetwater representative and ask if there are any deals going on. While this probably won’t work if you haven’t purchased from them before, it’s certainly worth a try. The last time I talked with my Sweetwater representative, he said that he could give me 10% off any saxophone. Remember- It can never hurt to ask!

Decide on Your Accessories

One way to decide what keyboard is best for you is to consider which accessories are essential, and which ones you just want. If the piano is for a student, included learning tools are probably at the top of your list.

Ask yourself- Do you need a stand? (or are you just going to play it on the table). Do you want external speakers and headphones in the package? Or do you have all the extras, and you just want to get the best base keyboard or piano that you can possibly get. This ‘accessories first’ approach seems a little backward, but I find it very helpful.

The accessories you need to consider when purchasing a piano keyboard

Consider Software and Built-in Extras

Also, be sure to consider software and built-in extras. Are you going to need a keyboard that you will be able to score movies on or overdub? Will light-up keys help you learn faster? All of the above are other great things to consider. Think about the bells and the whistles. Now, onto the technical stuff. 

Types of Keybeds

  • Unweighted
  • Semi-weighted 
  • Touch-sensitive
  • Graded hammer action (GHA)
  • Graded Hammer Standard (GHS)
  • Progressive Hammer Action (PHA)
  • Touch Sensitive

Unweighted keybeds have no heft to them. You simply press them down. All the keys will feel exactly the same. Unweighted keyboards aren’t necessarily ‘cheap’ keyboards, but they can be. High-end MIDI keyboards and synths are usually also unweighted. 

One example of a high-end keyboard instrument without full weight is the Nord Wave 2. It is semi-weighted. 

According to Sweetwater.com, Semi-weighted was an action that was first developed by synth makers. Semi-weighted keyboards combine the spring-loaded mechanism of synth actions with the addition of light weights attached to each key, similar to those found in weighted action or hammer action keyboards. Now, onto hammer action! 

Touch sensitivity is a feature that adds to the realism of a piano. The harder you press the key, the louder the sound, and the softer you press the key, the quieter the sound. Better unweighted keyboards almost always have touch sensitivity, because it helps add expression like more clear articulations and dynamics. Please note that touch sensitivity and weighted keys are two different things. All weighted keys are touch-sensitive, but not vice versa. 

Touch-sensitive keyboards are responsive in a different way than weighted keyboards. Instruments can be unweighted but still have touch sensitivity. Adjustable touch sensitivity is ideal, especially if you are planning on sharing this piano with multiple people. 

Another notable point to touch on is the number of sensors. The more sensors a digital piano has, the more accurately it will respond to your touch.  By that I mean, with every note, you press down on the keys. Some keyboards are less responsive to the pressure that you put down, whereas others are more sensitive. The more sensors that are built into the keybed itself, the more accurately the technology can pick up on your slight dynamic difference. Thus, a three-senor keyboard is the most ideal. 

Graded hammer action or GHA means that the lower notes have more resistance to them than the higher notes. This is how acoustic pianos feel. You may start seeing hybrid keys or wooden keys in pianos with this type of action and above.  You can think of graded hammer action as the lowest common denominator when it comes to the hammer action. 

The best action simulates how it feels for a real wooden key to bounce off the string in acoustic pianos.  HA, or hammer action is what piano makers refer to when they are talking about the replication of the physical hammers hitting the strings. To me, the best music keyboard is one that has some weight to it.

According to Yamaha.com, Graded hammer standard is a great type of action for beginning players. It helps students get used to the weight, and build finger strength. Graded hammer standard is a type of hammer action that  GH, GHS, and GH3 are all types of graded hammer action that are Yamaha-specific. As you learn more about the different brands with us, you’ll pick up on the different names, and learn about the subtle differences between the feel of a Yamaha with graded hammer action, versus a Roland with graded hammer action. 

PHA, or progressive hammer action, can be separated into the following subcategories: 

  • PHA
  • PHA-2
  • PHA-3
  • PHA-4
  • PHA-50 

Progressive hammer action is a type of hammer action. The acronym PHA stands for progressive hammer action. If you see PHA with no number next to it, then that means that the piano has the most basic type of progressive hammer action. Please note that PHA and GHs are different. 

Many experienced players say that PHA-4 is a fair bit better than graded hammer action. There are also many sub-categories of PHA4 that you may see, depending on the company. Please note that not all are made equal. For example, PHA-4 Standard is not as good as the PHA-4 Concert in Roland series pianos. All PHA actions are not better than graded hammer actions, so, be sure to try before you buy.

PHA5 is the newest type of action out there. The company Roland has been using this action for several years now. 

Keybed and other mechanics of piano keyboards

Key Textures and Materials

  • Synthetic ebony
  • Synthetic Ivory  (Ivory Feel)
  • Wood keys
  • Plastic keys
  • Hybrid keys

Synthetic ebony and synthetic ivory aim to replicate the feeling of vintage pianos, which were made of ivory (from the tusks of elephants), and ebony (from a dense type of wood.) While no one makes new pianos with ivory anymore (at least, legally), you can find some instruments made with real ebony keys. 

Some digital pianos have wooden keys which have been coated in plastic. Keys can also be double layered. It is common to find both double-layer wood and plastic, as well as double-layer plastic.

The feel of the instrument is also largely dependent on the materials it is made of. In my opinion, the best piano keyboards have wood built into the keys (but keep in mind that these types of instruments are not usually very portable!). Now that we’ve talked about what to look for in a piano keyboard, let’s cover a few other piano terms you should know.

Other Terms You Should Know:

  • Aftertouch
  • Pivot Action
  • Escapement
  • Mechanical Noise Reduction
  • VST

Aftertouch is a highly sought-after feature in MIDI controller keyboards in particular. This is because aftertouch has to do with how MIDI information is sent, after a player presses down the keys. You can ‘route’ this to a particular effect. You will primarily find aftertouch on unweighted, or semi-weighted keyboards

Pivot action has to do with the length of the key. Many digital pianos have what they call ‘short pivot lengths’. These instruments are going to be hard to learn on if you are accustomed to playing acoustic pianos, as the high range on pianos with short pivot lengths often feels bizarre. . The longer the pivot, the more balanced the key feels, and thus, the easier (and more natural feeling) it is to play. 

Escapement is the function that allows the hammer (which strikes the string) to come away from the string in a traditional piano. However, escapement in digital instruments is a little bit different. Escapement in digital pianos is the simulation of the feeling of that movement of what would be the hammer coming off the string. It might sound odd that players would want to feel that tiny little ‘pink’ or ‘clunk’ vibration, but many players find the simulation to be satisfying, especially if they have recently switched over from acoustic to digital. 

Mechanical Noise Reduction is a feature that helps reduce the noise that keys make. If you’ve ever played on a cheap keyboard, you know how irritating and distracting that clicking noise can be. Roland is really great about adding mechanical noise reduction to their pianos.

Which Keyboard Will Suit Me? 

Here's how to understand what are the best piano keyboards for you.

We have given you a lot of music terms. Now, if you’re still not sure how the above features play into all of this, let me break it down a bit more. Here is a short guide on what keyboard generally suits what type of person, so that you can pick out some of the best piano keyboards for you. 

Portable Keyboards

While many classical pianists want a full set of keys, this feature will weigh gigging musicians down. If you know you’ll be taking your music on the go, a portable keyboard is a great place to start. For these models, I most value connections, and larger soundbanks, and take into account the sturdiness of the build. More economical, 66-key unweighted portable keyboards will also suit kids. If you aren’t sure if the student will follow through with learning to read music, a little portable keyboard is a good way to get someone started without breaking the bank.

Workstation Keyboards

Workstation keyboards are powerful instruments that serve producers, performers, and composers alike. These instruments are usually decked out in effects, voices, and recording space. They best serve serious hobbyists up to professional players and are great for scoring movies. 

Hybrid Keyboards

Hybrid keyboards seek to serve musicians who are looking for the best of both worlds. When I am looking at hybrid keyboards, I ask myself: Does it sound like an acoustic? Does it have the digital features I desire? Hybrid keyboards best serve classical musicians who are seeking the acoustics’ keyfeel.

Why go digital or hybrid?

By now, you’ve probably noticed that almost all of the keyboards we review are digital / non-acoustic. You’re probably asking yourself, ‘Why not just get an acoustic?!’ Acoustic  instruments can be expensive, and difficult to move, thus making them inaccessible to most people. Hybrid pianos ofter offer players the best of both worlds when it comes to moveability, and quality. Not to mention, conventional pianos need professionally tuned every year. Digital pianos never go out of tune! It’s one of the many reasons why I love my own Yamaha DGX. 

Best Keyboard Brands

Some of the best keyboard brands that you will find out there are (in no particular order): 

  • Nord
  • Roland
  • Yamaha
  • Casio
  • Korg
  • Kawai

While there are other good brands out there, these household names are some of the cream of the crop. Our top-rated piano keyboards fall into most of these brands.

Brands to avoid

These brands didn’t make it to our top-rated piano keyboards lists:

  • Rockjam
  • Williams

While Rockjam keyboards are fun and cheap and a good way to get started, this brand produces a lot of low-quality instruments that we feel won’t list. Williams pianos are the best piano keyboard either if we’re being honest. Although there is one that we do recommend to beginners in one of our reviews on this site. As a general rule, these two brands aren’t our go-to’s.

A Keyboard for Every Scenario

Best piano keyboard for every scenario

Here at Best Piano Keyboards, we believe we can find a keyboard for everyone, at every level, and, in every price range! I am going to walk you through the following scenarios, and how to pick out the best piano keyboards for each:

  • I am a parent looking for a piano for my child
  • I am an adult beginner looking for a piano 
  • I am a beginner to intermediate looking for a piano to just mess around on
  • I am an intermediate looking for a piano
  • I am a student going to school for music, looking for a piano
  • I am a producer looking for a MIDI keyboard or synth
  • I am a professional performer looking for a synth

I am a parent looking for a piano for my child

If you are a parent looking for a piano to purchase as a gift, your first task is to figure out how serious your student is going to be.  If you aren’t sure, start out with a piano in our lower price tiers (either Under $150, or $150-300). 

If you know that you are going to be signing your student up for classical lessons, you need to be sure you get a full-sized, 88-key piano with fully weighted, GHS keys. 

I am an adult beginner looking for a piano

Are you an adult beginner, or an adult who is looking to come back to piano?  Then a full-sized digital piano with some weight of touch sensitivity, and many learning tools, is probably the best type of instrument for you. 

I am a beginner to intermediate looking for a piano to just mess around on

Do you want an instrument ‘just to play around on?’ Well, no judgment here! If you’re looking for a keyboard to play around with, my best guess is that you are going to want a portable instrument wit all the fun bells and whistles (including a pitch-bend knob!).

I am an intermediate looking for a piano upgrade

If you are an intermediate in the market for a piano upgrade, consider getting a full-sized instrument with PHA-4 weight, and a bit stronger speakers. If you don’t have a sustain pedal, now is a good time to consider one. You’ll need less in the way of learning tools, and more in the way of high-quality sounds, action, and larger speakers. 

I am a student going to school for music, and I need a digital piano

Are you a student going to school for music education, conducting, music performance, or contemporary music? Then you’ll probably want a piano to live in your home. Upright pianos or stage pianos are an excellent option. But if you’re a freshman, you probably don’t need all that. Consider something in our $300-$500 tier, that is slimline. 

I am a composer looking for a full-featured digital piano

If you are a composer looking for a piano, then you’re going to want an instrument with a lot of storage space, and layers upon layers of tracks in the record function. 

With this keyboard, you can score films and overdub just about anything you like. Your DAW is built inside, which will save you a lot of time. The Kawaii CA-99 is one of my favorite instruments in this category.  It is one of the best piano keyboards on the market when it comes to scoring and overdubbing.

I am a producer looking for a MIDI keyboard or synth

If you have got your heart set on the production side of things, that is vastly going to change what type of keyboard you need. Unlike many of these other scenarios, you will need something with aftertouch and a MIDI out, rather than a traditional digital piano that was designed to mimic an acoustic. The best piano keyboards in this category have a lot of connections.

I am a professional performer looking for an instrument for electronic music,

Are you ready to get your EDM on? Just kidding, there’s a lot that you can do with synths (EDM included, of course!). If you’re a pro performing looking for a synth, you’ll definitely need something with aftertouch, and touch sensitivity. Connectivity is going to be your best friend. And the more high-quality sound engines, the better. The Yamaha Genos (synth) is a great option, as well as some of the Casio CT (keyboards).

I’m going to break down this guide to finding the best piano keyboards for performance even further. 

I am a rock keyboardist looking for a keyboard instrument

A 76-key keyboard is a good balance between having enough keys and having a light enough instruments. A keyboard that is being used for rock isn’t going to need to pass my so-called Rachmaninoff test (Or rather, ROCKmaninoff test, get it?! Anywho…) because you probably won’t be using the full range of the keyboard most of the time- You’ll more than likely be hovering closer to middle C. The best piano keyboards for you are also going to have a wide variety of sounds, such as strings, organs, and maybe even drum kits!

I am a jazz keyboardist looking for a keyboard instrument to take gigging

For both rock and jazz keyboards alike, the quality of sounds in an instrument is going to be integral. 

I would highly recommend the Nord Stage 3, specifically because of its organ sounds. It is one of the best piano keyboards for organ simulations.

GHS or PHA weight is going to be a big must-have for you as well. Expression, expression, expression in soloing! 

I am an experimental artist in need of a keyboard 

If you are an experimental artist you’re going to be in need of a digital instrument with a really diverse and large soundbank. A recording function, pedals, and a pitch bend wheel are also at the top of the list. 

As for weight and size, that is a bit more up for debate. if you are performing out a lot, you’ll probably want to go with something with aftertouch or touch sensitivity, rather than a fully-weighted, full-sized keyboard. 

The more sounds, the better. Korg PA4X has excellent eastern sounds and has over 1800 total voices, hands down it is one of the best piano keyboards for experimental artists.

I am a classical pianist looking for a digital instrument 

If you are a classical pianist looking for a digital instrument, you’re probably looking for a space saver because you can’t fit a full-sized instrument inside of your living space. Also, digital pianos are usually more economical, so this is a win-win! 

I would recommend a full-sized hybrid piano with GHA or PHA-4 (or 5), wooden keys, and as many acoustic simulations as possible (escapement,key-off, etc).

Best Piano Keyboards: Our Mission

Our mission with this project is to provide you with honest, down-to-earth piano reviews. If we don’t care for a piano, we aren’t afraid to tell you! Our goal is to teach you as much about pianos, and buying pianos, as we possibly can. We carefully check specs and formulate reviews on keyboards. Music is personalized, and so, be it your first piano, or third piano, we think your instrument should fit you! 

We’re here to answer questions such as ‘what is the best piano keyboard to buy for beginners?”, What is the best keyboard to buy for my budget? 

We can’t wait to help you decide what music keyboard to buy!

Best Piano Keyboards
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