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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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- 19%
Rockjam 54

Rockjam 54 Review

$80.71
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- 9%
rockjam 88

Rockjam 88 Review

$278.87
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- 6%
The ONE Keyboard Piano

The ONE Keyboard 61 Key Piano Review

$280.50
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Roland K25-M

Roland K25-M Piano Review

$119.99
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roland f107 digital piano

Roland F107 Review

$1,099.99
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yamaha p225 review

Yamaha P225 Review

$749.99
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kawai NV5S

Kawai NV5S Review

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yamaha cvp 809

Yamaha Clavinova CVP 809 Review

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yamaha cvp 805

Yamaha CVP 805 Review

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Kawai CA-901

Kawai CA-901 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 Rockjam 54 just a passing grade. While this toyish beginner digital piano is at the right price, we feel that the company isn’t entirely truthful in its advertising statements. This 54-key keyboard is unweighted and the non-keyboard sounds aren’t the best (which is to be expected in this price range)... Like the others, it’s marketed as being perfect for beginners or intermediates. This is the main reason why I dinged it so many points. However, there are some neat features like the effects, recording and playback.
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$80.71
We rated the Rockjam 54 just a passing grade. While this toyish beginner digital piano is at the right price, we feel that the company isn’t entirely truthful in its advertising statements. This 54-key keyboard is unweighted and the non-keyboard sounds aren’t the best (which is to be expected in this price range)... Like the others, it’s marketed as being perfect for beginners or intermediates. This is the main reason why I dinged it so many points. However, there are some neat features like the effects, recording and playback.
PROS:
  • It is cheap
  • The piano tones are passable
  • It fits in small spaces like little bedrooms and small studio apartments (you can probably even play it in the car or on a bus, honestly!)
  • It has a good variety of voices
  • Relatively easy to use
  • It has headphone and mic inputs
  • It comes with access to a really good app
  • Makes for a cute auxiliary keyboard/ fun little instrument just to have around the house
  • Full sized keys
CONS:
  • It’s best for just kids (so the item isn’t really as advertised)
  • The keys are not weighted
  • Some sites say this model has 100 demo songs but it actually only has 8! (There are some inaccuracies in the specs across the board when you do a quick Google search)
  • No metronome that I could find
  • Unideal for non-beginners and adult learners
  • No foot pedal for sustain (the button can be inconvenient to use and doesn’t mimic real pianos)
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This Roland mini/accessory works well for the price- but it isn’t exactly built to last like how the Boutique modules are.  We ended up taking away points for the action and built, as it wasn’t the best… but the portability of the item is excellent. That’s why we couldn’t quite give it a C.
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$119.99
This Roland mini/accessory works well for the price- but it isn’t exactly built to last like how the Boutique modules are. We ended up taking away points for the action and built, as it wasn’t the best… but the portability of the item is excellent. That’s why we couldn’t quite give it a C.
PROS:
  • It’s economical
  • It works really well with Roland modules- Especially their vintage-style synths
  • Advertised as being compatible with Roland's JU-06, JP-08, JX-03, and VP-03
  • It makes these modules portable
  • Nice modularity and form factor
  • It’s convenient to input music with
CONS:
  • It has mini keys
  • The action feels a bit cheap
  • The item could be sturdier
  • The keys tend to die on you
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We rated the Alesis Melody 61 MKII a 6.5/10. We think that this instrument does a pretty good job at making its intended audience happy- This is a kids instrument. However, we did have to knock off a few points due to the lack of weighted keys, and the fact that the keys themselves are a bit noisy. That being said, this instrument still has a fair bit going for it. The full starter pack includes everything you need, and the instrument itself has a lot of sounds. That’s why we gave it a 6.5/10.
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We rated the Alesis Melody 61 MKII a 6.5/10. We think that this instrument does a pretty good job at making its intended audience happy- This is a kids instrument. However, we did have to knock off a few points due to the lack of weighted keys, and the fact that the keys themselves are a bit noisy. That being said, this instrument still has a fair bit going for it. The full starter pack includes everything you need, and the instrument itself has a lot of sounds. That’s why we gave it a 6.5/10.
PROS:
  • A good starter kit for the money, including bench, headphones and microphone
  • Open the box, set it up, start playing
  • Excellent price point
  • Comes with three-month Skoove membership
  • Small and light making it very portable
  • Option to work with batteries
CONS:
  • May not be sufficient for long if the beginner wants to progress
  • Sound and feel is not great quality
  • No USB to connect to a computer
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We rated this Casio SA 8/10. This little 44-key keyboard was designed for kids and does exactly what it was meant to do. With easy-to-navigate controls and simple sounds, the Casio SA-76 is a niche kid instrument that we approve of. But because the keyboard is so small, there literally isn’t very much room for piano students to grow. That’s why we rated it an 8/10- But it’s a cute and high-quality little instrument overall!
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We rated this Casio SA 8/10. This little 44-key keyboard was designed for kids and does exactly what it was meant to do. With easy-to-navigate controls and simple sounds, the Casio SA-76 is a niche kid instrument that we approve of. But because the keyboard is so small, there literally isn’t very much room for piano students to grow. That’s why we rated it an 8/10- But it’s a cute and high-quality little instrument overall!
PROS:
  • The Casio SA 76 44-Key is very portable, so you can carry it almost anywhere!
  • It is very easy to use, so even beginners can operate it with ease
  • The piano has built-in tutorials
  • It has 100 voices, so nobody will be getting bored anytime soon!
  • It has 50 drum patterns and 5 drum pads. Rhythmic exposure is essential for musical development, especially on a percussion instrument like the piano
  • You can plug in headphones into the headphone jack and practice without disturbing your friends, family, or neighbors
CONS:
  • Product quality
  • There’s limited polyphony
  • There’s no sustain pedal
  • Quiet speakers
  • Number of keys
  • There is no touch sensitivity
  • The metronome does not click
  • Power cord not included
  • There is no recording capability
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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7.5/10

Rockjam 88 Review

Last time, I checked out the Rockjam 54. I was a bit more fond of the Rockjam 88 than the smaller models, as this one has semi-weighted keys, a full-sized keyboard, and an included stand and bench! While this is far from my favorite brand, you will get far more bang for your buck out of the Rockjam 88 than you will the Rockjam 54. I took off points for the lack of hardiness in the stand and pedal, as well as the fact that some of the sounds were just alright– or worse.  But honestly, what else can we ask for for $200? 
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$278.87
Last time, I checked out the Rockjam 54. I was a bit more fond of the Rockjam 88 than the smaller models, as this one has semi-weighted keys, a full-sized keyboard, and an included stand and bench! While this is far from my favorite brand, you will get far more bang for your buck out of the Rockjam 88 than you will the Rockjam 54. I took off points for the lack of hardiness in the stand and pedal, as well as the fact that some of the sounds were just alright– or worse. But honestly, what else can we ask for for $200?
PROS:
  • The keys are full-sized and have a bit of weight to them
  • It’s portable
  • It includes everything you need to get started
  • It has a decent amount of polyphony
  • The keys are balanced
  • Can be used as a MIDI controller
CONS:
  • The included stand doesn’t seem to be the sturdiest
  • The sustain pedal feels cheap
  • Fewer voices than the Rockjam 54
  • Not very much power behind these speakers
  • The price varies a fair bit
  • The sound samples aren’t really that good
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What kind of piano can you get for $280 on Amazon? As it turns out, it is one (get it, one?!) that can integrate quite well with your devices! The ONE is a light 61-key instrument/ smart piano that gets the job done.  The only reason why we ended up giving it a C+ really is for the way it is advertised. If it had been advertised as a children's keyboard we might have given it an 8, but there is no way a pro would get by with this. So, the fact that the listing says this instrument is for beginners/ professionals doesn’t quite jive right with us. Other than that, we think The ONE is a fun place to get you started with music- as long as you aren’t planning on playing Carnegie Hall anytime soon. 
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$280.50
What kind of piano can you get for $280 on Amazon? As it turns out, it is one (get it, one?!) that can integrate quite well with your devices! The ONE is a light 61-key instrument/ smart piano that gets the job done. The only reason why we ended up giving it a C+ really is for the way it is advertised. If it had been advertised as a children's keyboard we might have given it an 8, but there is no way a pro would get by with this. So, the fact that the listing says this instrument is for beginners/ professionals doesn’t quite jive right with us. Other than that, we think The ONE is a fun place to get you started with music- as long as you aren’t planning on playing Carnegie Hall anytime soon.
PROS:
  • The most basic piano tone sounds good, no… great for the price!
  • The keys are sensitive
  • There are enough keys to play some actual rep (unlike smaller toy pianos)
  • The price is right
CONS:
  • The speakers aren’t very big
  • It simply won’t suit pros!
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It’s obvious that a tiny, under-$200 instrument isn’t going to be popular among pros- But should it be?!  While I admit that was more impressed than I expected to be, the KP30 still didn’t take the cake when it comes to economical lap-sized MIDI controllers.  As far as selling points, this 49-key instrument has over 100 sounds and accompaniment tracks. It acts as either a MIDI controller or an introductory learning instrument. On a similar note… 4 points were taken off in total because we weren’t quite sure who the target audience was here, and the key action really leaves something to be desired.  The KP30 is interesting, because the instrument is not quite good enough for pros, yet too complicated for young children to navigate, in some respects.  That being said, there are some niche audiences that will both facets of the instrument. The Kurzweil KP30 makes for a fine desktop instrument controller for budding producers. The KP30 can also double as a learning tool for the curious child. Perhaps the best audience for this economical space-saver is an intermediate producer who has a child interested in learning piano someday.
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$179.99
It’s obvious that a tiny, under-$200 instrument isn’t going to be popular among pros- But should it be?!  While I admit that was more impressed than I expected to be, the KP30 still didn’t take the cake when it comes to economical lap-sized MIDI controllers.  As far as selling points, this 49-key instrument has over 100 sounds and accompaniment tracks. It acts as either a MIDI controller or an introductory learning instrument. On a similar note… 4 points were taken off in total because we weren’t quite sure who the target audience was here, and the key action really leaves something to be desired.  The KP30 is interesting, because the instrument is not quite good enough for pros, yet too complicated for young children to navigate, in some respects.  That being said, there are some niche audiences that will both facets of the instrument. The Kurzweil KP30 makes for a fine desktop instrument controller for budding producers. The KP30 can also double as a learning tool for the curious child. Perhaps the best audience for this economical space-saver is an intermediate producer who has a child interested in learning piano someday.
PROS:
  • It’s even more portable than the KP100!
  • It’s super affordable
  • It has over 100 interactive patterns and over 100 total voices
  • It’s a cute lap instrument
  • It has more than a few legitimate features, like lessons, DSP, and a mini onboard recorder
  • It has transpose and FX
CONS:
  • It’s toy-ish
  • Some people purchase it not realizing it doesn’t have full-sized keys
  • In some ways, the price is a bit high for the size
  • There aren’t many notes, so there isn’t much range or polyphony
  • The internal song recorder only holds 1 song
  • The keys aren’t good
  • It doesn’t have triple-strike like some of the upper models
  • No split and layer
  • No audio input
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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.
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 Kurzweil KP100 a 6.5/10. While this instrument has excellent specs, the action could stand to be more realistic. That being said, some facets of the KP100 that we really liked include the 10-track MIDI recorder, hundreds upon hundreds of sounds, and the surprising addition of a pitch wheel!
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$469.99
We rated the Kurzweil KP100 a 6.5/10. While this instrument has excellent specs, the action could stand to be more realistic. That being said, some facets of the KP100 that we really liked include the 10-track MIDI recorder, hundreds upon hundreds of sounds, and the surprising addition of a pitch wheel!
PROS:
  • The specs are impressive and well-rounded for the price
  • There are over 500 sounds
  • Includes basic features like split, dual, transpose
  • It has an internal recorder
  • It’s MIDI-recording-friendly
  • It’s super portable
  • The controls are intuitive and easy to use
  • It’s very affordable
CONS:
  • The key feel isn’t the best
  • The speakers aren’t very powerful
  • The quality vs. quantity of sounds conundrum
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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
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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The Yamaha P-225 is basically an updated P-125A- which means that you get an excellent portable instrument equipped with CFX voices, a pedal that supports half-pedaling, VRM, Smart Pianist app compatibility, and more. I most appreciated the updated speaker system and newly optimized GHC keyboard.  Overall, the Yamaha P-225 is an excellent lightweight instrument that is reasonably priced, of a high build quality, and contains all the essentials. I wish it had 1-2 more tracks inside the recorder and a bit more variety in the soundbank, but all in all, this is a well-rounded keyboard that will serve someone just getting started very, very well!
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$749.99
The Yamaha P-225 is basically an updated P-125A- which means that you get an excellent portable instrument equipped with CFX voices, a pedal that supports half-pedaling, VRM, Smart Pianist app compatibility, and more. I most appreciated the updated speaker system and newly optimized GHC keyboard. Overall, the Yamaha P-225 is an excellent lightweight instrument that is reasonably priced, of a high build quality, and contains all the essentials. I wish it had 1-2 more tracks inside the recorder and a bit more variety in the soundbank, but all in all, this is a well-rounded keyboard that will serve someone just getting started very, very well!
PROS:
  • The style of the onboard buttons is easy to navigate
  • It is a space-saver
  • It includes the renowned CFX grand sample
  • Includes key-off samples, which makes the pianos sound more real
  • This model is even more compact than before
  • It has a sturdy build
  • Available in both black and white so you can make it match your aesthetic!
  • The newly designed cabinet which looks more modern than before
  • It has app compatibility
  • Textured black keys- Unusual to find in this price range!
  • It’s an ideal full-featured model for beginners
  • Reasonably priced
CONS:
  • The onboard recorder is only one track
  • Some musicians report that this model has lighter keys than the P-125
  • Not many sounds for those who like non-piano voice
  • Furthermore, the string and other non-pianos tones don’t have a wow factor
  • No texture on the white keys
  • No other effects besides reverb
  • GHC is not the same as GHS
  • The keys are a bit short for intermediate players and up
  • Not many accessories included (stand, bench, etc)
  • The soundbank wasn’t updated much from model to model (P-225)
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We rated the Korg XE20 SP a nice round 8/10. While this piano isn’t my favorite Korg out there, it’s still a solid starter for an economical arranger keyboard. As a whole, I was impressed with the instrument's responsiveness and versatile sounds and backing tracks. I ended up taking a full 2 points off of the instrument's score, because of the relatively low polyphony, and lack of wireless Bluetooth. I feel it is also worth mentioning that not all the sounds are quite as full as I wouldn’t like.  As a whole, it’s still a good keyboard for beginners to early intermediates, though!
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We rated the Korg XE20 SP a nice round 8/10. While this piano isn’t my favorite Korg out there, it’s still a solid starter for an economical arranger keyboard. As a whole, I was impressed with the instrument's responsiveness and versatile sounds and backing tracks. I ended up taking a full 2 points off of the instrument's score, because of the relatively low polyphony, and lack of wireless Bluetooth. I feel it is also worth mentioning that not all the sounds are quite as full as I wouldn’t like. As a whole, it’s still a good keyboard for beginners to early intermediates, though!
PROS:
  • Loads of sounds for the price
  • It has an internal recorder
  • There are many ways to inspire budding composers and singer-songwriters
  • Most importantly, it’s fun!
CONS:
  • No Bluetooth audio or MIDI
  • Not much polyphony outside the grand piano tones
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The Korg B2SP is a digital piano with a nice set of features for a great price- but I didn’t like the key feel, it was much too light for my taste. Despite this, I still gave it a rating of a flat ‘C’. Here’s why: despite not personally loving it, I think that there are a lot of people out there who will still get what they want from this model. I took off 3 points because I can’t 100% back the keybed just because it’s so light. I also took the lower polyphony, and smaller sound bank into account.
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The Korg B2SP is a digital piano with a nice set of features for a great price- but I didn’t like the key feel, it was much too light for my taste. Despite this, I still gave it a rating of a flat ‘C’. Here’s why: despite not personally loving it, I think that there are a lot of people out there who will still get what they want from this model. I took off 3 points because I can’t 100% back the keybed just because it’s so light. I also took the lower polyphony, and smaller sound bank into account.
PROS:
  • It’s portable/ light and easy to move
  • The stand is easy to assemble!
  • It has two included effects
  • The speakers sound good for the size
  • The grand piano tones are lovely
  • It’s pretty compact
CONS:
  • The action is just ok
  • Most packages don’t come with a bench
  • There are only a handful of sounds
  • There is only one headphone jack
  • The polyphony is a bit low
  • There is no onboard recorder
  • The speakers aren’t very powerful when compared to mid-range pianos
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The AP-270 has a real wooden cabinet, and rich tones that we were enthralled with. We took off just one point for the smaller sound bank and 2-track MIDI recorder- I feel they could have added a few more voices and 5 MIDI tracks to better cater to composers, who need a wider variety of sounds and more onboard recording. Besides these two small cons, the AP-270 is a very impressive and full-featured mid-range Casio with a rave-worthy key feel. We really like this home digital piano!
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$959.20
The AP-270 has a real wooden cabinet, and rich tones that we were enthralled with. We took off just one point for the smaller sound bank and 2-track MIDI recorder- I feel they could have added a few more voices and 5 MIDI tracks to better cater to composers, who need a wider variety of sounds and more onboard recording. Besides these two small cons, the AP-270 is a very impressive and full-featured mid-range Casio with a rave-worthy key feel. We really like this home digital piano!
PROS:
  • The sounds are amazing
  • The wood cabinet is aesthetically pleasing
  • The keybed has triple sensors, which pick up nuance
  • Similarly, the synthetic ebony and ivory textured keys are non-slip
  • The bench is included, giving you more bang for your buck!
  • It has more polyphony and better sounds than the last model
CONS:
  • It’s hard to move
  • There aren’t that many sounds
  • The MIDI recorder is minimalist with its two-track capabilities
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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8.5/10

Roland F107 Review

Overall, we are a fan of the Roland F107! We think it makes for an excellent starter piano, which is why we rated it an 8.5/10. Utlitmaly, this instrument is a stellar space saver for the upper beginner to intermediate pianist. While it doesn’t have as powerful of speakers as some of the other models in this line, it still makes for a wonderful apartment digital. My favorite features were the heavy yet responsive action and onboard recording.   We wish it had a few more voices, and LCD or louder speakers- but otherwise, we are satisfied with it!
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Overall, we are a fan of the Roland F107! We think it makes for an excellent starter piano, which is why we rated it an 8.5/10. Utlitmaly, this instrument is a stellar space saver for the upper beginner to intermediate pianist. While it doesn’t have as powerful of speakers as some of the other models in this line, it still makes for a wonderful apartment digital. My favorite features were the heavy yet responsive action and onboard recording. We wish it had a few more voices, and LCD or louder speakers- but otherwise, we are satisfied with it!
PROS:
  • The key feel and responsiveness are excellent
  • The package is a great deal- it comes with a matching bench and stand
  • It has two kinds of headphone inputs- so it’s easy to plug in with whatever you have on hand (earbuds, or studio headphones)
  • It has high polyphony for the price
  • It has more recording options than keyboards that are on the market for twice the price
  • Includes a built-in 3-pedal unit
  • It is app-compatible
  • It comes with Bluetooth
CONS:
  • The con with this instrument is that you don’t get very many sounds onboard
  • Also, the speakers aren’t that large. If you’re planning on playing out you’re not going to be able to use the instrument's speakers (you will need extra amplification)
  • No LCD screen
  • No black key texture
  • The onboard recorder has a lot of note capacity, but not many tracks
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We rated the Casio PX-S7000 a 9.5 because of its combination of a heavy, authentic touch, rich honed-in tones, and its unique-yet-stylish build. The S7000 is a piece of beautiful craftsmanship and serves its intended audience well. It’s very similar to the S6000.  This model is meant to serve pianists who are looking for something high-end with many tones and is smart-device compatible. My favorite features of the PX–S7000 are its unique design and updated sound system. While this model is much more pricey than the other instruments in this line, I believe it’s worth it.  I did end up taking off just a half of a point, due to the fact that this model has a bit less customizability than the PX-S6000. That being said, it trades this feature of a better grand piano and a new look.
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We rated the Casio PX-S7000 a 9.5 because of its combination of a heavy, authentic touch, rich honed-in tones, and its unique-yet-stylish build. The S7000 is a piece of beautiful craftsmanship and serves its intended audience well. It’s very similar to the S6000. This model is meant to serve pianists who are looking for something high-end with many tones and is smart-device compatible. My favorite features of the PX–S7000 are its unique design and updated sound system. While this model is much more pricey than the other instruments in this line, I believe it’s worth it. I did end up taking off just a half of a point, due to the fact that this model has a bit less customizability than the PX-S6000. That being said, it trades this feature of a better grand piano and a new look.
PROS:
  • It has optional battery power for playing while out and about
  • It has a mic input that makes it ideal for recording artists
  • It has an included pitch bend wheel
  • The spruce-composite keys feel heavy and high-quality
  • The action is very quiet- quieter than most
  • It’s completely driver-less
  • It’s easy to navigate in live settings
  • Many of the sounds are great (the piano, harpsichord, and string tones are phenomenal, and most of the organs are excellent)
CONS:
  • This model is significantly more expensive than other PX-S pianos
  • The buttons onboard are minimalist
  • Not everybody is so gung-ho about the retro design
  • You do lose some aspects of the PX-S6000
  • The key feel is lighter than Roland’s (so Roland-lovers might not be big fans of the PX-S line)
  • The stand is relatively easy to build, but takes time…You may want to go with another stand if you plan to gig with it (because who wants to be late for a gig?!)
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We rated the Casio PX-S6000 a full 10/10 because of its stunning hybrid action, recording abilities, and tech-savvy onboard setup. The composite-wood weighted keys provide an even yet heavy touch that many players will enjoy.  The upgrades made to this model are very apparent. The S6000 is truly a cut above the rest.
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We rated the Casio PX-S6000 a full 10/10 because of its stunning hybrid action, recording abilities, and tech-savvy onboard setup. The composite-wood weighted keys provide an even yet heavy touch that many players will enjoy. The upgrades made to this model are very apparent. The S6000 is truly a cut above the rest.
PROS:
  • It has a mic input makes it ideal for recording artists
  • It has an included pitch bend wheel
  • It is available in a package with a stand for the same price as the original
  • It has loads of built-in effects
  • It has more tones, polyphony, and editing options than the previous model
  • The spruce-composite keys are lovely and heavy
  • Optional battery power for playing on the go
  • The action is very quiet
  • The grand piano samples have 4 layers of samples
CONS:
  • It may be out of the price range for beginners
  • You need a flash drive to record on it (not the case with the PX-S7000)
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We rated the Casio AP470 a 9.5/10! This Clavinova is a popular home piano with a sleek and shiny look, 2 grand piano sounds, and weighted, textured keys with triple-sensors. I ended up taking just a half of a point off of this model, because of its smaller onboard recorder, and overly mellow bass end in this particular speaker system.
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We rated the Casio AP470 a 9.5/10! This Clavinova is a popular home piano with a sleek and shiny look, 2 grand piano sounds, and weighted, textured keys with triple-sensors. I ended up taking just a half of a point off of this model, because of its smaller onboard recorder, and overly mellow bass end in this particular speaker system.
PROS:
  • This model is aesthetically pleasing
  • The grand piano samples are stunners
  • Casio has updated their sounds more recently than their competitors- So you get more realistic sounds that will serve you well, for longer
CONS:
  • Not as many levels of touch sensitivity as other Casio’s
  • The speaker system isn’t very loud
  • It’s a lot heavier than the PX-870 with not that many more features
  • The keys make a bit more noise than other digitals
  • The finish on the pedals could be thicker/ of a higher quality
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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Rockjam 54 Review

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Rockjam 88 Review

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Roland F107 Review

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Yamaha P225 Review

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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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Kurzweil KP100
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$469.99
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$179.99
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$2,039.99
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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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Casio PX-S6000
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Yamaha Clavinova CLP 735
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Casio PX-870 Review

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$999.00
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$1,055.00
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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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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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