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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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- 18%
mustar 88 key digital piano review

Mustar Digital Piano Review

$229.99
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Casio CT-S1

Casio CT-S1 Review

$268.00
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Novation Bass Station

Novation Bass Station Review

$499.99
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Studiologic Numa X

Studiologic Numa X Review

$1,529.95
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- 15%
Sheirin Digital Piano

Sheirin Digital Piano Review

$348.99
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Hammond SKX

Hammond SKX Review

$3,995.00
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Yamaha MODX8

Yamaha MODX8 Review

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- 13%
Yamaha YPT 270 review

Yamaha YPT 270 Review

$139.99
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Kurzweil SP7

Kurzweil SP7 Review

$1,499.00
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- 7%
Cool Music Keyboard

Cool Music Keyboard Review

$129.99

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 Yamaha MODX8 a 9/10. We love how powerful, versatile, and portable this instrument is. While we wish the chassis felt a bit more heavy-duty. Overall I was really pleased with this synthesizer. It’s like getting 2 instruments in one- very portable- package. The Super knob was a lovely touch in regards to the design- a knob that can control other assignable knobs makes transitions during live performances much, much easier.  All in all the MODX8 is sort of like a budget Montage- and that’s a great thing. From the 10,000 arpeggios to nearly 3,000 tones in the sampling engine, I believe this to be one of the best and most unique synths on the market at the moment- especially for the current price point.
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We rated the Yamaha MODX8 a 9/10. We love how powerful, versatile, and portable this instrument is. While we wish the chassis felt a bit more heavy-duty. Overall I was really pleased with this synthesizer. It’s like getting 2 instruments in one- very portable- package. The Super knob was a lovely touch in regards to the design- a knob that can control other assignable knobs makes transitions during live performances much, much easier. All in all the MODX8 is sort of like a budget Montage- and that’s a great thing. From the 10,000 arpeggios to nearly 3,000 tones in the sampling engine, I believe this to be one of the best and most unique synths on the market at the moment- especially for the current price point.
PROS:
  • Lightweight enough to be portable
  • The sounds are highly editable- from velocity to range, the samples can be adjusted however you like
  • Performances can have up to 16 parts
  • Excellent for music production or live performances
  • It has loads of functions- so you’ll only ever need one keyboard
  • Supports aftertouch
  • Everything can be done from the touchscreen
  • It supports MIDI
  • All the FX are can be used at the same time- the instrument is truly that powerful
  • Has a sustain pedal input that supports half-pedaling
  • It has more flash memory than the MODX7
  • Both sound engines integrate/ can be combined together really easily
  • The sound engine is the same as more expensive models like the Montage
  • It’s a synth with GHS variable weight
  • The MODX OS
  • The price has come down almost 2k since its release, meaning it is more affordable than ever before
  • It’s extremely easy to use with- and as some say, without a lot of having to ‘fiddle’
CONS:
  • It doesn’t have gobs of polyphony
  • No speakers
  • It doesn’t feel quite as expensive as it is (in regards to the shell/chassis)
  • By extension, there are other keyboard synths out there in this price range that feel more solid (however this means you’d compromise portability)
  • Some buyers have had pitchwheel issues- but luckily this isn’t probably going to cost that much to fix
  • Side note: The weight listed on Amazon is incorrect
  • The instrument is reportedly a bit buggy when used with Cubase
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We rated the Yamaha YPT-270 a 7.5 out of 10. It’s a good instrument for the price, and it meets the needs of the target audience well! (The target audience being beginners). However, we still have a hard time recommending the YPT 270 to the ‘serious beginners’ demographic as the keyboard lacks touch sensitivity, and some buyers have had some issues with the keys. I personally wish it had a USB to MIDI out, too.
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$139.99
We rated the Yamaha YPT-270 a 7.5 out of 10. It’s a good instrument for the price, and it meets the needs of the target audience well! (The target audience being beginners). However, we still have a hard time recommending the YPT 270 to the ‘serious beginners’ demographic as the keyboard lacks touch sensitivity, and some buyers have had some issues with the keys. I personally wish it had a USB to MIDI out, too.
PROS:
  • The price is right- for those looking to get an instrument for a student/someone who may not ‘stick with it’ for a long time
  • It’s very portable
  • The build is good
  • The speakers are powerful, especially given their relatively small size
  • There are learning features inside
  • Features like Smart Chord and auto accompaniment make it easy for beginners to get a full sound while playing
  • It has hundreds of voices in the sound engine, including FX and drum kits (which I didn’t anticipate for the price point)
  • The silly voices will keep the young ones entertained!
  • You can attach a sustain pedal
CONS:
  • It has an LCD screen, but it isn’t backlit
  • The polyphony is pretty low
  • The recorder can only capture short musical moments
  • Some buyers have found that their keyboard doesn’t have a middle c that is in the middle
  • It’s hard to be expressive on it from note to note
  • It isn’t MIDI-compatible- So you can’t connect it to your DAW
  • Lack of storage overall- in regards to both recording and slots
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While we wish the key's weight and speakers were as advertised, the Cool Music Keyboard isn’t as bad as you think it might be- At least, not for under $150. We liked how accessible it makes music for newbies and young learners. It’s light to carry and is a major space saver given the instrument’s ability to fold in half- Which is why we gave it a flat passing rate.
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$129.99
While we wish the key's weight and speakers were as advertised, the Cool Music Keyboard isn’t as bad as you think it might be- At least, not for under $150. We liked how accessible it makes music for newbies and young learners. It’s light to carry and is a major space saver given the instrument’s ability to fold in half- Which is why we gave it a flat passing rate.
PROS:
  • It’s very portable
  • Has a variety of sounds that are functional enough for a beginner
  • It is MIDI-compatible, so you can record with it
  • It folds
  • It’s economical
  • It is very easy to set up and use
  • Bluetooth Compatible
  • App-compatible
CONS:
  • As expected, the samples could be better
  • Low speaker volume- Not a lot of ‘umph’
  • I have some concerns about the piano folding along with the electronics
  • The MIDI wasn’t reliable for all of the customers and others had some issues with the keys
  • No stand included- So one will need to be purchased separately
  • No polyphony listed- And it certainly isn’t 256 notes
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This bi-timbral, polyphonic hybrid synth is a true stunner. We found that the pro-grade synth is truly the best of both worlds, with its combination of analog sound and digital capabilities. While instruments like the Novation Peak are a bit more economical, we think that this one is worth saving up for- The extra voices, controls, and power make it worth the price.
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This bi-timbral, polyphonic hybrid synth is a true stunner. We found that the pro-grade synth is truly the best of both worlds, with its combination of analog sound and digital capabilities. While instruments like the Novation Peak are a bit more economical, we think that this one is worth saving up for- The extra voices, controls, and power make it worth the price.
PROS:
  • You get what you pay for… And with the Summit, you get a pro-grade instrument
  • The effects onboard are studio-grade
  • There are many, many ways to explore sound on the model
  • The keys are semi-weighted and feel really nice
  • The sounds it can make are very versatile
  • It has more notes than other comparable models like Novation’s Peak
  • The instrument excels at producing big aka ‘fat’ synth tones
  • There are more front panel controls than older Novation models
  • Includes new filters onboard
  • External audio can be run through the filters (unlike some comparable models)
  • Comes with a 3-year warranty
  • There are tons of buttons- Making it a favorite for music ‘maximalists’
CONS:
  • The instrument is complex to use
  • You can’t set mod slots as destinations
  • It’s expensive
  • Some musicians found the number of voices was too limited for them
  • The type of aftertouch it has is global aftertouch
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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The Mustar Digitial keyboard doesn’t have much weight to it, but this piano works as advertised! That’s why we gave it a passing grade. We loved the items included in the package as well, especially the waterproof bag, cleaning cloth, and included stand- so that beginners won’t have to buy anything extra to get started making music. As you might expect, some of the sounds and most of the rhythms are toy-ish, but the piano tones are surprisingly good for the price.
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$229.99
The Mustar Digitial keyboard doesn’t have much weight to it, but this piano works as advertised! That’s why we gave it a passing grade. We loved the items included in the package as well, especially the waterproof bag, cleaning cloth, and included stand- so that beginners won’t have to buy anything extra to get started making music. As you might expect, some of the sounds and most of the rhythms are toy-ish, but the piano tones are surprisingly good for the price.
PROS:
  • It’s a full-sized, economical starting piano
  • Comes with a nice package!
  • You can still be dynamically expressive on it (touch sensitivity)
  • The piano tones are impressive
  • It has onboard speakers
  • The speakers are clear and pleasant-sounding
  • The connectivity is good for the price
CONS:
  • The semi-weighted touch is quite light
  • Not much power or bass in the instrument
  • No bench is included in the package
  • The entire onboard setup is all buttons (no sliders, no number pad, no pitchwheel)
  • The rhythms are a bit cheesy/toy-ish
  • Similarly, some of the sounds are low-quality
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While we wish the polyphony was higher and quality was a bit better the price is (certainly!) right for this little portable keyboard. The Casio CT-S1 will serve complete beginners well, but probably won’t last you years and years due to the light and somewhat cheaper build. On the plus side, the model is extremely portable and has a good variety of tones for the price. But we couldn’t rate it above a C because of the unweighted key and all-around key feel. 
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$268.00
While we wish the polyphony was higher and quality was a bit better the price is (certainly!) right for this little portable keyboard. The Casio CT-S1 will serve complete beginners well, but probably won’t last you years and years due to the light and somewhat cheaper build. On the plus side, the model is extremely portable and has a good variety of tones for the price. But we couldn’t rate it above a C because of the unweighted key and all-around key feel.
PROS:
  • While it doesn’t feel pro is certainly feels better than some of the other older cheap CT models
  • Class-compliant (USB/MIDI)
  • It has a recorder
  • The speakers have a lot of bass
  • Economical (comes at a great price for the value)
  • Has an eye-catching (Dare I say Nord-like?!) red color
  • Great for beginners
  • Made by a reputable brand
  • You can wear it
  • The tones are pretty good for the price, and there is a nice variety
  • Optional battery power (6xAA)
  • The keybed has a tiny bit of weight for being labeled as unweighted
CONS:
  • Speakers aren’t very powerful
  • Not many tones
  • Smaller than a full-sized piano
  • You will outgrow it more quickly than a lot of $500+ models (in my personal opinion)
  • No power supply cord- Runs on batteries only
  • Costs extra to get the sustain pedal
  • I’m not sure how long it will hold up for
  • No LED screen onboard, so the tones may be difficult to navigate for some users
  • Keyfeel could be better
  • Not very ideal for classical players
  • A bit toyish overall
  • No dance music mode like some of the other Casios
  • Only 1 onboard song (other CT-models have a nice handful)
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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!
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 this synthesizer a full 10/10. While monophonic/paraphonic synths only play one to two note at a time, that doesn’t mean that they’ll spark less creativity!  We found that the Novation Bass Station was a beautiful station with an intuitive design and an (especially) impressive arpeggiator. If you are a rock or electronic instrument in the market for a small synth that will help propel your creative flow, then look no further than this model! The Novation Bass Station is a portable and timeless little synth that has powerful bass sounds…plus, it has a build that will last you a lifetime.
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$499.99
We rated this synthesizer a full 10/10. While monophonic/paraphonic synths only play one to two note at a time, that doesn’t mean that they’ll spark less creativity! We found that the Novation Bass Station was a beautiful station with an intuitive design and an (especially) impressive arpeggiator. If you are a rock or electronic instrument in the market for a small synth that will help propel your creative flow, then look no further than this model! The Novation Bass Station is a portable and timeless little synth that has powerful bass sounds…plus, it has a build that will last you a lifetime.
PROS:
  • This model is set up to give you enormous bass sounds
  • Mono synths give you a different creative result than writing on poly synths
  • Light enough to wear on your person
  • Portable yet packs a punch
  • It has a large variety of sounds
  • Great for studios/songwriting/live performances
  • It has aftertouch
  • Patches are easy to tweak/fine-tune
  • Capable of unique sounds and effects, such as portamento
  • It can play up to two notes at a time with the new update
CONS:
  • It’s monophonic (unless you get the 2.5 version with the paraphonic upgrade)
  • It’s over 10 years since its release
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The Sheirin digital piano is an economical full-sized digital piano that is marketed towards beginners. It concerns me that the company markets some models as beginner, and others as professional…and sometimes even describes the instruments as ‘beginner’ and ‘professional’...at the same time. This is usually a big red flag, or at least a sign that it was made by a non-name-brand company based out of China.  While I’ll never knock getting an instrument that suits your budget, you can get an entry-level instrument made by a name brand for the same price. That being said, there are a surprisingly large amount of capabilities in the instrument, and some nice features. We ended up taking off several points off because we are not so sure about the longevity of the instrument. 
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$348.99
The Sheirin digital piano is an economical full-sized digital piano that is marketed towards beginners. It concerns me that the company markets some models as beginner, and others as professional…and sometimes even describes the instruments as ‘beginner’ and ‘professional’...at the same time. This is usually a big red flag, or at least a sign that it was made by a non-name-brand company based out of China. While I’ll never knock getting an instrument that suits your budget, you can get an entry-level instrument made by a name brand for the same price. That being said, there are a surprisingly large amount of capabilities in the instrument, and some nice features. We ended up taking off several points off because we are not so sure about the longevity of the instrument.
PROS:
  • It’s a space saver
  • It costs a relatively small amount
  • It has (surprisingly) good reviews online, and seems to be well-liked
  • It has a dust proof flip-cover, which helps protect the keys
  • Has a full-sized keyboard that has some weight to it
  • Assembly tools included in the package
  • Oftentimes, there’s an $80 coupon available for the item on Amazon
  • The polyphony is reasonable for a beginner
CONS:
  • It is for sale at Walmart, which is never a good sign for a musical instrument…unless it’s a kiddie recorder (then maybe…maybe)
  • Built quality could be better - we’re not sure it will stand the test of time
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The Korg MicroPiano is a one-of-a-kind digital-grand hybrid- But miniaturized. This instrument bridges the gap between a toy piano and a real one.  I loved the sounds this economical keyboard was able to produce, and the key feel wasn’t bad, either. I ended up giving it a 8.5/10. While I wish the MicroPiano was more compatible with DAWs for recording, the instrument meets its intended audience’s expectations well. But if you are a serious piano learner, the mini keys on the Korg Micro might be a hindrance- so know that this one is mostly just for fun! 
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$388.30
The Korg MicroPiano is a one-of-a-kind digital-grand hybrid- But miniaturized. This instrument bridges the gap between a toy piano and a real one. I loved the sounds this economical keyboard was able to produce, and the key feel wasn’t bad, either. I ended up giving it a 8.5/10. While I wish the MicroPiano was more compatible with DAWs for recording, the instrument meets its intended audience’s expectations well. But if you are a serious piano learner, the mini keys on the Korg Micro might be a hindrance- so know that this one is mostly just for fun!
PROS:
  • This instrument bridges the gap between a toy piano and a real one
  • Offers multiple color choices
  • Has a functional lid
  • Stereo-sampled grand piano sounds inside- The tones are excellent
  • Optional battery power
  • It has a phenomenal battery life of 15 hours
  • Compatible with a pedal switch and damper pedal
  • Makes for a really cool gift for a kid or music enthusiast
  • It even has a vocoder on it
CONS:
  • The mini keys can be hard to play
  • The wattage is pretty meek- The sound wouldn’t fill a room
  • It doesn’t integrate well with DAWs anymore
  • The lid doesn’t really do much for the sound since the instrument is digital
  • Not really intended for recording with
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Last time we reviewed a Novation we took a peek at the Launchkey Mini. We rated the Launchkey 88 model a 9.5/10 because of its easy-to-play full-sized keyboard, intuitive slider controls, and full-featured chassis. Overall the keys feel satisfyingly smooth and responsive to play, and the instrument hooks up to DAWS seamlessly. And while we really wish the keyboard included aftertouch (hence the subtracted half-point), the price is right and the quality is good.
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$399.99
Last time we reviewed a Novation we took a peek at the Launchkey Mini. We rated the Launchkey 88 model a 9.5/10 because of its easy-to-play full-sized keyboard, intuitive slider controls, and full-featured chassis. Overall the keys feel satisfyingly smooth and responsive to play, and the instrument hooks up to DAWS seamlessly. And while we really wish the keyboard included aftertouch (hence the subtracted half-point), the price is right and the quality is good.
PROS:
  • It has all of the capabilities you’d expect of a basic MIDI controller
  • Great for those looking to record 2 hands at the same time- Such as for pianists who want to do studio recordings (but it can be used for recording other 2-hand arrangements, too!)
  • Works great with reason and other DAWS
  • It comes with software
  • Easy to use
CONS:
  • Semi-weighted keys without aftertouch don’t please everyone
  • The instrument does not support an expression pedal
  • Doesn’t work as well with some programs
  • No speakers since it’s a controller
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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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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The Studiologic Numa X has some surprisingly high-end features- ones that truly impressed us at this price point. We ended up loving this full-sized, hammer action keyboard because of its tones, number of channels/connectivity, 4-zone MIDI controller, and of course, because of its high level of portability.
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The Studiologic Numa X has some surprisingly high-end features- ones that truly impressed us at this price point. We ended up loving this full-sized, hammer action keyboard because of its tones, number of channels/connectivity, 4-zone MIDI controller, and of course, because of its high level of portability.
PROS:
  • It supports aftertouch
  • The user interface is extremely easy to use
  • Extremely slim and portable
  • It has a huge amount of polyphony
  • The piano works extremely well as a controller
  • The UX Logic interface is easy to navigate
CONS:
  • There are no wheels, only pitch and mod sticks, which some users find unpleasant, tactile-wise
  • No speakers because it is a stage piano
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9.5/10

Hammond SKX Review

This pro-grade instrument by Hammond is a stunning pro dual organ and keyboard…and it is more than we ever could have asked for! From the intuitive yet maximalist setup (with loads of sliders), realistic organ tones, and addition of mono synths and piano sounds, the capabilities and versatility of the Hammond SKX are astounding.  While we wish that the instrument came in an 88-key version, you just can’t beat the portability and convenience of this 61-key.  And, as Hammond says (about their own creators)...  “There are many imitators, but none surpass the fruit of their genius minds.” -Hammond   As a whole, the instrument caters extremely well to its intended audience- professional organ players who may also need access to high-quality synthesizers and piano tones.
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This pro-grade instrument by Hammond is a stunning pro dual organ and keyboard…and it is more than we ever could have asked for! From the intuitive yet maximalist setup (with loads of sliders), realistic organ tones, and addition of mono synths and piano sounds, the capabilities and versatility of the Hammond SKX are astounding. While we wish that the instrument came in an 88-key version, you just can’t beat the portability and convenience of this 61-key. And, as Hammond says (about their own creators)...  “There are many imitators, but none surpass the fruit of their genius minds.” -Hammond  As a whole, the instrument caters extremely well to its intended audience- professional organ players who may also need access to high-quality synthesizers and piano tones.
PROS:
  • It boasts a malleable range of sounds and features (it’s very versatile!)
  • Loads of controls (could be a pro or con depending on your preferences, but I love maximalist keyboard instruments personally)
  • A plethora of drawbars
  • Includes orchestral instruments
  • It’s surprisingly light and portable
  • It’s an organ that doubles as a piano
  • Available in 3 colors- black, grey and white
  • The display is bright and large- making it easy for farsighted musicians like me to navigate!
  • 200 total combinations on the instrument
  • Excels at being a portable, high-quality organ
  • You can attach a real Leslie to it as well (doing this disables the digital/virtual Leslie onboard)
CONS:
  • It is small (and the price is quite high given that it only has 61 keys)
  • No single button for FX (some players prefer buttons for FX rather than looking through the menus on the screen)
  • Not as good of a synth instrument as the Roland Phantom
  • By extension, it isn’t as versatile as most stage pianos
  • The onboard buttons/ navigate may feel a bit complex/daunting- especially for hobbyists
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We rated the Kurzweil SP7 a 10/10. This digital stage piano is geared towards beginners and meets its target audience’s needs well- In fact, it’s better than we ever would’ve expected for something marketed as a beginner stage piano. While we wish that the touchscreen was bigger like the Kurzweil SP7 (keep an eye out for a Kurzweil SP7 Grand review!)  this two-in-one synth-like digital stage is an intermediate instrument at an entry-level price.  While I do wish the woodwind sounds were better and the chassis was metal like the step-up model, for the price point?! We couldn’t ask for more.
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We rated the Kurzweil SP7 a 10/10. This digital stage piano is geared towards beginners and meets its target audience’s needs well- In fact, it’s better than we ever would’ve expected for something marketed as a beginner stage piano. While we wish that the touchscreen was bigger like the Kurzweil SP7 (keep an eye out for a Kurzweil SP7 Grand review!) this two-in-one synth-like digital stage is an intermediate instrument at an entry-level price. While I do wish the woodwind sounds were better and the chassis was metal like the step-up model, for the price point?! We couldn’t ask for more.
PROS:
  • The sounds on the instrument are largely editable
  • The piano tones are almost indistinguishable from that of an acoustic
  • It feels sturdy but is also portable
  • It has an organ sound engine, which can be hard to find in a digital stage piano
  • It’s portable- And makes taking the sound and feel of a lush piano with you possible
  • It has physical controllers like a synth would
  • It has loads of effects that make live performances sparkle
  • It has an SD slot for expansion
  • It’s an aesthetically pleasing instrument with light-up controls that are easy to see in the dark
  • It’s versatile, preset-wise
CONS:
  • The buttons make it aesthetically look like a synthesizer
  • No speakers onboard so you’ll have to purchase external amplification if you don’t already have it on hand
  • The touch screen is small and harder to navigate than the SP7 Grand’s
  • Some players don’t care for the Medeli keybed
  • The build quality is good, but not as good as the step-up
  • Not all the sounds are equally as good as the pianos and strings
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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
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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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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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-870 Review

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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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Yamaha MODX8 Review

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Novation Summit Review

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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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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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