10 Best Digital Pianos and Keyboards for Beginners to Learn On
Finding the best digital piano for beginners is important. Having the right instrument can mean the difference between motivated and inspired practice and boring, stale piano chores. You don’t want playing the piano to be a chore! So check out this list to find the best piano for beginners!
Top Picks: 10 Best Pianos For Beginners
The Yamaha P 45 is an 88-key digital piano is the best beginner piano and the best overall choice for a beginner to learn on. The P 45 features Yamaha’s proprietary Graded Hammer Standard action. Action refers to how much resistance there is in the keys, how hard or easy they are to play, and how they rebound after they are pressed. This Yamaha design mimics the key action on a real piano. The action feels heavier on the low-end of the keyboard and lighter on the high-end of the keyboard.
The P 45 includes ten built-in sounds that are modeled using Yamaha’s Advanced Wave Memory sampling technology. This sampling technique uses multiple separate microphones to accurately capture the details and nuance of a few classic piano sounds, harpsichord, organ, and strings.
The P 45 also comes with built-in speakers and a headphone jack so you can practice anywhere, anytime without an amplifier. The flexibility of a 1/4″ line out jack means you can also plug-in to an amplifier or PA system for a performance. The P 45 also includes USB and MIDI connectivity. This means you can plug the P 45 into your computer or tablet to engage with education programs that require a matched keyboard or use it for MIDI-based composition or recording.
Overall, the P45 is a flexible choice for the beginning student looking for a quality instrument. The combination of quality sounds and playability with simple design and output features at an affordable price point make the Yamaha P45 the best keyboard for beginners.
The Alesis Recital is an 88-key digital piano that features semi-weighted, adjustable action keys. The Alesis Recital is a budget version of the Yamaha P45, Casio PX-770, and Roland FP-30. The Alesis Recital is a simple, straight-forward digital piano.
The Alesis Recital includes five built-in sounds: Acoustic Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synth, and Bass. Any two of these five voices can be combined with another in Layer Mode for a more complex and interesting sound. The Recital can also be split so that a different sound is in each half of the keyboard. These are awesome functions for creatively expanding the sounds of an otherwise sonically limited instrument.
The Alesis Recital also features a Lesson Mode where the keyboard is split into two halves with the same sound and register. This feature is available on some of the more expensive models on this list and could be a helpful tool for piano lessons.
Overall, the Alesis Recital is a good choice for a beginner who wants an 88-key digital piano, but has a budget of less than $500. The Alesis Recital is a good-quality instrument, but lacks some of the features of its more expensive competitors. If you are looking for an affordable and functional piano, the Alesis Recital will work.
The Roland FP-30 is an 88-key digital piano with Roland’s PHA-4 Standard keyboard with escapement and ivory-feel keys. These keyboards have been at the top of the market for years and for good reason. The weighted keys feel great and Roland is a well-established sound-design company (1). Roland’s SuperNATURAL Piano engine accurately models the sound, decay, resonance, and feeling of a real piano. FP-30 also features five levels of touch sensitivity so you can dial in the exact action you desire.
The FP-30 includes 33 tones: 6 acoustic piano sounds, 5 electric piano sounds, and 22 other sounds including organ, strings, and voices for all your creative wanderings. The keyboard can also be split into a Dual mode for adjustable volumes throughout the keyboard and a Split mode for lessons.
However, the best part of the FP-30 is Roland’s Piano Partner 2 app for Android and iOS. You can connect your FP-30 to any Android or iOS device with Bluetooth for interactive lessons that include repertoire, theory, accompaniment, music exercises, and a daily practice log to chart your development. These tools are invaluable to the beginning pianist!
Overall, the Roland FP-30 is the best piano to learn on if you are interested in learning with an app. Roland’s Piano Partner 2 app is an excellent choice for the motivated learner who wants to get moving right away. This, coupled with the long recognized sound and build quality of Roland keyboards, makes the FP-30 a reliable option.
The Roland GO:KEYS 61-key keyboard is the best creative keyboard on this list. The GO:KEYS is built for the musician interested in an all-in-one creative center for practice, songwriting, and recording. The GO:KEYS feature Roland’s Ivory Feel keys with three different settings of touch sensitivity for a somewhat realistic and customizable setup.
The GO:KEYS comes loaded with over 550 tones including classic pianos, electric pianos, synths, electric guitars, electric basses, strings, and drums.
The GO:KEYS features an awesome Loop Mix function lets you start creating cool music right away.
The Loop Mix presents a different approach to creativity than other keyboards that require some knowledge of chord accompaniment to begin. By triggering loop phrases using single keys, even beginners can create polished songs in real time.
Using the Loop Mix function, you can loop up to 16 parts at a time for a full and lush sound. You can also use the onboard recording function to record your loops for editing later or to use in a live performance. The GO:KEYS includes built-in speakers and Bluetooth connectivity so you could stream the GO:KEYS through any Bluetooth speaker if you wanted. The GO:KEYS can also function on battery power, making it a perfect instrument for creativity on the go.
The Roland GO:KEYS is an awesome choice for a beginning pianist who is interested in music production and songwriting. The onboard music production tools, the Loop Mix and record functions, set the GO:KEYS apart from other instruments in this regard. The ability to run off battery power and stream through a Bluetooth speaker also makes this a great choice for a beginner who is looking for a fun and exciting instrument to get the creative inspiration flowing.
5. Korg B1 88 Key Digital Piano with Enhanced Speaker System – Best Built-In Speakers Award
- Weighted Action
- Built-In Speakers
- No USB or Bluetooth Connectivity
The Korg B1 is an 88-key digital piano with the best built-in speaker system on this list. The B1 features Korg’s Natural Weighted Hammer action system that is designed to mimic the touch and feel of an acoustic grand piano. Similar to the Yamaha technology, the Korg Natural Weighted Hammer system provides a heavier touch in the lower registers and transitions to a lighter touch in the upper registers.
Korg is a company known for their quality sound design and reproductions (2). They are market leaders in sample and speaker technology and the Korg B1 digital piano continues this legacy. Korg has paid extensive attention to detail in designing this speaker for high-quality sound reinforcement.
To accurately achieve the tones of an acoustic piano, the B1 incorporates Korg’s servo-assisted Motional Feedback technology, a pair of full-range speakers, and a passive radiator. This technology controls the movement of the speaker cone itself, allowing low frequencies to be reproduced with minimal distortion. While built-in speakers on other keyboards might distort or break-up in the lower register, the Korg’s speaker system is specially designed to reinforce and enhance the low-end of the instrument for maximum sound quality.
The Korg B1 would be a good choice for the beginner who wants a quality instrument with good piano sound from a reputable builder. The B1 is the best sounding keyboard on the list because of its enhanced speaker system combined with Korg’s excellent sampling technology. However, the B1 also has the highest price tag of any keyboard on this list.
The Casio PX-770 BK Privia Digital Home Piano is the best Casio keyboard available on the market today. The PX-770 features 88 keys and incorporates Casio’s Tri-Sensor II Scaled Hammer Action key weight system. These weighted keys feel realistic to the touch and include three levels of touch sensitivity so you can customize the action to your taste. A simulated ivory and ebony key material round-out this high-end Casio’s emulation of a piano sound.
The PX-770 features 19 tones modeled using Casio’s award-winning AiR Sound Source technology (3) and includes classic digital piano sounds such as grand piano, electric piano, vibraphone, and organ. Built-in stereo speakers accurately represent the quality tones and two headphone outputs and one 1/4″ line out mean you can always practice quieter or louder depending on your needs.
The Casio PX-770 also features a keyboard split function where you can split the keyboard into two halves so that a student and teacher can play together on the same instrument without crossing over one another. The PX-770 is also USB connective and can be paired with the free Chordana Play for Piano app which allows you to download PDF scores and MIDI songs and play them using your piano’s internal sounds and speaker system.
Overall, the Casio PX-770 is the best Casio keyboard on the market. Those of you who are accustomed to the cheap quality of $150 used Casios will be pleasantly surprised by the PX-770. The playability and attention to detail on the PX-770 are top of the line and the built-in features such as the keyboard split function and the pairable Chordana app make for a great instrument. The only reason this instrument is not the best overall is because the price is significantly higher than the Yamaha P45 for comparable quality.
- 2 Different Weight Settings
- Built-In Speakers
- USB Connectivity
The Casio CTK-3500 is a 61-key entry-level keyboard. The CTK-3500 has plastic waterfall keys with 2 levels of touch sensitivity for a limited degree of adjustability. The CTK-3500 is small, lightweight, and portable meaning you can set it up anywhere in your house for added flexibility.
The Casio CTK-3500 comes with 400 tones and 150 different rhythm patterns loaded in. If you are interested in classic Casio tones, then this keyboard is perfect for you. The cheap Casio keyboards have a certain nostalgic feel that is inescapable. The CTK-3500 features one 1/4″ line out, a jack for a sustain pedal, and a headphone jack for silent practice. The speakers provide enough volume for relaxed practiced sessions and in-home performances. The CTK-3500 comes with an AC power supply, but can also run off battery power for added portability.
Overall, the Casio CTK-3500 is a comparable choice to the Yamaha YPT260. Both are entry-level instruments with plastic keys and a wide choice of tones for beginners to explore. Both the Casio and Yamaha come with educational tools suitable for beginners. Both are affordable options, both are portable and lightweight, and nobody will be sad if they get colored on or have food spilled on them!
The Yamaha NP12 is a 61-key digital piano with lightweight, piano style touch sensitive keys. The NP12 is a stripped down, bare bones keyboard with no frills or extra features. The weight and sensitivity of the keys is not adjustable and the keys are made from plastic. The NP12 is a step above the Yamaha YPT260.
Like the other Yamaha’s on this list, the NP-12 uses Yamaha’s Advanced Wave Memory stereo sampling technology to reproduce 10 classic digital piano sounds including Yamaha’s award-winning acoustic grand piano sound. The NP12 features a built-in metronome, but no drum or rhythm samples to jam with. The NP12 does not allow for splitting like some of the other keyboards and includes no built in educational features or lessons.
The NP12 does feature a built-in single track recording function so you can record yourself playing a loop, chord progression, or song and listen back or play along with your recording. This is a useful tool for practice and creative development. The NP12 also comes with USB connectivity which allows you to connect your device to access the wide range of apps that Yamaha offers.
Overall, the Yamaha NP12 is a fine choice for the beginner looking for an instrument that is a step above the other entry-level Casio or Yamaha instruments on this list. The NP12 seems like less of a children’s toy and more like an instrument that a motivated student could make some good progress with. The NP12 comes with basic level features and Yamaha’s acknowledged quality sounds and can be expanded via USB to incorporate more of Yamaha’s features.
- Waterfall Keys
- Built-In Speakers
- No USB or Bluetooth Connectivity
The Yamaha YPT 260 is a 61-key waterfall keyboard designed for the absolute beginner. Waterfall keys mean there is no tension on the keys whatsoever; you can slide over the keys just like a waterfall. There is also no touch sensitivity setting and the keys are narrower than on other keyboards. They are also made of plastic.
The Yamaha YPT 260 uses Yamaha’s Advanced Wave Memory sampling technology to reproduce over 380 instruments and comes loaded with 16 drum sounds and a host of effects. This is helpful for the beginner who is interested in exploring some alternative sounds on the keyboard.
The YPT 260 comes loaded with Yamaha’s Education Suite program which provides simple, effective piano lessons friendly for complete novices. The lessons allow you to practice with both hands together or apart and allow you to set your own pace. You can also record yourself and playback to evaluate your progress, which is a useful tool.
Overall, the Yamaha YTP 260 is a fine choice for a child or beginning adult who doesn’t want to spend very much on a keyboard. The Yamaha YTP 260 is a very affordable instrument and is perfect for leaving around the house as a fun time toy. The Education Suite program is useful for learning some basics, but the plastic keys and lack of touch sensitivity don’t come close to matching the quality of some of the other keyboards on this list.
The Hamzer 61-Key Digital Music Piano is the ultimate budget model keyboard. The Hamzer is a total gem for the budget piano beginner. The Hamzer takes the best aesthetic qualities of late 90’s budget keyboards and combines them with updated functionality for a decent product.
The Hamzer’s 61 lightweight plastic keys produce over 250 tones, similar to the other budget model Casios and Yamahas. The Hamzer also includes 255 rhythms, 61 keyboard percussion, and 24 demonstration songs. These are all comparable qualities to the other budget models, at a significantly reduced price. The Hamzer comes with a sheet of transparent stickers of all the note names. You can put these stickers on all the keys and learn how to recognize notes much faster. This is a huge advantage for the beginning student.
Like the other models, the Hamzer also features line out and headphone jacks. Unlike other instruments, the Hamzer also includes a microphone with a 1/4″ jack which can be plugged into the keyboard and amplified through the keyboard’s built-in speaker. So rad!
The Hamzer 61-Key Digital Music Piano is a rockstar choice for the budget pianist who wants an awesome instrument. The Hamzer is comparable to all the other entry-level 61-key digital pianos on this list. The Hamzer is also significantly cheaper than those other pianos and also includes a microphone so you can sing and play at the same time. With the built-in drum sounds, you can start creating your own songs right away.
Important Things to Consider When Purchasing a Digital Piano
The Weight and Number of Keys
It is important to consider the weight and number of the keys when purchasing a digital piano. The main problem with digital pianos is they are not acoustic pianos. Grand pianos, upright pianos, and console pianos all have a different feeling in the keys. Each digital piano approaches this problem differently.
Some digital pianos like the Yamaha P45, Korg B1, and Casio PX770 use weighted keys to emulate the action of traditional pianos. Others like the Yamaha NP12 and Alesis Recital do not recreate the feel of an acoustic piano as well, but are half the price.
An acoustic piano generally has 88 keys, sometimes more and rarely less. Those 88 keys are all useful, so you need to determine if the music you are interested in playing requires all 88 of those keys. Sometimes, you will not need those 88 keys.
You might run across a playing situation where some music is out of your range. The number of keys will also change the starting pitch of the keyboard.
88-key pianos generally have A as the first key, but 61-key pianos will commonly have C or E as the first key. For this reason it is also important to consider the music you will be making with the keyboard and what that music will call for.
The Importance of Built-In Features and Connectivity
How important are built-in features and connectivity to you in a digital piano? If the creative dimensions of the keyboard are the most important, something like the Roland GO:KEYS is awesome because it has so many sounds and creative possibilities. If built-in features are not as important, then Yamaha P45 is the best overall choice because it is a straight-forward, but well-equipped model. How important is it that your keyboard has Bluetooth or USB/MIDI connections? I often find that I am more inspired by the particular sounds and creative possibilities of an electric or digital instrument. Consider the words of the marvelous Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov (4):
Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.
I think this is one of the main reasons why you would want to purchase a digital instrument. The possibilities for creativity can be endless.
Most of these keyboards also feature some sort of USB or Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to expand your learning and creative possibilities by linking with apps on other devices. The ability to stream music from your phone through the speakers on your keyboard is awesome. You have immediate access to all the music you would ever want to learn. You also have access to hours of lessons and play-along material which could help you progress faster. You could also just buy a book and learn how to read music that way.
The Power Source
The power source is also an important consideration to make when purchasing a digital piano. Most of the pianos on this list come with an AC adapter included, but you want to make sure you get the proper adapter for your instrument. If you don’t have the correct voltage on your adapter, your keyboard could malfunction or even burn up! No just kidding. But seriously, you don’t want your keyboard to stop working because you don’t have the correct voltage adapter. That would be a bummer.
Do you want a battery powered keyboard? That way you could practice in the car, in the yard, or at the beach. You can jam along to the built in drum sounds on the Casio while you are hanging by the lake. Sounds nice. The world-famous songwriter Paul McCartney adds (5):
One of my biggest thrills for me still is sitting down at a piano and just out of nowhere trying to make a song happen
Piano is easy to learn if you take it slowly and move in a methodical way and remember to be creative as much as possible. If you don’t get caught up comparing yourself to others and stay focused on learning the fundamentals, you will have a fun time playing the piano, which will make it easy to learn.
Yes, you can learn piano at an older age. I have worked with many older students from 40-60+ who have excelled at the piano. In fact, having more developed motor skills puts you at an advantage than many younger students. You already know how to use your hands effectively and you can understand more complex ideas faster, which means you can learn piano faster. All it takes is time.
You should not ever need to tune a digital piano, except under rare circumstances. Most digital pianos have a small tuning knob on the back panel. Some digital pianos have a menu control setting where you can adjust the tuning. Digital pianos are not like traditional pianos and don’t have strings inside that will go out of tune.
- Roland USA Awards. Retrieved from: https://www.roland.com/us/news_events/awards/
- Korg Received Multiple Awards at Musikmesse 2001. Retrieved from: https://www.mixonline.com/recording/korg-received-multiple-awards-musikmesse-2001-376380
- Casio Wraps Up The 2019 NAMM Show On A High Note. Retrieved from: https://www.casio.com/news/detail/casio-wraps-up-the-2019-namm-show-on-a-high-note
- 29 Timeless Piano Quotes. Retrieved from: https://www.onlinepianocoach.com/piano-quotes.html
- 30 Of The Best All Time Quotes For Piano Lovers. Retrieved from: https://www.lindebladpiano.com/blog/piano-lovers-quotes