The Best Beginners Piano and Keyboards to Suit Every Budget
If you're looking to buy your first electric piano or keyboard, whether it's for yourself or a loved one, there are so many different products. For some it can be a bit overwhelming knowing what to look for, and what to avoid, and so I've built this guide to help you, as well as giving you some links to where you can buy the best beginner pianos further down.
You don't want to order a keyboard only to find out it's the wrong size, wrong kind, wrong key action, or just made by a lousy manufacturer and so is just bad quality.
Most importantly, you want to get the most out of your money, and you don't want to waste it on having to buy another later down the line.
I have been teaching piano privately now for over 10 years, and so have been asked numerous times by my pupils or their parents for help selecting a good keyboard, and the question they ask normally sounds like "What piano or keyboard should I buy?"
Now, like I said, there are A LOT of digital piano's and keyboards out there, so there isn't just one answer, and a big part of it is obviously your budget. But apart from that, I always found myself giving them the same advice on what to look for in a piano keyboard for beginners.
Here is the most important advice if you are looking to buy a piano or keyboard to learn with:
Weighted & Touch Sensitive Keys
For me this is the most important! When learning the piano you need to develop the correct technique, and so you are buying an electric piano or keyboard, I would strongly advice getting one with weighted and touch sensitive keys. Most keyboards over £100 will be touch sensative, which means if you play it harder the sound will be louder, and vice versa. This is the first port of call!
With weighted keys, the term to look out for is "weighted hammer action". This means the keys have been designed to replicate the feel of a proper acoustic piano. Some might say "graded hammer action" which is even better. This means the keys on the lower end are heavier, and the top end lighter, just like an acoustic piano.
When searching online, I would recommend using the term "digital piano" rather than keyboard, because a lot of keyboards just have plastic non-weighted keys, that in my opinion feel horrible to play.
How Many Keys? 88 Is the Magic Number
A full size piano has 88 keys, and this is something you want when buying a digital piano or keyboard. Whilst some people might think this doesn't matter, and getting a smaller one for a young child might seem like a good idea, I wouldn't if I were you.
You don't want to be learning a song and suddenly find yourself running out of keys. You will find a lot of cheaper keyboards (normally without weighted keys) have less keys. Buying a small keyboard may also cost you more money in the long run, because you'll only have to upgrade to a full size one at some point anyway.
No Fancy Stuff
You want to get the most out of your money, and so want to make sure your spending it in the right place. What do I mean by this?
I had an experience when I first started teaching where one of my pupils dads went out and spent hundreds of pounds on an "all bells and whistles" keyboard, with "hundreds" of different sounds, extra software built in, not to mention the graphic interface. The problem was, the piano noise sounded terrible and it felt very unpleasant and stiff to play. They had spent £350+ on a keyboard with all this extra stuff, but the actual piano part was probably worth £100.
Make sure you buy something basic, which doesn't mean cheap. You need something with a good piano sound, and keys that have a nice action. That's all at this stage! Don't waste your money on the extra "keyboardy" stuff because if you are just wanting to learn piano, you most likely won't use it.
Brands to Look Out For
There are a vast amount of piano and keyboard manufacturers out there, so it's good to look out for brands like Yamaha, Roland, Casio or Korg to know your on the right path. Not to say that all other brands are no good, but generally if you buy something from either of those, you can feel safe knowing it's going to be a good product.
BE CAREFUL YOU DON'T BUY A MIDI KEYBOARD CONTROLLER
They can look the same to an untrained eye, but they don't have any external speakers, and so won't make a sound. These are usually used by music producers and so need to be hooked up to a computer with music software.
I've had to stop my own pupils who have sent me links to midi controllers asking if they were suitable. I was like..... STOOOOP! DON'T BUY!
Take a look for yourself, you can see how people could get mixed up:
When you are browsing for piano keyboards, make sure to check for "built in speakers".
Now you know what to look out for, I've put together some of my favourite digital piano's for beginners.
These are in no particular order.
First up, we have:
Yamaha P-45 Digital Piano
A few of my pupils have these, and they have a really nice feel to them when played. The key action has been designed especially well, and the actual sound is very authentic. Probably why it's such a good seller for Yamaha. It doesn't have a huge amount of different sounds, which remember is a good thing. Your money is being spent on all the right places here. Good weighted hammer action, and an authentic piano sound.
The recommended retail price for this on the Yamaha website is £486/$588, but you can pick it up on Amazon brand new for over £100/$120 cheaper. A top digital piano to buy for anyone just starting, and suitable to play at higher levels as well.
For more information and to take a closer look, or even to downright buy it straight away, for the UK Amazon click here: Yamaha P-45 Digital Piano in £ and the US Amazon here: Yamaha P-45 Digital Piano in $ or follow the links below.
ROLAND FP-10 Digital Piano
The FP-10 is one of Roland's latest models, and they have focused on bringing together a digital piano that has a weighted and expressive touch, as well as a beautiful and responsive tone, just like an acoustic piano. As you can see there are simple controls, with just a small selection of sounds and operations, which again is exactly what I recommend. Spend your money on the sound and the feel!
If you're in the US, I couldn't seem to find the FP-10 on Amazon, but the next closet thing is the FP-30. You can take a closer look here:
Casio CDP-S100 Digital Piano
You may remember the little Casio keyboards from back in the day, well they've stepped up their game here. Another electric piano perfect for beginners, with it's slim, compact design and graded hammer action on it's 88 keys, this one ticks all the boxes but is affordable at the same time.
Again I've chosen this because Casio have focused on doing a few things well, with 10 high quality sounds and including a lovely Concert Grand Piano sound.
You should be able to get this one around the £300ish mark, so a nice price for a nice piano. To see more information on this one click here Casio CDP-S100 Digital Piano or have a look at the link below:
Yamaha Arius YDP-S34 Digital Piano
Yamaha have a high end range of digital pianos called Clavinovas but they can get quite expensive. They normally start at £1000/$1200 and can run into the thousands. If you want that upright piano look and don't have a huge budget, but are willing to spend a little bit more, it may be worth taking a look at their Arius range of digital pianos.
I've chosen the Yamaha Arius YDP-S34 because it's more affordable in comparison, has everything you need, i.e 88 keys, a graded hammer action and rich authentic piano sounds, but it would also looks great. Maybe I'm biased because I'm a piano player but I wouldn't mind having this as a piece of furniture in my house.
This one may be a tad more, but it's worth it, and I have seen it on offer for under £700 which is a great deal. For more info have a and the UK Amazon link look here https://amzn.to/2Wy0kdO, the US here: https://amzn.to/2X2ktrs or check out the links below:
Are these all out of your budget?
I understand that not everyone may be able to afford some of these recommendations, so I have tried to find one that a bit more affordable, coming in around £200/$215. I must admit though, I have not played this one, and it's not one of the brands I normally recommend, but it's a popular seller and has good reviews.
RockJam 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano
The first thing to note with this one is that it doesn't have fully weighted keys. They are "semi-weighted", which is okay but not ideal. I actually have a few pupils using older Yamaha models with semi-weighted keys, and they are fine up until around Grade 2-3, but they eventually had to upgrade. As you can see by the name, it has 88 keys which is good.
If you're a parent looking to buy a keyboard for a young beginner and don't want to break the bank, this could be a way around the extra expense in the short term. Just beware that if they continue onto their grades you will have to upgrade to a better model at some point. For more information on the RockJam 88-Key Digital Piano check the links below:
Deciding how much to spend?
Don't get me wrong, I know piano is an expensive hobby, with most private piano teachers these days charging £25+ph per lesson and not everyone wants to spend £400+ on a keyboard. With that in mind though, it's worth remembering that if you are paying for weekly piano lessons, it's worth having a suitable piano keyboard to learn with.
There is no point in spending thousands of pounds in tuition fee's over the years, and have them learn on a £90 61 key keyboard.
Think about whatever digital piano you choose as an investment. You pretty much do get what you pay for when it comes to buying electric pianos or keyboards. If you go super cheap it probably won't be that good.
It's really important to remember that playing piano, and music in general is supposed to be fun, it's supposed to sound nice. If you are playing on something that sounds like it was designed 30 years ago and hardly resembles a piano sound, it won't sound pleasing, you won't be inspired to sit down and play it, and you could even end up quitting learning the piano because of it.
You might be a parent worried about spending too much if your child is only going to quit and so looking for something at the £100 mark. I would recommend spending a bit more, and if for whatever reason they don't take to it, you can always sell it on and get some of your money back. You may even struggle to sell a second hand cheap keyboard if you went down that road anyway.
Well those are just my thoughts, you may disagree, but they're just few things I have learned over my years of teaching.
Thanks for reading
I really hope you found my guide and suggestions on what to look for when buying pianos for beginners useful.
You may want to take a look at a poster I have designed to help beginners on the piano. It's called The Ultimate Piano Poster is the perfect aid if you are learning how to play the piano or keyboard. Have all of the information you need right in front you.
Check it out:
It includes fully illustrated chords and scales, the grand staff with note names, the circle of fifths, common musical symbols and terms, and much more. You can order your copy from my website here:
Thanks again, and keep practising.
Founder - Birds Piano Academy
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