The Best Beginner Keyboards (Review & Comparison)
Of 2020 – Our Top Picks Reviewed
Playing the keyboard may seem easy, but have you ever tried it for yourself? Many people choose to play the keyboard as a quick alternative to learning the piano. While it can be very easy to pick up and there are fewer things to manage, you are still going to need an entry-level system which will help you get into your groove.
We’ve worked with many professional musicians and experts who’ve gone through the challenge of finding a stand-alone production unit at various times. After trying and getting expert advice we have compiled a list of The Best Beginner Keyboards to help with that important buying decision.
The Products We Reviewed – Click to go
3 DJ Beginner Keyboards You Must See – Our Winning Picks
The Best Beginner Keyboards
1. Alesis Melody 61 MKII
Size: 4.1 x 12.4 x 37.2 inches – Weight: 25 lbs – Keys: 61 – Built in speakers
When looking at entry-level keyboards, Alesis may well be a brand you want to look at. The Melody 61 MKII is the latest 61-key instrument from the brand, though you can also choose a 54-key model if you prefer. New players might appreciate the responsive keys and simple speakers built in. This might help to make playback nice and simple, so you don’t have to fiddle around with outputs as a complete novice.
The unit comes with over 300 tones and over 300 rhythms. Therefore, it might well appeal to anyone looking for a real variety in sound. Anyone looking to take a beginner keyboard with them on the go can power up with six AA batteries. You’ll often find this keyboard paired with its own stool and stand, too, making it a possible contender for the best beginner unit in our list.
- 61 responsive piano-style keys with built-in speakers
- 300 built-in tones with layer and split modes
- One touch song mode with 300 built-in rhythms
- Play along with 40 demo songs or record your own
- Includes a stand, a bench, headphones, a music rest, a power adapter and even a microphone
2. Casio SA-76
Dimensions: 23.8 x 2.2 x 8.3 inches – Weight: 2.6 lbs – Keys: 44 – Designed for kids
This keyboard does look a little simple but looks are deceiving. This tiny little synth might be perfect for any players who want to start out small before upgrading to a full-size piano, beware this is designed for kids. It’s obviously likely to be easy to carry around, with 44 keys offered up to help you learn the basics. What might appeal to absolute beginners is the ability for you to play along with up to 50 rhythm patterns and 100 sounds. As mentioned, we think this might be a good way for starter keyboardists to get to grips with chords and melodies.
There’s also a handy easy-to-read LCD display to help with your learning. If you’re worried about keeping things private while you practice, you might appreciate the headphone socket, which you can of course use to close your sessions off from prying ears.
- 44 mini-sized keys and 5 percussion pads
- 100 sounds and 50 rhythm patterns
- Simple tone selection with PIANO, ORGAN tone button
- Easy-to-read LCD display
- Drum Pads
- Built-In Songs
3. Yamaha PSREW300
Dimensions: 50.3 x 17.3 x 6.9 inches – Weight: 47 lbs – Keys: 76 – Designed for more serious piano beginner
Yamaha is a name that many musicians will recognise. It’s one of the big manufacturers of keyboards, and the PSREW300 is a great choice for beginners of any age and starting point. Players have access to 76 keys, so not the full set, but maybe enough for most new players to start getting into. There’s also a full ‘education suite’ on board called YES, which might help newbies find their way across the various notes, movements and presets. Of course, everyone learns differently.
Anyone looking for a nice choice of voices and tones will find up to 574 here, which might be one of the biggest collections online. If you want to play along with songs and styles, too, you might find the 150+ presets appealing. For beginners who really want the full kit, you may appreciate the fact that this keyboard often arrives with a stool and stand to help you on your way. For those who are getting into the groove, you can plug in MIDI instruments to customise your experience.
- 76-Key Portable Keyboard
- 574 Voices, 165 Styles and 154 preset songs
- Yamaha Education Suite
- Touch Tutor lesson mode tracks the velocity or strength the keys are played at in order to teach dynamics
- USB to HOST connectivity with MIDI and audio transfer
4. WOSTOO 61
Dimensions: 28.4 x 8.5 x 3.3 inches – Weight: 1.6 lbs – keys: 61 – Musical Teaching Keyboard
WOSTOO is a name you’ve probably not come across on the high street, however, that doesn’t mean their 61 key beginner piano isn’t worth looking into. Offering eight different sounds, it might appeal to beginner players who are looking to start out small. It’s also very slimline and easy to carry around, making it a good choice for young players as well as adult learners. In fact, the marketing suggests it can be bought as a ‘toy’. We think it’s much more than that, but you might well find it a good pick for children getting to grips with the keys.
It has an impressive record and playback function, too, which you are not always going to find on keyboards of this size. Therefore, anyone who wants to hear their performances and learn from any mistakes might appreciate this feature.
- 61 Keys
- 8 musical instrument sound, 6 demo songs, 10 style music rhythm, 16 sounds
- playing piano function, detachable microphone, recording playback function
- Audio Function with Piano
- Musical Teaching Keyboard
5. Yamaha YPT260
Dimensions: 42.7 x 17.2 x 11.9 inches – Weight: 35 lbs – Keys: 61
We’re sticking with Yamaha, and why not? The YPT260 is an entry-level keyboard in their line which arrives with the full YES suite as listed above. This, again, might appeal to anyone looking for a guide or a helping hand that’s built into the hardware. It is, however, completely optional, with nine lessons included. You can also take advantage of over 130 different backing tracks and styles, which might help you learn how to keep to specific rhythms.
Anyone keen to listen to how they do while they learn can record and playback. Even if you are a little self-conscious, this feature might appeal to you. There’s also an AUX input, which means you can plug in another device and play along if that’s likely to help you. There are 61 keys here, which might be enough for the novice player.
- YPT260 Portable Keyboard, stand, bench and power supply
- 400 voices, 130 Auto accompaniment styles with backing tracks, and 112 onboard songs
- Yamaha Education Suite with 9 step Lesson function
- Aux input allows you to play along with music from a phone, tablet or computer
- Record and playback using the recording function
6. Casio CTK-2550
Dimensions: 44 x 15 x 9 inches – Weight: 20 lbs – Keys: 61 – Built-in lesson system
Casio is another brand that will likely pop up a lot on these lists. The CTK-2550 is a solid beginner keyboard which might appeal to you if you are looking for a good bundle package. 61 keys, again, appears to be the standard for many starter systems, and we think this might be enough for most players to start with. It boasts one of Casio’s largest tones and voice catalogues, with over 400 different choices available. You can even plug into your smartphone with a Chordana Play app, meaning that if you want to learn through your phone, you can.
This is one of the most customisable beginner pianos around, particularly as it lets you add and remove song parts if you wish. If you are starting to play the keyboard but want more control over your experience, this hardware might appeal to you.
- Number of Keys: 61
- Polyphony (maximum): 48
- Number of Built-in Tones: 400
- Number of Built-in Rhythms: 100
- Dance Music Mode: Yes
- Number of Built-in Dance Music Rhythms: 50
7. Yamaha PSRE263
Dimensions: 47.5 x 16.5 x 9.6 inches – Weight: 20 lbs – Keys: 61 – 32-note polyphony
The PSRE263 is another Yamaha entry model which might appeal to any players looking for a frills-free approach to the keyboard. While there are plenty of features on-board here, there are 61 keys as standard and a nice, simple interface to help keep things from getting overcrowded. Anyone looking for extra help with learning the keys may appreciate the split mode, which lets you halve the keyboard in the middle. This produces two different pianos, one on the left, and one on the right.
It might be better suited to kids in the long run, but even if you are an adult just learning how to play, you might find the YES suite and the user-friendly controls ease you in nicely. It’s also battery powered, meaning it’s one of the most portable beginner keyboards around.
- 400 high-quality Voices, 130 auto accompaniment Styles
- 112 Songs, easy Song Book
- Nine-step lesson function
- Recording function.
- AUX IN jack for connecting an external audio source
- Master EQ / Ultra Wide Stereo
- Duo Mode
- Real-time backing band tracks
8. Casio WK-245
Dimensions: 54 x 12 x 20 inches – Weight: 15.9 lbs – Keys: 76 – Headphones, Stand and Power Supply included
Back to Casio. The WK-245 might be a great choice for beginner players who want nothing but the essentials, and a little bit of a helping hand along the way. It’s a 76-key system, which isn’t quite the full piano array, which might appeal to new players who are working up to the bigger systems, or a real piano. In any case, most players might find the inclusion of 600 built-in voices to offer a lot of variety.
Beginner players can also play back what they’ve learned thanks to the 6-track recording facility. You can also use up to 180 different rhythms that you can play along to. You’ll also find that you can export and play along with devices via USB, which might appeal to the beginner player with plenty of external kit.
- 76 piano-style, touch-sensitive keys
- 48 note polyphony, 600 Tones, and 180 Rhythms
- USB MIDI for easy connectivity with your Mac or PC
- 5-song/6-track recorder
- Onboard sampling lets you create unlimited, unique sounds
- Mic with volume control and audio in jacks
- Onboard digital effects and Virtual Hall Simulation reverb
- Step-up lesson system
How We Chose The Beginner Keyboards In Our List
There tends to be a habit of some beginner pianos and keyboards only getting marketing to kids. We don’t think this is fair. We chose keyboards which should work perfectly for children and adult learners alike, with each system gently easing you into the instrument. We also choose big names and lesser-known manufacturers for a fair mix.
We wanted to ensure you got a good cross-section of tutorial tech, too. Yamaha’s YES service, for example, might help most beginners gain confidence in their abilities earlier than they plan. Otherwise, with some of these keyboards, you can plug in via AUX to follow a guide.
Keyboards For Beginners Buying Guide
When it comes to choosing the right keyboard for a beginner there’s a few things we suggest you look for. Follow this buying guide to help you make the right decision for you.
Choosing Your First Keyboard
This is the exciting part – finding your very first keyboard. Beginner keyboards come in all shapes and sizes, however, which can make things pretty difficult at times. Therefore, we suggest looking for brands you recognise, as well as a few features that are going to help you on your way. Not all keyboards play the same way or offer the same experience.
We have talked about keyboards in an earlier buying guide; however, this time around, we are going to keep things relatively simple. Not everyone needs a keyboard with the same bells and whistles! With that in mind, what are some of the things you need to keep in mind when buying a beginner keyboard?
Number of Voices
It’s pretty common to find keyboards that offer hundreds of different voices or sound banks. Not all do, but for beginners, this might be a nice way to diversify your sound. It might also help to hold your interest while you’re learning how to play. However, whether you want 30 voices or 300, there really isn’t that much to choose from in terms of a beginner perspective. You may feel overwhelmed by too many choices at first, of course.
Number of Keys and Length of Keyboard
Not all keyboards are the same length. Some emulate pianos differently. You can buy beginner keyboards that have the regular set of 88 keys, but you may be more intrigued by smaller options. Smaller doesn’t always mean it’s going to be easier to play, nor does it mean it’s going to help you learn the keyboard any quicker. With that in mind, do make sure to go for a length of keyboard that suits your comfort and confidence, not necessarily your playing knowledge.
Many keyboards differ in terms of touch sensitivity in the keys. Traditional piano keys are very soft to the touch. This means you need to press down hard to get a loud note, and softly to get a quieter one. Your experience and needs may vary here. However, if you want to learn the keyboard with the full piano experience, you’ll need sensitive keys. Or, if you want to mix things up, buy a keyboard that will let you switch up the sensitivity.
Tutorials and Guides
Many beginner keyboards have play-along tunes and tutorials installed. You may even get a few guidebooks along with your keyboard, which will let you follow the automated tunes and songs that you can activate with the touch of a button. Some beginner keyboards come with extensive tutorials built in. Others, meanwhile, prefer to let you explore on your own. What you choose here, of course, will depend entirely on how you learn as a person. Some of us learn by playing, others by reading and digesting.
Song presets may seem gimmicky to some people, but to beginners, they can be real assets. By playing a song preset, you may be able to follow how a popular tune is played on your keyboard. Therefore, you can follow it along and learn how to manage chords and melodic notes at the same time. Again, this isn’t a standard which is always going to be easy to find. However, most keyboards aimed at younger players should have at least a few tunes pre-packaged.
Ease of Use
For our money, the best beginner keyboards are those which never go over the top. A good beginner keyboard should offer you minimal features and presets. Therefore, you will never feel too overwhelmed by what is available, and you will never feel under pressure to use every single button on your instrument. Choose a keyboard with a simple layout, plenty of keys, and which won’t confuse you too quickly.
Should You Start Too Simple?
There is a school of thought out there which says you might actually want to start learning at the deep end. This way, you will know some of the more complex piano movements early on, and you won’t have to waste too much time on the simpler lessons. Some musicians may even recommend that you learn how to play the piano before you learn how to play the keyboard. At least this way, you are used to weighted keys and pedals, and moving over to a basic keyboard should be a breeze.
Which Brands Are Best?
As you will see from our buying selection, some brands get bigger and better press than others. A good brand of keyboard is going to offer you the best sound engineering and the most ease of use. However, it’s safe to say that the best keyboard around isn’t always going to be from the biggest brand on the market. Take a look around and really don’t be afraid to try a lesser-known option if it appeals to you.
How Many Keys Should a Beginner Keyboard Have?
This can vary, but 61 keys appear to be a good middle-ground. Some beginner keyboards offer as many as 72, but many people can feel a full array of 88 keys to be a little overwhelming. We do suggest taking on 88 keys if you can, as this will bring you closer to the true piano standard.
Can You Learn Piano on a Keyboard?
Theoretically, yes, however, many beginner keyboards won’t teach you how to use pedals. Therefore, if you aim to move up to a full piano, you might want to look at digital piano systems as a priority. For basic fingering techniques and learning rhythm, beginner keyboards should give you more than enough support.
Is It Difficult to learn the Keyboard?
The keyboard can be quite difficult to learn as you will need to keep track of several different things occurring at any one time. However, many people have genuine aptitude for it! It can be easier to learn keyboard than piano, but there are easier entry-level instruments out there.
What Kind of Keyboard Should a Beginner Buy?
There are plenty of different keyboards and synths which should appeal to beginners. However, the best thing to do is to look for a keyboard that offers tutorial modes and plenty of songs and presets. These systems will ease you into playing along, and will help you understand how different notes work, as well as what you can expect from various features and adjustments along the way.
The keyboard is a fun instrument to learn, however, it can take a lot of time to master. Therefore, you are ideally going to need a system that will give you plenty of play-along features, as well as plenty of scope for you to improve as you go. Good connectivity can’t hurt, either. All modern keyboards will likely have some form of beginner service built in. However, it is always worth looking for those keyboards which are designed for learners to get to grips with.