Yamaha DGX660 88-Key Portable Grand

The Best Keyboards and Pianos for Beginners

Posted on .

Musician's Friend helps identify the key features to look for when shopping for a beginner digital piano or electronic keyboard.

Table of Contents

A grand expense? It needn’t be
A primary consideration - number of keys
Ergonomics and circumstances
For preschool pianists
Why consider weighted keys?
Still need help?

When choosing any instrument for a beginner, there is a balance that must be found: You want an instrument with enough playability and features that the student will not instantly get frustrated with it. But at the same time, you don’t need to spend extra on features that the novice won’t yet use or understand. This holds especially true for keyboards and digital pianos.

A piano or keyboard is a first instrument for many people. This is because a foundation of piano playing can make other instruments, like the guitar, simpler. Understanding chords, scales and melodies can be easier on the piano. This is the case because there is one key for each note, rather than multiple ways to play it, which makes it much easier to visualize intervals. You can think of the piano as a guitar with one string.

Learning to play the piano is a perfect way to develop an ear for intonation as well—pianos need to be tuned, but far less often than other instruments. Electronic keyboards maintain perfect pitch and many can be set to various non-standard tunings at the flick of a switch.

A grand expense? It needn’t be

One obstacle to learning to play a traditional acoustic piano is that it requires a large, expensive instrument that is nearly impossible to move. Modern keyboards and digital pianos can offer great sound and the same dynamics of an acoustic piano in an inexpensive and portable package. The days of being confined to the piano teacher’s dusty living room are over; modern keyboards and digital pianos are portable and great for practice and performing. With a wide range of features (and an even wider price range), what is the right choice for your baby would-be Beethoven or Elton?

If you're looking for a budget-friendly choice, even the super-affordable Yamaha PSR F-51 digital keyboard offers surprising capabilities, including 120 different instrument sounds that covers everything from acoustic pianos to strings to exotic instruments from around the world. Choose one of the 114 available rhythms, and you’re ready to start playing! Duo mode for simultaneous teacher and student performance plus a headphone jack and metronome make this a a very affordable first keyboard to learn on.

Yamaha PSR F51 61 Keys

The Yamaha PSR F-51 offers terrific value and capabilities for its tiny price.

A primary consideration - number of keys

A standard acoustic piano has 88 keys, and starting a student or other beginning player on a keyboard with 88 keys will make their transition to an acoustic piano much easier. However smaller keyboards can be easier to play and less-confusing—not to mention more portable and convenient—for new and younger players! Commonly, these smaller instruments will have either 76 or 61 keys. A keyboard with 61 keys will still allow a beginning piano student to complete most of the lessons they will initially encounter. Note that most classical and complex music does require a piano with the full 88 keys.

A super deal for the beginner seeking a full-size, 88-key digital piano, the Williams Legato III 88-Key Digital Piano features 10 fantastic sounds, Bluetooth MIDI Connectivity and a free downloadable iOS app. 

Yamaha PSR-EW300 76-Key Portable Keyboard

Interested in writing, recording and producing your own music of any genre? The Yamaha PSR-EW300 76 Key Portable Keyboard is a great practice keyboard that offers 574 great sounds and can connect to your computer via USB.

The Yamaha NP32 76-Key Portable Piano's featherweight design makes it ideal for travel and stows away easily when it’s not in use.

Ergonomics and circumstances

There are many considerations other than how many keys do you need on your piano. Is your piano student taller or shorter than average? How easy is to adjust the height of the instrument, seat or stand? Musicians should play sitting at a height where the forearm is parallel to the ground.

We offer a complete selection of keyboard stands and racks to match any student and budget.

On-Stage Platinum Keyboard Stand

The Platinum Keyboard Stand from On-Stage Stands is sturdy, with adjustable height and width to help you play comfortably.

You’ll find a complete selection of keyboard instrument cases, gig bags, and covers here.

Does the instrument need to travel with your student, and if so, how portable is it? What about the power source? Will you need to play in areas where it may not be easy to plug in? Read the specs to find out if the keyboard can be powered with batteries, an AC adapter, or both. Not all keyboards include an adapter—read descriptions carefully so you order the appropriate extras.

Casio CDP-S350 Digital Piano

Scaled hammer-action keys with velocity sensitivity give the Casio CDP-350 Digital Piano real acoustic-piano feel.

For preschool pianists

A love of music can start very early. If you want to provide your young children with long-lasting enrichment there are a number of fantastic choices to consider from brands like Schoenhut and Casio.

Schoenhut My First Piano

A toddler Tchaikovsky on your hands? For those wanting to start a child on a very early musical journey, check out My First Piano II by Schoenhut. More than your typical toy instrument, the color coded lessons and everything else learned can be transferred to an adult piano. Let your kids have fun while playing correct notes on full-sized keys.

Casio SA-76 keyboard

An affordable choice for young children, traveling, or spontaneous backyard sing-alongs, the Casio SA-76 keyboard has 44 mini keys, and a headphone jack for musical exploration that maintains household peace.

Why consider weighted keys?

Williams Overture 2 88 Key Console Digital Piano

The remarkably affordable Williams Overture 2 Console Digital Piano has full-size hammer-action keys with aftertouch and velocity response, giving it the feel of far more costly pianos. With 147 sounds, USB/MIDI connectivity and helpful practice tools, it’s a sweet buy.

On an acoustic piano, pressing down on a key causes a hammer to strike a string. In order for this mechanism to function, tension must be maintained. Therefore, the keys offer resistance to the musician’s fingers. Weighted keys on electronic keyboards simulate the feel of playing on an acoustic piano. Playing a keyboard with weighted keys will allow a student to build a technique that will easily transfer to an acoustic piano. This is a feature particularly worth considering if the player plans learn the acoustic piano as well.

Yamaha Clavinova CLP635 Console Digital Piano

Yamaha is a company with a long legacy of piano design and their CLP635 Clavinova Console Digital Piano makes a great choice for serious students looking for a piano that they'll appreciate now and in the future. Housed in a living room-friendly spinet cabinet, and equipped with fully weighted action and adjustable touch-sensitive keys, it's a delight to play.

We’ve just scratched the surface by highlighting a handful of beginner-friendly keyboards. You can see the entire collection of digital pianos and keyboards at Musician’s Friend.

Still need help?

If you’ve read through this guide but still need some advice in choosing the best beginner-level keyboard or digital piano, call one of our friendly and knowledgeable Gear Heads at 877-880-5907. They’ll help you find the perfect instrument for your needs.

To learn more, read our complete Pianos and Keyboards Buying Guide.

Tags: Keyboards Pianos


# amina munna 2016-12-17 06:16
i am studying keyboard for 4 years and am good at playing it.....i am confused that which keyboard i should buy..
# Roy 2016-10-20 08:34
The dilemma is that I am an older adult beginner with fat fingers. I purchased a 61 key yamaha keyboard. It has a nice sound and generally works for me but the keys are a little smaller than the baby grand my teacher uses and my fingers are having issues with the yamaha. I am looking for recommendations for beginning keyboard units that would have normal size keys. Any suggestions?
# John 2016-11-20 18:44
In the portable pianos, the very best for action, sound, tone, and actual clarity of the piano sounds are:
No. 1 favourite: Kawai ES-100;
No. 2 Roland FP-30.

The Yamaha P45 and P115 have limited dynamic range, and problems with the actual sound (distortion, harsh, hard on the ears). Kawai ES-100 has the best action of any digital piano under $1000. The Roland FP-30 is becaoming very popular also, because of its rather different piano tone (it has a massive bass boost that compensates for poor 'speakers, and very clear harmonics); and for it features - more non-piano tones including choirs, and Bluetooth connection to MIDI devices.
# Ankur Shrestha 2016-08-15 23:11
I am a 21 year old who is thinking about learning to play the keyboard. I have not started taking any lessons as I think buying them and then going to lessons will be more fruitful as it will allow me to practice at home.
I am really confused about what keyboard I want and would really appreciate any suggestions.
Thank You.
# Nafisa Khan 2016-06-08 09:14
Hi. i am 14 yr. I wanted advice on buying my first piano. I am starting to learn playing piano with the help of online lessons but i need to buy a piano that is cheap , (at least under $600 )and is portable as i dont have much space to keep it. it should have touch sensivity , weight keys .
# Nauman 2016-07-09 03:30
Watch out this. Coz i finally decided to go for Casio Privia PX-350.
# jane dobbs 2016-04-20 11:36
I have a 3 and 4 year olds and wanted to start piano lessons for them, I wanted to bye a piano. but due to lack of space it is not possible to buy a full size piano, any suggestions? I wanted something that is full size and quality as an acoustic piano but smaller, and something that I can learn on as well. any suggestion.
# Nova Buenaventura 2016-04-14 19:01
My daughter is a beginner and I just wanted to buy her a keyboard that is cheap but can be used to help her in studying music...thanks
# 121475 2016-03-30 05:57
to play pieces like BCC Sharlock and this. would a 61 keys keyboard be good?
# janet 2016-03-13 00:18
Hello...M Using a 61 keys Yamaha PSR F50 portable keyboard....I Want its basic things to learn irrespective of any classes...
# Cat 2015-12-19 09:26
I'm 14 and looking for a simple
keyboard to use for a cheap-ish
price but good enough to keep
for years.
# Steve 2015-12-29 07:38
I got my 11yo daughter a digital piano for Christmas. After much research, I found the Casio and Yamaha digital pianos the most reviewed and respected beginner models out there. Yamaha seems a bit more respected by"pro" users, but Casio is right up there as well. Casio makes some "toy" instruments, so don't get distracted by those. Whichever you choose, just ensure it has 88 keys and that they are weighted (or "hammer action) and you will be fine. When shopping I was open to either brand, but settled on the Yamaha P45. I was tempted by the Yamaha P115 but my budget guided me to the fewer featured instrument since she is a beginner. I'd recommend a fixed wood stand (instead of the metal scissor type for appearance and stability reasons) as well as a very comfy bench to encourage long practice sessions ;). Expect to pay $600 for the set, but you may save a cpl hundred if you find a sale or a display model. With patience, you may find a used one on Craigslist for 1/2 cost of new.
# Steve M 2016-03-14 04:17
Update: We're happy with the Yamaha, although my daughter still takes some prodding to keep up with practice. Its holding up well and the only fault I've found is that the auto-off feature doesn't work. It's not effecting the instrument in anyway, so not worth the bother of returning to the store. We may have been just as happy with the Casio, but have no remorse over the Yamaha. It's sound is very authentic, and like to play with the other voices, but pretty much stick to piano #1 or #2. I like #2 cause its more intimate and plucky sounding (and therefore believable to me) while most ppl seem to like #1 for its luxurious, echo-ey grand sound. I realize this isn't a high-end instrument, but find it to be an excellent starter piece. Any cheaper and we would have crossed from instrument to toy quality, any more expensive, and we would have been distracted by excessive features & controls. My only concern for future utility is that it accepts only 1 pedal, not the traditional 3.
# Josie 2016-01-19 13:50
Thank you Steve that is really useful information I need to get a keyboard for my 13 year old daughter
# Robyn 2015-12-12 01:08
I'm 33, I really would love to start learning to play the piano/keyboard, I have signed up for lessons for 2016 but would like to get a keyboard now to start learning now.
Can you recommend what would be best for me to start with?

Many Thanks
# marco jumaquio 2015-12-09 18:09
I am a beginner. Im still studying how to play[blocked]an for our church. I want to buy a budget keyboard as a spplementary substitute for[blocked]an so i can practice at home. What can you recommend?
# CDEFG 2015-11-29 07:22
There is a wonderful site! I tought all of my favourite songs - without sheets!
The easiest way to play on piano keyboard
# clayre heaslip 2015-09-28 18:37
I am 83 years old and want a simple. easy to play keyboard that I can use sitting in my big comfy chair. I used to play as a young adult, and miss music that I can remember. What would you suggest.
# John 2016-11-20 18:47
The only piano that you can play in your chair is the Yamaha Paiggero NP-12, 61-key portable piano keyboard.
# jill east 2015-10-02 03:09
I wanted to see the reply to 'clayre heaslip' but got this when I clicked reply.
# Bryce 2015-09-20 12:09
Bryce, 18
I'm looking to create and play music. I'm not sure what would be a good instrument for me to choose. I'm interested in playing classical music but also create my own with electronic influence and the likes. Any advice on what I should be looking for specifically?
# Ashley 2015-08-30 08:36
I am a young teenager at the age of 14. I love music and have worked in the past with reading music and understanding basic concepts about playing the piano. However, until recently, I did not have much interest. I was wondering what keyboard, preferably inexpensive, is best for my use.
Thank you.
# Nour 2015-08-10 10:05
Hi There,

I'm 27 years old planing to buy a keyboard and I have no idea about playing, I just love to learn and I think that Ill start with youtube leasons.
Could you plz suggest a model?

Thanks & Regards.
# kathleen mae serilo 2015-08-09 11:58
Hi! I am 22 years old and decided to learn keyboard because I was inspired to write Christian songs. Opps I am a beginner to be honest I want some advise which is best for me that will meet my budget.(sorry just being practical because I know weighted keys is expensive ) But at the same time has usb input. Thanks
# Sage 2015-07-28 18:13
I am a 21 year old who wants to buy a keyboard and I am a first timer at this but I study abroad so I'll have to take with me on a plane at least 4 times a year. Which keyboard should I buy?
Also I used to play guitar but when I broke my finger hurts if I bend it too much. Should I go for weighted or unweighted keys?
# Shirly 2015-05-21 11:03
Hey, thanks you for this very usefull post.
I'm an adult (actually 17 years old, so probably young adult will be a better fit). Anyway, I see a lot of comments asking about their kids, but I wanted to know if these are good even for an untrained adult? I allways wanted to play music, but couldn't study when I was younger as most people do. I'm wandering if it's not to late, and if I could be able to learn play the piano, even if I have just started now? I'm sorry for my terrible English, but I realy need to know that because the piano costs to much to let it slip away.
# HLaski 2015-07-19 17:40
Believe me you can learn and enjoy learning to play the piano at ANY age. I learned starting at 3 years old. I am now 68. My wife started one year ago at 60 and is loving it. Once you learn piano, you can learn many other instruments much more easily. if you wish. I stuck with the piano and some guitar.
# Varun 2015-05-02 23:32
Hi Dhyanesh,

My 7 year old son has been asked to bring a keyboard to school for his instrumental music class. What would be a good buy for him? He needs something that can run on both battery and adapter as in the school there are less power points and not all students can use adapters.

As of now my son does not play any music and is just starting. I would request our help to see what I shall bu for him which can give him a decent start.

Thanks and Regards
# Dhanesh 2015-04-25 05:46
Dear Sir i Need Some Good Latest images of yamaha keyboard

With Electronic Circuit Diagram

best regard
# rosemani 2015-03-27 18:57
hi, i'm planning to send my 5 years old son to piano class. what i should do next? did i need to buy piano or keybords because he need to practice every day? help me
Thank You
# Dhanesh 2015-04-25 06:02
Very Good Evening

very positive thought
you send to tuitor.
or buy one keyboard
with good quality metronome ... youtube video search
if you buy the keyboard or have it in you home .. it will make you day more enhanced.
Best Regard
# Ravi Gill 2015-03-02 15:32
Hi there,
Electric Keyboard or Piano, what would be the best one to gift my daughter on her 7th b'day? She loves music, she can already play 'London Bridge is Falling Down' on a really cheap toy keyboard with its broken keys. I want her to learn full 88 keys eventually in a couple of years.
I would really appreciate for suggestion.

Add comment

Security code

The HUB by Musician's Friend Logo



Stupid Deal of the Day (SDOTD)   Open Box Musical Instruments at Musician's Friend


  • Guitar Case Finder
  • Give a Gift Certificate
  • Clearance
  • Private Reserve Guitars


  • Hot Deals
  • On Sale
  • Pre-Order the Latest Gear
  • New Gear
  • Top Rated Gear