If you don't have enough space for a piano, an electric keyboard is a good alternative for casual and beginner players. We examine some keyboards to see which have the best features and sound.
Ensure your keyboard has a good piano sound, including a Grand piano option. Keyboards also come with many other sound options, like xylophone, guitar, drum, trumpet, and many more.
Keyboards with 88 keys like a piano are available and highly recommended if you have the space. Don’t go with one with less than 61 keys or you’ll limit your song repertoire considerably.
For beginners, consider a keyboard with a learning function, which usually play a phrase for you to repeat.
Many keyboards include pre-programmed famous songs you can learn and play along with.
Check for an output, which allows you to plug into your home stereo system speakers.
If you plan on mixing and composing your own tunes using your keyboard and other instruments, look for a keyboard with MIDI functionality so you can transfer your songs to a computer for editing. Most current keyboards will come with MIDI installed.
Touch-sensitive keys respond differently depending on how hard or soft you strike the key. They will also sustain the note giving more of a real piano sound and feel.
Some keyboards are capable of recording what you play, either from an external or built-in microphone. If you plan on doing this a lot, look for one with good internal memory capacity, or better yet, expandable memory card slots.
We tested these three keyboards in a children’s piano class, and also invited a concert pianist to try them out:
- Casio: $999
- Yamaha: $1,199
- Korg: $1,249
Our tests and results include:
- Our professional wasn’t a fan of the keyboards at all because they weren’t able to mimic the beauty and responsiveness of a grand piano, but he thought the Yamaha did the best job of emulating a real piano sound.
Everyone preferred the Yamaha for its sound, and the digital display helped with learning.
OUR TOP PICK
The choice was unanimous across the board: Yamaha had the best sound and teaching facilities.
Thanks to Our Experts
Robert Silverman, concert pianist