Not many of us have access to traditional pianos, and for the sake of convenience, it is often best to learn new songs on a keyboard. They’re portable, don’t need tuning and often come with a variety of sounds and functions. With so many models available, though, it can be a minefield choosing the right one, which is why we’ve put together a short guide on finding the best keyboard for your needs.
This is probably the first thing you should look at when trying to choose a keyboard. Lots of 25 key products are about, which are great for playing melodies and short chord sequences into music software, but are very restrictive when trying to play songs designed for piano. 88 key is what we would class as ‘full size’, and give you the most flexibility, but 61 key and 49 key models are available, and will usually allow you to play songs with both hands without too much issue. 88 key is ideal, but 61 and possibly even 49 would be adequate.
Weighted keys is a feature you will often see on keyboards, what it means is that, just like a real piano, the keys have resistance, and the harder you press them, the louder the sound will be, allowing you to play gentle melodies or more aggressive sections and giving you the utmost control, and the most realistic feel. A must if you are to translate to playing a real piano at any stage.
Midi stands for ‘musical instrument digital interface’ – it basically means whether your keyboard has the ability to hook up to other devices such as your computer and control sounds from there. Some keyboards will have Midi capability but have built in sounds too, some will NEED to be hooked up to a computer in order to make any sound. Steer clear unless you will always be playing in the vicinity of your computer or laptop.
In an ideal world, you would probably look to buy a ‘digital piano’ rather than a keyboard, but these can be pricey. They are designed to mimic a piano as perfectly as possible, and are often free standing, and look good in your house, but the cost can be a problem.
If you’re looking for something portable, weight is also a consideration, some keyboards come with cases and can be transported easily to and from gigs or practices.
When you hear ‘casio’ you may think of flimsy mini keyboards that you played in school, but their range is actually very respectable and offers an excellent entry level keyboard. This 61 key model has some incredible built in sounds, 400 voices, a built in microphone for sampling and more, and is exceptionally reviewed. It offers great value for money and is available in a bundle with headphones and a stand, making your setup totally portable. It is one of the best selling keyboards on the market, which is far from surprising considering the range of features and the price. Comes with our top recommendation for beginners!