Electronic/Digital piano guide – tips on how to buy the right keyboard to play music on

Yamaha P-85 Digital or Samsung AA-PK3UORG Wired Keyboard? Digital Piano or Synthesizer? The mind boggles. Buying a Keyboard or Electronic piano can be a minefield. Here are some tips to think about before you spend any money.

Buying a keyboard will most likely be determined by your budget.Regardless of your tutor, age, and/ what you can afford, you will obviously need something that works – basically anything with keys and sound. Using a 1980’s Casio electronic keyboard with a maximum of only 20 tiny keys may not be your best choice if you really want to learn how to play the keyboard, but if that’s what you have, then it’s a starting point at least and is a simple introduction to notes on the keyboard.

Use what you have at first. If you have nothing, see if you can borrow a keyboard from a friend or relative. It’s also an idea to find something second-hand at an auction or car-boot sales.. You can spend under £100-£150 on an electronic keyboard with 50 keys (as opposed to the standard 88 keys found on almost all real pianos) and non-touch sensitive to get you started.

However, for touch sensitivity you might not want to spend plenty of lessons and practice time on such a keyboard since there are many limitations that might affect your understanding of learning and playing the piano (such as sound and tone) if and when you eventually buy one.

Here is what to look for:

  • 61 full size keys mimum
  • Touch sensitive) weighted keys (This is really important if you care at all about the touch and feel of the keys. It’s the closest thing to a real piano).
  • At least 32-note polyphony (this basically means you can have up to 32 notes sounding at once).
  • Speakers that are external or built-in (this is standard with most keyboards nowadays. However, for keyboards that do not have built in speakers, you’ll need an additional amplifier or a set of headphones). I have never seen a keyboard that does not have a headphone jack. Headphone jacks are pretty standard….but speakers are not. However, most common hobby keyboards and higher end digital pianos have built-in speakers. Your ears will want a break from headphones so get something with speakers.
  • Pedals, notably a sustain pedal (they’re pretty standard).
Here is a list of different types of electronic keyboards and pianos:

 

  • Digital Pianos (mostly with 88 keys, these keyboards are better for those taking music lessons and the price can range from £200 to £2000…the more basic models are a good investment for the beginner)

 

  • Electronic Keyboards (often smaller, portable with 76, 61 or less keys with lots of sounds and rhythms and velocity sensitivity keys)
  • Arranger Keyboards (loaded with sounds and rhythms and sequencing abilities, these keyboards are a great introduction to music recording and production…and live performance…’one man band’ type thing, often medium sized yet portable usually with 76 and 61 velocity sensitivity keys)
  • Work Stations (for the serious music maker, these keyboards are basically personal computers with keys these and don’t come cheap)
  • Synthesizers (for those who want to create electronic sounds. Although you can buy 88 key synthesizers, these keyboards are typically smaller, sometimes only 25 keys. Also, these keyboards tend to have many buttons not recommended for learning piano as they can prove absorbing/distracting depending on your viewpoint!)
  • Controllers (often without any internal ‘punch’, these keyboards are for those who use eternal sound modules/effects units as well as their computers. These are more aimed at composers and producers)
All of the options listed above can be found in many different sizes, weights, features, prices and quality. As a beginner you may not want to spend a lot of money especially if you are not sure about being committed to your lessons. You may like the option of renting with option of buying. Most keyboard stores offer this option. However, if you can afford to invest, you might consider buying your own up fron for around £150 upwards.

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