February 23

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Best piano keyboard for beginners

By Declan Cosgrove

February 23, 2024


I will get straight to the conclusion summary for the best piano keyboard for beginners. Then I will give you more info on why these are my top 3 recommended choices when buying a digital piano as a beginner student.

These recommendations come from experience of teaching thousands of students, many of whom have learnt piano later in life (including retirees / seniors).


TOP 3 DIGITAL PIANO RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BEGINNERS

  1. low budget / 61 keys / portable - Yamaha NP15
    (£ 198 as at 13th Jan 2024)
  2. 88 weighted keys - Yamaha P145
    (£421 as at 2nd Jan 2024)
  3. 88 weighted keys, fixed stand and pedals - Yamaha P145 pedal and wooden stand package
    (£703 as at 2nd Jan 2024) 

If you choose option 1 or 2 above you may also wish to purchase the following optional accessories:-


Silicone Strips to Number the Keyboard

As an alternative to using stickers or a whiteboard marker, to number your keyboard, I use silicone strips key labels (either 61 or 88 key versions) which I buy from Amazon at around £6 to £ 15.

Instead of using the default notation and note letters, I turn over the strip and write the DecPlay numbers on the back.

The last ones I bought were:-

ASTARON Silicone Piano Notes Guide

The product links change regularly, so I would recommend:-
clicking here to search Amazon's latest products for silicone piano note labels .

The benefit of using silicone strips is they avoid any potential unwanted marking of your keyboard and enable you to take the silicone strip with you and place it on any keyboard you wish to play.


Recommended Keyboard Models for Beginners


LOW PRICE / PORTABLE PIANO KEYBOARDS

Two key considerations for the best piano keyboard for beginners are portability and low cost:-

  • My favourite 'value for money' digital piano by far is the Yamaha Piaggero NP15 - this replaces the previous NP12 model
  • The NP15 has 61 keys (semi-weighted) and is very light and portable, with great piano sounds considering the low price
  • 61 keys are usually more than adequate for beginners
  • The Yamaha NP35 has a few extra keys (76) and a louder sound compared to the NP15 
  • The Roland GO:Piano is even more compact and is a similar price to the NP12, but the keyboard 'feel' is not to everyone's taste - so I suggest you try it out before you buy it.
  • The Casio CT-S1 and Korg Liano are also contenders at this price range, but I've not personally tried these model, so I can't comment on how they compare to the Yamaha or Roland options.

Home Keyboards for Beginners eg Yamaha E373

  • 'Digital pianos' like the NP range are designed to mimic real pianos, whereas 'home keyboards' are designed to provide accompaniment to your playing, sounding more like a full band.
  • The Yamaha PSR and E ranges of 'home keyboards' eg the E373 include extra features such as rhythms, lots of instrument sounds (as well as piano), single finger chords, auto accompaniment etc....
  • In my opinion the piano sounds are better on the NP range, but the E373 is still has quite good piano sounds. I personally use the NP range instead of the E range because I don't need the extra sounds and accompaniment features of the E373 and I prefer the smaller size and 'piano' type look of the NP range (without lots of buttons). 


Who the Yamaha NP15 ideal for...

The Yamaha NP15 is ideal if you want to:-

  • save money on the best beginners keyboard
  • get a second keyboard that is very portable and can run using batteries (great for caravans, playing in the garden or at social events)
  • solve your procrastination issues around starting piano - buying a keyboard tells your sub-conscious that you are serious about learning to play and is likely to kick start your piano journey 
  • avoid 'heavy' keys - the 'semi-weighted keyboard' makes it easier to press down the keys (compared to a fully weighted keyboard) and is preferred by some who have arthritis  


MEDIUM PRICE / FULLY WEIGHTED KEYS

If you have a budget around £ 500+ and are not as concerned with portability but want more of a 'piano' feel with 88 'fully weighted' keys (heavier keys that feel more like an acoustic piano), the best piano keyboard for beginners is:-

  • Yamaha P-145 or Roland FP-30X are both great value for money 
  • These keyboards are semi-portable and are considered 'light' for 88 fully weighted keys, with the P145 being 11.1 kg and the FP30X being 14.8 kg. However these still weigh much more than the semi-weighted 61 key alternatives eg NP12 (4.5 kg), NP15 (5.2 kg) or GO:Piano (3.9 kg).
  • Of course the more you spend, the more you get, so both Yamaha and Roland have other great keyboards in their ranges with more sounds and features.


Acoustic Pianos / Higher Budgets

If you prefer a 'real' piano instead of a home keyboard or digital piano, I recommend contacting Mark Goodwin Pianos (in the UK).

The sound of an acoustic piano is a wonderful thing and has a resonance and 'feel' that even expensive digital pianos struggle to match. Of course a real piano has considerations that need careful thought, before choosing a piano over a digital piano. These include the costs of regular tuning, lack of portability and lack of electronic features (such as headphones option, variety of instrument sounds, transpose button etc ..... ) 



Piano Keyboard Accessories 

KEYBOARD STANDS 

The most cost effective and portable type of keyboard stand is an X stand which can cost around £ 20+ and which most students buy when using the Yamaha NP range of keyboards. These are height adjustable and light, but are not as sturdy as wooden stands. The X stands can be used on virtually any type of keyboard, including the P145.

If you want a P145 and have more budget for a stand, then you can get a Yamaha P145 package, with wooden stand (£649 on 29th August 2023). See below for similar package plus pedals. 

These wooden stands are specifically designed for each specific model of (weighted key) digital piano. They are more sturdy than X stands and look more 'classy' (like a piece of furniture). The downsides are that they are not as portable and are not adjustable for height, so you may need to use a height adjustable seat with these.

CLICK HERE If you need information on wheelchair accessible piano keyboard stands.


KEYBOARD PEDALS 

Using a 'sustain pedal' can make your piano playing sound much smoother. Generally, students do not need to start using the 'pedal' for several months, as it is best to learn pedal skills after you have mastered the basic playing skills.

The most cost effective type of sustain pedal is a universal piano sustain pedal that costs around £ 20. These are portable but one potential downside is that they can slide around the floor as you are using them, especially if you have wooden floors.

If your total budget for keyboard and accessories is around £ 750 and you wish to get everything in one go, you can option for a wooden stand with built in pedals, such as:-

Yamaha P145 stand, pedals and (non-adjustable seat) package  (£714 on 29th August 2023). 

Built in pedals are less portable but look nice and avoid the problem of the pedal sliding about.

Often the built in pedals will have 3 different pedals (mirroring acoustic pianos) but I only use the sustain pedal (the one on the right).


HEADPHONES FOR KEYBOARDS

You may wish to use headphones with your digital piano or keyboard, especially if you share the house with others, who may not be quite as much a piano music lover as you!  Usually any type of headphones that work with a hi-fi / music centre will work with keyboards and you can buy headphones from around £ 10 with adaptors that can convert between the 2 different sizes of headphone plugs, to suit different types of keyboards.

 

OTHER ACCESSORIES

Usually piano keyboards come with a music rest, which is plastic stand for your sheet music or iPad. They also usually come with power adaptors, so if you have a suitable table and seat, you can just buy a keyboard on its own eg NP12 or P145 and get up and running straight away.


CONCLUSION - TOP 3  - BEST PIANO KEYBOARD FOR BEGINNERS 

I recommend the following digital pianos:-

  1. low budget / 61 keys / portable - Yamaha NP15
    (£ 198 as at 13th Jan 2024)
  2. 88 weighted keys - Yamaha P145
    (£421 as at 2nd Jan 2024)
  3. 88 weighted keys, fixed stand and pedals - Yamaha P145 pedal and wooden stand package
    (£703 as at 2nd Jan 2024) 

If you choose option 1 or 2 above you may also wish to purchase the following optional accessories:-

“Amaze Yourself (And Your Family And Friends) - See Just How Fast You Too Could Be Playing Piano!”

I've got a Demonstration Video and Free Lesson for you - where should I send it? Enter your details below and join the fun ...


Want even more info.....????

.... on the best piano keyboard for beginners??? ... here goes .....

 

Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano or Electronic Keyboard?

There are 3 main types of keyboards to consider when reviewing the best piano keyboard for beginners. These are Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano and Electronic Keyboard.

Whilst playing an acoustic 'real' piano is lovely, a digital piano or electronic keyboard has many advantages over an acoustic piano, including:-

  • lower price
  • more portable
  • control over volume
  • headphones option
  • lighter keys
  • lower maintenance (no tuning costs)
  • always in tune etc...

Digital pianos are designed to mimic acoustic pianos in look, feel and sound.

Electronic keyboards, 'workstations' and 'home keyboards' often contain piano type sounds but also add lots of extra sounds, rhythms and buttons. These are useful if you wish to use features such as using instrument sounds other than pianos, using '1 finger chords' and auto accompaniment (which are useful if you are not physically able to play chords in your left hand), but have a very different appearance, which is not quite so 'piano' like.

Most DecPlay students consider digital pianos category to be the best piano keyboard for beginners.


Top Features Your Keyboard Should Have

  • touch sensitive keyboard (ie the volume of the notes changes depending on how hard or soft you press the keys).
  • minimum of 61 keys (although any keyboard over 40 keys will enable you to get started as a beginner)

Recommended Manufacturers

Yamaha and Roland and my favourite keyboard manufacturers for good quality, affordable digital pianos. Other manufacturers such as Korg and Casio are quite good too, but I am not very familiar with their keyboards, so my recommendations are focussed on Yamaha and Roland.

“Which keyboard do you play on Declan?”

A lot of people ask me that, so I’ll start by answering that question.

(In fact you might not need to read beyond this next section because this could quite possibly be the keyboard that’s right for you too.)

Me, I wouldn’t be without my Yamaha Piaggero NP12 (which has been replaced with the new NP15 model) – I explain why in this minute long video ...

In fact I very rarely am without my Yamaha Piaggero NP – It’s lightweight, portable, and runs on batteries or the mains. So whenever I’m heading off somewhere like a party or a weekend away with friends I pop it on the back seat of my car and I’m away.

And those videos you see me shooting outdoors on a nice sunny day, sipping on a cool drink and entertaining Blue as she races around the garden ... they’re all made whilst playing the Yamaha Piaggero NP12.

So, if you’re new to playing the piano and you want to get started without delay (or splashing out too much cash until you know you like it), then you won’t go wrong with the NP12 replacement, the Yamaha Piaggero NP15. I consider this model to be the overall winner as the best piano keyboard for beginners

Here’s a little more information about pianos if you’re curious....

What’s the difference between a Piano and a Keyboard?

An acoustic piano uses strings to create the sound and the opposite of this is a digital (electronic) piano keyboard which uses electronics to create the sound.

Acoustic pianos have arguably the best sound and baby grand pianos are my favourite to play,

Now, whilst playing a 'real' piano is lovely, an electronic keyboard or digital piano has many advantages, like ...

  • They are lower in price.
  • They are portable so you can play anywhere.
  • They allow you to control the volume – right down to zero for everyone else if you plug in some headphones.
  • They have lighter keys. This is a massive benefit for arthritis sufferers or people with restricted finger movement.
  • They are pretty much maintenance free.
  • They enable you to layer in other instruments, sounds, rhythms etc.
  • And they’re always in tune!

Digital pianos are generally focussed on looking and sounding more like a real piano. More expensive models have 'weighted keys' that mimic the feel of real piano keys. 'Semi-weighted' keys usually cost less, are more portable and are lighter to touch.

Electronic keyboards are similar to digital pianos but are less focussed on looking and sounding like a piano and are more focussed on offering a wide range of instrument sounds and extra 'backing' such as auto accompaniment and 1 finger chords.

In this short [7 minute] video I talk about some of the differences and choices available BUT ...

At the end of the day it quite simply gets down to budget, features you require and your personal preferences eg portability vs a heavier keyboard that looks nicer as a piece of furniture.

As long as the keyboard you choose today has at least 61 standard sized keys (borrowing your grandchildren’s keyboard won’t do!) and the keys are touch sensitive, which simply means the keyboard plays louder when keys are pressed harder ... you will be able to have great fun playing piano! 

I hope you enjoyed this article on the best piano keyboard for beginners.

“Amaze Yourself (And Your Family And Friends) - See Just How Fast You Too Could Be Playing Piano!”

I've got a Demonstration Video and Free Lesson for you - where should I send it? Enter your details below and join the fun ...


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    • I’m not familiar with these types of stands myself, but keyboards such as Yamaha NP12 are very light and not too wide, so they should fit ok on tables designed for people sitting up in bed.

  • My fingers on my left hand are permanently bent inwards. to a degree,my right fingers are. Sort of. Ok……could I still manage??would love to. learn to play…….

    • Hi Sheila,

      Yes I believe you could manage 🙂

      The DecPlay Method is flexible so you can use alternative fingers and handshapes for your left hand, and also some keyboards – such as the Yamaha PSR-E373 – have options for ‘1 finger chords’ which could be a big benefit to you. This keyboard usually sells for around £250.

      Additionally, we offer a 60 day money back guarantee so you can try out the course risk free.

      Happy to answer any further questions you may have,

      -Declan

    • Hi Sheila, the DecPlay method gives you a great degree of flexibility in how you play the left hand chords, so many students who have similar challenges to yourself, have managed to learn piano without a problem. The 60 day money back guarantee means that you can try it out and if it doesn’t work out for any reason, it will have cost you nothing. regards Declan

    • absolutely Vicky – so many of our students in their 70s, 80s and 90s are incredibly passionate about playing piano and this undoubtedly contributes to their amazing rate of progress.

  • Used to play piano accordion so can play piano with right hand would like to buy piano but not too expensive as I’m 78 years old any ideas for tuition and which piano Thanks

    • Hi Helen, great that you already have experience of playing the piano accordion – with DecPlay, the left hand is even easier than the right hand, so I’m sure you will be flying along in no time! The best value keyboard by far is the Yamaha NP12 which is currently on sale for around £ 160 – see the top of this article, which I have just updated with more details and links. regards Declan

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