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Best digital piano keyboards in 2021

piano keyboards

Whether you are an absolute beginner to the piano keyboard or an intermediate or advancing pianist, choosing the proper keyboard for your skills is an important decision. It is easy to get lost in a sea of features and capabilities. Many modern keyboards more closely resemble spaceship controllers than any piano your grandparents played on. The influx of technology in the realm of digital pianos is certainly amazing, however, you do not need the latest and greatest digital keyboard to begin your studies! 

Fortunately, Skoove has partnered with a number of wonderful digital piano brands to offer trials of Skoove’s award winning piano education program! Remember, with over 400 lessons and growing, Skoove is the top rated online program for piano instruction. A unique and intuitive AI play-along that responds with feedback in real-time, coupled with a roster of excellent piano instructors makes learning piano easy and fun!

Here are our top picks for the best budget keyboard for beginners. Skoove has partnered with many great piano brands to ensure compatibility. Most Alesis, Kawai, Korg, Roland, Samick, Thomann, and Williams keyboards/pianos will work perfectly with Skoove. Additionally, most of the keyboards listed here will ship with a free trial of Skoove (subject to availability in your region).

Best piano keyboards for beginners

Alesis Recital keyboard piano 

  • Budget: Under $300
  • Number of Keys: 88 
  • Key Type: Semi-weighted
  • Number of Tones: 5
  • Built-in Speakers: Yes
  • Connectivity: USB and MIDI

Beginning in the 1908’s, Alesis has consistently innovated the field of digital instruments with new technology all while driving down the previously unreasonably high prices on studio recording gear to open up access to a wider range of amateur musicians. The Alesis Recital digital keyboard falls right in this line of history and is one of the best digital pianos on this list.

The Alesis Recital features a full scale of 88 keys and includes an adjustable touch response feature. It is a budget instrument, but does not feel like a cheap keyboard piano. It is unclear how many touch response settings are included. It is also unclear what material the keys are made from, so my guess would be they are basically plastic. However, this Alesis piano keyboard features 5 built-in tones including Acoustic Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synth, and Bass. Any two voices can be combined in Layer Mode by using the intuitive onboard controls and display screen. Voices can also be assigned to only the left or right hands in Split Mode. You can even add adjustable modulation, reverb and chorus to further tailor your sound. These are all awesome, creative features for a budget instrument.

Overall, the Alesis Recital digital piano is a great choice for the beginning pianist looking for a quality 88 key semi-weighted keyboard on a budget. With Alesis’s 30 years of production experience, you can be sure that you are getting a great deal on one of the best beginner keyboards.

Roland GO:PIANO GO-88P piano keyboard

  • Budget: Under $400
  • Number of Keys: 88 
  • Key Type: Semi-weighted
  • Number of Tones: 4
  • Built-in Speakers: Yes
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and MIDI

The Roland GO:PIANO GO-88P is an awesome choice for a musician on the go. Roland has long been a leader in portable digital piano technology. They pioneered the first digital synthesis electric piano, the RD-1000, and have been consistently innovating since then. The GO Series line of digital pianos is the latest update to this history.

The Roland GO:PIANO features 88 semi-weighted keys with three adjustable levels of touch sensitivity and a fixed touch setting that equalizes the velocity throughout the entire keyboard. The keys use a spring action for their weight, as opposed to a hammer action weight on other more expensive instruments. This spring action system will not feel exactly like an acoustic piano, but for a portable, 88 key digital piano, it is fine.

The Roland comes with 4 built-in tones including Acoustic Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, and Strings. Roland is great at electronic instrument sound design and many of the sounds here are derived from other award winning Roland instruments. The GO:PIANO also features a built-in speaker system and the potential for battery power, so you can literally take your keyboard with you and play anywhere you want!

Overall, the Roland GO:PIANO is a perfect choice for a beginning to intermediate pianist looking for a portable 88 key digital piano. The instrument is light weight with a slim profile, has great built-in speakers, and can be battery powered. These features are wonderful for practicing by the lake, at the park, or on the balcony making it a suitable choice for a kid’s piano keyboard. 

Thomann DP-26 piano keyboard

  • Budget: Under $300
  • Number of Keys: 88 
  • Key Type: Weighted Hammer Action
  • Built-in Tones: 20
  • Built-in Speakers: Yes
  • Connectivity: USB and MIDI

Thomann is a German musical instrument brand that sells a wide range of products from electric and acoustic guitars and basses, to drums and orchestral instruments. Their line of digital pianos is of high quality and are among the best piano keyboards for beginners. The Thomann digital pianos are only available in Europe.

The Thomann DP-26 is an 88 key digital piano with weighted hammer action keys. It is rare to see such an inexpensive digital piano with weighted hammer action keys, making this instrument a prime choice for the musician on a budget. There is no description of the key’s material, so they are probably made from plastic, which is totally fine. There is also no indication of any touch sensitivity, velocity, or aftertouch settings, so I assume there are none on this instrument.

Thomann DP-26 Piano Keyboard

The DP-26 features 20 built in sounds including a few varieties of piano sound, organ, bass, and strings. This is nothing mind-blowing compared to some of the other instruments on this list, but will work well for beginning to intermediate pianists looking for a quality piano sound at an affordable price. The DP-26 also features 64 voice polyphony, meaning the instrument can make 64 notes sound at one time, which is a fine level for most music you will play.

Overall, the Thomann DP-26 is a great choice for the beginning to intermediate piano student looking for a digital piano on a budget. The combination of 88 weighted hammer action keys combined with standard tones, functional USB and MIDI connectivity, and built in speakers at an affordable price point make the Thomann DP-26 a sure winner.

Williams Legato piano keyboard

  • Budget: Under $400
  • Number of Keys: 88 
  • Key Type: Semi-weighted
  • Number of Tones: 5
  • Built-in Speakers: Yes
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and MIDI

Williams is a digital piano manufacturer and distributor. Their products are quite affordable and generally high quality. They offer a few different models of 88 key pianos and have great connectivity features to enhance your piano learning experience. The Williams Legato originally debuted in 2018.Williams pianos are only available in the US.

The Williams Legato is a full size 88 key digital piano. The keys are controlled via spring action, so this digital piano will not be like a hammer action acoustic piano. However, the Williams Legato features touch sensitivity, but it is unclear how many adjustable settings are available to the player. This instrument is geared primarily towards the beginning player.

The William Legato sound engine features 5 built-in tones including piano, electric piano, organ, synth, and bass. Williams has invested heavily in their Custom Sound Library the last few years and has developed a formidable list of professional quality sounds for its line of digital pianos. The Williams Legato includes many other desirable features on an 88 key digital piano such as a split mode, where the player can combine two tones, two built-in speakers for serious volume, as well as Bluetooth connectivity.

Overall, the Williams Legato is a solid 88-key digital piano well suited for a beginning player and is one of the best keyboards to learn piano. The Williams has fine tones and standard connectivity. The keys are not as professional as those on a hammer action acoustic piano, but for a beginner interested in dabbling with the piano, they work well.

Best piano keyboards for intermediate to advanced

Kawai MP7 piano keyboard

  • Budget: Under $2000
  • Number of Keys: 88 
  • Key Type: Responsive Hammer III key action
  • Built-in Tones: 256
  • Built-in Speakers: No
  • Connectivity: USB

The Kawai MP7 is a real player’s instrument. The Kawai Piano Company began in Japan in 1927 and has since developed into one of the largest manufacturers of acoustic and digital pianos in the world. They have won numerous awards for their innovative designs, technological advancements, and environmentally sound production practices. The Kawai MP7 is a fully-loaded stage piano ready for all creative pursuits.

Kawai MP7 Piano Keyboard

The Kawai MP7 features a full scale of 88 keys weighted with Kawai’s RH III Responsive Hammer III key action. This key action is designed to mimic the feel of Kawai’s award winning grand pianos and is based on decades of research and development. The MP7 also includes a Let-Off setting and Triple Sensor Detection, further enhancing the realistic nature of the keyboard. The keys are coated with Kawai’s Ivory Touch material to add a final touch of authenticity to the playing experience.

The Kawai MP7 comes loaded with 256 tones that are modeled using Kawai’s Harmonic Imaging XL Sound Technology, a state of the art sample process that means you can have the rich depth and beauty of an award winning Kawai piano in the convenient and portable MP7 stage piano. The Kawai MP7 also comes with a stellar 256 voice polyphony, which far exceeds any other instrument on this list!

Overall, the Kawai MP7 is a stellar choice for a digital piano. It has numerous desirable characteristics including a nicely constructed keyboard, great sampling technology, and highly customizable features. It is a wonder these instruments are not nearly as common as the Roland RD or Korg series digital pianos.

Korg SP280BK keyboard piano

  • Budget: Under $800
  • Number of Keys: 88 
  • Key Type: Natural Weighted Hammer Action
  • Number of Tones: 30
  • Built-in Speakers: Yes
  • Connectivity: MIDI

The Korg SP280BK is a mid-level digital stage piano that has many of the design and technological features of the popular Grandstage at about 1/3 of the price. Korg paid special attention to the back of the instrument with the intention of allowing the SP280BK to stand alone comfortably in a room, without needing to be stored against a wall.

The Korg SP280BK features a full 88 keys using Korg’s Natural Weighted Hammer Action. The NH system is hammer action weighted, so the keyboard feels heavier in the lower register and lighter in the higher register. The SP280BK also includes a Key Touch Control function with three levels of dynamic to choose from. These are basic functions for a mid-level digital piano.

The SP280BK features 30 built-in tones including grand piano samples, electric pianos, organs, strings, and synths. These tones can be layered in Layer Mode or the keyboard can be split so that two tones happen at once in Split Mode. Additionally, the SP280BK features a few basic, built-in effects like reverb and chorus.

Overall, the SP280BK is a mid-level digital piano that includes many basic design features and would be a great choice for a home piano for an intermediate pianist. It is probably one of the best 88 key keyboards available today.

Samick SP-5000 piano keyboard

  • Budget: Under $800
  • Number of Keys: 88 
  • Key Type: Natural Weighted Hammer Action
  • Number of Tones: 32
  • Built-in Speakers: Yes
  • Connectivity: MIDI and USB

The Samick Musical Instruments Company was founded in 1958 in Seoul, South Korea. It has since become one of the largest manufacturers and worldwide distributors of pianos and other quality musical instruments. The Samick SP-5000 is a well-built digital upright piano perfect for an advancing piano student.

Samick SP-5000 keyboard

The Samick SP-5000 digital piano features a full scale of 88 keys with hammer action. This means the feeling of the SP-5000 will be authentic to a traditional acoustic piano. It is unclear if there is any sort of touch response adjustability or what the keys are made from.

The Samick also comes equipped with 32 built-in tones including classic piano and electric piano sounds, perfect for some creative exploration, but not terribly overwhelming. The Samick has built in reverb and chorus effects to help widen out your sound and includes a split mode so you can set two different tones to the halves of your keyboard. Pretty cool! The Samick also includes built-in speakers and MIDI and USB connectivity so you can connect the keyboard to any of your devices for further playability.

Overall, the Samick SP-5000 is a solid choice for the advancing pianist looking for a quality digital piano with 88 hammer action keys. The SP-5000 will not overwhelm you with its sonic possibilities. Instead, it is a classic and reliable instrument from a company with a well-established reputation for quality craftsmanship.
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Important things to consider when purchasing a digital piano

The weight and number of keys

It is important to consider the weight and number of the keys when purchasing a digital piano. The main problem with digital pianos is they are not acoustic pianos. Grand pianos, upright pianos, and console pianos all have a different feeling in the keys. Each digital piano approaches this problem differently. 

Some digital pianos like the Korg SP280BK and Kawai MP7 use weighted keys to emulate the hammer action of traditional pianos. Others like the Alesis Recital do not recreate the feel of an acoustic piano as well, but are half the price.

An acoustic piano generally has 88 keys, sometimes more and rarely less. Those 88 keys are all useful, so you need to determine if the music you are interested in playing requires all 88 of those keys. Sometimes, you will not need those 88 keys, but you might run across a playing situation where some music is out of your range. The number of keys will also change the starting pitch of the keyboard. Additionally, all of the digital pianos on this list follow the standard piano keyboard layout.

The importance of built-in features and connectivity

Another important factor to consider when purchasing a keyboard is the importance of built-in tones and effects. Like with the hammer action systems, some brands are better known for their sound sampling technology than other brands. For example, Roland and Korg are generally regarded as the industry leaders. Alesis is up there as well.

Likewise, the speakers are mostly important from a performance and practice perspective. Where will you be using your instrument the most? Will you have an amplifier or a PA system for your digital piano? If so, then it doesn’t matter if your keyboard has speakers or not. However, if you are looking for something to practice and perform with at home, then having built-in speakers is a huge value. That way, you won’t have to purchase an amplifier or PA system in addition to your digital piano!

If built-in tones and effects are not as important to you, then a semi-weighted keyboard like the Alesis Recital or Williams Legato would be perfect. All of those keyboards feature semi-weighted action and basic, solid piano tones with minimal fuss.


Author of this blog post

Edward Bond

Eddie Bond is a multi-instrumentalist performer, composer, and music instructor currently based in Seattle, Washington USA. He has performed extensively in the US, Canada, Argentina, and China, released over 40 albums, and has over a decade experience working with music students of all ages and ability levels.

 

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