Starter Keyboards for Adult Beginners: What’s the Best Option?

Back when you were in school it seemed like everyone and their mom was learning how to play the keyboard. Maybe you even got to jam out on one a little during Music class. Maybe you were even part of Band. Maybe, you never got to even go near one.

But then High School was over too quickly and the keyboard was left behind. Swapped out for hectic days and tired nights where you just didn’t have the time.

But all that’s changed and now you do. Now, you’ve got the time and the motivation and you want to start learning to play keyboard again. Or perhaps even for the first time. And why wouldn’t you when there are so many benefits to it? Playing the keyboard is actually great for people. Did you know that it is known to help us physically as well as mentally?

Physically, studies have shown that playing the keyboard actually increases the production of the Human Growth Hormone, or HgH. HgH is produced in the pituitary gland in your brain. In teens and kids it triggers growth spurts. When you’re an adult it helps to regulate your bodily functions, calming you down, regulating your metabolism, and giving you way more energy all round. 

Who needs a cup of coffee in the morning when you could just switch on the old keyboard. It’s probably way healthier for you too. Mentally, playing the keyboard has tons of positive effects too. One of the key ones is that it increases your aural awareness.

Aural awareness is a fancy way of saying how well you are aware of and recognise different sounds, and how quickly you can process them. By playing the keyboard you’re learning to recognise all these different sounds at a very quick pace, and that translates over into the rest of your life too. You’ll be the cat of the group with how great your hearing will become.

So those are all the reasons to start learning keyboard, but when it comes down to the practicality of it, how do you start? Before you even begin to think about time, teachers, apps, or anything else like that, you need to make sure you have your equipment ready. Can’t start cooking without the ingredients right?

When it comes to keyboards it’s not as simple as picking the first one you see. There are so many different features to a keyboard and some of them you might not even need. The best thing to do would be  to spend some time researching them and matching them to your needs. In particular you need a good keyboard for beginners.

There’s no use in wasting money on a keyboard with loads of bells and whistles only to realize you don’t need any of that shiny nonsense. Plus, who has the time to do all that research?

Us. 

That’s who. Luckily for you we’ve spent the time and done the research so you don’t have to. Below are five of the best keyboards out there for beginners. Each product has been carefully selected and reviewed for you so all you have to do is select the right one.

And if you’re not sure what you should be looking for then that’s okay! Head on down below to the buyer’s guide where we go over and explain some of the key features to a keyboard to help you figure out what to look for.

OUR TOP PICK

Do you recognise the name Casio? What if I gave you a minute to calculate your memories. Get it? 

Bad puns aside, Casio are actually well known for their mathematical equipment rather than their keyboards but that doesn’t mean that they don’t make a damn good instrument. 

Casio began in Japan in 1946 by producing calculators. From those huge hand cranking machines to the hand held calculators we now have, it is clear that efficiency is their game.

Casio then added keyboards to their roster, but not keyboards as we know it. The first ever keyboards Casio began producing were the small, toy kind with the out of tune pings and plastic keys.

Though they might not have been the best, imagine how many future musicians they inspired. 

With the Casio WK-7600, Casio isn't making toys anymore. The WK stands for work and you can bet your ass they’ve gotten down to business with this beast of a keyboard.

They’ve designed a keyboard to take those very kids they inspired and nurture them into the best players they can.

The Casio WK-7600 has over 820 well organized world class tones, an easy to use interface, 9 sliders that allow you to control the level of overtones, over 300+ inbuilt rhythms and sounds, and fantastic speakers that produce a clear crisp sound.

The Casio WK-7600 has 76 keys rather than the standard 88 for a full size keyboard but this doesn’t mean it’s lacking. Quit the opposite actually. The 76 keys are perfect for beginners to memorize initially without becoming too overwhelmed.

This keyboard has all the necessary equipment to provide a solid foundation when it comes to learning the instrument, and also comes with tons of bells and whistles too.

With the ability to record, playback, and edit your own music using the in-built sequencer, the Casio WK-7600 will have you composing masterpieces in no time. Dr Dre ain’t got nothing on you. 

The Casio-WK700 includes its own battery pack, stand, and headphones in a nice bundle.

Pros

  • Easy for beginners
  • In-built sequencers and sliders
  • Music editing options
  • 820 tones
  • 300+ sounds
  • 76 keys

Cons

  • Expensive

EDITORS CHOICE

Casio did brilliantly with the WK-7600, but as with the calculator, they went but what if we made it smaller. And lo and behold, the Casio SA-76 Mini was born.

If 76 keys still sounded too overwhelming for you then perhaps this keyboard would suit you better. The Casio SA-76 has 44 keys (made mini) and is much smaller than a traditional keyboard, obviously by design.

The result of this is that it’s far fewer keys to learn and perfect for a beginner. Once you progress from that beginner stage, however, it might be worth investing in a keyboard with a few more keys if you want to grow as a keyboard player and musician.

Potential, future shortcoming aside, the Casio SA-76 Mini comes with a handy instructional  DVD that teaches you how to get the most out of your keyboard, as well as an even handier instructional book.

Inside the instructional book you get access to the same information as the DVD but also some great beginner sheet music.

Though the Casio SA-76 Mini only has 100 tones and 50 rhythms compared to its much larger counterpart, it’s redeemed by the fact that it also includes 5 drum pads and a pair of sticks, as well as an LCD interface that makes it incredibly easy to use.

Moreover when it comes to a keyboard, so long as it’s got keys, the tones and rhythms tend to be bonuses and not necessities for beginners. So ask yourself, would you have really used any of the extra tones and rhythms on a larger keyboard anyway?

Think about it especially hard considering the fact that the Casio SA-76 Mini is just a fraction of the cost compared to the larger Keyboards.  

The size of this keyboard works to it’s advantage. Where a traditional keyboard might be too big and clunky to move, the Casio SA-76 Mini is light and portable.

You can stick it in your bag and take it with you on the go, perfect for taking to any in-person keyboard lessons, or even just to jam out with on your journey. 

So though it may be smaller, Casio still makes sure you have enough information and accessories to become a confident keyboard player, including 10 songs for you to learn to play. 

Pros

  • Portable
  • Affordable
  • Good for beginners
  • 100 Tones
  • 50 Rhythms 
  • 5 drum pads and sticks
  • Instructional DVD and Booklet
  • 10 Songs
  • 44 Keys

Cons

  • Fewer keys than a large keyboard
  • Good for beginners, not advanced players

BEST VALUE

If you thought Casio were diversifying by jumping from calculaters to Keyboards, wait until you hear about Yamaha’s portfolio.

The difference between the two companies is that Yamaha began by making musical instruments, and then went on to create other products like motorcycles, bikes, sporting equipment, computing equipment, and even robots.

Yamaha’s founder, Torakusu Yamaha, began the company in 1887 by building his very own reed organ. That led to the company producing upright pianos, and centuries later here we are showing you their P-45B Digital Piano.

Because of their established reputation and more than a century of experience when it comes to keyboard based instruments, Yamaha is one of the world’s leading instrument manufacturers.

Their keyboard designs have even been praised in the Good Design Awards. Yamaha keyboards, like their company, are designed to last. 

Which is why they can sometimes be on the pricey side. The P-45B Digital Piano is an example of this, slightly expensive, however it’s definitely worth the cost and you’ll agree too once you see all the features.

A Piano bench, stool, and powerpack all come as standard with the P-45B. It’s 88 key set, double that of the Casio Mini, is aimed at serious students who want to master the Keyboard.

Yamaha have used their own, innovative, Advanced Wave Memory (AWM) to create a fantastic rich sound that is sure to give you goosebumps. Another unique feature of the P-45B is that it has it’s very own chorus and reverb effect. This allows for warmer, richer, and better quality sound all round. 

You would think, given how many keys it has and the overall size of the keyboard, that the P-45B would be quite heavy. But actually Yamaha have outperformed themselves when it came to making this keyboard lightweight enough to be portable.

The bench it comes with is completely collapsible and can be fixed in an instant, remaining sturdy all the while. You definitely won’t go breaking your back carrying the Yamaha P-45B Digital Piano.

Pros

  • Experienced makers
  • Long lasting
  • Advanced Wave Memory
  • Chorus and Reverb effects
  • Bench, stand, and stool included in price
  • Portable

Cons

  • Expensive

RUNNER UP

Operating since 2012, Donner actually began by making guitar pedals. When they exploded in popularity, realizing they had a knack for musical instruments, Donner soon expanded their range to include drums, percussion, guitars, and even keyboards.

Their entire slogan is ‘Make your own music’. So while they may not have centuries of experience, they have the passion and the drive. Their keyboards aren’t too shabby either.

Dubbed one of the most affordable and best quality instrument makers, people certainly seem to love their products and it’s not hard to see why. 

500 tones, 300 rhythms, and 40 demo songs all crammed together into a well lit LCD display gives you access to so many resources while you learn. The 61 in Donner 61 stands for the number of keys it has.

Sitting comfortably between a mini keyboard and full piano, 61 keys is probably the ideal number for beginners looking to get to grips with the keys.

Moreover there’s just enough keys to provide varied notes and octaves, meaning once you’ve progressed past the beginner stage this keyboard won’t stop you going on to intermediate.

Though those looking to become expert musicians may want to look for a keyboard with more keys.

Donner made sure to keep this keyboard lightweight, including a collapsible microphone stand, and microphone, in the bundle. Therefore you can take this baby anywhere, bust out your microphone and stand, and give the performance of your life.

Once you're confident enough anyway. With the Donner 61 Keyboard and Piano, that’s sure to be in no time at all. 

Pros

  • Affordable
  • 500 tones
  • 50 rhythms
  • 40 demo songs
  • Portable
  • Good quality
  • Good for beginner and intermediate
  • Microphone and microphone stand included

Cons

  • Not effective for professional or expert keyboard players

RUNNER UP

Nowadays with a quick google search you can find just about any piece of equipment and instrument you need for music. This is particularly useful for aspiring musicians. You can basically do it all yourself. But it didn’t used to be like that.

Back in 1980, when Alesis was founded, it was rare to be able to get a high quality, studio level, piece of musical equipment that wouldn’t force you to break the bank. This only added to the music industry’s gatekeeping ways.

Alesis wanted to create professional, affordable, recording studio equipment that anybody could use and make the industry more accessible.

Fast forward a few decades down the line and that’s exactly what they’ve done. Now, anyone can record and upload their music. The result is that we live in an age that has more music available to us than at any stage in history.

With so many diverse and fantastic people being able to share their voices, we’re richer as a society for it. 

The Alesis 61 has all the required functions of a keyboard, along with the ability to be its own recording studio. Alesis wants you to thrive as a keyboard player which is why they’ve included a free 3 month premium membership to Skoove, the online piano teacher, with the instrument.

A battery pack, bench, stand, microphone and even headphones all come as standard with the keyboard. Inside the keyboard, the interface is packed with over 300 rhythms, an in-built record feature, and more than just acoustic piano sounds.

With the click of a few buttons you can transform the acoustic keyboard into an electric keyboard, a synth, drums, an organ and so many more instruments. Just like Donner, the Alesis keyboard only has 61 keys. Again, this is perfect for beginners like you.

Plus with fewer keys it’s incredibly easy to transport, making it nice and lightweight. 

Pros

  • Portable
  • Affordable
  • 61 Keys
  • Different instrument sounds
  • 300 different rhythms
  • Free 3 month subscription to Skoove
  • Recording 

Cons

  • Not suitable for advanced players

Starter Keyboards for Adult Beginners Buying Guide

Nowadays choosing a keyboard is made so complicated because of all the options out there. Sometimes there is such a thing as too many.

And when they all have their own features and code words, it can be a bit of a nightmare navigating what exactly you should be looking at, and what you should be ignoring. Here in our buyers guide we’ve had a go trying to break down some of the jargon you might be struggling with. 

Starter Keyboards for Adult Beginners What’s the Best Option

Different kind of keyboards

As with any instrument, there are different kinds of keyboards. Some of the different kinds are listed below;

Beginner keyboard

A beginner keyboard is exactly what it sounds like. A keyboard, made specifically for beginners. What’s different about these, compared to standard keyboards, is that they have fewer keys. This is to help beginners get used to the octaves and notes.

Beginner keyboards also tend not to have weighted keys as they are made from plastic instead of the usual ivorite that a piano is made from. This makes it easier for beginners to move quickly from key to key. 

Arranger

Arrangers are known to be the keyboard of the performers. They have far more keys than the beginner keyboard and also jam packed with libraries filled with rhythms and sounds. Essentially it’s a one man band on a keyboard. Music can be recorded and stored.

Digital workstation

Designed to get to WORK. A digital workstation is similar to an arranger in that it’s for performers and has a huge library. Where it differs is that it’s able to edit and manipulate music that it’s recorded note by single note. As well as all this, it includes an inbuilt synthesizer.

Synthesizer

To synthesize something means to make something new altogether. In that way, a synthesizer creates, not just keyboard music, but any sound out there. It usually has a library of noises and sounds, ranging anywhere from a drum to the sound of car honking.

It really can be that random. Think of all those weird noises in songs that you just can’t pin down to an instrument. It was a synthesizer. ‘Sweet Dreams’ is the love child of a synthesizer and Eurythmics. 

Digital Piano

A digital piano is essentially a piano but without the huge exoskeleton. Designed to be compact yet give the same sound as a piano.

You can’t be blamed for being fooled into thinking that the piano noises coming from the digital piano are actually being made by it. Instead it’s actually just a pre-recorded note being released through speakers. 

Hybrid

A hybrid is the holy grail of keyboards. Though it may not be for everyone, it’s particularly popular with composers rather than beginners. It contains a mixture of all of the above mentioned keyboards and pianos.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it easy to learn the keyboard?

Easy is a subjective word. What one person finds difficult, another might breeze through. Luckily, as an instrument, the keyboard isn’t particularly difficult as it doesn't require the clawed fingering like playing the guitar might.  

The tricky part is most likely when it comes to reading the sheet music and applying it to the keyboard as you go along. And then having to pick up speed simultaneously. 

But so long as you put in the practice and the effort, you’ll get there. On average it takes a person about 2-3years to get to a comfortable beginner’s level when it comes to playing piano. 

How many keys on a keyboard?

The number of keys on your keyboard will depend on your skill level. A standard, full piece keyboard will have 88 keys.

However, beginners should be on the lookout for keyboards with fewer keys. This is because as a beginner it can be overwhelming to start with all 88 keys, especially when you probably won’t even be using all of them. In that case, a good beginner keyboard should have about 66 keys 

What’s the difference between a keyboard and a piano?

Functionally, they both do the same thing. But when it comes to a keyboard, it can do so much more. As keyboards are electric, most of them tend to be loaded with a music library and interface.

Inside said library there are tons of rhythms, sounds, tones, and editing applications. With keyboards you can compose and edit your own music all on one instrument.

The sound from a keyboard isn’t actually produced by the keyboard itself, but rather by a speaker releasing a pre-recorded noise. 

With a piano, there is no electrical side. It’s a heavy instrument that actually produces the noise from each key via a series of strings and hammers inside the piano. Piano’s produce an incredibly rich and authentic sound that keyboards do their best to mimic.

Moreover the keys on piano are generally quite heavy as they are made out of ivory like materials, compared to the plastic that keyboard keys are made from. 

What are keyboard keys made from?

For the longest time, keys used to be made from ivory. This is because it was naturally white, heavy, and easily polishable.

But don’t be alarmed. Ivory, the material derived from elephant tusks (usually at the expense of the elephant) is no longer available for use to make keys as there is a global ban on it, rightly so. Nowadays piano keys are made from heavier plastics.

Yamaha have even come up with their own material substitute to ivory called ivorite. Ivorite is available for anyone to use and much more sustainable than ivory, and has a much better look and feel than other plastics used on keys.

David Williams
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