What are the best keyboards for beginners? Our guide suits all budgets, styles and levels - perfect if you're just starting your musical journey...

Excellent keyboard options for those new to the instrument…

For many musicians, the keyboard is the first port of call on the road to musical greatness. Sure, most of us will have dabbled with the humble recorder at school, but it’s with the keyboard that many people with an inclination to learn a ‘proper’ instrument (no offence, recorder fans) will start. But what are the best keyboards for beginners?

Making that first choice…

Choosing the best beginner keyboard or piano can be daunting though. There is a huge range of similar looking, similarly priced pianos out there, so where to start? In this article, we will list our top choices for best beginner keyboard options. We’ll look at instruments which will enable anyone to get a good start on their musical journey. We’ll also describe the features and capabilities of each option, and how they can help make life easier for you.

The main players in the keyboard game…

There are a few big names when it comes to beginner keyboards: Casio, Roland, and Yamaha to name but a handful. Each brand is steeped in history and has helped thousands of budding musos take their first steps. Most importantly, each company knows what learners need from their keyboards, and design them in such a way as to help keep the enthusiasm going.

We’ll guide you through offerings from Casio, Roland, and Yamaha, giving you an overview of each so, you can make an informed choice that suits you.

  1. Casio CT-S100 Casiotone Electronic Keyboard
  2. Roland GO:Keys Music Creation Keyboard
  3. Yamaha PSS-A50 Portable Keyboard
  4. Casio CT-200 Casiotone Electronic Keyboard
  5. Casio CTK-3500 Portable Keyboard

1. Casio CT-S100 Casiotone

Features

  • 61 Piano-Style Keys
  • 122 Built-in Tones
  • 61 Accompaniment Rhythms
  • 60 Preset Songs
  • Ergonomically-designed Curved Edges and Carry Handle
  • Easy-to-use Interface
  • Over 16 Hours Playing Time with 6 AA Batteries
  • USB Connectivity

The Casio CT-S100 Casiotone Electronic Keyboard is arguably the most portable 61-key electronic keyboard that you can get your hands on,

The CT-S100 pays homage to the simplicity of its predecessor – the Casiotone S1 -, with an elegantly fuss-free layout for intuitive playability. The 61 full-size keys are inviting to the beginner as they provide greater comfort and a more realistic playing feel. This also ensures that your technique will develop properly and make the transition to piano keyboard much easier.

The Casio CT-S100 boasts 122 tones, 61 accompaniment rhythms, and 60 preset songs to play along with. There’s a built-in headphone connector for times when you wish to practise silently into the wee hours, there’s a USB connector for connecting to your computer and DAW of choice directly.

Running on 6 AA batteries you can get a whopping 16 hours playing time, plenty of time for busking or honing your technique on the move. The Casio CT-S100 Electronic Keyboard is perfect as your first keys purchase or for those looking to treat a loved one by helping them to get their music career off the ground.

Dawsons Exclusive CT-S100 Bundle

We also offer an exclusive Casio CT-S100 Casiotone Bundle complete with headphones, stand, and stool – everything you could need to hit the ground running!

2. Roland GO:Keys Music Creation Keyboard

Features

  • 61 box-shape, touch-sensitive keys with Ivory Feel
  • 128 Voices
  • Roland Loop Mix with 672 Patterns
  • 10 Performance Pads
  • Bluetooth Audio/USB MIDI Support
  • Built-in Song Recorder with USB Backup
  • Rechargeable Ni-MH Batteries
  • Approx. 6 Hours Playing Time

The Roland GO:KEYS Music Creation Keyboard is designed to make it easy to get creative. By removing as many obstacles as possible, GO:KEYS promotes inspiration via an intuitive interface with some exceptionally powerful features going on under the hood.

There are 61 velocity-sensitive keys with Ivory Feel for a sumptuous tactile experience. Thanks to the integrated Loop Mix Function, you can readily compose arrangements by simply triggering loop phrases. Therefore, you can knit together complex compositions in real-time.

You don’t need to understand cadence or chord structure – though in time you’ll want to, hence why Roland include a three-month subscription to Skoove with each GO:KEYS purchase.

There are over 500 pro-level sounds inherited from Roland’s legendary synths including orchestral instruments, pianos, and a plethora of other exciting sounds.

Bluetooth connectivity allows you to connect your smartphone or tablet for playback to jam along with your favourite tracks. You also have the option to play via built-in speakers or utilise headphones for silent practise.

Once your confidence and songwriting ability develops, the Roland GO:KEYS Music Creation Keyboard boasts a built-in song recorder with USB backup for saving ideas.

3. Yamaha PSS-A50 Portable Keyboard

The Yamaha PSS-A50 Portable Keyboard offers a scaled-down keyboard whilst still boasting a vast range of features.

This diminutive beginners keyboard offers 37 high-quality mini keys with Touch Response, 42 different instrument voices, 138 arpeggio types with hold function, and Phrase Recorder for recording, playing back, and looping your musical ideas. Essentially, you have all the tools that you could desire to get creative and have fun doing so!

Don’t be fooled into thinking its a toy though, Yamaha put all their know-how into this wee beauty and the PSS-A50 Portable Keyboard is a force to be reckoned with. Thanks to USB-MIDI connectivity you can connect directly to your computer for simple recording at home or on the go. Accessing your DAW of choice you can control software-based patches and synths like a champ.

Part of the PSS family but coming in at a more affordable price point is the Yamaha PSS-F30 Portable Keyboard and the Yamaha Remie PSS-E30 Portable Keyboard, which both offer a range of controls to suit younger players by making learning fun!

4. Casio Casiotone CT-S200

Features

  • 61 Piano-Style Keys
  • 48 Key Polyphony
  • 400 Built-in Tones
  • 77 Built-in Rhythms
  • 60 Tunes with Lesson Function
  • Dance Music Mode with Voice
  • USB MIDI Connectivity
  • Compatible with Unique Casio Chordana App
  • Approx 16 Hours Playing Time with 6 AA-size Batteries
  • Ergonomic Design With Carry Handle and Music Stand

A step above the aforementioned models is the Casio Casiotone CT-S200, which doesn’t merely pick up where the CT-S100 left off but goes miles further. However, that doesn’t detract from the already impressive CT-S100, you simply get even more for your money.

Equally as well designed, equally as lightweight, portable and practical, the CT-S200 features 61-keys with 48-key polyphony. Therefore, the keyboard can play up to 48 keys simultaneously.

Wait…what is polyphony?

Polyphony is the amount of keys/notes/sounds that an instrument can play simultaneously. Think if you were to lean on the keys with your forearm and that hellish dissonant cacophony you might have heard in memes.

Why does polyphony matter?

Factor in metronome, accompaniment such as rhythms or songs, and the keys that you’re playing, and then polyphony starts to add up. However, 48-keys max polyphony should be more than any to keep things ticking over quite comfortably.

The CT-S200 boasts a whopping 400 built-in tones, 77 built-in rhythms, 60 built-in songs, Lesson functions, and Casio’s unique Dance Music Mode. In Dance Music Mode, you can create amazing dance tracks and remix them on the spot simply by pressing different key combinations. There are 50 modern dance music styles to choose from, including House, Hip-Hop and EDM.

The LCD screen and jog wheel offer access to a myriad of complex features via a highly intuitive interface. Getting to the heart of the instrument need not be a chore. As well as an easy to use control layout, the CT-S200 boasts an improved speaker system. You can even connect an external audio source via the audio input jack to play your own music through the speakers.

5. Casio LK-S250 Portable Keyboard

  • Renowned Lighted Key System
  • New LCD Screen with Intuitive Control Layout
  • Upgraded Speaker System
  • Dance Music Mode with Vocals
  • Casio Dance Music Mode
  • Casio Chordana Play App Makes Learning Fun
  • Includes FREE Rockschoool Digital Music Book Download
  • 61 Full-Size, Touch-Sensitive Keys
  • 400 Tones and 77 Rhythms
  • 60 Built-in Songs

The Casio LK-S250 Portable Keyboard is designed with beginners who need an extra helping hand – or visual aids as the case may be. As you can probably tell from the images above, this special keyboard benefits from Casio’s renowned lighted key system, which literally lights up the keys that you need to play.

Lighted Key System

Casio’s visual learning system utilises its innovative lighted key technology to highlight the keys the need to be played as well as which fingers to use. With the lighted key keyboards, special attention is paid to perfecting the learning and practising functions. Around 100 practice pieces are contained in the set-up of the CASIO lighted key keyboards. With Step-Up, Lesson Lite, and Step-Up Lesson, there are practice systems for different levels, while Music Challenge motivates you when practising and playing. The player can also switch off the key illumination, leaving the notes to display, allowing them to improve play independently.

The beginning is always difficult and practice makes perfect. If you want to learn a keyed instrument, you don’t just need diligence and endurance when practising, but also small successes in order to stay motivated. In order to make it easier for beginners take their first steps into learning a new a keyed instrument, the manufacturers of keyboards have let the inspiration flow – which is why CASIO developed its keyboards with lighted keys specially for the target group of beginners and music students.

CASIO illuminated piano keyboards have an integrated function for learning songs and pieces of music with the help of pre-programmed, illuminated keys. Thanks to a unique concept based on the latest pedagogical findings, beginners can play short pieces after just a few hours, or accompany other musicians, on lighted key keyboards by CASIO.

Casio Music UK

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of options for the learner. Many features overlap from model to model, so it’s worth visiting your local Dawsons’ store where our specialists will be help. Whatever it is that you’re looking for, we will have the best beginner keyboard for you.

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We recently picked our “5 of the best keyboard amps” for those who are looking to take their music on the road.

For those who are looking for something “grander”, check out our “Beginner’s Guide to Stage Pianos” for advice on where you can progress to in the future.

Get in touch

If you need any help or advice then our Customer Service Team are more than happy to help over the phone on 01925 582420.

As always you can check out the Dawsons website to search our full selection of Keyboards and Pianos.

Quick recap of the keyboards highlighted in the article:

  1. Casio CT-S100 Electronic Keyboard
  2. Casio CT-S100 Electronic Keyboard Bundle
  3. Roland GO:KEYS Music Creation Keyboard
  4. Yamaha PSS-A50 Portable Keyboard
  5. Yamaha PSS-F30 Portable Keyboard
  6. Yamaha Remie PSS-E30 Portable Keyboard
  7. Casio CT-S200 Electronic Keyboard
  8. Casio LK-S250 Portable Keyboard