Excellent keyboard options for learners
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.
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 blog we will list our top 5 best beginner keyboard options. We’ll look at five 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 two big names when it comes to learner keyboards: Yamaha and Casio. Both brands are steeped in history and have helped thousands of budding musos take their first steps. Most importantly, both companies know what learners need from their keyboards, and design them in such a way as to help keep the enthusiasm going.
1. Casio CTK-1500 Portable Keyboard
The Casio CTK-1500 Portable Keyboard is designed with beginner and intermediate players in mind. It achieves a great balance of portability and performance. The 61 full-size keys aren’t too big so, won’t overwhelm smaller hands or those who are developing dexterity, stamina, and technique.
There are more than enough built-in piano styles, tones, rhythms, and songs to utilise and play along with. From contemporary Pop and Rock to World Music, there’s instrumentation and built-in sounds to suit any and every musical taste.
The CTK-1500 comes with free online Casio Music Academy Lessons to get you up and running in no time. There’s a headphone jack for those times when you wish to practise without disturbing others too.
In short, the Casio CTK-1500 is an excellent choice for those looking to kick-start their musical career on an instrument that will see them through and beyond the intermediate level.
2. Roland GO:Keys Music Creation Keyboard
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 song writing 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. Yamaha PSR-E263 Portable Keyboard
A step above the aforementioned models is the Yamaha PSR-E363 Portable Keyboard. It includes a vastly expanded voicing section, taking in over 400 sounds like orchestral, woodwind, brass and drums.
The included Yamaha Education Suite provides exceptional resources to help improve your technique and skill. A further indication of its quality is the ability for the user to add various musical effects to their playing. Mix in a dash of reverb or delay and notice how the overall sound takes on a new, more polished feel.
Another great feature is the ability for the player to hook up an iPod or external sound source in order to play along with their favourite music. There are plenty of great online resources offering free backing tracks, so you’ll always find something new and interesting to practice with.
5. Casio CT-S100 Electronic Keyboard
Finally, the Casio CT-S100 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.
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.
Quick recap of the keyboards highlighted in the article:
- Casio CTK-1500 Portable Keyboard
- Roland GO:KEYS Music Creation Keyboard
- Yamaha PSS-A50 Portable Keyboard
- Yamaha PSS-F30 Portable Keyboard
- Yamaha Remie PSS-E30 Portable Keyboard
- Yamaha PSR-E363 Portable Keyboard
- Casio CT-S100 Electronic Keyboard
Jon is a multi-instrumentalist with a passion for inspiring others to get involved in making music. After spending many years playing venues here, there and – pretty much – everywhere, he joined the Dawsons’ Music Web Team before progressing into his current role managing the Dawsons Blog.