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Keyboards for Beginners: Top Choices For Success

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Keyboards for Beginners: Top Choices For Success

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 the 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.


Our Top Beginner Keyboard Picks:

  1. New Jersey Sound NJS-800 Portable Keyboard
  2. Yamaha PSS Series
  3. Yamaha PSR Series
  4. Yamaha EZ-300 Portable Keyboard

1. New Jersey Sound NJS800 Portable Keyboard

Our entry-level New Jersey Sound NJS800 Portable Keyboard offers outstanding value for money and features an easy to play keyboard with 61 full-size piano-style keys, mic input and speaker/headphone jack.

New Jersey Sound NJS800

Features

  • Choose from 100 Timbres and 100 Rhythms
  • 8 Panel Percussions and 61 Keyboard Percussions
  • 12 Demonstration Songs plus Sync/Fill-in/Intro/Ending
  • Record/Playback and Teaching Function
  • Supplied with note stickers to aid learning
  • Includes Keyboard, Stand, Keyboard Stool, Headphones and Power Supply

image of a musical keyboard

Ideal for beginners and more experienced players alike, the NJS800 Keyboard makes learning fun and is totally portable when running on batteries (6 x D - not supplied).

The NJS800 Keyboard boasts 100 Timbres (Instrument Sounds) and 100 Rhythms to choose from, plus various effects, demonstration songs, single finger chords and record/playback function.

Comes complete with an attractive keyboard Z-stand and the kit also includes the built-in sheet music stand, mains adaptor and neckband headphones for silent practise.

We also offer a Dawsons Music & Sound exclusive New Jersey Sound NJS800 Bundle with padded stool for comfort.

2. Yamaha PSS Series

The Yamaha PSS Series offers a selection of scaled-down portable keyboards that are perfect for the youngest of players to kickstart their musical journey.

i. Yamaha PSS-A50

Features

  • A compact yet powerful keyboard that's small in stature but big on sound
  • 37 High-Quality and Touch-Sensitive mini keys
  • 42 different instrument Voices
  • 138 Arpeggio types with hold function
  • Phrase recorder lets you loop, playback and record all your musical pieces
  • USB-MIDI keyboard lets you connect to your DAW of choice, opening up more sonic possibilities

image of a musical 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!

The PSS-A50 has a built-in arpeggiator that lets you create new melodies and beats at the push of a button, inspiring creativity in the creation process. In conjunction with the arpeggio hold, you can arrange your songs with up to four layers and master complex chords and phrases while creating professional passages and melodies.

A phrase recorder allows you to loop, playback and record all your musical pieces, ensuring that you never lose that moment of magic. The combination of 42 Voices and 138 Arpeggio types means you'll never tire of creating new and interesting music with the PSS-A50, with the Motion Effect feature letting you modify the base sounds to give you more scope for sonic sculpting.

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.

ii. Yamaha PSS-F30

Features

  • A compact yet powerful keyboard that's perfect for the beginner
  • 37 High-Quality, small-format mini keys
  • 114 auto accompaniment Styles and the Smart Chord function
  • 30 on-board Songs with a free digital songbook
  • Various functions including sustain and metronome
  • Light and compact design makes it easily transportable
  • Built-in speaker and headphone jack for silent practice

image of a musical keyboard

The Yamaha PSS-F30 Portable Keyboard is designed for smaller hands, making it perfect for your child or for a beginner player. With a preset library of famous and well-known tunes, the PSS-F30 is designed to get the next generation of composers started.

The PSS-F30 features 114 built-in automatic accompaniment styles that allow a diverse range of musical genres to be played. The Smart Chord function makes it perfect for young composers to lead their band at the press of a button, ensuring any initial playing difficulties are overcome quickly, allowing them to continue on their musical journey.

A variety of 120 Voices means pretty much every instrument sound is covered, ensuring you'll never run out of inspiration. A free downloadable digital songbook ties in with 30 well-known songs built-in, meaning the new player is sure to find fun in learning, playing and singing along.

The small-format, high-quality keys have been specifically designed for smaller hands, whilst the compact, lightweight body ensures that this keyboard is easily transportable. There's plenty of functionality on offer here as well with sustain and metronome functions allowing the honing of vital musical skills. The high-quality speaker delivers sound with clarity whilst a headphone jack allows for silent practice.

The Yamaha PSS-F30 Portable Keyboard is designed to get the younger player up and running straight out of the box, with a stylish, compact and robust design that means it will fit in a school bag and be able to put up with any roughhousing.

iii. Yamaha PSS-E30 "Remie"

Features

  • A compact yet powerful keyboard that's perfect for the beginner player
  • 37 High-Quality, small-format mini keys
  • 47 Voices and 74 Sound Effects
  • Quiz mode asks you to guess the sound, building musical knowledge
  • 28 auto accompaniment Styles and Smart Chord functionality
  • 30 onboard songs and free digital songbook
  • Light and compact design makes it easily transportable
  • Built-in speaker and headphone jack for silent practice
  • Battery and USB bus-powered (USB power adaptor is sold separately)

image of a musical keyboard

The Yamaha Remie PSS-E30 Portable Keyboard is designed for the up and coming musical maestro. With a small-format keyboard it's light and compact size means it can go anywhere you do, allowing your young maestro to take it out and play anywhere, anytime.

The Remie PSS-E30 features 47 Voices for a wide variety of sounds as well as vehicle and animal noises, ensuring that your child will be fascinated whilst making sure that their musical talent is nurtured. The quiz mode asks the user to guess the sound effects played, a precursor to the more advanced mode that asks you to guess the correct notes that were just played, a great way to help develop natural musical interest. The preset songs allow the user to learn and play, with well-known melodies that expand their musical horizons.

The small-format, high-quality keys have been specifically designed for smaller hands, whilst the compact, lightweight body ensures that this keyboard is easily transportable. There's plenty of functionality on offer here as well with 28 auto accompaniment styles and Smart Chord functionality, allowing the honing of vital musical skills. The high-quality speaker delivers sound with clarity whilst a headphone jack allows for silent practice.

The Yamaha Remie PSS-E30 is a fantastic first step on your child's musical journey, colourful and compact it not only looks great but is packed with sound options that will make certain they keep coming back for more.

3. Yamaha PSR Series

The Yamaha PSR Series steps things up a notch or two in terms of features, performance, versatility and across a wide range of price points to suit every budget.

i. Yamaha PSR-E273

Features

  • Entry-level portable keyboard from industry heavyweights Yamaha
  • 61 keys with 401 high-quality voices and 143 accompaniment styles
  • 112 Songs with easy Song Book available via download
  • Lesson and Recording functions assist new players
  • Quiz Mode and Smart Chord make playing fun
  • AUX IN jack and headphone out for complete connectivity
  • Compact and portable design

image of a musical keyboard

The Yamaha PSR-E273 Portable Keyboard is the gift that keeps on giving. An ideal beginner portable keyboard, the theory of the PSR-E273 is that playing should be fun. The more fun you're having, the more you want to play and this entry-level portable keyboard features plenty of sounds and functions for the aspiring musician just starting out.

Voices & Styles

Despite being an entry-level Portable Keyboard, the Yamaha PSR-E273 features quality voices and styles with sophisticated practical learning functions that will inspire beginners to realise their potential and develop enthusiastically. 401 Voices with 143 Styles mean plenty of scope for practising and playing.

Making Learning Fun

Quiz mode lets you have fun playing with its 'Guess the Note' feature that's both fun and helps develop a musical ear. You can record user played phrases for playback, great for looking back at previous works to see where to improve. An integrated musical lesson functionality teaches best practice for the budding piano player.

Easy to Use

A simple operation panel makes it easy to select a Voice or Style and play away. Its lightweight design means it can be carried anywhere around the house whilst the headphone socket ensures that discreet practice is possible, even at night.

The Yamaha PSR-E273 Portable Keyboard is perfect for the practising piano player, giving you enough depth to satisfy curiosity whilst remaining simple enough to use so that new players will keep coming back.

ii. Yamaha PSR-E373

Features

  • 622 high-quality Voices with improved sampling
  • Touch-sensitive keyboard with 48-note polyphony
  • Brand new DSP effects and 11 Super Articulation Lite Voices
  • 205 auto accompaniment Styles
  • 26 Harmony types & 150 Arpeggio types
  • "Keys to Success" with other lesson functions
  • Easy Song Book available for download
  • USB TO HOST allowing two-way MIDI and digital audio transfer
  • Melody Suppressor for both analog and digital audio input

image of a musical keyboard

The Yamaha PSR E373 is the upgrade to the popular E363 we've all been waiting for. Brimming with new features that will enhance every aspect of your performance, the Yamaha PSR E373 will take your keyboard skills to the next level.

High-Quality Sounds

The PSR-E373 features a newly developed tone generator LSI that delivers stunning improvements in sound quality as well as high-quality effects. Thanks to this new LSI, you can enjoy a comprehensive library of 622 instrument Voices perfect for playing in any genre you choose, as well as unique Super Articulation Lite Voices that reproduce the trills and string noise of stringed instruments such as the cello and mandolin—previously difficult to emulate—with amazing realism, for superbly authentic performances.

The Joy of Playing

With a range of effects similar to those in top-end models and touch sensitivity that allows you to add delicate nuances to your performance, the PSR-E373 has impressive expressive capabilities. It also comes with an auto-accompaniment function that provides backing in a variety of musical genres from around the world, such as jazz, R&B, and Latin.

Lesson Function

Use the lesson functions within the Yamaha PSR-E373 to enjoy playing the built-in Songs with ease. These convenient lesson functions will help you to practice the built-in Songs and improve your playing skills. The lesson functions are arranged for optimum, enjoyable learning, so just select the one that's suitable for you, and take your keyboard skills to the next level.

We also provide a Dawsons Music & Sound Exclusive Yamaha PSR-E373 Bundle complete with a keyboard stand, cushioned stool, and padded studio headphones.

iii. Yamaha PSR-E463

Features

  • Portable performance keyboard with over 750 high-quality voices
  • 61-note velocity-sensitive keyboard with 48 note polyphony for creating rich layers
  • Assignable real-time controllers, DSP and pitch bend
  • 80 minutes of USB audio recording capability as well as quick sampling
  • Excellent connectivity for use with computers, iPads and more
  • Built-in arpeggio function to create intricate phrases with a single touch
  • A large array of accompaniment styles and pattern function to create your own grooves
  • Worldwide sounds to expand your musical horizons
  • Built-in 12-watt speaker system with bass reflex design for extra depth

image of a musical keyboard

For generations, Yamaha's portable keyboards have stood out to be the best. The Yamaha PSR-E463 Portable Keyboard is testimony to the consistent quality that is produced by this creative manufacturer. With over 750 high-quality voices, real-time controls, USB audio recording and effects and tons of connectivity, the PSR-E463 is a performer's dream machine.

Powerful Voices

The PSR-E463 boasts a staggering 758 high quality voices that can cater for any musical style. These include 8 Sweet! Voices, 3 Cool! Voices, 3 Dynamic! Voices that simply have to be heard to be believed. The PSR-E463 is capable of 48 note polyphony meaning that even if you layer sounds together, you won't suffer from any note drop-outs. To play your sounds, the PSR-E463 Portable Keyboard comes complete with a 61-note touch-sensitive keyboard for expressive and dynamic playing.

Real-time Controls

Building on the superb internal voices, the PSR-E463 also gives you the power to manipulate DSP effects in real-time. Sounds instantly become more dynamic and expressive thanks to the ability to apply filters, reverb, delays and much more. The handy pitch bend wheel also means you can emulate string bends on guitar-based instruments and create some other cool effects.

Over 230 Accompaniment Styles can also be controlled on-the-fly adding a huge level of depth to your performance. Just like the voices, the Yamaha PSR-E463 presents you with a huge range of styles to play with from all over the world. If you want something completely unique to you, the built-in pattern function means you can create grooves from scratch!

Sample & Record

The PSR-E463 has a 5-bank quick sampling function for you to record short loops or one-shot samples that you can trigger at any time. Simply connect an audio source to the Aux input and take a sample of up to 9.6 seconds in length. Create grooves using the DJ mode or play traditionally and record your performances for up to 80 minutes in length via USB! This is a great feature to capture your music and immortalise it for future listening.

Digitally Capable

The Yamaha PSR-E463 is an incredible keyboard in its own right, but it's made even better with the available connectivity. USB memory and host functionality mean you can store data on USB sticks or use the PSR-E463 with your favourite computer or iOS software.

An aux input allows you to send music through the PSR-E463 utilising the crossfader and melody suppressor that can cut out vocals and melody lines so that you can play over the top of any song, a great tool to encourage learners with instant results. The Yamaha PSR-E463 Portable Keyboard is a superb performer and has lots to offer players of all styles and capabilities.

We also provide a Dawsons Music & Sound Exclusive Yamaha PSR-E463 Bundle complete with a keyboard stand, cushioned stool, and padded studio headphones.

4. Yamaha EZ-300 Portable Keyboard with "Illuminated Keys"

Lighting the way. Find the key to stepping up. And discover the secret that turns sounds into a melody. The Yamaha EZ-300 is a 61-key, touch-sensitive keyboard—specially equipped with lighting keys, and designed as an entry Portable Keyboard model for the first-time players. Stylish and comprehensive, it allows you to practice, play and perform with a variety of lesson functions and authentic instrument sound.

Yamaha EZ-300

Features

  • Touch-sensitive keyboard with 61 with lighting keys
  • 622 high-quality Voices including actual samples of a grand piano
  • Brand new DSP effects and 11 Super Articulation Lite Voices
  • 205 auto accompaniment Styles
  • 26 harmony types and 150 arpeggio types
  • Keys to Success“ with other lesson functions
  • Duo mode for playing with a partner
  • Easy Song Book available for download
  • USB TO HOST allowing two-way MIDI and digital audio transfer
  • Melody Suppressor for both analogue and digital audio input

image of a musical keyboard

Lighting Keys Make Playing Fun

Just play the lighted keys and get beautiful music - naturally and effortlessly. It’s easy to get hooked and have fun practising and playing. And if you want to improve more, practice at your own pace with the three Lesson functions. Work on the right and left-hand parts separately, and even break the song up into separate sections for repeated practice. The lighting keys guide you throughout, helping you enjoy playing - even if you can’t read music.

Play the Songs You Love

The EZ-300 includes 202 built-in Songs that the whole family will enjoy. With popular hits and famous songs that you’ve heard and want to play on the piano—from pop songs, children's songs, classics, and more. You can have fun playing along with the song or simply listen to it playing automatically. Moreover, you can use the EZ-300 with your computer to add even more of your favourites.

Pop Songs

Includes: Happy, It’s My Life, Viva La Vida, Bad Romance, Shape of You, Duele El Corazon, Titanium, Perfect, Treasure and Something Just Like This.

Classics

Includes: Frère Jacques, Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Aloha Oe, Santa Lucia, Brahms' Lullaby, Menuett BWV Anh.114, Prelude op.28-15 "Raindrop", Für Elise, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Turkish March …and many more.

Authentic Sounds

The EZ-300 features a total of 622 built-in instrument sounds (called Voices). Included with these are special “Live” Voices, which feature actual recorded samples from a grand piano, strings and brass. Just with this single keyboard you can play a huge variety of authentic musical instruments and perform with an amazingly full sound.

In addition, there’s a Touch Response function that lets you expressively control the loudness by how strongly or softly you play the keys—helping you become familiar with the music as you express yourself while having fun with the Auto Accompaniment functions and various effects.


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 help. Whatever it is that you're looking for, we will have the best beginner keyboard for you.

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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.

Dawsons Music & Sound Online

Whether you are just getting started or looking for an upgrade we have everything you need at Dawsons Music & Sound online.

Dawsons Music & Sound Stores

Visit your nearest Dawsons Music & Sound Store where our in-house specialists can guide you through the decision-making process.

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A quick recap of the keyboards highlighted in the article: