The term “keyboard” is actually a collective term for all acoustic and electronic keyboard instruments. However, it is now almost exclusively used as a term for a certain genre of electrophonic keyboard instruments: the so-called “portable keyboards” or “home keyboards”.
For many adults, but also for children, the keyboard is a popular entry-level instrument, as it is very inexpensive in contrast to piano or digital piano. The one-time purchase price is supplemented by running costs for music scores and study books. Lessons are also recommended for beginners. Another plus point: mobility. In contrast to the piano, the keyboard can easily be transported from A to B in a gig bag. Silent practice is also possible with headphones which makes it easier to get started, even with noise-sensitive neighbours.
Start for adults
Especially in adulthood, many people have a growing desire to learn an instrument. Whether first or second instrument: the keyboard is always a good choice. With hardly any other instrument you can play so well on your own. The additional functions of an electric keyboard also enable a completely new range of tones, recording and playback functions. Basically, one is never too old to learn, but rather depends on willingness and regular practice. So, what are you waiting for?
- Ideal for beginners
- Silent practice via headphones
Start for kids
For toddlers there is a wide range of toy keyboards, which have little in common with the “big” keyboards. However, the colourful study keyboards encourage creativity and motor skills from an early age and prepare children for the standard keyboard. As a rule, children between age of 4-6 can start learning on a standard keyboard. Special child sizes are available with the so-called mini keyboards, which are particularly suitable for younger children up to 6 years of age.
- Non-recurring acquisition costs
What is the difference between keyboard and piano?
Special features of the keyboard
A keyboard is interesting for everyone who wants to play in a band or as a solo entertainer. Because the essential unique selling point of the keyboard is the automatic accompaniment, which makes it possible to play rhythms and sounds of other instruments in the background. Even the key tones themselves can be freely programmed and imitate e.g. piano, organ or strings. While a piano has 88 keys as standard, there are various variants of the keyboard with 49, 61, 74 or 88 keys. This allows the models to be more compact and therefore easier to transport.
When playing it feels very different not only because of the varying number of keys, but also because of the built-in spring. In a piano, analog strings are operated by means of small hammers, which are brought into motion by pressing a key. Pianos, also called E-pianos or digital pianos, also imitate this technique. As already mentioned, the keyboard has only one spring installed, which reacts at least to different keystrokes when a touch mechanism is installed. Nevertheless, notes and chords have to be learned on the keyboard as well, and then there is the special handling of the innumerable programs and functions. In addition, keyboards have e.g. loudspeakers, various connection options, a recording function and a pitch bend wheel for stepless pitch changes.
Differences to Piano & Digital Piano
The basic difference between piano and keyboard is that the piano is an analog instrument and the keyboard a digital or electronic one. However, this does not apply to the electric piano, since it is also electronic. Nevertheless, the digital piano is more similar to the piano than to the keyboard, because it is specifically modeled after the latter. With piano and digital piano the puristic sound is in the foreground. The keyboard thus achieves a greater variety of sound due to its diverse programs. The hammer mechanism of piano and digital piano also ensures the typical keystroke, which is usually not found on the keyboard.
You can see these and other differences in this video:
Are you looking for a keyboard for ...
As a beginner you venture into completely unknown territory, which is why it is important to first familiarize yourself with the new instrument. Therefore, as a beginner you should choose an inexpensive keyboard so that you don’t get upset later. On a beginner keyboard you can learn the basics just as well as on any middle or top class model. The fun should be in the foreground! Many models are already equipped with a learning mode to help you getting started.
- Enjoy making music
- Study mode for beginners
Would you like to experiment with rhythms and sounds and let your creativity run wild? In this case you should use a keyboard with effects and special functions like layer mode and/or split mode. Layer mode lets you superimpose two sounds or voices. Split mode allows you to split the voices between your left and right hands. This gives you a wide range of possibilities to create unusual sounds and let you off steam creatively.
- Layer mode: Lay voices over each other
- Split mode: Split voices between hands
... professional musicians?
Maybe you also have the ambition to play in a band or to produce your own tracks. These are venerable goals, but as a beginner you should put them in the back. Professional musicians need appropriate equipment, which has its price. For beginners the purchase of a top class instrument is usually not worthwhile. The many effects and functions overtax beginners rather and cost unnecessary nerves and too much money for the beginning. Such a keyboard must therefore be seen as a future-oriented purchase.
- Long-term investment
Keyboards for toddlers & children
Keyboards for toddlers
The colorful keyboards for toddlers are of course not instruments in the classical sense. They should encourage playful learning as well as creativity and motor skills of the toddler. With such a keyboard you can lay the foundation for the joy of making music and a certain talent. Keyboard playing is also a great way of expressing one’s feelings musically for the development of the child.
Mini keyboards for children
Mini keyboards are significantly smaller than the standard models and therefore come with fewer keys. Thanks to their compact dimensions and reduced weight, they are particularly portable.
In general, mini keyboards are suitable for children from the age of 4 and the instruments are available in more or less professional designs. Many models have an attractive colour scheme to encourage children to enjoy making music. In addition, the models have a reduced number of functions so that the children do not lose track and are not overtaxed.
The market leaders for beginner keyboards
If you are a newcomer looking for a keyboard, you are quickly overwhelmed by the countless models and manufacturers.
How can you keep track of all these manufacturers and models? And how can you know who not only promises quality, but also delivers it? Especially with the cheap no-name manufacturers the quality often leaves much to be desired. If you learn to play the keyboard with such a model, you won’t enjoy it for long.
It is therefore worth investing a little more in the initial purchase. Yamaha and Casio, for example, are the two most well-known and biggest brands that have established themselves in the keyboard market to date. There are definitely no nasty surprises to be feared with models from these manufacturers and even beginners who are looking for an entry-level model will find what they are looking for here.
Yamaha keyboard for beginners
Founded in 1887, the Japanese company Yamaha has also been manufacturing pianos since 1900 and has steadily expanded its portfolio ever since. In 1980, the PortaSound model was introduced, the first portable keyboard as we know it today. Initially with a focus on classical acoustic instruments, Yamaha today also sells a wide range of electronic instruments. Whether acoustic or electronic, the instruments convince by their quality. Yamaha’s wide product range includes the right equipment for beginners as well as for professionals. If you start to learn on a Yamaha keyboard, you will also be able to easily access the brand’s better models later as an advanced player.
- Many years of experience on the keyboard market
- Models for beginners and advanced users
Casio keyboard for beginners
Casio, also a Japanese company, was founded in 1957 and is equally well known for its primarily electronic products. When it comes to musical instruments, the manufacturer has a somewhat smaller selection than Yamaha, which is why advanced musicians may not be able to find what they are looking for here. Casio has especially set itself the beginners as a target group and wants to win them over. In a way, this has resulted in a battle between the two companies for market dominance, which has also depressed prices sharply over the years. Nevertheless, the Casio keyboards are also of high quality and therefore ideal for newcomers. The customer is happy and with a Casio Keyboard you do absolutely nothing wrong as a beginner!
- Specialization in beginner keyboards
- Low cost
Two good beginner keyboards from Yamaha & Casio
- 61 standard keys with velocity response
- 48-voice polyphony
- 758 sounds und 235 styles
- Diverse effects
- 61 keys
- 32-voice polyphony
- 120 sounds und 50 songs
- Dance music-effects
How you learn to play the keyboard
In order to learn an instrument from scratch, it is always advisable to take lessons in the music school or with a private teacher. This is also the case if you want to learn to play the keyboard. Especially for the beginning it is a good idea to get the basics taught by a good teacher. But that has its price. While students of musicology like to earn some extra money and give lessons as private teachers at relatively low prices, a trained keyboard teacher can charge around 60€ per lesson, either privately or in the music school. Sometimes a lesson can be only half an hour long. Lessons are therefore usually expensive, but usually also effective, so that the costs are worthwhile in the end.
- Theory & praxis
- Direct exchange
- High cost
Another way to learn to play keyboard is to learn with a keyboard textbook. However, you should be aware that by purchasing a textbook you are choosing this method of learning to play the keyboard. Learning with a book is only effective if you consistently work through the book and show stamina. Unlike keyboard lessons, you are not forced to make a fixed appointment. So it takes a lot of self-discipline! For the beginning you really only need a book, with which you then should deal intensively. So the rule here is: quality instead of quantity. The textbook should contain a CD or DVD with which you can listen to or watch the treated music examples. This will make it easier for you to apply the learning content yourself and to progress in the lessons.
- Theory in the foreground
- Self-directed learning
- Endurance required
Videos for keyboard-beginners
If you find the lessons or a textbook too expensive, you can also look online for suitable videos with help for keyboard beginners. On platforms like YouTube you can now find numerous videos by more or less professional musicians who have made it their business to pass on their knowledge. Best of all: most videos for keyboard beginners are free of charge. Then there are the so-called online keyboard schools, where you have to take out a paid subscription. At regular intervals, new teaching videos will be unlocked, which you complete continuously. So it’s a mixture of keyboard lessons and a textbook. Find out for yourself what kind of learner you are and then decide on one of the three methods presented.
- Free amateur videos
- Practice-oriented learning
- Paid online video courses
Good keyboard textbooks for beginners
Keyboard for beginners purchase advice: Checklist for your keyboard purchase
- Power supply, music- and keyboard stand
To avoid being hindered in practicing, you will need a height-adjustable keyboard stand, a power supply and a music stand. These are already included in many beginner sets.
- Automatic accompaniment
Especially for beginners, a keyboard with automatic accompaniment can be helpful when practicing. Playalongs or integrated learning software: an automatic accompaniment helps you with the first steps.
- Well-known manufacturers
No-name goods often suffer from inferior quality. You are always on the safe side with well-known keyboard manufacturers like Yamaha or Casio.
- Sustain pedal
The keyboard is an inexpensive alternative to the piano. If you still want to benefit from all the possibilities, you should also purchase a sustain pedal or a pedal unit.
One of the big arguments for buying a keyboard is its portability. For the transport you should buy a suitable gigbag, if it is not already included in the set.
- Touch dynamics
If you want an authentic keyboard feeling “like a piano”, you should definitely purchase a keyboard with touch dynamics or hammer mechanism.
The best keyboards for beginners compared
KeyLab Essential 49
|power supply, microphone, headphones, USB, pedal, external speakers
|Power supply, headphones, USB, pedal
|Power supply, headphones, USB, pedal, external speakers
|Power supply, MIDI, USB, pedal
|with hammer mechanism
|Duo (Twinova), Split, Layer, Sustain
|Great price-performance ratio
|Dual- and split-function
|That contains the Keyboard-beginner set
only 379 €
only 189 €
only 385 €
only 194 €
Equipment for Keyboard-beginners
The most important questions and answers at a glance
Keyboard - what is that?
Compared to electric piano and piano, the keyboard is characterized by the fact that you can take it anywhere without much effort. The keyboard is also much cheaper than a conventional piano. If you want the most authentic piano experience possible, you can also retrofit your keyboard with a sustain pedal and you should make sure when you buy it that it has touch dynamics or a hammer mechanism.
When can I start learning keyboard / piano?
The piano is an ideal beginner’s instrument and can be learned from early childhood on. The lower limit here is 3 1/2 years, the more common age is four or five.
When was the keyboard invented?
With the model “PortaSound” the first portable keyboard as we know it today was launched on the market in 1980 by the Japanese company Yamaha. The early debut was worth it: Yamaha is still the market leader in the home keyboard section today.
What does a keyboard cost?
Keyboards are usually very inexpensive. For less than 100 Euro you can get well equipped instruments from well-known manufacturers like Startone or Casio. To invest a little more can be worthwhile when buying a set, because the components are so much cheaper than buying them separately.
How much do keyboard lessons cost?
When taking keyboard or piano lessons, you should always invest in single lessons. At a music school you get 20-30 Euro per 45 minutes thanks to state subsidies, but you are less flexible here and are contractually bound to a certain duration. In the case of a private teacher, it is primarily the competence that makes the price, and lessons at home cost a little more. A good piano teacher should preferably have studied at a conservatory himself and also be pedagogically on his toes. Here prices in the middle two-digit range (in the city) are the rule. If you are looking for inexpensive and competent lessons, you can also hire a music student as a teacher.
What can a keyboard do?
Unlike the piano, the portable keyboard has a multitude of additional functions. An important point: Different “sounds” change the keyboard sounds so that a “C” can also be played in organ tones or choral singing. An integrated automatic accompaniment and playalongs, on the other hand, can help beginners get started with their keyboards. Recording songs is also easy thanks to the PC connection. Meanwhile, many keyboards also have a touch dynamic, which contributes to an authentic piano experience.
What is a Midi keyboard?
A so-called MIDI keyboard is not a keyboard in the classical sense, since it is not a sound generator itself, but only an operating aid. If, for example, you have special music software on your computer, you can use the MIDI keyboard instead of the keyboard to transfer notes. For beginners a MIDI keyboard is therefore rather unsuitable as an instrument.
Which headphones should I use for my keyboard?
Beginners who are still in the process of developing a good musical ear should also get the right sound in their ears while practicing. Even though any conventional headphone can theoretically be connected to the keyboard, it is better to use on-ear headphones or studio headphones, as they are the best way to transmit the produced sound to the ear. While some starter kits already contain matching headphones, good studio headphones can be purchased individually from around 30 euros.
Which keyboard brand is the best?
Even if you should not buy no-name instruments, there are many well-known keyboard manufacturers who offer good and inexpensive keyboards for beginners. Market leader Yamaha, for example, offers very high-quality instruments, but usually costs a little more. If you are looking for a cheap keyboard for less than 100 or 150 Euros, you will be well advised to choose well-known manufacturers such as Startone or Casio, without having to make big compromises in terms of quality.
Which keyboard is best for children?
Although there are some “children’s keyboards” on the market, they are more likely to be toys than authentic play and sound experiences. From the age of four to five it is better to switch to a conventional home keyboard. These are height-adjustable thanks to the stand, have a variety of sounds to experiment with and are also ideal instruments for children to get started with.
Which keyboard is best for beginners?
Beginners are best served with a classic home keyboard. No-name keyboards should be avoided in any case, as they often have poor quality. In addition, well-known manufacturers such as Startone, Casio or Yamaha also offer inexpensive keyboards for beginners.
How many keys does a keyboard have?
Unlike a piano that always has 88 keys – 52 white, 38 black – there are keyboards with very different numbers of keys. The basic rule is: the more keys, the more octaves you can play. Since most piano pieces are designed for classical keyboards with 88 keys, it is best for beginners to purchase a keyboard with a similar number of keys.
Where can I learn keyboard?
Basically you can learn keyboard with any conventional piano teacher. Whether in the music school or privately: As long as the keyboard has a sustain pedal, a touch dynamic and the classic 88 keys, you can play any piece with it and therefore do not have to make any compromises during the lessons.