If you’re just beginning to learn playing piano, you may not want to shell out for a one of those lavish, fantastic, ultra-expensive grand pianos. For new starters, you’ll want to keep an eye out for good quality at a desirable price. The three things to look for in a beginner piano is weighted keys with hammer action which gives the player a similar feel to playing traditional pianos, high polyphony which allows for more keys to be played at once (the higher the polyphone, the better), and USB connection to transfer your recorded music in .MIDI files format.
Primarily, acoustic pianos have 88 keys (52 white, 36 black), but you may not even need all of those. Smaller keyboards are a lot easier to handle, much more portable, and will most come with the keys you’re accustomed to using. Although going the whole 88 on a grand piano means you’ll be able to hammer our complex music pieces, a 71- or 61-key keyboard will more than enough for beginners and come at a fraction of the cost of standard pianos.
Now that the amateur piano players out there know that a cost-efficient keyboard is the route to go, let’s take a look at the top 3 keyboards that’ll cost you less than $500.
Yamaha has been making excellent beginner-level instruments for many years now, including keyboards. This YPG model is categorized as a portable grand piano by Yamaha. Despite being a budget-friendly keyboard option, this in no way means the unit is not capable. This durable keyboard comes with many features and sounds for players of any expertise level.
This keyboard by Yamaha can be considered the younger, cuter brother to the YPG-535 but performs almost as well. The reduced expense from buying this over big brother is money well saved.
The first impression you get from this keyboard is that it has a simple design and easy to control interface. The size of this digital piano is compact and comfortable to carry for when you need to take it with you.
The two-way speaker system is the main feature to pay attention to. Unlike other cheap keyboards on the market, the YGP-235 has two woofers and tweeters which produce quality sounds, specifically the grand piano sounds which sound moderately realistic. Although it does not have a hammer touch, the graded soft touch action is extremely responsive and comfortable to play.
It also has a handy USB port for connecting the digital piano to a computer which can be used to import sounds into the device and export your musical records. The new PC button helps users avoid the annoying menu trees and selections.
Casio Privia digital pianos are some of the most popular digital pianos available on the market. What makes them stand out is their production quality that gives them a smart, professional look. You might think that their high quality would automatically mean a high price, and you’d be right. But the PX-160BK was made as a budget-friendly solution for beginner piano players.
This digital piano comes equipped with an Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator (AiR) which allows the digital piano to produce sounds of a 9-foot concert grand piano at 4 levels. The damper resonance provides a realistic sound when the dampers are raised.
Casio’s infamous tri-sensor scaled hammer action gives an incredible feel when playing and the sensors capture the movements of a performance with speed and precision. The proprietary response feature takes into account the speed of the hammers’ movements and plays notes according to how hard or soft the keys are touched.
There are also new string ensemble sounds on this digital piano by Casio. They play beautifully on their own or when layered with the unit’s grand pianos, electric pianos, harpsichord sounds and more.
The PX-160 by Casio has an elegant look and build but also accommodates a 8w x 8w built-in speakers to produce awesome sounds. The speakers are pointed forward but can also be ported to the back for when playing against a wall. Other brands tend to focus their speakers downwards to the floor where ants and wandering pets can enjoy your playing.
The features of this digital piano may not make it stand out among the competition – even at this price range – but this unit is still worth taking a look at. The chorus and delay add depth to the tones played on this digital piano but adjustability is not really an option.
The most prominent feature of this Williams Legato is its price tag. At this price, you should have realistic expectations of what it can and cannot do. What’s even more amazing is that this super cost-efficient keyboard comes with a full-size 88 keys which allows for players to continue using one machine as they develop their playing skills.
Some might find the soft response of key pressing to be off-putting, but it’s really not that big of a deal. There would have to be some sacrifices made to allow a cheap price and a full 88 keys, and the response could be among them. Another great feature is that it’s super lightweight for taking around to studios or stages to perform. The fact that it uses batteries (AC adapter sold separately) just adds to the mobility and portability of this keyboard.
However, because it’s so cheap, the materials used to make this also feel low quality. Exercise caution when carrying one around as the slightest bump can leave a deep dent or snap the materials. Perhaps the worst feature of this machine is the limited 32 max polyphony. Dropping of notes becomes apparent even after brief moments of playing.