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Learning how to play jazz piano can provide hours of fun and be a powerful creative outlet for many people. But with acoustic pianos being large and loud, sometimes a digital keyboard is the best place to start. There are a lot of options out there, though, so knowing where to start as a beginner isn’t easy. I

n this post, we’ll take you through five of the best digital keyboards for those new to the instrument.

If you’re a beginner who is just starting to learn how to play your favourite jazz tunes, it is important to know what you’re looking for in a digital piano.

This guide will review five different piano models to help you find the best digital piano for you…

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Digital Keyboard for jazz

Many elements must be weighed up when choosing a keyboard for playing your favourite jazz tunes.

We’ll discuss these factors in our reviews as well as focus on other items that influence a keyboard‘s value to you as a beginner.

Just a few aspects to consider include:

1) Number of Keys

Digital pianos come with a handful of different key options.

A smaller and more portable keyboard has 49 keys, just over half of a grand piano. You can also get 61, 73, and 88 keys, the latter of which is the full range of the instrument.

Beginners generally won’t need the full range of tones on an electric piano, as the deep bass and high treble are rarely used in most music.

However, if you are planning on progressing to an acoustic piano at a later date, a digital keyboard with the full range of keys might be a good option for you.

 

2) The ‘Action’ of the Keys

When you play, the keys should move up and down smoothly and quickly. Some keyboards have heavier keys that don’t move as easily, which may be frustrating.

Some keyboards have weighted keys to replicate the feeling of playing an acoustic piano. Although this isn’t essential if you are planning to move from an electronic keyboard to a real piano, having a weighted keyboard will definitely help the transition.

Touch sensitivity may be tricky for some beginners to get used to at first so try to find an option that feels comfortable for you and your skill set.

 

3) Additional extras

Many keyboard models come with a sustain pedal, covers, music holders, and stands.

You may or may not want/need these extra features depending on how you plan on using your digital piano.

For instance, if you mostly learn by ear, a music holder may be unnecessary. However, it can be helpful if you want a place to hold lyrics while singing and playing.

A sustain pedal is essential for playing most music, including jazz so we would definitely recommend looking for a keyboard with this feature, especially if you’re aiming to replicate the feel and sound of an acoustic piano.

 

Our Top Pick for Beginning Digital Pianos

Yamaha YPT-260

Although all five of these options are amongst the best digital keyboards on the market for beginners, the Yamaha YPT-260 is the best all-rounder.

It’s a brilliant starting point for beginners but has enough features to make it a great digital piano for more advanced players as well!

 

The Top 5 Digital Keyboard Models for Beginners

Stay tuned for our round up 5 recommended electric pianos for beginner jazz students…

Best Learning Keyboard – The Casio LK-S250

Casio focuses on creating inexpensive and easy-to-understand keyboards for beginners. This particular Casio keyboard is great if you’re just getting started with your jazz piano lessons.

It is a very portable keyboard with a bunch of great features, including a key-lighting option that makes it easier for you to follow your lessons.

Features

  • 61 keys that should be a good range for most beginners
  • 400 different voices for experimental play
  • 77 rhythm styles to practice various playing
  • 10 different reverb types to enhance your tone
  • USB MIDI that lets you hook up to a computer

Pros

  • Very easy to learn on and control without difficulty
  • Polyphony of 48 notes should be good enough for most learners
  • Touch sensitivity options

Cons

  • Piano sound is slightly tinny
  • Unweighted keys
  • Not a good long-term keyboard option for serious musicians

 

Best Digital Piano for Kids – Yamaha PSS-F30

If your children are interested in learning piano, this option is the best choice for their needs. It is designed explicitly for children learners, with a smaller and more compact size for easy transportation. It also fits easily into most bedrooms or on small desks to help your child practice wherever they want.

Features

  • Smart Chord option creates full chords with a single button 
  • 37 mini-keys that provide children with plenty of playing options
  • 120 different voices allow for great experimentation
  • 114 rhythm styles for more excellent learning
  • Built-in metronome that helps children improve their skills

Pros

  • Very inexpensive
  • Included sounds are fun and designed for children
  • Headphone jack allows your child to practice without disturbing you

Cons

  • The keyboard is small
  • Like the Casio keyboard, this is not a long-term option for serious learners

 

The Best Digital Keyboard on a budget – Alesis Virtue

The Alesis Virtue is considered one of the best digital keyboards for players on a budget. It is such a popular beginner keyboard because of its excellent tone.

It is also one of the few beginner pianos that allows a full 88 keys and a myriad of sound effect options like reverb, chorus and pedal noise. In addition, the included LCD screen helps to make this an easy-to-use model at a surprisingly affordable price.

Features

  • 88 key design provides full playing scope
  • A recorder that allows you to playback your songs
  • 360 voices for a broad range of playing options
  • Two-voice split to create more layered sounds
  • 160 rhythm styles for diverse playing options

Pros

  • Surprisingly great piano sound for a budget digital piano
  • Adjustable bench for easier usage
  • Playing lessons included with the purchase

Cons

  • Unweighted keys
  • Not a very portable keyboard compared to other options on this list

The Best Digital Keyboard for Multiple Uses – Korg EK-50

Serious beginners who want an electric keyboard that will last may wish to consider this option.

It is designed as a long-term option, with a higher quality of tones, sounds, and playability. While it does have a steeper learning curve, it does provide more serious players with a great variety of options.

Features

  • 700 different voices for players
  • Sequencer that allows rhythm and melodic backing
  • Diverse range of effects for your tones
  • Adjustable touch control for many users
  • Pitch stick that allows for a variety of sounds

Pros

  • Diverse uses make it great as a long-term keyboard option
  • Piano sound quality is top-notch for its design
  • Relatively simple design makes it less complex to learn

Cons

  • May feel too complex for some beginner users
  • Cost may be a little high for a beginner keyboard

The Overall Best Digital Keyboard for Beginners – Yamaha YPT-260

This model is your best choice if you plan on transitioning to more serious playing or even professional performance.

Its touch sensitivity is among the best on this list, and its range and quality of voices are unsurpassed.

While it may not have a full 88 keys, it has enough for most jazz styles and could be used as a great portable model if you start getting gigs as a player.

Features

  • 61 weighted keys
  • Polyphony of up to 32 notes
  • Nearly 400 different voicing options, including drums
  • Over 100 different rhythms for practising
  • Interactive lessons for serious students

Pros

  • Split keyboard allows two or more learners to practice
  • Free access to Flowkey lessons for up to three months
  • Surprisingly inexpensive

Cons

  • Lacks a USB port
  • Further Flowkey lessons require premium memberships

 

Thanks for reading!

We hope this article on the best digital keyboards for beginners helped in your search for the right instrument for you. The piano is such a versatile musical instrument and is sure to provide you with hours of fun.

Start getting inspired by checking out some of our articles on the greats of jazz piano. Our rundowns of the Best Jazz Pianists of All Time and our Top Ten Most Iconic Jazz Piano Solos are great places to start!

Have a question for us about finding a great keyboard for beginners? Let us know in the comments.

Discover Jazz
Discover Jazz

The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!