Choosing a Piano or Keyboard for the Beginning Piano Student

This post was updated on November 11, 2015.

Acoustic piano, digital piano, and electronic keyboard, side by side

Best Piano for Beginners

Yamaha Arius

If you are in the market for a piano, your options are nearly limitless. Of course, your time is not. Ready to be done shopping? You can't go wrong with our top pick for beginning piano students: the Yamaha Arius.

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Yamaha Arius digital piano - Hoffman Academy's top pick

A beginning piano student needs a good instrument. Think about it. If you wanted your child to play soccer, would you send your child out on the field in a pair of cheap flip-flops, or would you make sure your child had a good pair of shoes? Shoes, of course! On the other hand, does your child need professional-quality $100 soccer cleats? Maybe not on the first day.

As a parent, you want to make sure your beginning piano student has a good experience while learning to play, but you’re probably not ready to go out and buy a baby grand. That’s fine. To help you decide what will be best for your child and your budget, let’s talk about the options.

A Keyboard Instrument for Your Home

There are three basic categories of keyboard instruments available. The largest and most expensive, and also the best when it comes to developing piano skills, are the acoustic pianos. There are also many good digital pianos, which are smaller, less expensive, and do a decent job of mimicking the sound and feel of an acoustic instrument. A third category, the electronic keyboard, is the least expensive option, but an electronic keyboard may not have the right touch to develop hand strength for a beginning pianist, or enough keys to play a wide range of music.

Acoustic Pianos

The sooner a student has the opportunity to practice on an acoustic piano, the better.

Hoffman Academy considers the Yamaha U1 a favorite upright piano.
Yamaha U1

A quality acoustic instrument that produces sound from real strings and real wood offers a level of responsiveness and a range of dynamics and tone color than even the nicest digital piano cannot match. The sooner a student has the opportunity to practice on an acoustic instrument with that kind of nuanced musical responsiveness, the better. True, acoustic pianos are expensive. The typical price range for a quality acoustic upright (also called “vertical”) piano is $4,000 to $8,000.

If you want a grand or baby grand piano, expect to pay $6,000 to $10,000 or more. Hoffman Academy considers the Yamaha U1 a favorite upright piano, but there are other good brands such as Kawai, Boston, and Schimmel. Not sure about buying? Many piano stores have affordable acoustic piano rental programs. If you already have a piano, or plan to purchase or rent a used instrument, be sure it is in tune and the keys are in good working order. An acoustic piano in poor condition will only cause frustration and hinder the progress a beginning student.

Digital Pianos

While it’s impossible to entirely simulate the experience of playing on an acoustic piano, there’s nothing wrong with starting a beginning student on a digital piano.

Digital pianos are designed to sound and feel as much like an acoustic piano as possible. Keys are weighted to provide the right resistance to touch, and are sensitive to speed and pressure to give a range of dynamics (loud and soft). They come installed in a cabinet-style console, and are smaller and less expensive than an upright piano, usually $1,000-$2,000.

Our favorite digital piano is the Yamaha Arius series, which are Yamaha digital pianos with model numbers beginning with ‘YDP’ (YDP 142, YDP-162, etc.). Arius models can cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

Listed below are the top rated Yamaha Arius models on Amazon. Compare the features to decide which is the best model for you.

We are also fans of the Casio Privia series, which are Casio digital pianos with model numbers beginning with ‘PX’ (PX-130, PX-150, etc.). The Privia series pianos won't come as close to matching the feel and sound of an acoustic piano as the Arius series does, but the Privias are more affordable (starting at less than $500) and a great place to start.

Listed below are the top rated Casio Privia models on Amazon. Compare the features to decide which is the best model for you.

While it’s impossible to entirely simulate the experience of playing on an acoustic piano, there’s nothing wrong with starting a beginning student on a digital piano. In fact, a quality digital piano would be much better than an old out-of-tune acoustic piano with sticky or broken keys!

Electronic Keyboards

Electronic keyboards are the most affordable way to get started, but learning piano on a non-weighted non-full-size keyboard is less than ideal and could even be discouraging. We recommend upgrading to at least a digital piano as soon as possible.

If you’re not ready to spend several hundred to a few thousand dollars on an instrument, your beginning student can get started with an electronic keyboard. Electronic keyboards come in many sizes and prices. Rather than trying to mimic the experience of playing on a real piano, they are designed to be mini synthesizers, and many come with lots of different instrument sounds and even pre-recorded rhythm tracks. What’s most important for a new piano student will be the number of keys and whether or not the keys are weighted.

Remember that learning on a keyboard with 88 weighted keys gives a student a big advantage. The weighted keys build hand strength and respond more like the keys of an acoustic piano, making it easier for an advancing student to move on. Most electronic keyboards do not have weighted keys.

If a keyboard with 88 weighted keys is still out of your price range, we recommend that students use a keyboard with at least 61 keys in order to be able to do all the exercises in our lessons.

We recommend the Yamaha PSR Series. Models in the PSR lineup cost between $80 and $250.

We also recommend the Casio CTK Series. Models in the CTK lineup also cost between $80 and $250:

When buying an electronic keyboard make sure to also purchase a bench and a keyboard stand. A keyboard set on a table will probably not be at the correct height for a young student seated in a chair. Ideally, the keyboard and bench should be set at the right height so that the player’s arm from wrist to elbow is parallel to the floor. (For more information on posture, read our blog post Top Ten Tips for Good Piano Posture). We recommend the Casio CB7, a sturdy but simple bench that is tall enough to help both kids and adults play with good posture.

Acoustic vs. Digital or Electronic

There are certain advantages to having a digital piano or electronic keyboard over an acoustic piano, such as the ability to plug in headphones so that a child can practice without disturbing anyone. Many digital or electronic instruments can also be connected to a computer with a midi cable and used with all kinds of educational and music production software. They’re more portable, and, unlike acoustic pianos, digital pianos and electronic keyboards never need to be tuned. A beginning student can get a good start on learning the piano with one of these instruments.

Still, nothing can compare with an acoustic piano. If your family has space in your home and your budget for an acoustic piano, I encourage you to go with this option. An acoustic piano adds so much to your home, and makes a clear statement of commitment to making music a part of your family’s life. If a beginning student has access to a quality acoustic piano, they will have the opportunity to develop better musicianship from day one.

Happy playing,

Joseph Hoffman

Piano & Keyboard Comparison Chart

Grand Piano Upright Piano Digital Piano Electronic Keyboard
How much does it cost? $6,000–$10,000+ $4,000–$8,000 $600–$2,000 $100–$1,000
How much space does it take up? 5 feet wide, 5–8 feet long 5 feet of wall space, extending 3–4 feet into the room when in use 4½ feet of wall space, extending 2–3 feet into the room when in use Similar to digital piano for 88 keys, for smaller keyboards an area 3–4 feet square when in use
How much sound does it make? Lots of sound, will be softer if you close the lid. A good amount of sound. Ranges from loud to silent (player can wear headphones) Ranges from loud to silent (player can wear headphones)
What does it cost to maintain? About $100–$200 per year for tuning About $100–$200 per year for tuning None None
How long will it last? 30–50 years (if well maintained) 20–30 years (if well maintained) 5–10 years 3–5 years
How easy is it to move? Difficult Hard Easy Very Easy
Where can I buy it? Piano Store Piano Store Piano store, music store, order online Piano store, music store, order online
Can I rent one? Yes Yes Yes Yes
Best brands Yamaha, Kawai, Boston, Schimmel Yamaha, Kawai, Boston, Schimmel Yamaha, Kawai, Roland, Casio Yamaha, Kawai, Roland, Casio


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192 Responses

    I am retired and luckly travel alot and want to learn to play piano. The airlines are touchy on what you can carry on and all the posts i read say 49 keys is the smallest keyboard I should learn on. Any suggestions and advice on what to do?

    • You’re right – that is an unusual question! I do have a few suggestions, though: First of all, I would recommend you spend some time in advance of each trip to try to find a nearby library, school, church, or community center that would allow you to play on their piano while you are in town. Playing on many different instruments can be a challenge, but is also a great exercise as you learn. You are welcome to download the lesson videos for offline use ahead of time, in case such locations don’t have public WiFi. You may also have good experiences using one of the many piano keyboard apps available. I wouldn’t recommend relying on an app or mini keyboard for the majority of your practice time, but it’s fine as a supplement.

      While regular practice at the piano is essential, there are other things you can do to stay sharp as well: on the days you are away from the piano you can listen to music and sing along, watch a music video, watch a lesson (we have several lessons that don’t require a piano), or just practice the songs in your head while moving your fingers. You can also challenge yourself with questions about the musical alphabet, solfege, and notes in the pentascales.

      I hope that helps! Let us know how it goes for you – we’d love to hear any other solutions you discover. Good luck and happy playing!

  2. Hi Mr. Hoffman,

    It’s a pity I just noticed your online lessons. I just watched your first unit, and I really love it! Yamaha U1 sounds beautiful!
    I have a question about yamaha U1: what’s the difference between U1H, U1E and U1M? When choosing a used upright piano, if all the keys are working, do we only need to pay attention to the serial number, which reflects the year of manufacture?

    Thank you.

  3. […] If your acoustic piano needs tuning or repair, then get it fixed up as soon as you can. If your older acoustic piano can’t be fixed, it is time to consider a new instrument. Also, if you’re using a keyboard with less than 88 keys, look into getting something full-sized. If you have space in your home and in your budget, go ahead and go for an acoustic piano, but a good quality digital piano is also a great choice. If you’re in the market for a keyboard instrument, be sure to check out our guide to buying a piano or keyboard. […]

  4. Hi, I’m Jaden from Singapore. We have a website to recommend pianos for piano students and parents here in Singapore. I agree that the Yamaha U1 is a great regular upright acoustic piano choice and is definitely good for both beginners as well as serious pianist. Apart from the Japanese models, we also feel that some of the China piano makers are improving their technology and starting to produce pretty decent pianos and at a much lower price. What do you think about these China-made pianos?


    • Thanks for commenting. However, I’m afraid that I don’t have enough experience playing on China-made pianos to make a generalization about their quality. Sorry I can’t be more help.

  5. Hi, We are new to your website and LOVE it! :-)
    We own 2 older well-loved upright pianos and I am in the market for a digital piano that I can also be able to hook up to my laptop. I have narrowed it down to the Yamaha DGX and had the 650 in my Amazon shopping cart only to discover that there is a newer model the 660. Wondering your opinion on these 2 models and if it is worth the extra $100 to choose the newer model?
    Also, I will be starting my 3 children plus a granddaughter on your lessons (planning to purchase the complete set of materials) in the next week or two. I have registered myself on the website. Is there anything else I need to do? In reading the update about the upcoming updates (version 2.0) will there be a point where each one will register online and/or have some type of online interactivity? My husband and I LOVE your videos! We were investigating several other online courses and yours is number one on our list. Thank-you so much for all you have done!

    • Thanks for your comment – I’m so glad to hear you are loving our lessons! Choosing a digital piano is a very personal decision based on the kinds of features you most want and value. Some people use a digital piano only as a substitute for a traditional acoustic piano, meaning they only use the piano tone setting, and really don’t use any of the many, many features that digital pianos offer (record and playback function, various instrument tones, auto accompaniment, drum loops, and much more). One feature that would be very important to one person, may have no value to another. I recommend you look carefully at the specific features for each model and determine if the added features are valuable to you. It is not likely that there will be a noticeable difference in the “basics” of the latest model from 1 year to the next, like the action of the keys and the quality of the sound.

      For now, registering is all you need to do – you’re set! Feel free to let us know if you have any further questions. Please let us know what digital piano you choose and if you’re happy with it. Good luck and happy playing!

  6. Hi Mr. Hoffman,

    Would you recommend Casio Privia Px-730? It’s not on the list of Privia models that you recommended above. There is a 4 years old used Px-730 with little use, which was bought originally for AU$1100. Do you think it’s a good buy for AU$450 now?

    Thank you.

    • While I have found Casio Privias to be a very reliable brand in general, I’m afraid I don’t have experience with that particular model. Sorry I can’t be more help.

  7. Greetings Hoffman,
    I have a 5 years old son and I wanted to buy a piano and wants to send him to piano class . I am not so sure whether he will like to play piano or not for long term. Non of my option is on your List . pianos in my option buckets are :- Yamaha P -115 , Yamaha DGX-660, Yamaha CLP – 525 or 535. Could you please help me to narrow down my choice from the list above. For 5 years old.
    Thank you and appreciated

    • There are pros and cons to each of those instruments, but I think you will find that any of them serve a 5 year old beginning pianist quite well. The P-115 has a more basic, plastic coating feel to the keys than the models with an ivory-like feel to them. The CLP line made some improvements with the 535 compared to their previous 525 model, but the operating system is also a little more complicated. I’m not as familiar with the DGX-660. In any case, Yamaha is a very reliable brand, so I would be confident recommending any of those models. Sorry I can’t be more help. I recommend you check out the detailed reviews at for more information. Good luck and happy playing!

  8. Hello.
    I’d like to buy a digital piano for my daughter, who is a beginner in piano, and will always use as a sub instrument next to her ballet classes. We are offered an Airus YDP 141. The owner says it is 5 years old but used very few and seems in good condition.
    What is the d. piano’s life duration, does is make sense to purchase this one?
    Kindly expected your prompt answer.

    • While the Airus YDP is definitely a reliable line, I don’t have enough personal experience with the 141 to offer a specific recommendation. In general, high quality digital pianos from reputable brands (including Yamaha) can easily last for 10+ years if treated well. I hope that helps!

  9. i am 18years old and I am in med school. I have been trying to go for piano lessons but I can never find the time to fit my schedule. And I found this online academy which looks like it would help me learn about playing the piano as I have always wanted to play. Can you suggest me the link from where I can download the music sheets for beginners practice. Thank you. And I realy enjoyed your first lesson. I look forward to learning more everyday

    • The sheet music for our lessons is part of the Complete Materials that we sell in our store to supplement our video lessons. If you are not able to make such a purchase, don’t worry – they are very helpful but completely optional. For free, you can print your own staffed manuscript paper and, as you learn to dictate music with our lessons, you can create your own sheet music! You can also download free sheet music to other beginning piano songs from a website we recommend but are not affiliated with: – they post a lot of traditional songs ordered by difficulty level. I hope that helps!

  10. Hello, i have a 88 key weighted key digial piano which i currently havent got access to. IM still at the very early stages of learning and I would like to continue this. BUdget dictates I cant afford to buy another one but looking at the Yamaha NP12 (£159) and NP32 (£249) keyboards – Would the NP12 (61 keys) be sufficient to learn on? The Np32 has 76 keys but, proportionately, is quite expensive. I want a keyboard with piano like keys, good sound, some sort of key sensitivity etc and would appreciate your opinion on the value and suitability of these.

    • I’m afraid we don’t have any personal experience with the NP12, so I can’t really comment either way. Our best recommendations are listed in the post above, but if you find those to be out of your budget I would recommend you check with local schools, libraries, churches, or community centers to see if there is a public piano you could occasionally practice on. I hope this helps!

  11. Hello Mr Hoffman,

    I am an in Turkey and have just been given a secondhand 51-key Casio keyboard from a friend of my mom. We cannot afford anything better at the moment (61-key), but would I still be able to learn ok with this?

    Thank you so much.


    • Absolutely! There may be a few hand-over-hand exercises that need to be adjusted for your smaller keyboard, but you can still learn a lot getting started on a simpler instrument. Good luck and happy playing!

  12. I have carefully read the article and it was really useful to get an insight of the quality and prices of different brand of digital pianos.

  13. What are different between piano and keyboard about quality of sound and touch sensitive? I have a daughter, she is 7 years old. I intend to buy a good instrument. Could you recommend me which is best choice for her, digital piano or keyboard?

    • The most commonly accepted differences between an acoustic piano, a digital piano, and an electronic keyboard are discussed in the article above, but the line between what is considered a “digital piano” and an “electronic keyboard” can be a little fuzzy. If you are looking for a high quality instrument, you’ll want to choose one with 88 weighted keys produced by a well-known brand; these are generally considered digital pianos. If your budget or space limit you to a smaller instrument with unweighted keys, you’ll find yourself looking at electronic keyboards. I hope that makes sense. Good luck finding the right instrument for your daughter!

  14. Do you have recommendations for any smaller than 88-key keyboards if space really doesn’t allow you to have a full-size keyboard? My family lives in a less-than 1000 square foot apartment with an open floorplan, and the only available* wall is 50″ wide. The Korg LP-380 looks interesting, but I have no basis for judgement.

    *Meaning “available” after we figure out what to do with the bookcase currently occupying the space.

    • If you are looking for a smaller keyboard, it’s likely you won’t find one with weighted keys; however, if you can find one with “semi-weighted” or “hammer-action” keys, that will give a little more resistance than the basic unweighted or “spring action” keys and be better for your muscle development. Another feature to take note of is the recently popular light-up keys: this can be a fun and interesting feature, but there is also a danger of it becoming a crutch. If the keyboard you’re considering has light-up keys, make sure there is a way to toggle that feature on and off so you can spend a portion of your practice time without the lights. I would also lean toward well-known and reliable brands like Casio and Yamaha.

      I don’t have personal experience with the Korg LP-380, but a piano dealer whose opinion I trust has posted a fairly positive review you might want to check out: I’m sorry I don’t have more specific suggestions; we use acoustic and digital pianos in our Portland academy, so those are the categories I’m most familiar with. I hope that helps! Good luck and happy playing.

  15. We are planing to buy a digital piano. We are debating between the Yamaha Arius YDP-142 that you recommended here to a different model that is very popular on Amazon – Yamaha DGX-650.
    What do you think about the Yamaha DGX-650 ?
    Also – my boys just love your website and enjoy your lessons so much.
    Thank you

  16. Hello Mr. Hoffman,

    My friend is a good keyboard player but he is a left-handed person. He has good talent but became handicapped due to his left handiness.

    Are there any keyboards for left-handed people or could you suggest any idea that enables him to make most of the keyboard?

    BTW: My wife and I are gradually becoming your fans.

    Thanks in advance.

    • I’m so glad to hear that you and your wife are enjoying our lessons! When it comes to being left-handed, that’s not a problem at all – many people find it easier to play with their dominant hand, and it simply takes extra patience and practice to get your non-dominant hand up to the same skill level. However, since you used the word “handicapped,” I want to be sure I understand you correctly: does he have an actual disability in his right hand? In that case, there may be some adjustments he could make, depending on his situation. Please let me know if there are more specifics I should be aware of to better answer your question. If you’d prefer to continue the conversation private, feel free to contact us directly. Good luck and happy playing!

  17. Hi, so I want to buy a keyboard so that I can learn to play some of my favorite songs from youtube tutorials. I also don’t have much time to play, so this would be an occasional thing. Considering this, which would be the best keyboard to buy for occasional leisure use? I was just looking into Casio (mostly) or Yamaha, but I don’t know about the models. Do you think the weighted keys or number of keys (88 compared to 61) would really matter for me since I won’t be a regular player? Thanks for your recommendation!

    • If it is just for occasional use, you probably don’t need to worry as much about the distinctions between models, as long as you go with a reliable brand (like Casio or Yamaha, as you mentioned). However, as a musician and piano teacher, I would tend to recommend choosing the highest-quality instrument that is reasonable for your budget and circumstances, for a few reasons: If you find that you love piano more than you expected and want to pursue it further, a good instrument will make that possible; it would be sad to feel “stuck” with a cheap keyboard. Also, a lower-quality instrument is more likely to disappoint you down the road, both in effectiveness and durability, and its resale value will degrade slightly faster than a nicer digital piano. I hope that helps! Good luck and happy playing.

  18. Hello Mr. Hoffman,

    My almost 8 year old son took his first piano lesson yesterday and he loved it. It looks like we will continue with his weekly lessons. We are now in the process of buying a piano for our home so he can practice on it daily. We do not have a lot of space but also want a piano that is beneficial to his learning. We do not want to spend a ton of money on a piano and we do not want to spend too little. We are looking more into long term. From what I read on here, we are considering weighted keys. Please recommend a good piano to buy. Thank you sir.

    • That’s wonderful! Really, my best suggestions are already in the article above. I highly recommend a digital piano with weighted keys if you can afford it. Considering long-term value, I believe that will be a very valuable investment. The Casio and Yamaha brands listed above are all good choices, and if you want more specific reviews on other brands you can always check out – advice from a piano dealer and teacher whose opinions I have found to be reliable. I hope that helps!

  19. Hello Mr Hoffman,

    I am an absolute beginner in playing keyboard.Since I had a very tight budget I bought a new Yamaha Psr e353 which I considered over Casio CTK-3200. But while practicing I have felt that the keys on the psr e353 are plasticky,thin,not smooth and I am unable to make any faster finger movements without creating noise from the keys or getting my fingers rubbed/stuck in between 2 white keys blocking smooth movement.I had read that the casio CTK-3200 have piano style(box shaped, but not weighted, keys).Do you think I made the wrong decision by buying psr e353 instead of casio? Or does it all feel the same(standard at this price range) and I am finding it uncomfortable only because I am a beginner? Kindly reply, as this thing is bothering me pretty much.

    • You probably are feeling the way you do because the PSR series does not have weighted keys–that’s what gives it the “plasticky” feel you refer to. You’d probably run into the same issue with the CTK, though. I recommend that you consider a keyboard with weighted keys, like the Casio Privia or Yamaha Arius line. I hope this helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  20. I am interested in purchasing a digital piano for my 6yr old. Because he is so young I would not rather buy anything more than a digital one (Casio due to space and cost) until I am sure he will stick with it. How can I make sure that he will be consistent and interested?

    My next question lies in the importance of buying with or without the pedal. Additionally ,why do normal pianos have three and I see Amazon offers options of only one pedal.

    Please offer suggestions and explications.

    Warm Regards,

    Camilo Leiva

    • Those are great questions. The first one is tough, because each child and situation is very unique, and there are lots of factors that influence a child’s interest and determination with regards to piano. If I had to choose the two most important, I believe it would be these:
      1. They live in a home with a musical culture. Music is encouraged, prioritized, and celebrated in many forms, and the child feels safe expressing themselves through music. You can learn more about how to foster a musical culture in your home here: Creating a Musical Culture at Home and Choosing Music for Life
      2. They understand (or at least are responsive to) the concept of difficult things being worth the effort. This concept helps them to feel empowered rather than daunted by the rigors of learning piano. You can learn more about helping your child feel confident and invested in learning piano here: Empowering Your Beginning Pianist and Practicing Piano with Purpose
      Please note that this is absolutely meant to encourage you, rather than discourage you. These are concepts that, if not currently present, can be fostered in your home and family. Also, there are other factors that you understand better than anyone about your own child: their temperament, their relationship with siblings or other peers who may or may not play or appreciate the piano, the amount of time available in your lives to dedicate to lessons. In all these things, your love and intuition for your child will be your best guide.

      Now, when it comes to pedals, you don’t need to worry. I actually don’t usually train students on the use of the pedals until around 10 years old, because their small legs can’t reach well and stretching to try to use them can make it difficult to maintain good piano posture. While you’re deciding whether piano is really for you, it’s not an essential accessory. If you decide to get one anyway, the single pedal should be fine for a beginner. When one is sold alone, it is the “damper” (or “sustain”) pedal, which is the most commonly used. For more about what the different pedals do, check out What are Piano Pedals For?.

      I hope that helps! Good luck and happy playing. – Mr. Hoffman

  21. Hi
    What do you think about the Casio LK 280 keyboard (61-Key Piano Style Touch Response Keyboard with light-up keys) ??
    Its for my 6 years old who never played before. Is it good enough to start with?
    Other options we had was Yamaha PSR-E353 or E443 but the self learning lessons might be more too difficult without the light- up keys.
    All 3 cost almost but which one will you recommend?
    PLEASE HELP im so cofused!

    • Casio is a very reliable brand, but I’m afraid I don’t have personal experience with the LK 280. Yamaha is another great brand as well; I have used the PSR series models and can recommend them. If you have the chance, it would be great to try one out in person and see if you like one better than the others. Something else to consider is what accessories are bundled with it; for instance, if all three are the same price but one comes with a bench and stand while the others don’t. Lastly, when it comes to light-up keys I haven’t found that they are as helpful as they sound. They are certainly fun, which can help kids with motivation and interest, but they can also become a crutch that makes it hard for a student to transfer their skills to a different piano down the road. If you get one, I recommend you make sure it’s a feature that can be turned off, and try to spend at least half of your regular practice time without the lighted keys. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  22. I am looking at buying an upright piano as I’ve been playing on my Yamaha keyboard to start off with but I think it’s time that I move onto an upright piano. Since I am on a budget I’ve been looking at second hand pianos and I have found this Yamaha M1 and I have asked the owner to try the piano out myself. What are some things that you suggest I do to test out whether it’s a good piano because some of the ones that I have seen are over 20 years old. Any particular songs to try out or anything that I should be paying attention on?

    • How exciting! I would make sure to try every single key on the piano, and test the pedals, too. Make sure the action of the keys feels neither stiff nor floppy. Other than that, the biggest thing is that YOU like the sound and the feel. It’s a very personal decision and largely a matter of taste. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  23. I’m Intrested in learning piano and thinking to buy a casio ctk-3200, I am Not very well in it but i can play many of my indian songs. The CTK series is in my Price, would you prefer Ctk-3200 for me? And is it a right piano for me? i am a beginner for learning piano.

    • Casio is a very reliable brand and the CTK models are just fine for a beginning pianist with a limited budget. Good luck and happy playing! – Mr. Hoffman

  24. I have no idea about these pianos. But i have lots of curiosity to learn piano. I would like to buy Williams Legato 88-Key Digital Piano. Its the only piano comes with my budget and 88 keys. Is it ok with me? If not, can you suggest something else for a beginner like me…?

  25. My daughter has just started taking piano lessons and we’ve been advised by the tutor to purchase a cheap electronic keyboard to allow her to build familiarity. Also this will allow time to gauge her interest before committing to to a more expensive digital piano. I am considering entry level Casio CTK’s and Yamaha PSR models. In your opinion which of these marquees produce the most convincing piano sound.


    • I would consider those two lineups pretty comparable. They are similar enough that I would recommend basing your decision on the price, source, features, and bundled accessories available, especially since this will probably be a transition instrument. – Mr. Hoffman

  26. I’m planning to enroll my daughter for Piano lessons at Hoffman. Do you recommend buying this Piano? “Yamaha P-115 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano”. It is on sale for $499

      • Those are both great digital pianos. I think you are likely to get an equally good experience at a lower price with the Casio Privia, but either one would be a fine choice. – Mr. Hoffman

    • Yamaha is a reliable brand and the features listed are great, but I’m afraid I’m not familiar with this particular model. It’s probably a safe bet as long as you are purchasing from a reputable dealer. Sorry I can’t be more help! – Mr. Hoffman

  27. Do you have any experience with midi keyboards? My son (age 6) is just starting to learn Piano and I’m interested in getting a midi keyboard and connecting it to a mac with Garage Band. My thinking is that this would provide the most flexibility in terms of taking him wherever his interests may lead.

    Does anyone else have experience with this type of set-up? Good? Bad? Ugly?



    • When it comes to recording, managing, and editing with multiple instrument voices, an electronic keyboard does have several advantages over an acoustic piano and even many digital pianos. Unfortunately, there are also significant drawbacks when it comes to learning play piano: the main difficulty is the lack of weighted keys, which makes it more difficult for growing fingers to develop sufficient muscle and tone.

      When asked which is “better,” I would generally look to the individual’s interests and goals, but since your child is quite young and just beginning, that won’t be as reliable a guide. As a teacher, I would generally lean toward the option that would give the best core foundation – a full-sized, weighted keyboard – because that will focus their studies and give them skills that translate well to other instruments. However, another consideration could be your own expectations as a parent: while some parents consider music to be an essential part of education (like reading or math), other parents want to help their child find an interest to enjoy, and may try out music lessons for a while but are willing to move on to something else if the child doesn’t seem to like it. What you hope your son will get out of it may help you decide.

      In any case, you are the expert on your own family and situation, so if you’ve done your own research on the issue I think you can trust your instincts. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

    • Dear Mr Hoffman,

      My 7 y.o. daughter is soon to begin piano lessons. We are looking at either purchasing a 15 y.o. 75 keys Steinbach piano or a 88 weighted key digital keyboard.

      I need to decide between them and I am stuck. I would prefer more keys on the piano but prefer the acoustics and touch of a real piano vs. a keyboard.

      I would be interested in your opinion?

      Thanking you,


      • I would say both choices could work fine for doing lessons, although I may lean toward the 88-key digital piano. 75-key is not standard, and I prefer my students getting used to finding their way around a standard 88-key piano layout. Also, I have never played on a Steinbach, so I cannot speak to its quality, action, or tone. I would recommend trying out both and decide which has the best tone and feel, especially since you’re dealing with a used instrument. If you love the sound and feel of the Steinbach, I would say go for it. Ultimately, what matters most is that you love it. I hope this helps! – Mr. Hoffman

    • I believe the PSR 200 and 300 have been discontinued in favor of later models, so if you find one for sale it is likely to be used. In that case, the models are similar enough that the age and use of the particular piano available is more important to consider than whether it’s a 200 or 300. Any of those three in new or like new condition would be a fine starting instrument if your budget limits you to the 61-unweighted keyboard category. – Mr. Hoffman

    • No special adjustments need to be made for a spinet piano, assuming the piano is in good working order and in tune. I apologize for the delay in answering your question! – Mr. Hoffman

  28. Hi Sir,

    Do you have any recommendation model on Kawai digital piano? There is a used 4-year old Kawai KDP80 for sale for $600. Is this series a good choice comparing with Yamaha Arius or Casio Privia?

    Thank you!

    • Yamaha, Casio, and Kawai are all brands that I like and trust, but I’m afraid can’t speak for the specific model you are asking about. However, since you’re asking about a used piano, be aware that there are additional considerations that can make a significant difference. In addition to its age, consider how heavily it was used and how it has been moved and/or stored, as well as whether it has been refurbished in any way. I would also recommend leaning toward one you can see and try out in person, to check that the keys, pedals, and controls all work well. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  29. Dear Mr Hoffman,

    I’m thinking of buying a Casio lk 260 for my 12 year old son. I just want to know if the lk 260 is weighted or unweighted because I don’t know the difference. Would you say this is a good keyboard for a beginner?

    • I haven’t used that particular model so I can’t be sure; however, looking through the published technical features I don’t see weight or graded action listed, which generally indicates that they are unweighted. With 61 keys, he won’t have any problems working through all the songs and exercises in my lessons, but the lack of weighted keys will make it harder in the long run to transfer his skills to other weighted and acoustic pianos. If a very limited budget prevents your purchasing a weighted model, this would be a decent choice; but if any weighted models are in your price range I would keep looking. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  30. Hi,
    I have 17 years and i want to learn piano as a hobby. I was thinking of buying a Yamaha p45. Should i or not? Any other recommendation?

  31. Dear Mr. Hoffman,

    What a godsend you are, answering all these consumers questions about the best keyboards and pianos!
    Our twin 6 year old daughters love music, have been in a music class since age 2, and we are thinking of buying them this keyboard. (Although I still plan to buy them a second-hand upright at some point!)
    Yamaha YPG-235 76-Key Portable Grand Graded-Action USB Keyboard

    Would you say that’s a good choice, or would you recommend something else?

    Also, we are keen to get them headphones since at some stage, we may want some peace and quiet while they are playing!!
    Are there any headphones for kids that you would recommend? I am keen to buy headphones that are the correct size, and that have volume control so they can’t turn up the volume too loudly and damage their hearing.

    Thank you for your time.

    Kind regards,

    • The Yamaha YPG-235 would be acceptable, although I do prefer my students to practice on a digital piano with weighted keys, where possible, like the Casio Privia ( I have tried the Kidz Gear headphones for my piano students and they seem to work fine. They have an adapter that limits the volume to 80% of the original output. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  32. Sir,
    I m a beginner and confused between Yamaha Psr f50, psr i425 , Casio ctk 4400 , ctk 860in and ctk 6300in
    Pl suggest me from above or from yourside, I m from India

    • Yamaha and Casio are brand names and the letter and number codes that follow are different models, each of which have slightly different ages and features. If my recommendations weren’t detailed enough, you may want to check out, where a professional teacher and piano dealer posts detailed reviews of a wide variety of individual models. If I have misunderstood your question, please clarify where the confusion is or feel free to contact us. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  33. Hi Sir,

    I’m considering to buy a used keyboard with weighted keys or digital piano for my 5 years old and me and my husband. We’re all beginners. Could you please give me some opinions on these models: Casio CTK-4200, Casio CTK-4000, Casio WK-8000, Casio CTK-496, Casio CTK-1150, Yamaha PSR-E333, Yamaha Clavinova CLP-820, Yamaha PSR-275.

    Sorry I listed so many models, just give comments on those you know about.
    BTW, do you think those keyboards with light up keys are good for young children to start playing?
    Thank you so much.

    • I’m afraid I haven’t had enough experience with each of those models to give you a detailed comparison between them. I have consistently found the Yamaha PSR line to be very trustworthy and reliable, with the Casio CTK models as close runners-up. That being said, when you are buying a *used* keyboard, there are additional factors to consider: how old is the keyboard, how heavily has it been used, what accessories are included, whether there is any warranty left, etc. I also would encourage you to lean toward one you could see and try out in person if at all possible.

      When it comes to light up keys, I have mixed feelings. They are pretty cool, which adds to the fun and engagement for kids, and they can certainly be helpful in the learning process. On the other hand, they can also easily become a crutch. In general, I would only opt for one if it also had the option to turn the lighted keys off and I would spend at least some of each daily practice time without the lights.

      I hope that helps! Good luck and happy playing. – Mr. Hoffman

      • Thank you so much for your reply. It really helps.

        Just another question, what’s the difference between Yamaha Arius series and Clavinova series? Is Yamaha Clavinova CLP-820 is a good choice for beginner?

        Also about the model number, does a bigger model number mean more latest and better than a smaller model number? Like Casio CTK-4200 is better than CTK4000?

        Thank you!!

        • The Arius & Clavinova are quite comparable; I prefer the feel and tone of the Arius, but for a beginning pianist – and especially in the used market – those differences are small compared to issues like age and handling and price. For very detailed descriptions of individual models, I recommend you check out prospective models on the blogger has been a piano teacher and dealer for many years and professionally reviews a wide variety of digital pianos.

          In general, yes, a higher number usually indicates more and/or better features. However, I would hesitate to state this out as a firm rule, as each manufacturer can assign model numbers however they choose to–there is no unified system. Always good to check the exact specifications of whatever model you may be considering. I hope this helps! – Mr. Hoffman

          • Thanks for sharing your experience with the two models. Clavinovas do have some distinct advantages, and if I were simply rating pianos in general I may have made different recommendations; however, the article was written as advice for beginning students. That being the case, I rated a piano’s value (what it has to offer the targeted user based on its cost) as more important than mere quality. The Clavinova certainly has a more sensitive response and more advanced features, but those items increase the cost without significantly increasing the benefit to beginners. Where interest is high and budget is available, either one is a great piano for beginning students. – Mr. Hoffman

  34. I just found your website today but I don’t see a place to contact people with questions. To what level do your current units take people to? Intermediate level, 2 years experience-equivalent? How many more units are going to make, and what level will those be at?

    Thank you!

    • Not all methods cover the same materials in comparable ways, so there’s not a standard “level” that applies across the board. For instance, there are some techniques like solfege, improvisation, and composition that I incorporate right from the beginning of my lessons while most other methods bring them in later. In general however, my Units 1-4 cover what most consider “Prepratory” or “Primer” material, while Units 5-6 are getting into typical “Level 1″ material. I would expect a beginner to spend 6-10 weeks on each unit, or about a year for Units 1-6 combined. We plan to continue making new lessons as long as there is interest and I hope very much to help my online students eventually progress all the way to advanced levels.

      I’m sorry that it was difficult to find a way to contact us. In the future, you can submit your inquiries through our Contact Page or by emailing – Mr. Hoffman

  35. Mr.Hoffman, what a great and informative article, and done with such grace and respect for the reader!

    My teenage daughter, who plays Acoustic and Electric guitar and sings quite well, wants to learn the keyboard as well so she can expand her repertoire of songs she sings and plays. So I don’t think she will graduate to an acoustic piano. With that said, would you still recommend the Digital keyboards with weighted keys, or an Electronic keyboard is good enough?

    Happy Thxgiving!

    • That’s a great question. One of my goals as a teacher is to help student be prepared for as many future opportunities as possible. It’s fairly easy to switch from playing on a weighted key instrument to a non-weighted keyboard, but the reverse is not so for most people. That’s why I encourage my students to practice on a weighted key instrument–so they have the option to comfortably play on any kind of keyboard instrument throughout their life. Having said that, if there is no desire to ever be able to play on a weighted key piano, then practicing on a keyboard would be perfectly fine! I hope this helps, and happy playing! – Mr. Hoffman

  36. I want to become a music producer and for that i need a midi keyboard so will it be good to use a midi keyboard . And will 66 key work as a beginner i dont know any thing about piano

    • That is a tough call, and the answer really depends on your goals. An electronic keyboard does have several advantages over an acoustic piano and even many digital pianos when it comes to recording with multiple instrument voices. Unfortunately, there are also drawbacks when it comes to learning piano: the main difficulty is the lack of weighted keys, making it more difficult for your fingers to develop sufficient muscle and tone. 66 keys is enough to successfully complete all the songs and exercises in our lessons, however, and if your interest in producing is greater than your interest in playing piano in particular, an electronic keyboard could certainly work. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

    • Dan,
      Casio brands, Roland, Artesia, Adagio, Williams etc.. are all great brands to choose from. Don’t be fooled by Mr. Hoffman’s advise on visiting AtoZPianos.
      AtoZ Pianos reviews gives mostly recommendations on most models sold by AtoZ. Choose a piano that is weighted or weighted with graded action and make sure its 88 keys.

      • I appreciate your desire to share your own recommendations as well. Please allow me to say that I find it unsurprising that a piano dealer would focus on reviewing the pianos they themselves sell, as their reviews are for the benefit of prospective customers. Also, their own experience would lead them to avoid spending time on brands that have disappointed them in the past and which they are not likely to sell. That being said, I think he does cover a very wide range of makers and models and I have found his reviews to be extremely thorough. Of all the digital piano reviewers I have seen online, I find his reviews the best. I have no business nor affiliate relationship with AtoZ–I just truly like his reviews, and find myself agreeing with him in most cases. I’m sorry if your experiences contradict his reviews. I certainly agree that when choosing a digital piano, one with 88 weighted keys is optimal. – Mr. Hoffman

  37. hello sir,

    i’m 19 now. i was just started to learn piano. i’m a real beginner. i’m just wondered whether it is better to learn piano or keyboard in a beginner? thankyou.

    • Do you mean which instrument is better to use? If so, I would recommend an acoustic piano or full-sized, weighted digital piano over an unweighted keyboard whenever possible. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

      • thank you so much! now i’m taking a keyboard piano lessons, so i’ll gonna change it to an acoustic piano. and i was about to get a keyboard piano for practicing in my room, which keyboard do you recommend? i saw the yamaha psr e-443, how was it for a beginner? thankyou!

        • I’ve never used that particular model before but I’ve looked over the the specifications, which indicate that it has 61 unweighted keys. Yamaha is a good brand, so if you don’t have the budget for a full-sized, weighted digital piano, this looks like a decent option; however, the lack of weight in the keys will make it harder for you to develop your finger muscles enough to be comfortable transitioning to an acoustic piano. If you can afford or save up for a model with weighted keys, that would be my first recommendation. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  38. Hello Sir,

    My 7 yrs old daughter will start her piano lessons with a private pianist. He teaches on Yamaha acoustic piano himself. He has strictly told no to keyboards but has recommended digital pianos.

    I don’t want to spend too much on pianos right now considering my daughter is just a beginner. Can you please suggest or guide me with that?


    • I’m guessing that your teacher is specifically referring to weighted digital pianos vs. unweighted keyboards, is that right? It is a preference I generally agree with, but I’m afraid it usually does lock you into a certain price range. The article above lists recommended brands and models that usually range from $600-$800, but sometimes you can find deals or sales that bring down the price. You can also look for used models in good condition from a reputable dealer or website. I also recommend you check out, run by a piano teacher and specialist whose reviews are thorough and helpful. Good luck and happy playing! – Mr. Hoffman

        • Confusion is understandable, because not everyone follows the same definitions of either one. The most common comparison between the two is that a digital piano tries to replicate the look and feel of an acoustic piano – it has 88 standard-size keys that are weighted to imitate the resistance of an acoustic piano, it has at least one “voice” that sounds like a traditional piano, and it has pedals that affect the keys in the same way as those on an acoustic piano; a keyboard, however, will be missing one or more of these features – it may have fewer than 88 keys that may be smaller than usual, the keys may be unweighted and instead spring back in a feeling very unlike a regular piano, it may not sound like a piano, and often doesn’t have pedals. For more information, you can check out this article: Digital Keyboards vs. Digital Pianos.

          By the above definition, the CTK-3200 would be classified as a digital keyboard. It has only 61 keys and, though it says they are “touch sensitive” (meaning that when you push harder, they will respond with greater volume like an acoustic piano), it doesn’t say anything about their being unweighted, so they probably aren’t. While Casio is a quality brand, I doubt that this model will be acceptable to your teacher. It would be good to talk to him and find out exactly what features he requires before making a purchase.

          I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

          • Hello Mr. Hoffman,

            Thanks for all your inputs. Recently I found a Casio CDP-120 second hand for 280 USD. CAn you provide your expert comments and advice on this deal and overall review of piano. Would it be a fit for younger pianist?

            Thanks in advance,

  39. Hi Mr Hoffman,
    My daughter is 19 months and naturally very musical so I am considering purchasing her some kind of piano/keyboard for christmas (at which point she will be 23 months) Considering her age, do you advise I still look for something weighted and with regular key width?

    If you have any recommendations of the ideal thing to buy I would be very grateful.

    Thank you

    • How wonderful that you want to nurture a natural inclination for music at a young age! The toddler years are a very special time to explore music and learn to interact with music. I personally think the best instruments for toddlers and pre-schoolers are instruments that do not require batteries. They hear digital sounds all around them, but real acoustic sounds have a richness and complexity that you don’t get in less expensive electronic instruments. Drums, shakers, glockenspiel, metallophone, and wooden frog instruments, and so many other options! If you really want to spark your daughter’s interest in piano specifically, then purchase a quality digital or acoustic piano, and let her see YOU practicing on it. My experience has shown that one of the best ways for a young child to get interested is to see mom or dad practicing. Even if you don’t play piano now, you can find so many options for learning online (including, of course, Hoffman Academy!) I hope this helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  40. I am looking to purchase a used piano so I can begin learning and hopefully encourage my children as well! I have found a Baldwin, Hamilton style and an Acrosonic. Can you please guide which would be preferable if one over the other? Thanks!

    • All other things being equal (age of piano, condition of keys, etc), I would probably go with the Baldwin, since I would consider it a more “trusted brand”. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  41. Hello Mr. Hoffman my six year old recently started lessons. I am looking to purchase him an 88 keyboard piano for him to practice at home but they are quite pricey I’ve found a 76 key piano for a decent price. Would this be OK to start off with or could it possibly confuse him in the long run if he’s using an 88 key with his teacher?

    • Most pianos with fewer than 88 keys are unweighted, which will affect the development of your son’s finger muscles over time. If you can find a 76-key piano with weighted or even semi-weighted keys, that’s a good option. If your budget is too limited for that, go ahead with what you can afford and just realize that there will be a difference in the feel of the keys. You may want to add extra emphasis on finger power in his practice to compensate. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  42. Hi Mr. Hoffman:
    My nine year old son absolutely loves music, particularly the piano. He has Down syndrome, so we do make accommodations for him (last year he played the recorder, and we color coded the notes for him.) He has just started taking private lessons, and we are using the keyboard right now; he is in love with it and is showing wonderful progress. My question is: as I am buying him a keyboard for our house for practice, how many keys should I buy? Would it be better to buy him an 88 weighted key keyboard so the transition to piano is easier? Or should I stick to a small one so I don’t overwhelm him?
    Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Where there is a definite interest in music and the budget for it, my instinctive answer would be to go for the 88 weighted key keyboard. That being said, I do realize that children with special needs are each unique. It might be a good idea to go on an outing together to let your son actually take a look at full-sized keyboards to gauge his reaction before making the purchase. I would recommend calling around to see if you could find a piano store or studio that would be friendly and encouraging, and perhaps let him play a little on a couple of different models. I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

  43. I have been playing keyboard for last 14 years (I started at the age of 3 and wrote music sheets before writing my name). I want to be a professional pianist but my family and society may not allow. My previous keyboard (Casio, a very old version sales of which have been terminated) had about 60 keys but accidentally broke. My younger sibling was “playing” with it.
    Should I buy another CTK Casio keyboard? I am not a beginner as such and at the same time I am unsure of future in music. Budget is upto my parents (not more than 200$). What should I do?

    • I’m sorry to hear about your keyboard. Your situation is quite unique, but I will offer what advice I can. A CTK Casio is a decent option if your budget is strictly under $200, but in the long run its size and lack of weighted keys may hamper your progress. Before making such a purchase, I would recommend that you consider two things:

      1) Are you and your parents “on the same page” with regards to your music education? Do they understand your goals and are you aware of the sacrifices it will take on your part and theirs to make it a reality? This is an important part of deciding how much to invest in an instrument.

      2) Are there other options besides purchasing a new instrument right now? You might contact local schools, libraries, churches, or even friends or relatives to see if there is a place you could practice while you save up for a better piano or keyboard. You could also look into music scholarship, sponsorship, or grant programs that might provide you with access to an instrument.

      I hope this helps! Good luck and happy playing. – Mr. Hoffman

  44. Hi Mr. Hoffman,
    Thank you for taking the time to research, write, and share this information. I’m a military spouse opening up a private music studio at our new duty station, which definitely comes with some challenges! Your website has been a great resource for me as I start off new students on piano. Thank you!

  45. Hello Mr. Hoffman. Your online piano program is awesome and beneficial to many children from the families with limited financial budget. Do you think a 3-PEDAL SYSTEM is necessary for Casio Privia PX-150? Buy it now or later? Thank you.

    • Many young children are too short to reach the pedals and still maintain good piano posture, so I usually don’t have my students use the pedals regularly until they’re about 10-12 years old. If your children are older and committed to pursuing piano it would be a good investment, but for a young beginner I would probably hold off. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  46. Thank you for the helpful information. My son is going to start lessons in the fall (at age 5), but we do not have a piano or keyboard. I’m a little hesitant about investing too much before I can really gauge his interest, but would still want him to have something to practice on.
    I saw a used Casio WC-210, 76 keys, not weighted for $40. In your opinion, is it worth just trying this type initially or should I look for something weighted as he is young and needs to get used to the feel of a real piano? Thanks!!

    • That’s a tough call. I would generally encourage a weighted keyboard where there is the budget for it, but I understand your situation. One question I would ask is whether spending $40 on something lower-quality right now would set you back a great deal in saving up for something higher-quality if your son decides to pursue piano. Also, I would recommend asking around about the possibility of his practicing on another piano for the first few lessons while you gauge whether he wants to continue (check your local library, school, churches, or with friends or relatives) before making the decision. In the end, you know your son best and can make the most informed decision for your family. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  47. Hello, I am researching keyboards vs. pianos for my budding 7 yr old. He stated taking lessons a few months ago and was told he retains the info and shows interest – check one! Our conservatory teacher suggests a keyboard or a piano to start. Like you describe a good 88 key weighted keyboard ranges $600-800. Researching used pianos I found a couple of Baldwin Spinets in the $300 range. My intuition tells me this would be the way to go. Take care of it, tune it and sell it for about the same as what I paid for it and I have weighted keys! This could hold me over 5 years and upgrade then.
    Adding pianos to the research is getting confusing. What would you suggest? A higher quality spinet ie. 50s Baldwin/Arcosonic or holding off for a $200 keyboard. Weight a couple of years for a better upright?
    thank you

    • I’m afraid I would put a spinet in about in the same category as a keyboard without weighted keys. The action on a spinet is not the same as on a full upright acoustic piano. It’s not a course I would recommend; however, your family’s budget, goals, and the space in your home should also be considered, so it could be a temporary solution to get started on. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  48. Considering getting an 88 key digital piano/keyboard for my 8 year old daughter. She just started taking lessons. The instructor recommended one with weighted keys. What is the difference between Graded Soft Touch action, like on the Yamaha YPG-535, and Graded Hammer Standard, like on the Yamaha P35B?

    • That’s a great question. The short answer is that the Graded Hammer Standard should feel more like an acoustic than the Graded Soft Touch.

      Here’s the long answer, in case you’re interested: An acoustic piano naturally has two different aspects of how it feels to play. More familiar is the weight or resistance of the keys due to the reaction that happens inside the piano when you press it (it moves a hammer that strikes a string). A digital piano that replicates this is generally called “weighted” or “hammer action”; one that offers some resistance, though less than an acoustic, may be called “semi-weighted”; one without it may be called “soft touch” or “unweighted” or “spring action.” The second, more subtle aspect is that the lower keys have slightly more resistance than the higher keys (because the hammers at that end are heavier and strike larger strings). If a keyboard replicates this extra resistance on the low end, it is generally called “Graded.” This is a desirable feature, but not as important as having weighted keys.

      To make it all a little more complicated, different manufacturers may use different labels and definitions than others. Whenever possible, I recommend giving a piano/keyboard a try before buying it so you can get a feel for the keys yourself and make your own judgement. If you are buying online, it is often still possible to visit a local piano dealer or electronics store that carries the same or similar models to try them out first before going home and placing your order. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  49. Hi there,
    My daughter is 10 years old now. My sincere aim/purpose is for her to play the piano in my church. Is it the right time to start studying piano? Do she need to start with the keyboard before switching on to piano? Please advice. Thanks in advance.

    • Anytime there is a desire to learn is a great time to start studying piano! Beginning on an acoustic piano is a wonderful way to get started – I actually prefer beginning on a piano rather than a keyboard, in most cases. I hope you and your daughter find my lessons helpful! – Mr. Hoffman

  50. I am 13 and just started to learn the acoustic piano. My teacher advises me to purchase a keyboard, however he knows that a keyboard canNOT substitute an acoustic piano.He told me to buy a keyboard that has piano style keys. What piano do you advise me to go with? My budget is around 100-200 $. Thanks in advance..


    • I understand your teacher’s preference for acoustic pianos, or at least a keyboard with weighted keys (I assume that’s what he means by “piano style keys”). That being said, it’s very difficult to find either of those with your budget. You basically have two options: One is to search for deals on a used piano/keyboard, but you may find your purchase to be disappointing in the long run as old/cheap pianos come with their own problems. Your other option is to save up until you can afford a good quality piano or keyboard, either buying something cheap for $100-200 to practice on in the meantime or finding another piano you can practice on while you save up (check with libraries, churches, friends, relatives, etc.). Sorry I don’t have an easy answer for you, but I hope this helps. – Mr. Hoffman

  51. I am from Bangladesh. I want to buy a keyboard. I selected yamaha e244. is it good for learning as my budget is not good enough.please suggest me which one will be good for me within 100 to 130 $ price range.please let me know thanks in advance

    • I don’t have personal experience using that particular model, but for the size and price range of keyboard you’re looking for, I consider Yamaha a trusted brand. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  52. Hi there,

    I want to buy a decent portable keyboard for my hubby. He is very interested in keyboard learning and planning to join the class. Could you please suggest me which is best one? Whether I need to go for 76 or 88 key?


    • As mentioned above, my favorite is the Casio Privia PX-150; However, the “best one” for you depends to some degree on your family’s unique situation. For instance, an 88-key keyboard is certainly ideal, but if your budget or space in your house is limited it could be more valuable to choose a smaller model for now. As long as you have at least 61 keys, you will be able to successfully complete all the exercises and songs I teach in my lessons. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

      • Thank you Hoffman for your quick response.

        So I thought of going with 61 key – Casio CTK-3200 61-Key Premium Portable Keyboard

        I hope this will help him for finishing his beginner course.


  53. Hello there,
    i want to buy keyboard as beginner. I am thinking of CKT 780. does it sound like a good starter ? please advice.


    • I’m afraid I’m not familiar with that model and searching the sites I frequent for such information isn’t returning any results. If you could give me a more detailed description or link to the information, that would help. – Mr. Hoffman

  54. Hey sir,
    What is your opinion of Korg SP170S. My 9yo son has been learning piano for 1 few months now and is currently only using a 49-key keyboard with no weighted keys.
    Your advice is very much appreciated.


  55. I purchased a fully-functional keyboard from a friend (Model: Casio CT-656) and she did not have a instruction manual, so I was wondering how to tell if it has weight keys?

    • I don’t have personal experience with that keyboard, but I was able to find a list of specifications on it which included standard-size keys (some keyboard keys are smaller), touch response (meaning the harder you press the key, the louder it will play the note), and polyphony (the ability to play multiple notes at once). Since it did not indicate whether they keys are weighted, I would assume that they are not. Someone familiar with playing acoustic pianos or weighted keyboards could probably try it out and tell you by the feel of it – unweighted keys will feel lighter and easier to play. Sorry I can’t be more help. – Mr. Hoffman

  56. ive never played keyboard i am 16 and want to learn im selling my ps3 and i want to know what is a cheap but decent keyboard i can buy to learn

    • My advice is to follow some online or local stores for sales and when you find keyboards in your price range or marked down, look the brand and model up on This blogger rates and reviews digital pianos in great detail, and I agree with his opinions. Keep in mind that, ideally, you’re looking for something with at least 61 weighted keys (as explained in the article above). Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

        • I’m afraid I am not familiar with his program, so I won’t be much help to you with that. Good luck finding a keyboard, though! – Mr. Hoffman

    • May I say I think its amazing that you are selling your own ps3 to learn to play a musical instrument. I hope you are able to find the one you are looking for. :)

  57. My daughter is 5 years old & she is interested for learning keyboards/piano. Please guide me for purchasing a keyboard. And my budget if Rs.6000/- max.

    • I prefer acoustic pianos when you have the budget; $4000-$6000 should be enough for a good quality upright. I’ve listed some recommended brands in the article (above). New from a reputable dealer is generally best, but a lightly used piano in good condition can be a great buy as well. It’s best if you can actually see and try out the piano before you buy it – get a feel for the keys and see if you like the sound. On the other hand, depending on your family, a digital piano might be the best choice. It has the benefit of never needing to be tuned and most have the ability to plug in earphones for silent practice. Your budget would allow you to get a great quality digital piano, and I’ve recommended some good brands and models for those as well. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

      • I just realized that “Rs.6000″ may not mean $6000 US Dollars, which means my advice may not be what you needed. If that is the case, could you please clarify your currency? – Mr. Hoffman

    • The brands and models I can personally recommend are listed in this article (above). I’m afraid I don’t have experience with the model you’ve asked about, but since it has fewer than 61 keys it will prevent you from successfully completing all the exercises we use in our lessons. Also, I don’t see any indication that it has weighted keys, which are important for developing finger independence. For more information, let me refer you to a website I whose reviews I agree with, which has detailed descriptions of a wide variety of models: Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

    • While I don’t have personal experience with that particular model, it does have the features that I recommend in a digital piano: It is a full-sized (88-key) keyboard with weighted keys (that’s the “scaled hammer action” listed in the product details). I hope that helps! – Mr. Hoffman

      • Dear Mr Hoffman,

        Thank You for Your reply. Kindly let me know Your views about Yahama P45 Digital Piano. It has 88-key graded hammer standard keyboard. Is it equivalent to CDP 120 Casio.

        Thanks and Regards,
        Rajesh V

        • I haven’t played on either of those models, but let me refer you to – I really trust this guy. He reviews almost every major keyboard and digital piano on the market, in detail. You can check out his thoughts if you want to know more about specific brands and models.

  58. Hi, I think I might be a little late but it has always been my desire to learn to play a musical instrument specially the piano or violin but for one reason or another I never did. Now I’m 30 years old. Is it too late for me?! I mean I don’t think I will be pursuing a musical career at this point but I would so much enjoying playing for myself or my kids (planned to be born this or next year).

    • It is never too late to learn to play the piano! And the simple enjoyment of playing music for yourself and your family is a wonderful motivation. There are certainly aspects of piano lessons that are easier for a child – their fingers are more flexible and their mental capacity is growing by leaps and bounds. However, an adult has the added benefit of maturity and perspecitve on their side. You can read more on our blog post: What is the Best Age to Begin Piano Lessons.

  59. Hello there. At the very beggining, I would like to apologise for all grammar mistakes i will propably make (I’m from Poland =) ). So, since i saw few yt videos little bit over a year ago, I decided that i want to learn how to play piano. Unfortunetly i don’t have any kind of music school near my place, so i had to wait till i graduate from high school and go to the university in some big city. Even though, I will propably have to pay for all the lessons and equipment with my own money, I still don’t want to give up on my idea. I also want to add that i’m playing electric guitar for over 2 years now, so i have some music expirence. But the question (that’s why i’m here >.<).. I'm 19 now, so … Is it worth? Is it really worth it? I know playing piano is not a piece of cake and piano lessons/equipment aren't cheap. Will I be able to get fluent? Will I be able to cause shivers in someone just by casualy playing? Is it even possible at this age? Please, help me make a choice! Greetings from Poland. Tom

    • It’s tough for anyone to tell you whether it will be “worth it” to try for a very challenging goal – it’s a very individual decision. Personally, I feel that learning the language of music, and especially piano, will have a positive impact on anyone’s life. Music is a powerful and emotional tool that helps us understand ourselves and communicate with others. It also teaches discipline and the rewards that come from hard work and patience. Is it possible at your age to become fluent? Yes; but it will certainly be more difficult than it would be for a child, for many reasons (see our article on The Best Age to Begin Piano Lessons). *Will* you become fluent? That, to some degree, is up to you. In any case, I hope you’ll give it a try. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  60. Question. My 4th grade son is very interested in starting piano and a friend of the family heard about his interest and has offered us a keyboard to start on. It is a Yamaha PSR-11, which only has 49 keys. At what point in the lessons would he outgrow this keyboard. Will this be good enough for him to get through a few units before needing more keys? Thanks! We are really excited to be starting lessons through your site soon.

    • I’m so glad to hear that your son is interested in learning piano! I don’t have personal experience with that type of keyboard, but the short answer is: getting started sooner with a small keyboard is better than waiting, but you should plan to upgrade as soon as you can. 49 keys isn’t quite enough room to complete all of the songs and exercises we use in our lessons – 61 is the minimum I recommend. Even more important is the fact that very few keyboards that size have weighted keys, which are important for training your finger muscles so you will be able to play any type of piano, including acoustic, in the future. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  61. Hi, My son is 8. He does have mild Cerebral Palsy which is only in his legs. He was doing drum lessons but found he loves keyboards and pianos. He has a cheap keyboard that he can play ‘Twinkle Twinkle” and “jingle bells” (I have no idea how he learned it) We haven’t be able to find a Piano teacher for him yet.
    My Question is: What do you think the best keyboard is to start him off with? We don’t care about the price, We want the best for him
    Thank you

    • Dear Amy,

      I am delighted to hear about your son’s interest in piano! The short answer to your question is: Any acoustic piano in good condition or digital piano with at least 61 weighted keys would be a great piano for a beginner. For more detailed recommendations, you can check out our blog post on Choosing a Piano or Keyboard for the Beginning Student.

      Good luck to you!
      Mr. Hoffman

    • A Yamaha PSR A300 is a 61-key digital keyboard with touch sensitive keys. Though it’s on the small side, it’s large enough to work all of the finger power exercises we teach in our lessons and would be a great beginning keyboard.

  62. Hi! My 6-year old will begin piano lessons soon, as she requested. So we are in the market for some kind of keyboard here at home. Stumbled upon the Artesia Fun1 while surfing the internet. Is this any good?

    • I haven’t had experience with this particular model but based on its features it could be a decent beginner piano, especially if price is a concern. It has fewer keys than a full-sized piano, but 61 keys are enough for the exercises we use in my lessons. The fact that it has weighted keys is definitely a plus. My biggest concern is its size: it is small enough that most children over 10 would not be comfortable playing it, which could make it obsolete in your household much sooner than a regular-sized piano. Your child may also find it difficult to transfer the skills they have learned to a full-sized piano. Again, however, this is not based on personal experience with this model. Sorry I can’t be more help. – Mr. Hoffman

  63. I have twins who are 6 years old, and just started piano lessons. When I was young, I learnt music briefly on a Yamaha Electone organ, with 2 tiers of keys. It is sufficient for the kids the practice on that old organ for the time being, or would it be better to get a new electronic/acoustic piano for them to practice at home. I am still not clear if they will stick to the music lessons over the long term, so I am not certain if I should invest in a new piano just yet.

    • Razif – I recommend to all my students that, whenever possible, they practice on a piano with weighted keys. This will help develop finger strength for playing. Your organ probably does not have weighted keys. It would be fine to start on this, but try to upgrade as soon as your circumstances permit. Good luck, and happy playing! – Mr. Hoffman

    • Of the two, the Casio 130 SR is the better choice. It has 88 weighted keys that will help your fingers develop the strength and sensitivity needed to play an acoustic piano. The CTK-7000 models I have seen are unweighted and have only 61-keys, which is enough to accommodate the songs and exercises in our lessons, but would limit you in the long run. – Mr. Hoffman

  64. So… keyboard better for beginners or is it piano cause I’m only 11 years old.i never take lesson so I might as well learn it myself and watch some lesson on YouTube…pls reply…

    • Elvina – There are good things about both pianos and keyboards; it really just depends on your needs and your budget. As long as your keyboard has weighted keys, you’ll be able to develop piano skills successfully on either one. Good luck! – Mr. Hoffman

  65. Great advice, thank you!
    I jumped into signing my daughter up for piano lessons without realizing we need a piano at home to practice on.

    I’m happy to hear that a digital piano is OK for a starter piano; hopefully she will enjoy lessons and want to continue seriously. When that happens, we’ll look into buying a proper acoustic piano.

    Thank you again!

  66. Hi There,
    I see that the Yamaha PSR that you recommended is currently discontinued. Would the Yamaha PSRE243 61-Key Portable Keyboard be compatible or do you suggest another model. Great information :)

    Thank you,

  67. I have a CASIO CTK -2080 with 61 keys that my brother lets me use, and I like it alout, but you are right a acoustic piano is better.

  68. My 5 year child has been playing on electronic keyboard for a year as a beginner. Two weeks ago, we bought a second hand upright yamaha u1. We are very excited about the sound that surround the house. And more amazing that we have found your free teaching on YouTube. I have learned a lot from your video as I don’t know music. Thank you.

  69. I grew up playing an acoustic piano as a child and 18 months ago decided to resume playing, partly because I now have little kids and want to expose them to some music.

    We rented a digital Yamaha piano, and after playing it for a few months we decided to buy our own digital piano. The Yamaha digital pianos that sounded/felt ok to me were quite expensive, however someone at the piano store pointed us to the Kawai CN-34 and wow, it had much better sound and feel than the other digital pianos in that price range. (And it’s much better than a keyboard; I tried several of those too.) So we bought it, for $2000 (new).

    We’ve had it for a year and are happy with it. We live in an apartment and there’s an advantage to being able to change the volume, plus the kids enjoy changing the piano sound.

    I agree with you that a nice acoustic is what real piano players should play, but for those who don’t have the space/budget, a better-quality digital piano might be a nice choice.

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