I really want to learn to play the piano, but an actual piano is too expensive for me, plus I don't have enough space for one.

What is the best replacement for a piano? I mean, what other instrument can I get that is similar enough to a piano, but not as big and costly? A keyboard?

Thanks a lot.

  • Perhaps a stage piano?
    – nonpop
    Jun 1, 2013 at 9:06
  • 2
    If you don't need to move it around, a standard electric piano should be an option. They're not bigger than a full keyboard.
    – user28
    Jun 1, 2013 at 16:08
  • You should definitely buy a stage piano if you have the money, but I'd also recommend trying to find a place to practice that already has a piano, if possible. There might be a college willing to let you rent a key to one of their practice rooms or something. (It's probably a stretch, but worth a shot.) Jun 1, 2013 at 21:15
  • I don't think stage pianos are compatible with "tight budget", in general. Ruggedness and high quality sounds add to the cost.
    – slim
    Jun 3, 2013 at 14:37
  • 2
    Please edit to add more details. You mention space and money constraints, actual numbers would help. I like the answers and I want the question to be better. Jun 4, 2013 at 4:43

5 Answers 5


Electric piano should do the trick. Make sure it has "weighted" or "Hammer Action" keyboard so it feels mechanically similar to a real piano. Other nice features would be

  1. Decent pair of build in speakers so you don't need an external amplifier (for home)
  2. Headphone jack so you can practice at night with driving the family nuts
  3. Drum machine and/or sequence build in so you can play along "in-time" and have a build in metronome
  4. Reasonable light weight so you can take it along and play with other people (unless you want "piece of furniture")

Yamaha, Kawai, Kurzweil, etc. are all good choices (no endorsement intended, just some pointers)

  • 1
    I'd like to suggest Roland. While Yamaha still works with tone sampling, Roland uses algorithms to simulate what a real piano would sound like. Good answer though.
    – 11684
    Jun 2, 2013 at 14:43
  • 1
    Do you know what an "electric piano" is? It has actual strings inside and pickups. Google for "Fender Rhodes" for instance. Synthesizers often have an "Electric Piano" patch (perhaps more than one) since it's one of the sounds sought after by keyboard players (or needed to reproduce the keyboard sound heard in some classic tune).
    – Kaz
    Jun 4, 2013 at 16:44

I'm going to assume you're on a really tight budget, and that you're a complete beginner.

Get on eBay, Craigslist, your local small ads paper, etc. and look for a second hand electronic keyboard.

Don't worry about high quality piano sounds. Don't worry about weighted keys.

Do make sure the keys aren't stupidly small. Do make sure there are at least 60 keys. Do make sure it's "velocity sensitive" (that is, hitting a key harder makes a louder sound).

You should be able to find something for under US$50, and probably much less. There are 20-year-old keyboards that will be good enough for your immediate needs, as long as they're not broken.

A "keyboard controller" may be a good compromise for you, but be aware what you're getting into. These do not make a sound themselves - they send signals to a computer or a midi device. However, that means they can be cheaper, if you already have a computer that you're happy to use for the purpose. One downside of this is that there can be preparation time (plugging the keyboard in, booting the computer, loading the music software), that gets in the way of spur-of-the-moment practice.

This instrument would not be a good substitute for a piano in the long run, but it will let you get started on learning the basics. You should borrow time on other people's real pianos (school/church/teacher/friends/etc.), so you know the differences between your "toy" practice instrument and a real piano.

While you're practising and learning with your electronic keyboard, save up some money towards a "serious" instrument.

Alternatively, you may find you can make the music you want using an electronic instrument, and there's nothing wrong with that.

  • 2
    Going second hand is a great suggestion. But if your aim is to learn piano (as opposed to keyboard synth) then I would say a full-sized weighted keyboard is essential, otherwise you will be learning the wrong touch from the beginning. I would also avoid anything with less than 76 keys but most weighted keyboards will have at least 76 keys anyway.
    – Ian Goldby
    May 10, 2016 at 15:55

An electric or digital piano is a good choice. Here are some key points you need to know:

  1. Go for the largest number of keys (88 keys is the standard).
  2. A hammer-action/weighted feature is very important since most training, such as the Hannon exercises, are traditional and include proper hand gestures, positions, etc. Here for more info.
  3. A built-in metronome is also very important. But no worries, almost all e-pianos today have metronome installed on it.
  4. Velocity sensitivity - the harder you press, the louder it sounds.

NOTE: BEWARE OF CONTROLLER KEYBOARDS Unless you are familiar with them and know how to use them, then avoid controller keyboards. But learning how to use them has a lot of technicalities that you should know --they are not your typical "Plug-and-Play" keyboards.



Some advice -- don't just buy something to meet your current needs, but think about whether you will outgrow your keyboard as you improve your playing. The prices have really come down and you can get a grand piano quality sound and weighted keyboard for less than $600. The weighted keyboard is important because you may need to play a real piano, and will not be prepared for the heavier feel of the keyboard. If the enhanced sound and extra features are not important to you, you can get one for around $450.

Check out yourtube for reviews and comparisons, such as the Yamaha P45 and P115 (not meant as an endorsement).


If your desire is to learn play the "piano" then definitely look for a hammer action digital piano, even second hand if on a tight budget.

  • Welcome to Music SE. Can you elaborate on this answer? It currently doesn't add any advice that is not already present in existing answers. When you have earned more reputation points, you will be able to upvote answers that you agree with instead of making redundant posts. Aug 30, 2018 at 18:31

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