I am on a budget of about £150 and need a portable keyboard to take to gigs with both realistic-ish piano sounds and some synth sounds too.

I have a laptop but no keyboard, would it be best to get a midi/usb keyboard or some sort of synthesizer?

I would much prefer if the keys had some weight to them, because I am used to playing a real piano. Would this be possible on a budget?

  • 2
    Purely opinion-based, but keyboard & laptop, for me; as you then have a home studio when you're not on the road, with sequencer & sample library.
    – Tetsujin
    Sep 14, 2014 at 16:46
  • That's what I've got. logic for in the studio, Mainstage for live keyboards. It's a great setup!
    – Lee
    Sep 16, 2014 at 14:32
  • 1
    The M-Audio Keystation is semi-weighted and goes for about $200 US. Sep 17, 2014 at 19:16
  • My first thought is it depends on the kind of gig. Laptop and controller is flexible and powerful but I've played some gigs in beer soaked bars where I wouldn't want my laptop within five miles. If you have little to no setup time, no time for sound check, punk guitarists jumping around onstage, a crazy drummer, and/or lots of alcohol involved, I'd be looking more for a cheap synth with a decent piano sound. Mar 25, 2015 at 16:15

3 Answers 3


Based on your question I'd recommend a keyboard controller and a midi-connected laptop.

You can choose the key action you prefer and you can achieve many different sounds via software.

Regarding keyboard action; I'm more concerned with good dynamic detection and snap-back but you may be most interested in key weight. I've played a lot of piano but piano action is often a bit sluggish for my taste.

Also consider that you'll need to protect the laptop and give some thought to how you'll set everything up so that you'll be less likely to knock it over. Sounds obvious, but very important.


Look for a second-hand electric piano with some other sounds. A laptop is nothing but a nuisance on a gig.


SP5500. Branded under at least 4 different names, Thomann sell it. 88 note, not too bad action, loads of sounds. More than £150, I'm afraid, but probably the cheapest half decent 'board for the money. Try Ebay.

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