Two of my kids have developed passion for classical music. They have been taking cello lessons, teaching themselves composition, and they listen to and discuss classical recordings together.

The younger, in particular, loves visiting friends who have pianos, and he picks out melodies by ear (ode to joy, William tell, etc) on these pianos.

We can’t get a full-sized piano but I would like to get a keyboard of proper size and feel and tone so that they can start to play. Can anybody offer suggestions as to what features are most important, and what to avoid (or even “that’s a terrible idea,” if you think it’s a terrible idea).

Thank you.

[addendum: The consensus among many people with whom my wife and I consulted was that many companies make excellent starter pianos around a $500 price point, so long as you get good pedals, etc. to go with them. Adorama had a big sale on the Korg B1 so we are getting that.]

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    Yes, it's a great idea. And a keyboard with piano feel keys (weighted) will be good, as it can be used with headphones and not disturb family/neighbours etc. You wouldn't really need a full 88 key piano, if room was a problem, but 61 should be an absolute minimum. Recommendations are out of bounds here, but the idea - great!
    – Tim
    Mar 13, 2018 at 12:20
  • Make sure you get a sustain pedal - personally I'm happy playing 'piano' on even a cheap unweighted keyboard as long as I have something to stamp on! Mar 13, 2018 at 14:03
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    as far as this site goes, recommendations for specific models are off-topic here, but we can give recommendations for what to look for in a keyboard, if that's helpful? (There may even be a similar question somewhere already...) Mar 13, 2018 at 14:06
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    Sure, general characteristics would help. He most useful page I have found so far is this one: reddit.com/r/piano/wiki/faq#wiki_choosing_a_keyboard Mar 13, 2018 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


The most important features in a keyboard to learn to play piano (in approximate order of importance):

  • Full sized keys
  • Complete keyboard of 88 keys
  • Fully weighted keys
  • Stand & bench adjustable to the proper heights for good ergonomics
  • A place to put sheet music
  • A sustain pedal
  • Good sound quality
  • Good touch response
  • Other pedals (una corda, sostenuto)

There could be lots of debate about the order of importance. Personally, I learned piano for a few years before I was ever taught to use the sustain pedal, and particularly young children are often not able to reach the pedals, which is ok because learning to play without pedals is important.

Learning to sit properly at the piano is pretty critical, so making sure the height of whatever keyboard stand can be set appropriately is important, and even more important is the height adjustment of the piano bench. Generally you want the bench and stand to be adjustable so the thighs/knees can be raised up to just under the bottom of the keybed. If the player's elbows can be slightly above the keys, that's great, but that may not be possible for smaller children.

Having semi-weighted keys might be helpful for younger players, but at the same time playing the most realistic fully weighted keyboard will start the training on proper technique that much earlier.

Sound quality may seem like a trivial objective for a beginner instrument, but even young children can appreciate tone quality and will quickly learn to prefer hearing themselves making more beautiful sounds. One advantage of the piano as a first instrument is that the sound quality is only very slightly about player skill.

One thing you might consider avoiding is keyboards that have a lot of "features". I would look for an instrument that is focused on being a digital piano. You don't need a lot of different sounds or controls or anything like that, those are just gimmicks added on to try to sell instruments that don't have the best sound or keyboard feel, etc.

I suggest looking for an affordable "digital piano" - the kind that comes with a wooden stand and built-in speakers and is meant to be an affordable alternative to acoustic pianos. Many major musical instrument manufacturers make them, such as Yamaha.

  • I might put weighted keys ahead of all 88 keys, but that being said I don't know that you will find weighted action keys on anything less than a full size keyboard. Apr 23, 2018 at 19:59
  • And by weighted action I mean hammer action. There are velocity sensitive and partial weighted (spring) action keyboards available in 61 keys. Apr 23, 2018 at 20:06

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