I might be planning to buy a keyboard in the near feature, now I see they come in different amount of keys. It makes me wonder for how many keys I should go, more allows more complex music...

But how do I get an idea of the complexity of music that a certain amount of keys allow?

Edit: Are there lists of repertoire available that use the outer octaves of the keyboard, or should I instead ask a new question for them?

  • What do you want to play? Classical? Jazz? Rock accompanyment? It depends a huge lot on this. For the first two, the standard 88 keys should be enough. What are your options?
    – Noldorin
    Commented May 13, 2011 at 23:48
  • 5
    @tom: 88 keys is precisely standard for a piano. :P I know what I'm talking about. Good luck finding one that has any less, for sure. Electronic keyboards are another matter I suppose...
    – Noldorin
    Commented May 14, 2011 at 2:48
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    @NReilingh Do you realize you just linked Tom Wijsman to a question he answered with the accepted answer (a pretty knowledgeable one if I might add). @Tom Wijsman I realize that you're an enthusiast and not a "professional" in regards to piano music. You'd benefit from asking for a list of repertoire that uses the outer octaves of the keyboard, something which definitely wouldn't have been done until the extra octaves were added, and even then many composers did not use them. Make your decision based on how large that list is (or how important you find it to be)
    – SRiss
    Commented May 14, 2011 at 5:03
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    I've never seen a list of repertoire x number of keys. As a rough answer, if you want to play songs, tunes, four octaves should do. If you want to play classic baroque music, five octaves (think harpsichord), for classic romantic you need a full keyboard. But really, why don't you just get a full 88-keys and save yourself the trouble?
    – Allan K.
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 15:48
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    Having played classical music on piano for more than 15 years, I have occasionally reached the lowest key (A0) and the highest key (C8) on a normal 88-key piano while playing some romantic-era songs. Having encountered music from the Renaissance to modern music, I have never ever been in a situation that requires the 89th key and I don't think you should be either. I guess the only songs that might use the 89th keys are just post-modern songs, which very few piano virtuosi do play.
    – krismath
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 16:32

1 Answer 1


While 61 keys might be fine for a synth being used, say in a band, I would recommend at least 76 keys for playing piano music.

The deciding factor for me getting 88-key keyboards the last 10 years, though, has been they are often the only models with weighted hammer-action-like keys.


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