Learning to play the piano doesn’t require an expensive Grand or Upright. Practicing on a digital piano with decent keys can get you far. Luckily, there are some budget-friendly alternatives worth considering. For this roundup, I tested the 8 best cheap keyboard pianos on the market today!
I found that the best budget keyboard piano is the Yamaha P45. Why? It features 88 full-sized graded hammer action keys. This affordable keyboard is as close as you can get to a traditional piano with a tight budget.
The graded weighting mimics the keys of an acoustic piano, with a stronger resistance on the bass keys and lighter resistance on the treble keys.
Additionally, the sounds are sampled with Yamaha’s AWM (Advanced Wave Memory) stereo sampling technology, making them ultra-realistic and rich across all frequencies.
Keep reading to find other great budget-friendly alternatives that won’t break the bank!
At a Glance: Our Pick Of The Best Cheap Keyboard Pianos
- Best Overall: Yamaha P45
- Best Value: Casio CT-X700
- Best Under $500: Alesis Prestige
- Best Under $400: Alesis Recital Pro
- Best Under $200: RockJam 61 Key Keyboard Piano
- Best For Live Performances: Studiologic Numa Compact 2
- Best Portable: Roland Go:Piano88
- Best Feature Packed: Hamzer 61-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard Piano
Yamaha P45 – Best Overall
Quick Specs: Key weighting type: Graded Hammer Action | Number of keys: 88 | Weight: 25 lbs
The Yamaha P45 is the best option if you’re looking for a simple, quality compact stage piano. It replicates the feel of an acoustic piano perfectly, making it a great choice for both beginners and experienced players alike.
The 10 instrument sounds are realistic thanks to Yamaha’s AWM stereo sampling technology. Additionally, the user-friendly interface makes the piano very easy to use.
It features 88 graded hammer standard keys, and 64-note polyphony. Due to the actual little hammers, the graded hammer action has an authentic feel like the hammers inside an acoustic instrument.
The Yamaha P45 is a workhorse of a keyboard. It has a compact design and is built to last.
Although it lacks some built-in features or bells and whistles, it’s an unbeatable option at this price point.
One downside is the flimsy sustain pedal switch. Next, since the headphone jack is positioned on the backside, the cord can easily distract you while you’re practicing.
Lastly, the speakers are not very loud. Still, they’re strong enough for practice but you need external amplification if you’re performing live.
- Realistic sounds
- Graded hammer action keys with an authentic feel
- Built to last
- Low-quality sustain pedal
- No included keyboard stand
- Built-in speakers are quiet
Casio CT-X700 – Best Value
Quick Specs: Key weighting type: Semi-Weighted | Number of keys: 66 | Weight: 9.48 lbs
The Casio CT-X700 is a great entry-level keyboard for anyone looking to learn how to play the piano or for those who want to improve their skills.
The MIDI capability is a nice addition if you’re into music production. Also, the touch-responsive 66 keys make it easier to play different dynamics, and the built-in song and lesson system is a great way to improve your skills.
The keyboard has 600 different instruments and 195 different rhythms, making it extremely versatile for any style of music. The massive sound bank has its ups and downs, but the pianos and electric pianos are surprisingly good.
The keyboard lacks both a pitch bend and a mod wheel. Additionally, the keys are not as touch-sensitive as higher-end options.
Overall, the build of the keyboard feels solid and reliable. it’s excellent for the value and certainly outperforms many similarly priced electronic keyboards.
- Light and portable
- Built-in speakers
- Multiple play-along tools
- Massive tone-bank
- No pitch bend or modulation wheel
- Not as touch-sensitive as premium alternatives
- Some instruments sound poorly
Alesis Prestige – Best Under $500
Quick Specs: Key weighting type: Graded Hammer Action | Number of keys: 88 | Weight: 28.2 lbs
The Alesis Prestige is an excellent option if you’re looking for an affordable digital piano with a wide range of voices and a simple control layout. It has 88 full-sized graded hammer-action keys and a wide range of voices.
This keyboard can be connected to a computer and used as a MIDI controller through the USB port. There is also the possibility of connecting a sustain pedal, along with outputs for external speakers, and AUX input for headphones.
The internal 50W micro-array speaker system is not the loudest. Still, the volume of the Prestige is good enough for home studio practice.
The basic sustain pedal is a nice addition, but you might want to upgrade to something more robust in the future.
Lastly, the graded hammer-action keys have a surprisingly nice feel for the budget, but they don’t compete with the Yamaha P45.
Overall, I would highly recommend this piano to anyone on a strict budget looking for a good stage piano.
- Full-sized hammer-action keys
- Impressive I/Os for a low price point
- Wide range of voices
- Keys can be unresponsive when played softly
- Built-in speakers are quiet for a stage piano
Alesis Recital Pro – Best Under $400
Quick Specs: Key weighting type: Hammer Action | Number of keys: 88 | Weight: 26.0 lbs
The Alesis Recital Pro is a great keyboard piano for anyone looking for an advanced version of the Recital.
The fully-weighted keys are a great addition. However, they have an unnatural mushiness feel and are not as natural as fully-weighted keys from other budget offerings from Yamaha or Casio.
On the other hand, I’m impressed with the polyphony of 128 notes. Most other budget keyboards have a polyphony count of 64 notes.
Also, the keyboard’s built-in speaker system of dual 10W woofers and dual 20W tweeters can handle pretty high volumes without distortion.
Not all instruments from the sound bank deliver. Unfortunately, the piano lacks mid-frequencies and sustain. The synths are probably the best presets on the keyboard, with a richness and smoothness comparable to premium keyboards.
Built-in effects such as Reverb, Chorus, Modulation, EQ, and Pedal Resonance all sound great for this price point.
- 128-note polyphony
- Good variety of sound effects
- Can run on batteries
- Fully-weighted keys feel unnatural
- Main piano sound isn’t as good as other alternatives
RockJam 61 Key Keyboard Piano – Best Under $200
Quick Specs: Key weighting type: Semi-Weighted | Number of keys: 61 | Weight: 9.15 lbs
This keyboard is great for kids or anyone who wants to learn the piano without spending much money.
RockJam 61 Key Keyboard Piano truly is a full setup. The bundle includes an X stand, a padded seat, and headphones. The X stand is remarkably sturdy at this price range. The headphones are also a great addition, as they allow you to practice without disturbing anyone else.
The keyboard itself is straightforward. It has a large LCD screen that makes it easy to see what you’re playing, and it comes with a bunch of different songs and exercises to help you learn different skills and techniques.
RockJam 61 has a hundred different sounds, including electric pianos and a synth. It also features a hundred different rhythms you can play along with. The keys are full-sized, which makes the transition to traditional piano easier.
- Very affordable
- Includes a full setup
- Large LCD screen provides instructions
- Comes with 50 Demo Songs
- Buttons feel cheap
- No USB connection
- Not compatible with Android devices
Studiologic Numa Compact 2 – Best For Live Performances
Quick Specs: Key weighting type: Semi-Weighted | Number of keys: 88 | Weight: 15.7 lbs
Studiologic Numa Compact 2 is slim in looks, but not in features. Although the semi-weighted keys aren’t ideal if you’re looking for a realistic piano feel, they outperform many other alternatives on the market.
Furthermore, the aftertouch makes the keyboard more responsive and adds a lot of expressive possibilities.
Each of the many instruments in the sound bank is easy to find as they are organized in categories. Plus, the sounds are incredibly rich and realistic for the price.
The Numa Compact 2 shines with its assignable controls. You have 9 fully-assignable faders at your disposal that can be mapped to any effects. Additionally, it features all the connectivity you need for larger gigs.
If you can tolerate semi-weighting instead of fully-weighted keys, the Numa Compact 2 is a true powerhouse.
- Assignable controls
- A lot of bang for the buck
- Semi-weighted keys
- The internal speaker system lacks depth
Roland Go:Piano88 – Best Portable
Quick Specs: Key weighting type: Semi-Weighted | Number of keys: 88 | Weight: 15.4 lbs
The Roland Go Piano88 is a great keyboard for those who want a lightweight, portable, yet full-sized keyboard. As it only weighs around 15.4 lbs, this keyboard is easy to carry to rehearsals or on stage.
The 88 keys are semi-weighted, and there are four levels of key sensitivity (fixed, light, medium, and heavy). This allows users to adjust them to their playing style.
The key strength of the Go:Piano88 keyboard is undoubtedly the BlueTooth connectivity. This makes learning extremely fun as you can pair it with your smartphone. You can also play along with your favorite tunes, and access music libraries, online lessons, and more.
One disadvantage is that the Go:Piano88 only includes four tones: Piano, E. Piano, Organ, and Strings. Still, as you would expect from a Roland keyboard, the voices are of a very high standard.
Another downside is the internal speakers as they don’t reproduce bass frequencies very well. This can be mitigated somewhat by using external speakers or headphones for digital pianos, but it’s something to be aware of.
Overall, the Go Piano88 is a great choice for a portable piano, as long as you’re aware of its limitations.
- Lightweight and portable
- Full-sized keys
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Only includes 4 different voices
- The internal speaker system lacks depth
Hamzer 61-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard Piano – Best Feature Packed
Quick Specs: Key weighting type: Unweighted | Number of keys: 61 | Weight: 9.15 lbs
The Hamzer 61-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard is a great option for anyone looking for an affordable keyboard without sacrificing functionality and integrated learning functions.
This entry-level keyboard has 61 unweighted keys. It also comes with a lot of fancy features such as auto-bass chords, and the ability to program your own rhythms. Plus, the integrated learning functions make it easy to learn how to play the keyboard.
The Hamzer 61-key is packed with several accessories, including headphones, a microphone, an adjustable metal stand, and a piano stool. Additionally, the keyboard can be powered with 6 AA batteries.
So what about the downsides? I’m not a big fan of the non-touch-sensitive keys. Why? There is no adjustability in the tone based on how much pressure you use to actuate the keys.
Also, the keys are slightly smaller than those on an acoustic piano, which can be a bit of an adjustment. Lastly, the aluminum chassis feels cheap and breakable.
Overall, it’s a budget keyboard with a lot of functionality.
- Good assortment of built-in functions
- Customization features
- Includes everything you need out of the box
- Non-touch sensitive small keys
- Keys aren’t weighted
- Included headphones are not up to par with alternatives
Buying Guide – Choosing the Best Cheap Keyboard Pianos
Full-Sized Keyboard Piano
A full-sized keyboard is a piano with 88 keys, spanning seven octaves and three extra notes. The extra notes are in between the B and C keys and are called ” sharps” or “flats.
They are typically much larger than portable keyboards and more expensive. However, they are a great option for those who want to get the most realistic piano experience possible. Also, it’s ideal for those who want to have the full range of notes available to them
Key weighting is the term used to describe how a keyboard piano’s keys feel when they are played. The three main types of key weighting are unweighted, semi-weighted, and fully weighted.
Digital pianos with unweighted keys are usually cheaper than their weighted counterparts. The keys are not weighted, meaning that they don’t have the same feel as a real piano.
Unweighted keys are also found on workstation keyboards, arranger keyboards, and synthesizers. These types of instruments can produce sounds where key weighting can feel unnatural. For example, it’s much easier to play string lines on an unweighted keyboard.
Some people prefer unweighted keys for their lighter touch. Others find them more difficult to play because of the lack of resistance. Also, unweighted keyboards are often smaller and lighter, making them more portable.
Semi-weighted keys are a type of key often used on intermediate models. They have a spring-action mechanism that gives them more resistance than unweighted keys. This makes them more responsive to your touch.
If you’re looking for a digital keyboard with a more natural feel, then semi-weighted keys are a good option. They provide just enough resistance to make playing feel more responsive and enjoyable.
Hammer Action (Fully Weighted Keys)
Hammer action keys use a physical lever system that replicates the feel of an acoustic piano. This type of key is fully weighted and has more resistance than semi-weighted keys, making it ideal for those who want a piano-like feel.
They provide a realistic playing experience and are perfect for those who want to learn how to play the piano. These types of keys are commonly found on more high-end models.
Most keyboards are designed so that each key is weighted the same. But there are some keyboards where the keys are weighted differently.
This is usually done to make it feel more like a traditional piano, where the heavier bass keys offer more resistence than the lighter treble keys.
Graded weighting keys can make a keyboard feel more natural and responsive. If you’re used to playing the piano, then it can help you transition to playing a keyboard more easily.
Additionally, it can help you learn proper finger techniques more quickly as a beginner.
There are some drawbacks. Graded weighting keys can make a keyboard more expensive, and they often add extra weight and bulk.
Still, if you’re looking for a more realistic and responsive keyboard experience, graded weighting keys may be worth the investment.
One of the most important things to consider when buying a digital keyboard piano is the type of connectivity it offers. Ensure that it’s compatible with your desired audio equipment so it matches your needs.
Sustain pedal input
The sustain pedal input is a standard 1/4” (6.35mm) jack. A sustain pedal is a foot switch that allows the user to control the sustain of notes. Without this connection, the piano would not be able to produce sustained notes.
Most digital keyboard pianos have USB connectivity and can connect to a computer. This allows the keyboard to be used as a MIDI controller, which enables it to be used with a wide variety of virtual instruments (VSTs) inside a DAW.
Headphone outputs are always stereo outputs. To connect headphones you need a cable with a stereo (TRS) 6.3mm jack plug at one end and two mono (TS) 6.3mm jack plugs at the other end.
The 1/4” (6.35mm) output allows you to connect external speakers, mixers, or other sound systems to your digital keyboard piano. This is ideal if you’re planning to perform live or compete with your drummer in the rehearsal room.
The jack socket on the left is commonly labeled ‘L/Mono’ or ‘L/L+R’, while the jack socket on the right is marked with an ‘R’.
A MIDI Output port allows the digital keyboard to send MIDI data to any connected device. Note that MIDI also can be sent through a USB cable. This is usually the case if you have your piano connected to your computer. MIDI Out is the older of the two technologies and is not as widely used as USB.
MIDI OUT is only necessary if you have devices without a standard USB connection.
Polyphony refers to how many notes you can play at once. If you get it wrong, you might find that your musical progression is hindered. Some common polyphony numbers that you will encounter on digital keyboard pianos include:
64 notes played simultaneously might seem enough. Even so, many features on your keyboard piano take up a lot of polyphony.
The sounds might be layered, or perhaps you want to experiment with a drum backing track or the accompaniment feature. Anyway, you’d be surprised how fast you can be limited with low polyphony.
Most affordable keyboard pianos have a polyphony number of 64. It works because of the limited features of budget-friendly alternatives. However, the Alesis Recital Pro is a great option if you need more polyphony as it offers 128 notes to be played simultaneously.
Tone and Voice Selection
Digital pianos offer an array of different sounds, ranging from strings to organs and basses. Still, the acoustic piano is the crown jewel as that’s the one you will be using the most. Most keyboards also include a variety of acoustic piano sounds like classic uprights and grand pianos.
But the amount of different voices isn’t the most crucial aspect. What’s important is the overall audio quality of the samples inside the keyboard’s sound engine.
After this review, I feel that audio quality is the main difference between budget digital keyboard pianos and high-end alternatives.
If you’re looking for a digital piano that sounds exactly like an acoustic Grand Piano, then you should consider premium options like the Kawai MP11SE or Roland RD-2000 88.
Still, budget-friendly keyboards can provide incredible value at low a cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is A Digital Piano?
A digital piano is a type of electronic keyboard that is designed to imitate the sound and feel of a traditional acoustic piano.
Digital pianos offer many advantages over their acoustic counterparts. They are much lighter and more portable, making them ideal for traveling musicians.
They also generally have a wider range of sounds and features than an acoustic piano, such as the ability to split the keyboard into two separate zones with different sounds.
What Is The Difference Between A Keyboard And A Digital Piano?
The main difference between a digital piano and a keyboard is that a digital piano is designed to emulate an acoustic piano’s sound and feel.
While digital pianos often features different instruments, keyboards can produce a much wider variety of sounds.
Additionally, keyboards are often more portable with fewer keys, and house an arranger feature.
Is A Digital Piano Good For Beginners?
While it is impossible entirely to simulate the experience of playing on an acoustic piano, it’s fine for beginners to begin with a digital piano. If you wan’t to develop your piano playing skills, make sure to practice on a full-sized digital keyboard with weighted keys.
There is a lot to think about before pulling the trigger and buying a new digital keyboard piano. Polyphony count, connectivity, and key weighting to name a few. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preferences and ambition.
If your goal is to practice piano and become the next Martha Argerich, then consider a digital keyboard piano with full-sized weighted keys.
Weighted keys will bring you closer to that of an acoustic piano. Additionally, unweighted keys do not provide the resistance that is needed to build finger strength and develop your piano playing skills.
Unweighted keys will do just fine if you’re a hobbyist or buying a keyboard piano for your kid. They’re easier to play and a great option for kids who haven’t yet developed finger strength.
And there you have it! If you think another product should have made it into this list, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll try to get my hands on it.
Until next time!