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The Beginners Guide to Keyboards

Published: Thu November 25, 2010  News Feed

Updated For 2013!

Have you been looking through our range of keyboards and digital pianos and wondering what is the difference between each of them? Should I buy digital or acoustic? What's the difference between a keyboard and digital piano? Why would I want light up keys? Why do some keyboards have 61 keys and digital pianos have 88? What keyboard is best for me as a beginner?

We realise that buying a keyboard for the first time with the choice available is quite a frustrating experience. Our keyboard buying guide will talk you through the basics and give you tips on what's best to buy to suit your needs. Plus, we give you a range of different pianos from £100 to £600, to suit everyone's budget.

The majority of our starter packs come included with a stand. All keyboards are made to be portable and for use with batteries, although please note that these aren't included unless stated! To make your keyboard purchase the perfect Christmas gift, why not take a look at our accessories and sheet music so yourself or the recipient can play along to more than the built in songs?

If you're a beginner, it's likely a keyboard will suit you more than a digital piano for several reasons:

  • A keyboard has 61 keys rather than digital pianos which have 88. 61 keys are much easier for a beginner to use...
  • Keyboard keys are also much lighter than a digital pianos. Touch Sensitive keys are what you should probably go for as a beginner, as the sounds respond to how hard you press the keys - making your playing much more expressive.

The advantages of digital

We wouldn't want to leave the grand acoustic piano out of the loop, and you're probably wondering why this hasn't been brought into the conversation yet? There are a multitude of non-technical and technical advantages to purchasing a digital keyboard/piano over an acoustic. Here are a few of the most important...

  • smaller size
  • a choice of sounds
  • no maintenance
  • never needs tuning
  • volume control
  • portability
  • private practice (headphones)
  • on-board recording

So before we give you a number of keyboards and digital pianos you may like, you may want to know a few of the basics. What's so good about weighted keys? Why is touch sensitivity so important?

Weighted keys
Weighted keys mimic the feel of an acoustic piano. Why is this important? Well as a student, you will develop the manual dexterity and muscle strength required in your hands to play more demanding compositions. Besides that, when you move on to an acoustic piano it will eliminate any difference in feel to you!

Touch sensitivity
A string on an acoustic piano will resonate louder the harder it is struck by the hammer. For a digital piano to sound realistic, this effect must be reproduced. Additionally, the sound from a single note will be unique when the string is hit at different velocities. When the digital piano is played, the appropriate sample is triggered according to the force of the key press.


Scroll down to see featured products specifications


Under £200

Yamaha PYT-220Yamaha YPT-220 61 Key Digital Portable Keyboard

  • 375 high-quality instrument voices
  • 100 accompaniment styles
  • Portable Grand Button
  • Yamaha Education Suite (Y.E.S)
  • 102 built-in songs for easy learning
  • Reverb effect with 9 different reverb types


Under £300

Yamaha PSR-E433Yamaha PSR-E433

  • PATTERN function to create your own grooves
  • Real-time control knobs for instant effects
  • pitch bend wheel
  • 731 high quality voices including super-realistic Sweet! and Cool! Voices
  • 186 styles
  • 6-track sequencer
  • Music Database
  • 4 x 8 Banks Registration Memory

Yamaha NP-V60Yamaha NP-V60

  • Age: 8 years +
  • You might also need...6xAA batteries and a stand
  • 76 Graded Soft Touch Keys (like on an actual piano)
  • 30 songs
  • 160 rhythm accompaniment styles
  • 5 track recording
  • MIDI in/out connection

Digital Pianos Under £500

Yamaha P-35 88-Note Digital PianoYamaha P-35 88-Note Digital Piano

  • Number of Keys:88
  • Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) Keyboard
  • Hard/Medium/Soft/Fixed Touch Sensitivity
  • AWM Stereo Sampling Tone Generating Technology
  • Max Polyphony: 32
  • Preset Number of Voices: 10
  • Effects: Reverb (4 types)
  • Functions: Metronome, Transpose Tuning, Dual Layers
  • 10 demo +10 preset piano songs
  • Connections:DC IN 12V, Headphones Standard x 1, Sustain Pedal (Half pedal available with optional FC3),MIDI (In/Out)
  • Speakers: 2 x 12CM, 6W x 2 Amplifier
  • Included Accessories: Music Rest, Pedal/Footswitch
  • Dimensions: Width-1326mm X Height-154mm X Depth-295mm. Weight - 11.5kg

Korg SP-170S Digital PianoKorg SP-170S Digital Piano

  • Simple in design, the portable and stylish SP-170S emphasizes the vital piano elements: a comfortable keyboard, and a satisfying sound.
  • The two skillfully sampled concert grand piano sounds capture all the nuances of the performer's touch.
  • The clean and streamlined controls make it easy to select sounds and set the volume.
  • A total of ten sounds are provided, including electric pianos, harpsichord, organs, strings, and more.
  • Our new Natural Weighted Hammer Action (NH) faithfully reproduces the touch of an acoustic piano.
  • The Key Touch Control offers three levels of sensitivity to match the keyboard response to any playing style.
  • The new speaker system features improved speaker quality and enhanced resonance.
  • Reverb effect adds depth and spaciousness to the sound; Chorus adds warmth and motion.
  • Two headphone jacks allow for parent/child or student/teacher private practice, or for just sharing with friends
  • Damper pedal and music rest complete the SP-170S
  • Available in either or black or white to complement any environment

Digital Pianos Under £1000

Korg LP-350 Weighted Hammer Action Digital PianoKorg LP-350 Weighted Hammer Action Digital Piano

  • Slim-line digital piano is a mere 27.7 cm deep. Available in your choice of chic black or elegant white.
  • Unique, flat-top design with no center hinge ensures a clean and functional appearance.
  • Piano sounds sampled directly from a concert grand piano – at multiple velocity levels – allowing you to enjoy richly musical and dynamically expressive performances. Korg’s finest RH3 (Real Weighted Hammer Action 3) keybed provides an accurate grand piano touch.
  • Internal sound system utilizes bass reflex cabinet design for robust, powerful sound.
  • Authentic grand piano three pedal action – damper (half-pedaling), soft (half-pedaling), and sostenuto.
  • In addition to twelve piano sounds, a variety of organs, strings, vibes, guitar, clavs, choirs and harpsichord provide a total of thirty on demand sounds.
  • Reverb offers ambience and depth; chorus effect adds motion and richness to the sound.
  • Touch Control provides three levels of touch sensitivity to accommodate any playing style
  • Convenient built-in metronome offers variable tempo, meter, and accent.
  • Dual headphone jacks are ideal for parent & child; student & teacher, or for sharing private practice.

Roland RP-301 Digital SuperNATURAL PianoRoland RP-301 Digital SuperNATURAL Piano

  • SuperNATURAL Piano recreating authentic piano expressiveness
  • Ivory Feel-G keyboard for true piano feel and touch
  • Easy access to features for practice and performance with dedicated front-panel buttons
  • Metronome, recorder, and Twin Piano features convenient for skill building
  • Environment friendly; low power consumption and Auto Off function
  • Two beautiful cabinet finishes: Satin Black and Simulated Rosewood

You might also need accessories...

If you're choosing a keyboard or digital piano that doesn't come with a stand, don't worry! We have a range of stands for you to choose from...

Black Rat X Style Keyboard Stand

  • Standard X-Keyboard frame
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Lightweight

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Yamaha NP-V60 Portable Keyboard

Yamaha NP-V60 Portable Keyboard Realistic feel, broad range of sounds, portability and backing tracks make the NP-V60 ideal for serious players, gigging musicians and those just learning to play. Yamaha keyboards have been used on stage and in studios the world over and the Piaggero Series brings this expertise and quality to a broad range of players. Graded Soft Touch…

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Korg SP-170S Digital Piano - Black

Compatible stand also available on its own or bundled with the keyboard. Korg SP-170S Digital Piano - Black Comes in Black, White and also has options for a stand and built-in speakers & pedals.
Authentic feel, stylish look and beautiful sound quality. The SP-170S has the quality of a true instrument and…

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