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Buying Your First Digital Keyboard

Here’s how to navigate the many options out there.

When purchasing your first digital keyboard, there are several factors to consider: size, budget, sound quality, the number of onboard sounds, touch, built-in learning features, recording capability, and connectivity to devices and computers — to name a few. In this article, we’ll try to simplify your shopping decisions by exploring each of these.

Short On Space? Go Portable.

Small digital keyboards are sometimes called portable keyboards. They are exactly that — portable. These instruments take up very little space, and can be set up or stored anywhere. Most have 61-note non-weighted keys, although some models feature 76 keys, sometimes with slightly weighted actions. Many people prefer a keyboard that is touch sensitive, which allows better musical expression, similar to a piano. On those instruments, the harder you play the key, the louder the sound.

Just about every digital keyboard provides a headphone jack. This is a great feature that allows you to make music in privacy at any time of the day or night. And even entry-level instruments offer a large variety of onboard sounds — dozens or even hundreds of them. Quality can vary, though, so be sure to listen carefully as you audition them. In addition, many digital keyboards support Styles that automatically provide elaborate accompaniments. Again, quality can differ from instrument to instrument, so take a little time to try them out.

Any of the Yamaha PSR-E Series portable keyboards would be good choice for the beginner. They all have a built-in feature called “Keys to Success,” which is based on teaching techniques shared with Yamaha over many years. You can select just the key phrases (“steps”) of a song — the ones you like most or need to work on — and practice them one by one. Each time you play all the way through the current step, your performance is evaluated.

A Yamaha PSR-E273 portable keyboard.
Yamaha PSR-E273 portable keyboard.

Connectivity to computers and portable devices such as smartphones is another important feature to look for. Several digital keyboards provide a USB TO HOST port for this purpose, allowing you to record high-quality audio or MIDI without the need for a separate interface. A wide variety of creative and educational apps are available online from Yamaha and other developers.

Looking for More? Consider a Digital Piano.

Portable keyboards are great for the hobbyist and beginner. However, you may prefer to purchase a more advanced digital piano. These instruments offer many of the qualities of an acoustic piano, including a full 88-note weighted keyboard — but at a significant savings in cost — and without the need for regular (and sometimes expensive) upkeep. In addition, they often provide functionality you won’t find on the typical acoustic piano, such as recording capability, connectivity with devices and computers, learning tools and more.

Yamaha offers a wide range of digital pianos, including these:

P-Series compact digital pianos like the P-515 are a great option if space is an issue and are suitable for both practice and live performance.

A Yamaha P-515 compact digital piano.
Yamaha P-515 compact digital piano.

Our Portable Grand digital pianos combine portability with weighted keyboards. Some of them also offer wireless connectivity for iOS smartphones and tablets using optional wireless adapters.

Portable grand digital piano.
Yamaha DGX-670 portable grand digital piano.

Yamaha ARIUS instruments include a number of digital pianos with built-in consoles, ranging from basic models to those with advanced features.

Yamaha console digital piano.
Yamaha ARIUS YDP-103.

Clavinova is the premium Yamaha digital piano product line, combining authentic touch, tone and look with cutting-edge technology. There are three different series of Clavinovas available: the CLP, the CVP, and the CSP.

Digital piano in polished ebony finish.
Yamaha Clavinova CSP-150.

Choosing your first digital keyboard may seem overwhelming at first, but with a little research and a visit to a local music dealer or two, you’re sure to come up with the ideal solution. And remember: Always buy not just the instrument that fits your budget, but the one that best fits your needs.


For more information about Yamaha portable keyboards, click here.

To find out more about our digital keyboards, digital pianos and Arranger instruments (including Genos), click here.

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