Best Budget Keyboard Piano | Reviews and Buying Guide 2019

After years of service, my main keyboard piano went silent. I was back at square one and had to find a comparable yet affordable replacement. While I was searching for the best budget piano, I was blown away by the abundance of options for beginners and amateurs.

That wasn’t the case some years back when I bought my first keyboard. Back then, it was nearly impossible to find a good piano at a low price. As well as being expensive, many of them came with lots of features that were unnecessary for amateur players like me.

In this review article, I am going to explore some of the best digital piano options that are great for both beginners and advanced players. After sharing some of my recommendations, read on for a buyer’s guide, which breaks down the most important considerations when you’re shopping around for the best electric piano. By the end of this article, you should be equipped with everything you need to find a perfect match for your needs.

Top Budget Keyboard Piano

With a 192 polyphony and a fantastic collection of sounds and tones, the Yamaha P-115 became our instant top choice. It comes with the premium features of a stage piano, including a full-sized weighted keyboard, which is a highly desirable feature that gives an authentic piano feel for a fraction of the price.

 

 

Budget Piano Keyboard Reviews

Yamaha P-115B – Best Budget Piano Keyboard

The P-115B is a sleek digital keyboard that you can learn and practice with every day. It is a fully weighted 88-key keyboard that looks and sounds marvelous. Both new and experienced performers love the playability and the sound of this keyboard piano.

 

Features

  • 192 polyphony
  • Pure CF engine
  • Weighted keys with graded hammer action
  • Amp and Speakers
  • Pedal/Footswitch
  • 14 voices

 

What I like

I am amazed by how good the Yamaha P-115B sounds. It has an incredibly authentic piano sound that mimics that of a real acoustic piano. Better yet, the keys are both weighted and hammer graded, just like the real thing. I found it perfect for playing classical music pieces, but it’s also well suited for jazz riffs and blues progressions.

 

What I don’t like

Though the Yamaha P-115b comes bundled with a bunch of tools like a stand and a bench, I found both of these additions to be flimsy. Another downside is that there are only 14 different tones available, so there aren’t many choices when it comes to experimenting with sound.

 

 

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Brilliant sounds from CF engine
  • Non-slipper keys
  • Wonderful key response

 

Cons

  • The bench and stand are a bit wobbly

 

As a beginner, the 88 keys are perfect for practice. The fact that the Yamaha P-115b’s keys are weighted and complete with graded hammer action makes it the perfect novice digital piano, as it’ll give you a feel for the real thing before deciding to splurge on an acoustic piano.

 

Overall Rating 4.5/5

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Yamaha DGX-660

The DGX-660 is another great option from Yamaha. Just like the P-115b, this keyboard has fully weighted keys and graded hammer action that deliver impeccable acoustic piano performance. Its CF engine also produces amazing notes that sound quite similar to a real piano even to an experienced player.

 

Features

  • CF sound engine
  • USB recording and playback
  • Mic input
  • Graded Hammer Action with velocity sensitivity
  • Learning functionality

 

What I like

I like the weighted keys of the Yamaha DGX-660 as they’re suitable for practicing, even if your final performance will be played on an acoustic piano. This keyboard also comes with a ton of learning materials. You can gauge how you play by hooking the keyboard up to your computer, and you can even record your music to a USB, allowing you to play it back later and analyze your sound.

 

 What I don’t like

When you play a couple of times, you will notice how some of the keys make noise even when hooked into headphones. There is no clear way to get around this, but the sound is not that bad. I would be happy if its stand and bench were a little firmer.

 

Pros

  • Graded and weighted keys
  • High-quality furniture-like stand
  • Well-priced

 

Cons

  • Has some noisy keys
  • High volumes don’t sound great
  • Heavy with stand

 

The Yamaha DGX-660 is an excellent keyboard piano for a learner who wants to play at home or with a tutor. The big stand makes it suitable for setting it up in one location without moving it around. The speakers are also enough for a single-room setup.

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Casio PX350 BK

Casio has outdone itself with the PX350BK, a brilliant stage piano that costs a fraction of other options. This model runs on Casio’s revolutionary AIR sound engine and comes with 3level-sensitive keys. The PX350BK excels in the reproduction of piano sounds, something that allows it to maintain quality and attracts buyers who love the way an acoustic piano sounds.

 

Features

  • AIR sound engine
  • 128 max polyphony
  • 250 voices
  • Layer and split, Octave Shift
  • 300 music presets
  • Pitch bend wheel

 

What I like

The Casio PX350BK comes loaded with lots of excellent features and tools. One of the few that rarely comes with stage pianos is the accompaniment feature, which is more commonly found in portable keyboards. The PX350BK also comes with a realistic drum sounds that I have never come across for devices of this price. It simply sounds amazing.

 

What I don’t like

This keyboard puts beginners and learners in a bind. On the one hand, it doesn’t include learning materials and tools that could benefit a learner. On the other hand, it doesn’t come with advanced customization options that experienced players would love to use as with other stage pianos.

 

Pros

  • Front-facing USB
  • Touch controls
  • Comes with SP-33 pedal
  • Easy accompaniment feature

 

Cons

  • No advanced layering and controls
  • Doesn’t have teaching tools

 

The Casio PX350BK comes with a fair number of features that may be of use to a seasoned pianist but not so much as to overwhelm a beginner or intermediate player.

 

Overall Score 4.4/5

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Kawai ES100

The ES100 proves Kawai’s mettle when it comes to producing high-quality keyboards. It has Harmonic Imaging Sound Technology that can perfectly recreate your favorite sounds such as piano, bass, string, or organ without compromising quality.

 

Features

  • 192 note polyphony
  • 88-key sampling
  • Built-in Alfred piano classes
  • Layering and split modes
  • Stand and pedal
  • Harmonic Sound Imaging
  • 18 voices

 

What I like

The Kawai ES100 has one of the best weighted-keys in its price range. It uses Kawai’s revolutionary Advanced Hammer Action IV-F to recreate the authentic feel of acoustic pianos. It also comes with a handy sound recorder for your performance and for practicing your notes.

 

What I don’t like

Unfortunately, the Kawai ES100 comes with a limited number of sounds. Unlike other portable keyboard pianos, it does not come with accompaniment, which is a feature associated with most beginner pianos.

 

Pros

  • Easy-to-use
  • Highly portable
  • Comes with a song recorder
  • Wonderful Piano action

 

Cons

  • A limited number of voices

 

The Kawai ES100 has a nice mix of features that make it one of the best 88-key weighted keyboard pianos in the market. It also feels almost exactly like an acoustic piano. Loaded with all the features and tools of a modern piano, it has some excellent options for beginners as well as intermediates.

 

Overall Score 4.4/5

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Alesis Coda Pro

This model is a full-sized keyboard that has most of the features of an actual piano such as weighted keys and touch sensitivity, as well as premium and exclusive sounds for a fraction of the cost.

 

Features

  • 20 built-in voices
  • Inbuilt DSP with customizable EQ, Chorus FX, and Reverb
  • Real Hammer Action weighted keys
  • Lesson mode
  • Split and layering
  • Duet mode that comes with 50 accompaniment styles
  • 64 max polyphony

 

What I like

The sound that the Alesis Coda Pro produces comes from two digital music production powerhouses AIR and SONiVOX. With the expertise behind this piano, it’s no surprise that the sound is refreshing and beautifully resonant of an acoustic piano. There are many learning materials for beginners, such as the 60 songs presets that are easy to play along to.

 

What I don’t like

I feel that Alesis should have doubled the polyphony that comes with the Alesis Coda Pro. It only comes with a measly 64 polyphony. With just 20 sounds, there aren’t many sounds to explore either.

 

Pros

  • A full-sized keyboard with velocity sensitivity
  • Great sounds from AIR and SONiVOX
  • Remarkable pricing
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use controls

 

Cons

  • A low number of voices
  • Not the best speakers

 

The Alesis Coda Pro is a beautiful blend of functionality and performance. It is portable yet sturdy and has features for both beginners and experienced piano players.

 

Overall Score 4.4/5

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Casio CT-X700

The CT-X700 is one of the most portable pianos from Casio. With just 61 keys, you can carry it around with you when you go for gigs out of town without worrying about space. It is versatile with regards to sound and delivers various connectivity options.

 

Features

  • Touch-sensitive 61keys with 3-level sensitivity
  • 48 max polyphony
  • AiX Sound engine
  • 600 tones
  • Layering
  • 310 music presets
  • Octave shift, music tuning

 

What I like

The Casio CT-X700 comes with a powerful AIX Sound Engine that delivers impeccable piano sounds, as well as other musical instruments over its built-in speakers and AUX outline. The 3-level key sensitivity allows you to play delicate tones, just like an acoustic piano.

 

What I don’t like

Unlike keyboard stage pianos and other portable pianos, the Casio CT-X700 doesn’t come with weighted keys or graded hammer action. If you are coming from an acoustic piano, it will take a while for your finger to adjust to playing with similar keys.

 

Pros

  • Supports battery power
  • Sturdy build quality
  • Highly portable
  • Lots of decent sounds
  • Easy-to-use and configure

 

Cons

  • Doesn’t have weighted or graded hammer action and keys

 

The Casio CT-700 is a fantastic little piano that strikes all the right chords for a beginner pianist. It comes bundled with enough learning materials to get you started, and enough music presets to help you play better.

 

Overall Rating 4.3/5

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Yamaha P45

For beginner pianists, less is always more. Yamaha kept this in mind with the P45’s simple design and minimal controls. This wonderful beginner’s digital piano comes out of the box, ready for use by a beginner pianist.

 

Features

  • 64 max polyphony
  • Layering
  • Advanced Wave Memory
  • Graded Hammer Standard Weighted Keys
  • Split mode for lessons and instructors
  • Dual 6w amps and stereo speakers
  • Sustain foot pedal
  • Ten sounds

 

What I like

I love how I can switch between the weighted-key action with ease. Not many people are comfortable with weighted keys. Some want to get the hang of a keyboard before proceeding to a real piano. The sound quality is also amazing and resembles that of a real acoustic piano.

 

What I don’t like

The only drawback I found is that the speakers of the P45 are not loud enough. It doesn’t project enough in a large room.

 

Pros

  • A USB port for music and MIDI
  • Clean and intuitive UI
  • Graded hammer action
  • Very light

 

Cons

  • Limited polyphony
  • Doesn’t have the best speakers

 

The Yamaha P45 is one of the best learning keyboards on the market. It has wonderful weighted and graded hammer key action. Also, its remarkable sounds are quite similar to those of a real acoustic piano. With its duo mode, you can easily play along with your instructor.

 

Overall Score 4.4/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Alesis Recital

The Alesis Recital is a wonderful beginner’s piano. It comes out of the box with brilliant tools and resources. It has incredible sounds that blast through its built-in speakers but also has an AUX output which allows you to connect it to an amp and external speakers.

 

Features

  • Five built-in voices
  • 128 max polyphony
  • Lesson mode
  • In-built metronome
  • USB-MIDI port
  • Semi-weighted keys with customizable touch control

 

What I like

The Alesis Recital pushes the bar of beginner pianos as an 88-key semi-weighted monster. It comes with enough sounds to get a complete beginner started on piano and at the same time offers an advanced user an alternative to practice away from the acoustic piano. The sound quality is pretty good for its price, too. With its simple and straightforward UI, it also strikes all the right notes for me when it comes to the design.

 

What I don’t like

I accidentally turned down the volume for all the keys, and it took me a long time to sort out the problem. Its speakers don’t attain a specific volume for the highs. Plus, the advanced controls are also a bit confusing.

 

Pros

  • Battery and AC powered
  • High-quality notes and sounds
  • Brilliant learner tools
  • Good speakers

 

Cons

  • A limited number of voices
  • Speakers struggle

 

Alesis has always produced remarkable pianos at a fraction of the price without ever compromising on great sounds and functionalities. The same can be said about the Alesis Recital, an excellent piano for beginners who are looking for an affordable and feature-packed keyboard.

 

Overall Score 4.3/5

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Casio CTK-3500 – Best Keyboard Under $200

The Casio CTK-3500 is a versatile and highly portable piano keyboard that you can comfortably carry around. Besides that, it’s cheap, and it comes with tons of sounds and features for both learners and experienced pianists.

 

Features

  • 400 notes
  • Chordana Play App
  • 150 rhythms
  • 61-key touch-sensitive keyboard
  • Dance Music mode
  • Lesson Mode
  • Pitch Bend
  • USB compatible
  • Music stand

 

What I like

With over 400 voices and 150 rhythms to explore, the Casio CTK-3500 gives you many sound options. Its touch-sensitive keys allow you to play even the most delicate notes just as I would on an acoustic piano. I can hook it up with my iPad and instantly connect to the Chordana app that lets me see the chords I am playing.

 

What I don’t like

If you are looking for a weighted piano, this is not the piano for you. Despite being key-sensitive, Casio CTK-3500 doesn’t come with weighted keys nor hammer action.

 

Pros

  • Highly portable and lightweight
  • Easy-to-read LCD
  • Battery and AC powered
  • Same key size as an acoustic piano

 

Cons

  • Unweighted keys
  • Doesn’t come with built-in recorder and playback

 

The Casio CTK-3500 is a versatile piano with lots of features and great connectivity options. It’s an excellent choice for a person who’s traveling around or looking for a cheap keyboard piano to play with at home. You can also see our top picks for keyboard pianos below 1000.

 

Overall Score 4.3/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Best Budget Piano Buying Guide

Unlike Acoustic pianos, digital keyboards come with lots of features. So, you could easily be overwhelmed when you’re looking for the best digital piano. Here are the crucial factors.

 

Piano Sound

The first major challenge you’ll face when you’re starting is picking the right sound. You may find it hard to differentiate between a digital sound and the warm sound of a grand piano or acoustic piano.

Digital pianos imitate the sounds made by acoustic pianos– a process known as sampling. On the other hand, acoustic pianos record sounds, then play them back when you press the keyboard keys. How well these sounds are recorded determine how amazing your keyboard will sound.

Something else to keep in mind with regards to sound is the clarity and decay of notes. The start and the end of notes should sound as natural as acoustic pianos when you’re playing them.

 

Number of keys

Digital keyboards come with several keys. Obviously, the higher the number of keys, the better it will feel playing it. Typical keyboards come with 61 keys, especially the low priced or beginner models. Advanced pianos, on the other hand, have 76 or full-sized at 88 keys.

A full-sized keyboard is a good option as you can split it right down the middle and play different sounds on the left and right or use it for learning with an instructor.

 

Polyphony

I had a problem wrapping my head around the concept of polyphony for a long time. It refers to the number of notes a piano can play at any given time. For most people, especially beginners, 32 is a lot. However, once you split the keyboard into two and layer each of the split sides and then add a sustain, the notes go up. This explains why stage pianos have upwards of 128 max polyphony.

The more polyphony you get, the better for your playing. Don’t worry too much if you are a beginner.

 

Piano Key Responsiveness

Digital pianos can have two types of responsiveness.

 

 

Velocity sensitivity

Another important aspect, this reproduces the effect key velocity has on acoustic pianos. A gentle stroke has a lower volume compared to a stronger key press. You’ll need this kind of responsiveness when playing classical pieces and other styles that utilize the key velocity sensitivity.

 

Weight of keys

A typical keyboard will either have unweighted keys, semi-weighted, or weighted keys. In case you are looking for a digital piano that can substitute your acoustic piano or maybe you are planning to move to an acoustic one, the best digital piano for you is going to have weighted keys.

 

Extra Features

One of the reasons I love electronic piano keyboards is that they usually come with lots of additional options and features. This attribute makes them some of the most versatile musical instruments out there. Some of the extra features I look out for include

 

Non-piano sounds

A piano can have all the sounds of every musical instrument you can imagine. The most popular and the ones include Bass, Organs, Synths, Electric Pianos, Drums, Sax, Trumpets, Strings, and pads. There are so many others you can use to spice up your sound.

It helps if the piano you have allows layering of different sounds and smooth transitions of tones.

Learner tools

Some piano keyboards include learning tools for beginners. The most common ones are metronomes, chord visuals, sample music to play along to, record and playback functions. If you are a beginner, get a piano that has more of these learning resources.

 

 

Brands

One of the pitfalls for any beginner keyboard pianist is buying a cheap piano from an unknown brand. There are a couple of brands that are well known for producing some of the most beautiful keyboard pianos. Some of the top brands include

  • Yamaha
  • Casio
  • Korg
  • Nord
  • Roland

By going for these top brands, among other well-known ones, you have the assurance you’ll get the best keyboard pianos and after-sale services like a warranty.

 

New vs. Used

The decision to buy a new keyboard or to get a used one is a grey area for many people. It usually raises more questions than answers. If you have the money, always go for new. However, if you come across a good deal on a used keyboard piano, don’t pass it up.

Unlike acoustic pianos, digital keyboards are more durable and can withstand a few years of use. You only need to check the keys, buttons, and connectors. Other than that, the sound will remain consistent throughout the years.

 

Other Tips

Play it before buying

If you are not buying it online, get a feel of it before committing to a purchase. Most online shops back their sales with a money-back guarantee. You can try it out for a few days and return it if it doesn’t suit your needs.

 

Read Reviews

Take time to read online reviews from verified buyers as it could give greater insight into the piano you intend to buy. If many buyers are complaining about a brand, or have problems with a particular model, stay away from it.

 

Go for fewer features

If you are going for a home piano, get fewer features. Try the models with low polyphony or a small number of sounds. Leave out the full-sized keyboard and go for 61-key instead. There are several good options to cut back on the pricing.

 

Final Thoughts

The Yamaha P115B ticks all the right boxes. It comes with a 192-maximum polyphony against the normal 128-polyphony embraced by others in the same category. Being a full-sized keyboard with weighted hammer-graded keys, it allows both new and experienced pianist a feel of the acoustic piano without forking over lots of money. Also, its CF sound engine delivers outstanding quality and clarity.

You can’t find the best cheap keyboard piano in a comparable price range, whether you are after learning resources or require something to polish up your playing at home. With a great look, beautiful sound, and a fantastic price which is just under 500, the P115B is a must-buy.

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