A woman playing music on an electric keyboard

If you’ve already determined that an acoustic keyboard isn’t quite right for you, venturing into the world of electric pianos and keyboards can open up a new world of possibilities. Whether you’re just starting your musical journey or you’re an experienced musician looking to upgrade, buying an electric keyboard involves a lot of considerations. This comprehensive piano buying guide will help you navigate the important factors and find the perfect keyboard for your needs.

Table of contents:

  1. Difference between electric keyboards and pianos
  2. Types of electric keyboards
  3. Key features to consider
  4. Choosing the right keyboard for your level
  5. Electric keyboard accessories

But first, electric keyboard vs digital piano

If you’re not sure whether you should buy an electric keyboard or a digital piano, it’s important to understand the differences between them. Electric keyboards generally offer a variety of sounds and features suitable for various music genres and may include learning tools, making them ideal for beginners and hobbyists. On the other hand, digital pianos are designed to closely mimic acoustic pianos with weighted keys and a focus on piano sounds, catering more to pianists seeking a traditional feel. Your decision should be based on your specific musical goals and preferences. Here are some of the key differences in a nutshell:

FeatureElectric keyboardDigital piano
KeysUsually 61 to 76 keysTypically 88 keys like an acoustic piano
Key TouchLighter touch, often not weightedWeighted keys to mimic an acoustic piano
PortabilityGenerally lightweight and portableLess portable due to heavier build
Sound VarietyOffers a wide range of sounds and effectsPrimarily focuses on replicating piano sounds
MaintenanceMinimal maintenance requiredMinimal maintenance, but more than keyboards
PriceUsually less expensiveTypically more expensive than keyboards
Use CaseIdeal for beginners and those interested in a variety of musical stylesBest for those focusing on piano-centric music and skill development
PedalsOften requires additional purchaseUsually includes at least one built-in pedal
SpeakersBuilt-in speakers are commonTypically includes high-quality built-in speakers

If you’d like to learn more, check out our detailed article on the topic: Differences between digital pianos versus electric keyboards.

A man enjoying the music with Yamaha P-225 digital piano

Types of electric pianos and keyboards

When selecting a digital piano or keyboard, understanding the different types can help you make an informed choice. Here’s a simplified overview of common categories you’ll find at Best Buy:

Portable or electric keyboards

Electric keyboards are lightweight and often come with a variety of features, including built-in speakers and a range of tones. These features offer immediate playback and enjoyment without the need for additional equipment. They also offer a wide range of tones and sound effects, making them incredibly versatile for various musical genres and styles. This versatility is particularly beneficial if you’re a beginner and still exploring your musical preferences and abilities.

A lot of electric keyboards have user-friendly interfaces, with some models offering instructional features like follow-along lessons or light-up keys to aid in learning. This makes them an excellent choice for those who are new to playing music, providing a practical and enjoyable way to develop musical skills. Whether for a beginner needing a straightforward, effective instrument for learning or for a musician on the go, portable keyboards represent a remarkable fusion of convenience, functionality, and musical exploration.

Digital pianos

Digital pianos, often referred to as console keyboards, are crafted to emulate traditional upright pianos both in aesthetic and feel. These instruments are notably more robust in size and weight compared to the portable keyboards. The digital pianos offer a solid, stationary fixture for any home or studio. They typically feature weighted keys, which mimic the hammer action of acoustic pianos, providing a tactile, responsive playing experience that appeals to both novices and seasoned players alike.

This realistic touch response is particularly beneficial for beginners and intermediate musicians who aim to develop proper finger strength and technique. Some digital pianos come equipped with a variety of built-in sounds and features, such as different piano tones, built-in metronomes, and recording capabilities, which makes them versatile instruments suitable for a range of musical styles and practices.

Due to their combination of authentic playability and modern features, digital pianos are a popular choice among music enthusiasts. Whether you are using for practice, performance, or leisure, a digital piano is a valuable tool to enhance your musical journey.

Synthesizers and MIDI controllers

Music technology has advanced significantly, offering a multitude of options for musicians and producers. Among these, Synthesizers and MIDI controllers are pivotal for modern music production.

Synthesizers are incredibly versatile instruments that generate audio signals to create unique sounds and timbres. They enable musicians to experiment and craft sounds that can’t be produced by traditional instruments, making them vital for genres like electronic, pop, and experimental music. With various types, including analog, digital, and software, synthesizers offer endless possibilities for sound customization.

MIDI controllers, on the other hand, do not generate sound on their own but serve as a bridge between human input and software or other musical equipment. They send performance information, typically through MIDI data, to other devices which then generate sound. Common types include keyboards, drum pads, and foot controllers, each tailored for specific performance needs. They are essential tools for integrating traditional musical skills with modern digital workflows, enabling the creation of complex productions that can include multiple instruments and sounds controlled from a single interface.

Both synthesizers and MIDI controllers are tools of the trade for experienced musicians and individuals who are deep into music production. They enable the creation of professional-grade music, offering the flexibility required in today’s diverse musical landscape.

Digital piano set up in a home

Key features to consider

When selecting a digital piano or electric keyboard, it’s critical to evaluate certain features that can directly impact your playing experience and performance. Whether you’re a novice eager to embark on your musical journey or a professional musician fine-tuning your setup, each characteristic fulfills a specific role. Here’s a breakdown of essential features and how they resonate in real-world scenarios:

Touch Sensitivity

Touch Sensitivity influences how the keys respond to the various pressures applied during playing. This feature allows you to expressively control the volume and tone of the music. For instance, playing the delicate passages would require a keyboard that can respond sensitively to light touches.

Types of keyboard actions

Key weight is an important aspect of the digital piano

Type of keyboard action refers to the mechanism and feel of the keys when they are pressed. The action affects how much the keys feel like those of an acoustic piano. There are the three main types of keyboard actions:

  • Weighted action: Weighted keys are built to mimic the hammer mechanism found in acoustic pianos, providing a heavier touch in the lower keys and a lighter touch in the higher keys. They are ideal for those who wish to practice piano with a realistic feel.
  • Semi-weighted action: Semi-weighted keys offer some resistance and are typically lighter than fully weighted keys, which can be suitable for both beginners and experienced players who do not require the exact feel of an acoustic piano but still appreciate some resistance.
  • Unweighted (synth) action: Keyboards with synth action are generally light to the touch and offer little to no resistance, mimicking the feel of an organ or synthesizer rather than a piano.

Samples and polyphony

The quality and variety of samples determine how closely a digital piano or keyboard can emulate the sound of an acoustic piano and other instruments. Polyphony, the number of notes a keyboard can produce simultaneously, enhances the richness of the sound. More complex compositions demand high polyphony to maintain all notes sounding as intended without drop-offs.


Connections such as MIDI, USB, and audio outputs expand the functionality of the instrument, allowing it to interface with computers and recording equipment. This is particularly important for those who might layer tracks in a digital audio workstation or for performers using backing tracks during live performances.

Sound quality

Sound quality depends largely on the digital sampling and speaker system of the instrument. High-quality, realistic sounds are crucial when performing in settings where the authenticity of the piano tone is paramount, such as in jazz ensembles where pianists need to blend seamlessly with other acoustic instruments.


Yamaha PSR E-373 electric keyboard

Portability relates to how easily you can move the instrument. For those who frequently play at different venues, a lightweight and compact keyboard is essential. This feature is crucial for touring bands or mobile music teachers who need to transport their instrument routinely.

Additional features

How to choose the right keyboard for your level?

Are you planning to use the keyboard for personal enjoyment, public performances, or professional recording? Make sure the keyboard you choose aligns with your plans and your skill level. Here are some suggestions:

  • Beginners: Portable or electric keyboards with touch sensitivity are great for young learners. Digital pianos with weighted keys offer a more authentic experience and are ideal for those seeking a long-term instrument.
  • Intermediate players: Consider upgrading to a digital piano if you started with a portable keyboard. If you need a portable option, a lightweight keyboard with additional features like built-in audio interfaces may suit you.
  • Advanced players: Stage pianos are perfect for live performances, with professional-quality sounds and robust connectivity options. If you’re interested in music production, explore synthesizers and MIDI controllers.
Keyboard for young learners

Electric keyboard accessories

When buying an electric keyboard, the experience can be greatly enhanced by selecting the right accessories. Here are some essential keyboard accessories to consider:

1. Keyboard stand

A sturdy keyboard stand is crucial for proper posture and comfort while playing. Opt for an adjustable stand that can accommodate different heights and keyboard sizes. This accessory is vital for both beginners and advanced players to ensure stability and reduce the risk of damage to the instrument.

2. Bench

Invest in a comfortable bench to enhance your practice sessions. A good bench can help maintain proper posture and reduce fatigue during long hours of playing. Look for options that are height-adjustable and padded for added comfort.

3. Pedals

Pedals add depth and expression to your playing. A sustain pedal is essential for simulating an acoustic piano experience. Additionally, consider a soft pedal or an expression pedal for more advanced dynamics and control in your music.

4. Headphones

For private practice without disturbing others, high-quality headphones are essential. They can also be useful for detailed audio monitoring while recording. Headphones should provide clear, accurate sound reproduction and be comfortable to wear for extended periods.

5. Keyboard cases, covers, and bags

Protecting your keyboard during storage or transport is imperative. A durable keyboard case or bag will shield your instrument from dust, moisture, and impact. Choose between soft cases for lighter travel and hard cases for maximum protection.

6. Music stand

If your keyboard doesn’t come with a built-in music stand, purchasing an external music stand can be very useful. It holds your sheet music or digital devices securely, which is excellent for reading music or tutorial videos while playing.

7. Power adapter

Ensure you have a reliable power adapter compatible with your keyboard model. A spare adapter can also be handy to keep in your gig bag or rehearsal space as a backup.

By considering these essential accessories, you can ensure a more enjoyable and effective experience with your electric keyboard. Now that you’ve gathered all the essential information, it’s time to find the instrument that best suits your needs. Explore a wide range of electric keyboards and pianos at Best Buy. Whether you’re buying your first keyboard or upgrading to a full-fledged digital piano, there’s something for everyone. Happy music-making!

Take the next step

Find the perfect keyboard for you.

There are a lot of things to be aware of when shopping for a piano. Hopefully, this guide will help you make the best choice for your needs and level. Make sure you check out what’s offered at Best Buy; you’ll most likely find the perfect model for you.

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This article was drafted using AI technology and then reviewed, fact-checked, and revised by a member of our editorial team.

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  1. Hello All,
    Any recommendations for beginner but good Piano but reasonable price looking for my high school kid who all of a sudden showing interest in music especially in learning Piano

  2. I looked at a range of keyboards as I wanted to take up piano again at the grand age of 64. I decided on the Casio CDP-S100. The weighted keyboard reputation among piano teachers were the deciding factors, along with Casio’s own reputation for quality keyboards at all levels. I’m currently learning from the Alfred series of piano and music books, again this was due to their reputation and I find them very easy to follow in spite of using American music terminology. If you’re going to get serious about music, it’s not just an excellent keyboard you’ll need, but a good stand (the recommended cdp-s100 is perfect) as ‘x’ frames can restrict leg movement. Also, a good comfortable piano seat is a must. Don’t forget a piano light – you’ll be glad you got one, trust me! Finally, to spare your neighbours/family the irritation of your practice efforts, headphones are a good idea. Each to their own here.

  3. ‘”It represents the number of sounds the keyboard can reproduce simultaneously. This amount always seems a bit high to what’s physically possible for a human to play and hear, but it’s important to realize how things are processed under the hood. While you might play a 6-note chord, each of those notes might have multiple samples playing, especially if you’re adding a reverb effect or using the sustain pedal. Also, if you’re using a self-generated backing track (such as on an arranger model), all those sounds take up polyphony as well.”

    A guide is supposed to explain and aid understanding. The words quoted above do NOT do that!

    • The term polyphony is made out of two Greek terms; poly (which means many) and phony (sound). In the keyboard world, each digital unit that makes up a sound counts as one measure of polyphony.
      When we play a note on a keyboard, it activates one or multiple samples to produce the tone we hear. As we play chords and even use the sustain pedal to hold notes longer, all these individual samples add up and represent an amount of polyphony. If that total amount surpasses the maximum polyphony of a keyboard, some samples won’t be played, affecting the quality and detail. This is why higher polyphony is usually better.

      Hope this helps clear up the term for you!


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