Updated: October 12, 2015

Piano Keyboard Reviews:

Although acoustic pianos may still produce better quality notes than electronic keyboards, you can literally start playing an electronic keyboard in minutes with the variety of sounds and rhythms they can generate. Electronic keyboards are also smaller, easier to play, and much less expensive than real pianos. When choosing an electronic keyboard keep in mind that most professional piano teachers will not provide lessons to students that don't have real acoustic pianos at home and so an electronic keyboard is considered more or less a beginners instrument that eventually needs to be replaced by a more sophisticated digital piano or authentic piano. Nevertheless, you can get great enjoyment and music from a piano keyboard so don't let the lesson thing deter you from buying one. Popular keyboards include those from Yamaha keyboards, Roland keyboards, Korg keyboards, Casio keyboards, Rhodes keyboards, Wurlitzer, Moog, and Kurzweil. Portable electronic keyboards are not only easy to play and inexpensive, but they give you the flexibility of taking the keyboard anywhere you go. The built-in speakers allow you to get a one man band since the electronic keyboard can create countless percussion rhythms and instrument sounds. Many electronic keyboards offer "sampling" which allows you to record and play back sounds you have created.

Most experts recommend buying an electronic piano/keyboard with at least 61 keys (88 is a full set) so you can play more classical or contemporary compositions. You'll want to think about buying a piano keyboard that has a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) - this way your keyboard can communicate with other computers and electronic instruments. A MIDI keyboard controller is a less expensive option but has no built-in sound and can only be used with a computer. Experts say that even the lowest priced piano keyboards offer better sound quality and are more powerful than the computer sound with a MIDI keyboard controller. Synthesizers (or synths) are better than portable keyboards and often have innovative technology like samplers which work like a digital tape recorder allowing you to record your original sounds/songs and then play them back. Perhaps the most important feature of any piano is the sound quality it can produce and the more closely your electronic keyboard reproduces the sounds made by an acoustic piano, the happier you will be. Digital pianos sound closer to the real thing than electronic keyboards and synthesizers, but they are significantly more expensive and not recommended for beginners or those that are taking lessons.

Digital pianos are great for professionals who travel with bands and need a portable piano that sounds great. Digital pianos have two or three pedals and require you to own a stand to put them on. You will find many digital pianos that not only replicate realistic piano sounds but they are also capable of producing organ, strings, vibes, and harpsichord sounds. I think most musicians like electronic keyboards for their versatility to create rhythm patterns, bass lines, acoustic/electronic instruments, and percussion sounds letting you delve into all types of music like funk, reggae, rock, and dance. Some high end keyboards let you do vocal effects or produce sounds from drum pads. The digital effects are the fun part of a keyboard with things like reverb, delay, distortion or chorus. The sounds you can create are amazing and add variety to any song. The keys on an electronic keyboard are offered in 3 size - mini, organ style or full size. Pick full size keys if you want switch to an acoustic piano one day since they resemble them most closely. Touch sensitive keys are a great feature as are loaded keys which give you the resistance you find on real piaon keys. We researched electronic keyboards and pianos online at sites like Amazon.com, Musiciansfriend.com, and music keyboard forums where we read expert feedback to find out which brands and models produce the best music and sounds. Keep in mind that keyboard come in prices and styles that range from under $100 to more than $3000. You can browse the list of best-selling keyboards here -- they carry all the popular models from Yamaha, Casio, and other leading keyboard companies, and they offer great shipping and customer service.

Best Professional Synthesizer:

The Yamaha MOTIF ES8 88-Key Music Production Synthesizer ($2600) is the best model we could find amongst reviews. It consistently rated high in all categories for features, quality, value and music. The Motif ES8 from Yamaha is rated above the competition like Roland and Korg. This Yamaha is sophisticated and well worth the money if you know what you are doing around keyboards and synthesizers. The Motif features the largest wave ROM of any workstation keyboard available (175 MB's in 16-bit linear format). There are over 1000 voices plus 65 drum kits on the synthesizer and you can mix voices. Several musicians who play in church groups say the sound quality is amazing and the sounds the ES emits are beyond what Roland and other brands can do. A newly designed tone generator chip offers true 128-note polyphony. Effect systems include 20 reverb types and 49 chorus/delay types, while each Voice can have two large blocks of 116 insertion effect types. Yamaha is the best selling brand in keyboards and synthesizers and this model pretty much demonstrates why. The Roland Fantom-X6 61-Key Sampling Workstation ($2000) gets excellent reviews as well, but we say if you have the extra $500 go with the Yamaha and you won't be sorry.

Best Electronic KeyBoard:

The Yamaha YPG-625 88-Key Weighted Portable Grand Keyboard (available here) - the pure combination of technology and authentic piano sounds. The 88 weighted, graded hammer-action keys gives grand piano sounds and the playing experience we all crave. The Yamaha YPG-625 features 500 realistic instrument voices and and 150 accompaniment styles, USB to HOST terminal for quick and easy computer connection, USB to DEVICE terminal for convenient memory stick storage and easily playing standard MIDI data, music database with 267 song records for instantly setting the entire instrument to match a desired genre, 16-part multitimbral capability for sequencer recording applications, comprehensive song recording functions, and an easy Song Arranger feature and Performance Assistant technology with score and lyric information displayed. Great for beginners and experts - we read many reviews by both professional players and novices that gave the Yamaha top ratings. Many musicians that play at churches, parties, or weddings say this model performs exceptionally well and leaves the audience asking questions about the sound quality. It's one of the few models from any brand that was rated high both by beginners/novices and professionals which makes it the best overall electronic keyboard on the market in our eyes.

Digital Piano:

There is a list of the most popular digital pianos here. Check out the Yamaha and M-Audio models there. The Korg SP-250 88-Key Portable Digital Piano ($900) is a top seller in this field. Consumers rate this digital piano the best in class with it's superb piano sound - features a vintage electric grand sound, as well as an authentic honky-tonk piano. The weighted keys of the SP-250 give the same playing experience as that of a grand piano say owners and the assortment of sounds available (jazz organs, string sounds, guitar sounds, percussion) make this an amazing digital piano. There are both Chorus and Reverb effects to add depth to all music you play. The Korg digital piano comes with the stand and pedals. It's easy to remove the keyboard from the stand and move it giving it that portable feel. You can check out all the details online at Korg.com.

Budget/Starter Electronic Keyboard:

For the beginner keyboard player we recommend the Casio SA-75 Starter Musical Keyboard ($50) - great for young musicians just starting out (as young as 5). Features 30 patterns include 10 rhythms, 10 free sessions, and 10 funny modes, 10 demo songs with a melody-off control, Four-note polyphonic with 100 PCM tones, and an on-screen music staff that displays notes played while icons indicate the beat. Great for kids but may not be the solution for teenagers or young adults. Parents say little ones like to listen to the pre-recorded melodies on the Casio keyboard and enjoy hitting the keys to make music. The Yamaha YPT-310 Full-Size 61-Key Touch-Sensitive Keyboard ($179) is what young adults and adults should consider. Reviewer say this is the best keyboard with 61 keys. There are 482 instrument voices and 106 accompaniment styles, 102 built-in songs separated into left- and right-hand parts for easy learning, and a sound effects kit with nearly 50 effects. It is MIDI and XGlite compatible and offers a 1 year part warranty. Great for novices who need practice with notes, chords, and timing skills. Plus it comes with a stand, headphones, and power supply. If you want to buy online from Amazon, you can browse these top less-expensive keyboards.