You have to take several things into consideration when looking for the best portable keyboard. You want something that is going to be small and lightweight but has the features that you need. These keyboards are perfect for taking with you to your music lessons, studio, or to a jam session.
What is a Portable Keyboard?
You may take piano lessons now on a full-sized piano with your teacher. It’s not practical to haul a piano around as it’s too heavy to move around. A portable keyboard gives you the option to take your music with you no matter where you go. These are essentially digital pianos, and they come in a wide range of sizes as well as styles. They also come with plenty of features so you can play a wide range of music on your portable system. This guide would help you pick one to meet your individual needs.
You want to ensure that your keyboard will work for your individual needs. The following features are things that you should be looking for before you make your purchase.
Size and Weight
You don’t want to buy a keyboard that is too heavy because it’ll be harder to take with you to your lessons or to a gig. You probably want to look for one that is 20 lbs or less. This will be compact and small enough for you to take around with you. Your instrument won’t take up a lot of room, and it will be ready to go with you when you need it. You will probably need a keyboard stand as this will make playing the instrument easier. In some cases, you may want to have a regular upright piano that you keep at home and a portable keyboard to take with you to your lessons.
Song Banks and Voices
You want a keyboard that allows you to play a wider variety of songs. Many of these keyboards come with built-in songs that you can play it right away. This makes learning a lot of fun. These instruments also come with a wide variety of rhythms. They also come with other musical voices such as bells, woodwinds, percussion, organs, and sound effects to make your music stand out, so it is unique.
A digital keyboard that gives you more features than a regular upright piano since they are digital. They are often easier to learn on because since they come with songs and various rhythms, which makes it easier for you to learn as a beginner student.
These portable digital keyboards come in a wide range of prices. In general, you want to purchase one that is a little bit more expensive. It can be fine to purchase one that is low-cost, but you’re not going to have as many features as it might not be made to a high-quality. This guide features several different keyboards in a wide range of prices to help you make a better buying decision.
You want your music keyboard to have decent action. This means how the keys are pressed and how they respond when you push down on them. You want to make sure that yours has the right amount of firmness as well as resistance. There are two types of keys. There are both weighted keys and unweighted keys. You’ll find the unweighted keys are easier to push down. Weighted keys respond like a regular piano. For beginners, the weighted keys are generally better because they allow you to play the notes precisely. The problem with this is that you may end up spending more money.
MIDI and Computer Connection
We refer to MIDI as a musical instrument digital interface. You may want one that has MIDI compatibility. This will allow you to interface your keyboard with your computer. Younger students won’t need this, but if you plan to record songs, you will want this feature with your portable keyboard. You’ll probably still want to have some sort of computer connectivity because a lot of music is made on computers today.
This can make it easier for the student to learn a song after lessons and then bring their keyboard home and continue working on the song on their computer. You will find a lot of these keyboards have a USB interface so you can plug into your computer right away. This also makes it easier to use your keyboard with other digital products and software programs.
Some keyboards will have storage options. This is usually a bank of settings where you can store user presets and new sounds that you created. Some will also allow you to use micro-USB cards where you can store your new keyboard sounds, and you also have the ability to download software patches that unlocks new sounds and abilities for your instrument.
Portable keyboards today have excellent sound. The ones that are on the higher end will sound just as good as a regular piano. Some of these instruments can produce the sounds of other instruments such as woodwinds, drums, or strings, which gives you more tonal options when you play.
Keyboards come with a different number of keys. Most come with 49, 66, 72, or 88 keys. Beginners will more than likely start out with a keyboard that has 49-66 keys. This is perfect for helping you learn how to play this type of instrument. A keyboard that has 72 keys will allow you to play most types of music.
Do I Need 88 keys?
You don’t necessarily have to have a product that has 88 keys. This is a standard full-size piano style. With this type of product, you can cover the full range of 7 octaves, so you are not limited to the songs that you can play. If you want to improve your repertoire and the flexibility you have in playing music, then you might want to look for one that has 88 keys. The problem is that 88 keys is difficult to carry with you and cumbersome. Most products come with fewer keys as they are easier to carry to lessons.
Types of Portable Keyboards
There are several types of portable keyboards. These products are perfect for beginners all the way up to advanced keyboard players. The main thing that they have in common is that you can take them with you. Here are the common types that you will find on the market.
This type of keyboard is for beginner music students. You can use these instruments to begin learning songs. You will want one that has between 24 to 66 keys. This is the perfect range for a beginner. You will want one that doesn’t have a lot of buttons because this will probably confuse the beginner student. Look for products that are easy to play so the student can concentrate on the music and not all the bells and whistles that other products tend to come with.
For the player that has been using a keyboard in for a long time, you may want an arranger keyboard. This is a complicated type of keyboard, but it is perfect for playing songs and doing some recording. These often come with large libraries that have accompaniment tracks that have been pre-recorded in almost every musical style. You can use this type of keyboard to be a solo artist as they often have other instruments built into the keyboard. you may have the ability on this type of product to save and record your music into a memory bank
For professionals or those interested in creating their own songs, you can use a workstation and make an original composition. You have a lot of control with a workstation style instrument. You can digitally manipulate in record everything note by note. It is not recommended for a beginner as there are too many features. You will need to have quite a bit of musical experience before you use this type of portable product.
Organ or Piano Style
You can also find portable keyboards that recreate the sounds of a classic acoustic piano or an organ. These will have a full set of keys. They’re going to be larger than standard size products so they can be a little bit more cumbersome to take around with you. These products are all digital, so they don’t have quite the sound of regular acoustic organs or upright pianos.
There are hybrid products that combine a wide variety of different types of keyboards. This may include synthesizers, digital workstations, arrangers, pianos, and organs. This gives you a wide variety of sounds to work with when you are playing music. Just remember that the more features you add to your instrument, the more complex it’s going to be. In some cases, less is going to be more.
It’s important to look after your musical instrument. Here are some tips to keep your keyboard in great shape.
Avoid Open Windows
Don’t keep it near an open window. It has sensitive electronic parts and it can easily fill with dust quite quickly. Make sure you close the window during the day if your instrument happens to be by one because you don’t want to spill water into the electronics when it’s raining and you’re not around to close the window. You also want to avoid putting the instrument by a window because sunlight can damage the plastic parts over time. The delicate electronics inside can also suffer damage. You might want to invest in a dust cover to keep your instrument free from debris when you’re not using it. The cover is also ideal do you happen to have pets as they will shed a lot of hair which could ruin vital components.
Food and Objects
Don’t eat or drink around your keyboard. You don’t want food particles stuck between the keys or spill liquids on the electronics. You should also keep it away from shelving as objects may fall and cause damage.
Make sure that you clean your hands before you use it. You can transfer dirt, oils, and debris to the Keys and other parts of the instrument if your hands are not clean. You can also invest in a small cotton cloth, and you can use this to remove debris that has accumulated on the surface.
Keep any cables associated with your instrument out of the way. You don’t want cables to be dangling around is it easy to bump into them, don’t trip over them, and damage it. Use ties to keep the cables nice and neat and out of the way. It’s a good idea to invest in a stand as well.
1. Casio SA-46 -Portable Keyboard – Best for Beginners
The Casio SA-46 Is the perfect keyboard for a beginner. While it has a lot of features, the buttons and controls are not that complicated when compared to other products. For younger students that are just getting into playing the piano, this portable system is the right option.
It comes with fifty accompanying patterns. There are ten preset songs, and it has one hundred tones, so you have plenty of musical options. You can change between organ and piano mode. The LCD screen makes it easy to change current settings. It comes with five drum pads so you can develop rhythm playing. There is a headphone output, so you can use headphones while practicing. You power it with six AA batteries, or you can use an adapter. This product is lightweight at only one kilogram so you can take it with you to your lessons.
- Easy to use for beginners
- Lots Of presets to develop great tones right away
- Play-along tracks
- Doesn’t have a full set of keys
- Power supply not included
2. BIGFUN 37 Keys Multifunction Keyboard – Best for Small Children
The BIGFUN 37 is ideal for small children. This can be the perfect starting point to get them interested in music. It’s designed for children aged 3 to 8. The product comes with 37 large piano-style keys, which will be easy for the child to play on. It’s perfect for helping younger children learn coordination and to develop early musical skills.
There are several tones and melodies to keep young children interested. Rhythms include rock, disco, marching band, and pop. It has tones such as organ, clarinet, guitar, harp, piano, and organ. The unit features Hi-Fi sound quality, and it’s made with sturdy material, so it’s not easily damaged. It comes with piano function, detachable microphone, ensemble mode, record playback function, keyboard drum, eight tones, automatic standby sleep function, and six demos. The buttons and settings on the product are quite large, so parents can easily change settings while their child is using this portable keyboard. It is powered by both a USB adapter and batteries.
- Allows small children to develop musical skills
- Easy for parents to change settings
- Limited functions
- Sound could be better
3. Yamaha PSS-F30 Mini-Key – Best Easy to Use Portable Keyboard
The Yamaha PSS-F30 is the perfect starting point for the student or an individual that wants something that’s going to be easy to use. This product comes with 37 keys and a lot of features that you’re going to enjoy.
You get 37 keys on this portable musical instrument. While this is a lower range when compared to other products, it still has a lot of features that make it a standout choice. You get 114 styles and 120 voices. The preset songs that come with the product include famous songs that we all enjoy listening to. There is a sound book that you can download to play songs. You get a metronome to help you learn rhythm. You can use the headphone jack for privacy while you’re playing. It takes very little space, and it only weighs 1.2 kg, so it’s easy to take with you. For those getting started playing music, The Yamaha PSS-F30 is the right choice.
- Simple operation
- Lots of presets and styles
- Some may find it too simple
- Number of keys is limiting
4. RockJam 54-Key Music System – Best for Music Students
Learning music can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be with the RockJam 54-Key music system. It has everything you need to learn music and to keep improving as a musician.
This system gives you 54 full-size piano keys so you can cover most styles of music. It’s portable, compact, and easy to take with you. You get an included power supply, or you can run it off of batteries when you go to your practice sessions. You get a great sound quality with two built-in stereo speakers.
It comes with a sheet music stand so you can support all of your sheet music or your tablet and read sheet music as you play. You get content that works with Android or an iOS device, which will help assist you in learning an instrument. There is an LCD display that will give you feedback on the keys and chords in the songs you’re playing, which help you memorize them. It comes complete with 100 rhythms, 100 sound effects, and eight demo songs.
5. Freeum 88 Keys Portable Bluetooth – Best Unique Music System
f you’re looking for a unique musical product, you might want to consider the Freeum 88 Keys Roll-up Piano. This provides for you a full 88-key piano, but you can roll it up to take along with you. This is a unique musical instrument that uses the latest in today’s technology.
The keys on the piano are made with non-toxic silicone. They’re durable, soft, and they will resist wear. Take the product with you anywhere you go. It comes with a 100mah rechargeable lithium battery, which will last you around eight to 10 hours. This means you can take it to your practice session and you won’t have to worry about your battery wearing out. It comes complete with a built-in loudspeaker as well as 128 percussion and tones. You get 80 demo songs, 61 rhythms, and other assorted sound effects. It has everything that today’s musician needs to sound great. Can you use an external headset with it and it has both input and output features. You can use a USB MIDI along with popular software and apps with the system. It’s also Bluetooth compatible with your other electronic devices.
- Unique system
- full set of keys
- Bluetooth compatible
- Beginner may find it a bit complex
- requires a computer to recharge
6. Alesis Melody 61 MKII – Best Full Featured Music Package
For those looking for a full-featured product, you might want to look at the Alesis Melody 61 MKII Music System. This has everything that you need to start making great-sounding music.
It comes with built-in speakers that provide a rich and vibrant tone. You get 61 response keys. It has 300 built-in tones, so you have a lot of variation in the music that you can create. There is a one-touch song mode, and you have over 300 built-in rhythms that you can work with. You can create your own songs, or you can play along with over 40 demo songs. This product has everything you need to spark your creativity. It comes with a stand that is easy to assemble so you can keep your music neat and tidy as you practice. There is a bench with adjustable height settings, headphones, power adapter, music rest, and a microphone included.
With this system, you also get three months of Skoove Premium. This system helps you learn how to play the piano. They have a team of expert musicians that can help provide support whenever you need it. It includes piano courses that are in-depth where you will get feedback on your playing. This is one of the best portable keyboards for those looking for a total package.
- Plenty of features and tones
- Good selection of demo songs
- Comes with adapter
- Might be too complex for some beginners
- Some included extras are not that high in quality
7. Akai Professional MPK249 with 49 Keys – Best Pro-Style Workstation
If you’re a music professional, you may want to look at a workstation music system. This gives you a lot of options and how you arrange and make music. One product you might want to look at is the Akai Professional MPK249.
It comes with 49 semi-weighted full-size keys. They are responsive and have a natural feel when playing them. You get 16 RGB illuminated MPC pads and 4 banks so you can get 64 pads in total. This helps you create Loops, samples, melodies, one-shots, and expand your musical horizons. There is an on-board USB MIDI interface so you can use your peripheral midi equipment with the workstation. You get software packages with the program that works with both PC and Mac computers. This includes Hybrid 3 by AIR Music Tech, Ableton Live Lite, Akai Pro MPC Essentials, and SONiVOX Twist 2. These software Suites can be downloaded to use with your system. The Akai Professional MPK249 workstation has everything that you need to create excellent music.
- Lots of options
- Comes with great software
- Some had difficulty downloading software programs
- Software programs are complex
8. Roland RD-2000 Premium 88-Keys – Best Full Key Music Station
The problem with many digital pianos is that they don’t come with a full set of keys. If you want to play an original piano style, you’re going to want one that has a full set of keys such as the Roland RD-2000.
This is a next-generation piano system. It has modern controller features and two independent sound engines. It recreates the acoustic piano sound and uses all the latest advancements by Roland. You’ll get a deep rich tone and full polyphony. it’s easy to control and shape your sound with the eight control knobs. Use the LED status indicators to view the effects and sounds on the unit. It’s made with a hybrid wood and molded construction so it will last a long time. This system is perfect for the home, music lessons, or in the studio. Those that need top performance and want to recreate the sounds humble piano, this is the system you want to own.
- Full piano sound
- Lots of control over your sound
- Harder to carry around as it’s quite large
- Some complex controls
9. Casio CT-X3000 61-Key Professional Music System – Best Full-Featured Professional System
The Casio 61 key CT-X3000 is a full-featured digital piano system for today’s music professional. It can produce a wide range of tones, and it has an impressive amount of presets so you can sculpt your sound in the way you want.
This music system has a 61 note keyboard that features a touch response. There are eighty-eight preset tones as well as 235 Built-in rhythms. This gives you a wide range of tonal options so you can create music your way. The system recreates the sound of other instruments using high-performance LSI. You get plenty of sound with this system as it features 6 Watts. You can plug in a CD or MP3 player through the audio input. It comes with a digital reverb chorus and delay. These effects can be adjusted on the fly whenever you want. You can change the sound of the music to suit your live performance. Use the included USB port to transfer files.
With this system, you can also save 128 different setups. This includes rhythms, tones, and tempo. You can switch between the setups and load them whenever you want. This allows you to play songs the way you want.there is a 17 to track a mini recorder so you can record your original music. There is enough room for you to record around 10 original songs. You also have the ability to edit your recorded data. You can do a multitrack recording and record your individual parts on different tracks before you bring your whole music composition together. This is the complete package for today’s musicians.
- Huge range of tones
- Designed for studio or stage
- Not for beginners
- Takes skill to operate all the features
10. Yamaha EZ-220 Lighted Keys – Best Learning Tool For Beginners
Learning to play music can take a lot of time. Today there are music products that help speed up this process so you can learn the basics in less time. One product you might want to consider that can help you learn is the Yamaha EZ-220.
This system comes with 61 touch-sensitive keys that are lighted. This means that you can see where to put your fingers when learning different songs. There are over 100 accompaniment styles and 392 voices, so you have a large plate of musical variety to draw from. It comes with one demo song as well as 100 built-in songs to help you learn. It comes with a Yamaha education guide, fingering guide, and a page-turner app that works on iPad. This gives you all you need to start learning how to play. You can connect the system via a USB port to your computer and use different musical programs. It’s easy to start jamming by using the 100 Styles as they will act as your virtual band. It comes with a stand, headset, and adapter.
- Lights help guide beginners
- lots of voices and styles to choose from
- Lots of demo songs
- Intermediate players may find it limiting
- Could use better accessories
There are many options when it comes to finding a good portable keyboard. The type of keyboard that you buy will be determined upon what you want to do with it. There are products out there for beginners all the way to advanced users. As you go up in price, you will get more features. You may or may not need all of these features. The products listed in this guide covered a wide range of different portable keyboard systems so you should find something that works for your needs.
For the basic beginner, you should go with the Yamaha EZ-220. I recommend this product because it gives you a simple system to start learning how to play. Having lights on the keys gives you a reference point so you can follow along. Once you start to get better you can turn these lights off. it also comes with plenty of voices so you can make great music right away.
If you’re looking for the full piano experience, have a look at the Roland RD-2000 as this comes complete with a full set of keys. A lot of products in the market that don’t feature 88 keys but this allows you to play any piano song you want and it has a lot of outstanding features. Advanced users will want to check out the Casio CT-X3000 61-Key Professional Music System. It has a full set of features for today’s working musicians. It’s also great for the studio or for the practicing musician at home.
There is a wide range of portable keyboards on the market for anyone. You just have to decide what your needs are and then make your final choice. This guide should give you a head start.