Below I compare 5 usable keyboards between $50 and $150. I have not tried to cover these keyboards in detail – instead I have focused on the things I consider most important to a beginning piano or keyboarding student.

Here are some of the most important considerations when looking for a student keyboard:

  1. Number of keys. A full piano has 88. You are unlikely to find a quality 88 key keyboard at this price range. 61 seems to be the common compromise, and provides plenty of room for the beginner. I’ve limited the list below to keyboards with 61 keys.
  2. Polyphony. This is how many notes will sound at once. Some keyboards have as little as 8 (not really enough), but 32-48 is common and is plenty.
  3. Touch sensitive. This means that if you press a key harder, the sound is louder. This is not a common feature at this price range, but I consider it important for the student. Only one of the keyboards below has this feature, and that’s why it’s my first recommendation.
  4. Weighted keys. This refers to the amount of resistance felt when pressing the key. Most keyboards (even expensive ones) do not have weighted keys. This means that when the student moves to a real piano they will have a little difficulty adjusting, as the muscles will be unused to the resistance of the real hammers. Unfortunately this cannot be avoided at this price range. It can be made up for in practice.
  5. Built-in audio. Some keyboards have no sound module at all (they are referred to as controllers). All the keyboards below have a choice of sounds and built-in speakers. The quality of the sound of the instruments can vary tremendously; none will sound quite like a real piano. This will not impact the student (except aesthetically).
  6. Built-in metronome and/or rhythms. While not strictly necessary, these can be very useful for a student’s development. I have not listed any keyboards that do not include this, as it is a common feature. Auto-accompaniments are sometimes provided, which allow for harmonic accompaniment to be generated automatically.
  7. Built-in teaching tools. For the motivated student, these can be very helpful, and many of my students enjoy them. They are not necessary, but I have listed below if the keyboard includes them.

Click the image to view the item on Amazon.

Casio CTK-3200
$129.95 on Amazon

61. 48. Yes. No. 400. 150 auto accomp. Book of songs, music staff display, many interactive features. This is the one I would most recommend, as it is the only one that is touch-sensitive, and also includes a nice set of learning materials, including a full book of music to learn along with the keyboard. It also includes several other features not generally found in keyboards in this price range, such as a sampling function and a pitch bend wheel, lesson functions, and finger-training games. It suffers a little bit in the quality of the piano sound itself, but more than makes up for it with its other features.
Yamaha YPT-240
$119.95 on Amazon

61. 32. No. No.  385. 100 auto accomp. Includes the Yamaha Education Suite, digital staff and keyboard display. A very solid keyboard for the price, with a slightly more pleasing sound than the Casio CTK-3200. However, the lack of touch sensitivity is an important limitation for the student, and in all other areas than sound it is a little more lacking. (The YPT-340, at $160, adds touch sensitivity and is another excellent option at a slightly higher price range.)
Yamaha PSR-E253
$99.99 on Amazon
61. 32. No. No. 385. 100 auto accomp. Includes the Yamaha Education Suite, digital staff and keyboard display. This seems to be a very solid starting keyboard with some very nice features. I have not had the opportunity to test it myself, and while it does not list touch-sensitivity, some of the Amazon reviews claim it has it to a limited degree. Other sellers have responded directly to this question to say it does not. If it does, this is well worth the price and an excellent starter keyboard. If it doesn’t, it is still solid, but no comparison to the CTK-3200. 
Casio CTK-2400
$99.95 on Amazon

61. 48. No. No. 400. 150 auto accomp. Step-up learning system, digital staff and keyboard display. Also a solid starter, but again missing the touch sensitivity. Includes some nice features such as digital effects and a microphone sampler, but if you can spare the extra $30, the CTK-3400 is a pretty substantial upgrade.
Casio SA-76
$49.95 on Amazon

44 mini. 8. No. No. 100. 50. No.  The bare minimum for the beginning student. It can get you started, but it won’t serve for very long, and the mini-sized keys make switching to a full-size keyboard or real piano a challenge. Not recommended unless budget is a severe concern.


Hope this helps you find what you need!

Aaron Stout teaches piano and keyboard online at