After evaluating 17 different keyboards, we recommend the Casio Privia PX160 as the best keyboard with weighted 88 keys at a competitive price. It has an excellent speaker system, and its Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard makes it feel like a real acoustic piano. To top it off, this model has the best combination of features and price that we've seen.
In this comprehensive buyer's guide, we explain how weighted keys work, what to look for in this type of keyboard, and we look at 5 of our favorite keyboards with weighted keys (including the Casio Privia PX160).
All of our favorites have a full keyboard so you can enjoy the entire octave range, and play any song that you want without having to worry about not having enough notes to work with!
Best Weighted Keyboard 88 Keys
If you plan on playing a lot of piano-centric music, you need a keyboard that can really deliver on true piano sound quality. The Casio Privia PC160 has 18 realistic piano tones that sound amazing, as well as other authentic instrument sounds, and a new speaker system for the ultimate in hearing pleasure when you are playing at home.
There is a line-out slot so you can connect this keyboard to external speakers and use it on stage. This is an attractive keyboard that is available in both black and champagne-gold colored finishes.
Best Weighted Keyboard Under 300
The Alesis Recital is an 88-key beginner digital piano that has full-size, semi-weighted keys. It comes in a bundle package that includes a power supply, a keyboard stand, a piano bench, and a sustain pedal, so you have everything you need to start playing as soon as you take it out of the box.
There is a 128-note polyphony, so you will never miss a note, even if you are playing complicated pieces. The sound quality is great, with 20-watt speakers that have plenty of volume.
Beginners will love the free, three-month premium subscription to Skoove, with interactive online piano lessons.
Best Weighted Keyboard for Beginners
The Yamaha P71 is an Amazon exclusive model that comes with a power adapter and a sustain pedal.
It has 88 fully weighted, piano-style keys that feel like those of a real acoustic piano. You will enjoy the 10 different instrument voices that include digitally sampled tones from Yamaha acoustic grand pianos.
The Dual Mode lets you combine two voices, such as piano and strings, so you can get really creative with your sounds. This is a slim, compact, and lightweight keyboard that is easy to take anywhere.
What are Weighted Keys?
In order to be able to have that true piano feel, you need to have weighted keys. Some people recommend that beginners use a keyboard with weighted keys right from the beginning, while others say that it is not overly important. If you are just learning how to play, and you are using a keyboard, it would be a good idea to have one with weighted keys, so it won’t feel too different when you try to play a traditional acoustic piano.
There are many different types of weighted keyboards, including digital pianos, acoustic pianos, organs, and electronic keyboards. You will hear a few different terms when it comes to weighted keys: non-weighted; semi-weighted; hammer action; and graded hammer action. You will also hear about touch sensitivity, which we will discuss more later on in this article.
> Non-Weighted Keys
Most cheap keyboards, as well as electronic organs, have non-weighted keys. These are usually entry-level instruments, and if you can spend a few extra bucks, you would likely be better off with one of the three types of weighted keys.
> Semi-Weighted Keys
If you are looking at budget keyboards with weighted keys, many will have semi-weighted keys. These are spring-action keys that have a bit more resistance than non-weighted keys.
> Hammer Action Keys
Many digital pianos have hammer action keys. This means that the keys mechanism are working in a similar manner as those of an acoustic piano. There is a small hammer that is attached to a lever system close to the key. This, instead of a spring, provides resistance.
> Graded Hammer Weighting
Acoustic pianos and higher-end keyboards and digital pianos have graded hammer weighting or progressive hammer-action. This means that you will need to play heavier on the low notes and lighter on the high notes.
Commonly Asked Questions
Why do I need a keyboard with weighted keys?
When the keys on a keyboard are “weighted”, they give some resistance when you press them down – and spring back up when you take your finger off them.
Piano teachers around the world – like those at Lets Play Music, The Hoffman Academy and Sage Music - stress the importance of having a keyboard with weighted keys.
The main reason for this is so that your playing experience is as similar as possible to a `traditional` piano. This means that it will be easier for you to move from one keyboard (or piano) to another.
Another reason that a weighted keyboard in important – especially to learners - is that it will help to build finger strength, dexterity, and develop the right technique.
What’s the difference between weighted keys and touch-sensitive keys?
On a traditional piano, the keys are both weighted and touch-sensitive. This can be recreated on a digital piano or keyboard, but these models are often more expensive.
Weighted keys mean that there is a resistance and spring back when a key is pressed, whereas touch sensitive keys mean that how hard or soft you press a key determines how loud or soft the sound will be.
Martha Beth - expert in music teaching - states that the lack of touch sensitive keys is the main reason why people move from less-expensive electric keyboards to higher-end models.
What’s the difference between a 61 key, 76 key, and 88 key weighted keyboard?
The number refers to the number of keys on your keyboard, with an 88 key keyboard having the same number of weighted keys as a traditional piano. While 88 is optimal – because it best reflects a traditional piano - 76 keys is fine for beginners, or 61 keys, if your budget is very limited.
What’s the difference between a 61 key, 76 key, and 88 key weighted keyboard?
When you’re looking for a keyboard, whether it has weighted or semi-weighted keys should be on your priority list. Having weighted keys – along with a good number of full-size keys - should be among the most important features on your keyboard.
Best Keyboard with Weighted Keys (Summary Table)
Choosing a Keyboard for Beginners
If you're looking for the best piano keyboard for beginners (either yourself or someone else), there are several things that you'll need to keep in mind while you're looking at various models. There are features that really should be there, and a lot of features that you don’t really need.
One of the first things you need to think about is the style of music you will be playing. If you need a true piano sound, you will want to find a keyboard that offers specific piano features, including weighted key mechanism so it feels like a real piano. Other features to look for include:
> Number of Keys
If possible, it is best to get a keyboard with 88 keys, which is just over seven octaves. In the beginning, you will likely only be playing between one and three octaves, but it won’t be long before you will want the entire range.
You should have at least one pedal for your keyboard, which is a sustain or damper pedal. This going to help to sustain notes. If you get a bundle deal, there may be a pedal included. Otherwise, you will have to purchase it separately.
In addition to piano sounds, it is a good idea to get a keyboard that has a variety of other sounds to play around with, no matter what type of music you intend to play. It can be a lot of fun to play around with various instruments, and it keeps things fresh so beginners don’t get bored.
While you are learning how to play, you will need to have a tool that will help you to keep a steady rhythm going. Many keyboards have a built-in metronome for this purpose. At one time, this was a separate piece of gear that sat on top of the piano. Set it for the tempo and speed, and it will keep time for you.
> Drum Rhythms
Another tool that can help you with learning how to keep time is drum rhythms. Many keyboards offer dozens, and some even hundreds, of rhythms that can help the beginner learn how to keep time and have loads of fun doing it.
> Learning Aids
Whether you plan on taking lessons, or you are going to try and learn on your own, it always comes in handy to have learning aids. Many keyboards have built-in piano lessons for beginners, or can connect to music apps through smartphones and tablets with MIDI.
In the beginning, it is nice to be able to record what you are playing, so you can listen to it and figure out the things that you may be doing wrong. Later, it is great to have a record and playback feature so you can make and record your own music.
> Accompaniment Features
Once you have learned to play a few tunes, it is fun to have a backup band. You don’t have to run out and look for other musicians when your keyboard has accompaniment features. It’s like having your very own, built-in backup band.
Best Keyboard with Weighted Keys (Reviews)
This article is meant to provide you with information about a variety of keyboards with weighted keys that can be used by players of all levels, from beginner to professional. You have learned a few things about weighted keys and how they work. Now it’s time to take a look at some of the best keyboards with weighted keys that are actually affordable.
Casio PX160: Best Weighted Keyboard 88 Keys
The Casio PX160 is the successor to the PX150. The original is a popular keyboard, and we expect to hear rave reviews about the PX160, thanks to the many terrific enhancements in both features and sound quality. Some of our favorite features include the redesigned speaker system, the new string ensemble and electric piano tones, and the 1/4” left and right line outputs. The AiR (Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator) sound source delivers authentic grand piano sound at four levels.
The PX160 uses the Casio Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard, and the keys have simulated ebony and ivory textures so they feel like the real thing. The Hammer Response feature senses the speeds that the hammers move inside a real grand piano in relation to the velocity that they are played, so there is almost perfect piano sound quality. The 8w X 8w speaker system delivers sounds that are rich and powerful, even when the keyboard is placed against a wall.
Whether you are looking for a keyboard that you can use at home, or something that will be used for performances, the Casio PX160 should suit all of your needs perfectly. It has a terrific speaker system that has been totally redesigned, and the Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard makes it feel like you are playing a real, acoustic piano.
Alesis Recital: Best Weighted Keyboard Under 300
The Alesis Recital is a great keyboard for beginners, with 88 full-size, semi-weighted keys and 128-note polyphony. You will enjoy a playing experience that is the next best thing to playing on a real piano, and there is even a lesson mode that breaks the keyboard up into two playing areas with identical pitch and voice, which can come in handy during piano lessons. The sound quality is better than you might expect from a beginner keyboard, with 20-watt speakers that offer plenty of volume. At a price of around $200, you will be hard-pressed to find a better beginner keyboard.
This keyboard has five built-in instrument voices: acoustic piano; electric piano; organ; synthesizer; and bass, so you can really have fun playing around with different sounds while you are learning how to play the piano. You can even customize the voices by combining two sounds using the Layer Mode. There is USB-MIDI connectivity, so you can connect to computers and mobile devices and enjoy using a variety of music apps, including piano lesson apps.
If you don’t have a huge budget, but you want a quality keyboard to learn on, the Alesis Recital is a great place to start. It is a full keyboard, and it has true piano sounds, so you will feel like you are playing on a real acoustic piano.
Yamaha P71: Best Weighted Keyboard for Beginners
The Yamaha P71 is a keyboard that offers 10 different voices, including digitally sampled tones from actual Yamaha acoustic grand pianos. It has a slim and stylish design that is lightweight and portable, weighing in at around 25 pounds and less than 12 inches in depth. The GHS (Graded Hammer Standard) weighted action gives you that heavy touch in the low end and the light touch in the high end, just like a real acoustic piano. This is important for learning proper finger technique.
This keyboard is easy to use, and most of the settings can be operated by pressing a single button. All you have to do is hold down the “Grand Piano/Function” button, and then select the appropriate keys to change voices, set up the built-in metronome, play demo sources, and a whole lot more. Of course, this keyboard is built with Yamaha’s classic sound engine, AWM (Advanced Wave Memory) sampling that uses digital technology to record the sound an acoustic piano.
When you buy a Yamaha keyboard, you know you are getting a quality instrument that is built with the latest and most innovative sound technology. The P71 is no exception. This is a keyboard that is ideal for players of all levels, and has all of the features you will ever need.
An Alternative Product
Another option to consider, although it is a bit more expensive, is the Yamaha P125, an 88-key, weighted action keyboard that comes in a bundle package that includes a power supply and a sustain pedal.
This keyboard is reasonably-priced for what you get – it’s loaded with features, including the Pure CF sound engine that reproduces the sound and tone of a Yamaha acoustic grand piano, split mode that allows you to use a different voice with each hand, and USB to HOST connectivity with MIDI that lets you connect to a variety of other devices so you can access and use music-making software.
Whether you're just learning how to play the piano, or you've been playing for several years, it's always best to have a keyboard that has a full 88 keys. After all, there are probably loads of songs that you want to play, and many will require you to use the full-octave range.
Any of the keyboards reviewed in this guide will fit the bill nicely, and they all have great features for musicians of all levels - even beginners!