Purchasing the lowest possible keyboard with light weighted keys might not be the very best idea even for an extensive novice. If the primary goal of yours is usually to play or even learn to play the piano, you would certainly want an instrument with fully weighted keys (I’ll explain the reason why in a bit).
Consequently, in this article, we are going to take a look at the five best digital pianos under $500 that have a complete range of eighty eight fully weighted hammer action keys.
With the advent of digital pianos, it’s become easier than ever before to begin learning to play the piano.
You do not need to spend a lot of money on an acoustic upright (that’s like a huge piece of furniture) and most of the maintenance costs that accompany it (tuning, repair).
Best Beginner Keyboards 2018
Today, digital pianos come really near to recreating the real thing, and also offer a number of features that are important not on a traditional instrument.
Even though the benefits of an acoustic piano continue to be valid today, a lot of people are choosing a digital option.
There is an enormous variety of instruments to fit some skill level, space, and budget.
But what can make a great device for all those just starting their musical journey?
I do think that one can start learning on any keyboard (cheap or perhaps expensive, with sixty one or perhaps eighty eight keys etc.) in case he or perhaps she actually wants to.
The best choice, though, will get the right instrument for your experience and needs. And this’s what this post is about.
I have divided the entire market of budget end keyboards into two parts:
Keyboards Under 300$
Keyboards (Digital Pianos) Under 500$
Under 300$Under 500$
This segment consists of relatively cheap portable keyboards, which usually have a lot of built in sounds, songs, rhythms along with other so called bells and whistles but not so realistic piano sound and touch.
Such keyboards usually have sixty one or perhaps seventy six non weighted or perhaps semi weighted keys which do not feel anything like a genuine piano. Thus it is not a great option for all those that wish to develop appropriate finger strength and technique.
The quality of piano tones is usually average; the dynamic range is quite minimal, partially as a result of the action type.
While doing so, these portable keyboards are ideal for anybody on a budget which does not know whether they are likely to stick with playing and simply wants to get a sample of what it’s love to play keyboard.
For that reason, it is an extremely popular choice for young adults and kids.
These days we are going to discuss the other segment (under 5001dolar1) of entry level keyboards and probably the best five models which deliver the best value for players.
Only some keyboards this price range have fully weighted keys. In reality, there’re keyboards that cost 400 500$and have semi weighted keys.
But I intentionally did not include those keyboards in this list.
You might ask:
What is the big deal about weighted keys?
The answer is simple:
Best Beginner Keyboards hammer action
In the event that you would like to get a realistic piano playing experience, you will certainly want a keyboard with fully weighted keys.
As I said, it feels a lot more like real piano keys and can enable you to build proper finger strength and technique, making it a lot easier to move to an acoustic in the future.
On the flip side, in case you’ve a limited built in sounds/extra features or budget are essential to you than realistic piano sound as well as feel, check out the portable keyboards under 3001dolar1, which typically have sixty one or perhaps seventy six semi weighted keys.
Before moving on to the list itself, I want to describe typical features and terms you will encounter so that you understand precisely what you are getting and what all those fancy words really mean.
KeysAction TypeTouch sensitivityPolyphonyModesLesson FunctionMIDI recorderTranspose, Tuning USB type B
Modern acoustic pianos have eighty eight keys. Most keyboards and digital pianos have eighty eight, seventy six, or perhaps sixty one keys.
Seventy six keys are enough to play almost all (ninety nine %) modern pieces. Some advanced pieces require a complete set of eighty eight keys.
just how many keys acoustic piano
Now why don’t we finally look at the list of five best beginner keyboards with weighted keys. For starters, check out the comparison table below.
Comparison table of the five best beginner keyboards with weighted keys
Hammer-Action Weighted Keys
USB Type B
Three types, OFF
Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR
Eighteen (five pianos)
Layer, Split (Bass only), Duo
8W + 8W
Three types, OFF
Twelve (two pianos)
Layer, , Split Duo
10W + 10W
Twenty six lbs
Three types, OFF
AWM Stereo Sampling
Sixty four notes
Ten (two pianos)
6W + 6W
Three types, OFF
Sixty four notes
Ten (three pianos)
8W + 8W
Three types, OFF
PCM stereo sampling
Eight (three pianos)
Duo (Partner Mode)
9W + 9W
When compiling this list, we had been searching for the next criteria:
One) eighty eight fully weighted hammer action keys (full-size)
Two) High quality samples (realistic piano tone)
Three) A great range of dynamics: ability to play very soft (pianissimo) up to extremely loud (fortissimo)
4) Polyphony: a minimum of sixty four notes
Five) Price < 500$ Six) Standard functions: metronome, etc, transpose.
Seven) Well established manufacturers with great reputation (Yamaha, Korg, Casio, etc.)
One) Casio Privia PX 160 Best value keyboard in this price range
casio px-160 review
The Casio PX 160 is most likely the priciest keyboard on this list, but for good reason.
The piano offers an incredible value for the cost. In reality, this particular keyboard is able to compete even with higher priced keyboards like the Yamaha P 115, or the Roland FP 30.
very what’s so good about this particular piano?
For starters, the PX 160 is equipped with the Casio’s famous Tri sensor Hammer Action keyboard II.
It is the only computer keyboard in this price range that utilizes 3 sensor detection system and has simulated Ivory and Ebony key surfaces.
The triple sensor detection technology allows for faster note repetition, while the Ebony and Ivory textures provide best grip on the keys and absorb moisture when your hands become a bit sweaty.
casio px-160 review
Sound is another area where PX 160 shines.
Its Multi dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source delivers full natural sound sampled from a nine foot grand piano. The improved 16W speaker system and 128 note polyphony also contribute to the quality of sound.
Along with five piano tones, there’re thirteen other instrument sounds, which I actually enjoyed playing. You will barely be in a position to find such high quality sounds in this cost range.
Everything from an electric piano to a pipe organ sounded very authentic to the ears of mine, that is pretty shocking to see on a budget end piano.
When it comes to features, the PX 160 won’t disappoint you either.
The PX 160 is the only piano in the list which has 2 track MIDI recorder, which is going to allow you to separately record your right and left hand part to various tracks then play them too as a single song.
The keyboard also provides standard features like metronome, etc and duet play function, dual mode, tuning function, transpose.
The PX-160’s split mode only works with the Bass sound in the low range of the keyboard, while you are able to select other sound for the right hand section.
You will find sixty built in songs that you are able to make use of to separately practice left-hand and right- parts by turning one of the parts off. In addition to that, the piano allows to load ten User Songs into the memory as well as make use of them in one way.
Considering everything from the above, the PX 160 could well be the best keyboard you are able to get for under 500$not just for beginners but also for much more advanced players.
Realistic 3 Sensor Hammer Action II with Ivory Feel Not as inexpensive as the additional keyboards
Five beautiful piano tones + thirteen other high quality sounds A bit noisier key action than that of the competitors
2-track MIDI recorder
Sixty built in songs to listen and practice
Improved 16W speakers
Full Review Check Price
Two) Alesis Recital Pro A Pro version of the popular Recital model
alesis recital pro review
Alesis brand isn’t as well-known as Casio or Yamaha, but you will inevitably come across a couple of models as you are getting more knowledgeable about the market of entry level keyboards.
While the Alesis Recital has existed for some time, the Pro version, which will come with eighty eight fully weighted keys, was released just a couple months back.
Apart from the latest action and a redesigned cabinet, the Recital Pro also got a lot of additional instrument sounds along with a tiny display which tends to make it easier to get around the machine.
I actually liked the piano tone on the keyboard. It sounds very convincing and has a pleasant warm character to it.
Because of the powerful 20W speakers you get a wide dynamic range, which enables you to be expressive with your playing.
The hammer action of the Recital Pro looks like an excellent weighted action. It is nothing special but does the job of its well. Like the majority of the keyboards in this price range, the Recital’s keys are made of clear plastic and have a glossy finish on them.
While, to me, the Casio PX 160 has the greatest action at this price point, the majority of the keyboards on this list feel pretty much like one another, and I cannot say the Alesis’s action is inferior to them.
The one thing is that Alesis’s keyboard does not have graded effect, that means the keys feel exactly the same across the entire keyboard range.
alesis recital pro
In total, the keyboard has twelve instrument sounds along with a good range of features which any beginner would appreciate. It provides a metronome, transpose function, Split, Layer, and 1-track MIDI recorder, Dual mode and more.
Sad to say, the Alesis does not have built in songs to practice, and you cannot load the songs of yours into the keyboard also.
The piano has a significant amount of connectors to connect to various outside devices:
Two x 1/4 TRS line outputs (can be used to connect an external amplifier, mixer, PA system, etc.)
1/4 TRS headphone output
1/4 TRS sustain pedal input
The keyboard has also a USB type B port, which is going to allow you to connect the keyboard to a pc and work with it as a MIDI controller with apps as FlowKey, GarageBand, etc.
The Recital Pro may be the only digital piano on this list (and possibly on the market) which has a compartment for batteries, and that means you are able to make use of the keyboard outdoors when there is no power outlet around. And for some, it is usually an excellent advantage.
In comparison to various other keyboards in this class, the Alesis Recital Pro has got the most features for the very least price, making it a great option for all those that wish to keep the budget low but do not want to sacrifice features for the sake of affordability.
Display which shows current settings No graded’ effect (keys do not feel heavier in the lower end and lighter in the high end)
Twelve high quality instrument sounds Slightly bulkier compared to competitors (depth: 13.8 vs around 11)
128-note polyphony No built in songs to practice
Great onboard speakers (20W)
Onboard MIDI recorder
Dedicated Line Outputs
Three) Yamaha P 45 Most affordable Yamaha piano with weighted keys
The Yamaha P 45 is considered the most basic model in the P line and Yamaha’s only digital piano under 5001dolar1.
It is also probably the most widely used keyboard for beginners. And I am not surprised.
Yamaha is a recognized brand with a great track record that has been making high quality digital musical instruments for years, add to this an inexpensive price, and also the P 45 becomes one of the leaders in its class.
But of course, the popular brand and price that is great are not the sole things the P 45 has to offer. The keyboard includes a complete range of eighty eight Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keys, also found on the P 115 (next model up).
The AWM stereo sampling technology used on the P 45 ensures you get a rich, natural piano sound in addition to eight other beautiful voices.
The piano features 64 note polyphony and it is not a thing to be excited about but is enough in many scenarios.
The absence of a Split Mode and Line Out jacks does not appear to be a huge downside for a beginner either.
But in case you are intending to work with the keyboard of yours as a performing instrument, dedicated Line Outputs will be a great feature to have.
The absence of an onboard MIDI recorder is one other point to consider. Regrettably, in this price range, the Casio PX 160 and also the Alesis Recital Pro have that feature.
On another hand, you are able to always make use of the P-45’s USB type B port to connect it to a computer create multi track MIDI recordings and do other things (learning, music production, notation creation, etc.) using various music apps.
Overall, the Yamaha P45 is a good entry level digital piano with a somewhat realistic sound, touch, and an inexpensive price, that have proved to be an extremely popular option for hobbyists and beginners.
Compact & Lightweight No built in MIDI recorder
Eighty eight Graded Hammer Standard action keys Speakers are not so loud
Authentic piano sound
Ten built in instrument sounds
Perfect for beginners
Full Review Check Price
Four) Casio CDP 135 Another budget friendly keyboard from the Japanese brand
casio cdp-135 review
Casio just updated its CDP series range with 2 brand new digital pianos, and the CDP 135 is one of them.
The keyboard will be a good option to the PX 160 for those that would like to keep the budget of theirs as small as possible.
The piano boasts graded hammer action keyboard, but unlike the PX 160, it uses 2 sensor technology plus it does not have Ebony and Ivory textures on the keys.
The CDP 135 uses the Dual element AHL sound source that Casio employs on their portable keyboard workstations (WK, CTK series), that is inferior to the AiR sound source in terms of sound realism and polyphony.
The piano has sixty four notes of polyphony and ten instrument sounds including three pianos, three electric pianos, strings, 2 organs, and harpsichord.
As compared to the PX 160, the CDP 135 appears much more basic not only in touch and sound but also in features.
The instrument does not have a MIDI recorder or perhaps split function. Sad to say, the PX 160 also does not have the Duet Play function, which would provide a simple method for pupils to play duets with their teachers or perhaps practice as well as copy during lessons.
The best part is the fact that Casio has kept a USB port and features that are standard as metronome, transpose, and layering function.
Wrapping up, the CDP 135 is a great device for the cash to begin with. It’s some great features and sounds and does not appear to be lacking something.
But in case you are prepared to invest 100$more I would absolutely recommend considering the PX 160, which is a far superior instrument in terms of piano playing and expressiveness.
Fresh, simple design No Duet Play function, no Split Mode
Eighty eight Graded Hammer action keys No MIDI recorder
Thirty five built in instrument sounds
Ten instrument sounds
Good 16W speakers
Five) Korg B1 Stylish piano with minimal features and impressive sound
korg b1 review
Lastly, the final piano we are looking at is the KORG B1.
Korg has recently introduced several great digital pianos with stylish design and very authentic piano sound as well as feel, including the B1, the B1SP, the C1 Air and also the G1 Air.
The B1 is regarded as the basic piano among those models, although it has also some great upgrades.
At the center of the B1 is the Stereo PCM tone generator, which along with 120 note polyphony and 18W speakers deliver sound that is rich with excellent dynamic range.
The speakers deserve a special mention with their Motional Feedback (MFB) technology, which helps reproduce low frequencies more accurately.
The piano features eighty eight full sized keys with Korg’s NH (Natural Hammer) action. I liked the action of the B1 slightly more than that of the Recital Pro as well as the CDP 135 and the P 45.
But to the fingers of mine, it feels not as well as the PX 160 action with the Ivory of its textured keys.
Another benefit of the B1 is it has a piano style metal sustain pedal unlike another keyboards on the list, which come with those cheap box like footswitches.
In terms of features, Korg has kept the B1 very basic. Partner (Duo) Mode, metronome, transpose and tuning function are the sole things the keyboard offers.
There is no recording function and even more important no USB port, which tends to make it impossible to send out and receive MIDI data and make use of the B1 as a MIDI controller.
And this’s possibly the major drawback of this particular instrument because all of the various other keyboards on this list are equipped with a USB port.
For the vast majority of beginners, the absence of MIDI connectivity will not probably be an enormous con, but it will be a great feature to have considering the number of things you are able to do once you connect on the pc.
Aside from that, the Korg B1 is a good option to consider for someone that wishes to help keep it quite simple with minimal functions but realistic touch and sound.
Stylish design No USB port
Eighty eight full size keys with realistic NH action No MIDI recorder
Beautiful piano tones No Split/Layer Mode
120-note polyphony A bit pricey considering the above cons
Great 18W speaker system