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5 best 88-Key Piano Keyboard Beginners SHOULD Buy in 2022

Updated: Jan 7

Are you thinking of learning to play the piano but do not want to break the bank?

Do you want to get your kids off their smartphone addiction and pick up some piano playing skills instead? I am going to help you make your best decision in picking up an affordable 88 keys digital piano keyboard that you do not have to go into debt for. A digital piano keyboard’s main objective is to replicate the features of a traditional acoustic piano. Do not confuse an 88-key digital piano keyboard with an arranger keyboard which I have made a separate video. You can check it out below

Before we get to my list of the 5 best 88-Key Piano Keyboards, here are 4 absolute basic features a competent digital piano keyboard should have that most beginners get wrong.


Feature #1 - 88 Keys

Many serious piano pieces, especially those in the post-renaissance era, are written to take advantage of the full range of a traditional acoustic piano that has 88 keys. While keyboards come in various sizes from 49 up to 88 keys, you should get one with 88 keys, if you do not want to run out of keys when playing


Feature #2 - Weighted Action

Acoustic piano strings are strung by a hammer in order to produce a sound. These hammers give weight to the keys of a piano. You want weighted keys in order to replicate the touch of a grand piano.


Feature #3 - Damper Pedal

While a grand piano has 3 pedals, 99% of the time most non-professional pianists will need just one pedal. The damper pedal is also commonly known as the sustain pedal.


Feature #4 - Speakers & Headphones

One of the biggest advantages of a digital piano keyboard over an acoustic piano is you can practice for hours without your neighbors hating you. With onboard speakers, you can play as quietly or as loud as you like. When you plug in a pair of headphones, no one will have to endure the 50th time you are practicing Fur Elis.

If you want a pair of quality high-fidelity headphones you can check out my recommendations for speakers, headphones, microphones, and other connectivity devices which I use personally.


Prices do change and for your ease of reference, you can find links to the latest price, information and my recommended keyboards, digital pianos, and music learning apps


Digital Piano Keyboard #1 - Alesis Recital Pro

The Alesis Recital Pro is the lowest priced 88-key digital piano keyboard on my list. It comes with full-size touch-sensitive hammer action keys and features 12 onboard voices.

Have a listen to how the acoustic piano tone sounds like.

Priced at $379, at this low price, the default grand piano tone is as good as it gets but I do wish the Alesis Recital Pro comes with more piano-centric tones as there are only 2 grand pianos and 1 electric piano. These 12 voices can be layered or split across the keyboard for a richer tone.

Have a listen to how the electric piano tone sounds like.

I love the large, backlit, and highly functional LCD screen, which when coupled with a knob, makes setting effects and selecting functions extremely intuitive.

There are dedicated buttons for every voice, which makes it easy to switch sounds.

The LCD & dedicated voice buttons is a feature many digital pianos that cost twice as much do not have. While the keys are weighted like an acoustic piano, the action does not have graded weighting. For beginners, this is not a deal-breaker, but advanced pianists should take note. While there is a sustain pedal connector, a pedal is not included in the box, so do add a sustain pedal to your cart when checking out.

Apart from a headphones jack for quiet practice, the 20 watts speakers on the Recital Pro are powerful enough for performing to a small group.

One of the things I love is the ¼” stereo line-out jacks for connecting to more powerful speakers which is a feature not often found on digital pianos in this price bracket.

I have recommendations for speakers, headphones, microphones, and other connectivity devices which I use personally.


There is a USB MIDI port for connecting to music learning apps and Alesis has thrown in 2 months of live online face-to-face lessons as well as 3 months subscription to a music learning app.

The cost of the lessons and subscription is easily worth half the cost of this keyboard, making this a good value proposition. You can power the Recital Pro with the included power adapter or 6 “D” size batteries if you are not near a power point.

You can check out my beginner piano app as well as some beginners video courses and course materials available for you. Also, do check out this free 25 Piano lesson too.


You can find the latest price of the Alesis Recital Pro and my in-depth video review and demonstration here.



Digital Piano Keyboard #2 - Alesis Recital Grand

For $70 more, the Alesis Recital Grand, also known as Alesis Prestige, does quite a lot more than the Recital Pro. It comes with 88 full-size, graded hammer action keys that feel robust although I would prefer it to be a little quieter.

With 128 note polyphony and 16 multi-sampled tones, you get a much better selection of piano samples. There are 3 grand piano and 4 electric piano voices, which is a significant improvement over the Recital Pro’s voice selection. These 16 voices can be layered or split and the adjustable reverb effects make the sound noticeably thicker.

Have a listen to how the acoustic piano tone sounds like.

Have a listen to how the electric piano tone sounds like.

The Recital Grand or Alesis Prestige has an impressive 50 watts micro-array speaker system which projected the sounds loud and clear even in the high and low frequencies.

For use in a large venue, the ¼” stereo jacks allow easy connection to powerful speaker systems.

Voice selection is straightforward with big, tactile buttons that light up making it easy to see which voices are active. However, I would have very much preferred the LCD screen found on the cheaper Recital Pro. The other keyboard functions, such as transpose and metronome tempo have to be adjusted by holding the function button and pressing the corresponding keys. Thankfully, all the function names are silk-screened on the piano itself. The onboard song recorder is also ridiculously easy to use, which is great for the technologically challenged.


I appreciate the 2 headphone jacks that come in both ¼” and 3.5mm sizes, making them compatible with any headphones I have.While the Recital Grand comes with a basic sustain pedal, it also supports soft and sostenuto with an optional triple pedal attachment.

As it has a powerful speaker system, you have to use the included power adaptor as there are no options for battery operation.

The USB MIDI port works well with the plethora of free interactive and live piano lessons included in the box.

You can check out my beginner piano app as well as some beginners video courses and course materials available for you. Also, do check out this free 25 Piano lesson too.


You can find the latest price of the Alesis Recital Grand/Prestige and my in-depth video review and demonstration here.



Digital Piano Keyboard #3 - Donner DEP-20

At first glance, the Donner DEP-20 does not look like much. It has a chunky, dated design and Donner’s logo looks like it needs a refresh 20 years ago but do not let its look deceive you. The only reason why you might avoid the DEP-20 is if you are a brand snob and displaying this digital piano in your house would devalue your bourgeois décor.

At this price, the Donner DEP-20 packs so much functionality and value that most manufacturers have difficulty competing with it. You get 88 full-size weighted keys and a whopping 238 voices. Have a listen to how the acoustic piano tone sounds like.

While not all voices are good, those that matter which are the grand pianos, electric pianos, and organ voices are above average for this price. Have a listen to how the electric piano tone sounds like.

While other keyboards at this price come with only a metronome, this piano keyboard has 200 onboard rhythm accompaniments for you to jam along with. I love the LCD screen as it makes voice selection and adjusts various parameters effortlessly.

The 238 voices can be layered or split across the keyboard giving you many sonic possibilities.

in addition to a basic song recorder, this keyboard allows you to plug in a USB stick containing your favorite songs and control playback directly from the front panel.

The speakers, that fire both up and down, are not the most powerful but are adequate for use in a home environment.

For quiet practice, there are two ¼” headphone jacks.

While a basic sustain pedal is included in the box, advanced pianists can connect an optional triple pedal accessory to get soft and sostenuto functions.

The USB MIDI port allows you to easily connect the keyboard to music learning apps on your mobile devices.

There are no battery options on this keyboard but a power adaptor is included in the box. If you do not need your piano to be portable, a wooden furniture stand is an option

You can find the latest price of the Donner DEP-20 and my in-depth video review and demonstration here.



Digital Piano Keyboard #4 - Casio CDP-S160

The newest kid on the block is the Casio CDP-S160. As such, it comes with a number of useful features not found on the rest of the keyboards on this list.

In my opinion, the CDP-S160 at just 4” thick and 23lbs, is the best-looking keyboard in a sea of black, chunky boxes. Casio has been making watches & calculators for 75 years and it shows.


The build quality of the CDP-S160 is excellent, one of the best on this list.

You get 88 full-size, progressively weighted hammer action keys which are textured to replicate the traditional ebony & ivory keys on an acoustic piano.

In my opinion, the keys on this keyboard are less heavy making it more suitable for beginners who have yet to build up sufficient finger strength.


There are 10 onboard tones, including 3 grand pianos and 3 electric pianos.

These voices can be layered or have choruses and various hall simulator reverb effects applied for a richer tone. Have a listen to how the acoustic piano tone sounds like.

Have a listen to how the electric piano tone sounds like.

A pair of 16 watts speakers deliver clear audio while bass ports under the chassis give the lower notes greater resonance.

You get an intuitive song recorder, an auxiliary audio input for you to stream your favorite Spotify playlist, and a 3.5mm headphones jack which also doubles up as an audio output if you want to connect the keyboard to more powerful speakers.

There is a single damper pedal included in the box but you can get a solidly built triple pedal accessory and wooden furniture stand if you prefer a more traditional look.

The Casio CDP-S160 is the only digital piano under $500 that comes with a dedicated mobile app that is free of charge. With the keyboard connected to your smartphone or iPad, you can easily select voices, view music sheets, load MIDI and audio songs change parameters, change tempo, change key and repeat sections which are great for practicing. You can also use the USB MIDI with music learning apps.

You can also use the USB MIDI with music learning apps here is one of which I recommend.


Although a power adaptor is included, you can run this keyboard on 6 AA batteries. Together with a versatile carrying case, this is the perfect 88 key digital piano to go anywhere with you.

You can find the latest price of the Casio CDP-S160 and my in-depth video review and demonstration here.



Digital Piano Keyboard #5 - Yamaha P-45

The Yamaha P-45 also sold on Amazon as the P-71, is an extremely popular choice among music students even though it is the most expensive on this list, and here’s why. Yamaha has been making pianos for more than a century and their experience shows even on their most affordable digital piano. Yamaha’s 88 full-size GHS progressively weighted key action has been dependable for more than a decade and is preferred by more experienced pianists as it is a good replication of an acoustic piano.

There are 10 onboard voices generated by Yamaha’s renowned Advanced Wave Modeling sound engine giving warmth to the voices that other manufacturers find hard to replicate. Layering these voices while applying various reverb effects is great for thickening up the sound. Have a listen to how the acoustic piano tone sounds like.

Have a listen to how the electric piano tone sounds like.

Selecting voices and setting various parameters is straightforward, just press the function button and press a corresponding key on the keyboard. The 12 watts speakers are adequate but this keyboard sounds best when used with a pair of good headphones with the headphone jack.

While there is a damper pedal included in the box, you are better off using Yamaha’s optional FC3A pedal that supports half-pedaling.

Advanced pianists should note that the P-45 & P-71 do not support triple pedals. There is also no option to run this keyboard with batteries.

Not all dealers provide a power adaptor with this keyboard, so you are better off checking out my recommendations to a few of those who do. If you want the keyboard to blend in with your home décor, there is an optional wooden furniture stand. While the USB MIDI port works well with music learning apps, it is a pity that the connection does not support Yamaha’s excellent Smart Pianist app which the more expensive P-125 does.


You can find the latest price of the P-45 here. You can watch my review of the P-45, P71 & P-125 as well as check out the best deals I have found for you as well



Conclusion

I hope you found my review of the 5 best 88-Key Piano Keyboard Beginners SHOULD Buy in 2022 useful. Do check out the links provided in this article for the latest and most updated information and prices. Do also take a look at my other articles to find the best and most suited instrument for your personal need. Also, check out my Piano App and beginner keyboard course available for you.





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