Best 88 Key Keyboards 2021

Best 88 Key Keyboards 2021

Electric keyboards originally were huge, clunky devices, even bigger than their analog counterparts. Nowadays, though, they’ve overtaken traditional pianos, outselling them by over 10 to 1. That’s for a whole host of their reasons, from portability to price to ease of use. And with the standard 88 keys, you don’t have to sacrifice a single note when shopping for these compact keyboards.

Features to Consider in an 88 Key Keyboard

While you’d be forgiven for thinking most electric keyboards are largely the same, the truth is that they represent a tremendously diverse group of products that range from inexpensive starter instruments to expensive, professional-quality keyboards. To understand a bit about how they vary, check out the features below.

Programmed Sounds

One of the biggest advantages to owning a digital keyboard as opposed to a standard analog piano is the variety and versatility of sounds you can create.

While you’re limited to the sound of a hammer striking a string with a normal piano, some digital versions have thousands of sounds, from upright pianos and synthesizers to percussion and world instruments. A MIDI keyboard can be used with any sound you can find on the internet, but a diverse library makes using your keyboard more interesting and more fun.

Key Weighting

Initially, electric keyboards were similar to a typewriter: one button press caused a single sound to be played. Over time, that’s changed, and now keyboards are sensitive to how hard you press down on the key. A hard, sharp touch yields a softer sound, although only the most expensive keyboards approach the level of traditional pianos.

Key weighting has to do with not just the sound, but with the feel of a keyboard as well. Those accustomed to analog pianos often complain about the unnatural feel of a keyboard. While the cheapest pianos use hollow, flat keys that won’t give a good feel, premium models use weighted keys that feel nearly identical to a real piano.

Screens and Control Interface

While some keyboards keep it simple with no screen, a couple of presets, and volume control, other keyboards have in-depth color screen systems to help you navigate features and internal menus.

It’s up to personal preference what you like, but understand what features the keyboard has and how they’re accessed. We like physical buttons and a display screen, but others have different opinions.

Speaker System

Since there’s nothing physically producing a musical tone with an electrical keyboard, sound has to be emitted from an internal or external speaker. Internal speakers range hugely in quality, from quiet speakers that really will need external amplification to stand-alone speakers that are more than capable for nearly every non-performance application.

If your keyboard doesn’t have a speaker, you’ll need to purchase something separately.

Weight

If you’re looking for an 88 key keyboard to take to gigs, you’ll probably need something compact, portable, and nearly bombproof. If you’re buying a keyboard to have a permanent piano in your house, you might even prefer something heavier to have something more of a fixture in your house. When purchasing a stand, make sure you’re keeping an eye on weight as well.

Other Considerations

Along with the main points for digital keyboards, some piano players might be looking for other

  • Pedal Inputs: Pedals adjust the tone and volume of the sound. Traditional pianos have three, and it’s industry standard that keyboards have slots for at least one. In most cases, this is the sustain pedal, which allows you to play more fluidly and hold longer notes. Other pedal inputs soften, dampen, or distort the piano’s sound.
  • MIDI Capability: If you’re fascinated by creating digital music and are interested in recording with new sounds, using your keyboard as a synthesizer, or using a keyboard as the center of your home studio, you’ll need something MIDI-equipped. There are two types of MIDI capability: MIDI In/Out and MIDI out.

Whether you’re looking for something to bring to gigs, something to hold you over until you can find a permanent piano, or you’re picking up something permanent for your home, there are options available for you for all tastes and budgets.

Top 10 Best 88 Key Keyboards 2021

1. Best Overall Keyboard: Medeli SP4200 Digital Stage Piano

Medeli SP4200 Digital Stage Piano

Editor’s Rating:

5 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

This weighted-key keyboard can run the gamut for keys players, more than functional for anyone from beginners to advanced players.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Hammer Action
  • MIDI Capable:MIDI In/Out
  • Pedal Inputs:Sustain
  • Weight:30 pounds

The reason this mid-range piano tops our list is its versatility. It’s sturdy enough and has enough premium features to be used for serious gigs, it’s got a learning system to help beginners learn to play, and it has plenty of features and effects to help normal amateur musicians play with the near-unlimited musical capability of electric pianos. With 600 sounds, it’s phenomenal for anyone who likes experimentation and pushing the boundaries of sound.

Part of the magic of this piano is its simple, easy-to-use display. While some pianos hide features and sounds behind layers of confusing menus, this piano’s control system follows a series of clear, stacked menus that make it easy to learn even when just starting out.

At thirty pounds, it’s lightweight enough to be portable, although the plastic construction won’t hold up to heavy touring and transport in the same way as keyboards like the solidly-built Yamaha CP88 Stage Piano. It does include a pair of inexpensive headphones, but we’re neutral on them: they’re not very nice, and they probably drive the price up.

Pros

  • Versatile piano can be used by beginners or for serious gigs
  • 600 sounds are great for anyone who loves to experiment
  • Simple display is easy to use
  • Piano’s control system follows a series of clear, stacked menus

Cons

  • Plastic construction won’t hold up to heavy touring
  • Included headphones aren’t very useful

2. Best Premium Keyboard: Yamaha CP88 Stage Piano

Yamaha CP88 Stage Piano

Editor’s Rating:

4.5 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

Although it costs about as much as a decent used car, the best quality 88 key keyboards cost a pretty penny: this instrument is no exception.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Weighted, Graded Hammer
  • MIDI Capable:MIDI In/ Out
  • Pedal Inputs:Two (sustain, damper)
  • Weight:40 pounds

If you’re a working musician that’s looking to work with and own the highest quality products,you have to be willing to invest a fair chunk of change. With this keyboard, it’s no different. It’s incredibly solid, meant to hold up to plenty of abuse from heavy touring, use, and travel, although it’s simultaneously relatively lightweight at about 40 pounds.

It’s equipped with 57 relatively simple sounds, 24 of them being pianos or electric pianos. It’s also ready for your studio needs as well, being MIDI-equipped, with slots for both sustain and damper pedals, and some built-in delay, reverb, and EQ effects.

Each 88 key piano review has a slightly different purpose, and in this case, the purpose is live concerts. It’s a stage electric piano, meaning it’s meant to be used at events where a traditional piano isn’t portable, practical, or loud enough. Hook it up to the proper speaker system and it can be broadcasted across stadiums and arenas. It’s meant to run the gamut, taking you from smaller church services and quiet practice sessions all the way to the biggest events in the world, although the internal speakers are ineffective for live venues.

With great sounds that are mostly authentic piano and electric piano, there’s a reason the CP88 is still popular even at its expensive price tag. Still, if you don’t need something concert-quality, you can get a good keyboard for a lot cheaper.

Pros

  • Can take serious abuse from touring, use, and travel
  • Slots for both sustain and damper pedals
  • Great for performance when attached to a real sound system
  • Includes some built-in delay, reverb, and EQ effects

Cons

  • Quite expensive price tag
  • Internal speaker system isn’t effective by itself

3. Best Budget Keyboard: Arturia KeyLab Essential 88-Key Keyboard Controller

Arturia KeyLab Essential 88-Key Keyboard Controller

Editor’s Rating:

4.5 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

This inexpensive keyboard makes the perfect centerpiece for your studio with functionality as a MIDI Controller.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Semi-weighted
  • MIDI Capable:MIDI In/ Out
  • Pedal Inputs:Sustain Only
  • Weight:18.7 lbs

This product is designed to function as the centerpiece of a home studio, with the perfect features to modify sounds, flip samples, lay down drums, and spawn creativity. As far as controls go, it is chock-full of knobs, faders, pads, and controllers, each of which is easily programmable to help integrate your keyboard with your digital audio workstation. On the other side, though, keep in mind that it’s not great for typical practice or for performing live.

Although the price is relatively low, this keyboard is a far cry from a starter piano. No, this piano is a budget-minded but finely-tuned recording machine. What we love most is the customizability, whether you’re interested in modifying sounds, laying down backing tracks, or accessing the infinite library of instruments available online. That’s one of the miracles with modern keyboard tech: unlimited access to digital audio workstations and the downloadable sounds that make them so powerful.

If you’re looking to play a guitar rock solo on the keyboard, this is one of the best and most economical options to get it done. If you’re going to be performing, though, you may need to upgrade to a more premium keyboard.

Pros

  • Perfect as the centerpiece for an amateur home studio
  • Economical option that comes loaded up with sounds and features
  • Programmable to integrate with your digital audio workstation
  • Fantastic customizability both internally and with MIDI

Cons

  • Not designed for performing live
  • Not great for concerts

4. Best Grand Piano Alternative: Yamaha P-45 88-Key Digital Piano With Speakers

Yamaha P-45 88-Key Digital Piano With Speakers

Editor’s Rating:

4.5 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

This digital piano does a fantastic job of imitating a grand piano’s sound in a more accessible format and at a smaller scale.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Graded Hammer Standard
  • MIDI Capable:MIDI In/ Out
  • Pedal Inputs:Sustain
  • Weight:25 lbs

If you’re looking for a piano that really does a great job at imitating a traditional stringed piano for a new price, this ‘digital grand’ from Yamaha could be a phenomenal option. Everything is built to be an imitation of the real thing, albeit in a smaller, digital format, and available for the low price of just around $500. Their AWM (Advanced Wave Memory) system plays back rich, recorded grand piano sounds through the dual six-watt speakers to deliver full grand sound quality that varies based on the velocity of the key strike and the use of the sustain pedal.

But sustain isn’t the only feature you get with this 88-key grand. Four reverb effects modify 10 piano presets, while a layer mode allows you to mix those sounds. You’ll also get USB/MIDI connectivity and a music stand for reading sheet music.

All of this comes in a package that weighs just about 25 pounds, making transportation incredibly convenient. The only issues are a slightly less-than-solid back plastic cover and a lack of presets: but let’s keep in mind that this is meant to imitate the real deal, not create an infinity of new sounds. If you’re looking for something a bit more experimental, you might want to consider the Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII 88-key Weighted Keyboard Controller instead.

Pros

  • Does a great job of imitating a traditional stringed piano
  • Layer mode allows for sound mixing and customization
  • Dual six-watt speakers deliver great sound quality
  • Light weight of around 25 pounds

Cons

  • Lack of digital preset sounds
  • Rear plastic cover isn’t too solid

5. Best 88-Key Keyboard for MIDI: Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII 88-Key Weighted Keyboard Controller

Arturia KeyLab 88 MkII 88-Key Weighted Keyboard Controller

Editor’s Rating:

4.5 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

This MIDI keyboard controller is more than a way to interface with your digital audio workstation, but an overall great choice for experimenters and genre-benders.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Hammer-Action Keyboard
  • MIDI Capable:MIDI In/Out
  • Pedal Inputs:Sustain
  • Weight:25 lbs

This 88-key keyboard/MIDI Controller has plenty of features that make it fantastic for both live performance and recording, thanks to advanced MIDI capability plus four CV outputs and one CV input that can connect to your analog equipment for sound modulation. Hammer-action keys make for a realistic playing action, while the possibilities are virtually limitless once plugged in to the digital audio workstation of your choice. It’s compatible with more traditional setups as well, working with traditional amplifiers and even with sound modification possibilities by using things like pedals and built-in effects.

While the keyboard is fantastic for live performances in forefront genres, breaking limits related to sound, modulation, and tone, more traditional performers might be looking for something a bit more traditional like the grand piano-imitating Yamaha CP88 Stage Piano.

But for those exploring techno, live DJ sets, sound modulation, and looking for the capacity to modify over 6,500 pre-programmed sounds, it’s fantastic. It’s designed for both performance and home recording: a control bank has nine faders and nine encoders, menus go deep and are easy to modify, and the construction is designed for quick integration into your existing setup.

Pros

  • Great for live performance and DAW recording
  • Sounds can be modified with pedals and other built-in effects
  • Advanced MIDI capability with four CV outputs
  • Nine faders and nine encoders
  • 6,500 pre-programmed sounds make for nearly limitless capability

Cons

  • Not ideal for traditional piano players

6. Best Upright Piano Analog: Korg C1 Air Digital Piano

Korg C1 Air Digital Piano

Editor’s Rating:

4.5 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

This digital piano fantastically imitates uprights, making it ideal for beginners looking to learn proper technique or young families who might be price-constrained.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Weighted Hammer Action
  • MIDI Capable:In/ Out
  • Pedal Inputs: Three-pedal Setup
  • Weight:77 lbs

If you’re looking for a piano for your home that might replace a traditional upright’s role, this is one of the best options. It’s got a fantastic mix of traditional piano properties and digital ones, with a sturdy stand, pedal matrix, and weighted keys.

Even with all of that, it still comes in at a light weight with 30 sound presets, and different sound modification settings. It’s adaptable enough to be versatile while being simple enough for beginners. And while some pianos in this format have a difficult time with amplification, the two 25W amplifiers deliver volume big enough for small-scale performances, although a permanent stand and 77-pound weight make transport difficult.

It can also be hooked up to a real sound system for large-scale amplification. Key touch control can be adjusted, which means you can set up the system as you like it (most players will probably set it and forget it, though).

But with the good comes the less-than-good. While it’s great as an upright-analog, at this price point, you can start to get in the lower end of uprights: so why pay for something that’s imitating the real deal? Another issue: the permanent frame. If it were super solid, we wouldn’t have any complaints, but the fact that it’s made of particle board means we’d rather have something detachable.

Pros

  • Great as an alternative to a full-size acoustic piano
  • Versatile and adaptable
  • 25 x 2 watt amplifier delivers impressive volume
  • Can be hooked up to a full-size speaker system
  • 30 sound presets

Cons

  • Frame is made of low-quality particleboard
  • Price of this upright-analog can purchase you a full-size traditional piano

7. Best Beginner Keyboard: Yamaha YPG-535 88-Key Portable Grand Piano

Yamaha YPG-535 88-Key Portable Grand Piano

Editor’s Rating:

4 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

This portable grand is phenomenal as a smaller, less expensive imitation of the real deal, targeted at novices in both price and construction.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Semi-Weighted
  • MIDI Capable:In/Out
  • Pedal Inputs:Sustain
  • Weight:37 lbs

While some people are looking for a piano for gigs, studio recording, or beginner use, others want a permanent piano for their house but like the sound possibilities of an electric piano or are turned off by the price of a standard upright or another traditional piano. For these buyers, a permanent ‘portable grand’ is a fantastic option with its built-in speakers and fixed stand, giving it a similar form factor to the real deal stringed pianos.

While this piano has an upright-style format with a permanent stand, it’s a bit lighter than similar ‘permanent’ pianos like the Korg C1 Air Digital Piano.

It’s simple to use if you’re just starting out, but still customizable as you can modify sounds, tones, and settings to your preference. It’s got a permanent memory bank to save these presets so you can always have your piano how you like it. A custom LCD displays menus and information while an entry dial and numerical buttons help with programming and navigation.

For beginners, it’s got included songs that form part of Yamaha’s education suite, which can help you learn piano by yourself at home. Connect to your computer with the USB port for basic recording, although the simple built-in MIDI function requires you to download several drivers and is a bit tricky to set up.

Pros

  • A permanent piano that can serve as the centerpiece of the room
  • Custom LCD for menu and preset navigation
  • Included songs for Yamaha’s education suite
  • Permanent memory bank can save custom-designed sounds

Cons

  • MIDI function requires you to download multiple drivers
  • Setup is a bit tricky

8. Best Acoustic Piano Alternative: Alesis Concert 88-Key Digital Piano

Alesis Concert 88-Key Digital Piano

Editor’s Rating:

4 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

This acoustic piano imitator is economical and fantastic for those seeking a practice home keyboard that rivals a real acoustic piano.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Semi-Weighted
  • MIDI Capable:In/Out
  • Pedal Inputs:Sustain Only
  • Weight:15

If you’re looking for a keyboard that closely imitates a real, acoustic piano at a low price, take a look at this option. While it’s less expensive, and thus less capable than similar mid-range options like the Yamaha P-45 Digital Piano, it spreads its budget out incredibly effectively. It’s even got a more powerful speaker system (20 watts) than the P-45, a digital keyboard that more than doubles this model’s price.

All in all, it’s quite similar to that other grand-piano copycat, with the same sustain pedal input, 10 preset keys, a 30-280 BPM metronome, and reverb effects. Obviously, though, at a price point this low, the keyboard has to compromise some to keep the price low. Keys are semi-weighted, which is better than non-weighted but still not ideal for learning or advanced players. And unlike more premium models, it can even be run wirelessly for a short time off of six D batteries. Input jacks include a ¼ inch headphone outlet, a USB connector, and a MIDI output, although we’d probably recommend something like the M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 88-key Controller if you’re looking to do anything more than basic recording.

Pros

  • Keyboard imitates an acoustic piano at a low price
  • Powerful speaker system for low price
  • Includes headphone outlet and USB connector
  • Can be run wirelessly for short periods of time with six D batteries

Cons

  • Designed with semi-weighted keys
  • Includes MIDI but really is ineffective for DAW recording

9. Best Travel Keyboard: Casio CDP-S150 88-Key Digital Piano

Casio CDP-S150 88-Key Digital Piano

Editor’s Rating:

4 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

This ultra-compact digital keyboard is versatile and highly transportable, the perfect accessory for a musician that’s always on the move.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Scaled Hammer Action
  • MIDI Capable:Internal MIDI Function
  • Pedal Inputs:Sustain included, compatible with others
  • Weight:23 lbs

Casio is a titan in the digital piano world, and it’s no exception here: many years of their development and innovation go into this new series of piano, all of which sit under the CDP-S umbrella.

The first problem they addressed with this new model? Size and weight, shrinking the piano to a shocking 232-millimeter depth and a 23-pound format. It’s meant to be highly portable, as it includes a stand and comes with the capacity for battery operation (6 AAs will do the trick). The package includes a sustain pedal and a slot for the other two pedals, although the fully-integrated pedal setup must be purchased separately.

It’s not a piano with a wide variety of sounds, though, with only 10 preset piano-based tones, but each one comes with 64-note polyphony and touch-responsive playback. For those who are interested in the latest music tech, it’s also compatible with the Chordana Play app, which can be loaded with all kinds of sheet music and even allows you to digitally turn pages with a push of the pedal; the future is now. If you’re wondering about MIDI, it’s set up to work with an internal MIDI recorded, although there’s no MIDI output.

If you’re looking for a similarly-priced MIDI controller that can work with your home recording studio, take a look at the Arturia KeyLab Essential 88-Key Keyboard Controller, which has tremendous versatility and functionality for those looking to record, manipulate, and create new sounds.

Pros

  • Size and weight reduced incredibly
  • Can be powered without an AC adapter by six AA batteries
  • Includes sustain pedal and slots for a full pedal suite
  • Includes portable stand

Cons

  • Only includes 10 preset tones
  • Not meant as a MIDI tool
  • Full pedal suite must be purchased separately

10. Best Studio Keyboard: M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 88-Key Controller

M-Audio Keystation 88 MK3 88-Key Controller

Editor’s Rating:

3.5 of 5 stars

Why we like it:

This ultra-economical MIDI keyboard controller is the perfect centerpiece for an economical studio workstation.

Quick Specs:
  • Key Weighting:Semi-weighted
  • MIDI Capable:Out/USB
  • Pedal Inputs:Sustain, Expression
  • Weight:13.75 lbs

There comes a point in every self-recording musician’s life when they’ll need a full-size keyboard to get to the next level, and this inexpensive MIDI controller allows those consumers to have access to an inexpensive but effective recording tool. While it’s not as fully featured with effects, sounds, or internal recorders as other digital pianos, the beauty of MIDI is that it doesn’t need to: everything from sounds to post-production can be added after the fact with your digital audio workstation.

This tool is phenomenal for MIDI, exposing you to the limitless possibilities of a DAW at an inexpensive price. It’s not necessarily designed to work effectively as a practice piano or a concert piano, but that’s ok: we’re glad that the price is kept low by keeping the product with niche capabilities.

But that means it won’t work for everyone: if you’re just starting out on the keys, we’d recommend a beginner-oriented keyboard like the Yamaha YPG-535 88-Key Portable Grand Piano, and players of live music will be better suited by something like this Medeli SP 4200 Digital Stage Piano.

Pros

  • Inexpensive but effective recording tool
  • Allows sounds and post-production to be changed after the fact
  • Unlocks near-unlimited possibilities of a DAW

Cons

  • Not as fully featured with effects, sounds, or internal recorders as other digital pianos
  • Not great for live music players

Guide to Buying the Best 88 Key Keyboard for 2021

A full-size keyboard can be a big purchase, sometimes costing several thousand dollars for higher-end professional models. To be an educated consumer, make sure to do your research by understanding what your needs are and how they will be fulfilled by purchasing a particular model.

Key Keyboard Considerations

There are many types of digital keyboards, and thus a lot of decisions to be made when looking for one. While keyboards are more accessible, economical, and capable than ever, you’ll have to narrow down your priorities at first to make an effective decision.

66, 72, or 88 Keys?

There are three size standards for electric keyboards: the compact 66-key boards, designed for both completeness and portability, 72-key boards, meant to create a middle ground and add a half-octave to the equation, and finally 88-key boards, which are considered full-size and have the same amount of keys as standard upright pianos.

Analog or Digital?

If you’re considering purchasing an 88-key keyboard, chances are you’re looking for a complete keyboard that will generally stay in the same place in your house. At this size and price point, a traditional upright might be an alternative to consider. There are even 88 key models that try to imitate the look, feel, and format of full-size upright pianos.

If you’re looking for a permanent family piano for your home, weigh the following factors. Keep in mind that a traditional upright might beat out an 88 key keyboard, depending on what you’re looking for.

Volume

A traditional piano doesn’t have an on or off button, nor does it have a headphone jack. If you’re hoping to fill your house with beautiful (and loud) sound, you might think about a traditional piano. If you want the flexibility of a volume control and are willing to sacrifice some top-end volume, then a keyboard is your best bet. You can always use a speaker or auxiliary amplifier if you’re looking for some more decibels.

Tone

Most piano players will say that there’s nothing like the real thing when talking about tone, but the truth is that digital keyboards will give you access to some of the best-sounding instruments in the world. On top of that, while a standard upright virtually has one sound setting, there’s a wider variety of sound options if you own an electric keyboard. Still, many players prefer the deep tone of an analog piano.

Feel

While electric pianos started out unimpressive when compared to ‘real’ pianos, the gap has narrowed between the two variations of instruments in recent years. Advancements like weighted keys, improved touch-sensitivity, and added pedals mean there’s a lot to like about electric keyboards.

Versatility

Upright pianos weigh a minimum of about 300 pounds, while the heaviest 88 key keyboards don’t even crack 100 pounds. While there’s something to be said for a sturdy, monolithic piano, compact keyboards win every time in terms of storage and portability.

Beauty

A piano isn’t just about sound, technique, or versatility. There are beautiful pianos that are centerpieces of rooms, others that have been passed down for generations. While a keyboard has some advantages, it’s unlikely that your grandkids will own the one your purchase. Upright pianos are beautiful in their own right and can often be the centerpiece of a room.

Key Weighting

There are as many key-weighting preferences as there are types of pianos, each with a slightly different technical name. We’ll break down the most common ones below.

Weighted Keys

Weighted keys can have many different mechanisms and functions. Most premium keyboards have weighted keys, but each company has a different technology that they use to get the job done. Somewhat counterintuitively, they’re most important for beginners.

Semi-Weighted Keys

Semi-weighted keys aren’t necessarily meant to offer a realistic key feel, more creating something that’s more ‘acceptable for use’ than ‘pleasant to use.’ Advanced players won’t enjoy playing on these budget keyboards, and beginners can develop bad habits. That being said, they produce an acceptable sound at a low price.

Non-Weighted Keys

While classical pianists that learn on traditional instruments would tell you non-weighted keys aren’t even worth using, other non-traditionalists claim that there are advantages with fast pieces and when playing trills. Most piano teachers suggest that beginners should start elsewhere.

Hammer Action Keys

Hammer action keys have various designs, but all are designed around the same concept as a traditional piano key. It’s accomplished by attaching a lever system near the key, providing resistance and push back for your key. Many small, compact keyboards use hammer keys.

Graded Hammer Keys

Graded hammer keys are Yamaha’s premium proprietary hammer mechanisms, great for intermediate to advanced pianists. The keys release slowly and quietly with a feel similar to acoustic keys.

MIDI

Computers and music become more integrated with each passing year, and electric keyboards are helping to drive the phenomenon. MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, and refers to when you use a physical musical instrument (typically a keyboard) to connect and input sounds into a computer. Depending on the programs you use, this tech can be incredibly versatile and it’s now a key part of the arsenal for any musician who records digitally.

Typically MIDI keyboards are quite compact, but a full 88 key keyboard can be set up with a computer to add versatility and range to an already limitless combination of tech. All you need is a MIDI-compatible DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and a keyboard with MIDI capability. Our favorite for the job would be something like the 88 MkII 88-key Weighted Keyboard Controller: simple, adaptable, and compact.

Accessories for Your 88 Key Keyboard

Purchasing a keyboard doesn’t mean you have everything you need to play. In fact, in most cases, you’ll have to buy more than a couple of accessories just to get started. While you’re shopping, make sure you’re thinking about if and where you’ll purchase the following products.

  • Stand: While upright and grand pianos are meant to be a complete structure, a keyboard will need a stand. You can buy a sturdy, concert quality stand for around $100, something a bit less heavy-duty for under $50, or even choose to set it on a table. For technique and proper height, though, we’d recommend a stand. Consider the weight of your keyboard so you can pick something that will hold up the keyboard without fail.
  • Pedals: Although most keyboards will at least have a spot for a sustain pedal, it is rare that you’ll find something that comes with a pedal included. You’ll have to buy your own, then: at the very least, consider an inexpensive sustain pedal, but it’s easy enough to add things on as you grow as a player.
  • Cables and Chargers: You can never have enough backup cables and chargers, from MIDI cables to ¼ input/output jacks to XLR cables. A couple of adapters can’t hurt either.

A Small History of Electric Keyboards

The first electric keyboards began to come about in the first half of the 20th century, although no truly effective portable keyboard was created until 1981 once transistors could be employed. Initially, electric keyboards just played back pre-recorded sounds when a specific button was played. In the following years, though, quick technological progress brought more advanced sound manipulation, with an incredible capability to adjust sounds. This tech branched into a new branch of keyboards called synthesizers.

While progress was incredibly rapid in the nineties and early ‘aughts,’ it’s now slowed down. Technology that was only available for studio musicians is now more than affordable enough for home use.

Since the progression of the tech has slowed down a bit, it means it’s a great time to buy. There’s never been a time with less expensive and more accessible musical instruments.

Play On

Whether you’re just starting out on the piano or you are a professional musician, a digital 88-key keyboard provides some significant advantages that simple uprights or traditional grands can’t give you.

Maybe you’re a concert musician looking for something compatible with huge performances, maybe you’re looking for a smaller practice instrument, or maybe you’re looking for something for your personal recording setup. No matter what kind of keyboard player you are, there’s an 88-key model for you.

Team MusicVibe

Whether it be the heady sonatas of a lone violin or the thrashing distortion of an amped-up guitar, we here at MusicVibe have an ear for it. Our team has performed gigs, played in concerts, and spent a lifetime fiddling with soundscapes in their bedrooms. They know a musician is only as good as their gear – and that musicians don’t just need the best gear, but they need the right gear for them. We help beginners find their feet in their first foray into the world of frets and fiddles, and give experts a leg-up in finding that studio-defining kit and most importantly, getting the best out of it. We’re here to help you play out your tune, so enjoy our library of content so you can hit the high notes.