Selecting the perfect music keyboard: essential tips for musicians

When embarking on the quest for a new music keyboard, musicians are greeted with an array of options, each with its unique features and capabilities. The process can evoke a blend of excitement and intimidation, yet a systematic approach to selection can lead to an instrument that not only complements one’s musical style but also enhances performance and creativity.

Understanding keyboard types

Before diving into the nuances of keyboard selection, familiarizing oneself with the different types of keyboards is a foundational step.

Arranger keyboards

Arranger keyboards are typically used by solo performers. They come loaded with a variety of instrument voices, backing tracks, and accompaniment features, allowing solo musicians to sound like a full band.

Digital pianos

Digital pianos aim to replicate the sound and feel of an acoustic piano, focusing on weighted keys and high-quality sound samples to provide a realistic piano-playing experience. They are ideal for classical pianists and students.


Synthesizers are electronic keyboards designed for sound manipulation. They are the choice for creating unique sounds and electronic music. With various controls, synthesizers can modulate and shape waves into new timbres and tones.

Midi controllers

MIDI controller keyboards have no sounds of their own and must be connected to a computer or sound module. Their purpose is to trigger software instruments and are a staple for composers and producers working in a digital audio workstation (DAW).

Key factors in keyboard selection

Key Factors in Keyboard Selection

Selecting a keyboard that aligns with a musician’s needs requires a deep dive into several critical aspects:

Consider your musical style

The complexity and variety of modern music keyboards are such that a musician’s genre and style heavily influence the choice of instrument. A jazz pianist may crave a keyboard with exceptional electric piano sounds, while a touring pop musician might prioritize portability and a diverse sound palette.

Number of keys

Keyboards generally come in three main sizes: 61 keys, 76 keys, and 88 keys. Full-size (88 keys) pianos are preferred by classical musicians who require the full range of a traditional piano. Portability or limited space might necessitate a smaller keyboard for some musicians.

Touch sensitivity and weighted keys

Tactile experience can greatly affect performance. Weighted keys emulate the hammer action of acoustic pianos and are valued by pianists for their dynamic control. Touch sensitivity, which responds to the force with which keys are pressed, is crucial for expression in playing.

Sound quality

The quality of sound is paramount. From the richness of the grand piano samples to the authenticity of synthesized sounds, it’s important to evaluate the sonic fidelity and variety. High-quality sound engines and sample libraries contribute to an inspiring playing experience.


Polyphony describes the number of individual notes a keyboard can produce at once. Higher polyphony allows for more complex and layered sounds without note dropouts. This is particularly important for advanced players and those looking to layer sounds.


Modern keyboards offer a plethora of connectivity options. USB ports allow for integration with computers and recording setups, while MIDI and audio outputs facilitate live performances with additional gear. Consider your needs for amplifiers, PA systems, and studio interfaces when assessing connectivity.

Learning tools

Beginners and music educators should look for keyboards with built-in learning modes, metronomes, and recording features. These tools can enhance practice sessions and accelerate learning.


Performers who frequently travel should look for a keyboard that balances portability with functionality. Weight and size matter and will impact the instrument’s ease of transport.


Musical keyboards can range significantly in price. Determining a budget upfront can narrow the options, focusing the selection on instruments with the best features within a specified price range.

In-Depth research

Embark on a journey of research. Reading professional reviews, watching demo videos, and browsing forums can shed light on the strengths and weaknesses of different keyboards. Feedback from other musicians can be telling and provide real-world insights.

Hands-On experience

Nothing quite replaces the value of hands-on experience. Spending time playing different keyboards at a music store allows for tactile assessment and sound evaluation. This sensory input can be a determining factor and should not be overlooked.

Brand reputation and durability

Strong brands build their reputation on quality and reliability. Investigating the longevity and durability of a keyboard is essential to ensure it withstands the rigors of use. Seasoned musicians often favor established brands for their proven track records.

After-Sales support

After-sales support, including customer service and availability of parts, contributes to the long-term satisfaction with a music keyboard. Accessibility to repairs and technical assistance is an aspect of ownership that provides peace of mind.

Selecting the perfect music keyboard is akin to embarking on a musical voyage, with the destination being an instrument that resonates with the musician’s aspirations, talent, and style. From the weighted keys of digital pianos to the vast soundscapes of synthesizers, each choice is a step towards perfect harmony with one’s musical expression. By delving into these factors and engaging with musical instruments firsthand, musicians can make informed decisions that elevate their artistry. The journey towards selecting a music keyboard should be as melodic and thoughtful as the music one intends to create with it.