Many people who want to learn how to play the piano don't have the money to buy an acoustic piano right away. A great inexpensive solution to buying a piano is starting out with a digital keyboard. Keyboards range in price anywhere from 100 dollars to thousands of dollars. With all of the different options available, it can get pretty confusing. When buying a keyboard for a beginner, you should consider the following categories.
Number of keys
The number of keys is one of the most important factors in buying a keyboard. A full acoustic piano has 88 keys, but keyboards can have as few as 25. So how many do you need? Everyone progresses at different rates but a keyboard with 76 keys should last through a year or two of piano lessons. 61 keys should be the minimum when buying a keyboard to begin learning piano.
Weighted vs. Non-weighted keys
Keyboards aren't acoustic pianos. With acoustic pianos when a key depressed a felt hammer hits a metal string causing it to vibrate and make a sound. There are no hammers or strings on an electric keyboard. Therefore there isn't any sensation of weight when you press down a key. Keyboards with weighted keys, also sometimes called "hammer action keys", attempt to simulate the feel of a real acoustic piano, making the keys harder to depress. This is a huge benefit to anyone trying to play serious piano music, but it does add quite a bit of cost. Don't worry too much about it for now; the benefit of weighted keys doesn't really manifest itself until the student reaches an intermediate to advanced playing level. Beginners won't be negatively affected by keys that aren't weighted.
When buying a keyboard touch sensitivity is a necessity for the piano student. On an acoustic piano when you press a key harder, the sound gets louder. Conversely, when pressing the key softer, the sound gets softer. Some of the most inexpensive keyboards do not have touch sensitivity in this way. This means that no matter how hard you play the keyboard, it's always going to stay at the same volume. Not having a touch sensitive keyboard could be a huge detriment to a student's progression. Always make sure that the keyboard you are looking at has touch sensitivity before you buy it.
Some keyboards don't come with a built-in speaker, meaning you must plug the keyboard into an amplifier in order for it to make sound. If you don't want to spend extra money on an amp, make sure it has built-in speakers.
Most keyboards don't come with a stand. Are you going to play your keyboard on the floor? If a stand doesn't come with the keyboard, make sure that you factor it into the price.
Another option would be a Digital Piano. Digital Piano's are keyboards that attempt to simulate an acoustic piano in every way possible, including appearance. Digital pianos often have wooden stands and almost always have built-in speakers. They do however get more pricey.
Don't miss out on piano lessons just because you don't own a piano! With the advancement of technology today, you don't have to spend thousands of dollars on beginning piano lessons.