In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: October 25, 2021
Prime Sound is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
When you’re looking for the best weighted keyboard to suit your own style of play, many people don’t realize that they’re not just relying on modern technology, they’re looking to buy a fine instrument, the development of which has drawn from hundreds of years of craftsmanship and knowledge.
Often, the best digital keyboard with weighted keys is built to replicate the sounds and feel of its acoustic counterpart. Technology fuses with traditional instrument building a beautiful, highly enjoyable piece of musical equipment that will be an absolute joy to own and play.
Pianos and earlier variations of them have been around for a long, long time. They’re one of the most versatile musical instruments, and their range is almost unrivaled. Classical composers and rock stars use pianos to produce wildly differing work.
Pianos can capture the imagination of music fans from all genres and sub-cultures. There’s almost nothing musical you can’t do on a piano, and if you’re beginning exploring your own musical abilities and tastes, a keyboard is a great instrument to start with. No matter what your musical preferences turn out to be, a piano or keyboard will be a purchase you can use to find out how much you love playing the instrument or composing.
What this article is designed to do is to help you find the right piano for you, and arm you with the knowledge that is going to be required to do that. We’re going to look at weighted pianos in a way that goes beyond a mere review, delving into the specifics of each piano in our detailed top ten of the best weighted keyboard options we could find – but then looking at key numbers, polyphony, key types and other features in our buying guide section.
We’ve spent a lot of time putting this guide together, and we’re confident that you’ll emerge from reading it with a far better understanding about these instruments and how to find the best piano keyboard with weighted keys for your own needs. So, let’s do this!
The Yamaha P121 electronic keyboard is our Editor’s Choice for a reason. This instrument will have you thinking you’re playing a fine old grand piano because it’s weighted to perfection and packed full of the quality electronics that you’d expect to find in a Yamaha musical instrument.
What you get with the Yamaha P121 electronic piano is refinement and quality that is hard to beat. This product produces an impressive 192 polyphony level, which makes it almost unbeatable in this, and many other classes of digital instruments. The keys here are weighted, to produce the feel and player feedback of an old acoustic piano. That sort of manufacturing ability comes from years spent developing musical instruments to a very high standard indeed, and that’s exactly what Yamaha has been doing for a very long time now.
The Yamaha P121 is a 73-key electronic piano, and it really looks the part. This is no budget keyboard by any standards, and you’ll be proud to call it your own, no matter what your musical ability or learning stage.
The Yamaha’s Pure CF Sound Engine is the outcome of what is truly the practice of combining old-school piano craftsmanship with the technology of the modern-day to produce a stunning sound that’s almost indiscernible from a traditional piano.
That sound is combined with Yamaha’s 2-way sound system, unique because it projects both upward and downward to give unbelievable tone, even when played on a hard surface, such as a table in the home.
You can also use Yamaha’s Smart Pianist App with this keyboard. That gives you the ability to control piano settings with ease, massively increasing the enjoyment you’ll get from this machine.
All in all, the Yamaha P 121 is a great musical instrument, with fantastic pedigree and tone that is built on the craftsmanship of the traditional piano makers, enhanced by the technology of today.
The next piano on our list of the ten best weighted keyboards is the excellent and fully functional ONE Smart Keyboard, and you get a very useful eighty-eight premium and full-sized hammer action keys on this product. That’s enough to get you a full seven octaves of range, and you’ll be producing stunning musical compositions on this piano for years to come.
The ONE Smart Keyboard also arrives with a very well-conceived adjustable touch response for the keys, which allow a musician or student the chance to improve in proficiency quickly due to the feature showing you which notes to play. When learning, it’s possible to engage adjustable touch response and once you’ve grasped the basics of a piece you can try without the setting. That will accelerate learning a great deal, and it makes the ONE Smart Keyboard a keyboard which is well worth considering for students of music.
The ONE Smart Keyboard comes with relatively powerful built-in speakers, which will provide great tone and scale. One of the best features here for the cost is a very respectable 128-note maximum polyphony level, and that’s a whole lot of simultaneous range for an instrument in this class. The keyboard on the ONE Smart Keyboard is weighted, and that delivers an ultra-realistic, almost acoustic playing experience and sound.
If a student follows the light-up keyboard, they can start playing new pieces quickly and without too much effort. It’s possible to use this keyboard with a free app too, which makes it a full system for learning and a great option for both teachers and students.
You can connect the ONE Smart Keyboard to your, or your teacher’s computer by using the USB-MIDI output. This makes it a great choice for using with educational software and virtual instrument plugins. All of this reinforces the ONE Smart Keyboard’s position as a very useful learning device. You can even use record mode to listen back to your highlights and mistakes.
Overall, this is a great piano for beginners and will be just as useful for pianists looking to move up a level with their play.
There isn’t a great deal to say about the Yamaha P45, because the name says it all. This machine will deliver a certain amount of quality because of where it comes from – Yamaha just don’t build bad pianos, period.
This piano is limited in terms of features compared to the Yamaha further up the list in the number one spot. However, it does come with a full-size eighty-eight keyboard. That’s going to see a lot of Yamaha shoppers forsake that number one pick, and this is subsequently perhaps, a better option for more accomplished players, or those seeking a more extensive octave range.
You get ten preset sounds here, the polyphony is extremely limited for a piano in this price range, at 64. That’s one of the most disappointing aspects of the Yamaha P45. It’s not what you expect when you look at the specifications for a piano at this price point, and it’s hard to fathom.
The keys are variably weighted, and yes, it is a Yamaha, but it’s a poor one. All in all, either look at taking a hit on octave range and choose the better Yamaha P 121 – or look elsewhere completely.
The LAGRIMA 88 Weighted Key Digital Piano is another piano that fully deserves to be in the top half of our list of the ten best weighted keyboards. This keyboard doesn’t come with the pedigree of a Yamaha model but boy does it make up for that in the effort that’s gone into producing it.
You get eighty-eight fully weighted keys when you opt for the LAGRIMA 88 Weighted Key Digital Piano and the tone that comes out of this very well made instrument is superb. You’ll feel just like you’re listening to a traditional acoustic piano when you strike a note on this keyboard, and the playing experience is realistic too.
One of the best features on this piano is the variable weighting to the keys. They weigh more at the lower end of the scale and less at the higher end. That gives a very nice playing experience, and you’ll be flying through all types of pieces of music on this instrument in no time. It’s a great option if you’re downsizing from a traditional piano.
The LAGRIMA 88 Weighted Key Digital Piano backs up that realistic feel with technology from the modern-day. You get a three-pedal system, an LCD display and the polyphony is mid-range but very usable at 64 simultaneous tones.
You get a USB-MIDI option here too, and you can connect this to an external speaker if the volume output isn’t enough for you. All in all, it’s a good little piano, with excellent octave range at a fair price.
The Alesis Recital Pro will give you great enjoyment whether you’re new to the piano or you’re an old hand. This keyboard provides near perfect traditional piano fee and feedback via hammer-action keys.
The Alesis Recital Pro comes fitted with a full set of eighty-eight of those hammer-action keys too, so you’ll never be short on range and whether you’re composing your own music, earning a new piece, or simply learning the ropes, the Alesis Recital Pro has a full seven octaves.
Add to that the fact that the keys on the Alesis Recital Pro are full-sized and you’re on to a traditional piano play-a-like winning formula. There is also adjustable touch response built into this design, so the piano is very versatile and will suit many types and styles of play.
You can learn away on the Recital Pro because it has a fully adjustable metronome incorporated, and the handy Lesson & Record modes will see you improving fast. Recital Pro is another good choice for wither the student or teacher, and you can record performances to listen back to, which is a great teaching or learning aid.
The Alesis keyboard also comes with a good polyphony rating, at 128. Overall, this is a decent keyboard, although it doesn’t really pull up many trees.
The first thing to say about the next piano on our list of the ten best weighted keyboards is that it’s perhaps mislabeled as a beginner’s piano. Unfortunately, I’m not saying that in a positive sense either. The RockJam 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano has been called so because it’s a limited piano when it comes to features. There are far better student pianos out there. In fact, there are far better student pianos on this list that aren’t as limited in terms of quality as the RockJam 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano.
What you do get here is a full eighty-eight key version of a keyboard, and that’s equipped with full-sized semi-weighted keys, which is a great touch. One of the best things about this little piano is that those keys are also adjustable, and you can use that to make the piano better suit your playing style.
You get ten preset piano sounds with the RockJam 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano, including Hammond organ, which might make playing a little more fun.
Where this piano does excel is connectivity. There are just too many ports to mention, and you’ll be able to use this for a wide variety of purposes, with many devices. That includes both Android and iOS connectivity, via the supplied app access.
Overall, this isn’t really a student piano, the RockJam 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano is more accurately labeled as a great budget option, and that’s why we’ve rated it so in this list.
The Korg B1SPBK Digital Piano is another keyboard on our list of the ten best out there that comes with an impressive pedigree behind it. Korg are a pioneer in the electronic piano industry and have been responsible for many of the innovations and advances that we see right across the digital keyboard marketplace today.
Having said that, this is a relatively basic Korg model, and it won’t win many awards in the electric piano world. Noether it seems will Korg’s packaging department, there have been many, many reported problems with this keyboard where packaging, and therefore, damage in transit has been a problem. This is a shame because there’s almost no doubt that this piano will have decent components inside.
There’s not much to see here, and that includes the absence of USB-MIDI connectivity, which seems strange and makes one think that this piano has been designed to be cheap, achievable and cheerful for that reason.
What you will get if you buy the Korg B1SPBK Digital Piano, is a great range of preset sounds. Harpsichord, organs and two different electronic versions are represented.
All in all, the Korg B1SPBK Digital Piano is technically a very well manufactured product, as you’d expect from Korg. However, this is ultimately an extremely basic model – so, bear that in mind before you buy.
What do we love it for?
Good at being simple
Adequate polyphony, at 120
Full 88 keys
What were we disappointed with?
Packaging poor, resulting in many damaged products
The Casio Privia PX-870 is what you might call a mixed bag. Let me explain that by saying that even though Casio is also a pioneer of electronic keyboard technology and has been around since some of the earliest mass-produced versions of digital keyboards, there are some problems reported with the logistical element of making a purchase – and that’s a real shame.
The PX-870 does, however, include variable string resonance, which gives a more in-depth and enjoyable sound output. The PX-870 also features a variety of 19 preset instrument sounds, which will please many people, and you can mess around with layering those to produce a vast amount of individual sounds and tones.
The Casio gives you a comprehensive 256 notes of polyphony, which allows for a hugely interesting and genuine level of audible depth.
Add to all that the PX-870’s clever and innovative Sound Projection system, and you will find yourself able to fill the room with clear, yet organic sounds. There’s a very powerful 40-watt, 4-speaker system which is perfect for both the player and the audience. Adjust that with the Casio Volume Sync EQ, and you’re on to a winner from the start. All you need now is to live up to the depth this instrument can produce.
The Casio PX-870 also has a built-in two-track MIDI recorder. It’s supplied in either a black or white design, and it’s compact enough to be a good choice for most homes – even with a full eighty-eight keys.
The PX-870 is excellent in terms of connectivity, via via USB for use with any PC, Mac, iOS, or Android device. You get hammer-action keys for great realism; they’re even made out of ebony and (hopefully ethically sourced) ivory.
The Casio wins on included Accessories. You get a lovely bench, a set of headphones, a handy polishing cloth, and even a music stand. Great touch.
Overall, if Casio could sort out their customer service and shipping, this would be a keyboard that would take some beating.
The Nord 3 Compact 73-Key Digital Stage Piano is not the best keyboard on this list, but it’s here for a reason. We’ve included this keyboard for gigging musicians out there who want professional features at a great price. The Nord doesn’t disappoint on those terms.
Not only that, but the Nord 3 Compact 73-Key Digital Stage Piano offers great possibilities as a studio keyboard, because it comes equipped with the ability to control a great number of external instruments, and that’s really going to please the music producers out there.
You get a nice depth of sound with the Nord 3 Compact 73-Key Digital Stage Piano. Everything works as it should and you won’t be left wanting for simultaneous tones, you get 120 polyphony here.
Where the Nord won’t please professionals and advanced amateurs out there is with a limited keyboard – the Nord 3 Compact 73-Key Digital Stage Piano only comes with, as the name suggests, seventy-three keys. Those keys are semi-weighted, however, which produces good player feedback and a realistic, yet digital piano feel.
Overall, this is a very technically advanced piano, and it’s not one for beginners. The Nord 3 Compact 73-Key Digital Stage Piano would make a great interim option for players reaching more advanced levels of ability, who want a reasonably priced piano to get gigging with, and its versatility offers much scope for resale.
The next keyboard on our list of the ten best weighted keyboards is also here to provide depth. This is a piano that’s aimed at the portability seekers out there, of which there will be many. This small 32-key piano is going to be a great option for those who have limited space or are always on the move. Beware, however, that the portability might be compromised if you want to use this as a true connective keyboard, because there have been reported problems with power via USB.
What you get here is semi-weighted feel and feedback, you’re obviously limited in octave range – but, then that’s the price you’ll pay for super portability. The M-Audio Keystation 61MK3 is also extremely lightweight, which is another bonus for those on the move. It’s iOS connectable, and it’s a basic but accessible device.
All in all, the M-Audio Keystation 61MK3 is a cheap and cheerful – and very portable little keyboard. It’s never going to be the world’s best, and neither will it get you all the way to Carnegie Hall – but it does fill a specific role adequately. Just don’t expect a grand piano.
What stands out?
Great portable option
What cons did we manage to find?
Connectivity issues via USB
Things to Consider
Buying a weighted keyboard presents a big decision, and the best way to make a big decision is to know as much about the item you’re choosing as possible. That theory applies to buying anything; be it a car, computer, shoes, clothes, or a musical instrument. The more you know about what you’re looking at, the more informed decisions you’ll be capable of making – and that means you’ll have a far better chance of ending up with something you’ll keep and enjoy for a long time.
Weighted keyboards are not a new phenomenon. They exist for good reasons, and they were developed by some of the bigger players in the musical instrument marketplace. Weighted keyboards were conceived because of a need to make playing electronic pianos more akin to playing more traditional acoustic pianos. Even though some electronic keyboards can cleverly sense the way you are playing, and adjust the output to suit how hard or how soft you are hitting the keys, a weighted keyboard replicates the feel of playing an acoustic piano – and some say the feeling that an acoustic piano conveys too.
Weighted keyboards are not as mysterious as they may seem upon first glance. To know what you need to know is just a case of having a read of the information we’ve brought together in this guide. It will give you a great idea of what to look for in your own piano, and make reading our reviews a more informative experience, so please take the time to look through the following sections.
Features to consider while choosing keyboard with weighted keys
Acoustic pianos use strings and hammers. The basic principle behind them is that the hammer strikes the strings – which exist in sets of two or three, depending on the pitch – and makes them resonate. That’s what makes the sound you hear when a key is pushed down.
Between the key and the hammer is a lever. That lever has a weight and that’s the resistance you feel when you press down on an acoustic piano key. That resistance is what you instinctively use to gauge how hard or softly you use the key. It’s what gives a pianist like you the ability to induce feeling and emotion in your play. That’s why most pianists who play an electronic keyboard prefer a weighted version. It’s a fact that for many musicians, electronic instruments are a compromise between portability and their art. Weighted keys make that compromise easy, so let’s look at the various things you need to know in order to understand them.
Number of keys
Electronic keyboards come in various formats and with different numbers of keys. Some have as few 25 keys, while others range right up to 88. The versions with the lower number of keys tend to be in the synthesizer bracket, and are not really digital pianos. The majority of electronic pianos will have a minimum of 61 keys, and your decision should be based on how much range you want to have, versus how much freedom to move you want. Obviously, it’s technically more difficult to strike the best 88-key weighted keyboard correctly every time than it is to hit the best weighted keyboard for beginners accurately.
This is where you need to make a decision to buy a simpler piano if you need one, which you can upgrade or trade-in later when you become more proficient. That range will depend on how many octaves the instrument can produce. For example, an 88-key piano can produce seven octaves, whereas a 61 key version can only produce five. As a guide, many pianists and teachers would recommend compromising at five octaves and 61 keys when beginning to learn.
Type of keys
In the bracket of weighted keys, there are a few different versions available. When you are first looking to get a weighted keyboard and begin to play on weighted keys – even if you’re a total novice – you’ll have to decide which of the following type suits you best. One thing to consider is that a weighted keyboard will help a new player to develop finger strength, which is a very important aspect of pianist development. Having the stamina and strength to play well, means having the ability to put more feeling into your playing. Consider the following types of a piano key when you’re looking to purchase your own instrument. The best weighted key keyboard for you will be the one that suits your needs.
A weighted key is exactly what you might think it is – in that the keys on a weighted piano are made with a weight inside them. This replicates the action of a traditional piano to some degree. As with most things, the more you spend on a weighted keyboard, the more accurate of a representation of playing an acoustic instrument it will be. Some pianos use graded weighting for their weighted keys. That’s basically a practice of using various different weights in keys at different places on the keyboard, which is the way playing a real piano feels. The best portable keyboard with weighted keys might be one that isn’t too heavy, because it will add to the overall weight of the keyboard, so consider that when you buy.
In short, weighted keys will adjust the feel and give a different experience when you play. How well that is done will depend on the quality of the weighted keyboard you’re using. It’s well worth noting at this point that electronic keyboards do not need weighted keys in order to adjust the expression of your play. Some keyboards don’t have weighted keys but do have sensors inside that can gauge how hard or how soft you are playing each note, and produce audible output which expresses that. Weighted keys are more about the feedback you get from the piano – they’re about your sensory input, not the piano.
The majority of keyboards which place in or around the beginner class will go for a semi-weighted type of key, as this is a good introduction to weighted keys and allows for good pianist development. You’ll get the benefit of authentic playing experience, and the piano will be lighter than a fully weighted version, and hence more portable. Remember to look for the best semi-weighted midi keyboard if you want to use MIDI to learn with.
If you’re looking to get as close to the feel of playing an acoustic piano as possible, but still keep it electronic, then a hammer action keyboard version might be just what you’re looking for. These pianos, as the name suggests, use a lever to give the keys more resistance – and therefore replicate the feeling of playing an acoustic keyboard incredibly well.
Grand Hammer Standard
A grand hammer standard keyboard has nothing standard about it at all. Grand hammer action keyboards are at the high end of the electronic keyboard market, and they replicate the action of a traditional keyboard extremely well. As the name suggests, grand hammer standard pianos use a spring-loaded key to achieve that, and you should expect to pay quite a lot for the privilege of playing one.
Number of polyphony (Max.)
Polyphony is related to how many notes an electronic keyboard can output simultaneously. Essentially, it’s how many different notes you’ll be able to strike all at the same time. Guess what – the more you spend on your electronic piano, the higher the polyphony value will be. Budget keyboards may only be able to produce notes in the double-figure range – often as low as eight or sixteen. For instance, don’t expect 128 note polyphony on the best weighted keyboard under 300 bucks – you can’t have it all ways, unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong. The best budget weighted keyboard types can have some great features, but high polyphony isn’t generally one of them.
High end keyboards sometimes have the capacity to produce over a hundred notes all at the same time. Obviously, the richness and complexity of your play will be significantly affected by how well the keyboard you’re using can produce note numbers. If you’re a total novice, however, I wouldn’t sweat over polyphony too much. You can always upgrade later, because you’ll pay for high polyphony capability.
Presets give you the ability to adjust the musical style and tone of the piano. Essentially, they let you adjust the piano quickly, to make different sounds and replicate different types of acoustic piano sounds. This will be more important to accomplished musicians, or even people who produce their own music at home. Beginners should be more concerned with learning the musical principles of the piano, and will likely not need to use presets at all.
Digital keyboards employ various methods of the interface, and this is essentially how connectable your keyboard is to various devices. It’s important to take account of what ports and connectivity capabilities your keyboard has, and compare that to what you want to do with the instrument. Manufacturers will specify the connectivity options you’ll get with each instrument, so take care to look at that information before you buy. If you want to use MIDI, for example, look for the best weighted midi keyboard out there.
Not necessarily. You can opt to buy a non-weighted keyboard if weighted keys aren’t a priority for you, and a good quality unweighted keyboard will have sensors which can gauge your style of play. Sound quality isn’t really what weighted keys are about, although they will help certain types of players to produce better music.
If your keyboard is compatible with a MIDI controller, yes you can.
So, there we have it. We’ve reviewed some of the best pianos in this class on the market – thoroughly. You’ve also been able to read a comprehensive buying guide which tells you a lot of the stuff you need to be looking for when you consider a weighted piano purchase. The pick that came out top here was the Yamaha P121, and. It’s got everything you’d want from a weighted piano and more.
In the second place on our list of the ten best weighted pianos we could find was the ONE Smart Keyboard. This piano didn’t quite make it to the very top of our list, what a piano! The fact is that small differences are what means the difference between the first and second place in a rigorous review like this, and those same small differences mean that this piano might suit some buyers more than the top pick. Pick the one that you feel best suits your stage of learning and your style.
Last but not least, by any means, in our top three was the Yamaha P45, and this is another piano that might pique the interest of a lot of the potential buyers out there. You get a lot of piano for your hard-earned money when you opt for the Yamaha P45 – so don’t rule this one out at all. Whichever of these ten great pianos you decide to go for, make sure to enjoy using it, and know that once you’ve learned the piano, you’ll be ready for anything in the wonderful world of music. Keep playing!