The 88-key keyboard is probably the closest thing you will get to have a piano in your home without actually getting one. Pianos used to be made with 85 keys on seven octaves from A(0) to A(7), and there are still a lot of those around. But today most pianos are made with 88 keys, 52 white, and 36 black. These give you seven octaves plus a minor third from A(0) to C(8).
The 88-key keyboard is then a replica of the keyboard of the modern piano whilst also giving you some digital benefits. The stunning thing is how close some of them come to the sounds of the original concert grands made by the greatest piano makers the world has ever known.
Of course, the trained ear will immediately know the difference. But for the rest of us mere mortals, the sound is astonishing.
So, let’s have a look at the best 88-key keyboards currently available and find the perfect one for you…
- Top 10 Best 88-Key Keyboard To Buy Of 2020 Reviews
- Best 88-Key Keyboard Buyers Guide – 88 keys And Counting…
- So, What’s The Best 88-Key Keyboard?
Top 10 Best 88-Key Keyboard To Buy Of 2020 Reviews
1 Yamaha DGX-660 88 Weighted Keys Piano
Just like their guitars and their drums, Yamaha makes great keyboards. We talk from a position of understanding on this one because we added one, albeit a cheaper model, to our collection and it has turned out to be very good indeed. Let’s take a look at the 660.
This is an 88-key Yamaha digital piano with a genuine piano playing experience. The sounds are based on samples lifted from Yamaha’s concert grand piano; hence, you get the real feel of a concert grand.
The keyboard itself is made to feel authentic with its various touch response and weighted keys and to give you even more of the genuine experience and sound control there is polyphony across 192 notes that allows two-handed chords.
It is well-built and sturdy and gives you the full ‘piano’ experience with its Knox piano seat and its furniture stand.
It has a midi connection that is a big advantage. And it will put the music notation on the screen for playing the songs which you can follow. It also utilizes Wi-Fi to stream to MIDI to and from iOS devices.
There is a built-in microphone socket that will allow you to sing along with what you are playing. As well as vocal effects via the built-in speakers and amps. And performances can be recorded via the USB connection.
We are not so sure about this facility. It’s not the sort of extra you would expect to find on an instrument that is trying to create a serious concert piano sound. Somehow it loses its ‘serious piano’ feel when you add a sing-a-long effect.
It comes with its furniture stand and piano seat, sustain pedal, dust cover, music-sheet stand, power cord, and headphones.
At the price, it is not particularly inexpensive, but the piano sounds are quite nice.
2 Yamaha P71 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano
It is not surprising that the P71 has become one of Yamaha’s best selling keyboards. Portable, light to carry around at just 25 pounds, and with some good tones. And at a price that is very cost-effective, this was always going to be a winner.
It gives some high-quality sampling across its 88-key keyboard that has fully weighted keys and ten instrument sounds. As for connections, it has a USB port, jack for the sustain pedal and a headphone socket.
Let’s just mention weighted keys briefly for the benefit of those who may not be familiar with the term. Weighted means they are quite heavy to play and exert resistance to your fingers. This makes it feel like a real piano. It might feel strange at first for those not accustomed to it, but it is worth persevering with.
There are no heavy wooden structures with this model. And it will sit neatly on a table, making it ideal for home use for learners and experienced musicians alike. One thing we should mention is that being made completely of plastic, it does need to be stored and used with some care.
Having said that the Yamaha we have has twice been knocked off its stand by accident and survived both times, so they are made pretty tough.
It includes two electric piano sounds, two grand pianos, (concert and bright), two harpsichords, two pipe organs, a vibraphone, and strings. All have decent sounds. The P71 also has a dual mode allowing you to play two different instruments at the same time and split the keyboard if you wish.
To ensure it is easy to play the control panel is kept simple with every aspect is clearly visible. It also has an onboard metronome.
At the price, it is a great piano providing you are not expecting the very top end.
3 Kawai ES110 88-key Digital Piano
Let us ask you a question. When you are considering buying a digital piano, do you think of Kawai? You should.
With this keyboard, Kawai is trying to attract the new player or someone who has some experience but is still at the early stages. To this end, they have produced the ES110. A piano that excludes a lot of the extra baggage, that digital pianos sometimes carry around, to give the player a ‘piano experience’.
It is compact, lightweight and very basic but it is also very good. It is made of plastic, body, and keys, but is quite tough, and whilst it doesn’t feel particularly expensive to the touch, it does feel secure.
Kawai digital pianos are well-known for their key actions being very realistic and whilst the best of these are at the top end as you would expect, on the ES110 they are good. Whereas many digital piano makers use springs in the key action, this instrument uses hammers, and they are positioned so as to provide an authentic feel to play.
When we talk about the sound, there is one thing we must say. Kawai manufactures one of the finest acoustic grand concert pianos in today’s world, the EX range. And it these sounds you get with this keyboard.
Each note is individually sampled from the concert grand and then has a touch of resonance and a little reverb applied to give it that concert feel in a large hall.
Included are two concert grand pianos, a studio grand and a mellow grand piano, two electric pianos and a jazz organ. Other sounds can be utilized via Bluetooth.
It has 2 seven watt speakers but to get the full effect, simply connect it to an amp or monitor and just listen. If you haven’t been thinking Kawai, maybe you should.
4 Yamaha P125
Yamaha’s P125 88-key digital piano is probably best described as suitable for players at the beginning of their piano learning curve. It is a very user-friendly keyboard that is lightweight and portable and comes with its Yamaha pedigree of producing good quality instruments.
It has weighted hammer keys. This means the higher end keys are lighter to the touch than the lower end, which are noticeably heavier. This simulates the action of an acoustic piano.
The pure CF sound engine re-creates the great sound of the Yamaha CF111S Concert Grand Piano. The sound is boosted by a feature that adds EQ and a little volume that will assist it to project its sound and a stereo optimization process that gives a wider spatial distribution of the sound.
It has two modes of play, split and duo. Split mode allows you to play with a different instrument with each hand and duo splits the keyboard into two halves – one for you and one for your teacher. It has a jack socket for headphone use and a USB port to host the connectivity to MIDI.
It comes with a music rest, pedal/footswitch and an ACX adapter. There is no stand or cabling. It has two built-in seven-inch speakers and has a complimentary rhythm section that will play along with you if you wish.
The sound on this piano is outstanding, and likewise, the touch of the keyboard feels authentic. The piano sounds ring with resonance and are very impressive. As a starter piano, it is excellent, but the sound says it may be just as suited for a player playing small room gigs.
For a starter instrument, it has a lot going for it.
5 Korg B1SP 88 Weighted-Key Digital Piano
What do Rick Wakeman (Yes), Keith Emerson (ELP) and Spike Edney (Queen) all have in common? The answer – Korg. When you see those guys using a manufacturer, you know it’s going to be serious.
Korg has always been trailblazers and at the forefront of what is going on, from the first real synthesizer, the miniKORG released in 1973, to the legendary Korg M1 Music Station.
It’s a compact, but not lightweight, digital piano, that is designed to appeal to a range of abilities from starter to more experienced. It also has a design that is suitable for home use — coming with a well-made furniture stand, a music sheet stand, padded bench, and its pedal board. Built-in are two nine watt speakers.
The principle piano sound reproduction emulates the sound of a full concert grand complete with resonances and a touch of room reverberation. It also has four other pianos, two organs, and a harpsichord.
It has weighted keys that give the feel of an acoustic piano which simulates the resistances experienced on grand piano keys. Just to give it that final piece of real piano authenticity it has a three-pedal unit giving you the full range of tones and dynamics. To add to the package is the onboard transposing facility, a feature actually invented by Korg.
There is a lot more to this instrument that can be described here but suffice to say it is Korg. Not a lot more needs to be said really. The quality of what you see is evident, but there are other qualities not so evident, which make this a great digital piano.
Considering the package which as we have said includes the piano, the furniture stand, pedals, etc., the price really is very cost effective
6 M-Audio Hammer 88
The M-Audio Hammer is just a bit more than a digital piano with 88 keys; it is what might be termed as a keyboard controller. And has the realistic sound of a grand piano, but also includes a sound library of over five hundred instruments and sounds. It is an 88-key keyboard digital piano with all you might need to utilize by way of virtual instruments.
Fully-weighted hammer keys give you the authentic feel of the grand piano but also add realism to the use of other instruments.
If you are a beginner and are using it to learn to play or improve your technique, there are hundreds of online piano lessons for all levels. This unique method gives you real-time feedback on your progression and is accessed through a laptop, iPad, or iPhone.
Returning to virtual instruments. If you are a bit more advanced and maybe into writing your music, then the sound library is not going to let you down. Whatever your piece of work requires you will find it be it drum hits to bass lines or just loops. And as an added bonus access to some of the most well-known recording software is available.
Pitch bend and modulation wheels, sustain pedal and assignable midi buttons. For people who want more than just a digital piano, this has a lot to offer. It might take a bit of time to learn how to maximize everything included, but if you want more than a piano, it might be time well spent.
Not only has it good grand piano sounds, but it also has so much more. And at the price, it is quite astonishing.
7 Nektar Impact
If you’ve come here expecting a review of an 88-key digital piano with maybe a few extra keyboard-based instruments thrown in, then it’s time to say goodnight. But if you’re looking for a keyboard with just about everything added that could be, then you’re in the right place.
Nektar has clearly sat down and asked themselves just how much tech can we actually cram into this keyboard without it suffering internal combustion.
It has its 88-keys, but it also includes pitch bending and modulation wheels, both neatly positioned just above your left hand as you play making it easy to add a little bit of flavor to the sound.
There are eight drum pads and nine assignable faders and eight buttons. It is a veritable gold mine of activity.
You can layer and split the keyboard and an LED light lets you know what’s going on, and you can program each zone in advance. The problem we have with it is actually selecting and talking about some of the features. There are just too many.
It is well-built and quite sturdy. They have included in this midi controller almost every feature one can reasonably be expected to have. If you want to be picky then maybe they haven’t included as much goto software as they could have.
It will operate with most of the big DAW’s, and Logic, Garageband, Cubase, and others are listed as compatible. In today’s’ world though if it has a USB connection, it’s possible it will work with nearly anything.
You would be forgiven for thinking that you’re going to have to raise a mortgage for it. But, the price is incredibly low for what you are getting.
8 Casio Privia PX-160BK
It’s been quite a while since every Casio keyboard was a tiny almost one-fingered affair that looked like it would fit inside a Christmas cracker. They still make their 44 key instruments for small children, but they also now have a range that is up there competing with the best.
The PX 160 is an elegant digital
piano, and this is enhanced by the lack of clutter and endless buttons and switches on the top. There are, of course, some by necessity, but they are kept to a minimum and almost concealed in the overall design.
The 160 is the successor to the P150 and has a few minor modifications but still carries the Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator (AIR) that produces the great piano sound. AIR works with four separate levels of sound sampled from a concert grand to create a replica of the feel and atmosphere of the real thing, and the results are staggering.
The keyboard has hammer action, and its response feature allows for the dynamics of the performance to come through, which includes the speed at which the hammers move inside a concert grand to create a realistic feel. Sensors capture the speed and dynamics to create a real piano experience.
The sounds on offer some might say are limited, but this is a digital piano, not a workstation. But it still includes grand pianos, electric pianos, harpsichord and now features some lush rich strings which have been added.
It has split and layer options as well as a duet mode to allow you to play at the same time as your teacher. There is a two-track recorder for performance playback if required, and it has two eight watt speakers.
There is an optional furniture stand and three pedal board if required.
It has to be said that this is a remarkable digital piano not only at an entry level but for more experienced players at a cost that is very tempting.
9 Artesia PA-88W Digital Piano
The Artesia PA-88W is a budget digital piano that has been designed for an entry-level player.
It has its 88 keys so offers a full-size range and what we particularly liked about this instrument is the semi-weighted action that makes it so easy to play. For a beginner, we feel that is important, as weighted keys can often interrupt the flow of a learner until they get used to them, whereas semi-weighted has no such issues.
They have though, recognized that there will at some stage be a need to play with weighted keys and there is a built-in option to change the key sensitivity.
The build quality is good and is compact, and lightweight so is easy to carry or move around if it needs transportation.
The grand piano sound is quite nice, featuring a three-layer sampled concert piano sound. The sound has also had some extra stereo samples underpinned to give it some depth and warmth.
This is understandable and is a good way in a budget model to create a nice warm piano sound. But it does give it a little bit of a synthesized feel. We don’t feel this is a problem for a beginner or improver, and the sound is still quite nice.
It has a chorus and digital reverb effects that can be applied to all the eight sound options. Other features include built-in speakers and USB/Midi connectivity, and it allows connection to DAW’s. There are a line out and headphone jack sockets.
For the price, this is a good value starter instrument. It won’t suit higher level players and isn’t suitable for gigs, but is excellent to learn on, and to take your first steps to piano mastery.
10 Kawai CE220 Digital Home Piano
If you’re looking to buy a great digital piano for your home, then Kawai is one of the brands you should probably consider, and if you do, do not miss the CE220. This is where you step up a level.
All that can be said about this is that it is a great piano. Glossy wooden keys that give an elegant feel and a super smooth touch with a realistic experience, each of the 88 notes are individually sampled, and it has 192 notes of polyphony, which is a good number.
The keys have a graded hammer action to simulate exactly the touch of a grand piano.
It has a well-made and stunning furniture cabinet and a three-pedal function. Enclosed in the furniture unit is a stereo built-in 40-watt speaker system to do justice to the sound the piano is creating.
Other onboard features include a half-damper on the three pedals, split and dual keyboard functions, and a virtual voicing feature. It is fitted with a USB flash drive input.
There are many digital pianos that sound quite close to the concert grand, but this Kawai takes a step closer. The sounds are beautifully crafted and close your eyes, and you could be hearing the real thing.
The playing action adds to the authenticity, and it would be quite easy to get lost in the world of the classics when you sit down to play this instrument.
Expensive? Well, quite a bit above what some will be happy to pay, but if you want this much quality, it will never come cheap.
Best 88-Key Keyboard Buyers Guide – 88 keys And Counting…
Thirty years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that we would have the musical technology we now have at our fingertips. And what it allows us, indeed encourage us, to create.
Could we see a time on the horizon, when we would have a full concert grand piano in the back of our car? Then with the push of a button, it would become an electric piano, an organ or a harpsichord.? I doubt it.
But ‘here we stand, and here we fall, and history don’t care at all.’ I wonder what Mozart, Beethoven, or Chopin would have made of it all?
The outcome has been that we now have real quality at our fingertips at a reasonable price, and that allows us to make music better. They would agree with that.
So What To Buy?
Who is it for is the first question that has to be answered. Is it for a learner, a complete novice or an improver? Will it be there the first experience of 88-keys?
If so, then there are a number of options. Price may play a part because maybe you don’t want to spend too much at first in case it doesn’t work out. Quite right.
These instruments might be considered budget line, but they are still quality pianos and are well made with good sounds. Some have some little extras you might like to consider that will help a starter on the road.
What you probably don’t want is something that is too complicated. Just a nice piano sound and there are some of those we looked at.
Someone who wants to upgrade either to play at home or maybe to use for writing or even accompanying someone. In which case, there are some great candidates — quality pianos with great sounds for recording in the studio or live work.
These tend to sit at about the same price range so it will just be a case of which piano sound you prefer and if it has any extras onboard that you’d like?
But then there are those that go way beyond being the best digital piano and become keyboards with every bell and whistle you can think of. Probably best for those creating music rather than learning it, there are a couple of options where the technology takes your breath away.
As a parting shot, there was one that sets itself apart from the others with its quality as a digital piano. Superior of course but with a price tag that might scare a few people off.
There are some great pianos, it is a case of who it is for? and what do they want to use it for?
So, What’s The Best 88-Key Keyboard?
Well, we would go for a piano, a purely digital piano with maybe a few little extras, but it would be the piano sound that to us that would be the important thing.
There are a number of choices and some fine instruments. We don’t usually single out a runner-up, but in this case, the Casio Privia was impressive and a very cost-effective piano. b
But in the end, we chose as our best 88-Key Keyboard the…
Great sounds and is very well made and equipped. It focuses on the piano and some associated piano-based instruments.
Our choice as the best 88-key keyboard.