While many keyboards may seem portable, some are better than others. From being easier to handle to being lightweight, portable keyboards make bringing your music with you easier than ever.
Whether you travel a lot as a musician or just want to take your music along with you wherever you go, portable keyboards are great. Depending on your personal preferences and needs, though, the best portable keyboard will look different to everyone.
Best Portable Keyboard
Casio CTK-3500 61-Key Touch Sensitive Keyboard
Measuring 12.09” x 37.24” x 3.62”, this Casio keyboard is one of the best on the market. It weighs a mere 7.5 pounds and has 61 full-size keys, 48 polyphony notes, and MIDI connectivity capabilities. It also features 400 tones, 150 rhythms, a lesson function, iOS and Android connectivity, Dance Music Mode, and an included AC adapter.
All 61 full-size keys are touch-sensitive, meaning you won’t have to press aggressively for the keyboard to register which notes you want to play. This does mean you’ll have to pay attention not to brush over the wrong note while playing.
When it comes to power, you have two options. The keyboard comes battery-powered, making it perfect for pulling out and jaunting down a few notes wherever you want. It also comes with an AC adapter so that you can plug in your keyboard without worrying about the batteries dying on you.
With Smartphone connection capabilities, you can pull up your favorite song and the keyboard will show you how to play it. This is a great feature for those who want to learn some favorites and show off to their friends.
Yamaha P255 88-Key Professional Weighted Action Digital Piano
This 38-pound keyboard is a very simple yet reliable keyboard. The focus of this Yamaha keyboard is to imitate an acoustic piano which it does very well. With synthetic ivory keys, even playing this keyboard will feel like you’re sitting or standing at an acoustic piano.
The keyboard does have a smaller selection of voices and styles, but all of them have a full, authentic sound. The keyboard also has EQ slides to help you further adjust and customize your sound. Although the overall selection is limited compared to other keyboards, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a keyboard with a more pleasant and authentic sound.
The speakers on this keyboard could do with some improvement, but if you choose to use headphones or connect an external amplifier, the sound will come across clean and crisp.
KORG SP-280 BK
Not including the stand, this keyboard measures 3.58” x 15.98” x 30.91”. It has 88 naturally weighted keys, making it a great transition keyboard for those who are used to playing an acoustic piano. It weighs in at 41.89 pounds and features 140 polyphony voices.
The stand included with this keyboard is nice but makes it difficult to haul around. It adds a lot of weight and size to the keyboard, so if you can, you might want to leave it at home when you hit the road.
The naturally weighted keys will feel much more like an acoustic piano, so you’ll love them if you’re new to keyboards. This does mean you’ll have to be more intentional about pressing the keys, and you can’t be as light-fingered as you would be with a regular keyboard, but it’s a familiar feeling to all those who have played an acoustic piano before.
Due to its weight, this keyboard isn’t as travel-friendly as other options out there. Additionally, it’s rather expensive. Unless you’re searching for a keyboard reminiscent of an acoustic piano, you might be better off searching elsewhere.
Yamaha EZ-220 61-Lighted Key Portable Keyboard Package
As one of the best keyboards for beginners, this Yamaha keyboard weighs just under 10 pounds and has 61 touch-sensitive keys that are lighted. You’ll get a keyboard, a stand, headphones, and a power supplier in this package deal. The keyboard itself features 100 built-in songs as well as one demo song where you can practice your skills.
The lighted keys are great for beginners as you’ll get some input on which keys come next. There’s also a fingering guide, a page-turner app, and a Yamaha education suite included that are all great for beginners. You can even connect to a tuning app with an iPad.
Alesis Recital 88 Key Beginner Digital Piano
This 15.62-pound keyboard has 88 semi-weighted keys with adjustable touch response. It measures 3.6” x 11.52” x 50.52” when on the stand and has 128 polyphony notes. It also features premium sounds 5 voices, built-in FX, lesson mode, and two 20W speakers.
As an 88-key keyboard, it’s impressive that it’s so lightweight. However, the keys themselves are also something not to overlook. If you don’t mind reading through the manual, it’s possible to adjust the semi-weighted keys however you wish. This allows for a more custom touch response than other keyboards provide.
This is a great beginner keyboard. With a lesson mode on the keyboard, you can see where to improve and work on growing your skills. When you purchase the keyboard, you’ll also receive a Skoove software subscription.
The keyboard is powered by 6 D batteries, which aren’t included. With a battery-powered keyboard, though, you won’t have to worry about finding a plug-in that can be especially great when you travel overseas or internationally where outlets are different.
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How to Choose the Best Portable Keyboard
When it comes to buying a portable keyboard, there are some things you should know beforehand. While every keyboardist will have their own personal preferences, there are always a few common things to keep in mind.
Know What You Need
Before you start searching the market, take some time to sit down and think about what you really need in a keyboard. You might think that a keyboard with many features sounds great, but will you actually use those features? Is there a keyboard with fewer features but one particular one that you know you’ll use?
Beginners and professionals will have very different needs, so it’s worthwhile to think about what you need. This will prevent you from accidentally buying a keyboard that may not be beneficial for your specific needs.
Dimensions and Weight
If you’re looking for a portable keyboard, the odds are pretty high that the right dimensions and weight will be necessary for you. While most keyboards will weigh less than the maximum baggage weight for airlines, you should also consider how much you can reasonably carry around.
In some cases, you may find a heavier keyboard that meets your needs perfectly. While a heavier keyboard may be more challenging to travel with, you shouldn’t necessarily rule it out.
61 key keyboards are more limited than 88 key keyboards, but not everyone needs all 88 keys. For beginners and children, 61 key keyboards are more than enough. However, for professional musicians, an 88-key keyboard is likely going to be necessary.
Another thing to consider for keys is whether you want touch-sensitive, semi-weighted, or weighted keys. Each type comes with its own pros and cons, so it’s up to you to determine which type of key you like playing on the best.
Most keyboards will include a number of tones, voices, and effects. Depending on what you plan to use your keyboard for, these features may or may not be necessary for your work. Experts may need more features and effects than beginners, but hobbyists may enjoy messing around with all sorts of sounds and voices.
Just because a keyboard has many features may not mean it is the perfect keyboard for you. In some cases, more features may detract from the usability and make it more challenging. If you don’t need all the features on a keyboard, then don’t feel like you need to buy it because it’s a better deal.
Buying a portable keyboard is a great way to take your music with you wherever you go. While some brands and styles may have a better reputation, the best portable keyboard will depend heavily on your own goals and how you plan to use it.
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