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61 keys is one of our favorite sizes for a keyboard – large enough for advanced users, yet not so large as to not fit on a desk. Given the huge number of options in this category, choosing the best 61 key keyboard can be a problem. This guide will help you zero-in on the perfect keyboard for your needs.
Yamaha PSR E463
- Tons of quality sounds
- Great natural key feel
- Damage-friendly build quality
- Affordable price tag
- Reliable Casio keybed
- Great learning features
- Powerful DSP effects
- Built-in sequencer
- Great responsive keys
The first thing we need to clarify is that by “keyboard”, we essentially mean “digital piano”. That is, an instrument capable of producing sound by itself.
This is different from a MIDI keyboard which typically don't have any sound synthesis or production capabilities (i.e. they don't have onboard sound or speakers). Rather, they can produce sound only when connected to an external synthesizer or DAW. Because of this, such keyboards are often also called “controllers”.
We covered 61-key MIDI keyboards in a previous article. You can check that out here in case you're looking specifically for MIDI instruments.
In this guide, we'll focus strictly on digital pianos with 61 keys. All the instruments covered in this review have built-in speakers and onboard sounds. While the range of onboard sounds varies (from electric organs to guitars), all of them at least have grand piano sounds.
Essentially, choose keyboards from this range if you're looking for digital pianos to play or produce music. These are great for starting pianists, amateur producers, and anyone looking to tinker with a keyboard.
Read on to see our picks for the best 61 key keyboards in the market right now.
A note about prices: While the best 61-key keyboard can range from under $100 to $2,000, we've focused on more accessible keyboards. That is, keyboards priced below the $500 mark. At this price point, you get a good mix of performance and affordability – ideal for beginners and intermediate users. Advanced pianists can check out our guide to the best advanced digital pianos here.
About your reviewer
Ryan Harrell is the founder of MIDINation and an experienced producer/DJ. His first experience with electronic music production dates back to Cubase 3.0 in the summer of 1997, and he's been a fan ever since. He prefers Ableton as his primary DAW these days, though he is still partial to Cubase and Pro Tools. He lives in San Diego and freelances as a producer and part-time DJ.
The Best 61 Key Keyboard
We'll start this list with our choice of the best 61 key keyboard that would be a good fit for most users. We'll then dive into different categories based on price and/or requirements such as keyboards for beginners, kids, and advanced users.
With that out of the way, here's a closer look at the best 61 key keyboard you can buy right now:
Yamaha created the first digital piano and still dominates the industry (along with Casio). The PSR line is its flagship starting keyboard range, packing in its signature Graded Hammer Action keybed with portable grand piano sounds. While the cheaper E263 is a great beginner keyboard, we feel that the E463 is a much better all-around instrument for only a little more money.
If you can spring for it, we highly recommend the PSR-E463 as your first “serious” 61 key keyboard.
If you are looking for a beginner level 61-key keyboard, then look closely at this model. It is one of the most versatile options that we tested, coming with several impressive features that make it stand out from the crowd.
This keyboard has 758 sounds which is the highest that we have reviewed so far. It comes with a Quick Sampling system that serves the function of helping the player to create a wide plethora of sounds, store them and use them by mixing.
The keyboard has the ability to record up to 80 minutes in.WAV format.
It features a 6W amplification system with Bass Reflex speakers. Therefore, it is a loud option that offers the user rich, clear sounds.
It comes with a relatively compact and lightweight size which is a good thing for beginners on the go. With its DSP effects and assignable controls, many of the parameters can be customized to the preference of the user.
Connections are decent, as it comes with audio input that can be connected with external players.
This excellent product comes with 235 rhythms, which is quite impressive. It is even more impressive that the rhythms can be expanded via USBAs, and by using the Groove Creator function, even more rhythms can be created.
What we don’t like:
Yamaha did a really good job making an excellent product at this price. However, it isn’t perfect. I found the recording function to be somewhat rigid. It is also somewhat expensive, considering that it is a beginner option.
Recommended for: Beginners looking for a serious “grown-up” keyboard with classic sounds, acoustic-piano like performance, and unbeatable build quality.
- Packed with advanced features (quick sampling, XG Lite library, etc.)
- Powerful speakers even at the low end
- Fantastic keybed and onboard audio
- Expensive for a beginner keyboard
- Recording function is clumsily implemented
Best 61 Key Keyboard (Budget): Casio CTK-2550
- 400 built-in tones
- 61 piano style keys
- Battery and AC adapter powered
Next is this excellent keyboard from Casio. It is an awesome workstation for music lovers and producers with an eye for fun. It comes with several features that make it possible to make music on the go.
I found it to be very compact and portable. You can carry it as you move around, which makes it great for producers that are often on the road. Despite the relatively small size, though, it comes packs quite a punch when it comes to features and capabilities.
If this is your first time using a keyboard, then you will find this 61-key keyboard to be just right for your needs.
The instrument features several teaching tools and lessons that will help you advance in your learning. It comes in a 3-step learning system which I found to be straightforward and will help most beginners master the ropes quickly.
It features up to 400 sounds that you can play with, which is rather impressive when you think about the other options on the market.
One nice feature we like is the Dance Music Mode. This mode can be used to make fun sounds that you can use, even at a party. Casio has made this instrument compatible with Chordana Play app. Once downloaded, this app links your phone to the keyboard and allows you to download the sounds that you produce.
This instrument works with a power adapter and batteries. Hence, you don’t always have to look for a socket before you can make your music; you can produce music wherever the fancy catches you!
What we don't like
The 61-key keyboard is a good instrument; however, I wasn’t wowed by the responsiveness of the keys. They feel shoddy and do not deliver touch response; unlike acoustic pianos. While the lack of weighted keys makes the instrument lightweight, if you are looking for a fully functional instrument that gives you acoustic piano “vibes”, then look away from this option.
Recommended for: I believe that those with their first foray into the world of keyboard will like the ease of use offered by this model. If you are looking for the best 61-key keyboard on a budget, then you will likely love this option as well.
- Compact and lightweight
- App integration for better learning
- Affordably priced
- The keys lack touch response
- NOT MIDI capable; can't plug it into a DAW
Best for Beginners: Yamaha PSR-E263
- 61 full-sized keys
- 32-note polyphony
- Duo mode
- Auto power off
Our first pick is the Yamaha PST-E263. It comes with several features which I believe makes it one of the best 61-key keyboards on the market today. In my opinion, and from testing and various reviews, it is an ideal keyboard for folks that are starting out learning how to play the keyboard.
It comes in a compact and portable design that lets you carry it around with ease. Despite the compact size, it comes with several powerful features that make it a good choice.
The 61-note keyboard delivers up to 400 instrument sounds which are crisp and clear. It also features up to 130 accompaniment styles from several genres from around the globe.
For beginners, the Yamaha Education Lesson Function comes in very handy. This function is a teacher that makes it easy for starters to master the instrument; with several modes that mean that a physical teacher isn’t required.
Something else that makes this instrument stand out is the Phrase recorder. This feature lets the player quickly record their performance without any issues.
The Duo mode is an excellent feature for folks that still require the presence of a physical teacher as it allows two players to play at the same time.
Although this product is an entry-level instrument, it doesn’t come with the poor quality sound associated with similar products in its range. I love the sound quality of this keyboard. It is greatly enhanced by its ultra-wide stereo which delivers clear sound even when played at the highest volume.
If you are looking to get creative, you might especially love the reverb and chorus functions.
Connectivity is another strength of this product. The back panel of the Yamaha features an AUX line input that allows the user to play the instrument with songs.
Playing in the dead of the night might disturb the neighbours, fortunately, though, Yamaha has provided headphone ports that you can use.
What we don't like
Overall, this product is an excellent choice; however, it comes with certain limitations. First, it doesn’t come with the ability to share or mix music. It also doesn’t come with a power adapter. For the price, I expected it to have all of these.
Recommended for: As this is an entry-level product, it is highly recommended for those who are just learning how to play the keyboard. The ease of use, affordable price tag, and reliable performance make it one of the best 61 key keyboards for beginners.
- Excellent Yamaha grand piano sounds
- Great for beginners
- Onboard lessons
- PSR E363 and E463 offer more value for the money
- Music can’t be shared or mixed
Best Performance 61 Key Keyboard: Casio CT-X5000
- Standard I/O ports
- 7.28 pounds
- Learning system
- 110 pre-installed songs
The last, but definitely not the least option on this roundup is the Casio CT-X5000. This option is the flagship model of Casio’s CTX line of keyboards. As such, it delivers some of the best sounds and comes with impressive features that make it an awesome 61-key keyboard.
One of the best things about this model is that the keys are all velocity sensitive. Therefore, they feel great to press, with a solid twang and overall performance. It is a portable option, although the 15 pound weight is somewhat heavier than other options.
Another nice feature is the accompaniment patterns. Using this feature, you can use rhythm tracks to form your rhythm section and can produce your own music in real-time. Furthermore, it lets you control your performance as you play.
It comes with a phrase pad; with this feature, you can customize your playing; adding some complexity to your performance.
The huge range of sounds allows you to enjoy several types of music and have a good type. Sound quality is awesome with this product too. With the AiR sound engine, the sound is bumped up to a nice level which I really enjoyed.
Ease of use is one more impressive feature of this model. The control panel on the Casio keyboard is quite impressive and is one of the easiest to use that I’ve come across.
The Casio CT X5000 has several inbuilt songs and allows you to add even more songs. It has record and playback functions. There is also a memory bank where inbuilt sounds, as well as recorded songs, are stored.
Connectivity is another strong point of this keyboard. The audio-in port lets you connect other devices, for instance, your computer, to the keyboard so you can play music. You can load music on this device as it is.WAV compatible. There is a microphone port too which you will likely find as handy as I did.
With over 90 DSP effects, there is almost no cap to your creativity when playing on this model.
What we don't like
There’s almost nothing to dislike about this product. One issue I had, though, is that the speakers are quite soft. Other than that, it is an excellent choice.
Recommended for: It is an affordable workstation that I believe that any music composer or producer will enjoy using. While there are better sequencers and arrangers, I feel that you're better off using a DAW once prices exceed $500. Within that budget, this is one of the best 61 key keyboards you can buy.
- Highly capable sequencer built-in
- Fun to use
- Can be connected to other devices
- Speakers are soft and underpowered
- Can't replace a full-fledged workstation or DAW
Keyboard with the Best Keybed: Roland GO:KEYS
- More than 500 sounds
- Weighs 4 KG
- Bluetooth Audio
- Bluetooth Connectivity
The Roland GO 61-key keyboard is one of the best 61-key keyboards for the money. There are several reasons why this option is so rated highly. I especially love the intuitive design that makes it quite clear that it is mainly for beginners.
It is a compact and lightweight option; weighing just 4Kg. Its portability is further enhanced by the several input and output ports on the body of the instrument. This makes it even more versatile than your average option. Make music on the go wherever you are, as this keyboard, runs not only on electricity but is powered by regular AA batteries as well.
Aside from the portability, this product comes with Bluetooth capabilities. Therefore, after you create music with the keyboard, you can play the music on entertainment systems that have Bluetooth functions.
This excellent option comes with 500 inbuilt sounds. Therefore, there is a wide variety of music that you can produce on it.
The instrument produces some truly excellent sounds from the Juno DS synthesizers that it features. It delivers crisp, clear sound from the speakers.
Beginners will likely enjoy using the Loop Mix function. This feature allows the user to, as the name implies, add sounds that are played on a loop.
Beginners can use Skove, which comes with the instrument, to further their learning of the instrument. As a bonus, the instrument comes with a 3-month subscription which is quite helpful in learning the ropes.
What we don't like
If you are an expert player, chances are high that, just like me, you will find the instrument too basic and simple to use. If music production isn’t a hobby, you might not enjoy the over simplicity of the instrument.
Recommended for: As an entry-level 61-key keyboard, this instrument is great for folks learning how to play the instrument. Learning is especially great since its interface and features are excellent to master. Additionally, while it might not be the most feature packed keyboard around, it is one of the best looking and among the most approachable. If ease of use is your jam, you'll find that this is the best 61 key keyboard right now.
- 500 pre-installed sounds
- Features Bluetooth connectivity
- 3-month free Skoove subscription
- Too simple for serious players
- Lacks a holder for holding music sheet
Best 61 Key Keyboard for Kids: RockJam 61
- 61 keys
- 200 rhythms and tones
- MP3 playback via USB or AUX
- 40 demo songs
- Headphone output
- Sheet music stand and Adapter
If you have kids looking to start learning how to play the keyboard, or you are a learner yourself, the RockJam 61 is an excellent place to start.
Although it is geared at beginners, it has an ability to grow on you and comes with the features that make it an excellent instrument to use; even for live performances.
One of the things that I love about this product is that you can record and play recorded music on it whenever you want to. It comes with several sounds installed, so you can play what you want. With the ability to record and sample various sounds, you will be able to produce impressive music with this option. The playback and record option comes in especially handy if you compose music or are a music producer.
It is quite easy and straightforward to use. It comes with a big LCD screen that provides information on what is happening with the instrument. You can play, see what is happening, and make adjustments that you deem to be necessary.
I love the control panel, which comes with several, easy-to-access buttons and options. For beginners, they will live the simple instructions that can make them play better. Children will love the demo songs that can be copied and played since the keys to press, appear on the screen.
Another reason why this entry-level keyboard is highly rated is that it comes with beats and sounds from different types of instruments.
Despite the relatively low price, this product comes with several accessories. Some of the things you will find in the package include an X stand, pair of headphones, and piano bench.
You will also find that it comes with an app; Music Maestro App, that will help you learn quicker.
What we don't like
While it is an excellent product, there are some things that I don’t like.
Unlike other options, it doesn’t come with a USB connection. It is also not compatible with android devices.
One irritating flaw is that it is always at full volume when you turn it on. There is no provision to adjust that setting, hence you will always be greeted with a full blast of sound whenever you start to play; unless you turn it down before playing.
Recommended for: I recommend the Rockjam for anyone who wants to learn how to play the keyboard and for folks that just like to play. It comes with all the features that make it a great option even for kids. The 61 full size keys are easy to use, feel solid, and will last for a long time. For absolute beginners and casual users, this is one of the best 61 key keyboards to buy.
- Features several sounds
- Large, clear LCD screen
- Playback and record function
- No USB connection
- Not compatible with android devices
Over to You
As with most digital pianos, you can't really go wrong with the two heavyweights in this category – Casio and Yamaha. Both have fantastic offerings for beginners, intermediate and even advanced users below the $500 mark. Yamaha's PSR and Casio's CTK lines come highly recommended and you can pick any based on your budget and will likely be happy with it.
For more specific recommendations, hopefully this guide was of some help.
For more recommendations and advice, don't hesitate to reach out to me here.
- Our guide to the best digital pianos of all time
- Advanced pianist? You'll want to see our guide to the best advanced pianos here
- If you're just starting out, check out our beginner's guide to the best digital pianos
- For MIDI keyboards, refer to this guide
- Yamaha (Official website)
- Casio (Official website)
- Roland (Official website)
- RockJam (Official website)
- April 15, 2020: Article first published
- September 18, 2020: Article updated