In our recent post, we discussed some things about cheap keyboard pianos, and in this article, we are trying to find out if a 61-key keyboard is enough for a beginner. The short answer to that is yes, but it all depends on how fast you’re going to progress, as you will eventually have to get a bigger keyboard piano.
61 keys – great for beginners
When you’re a beginner, the length of the keyboard and the number of keys is a big issue. As a new player, you can be demoralized by all those keys and learning them can be hard. That’s why, the smaller the range, the more likely the player is to learn new stuff at first. When you start playing the piano or keyboard you don’t need to do any fancy stuff; you just have to learn the basics.
And it’s a lot easier to practice on a keyboard than on a full-sized grand piano. Also, don’t forget that the length of the keyboard also needs to be suitable for the player’s reach. So if you’re buying a keyboard for a child, he or she may find it difficult to reach the keyboard from one side to another, if it’s too large.
The keys are also not that heavy and kids especially will find it better playing on non-weighted keyboards, although eventually, they will have to develop the muscles in their fingers. As a result, a 61-key instrument is enough for a beginner. It will also help them when they are a bit more advanced.
Another advantage of a smaller keyboard is that it will be more portable. Again, that is really important for a beginner, because you sometimes need to move the keyboard from one room to another, or you have to take it to another location where you could be taking keyboard lessons.
Are you aiming high?
Before starting to play the keyboard piano you must ask yourself a series of questions. The first of these is how much do you want to be a professional player? If you really want to learn a lot of things fast, in a couple of years, a keyboard that only has 61 keys won’t help you too much.
If you’re really good at it and you learn things fast, chances are you will be outgrowing your keyboard and you will be limited by the small number of keys. Thus, if you have the funds, and you are willing to put in the work needed to become a great pianist, you should get a keyboard or a piano that has all the keys, 88 of them.
This is also a good investment in the long run, because, with a small keyboard you would eventually have to sell it. You won’t be using it after you outgrow it, but with a full-sized keyboard, you can still practice and play no matter how good you have become. This will save you some money in the long run.
Furthermore, if you choose a piano, be it acoustic or electric, you know that it will last for years. You just need to have the commitment and skill to play it for so many years. Of course, if you’re only using the keyboard from time to time, playing it as a hobby, you shouldn’t invest too much in it. A keyboard with 61 keys is enough for that sort of thing.
Think about your budget
When you buy a smaller keyboard you can also take into consideration the fact that having fewer keys means the keyboard is cheaper. You could only have the budget for a 61-key keyboard, and that’s actually ok at first. You will be able to find quality instruments for around $200. Or you can even get cheaper prices if you’re looking for older models or for something second hand.
Of course, if you have the budget, it would be advisable to spend it on a quality keyboard. It’s better to have a good keyboard with 61 keys than a mediocre one with 76 or 88 keys. The difference between a bad and a quality keyboard can be as low as $100, but the price is certainly worth it.
Nevertheless, if you have the money to go and buy a large piano, you should certainly do it, as that is the best investment over the long term. But to do that you have to consider how committed you are to playing the instrument, and only that will make it a good investment.
Relocating is also a thing to consider from a financial point of view as well, as this implies further costs. Moving a piano will take a team of experts and they will have to be paid considerably, so if you move around a lot, it’s not worth it.
With a small keyboard with 61 keys, moving is easy. You just have to pack it and you can carry it by yourself, wherever you go. That’s the advantage for beginners, who can take their keyboard anywhere and practice. The small keyboard also means that you can store it nearly anywhere in your house if you don’t have that much space.
Learning on a 61-key keyboard
So the main question that needs to be answered is – will you be able to learn to play using a keyboard with 61 keys? There is no certain answer to this, as you can learn some things, but at the same time, you will find yourself limited if you want to become an expert player.
It all depends on your intentions, but for pieces of music that are simple enough and don’t require you to move across the keyboard to use all of the octaves, such a small keyboard will be great. But if you are buying a keyboard for a child, and you want him or her to become a really good keyboard player, you will need to consider something bigger.
If you don’t buy a big keyboard from the start, you will surely have to do it later. The important thing nonetheless, is the quality of the keyboard, as this will be the most influencing factor when it comes to the development of a beginner.
Transitioning from a cheap keyboard that is not weighted to a piano will be extremely difficult if the player doesn’t have the strength needed in the fingers. Furthermore, a bad keyboard will make the beginner more susceptible to injuries and learning the wrong things.
Learning how to play a keyboard instrument takes time, and if you think you have enough time, and you don’t rush it, a keyboard with 61 keys will be enough for the first couple of years. Maybe it’s better if you do that instead of spending huge amounts of money on an instrument that you rarely play.
Things to consider
Whatever the size of the keyboard, there are certain things that are really important to have, especially when you’re a beginner and you want to learn things the proper way. One of the most important things to have is a touch sensitivity feature. This will allow you to produce a low sound volume when you press the keys gently, and a high volume when you strike them harder.
Another thing to consider is the importance of weighted keys. With plain keys, all of them feel the same and they are also so easy to push and they come back up easy too. But that’s not really how piano keys work because they produce sound with the help of hammers that strike strings.
The lower the note, the heavier the key will be, and that feeling needs to be reproduced by the keyboard as well if you want to eventually play the piano. Keyboards with 61 keys don’t always have a feature like that, so make sure to check yours has before you buy it.
Also, don’t mistake a keyboard for a MIDI controller. While controllers are of great use in studios, they aren’t made to be played on, and most importantly, they don’t produce any sound on their own.
They need another piece of hardware, like a computer or an external sound system to help them produce the sound. Thus, when you buy a keyboard, make sure it comes with quality speakers.
A small keyboard with 61 keys will be enough for a beginner to start to learn to play all kinds of music. You can play contemporary styles like pop and rock, but you can also get some jazz going. What’s most important, you can still play classical music.