5 Best Yamaha Keyboards for Beginners (2023 Edition)

Author: Brian Campbell | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

“Yamaha” is a company name known worldwide for its quality instruments and dedication to music education. Starting out as a Japanese organ reed factory in 1887, Yamaha has become the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instruments.

Yamaha started specializing in pianos in 1900, thirteen years after being founded. They continue to be renowned for their piano sounds, manufacturing, and reliability.

Being founded in Japan, Yamaha is also in the forefront of musical technology. Putting technology and pianos together, it makes sense that they make some of the world’s best digital keyboards.

Thanks to Yamaha, if you’re a piano beginner, you don’t have to settle for cheap “toy” keyboards. Below are six keyboards that can take your piano chops to new levels!

Best Beginner Yamaha Keyboards

1. Yamaha P-45 (88-keys)

Some companies cram their instruments with as many bells and whistles as possible to make them alluring products. Yamaha could do that, and make everything great.

But they don’t have to. Sometimes, simplicity and outstanding quality are what you need.

The Yamaha P-45 does exactly this. It includes 10 sounds and several effects for sound control … and that’s about it!

Instead of packing itself with features, the P-45 replicates the feel and expressiveness of an acoustic piano. It’s the perfect 88 key Yamaha keyboard, and the weighted keyboard is built with Yamaha’s signature “graded hammer action.”

What does that mean? Simply put, Yamaha replicated the physical mechanics of an acoustic as much as they possibly could.

Each key is a complete lever, weighted accordingly, triggering an electric sensor with a miniature hammer. Taken a step further, the lower keys are heavier than the higher ones – a feature replicating the subtlety of an acoustic.

The P-45’s sounds are convincing, especially the electric pianos. Yamaha uses world class sampling technology, and I believe it. The only downside is the strings – they’re often iffy on keyboards, and the P-45 is no exception.

Ultimately, the P-45 forces you to become a better pianist by giving you the most authentic experience a digital weighted piano can. If improving chops is your goal, the P-45 is the perfect, 88 key Yamaha keyboard.

2. Yamaha PSR-E473 61-key Portable Arranger

The Yamaha PSR-E473 arranger is ideal for serious learners of pop styles like jazz, rock, or funk. Or anything, really, where you noodle around with sound effects!

But first things first: what is an “arranger” anyway? If you’re like me, it might be new to you, even if you’ve been playing music all your life.

An arranger is an advanced “groove-box slash piano.” You can build an entire song from scratch by selecting drum styles, accompaniment patterns, and instruments.

Once you’ve formed the structure of an entire song, you can play the keyboard and the internal computer will adjust the accompaniment to match your playing.

There’s one thing to note though: arrangers don’t replace DAWs, and their accompaniments aren’t meant to replace the nuances of live bands.

That’s not bad, it’s just something to be aware of. They’re often used when a soloist doesn’t have backup.

Here’s the good news: that makes arrangers perfect for jam-oriented styles! If you need to practice jazz charts or solos, for example, you can use an arranger to help. No need for DAWs, people, or external setup!

The PSR-E473 is the more expensive of two arrangers on this list. Here’s a list of its specs:

- Live sampling

- Mic adapter

- USB for playing recordings

- Effects and two encoders

3. Yamaha PSR-EW310 76-key Portable Arranger

The Yamaha PSR-EW310 is another arranger, but it’s significantly cheaper. What accounts for this?

The biggest difference is customizability. The PSR-E473 (previously listed arranger) allows you to change voices and sections of a song. This arranger, the PSR-EW310, not so much. Instead, it focuses on educating new players.

The left-most side of the keyboard includes 206 accompaniment styles and 154 songs to choose from. Each song teaches new concepts, evident in their titles. Examples include “Touch Tutor” and “Chord Study.”

Next to these buttons you have “big picture” controls like tempo, metronome, and play/pause. You can use these to adjust the styles and songs to your skill level.

Needless to say, this is a very different way of learning than traditional lessons. I admit it’s probably not as in-depth as in-person lessons. However, when taken for what it is, it can still be very helpful.

I grew up in a household that loved classical music. I still love it. But I also enjoyed jazz, funk, rock, and reggae. Turns out, even if these styles weren’t always as technically difficult as classical, classical training didn’t give me the skills they required.

These are the exact skills the PSR-EW310 focuses on. While the PSR-EW310 might have advantages for a small crowd, it could be well worth the investment for the right learner.

4. Yamaha YPT270 61-Key Portable Keyboard

Maybe you’re really brand new to pianos. Like, really really brand new. You want to have fun learning, but you don’t want to invest in a big fancy one.

Still, you don’t want the cheap kiddy ones that break when you press them too hard (like the sixteen in my music classroom …)

Enter the Yamaha YPT270.

It’s inexpensive, it’s light, it’s simple. But it also has great sounds and a durable design. Plus, it has features that excel at teaching you the fundamentals of “aural skills,” or the ability to play and remember music by ear.

The YPT270 teaches you to replicate what you hear, internalize rhythms, and assess your progress. If you want to play like Stevie Wonder or Thelonious Monk, these are the skills to develop.

Those John Thompson and Bastien books won’t help. They’ll teach techniques, but not the skills to replicate the sound and soul of pop styles.

Besides the learning features, the YPT270 has ample style tracks for jamming, and a port for plugging in your phone.

It includes a 3-month Flowkey subscription, another learning tool that’s more in-depth than its on-board features. I’ve even talked about it in another MusicStrive article!

If you want a low-key, low-budget, fun way to learn piano, the YPT270 might be just what you need!

5. Yamaha NP12 61-Key Lightweight Portable Keyboard

Just like the Yamaha P-45 (first keyboard reviewed), the Yamaha NP12 prioritizes simplicity over extensive parameters and technology. At a lower price, it’s an excellent alternative for those with lower budgets.

The NP12 has a sleek design that prioritizes easy mobility. It provides the essential “bonus features” of any digital keyboard: a metronome, dual voicing for piano lessons, and 10 voices.

Key-wise, it’s still a classic Yamaha weighted keyboard. It’s simpler than graded hammer action, but retains key weight with “graded soft touch.”

This means the bass keys are still heavier than the higher keys. Without the lever system, Yamaha can lower the price for those just getting started, without lowering quality.

Its iOS compatibility is unique. It can use MIDI, but also allows iOS connectivity to any of Yamaha’s free apps. They include everything from sound design and recording, to education and sheet music.

Unfortunately, the packaging of the NP12 is odd. Because it can run on batteries and markets to mobile musicians, Yamaha doesn’t include a power plug.

However, it does include a music stand (not keyboard stand), which is often neglected with other products. You win some and lose some, I guess – it all comes down to personal preference.

Still, if you’re looking for a simple keyboard on a budget, check it out!

Choosing a Yamaha Keyboard as a Beginner

Piano music has come a long way since electronics got introduced. That’s not to say keyboard music got way better – it’s always been great! It’s just gotten so much more diverse.

Sometimes traditional methods of learning can’t catch up with innovation. Unfortunately, a lot of piano teachers still teach with classical methods. While I think the techniques taught in those lessons are crucial, they just can’t teach you everything modern keyboards are capable of.

The same goes for buying keyboards. If you want to play Chopin and Bach, then traditional advice will help. But if you want to play “Says” by Nils Frahm (check it out!), your typical “classical” piano advice won’t help.

In light of that, here are some things to consider when buying a Yamaha keyboard.

Factor 1: Consider What Kind of Music You Want to Play

This goes along with what I mentioned above. When you think about the music you want to play, there are two major things to think about.

First, what kind of sounds do you want? Classical music will always work with piano. That applies to jazz as well, although it also heavily incorporates electric piano. Electric organs are great for rock, and you’ll find synthesizer sounds everywhere these days.

Second, you’ll want to decide if you want to plug it into a DAW for more capabilities. If you’re into electronic music, this of course makes sense.

But it applies to other styles too. MIDI allows you to create your own sounds and manipulate them, -- essentially becoming an extension of your keyboard. Even if you’re not into all that, recording yourself with a DAW is great for anybody.

Factor 2: If You’re Brand New to Piano, You Should Get Weighted Keys!

If you are brand new to digital keyboards, I highly recommend the Yamaha P-45 and Yamaha NP12 (first and last reviewed, respectively). Why? Because they are Yamaha weighted keyboards.

Regardless of if you’re playing synth solos or Rachmaninoff, you need to learn proper technique and form. It’s not just for snooty college professors – it literally allows you to play the piano as efficiently as possible so you can play safely and expressively.

Weighted keys force the “soul” out of the player. I know that sounds corny, but hear me out. They force you to pay attention to every nuance of your notes, and teach you good muscle habits.

Even if you find yourself in a lifelong career playing unweighted synthesizers, you won’t regret the versatility and habits weighted keys teach you. Seriously, they really are “all that.”

If you are proficient at piano already, you don’t necessarily need weighted keys. But again, if you’re totally new, you should get weighted keys.

Here are two things to remember: if you read about key “actions,” they’re referring to the mechanics that make keys weighted/unweighted. Just double check to make sure the advertised action creates weighted keys.

Second, “touch sensitive” keys are not weighted. That means they can still play dynamics, but they don’t have weight. They are fantastic for certain styles. But like I said, if you’re a complete novice, get weighted keys.

Factor 3: Keyboard Range

A full piano has 88 keys, which adds up to 7 full octaves and 3 extra notes in the bass. Most keyboards don’t have a full range. From this list, the P-45 is the only 88 key keyboard.

My advice here is simple: the more advanced your playing gets, the bigger the piano you’ll need. If you’re playing classical and jazz, a full 88 keyboard is best.

If you’re more about single-line soloing or sound manipulation, a smaller one will do just fine.

Some shorter keyboards have octave buttons, letting you move the range of your keyboard up or down. A 61-key keyboard, like the PSR-E473, cuts an octave on each end. This is nice because it centralizes your playing around middle C, but lets you jump up or down as needed.

A 76-key keyboard would have everything but one octave. Often, if a piece focuses on higher or lower ranges, you can toggle once and forget about it. MIDI controllers, which are very small, tend to only have two octaves for soloing.

There is one thing to remember though: most weighted keyboards that are classical-focused tend to stay fixed. Make sure you check before buying!

Factor 4: Internal Sounds

While many digital keyboards allow you to plug into DAWs and use MIDI, it’s always easier to use built-in sounds. Plus, built-in sounds often tend to be better than free samples you find online.

Again, the styles you want to play will dictate what sounds you want. Of course, acoustic piano sounds are included. After that, electric piano and strings are very useful.

Factor 5: Included Accessories

A keyboard is great, but most of the time you need accessories. I don’t really like calling them accessories, actually, because of how important they are. But hey, I’m not the guy running the industry!

Some keyboards come with music stands, but not all of them. Unfortunately, pedals and keyboard stands are often sold separately.

While you don’t need a pedal right away, I think they are important enough to buy once you’ve gotten basic skills down. The stands aren’t strictly necessary if you’re DIY … but chances are, you’ll want to buy them to save yourself the extra hassle.

Factor 6: MIDI Compatibility

Many hobbyists and professional keyboardists are happy just to play digital keyboards with built-in sounds. There’s nothing wrong with that! You can still record yourself, jam, and practice.

However, if you’re interested in music production, or are just adventurous, I highly recommend using a keyboard with MIDI compatibility. It opens your playing to a whole new sonic world.

Of course, you can buy MIDI software. But even if it’s not as great, there are still plenty of fantastic free tools out there. For free, you can still learn a lot and build up an arsenal of fantastic sounds!


Keyboards have worked their way into every style of music possible. Along with guitars, they are some of the most versatile and diverse instruments out there. If you’re deciding to delve into the keyboard world, you are making an excellent choice!

Paired with a fantastic Yamaha keyboard, your journey will never end. And who would want it to?

Until next time, enjoy your keyboard search, and always, ALWAYS have fun!

Avatar photo

About Brian Campbell

Brian has been playing piano since elementary school and started learning guitar in 7th grade. He teaches K-8 students in Columbus, Ohio, and writes lessons covering a broad spectrum of genres. As a child, he moved back and forth between Colorado and West Africa. He credits those experiences with opening his eyes to the cultural and artistic diversity he appreciates today. Several of his favorite musicians include J.S. Bach, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Radiohead. When not doing music and teaching, you can find Brian reading, hiking, traveling, or making just one more shot of espresso.

Leave a Comment