If you are a beginner looking for your first piano for yourself or your child, the variety and breadth of choice can overwhelm you. Nowadays, the variety of digital pianos and acoustic pianos is really impressive.
Is 61 Keys Enough to Learn Piano?
And the first is the difference in the number of keys on the piano. On acoustic pianos, we usually see a keyboard with 88 keys. But a digital piano keyboard can also have 76 keys or even 61 keys. Since these pianos are smaller and cheaper, many people wonder if 61 keys are enough for learning how to play the piano.
Yes, you can learn how to play the piano on a 61-key keyboard, but you will run into some limitations.
In this article, we will talk in more detail about whether it is possible to learn to play the piano on such a keyboard, what advantages and disadvantages it has, and why I still recommend using a full-size keyboard for professional learning.
- 1 Do I need 61 or 88 keys? Is a 61-key piano big enough?
- 2 Advantages of a 61 Key Digital Piano
- 3 Disadvantages of a 61 Key Digital Piano
- 4 Pros & Cons of 61 Key Pianos
- 5 Is 61 Keys Enough To Learn Piano? Conclusion
Do I need 61 or 88 keys? Is a 61-key piano big enough?
The 61-key keyboard can be suitable for piano lessons. But there are some factors to consider:
- What style of music are you going to play? Will it be classical or light contemporary music?
- What are your goals? Are you going to study professionally or just as a hobby for yourself?
- What is your budget for the purchase?
- How much free space do you have in the piano room?
- Want to take your piano with you on your travels?
Let’s discuss these questions in more detail.
Style of music as a determining factor of the right number of keys.
For most beginners, 61 keys will be enough for the first couple of years of study. But what happens next depends primarily on what style of music you prefer. If you are going to play modern music – pop, rock, folk – then this small keyboard is enough for you. Most modern songs do not use a range of more than 5 octaves.
If you want to play classical music, then very soon you may find that you lack the range. For the works of such composers as Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, and others, an 88-key keyboard is required.
Of course, all digital keyboards have a transpose button (you can adjust the sound above or below the normal range), but this is not convenient and not at all suitable for playing difficult classical pieces.
As for jazz, it is also desirable to have an 88-key keyboard. In many jazz pieces, you will need low bass notes that will not be available on a 61-key piano.
Is a 61-key keyboard enough for a beginner?
It depends on your goals. If you want to study to play piano well, a real piano is ideal. Of course, it must be tuned correctly and generally in good condition. Real pianos have a rich beautiful sound, they look beautiful in the interior and they will become an additional motivation for you to continue playing.
Of course, they have a number of disadvantages – they are high priced, they require quite a lot of space, regular maintenance, and sound tuning and you are unlikely to be able to play late in the evening or at night (for sure your neighbors will not be happy).
Another good option is digital pianos. Both the 61-key and 76-key pianos will definitely suit you at the beginning, although it is better to purchase an instrument with a full-size keyboard right away.
The main parameter that you need to pay attention to is the mechanism of action. You need a piano with fully weighted keys/hammer action keys. Hammer action digital pianos have the closest feel to a real piano, have good sound, and are best suited for lessons.
If you want to use a piano for music production, want to use different sounds and different functions, a portable keyboard with light, unweighted keys and lots of synth features is the right choice for you.
I invite you to check out the Yamaha Piano Comparison Chart, where you can find a wide variety of musical instruments.
Is 61 key keyboard cheaper than one with 88 keys?
The price of a piano depends not only on the number of keys. It is influenced by many factors – features, functions, materials, quality, brand, etc. But if you compare two identical models, then, of course, the fewer keys, the cheaper. For example, the Yamaha NP32 and Yamaha NP12 pianos differ only in the number of keys (76 and 61, respectively).
A little advice. If you’re on a tight budget and choosing between a good 61-key piano or a much worse quality full-keyboard instrument, it’s best to go for the smaller-key option.
Do you see yourself as a professional pianist in a few years?
What are the ultimate goals of your learning how to play piano? Do you learn piano for yourself as a hobby or do you want to become a professional pianist?
If you want to become a classical music pro, you will need a good 88-key piano with weighted keys. Fewer keys will limit your progress and interfere with learning. In this case, you need to take the choice of musical instruments very seriously.
The Yamaha P-125 is a good low-price digital piano option and can be considered the first keyboard for beginners planning to get into music seriously.
Can I play Mozart on a 61-key piano?
This is a very interesting question! Indeed, many want to learn certain pieces of music or only pieces by certain composers. I said above that for composers like Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, and Rachmaninoff, a 61-key piano would not be enough. But what about Mozart?
5 octaves will be enough for the music of baroque composers (Bach, Handel, Rameau, Couperin) and classical music (Haydn, Mozart, and early Beethoven). There are no too high or low notes in these pieces. So you can play Mozart on a 61-key keyboard.
Advantages of a 61 Key Digital Piano
So, let’s summarize what are the advantages and disadvantages of 61-key pianos.
We have already said that they are more compact and portable. They take up much less space in your room, which can be important if you have a small space. Also, you can easily put such a piano in the closet after class, and it will not interfere with you and your family.
They are well suited for beginners, those who plan to often take the keyboard with them on trips, and those who plan to get into music production.
It’s also a great option for young children who won’t need the 7 octaves of a standard piano anytime soon.
It is easy to take it on a road trip or arrange street concerts. Many 61-key pianos also run on batteries.
If the digital piano has many different functions, features, and sounds, it is great for music production and for creating your own music. Choose an instrument with a transpose button, then you can use the missing 2 octaves at any time.
In addition, 61-key or 76-key pianos often cost less than their 88-key counterparts.
Disadvantages of a 61 Key Digital Piano
Of course, these digital pianos have their limitations. This is not the best option if you want to reach a professional level of piano playing.
5 octaves will severely limit your possible repertoire. You won’t be able to play most piano pieces by 18th, 19th, and 20th-century composers. And the transpose function when performing big difficult pieces will no longer help.
Also, a piano without graded hammer action keys is completely unsuitable for serious learning, and many models of cheap small 61-key keyboards have light, non-weighted keys.
In addition, a digital piano with a 5-octave keyboard is generally not suitable for duets. And this will also limit your repertoire and deprive you of the opportunity to enjoy playing music together.
Pros & Cons of 61 Key Pianos
Is 61 Keys Enough To Learn Piano? Conclusion
At the end of our article, I want to emphasize once again that for serious learning, even beginner students immediately choose an instrument with an 88-keys. A good instrument with such a keyboard can serve you for many years and will not hold back your progress and limit your possibilities.
Keyboards with 61 or 76 keys may be suitable for amateur playing, for young children, for those who are interested in making music, and if you just want to buy a keyboard for the first time to see if this instrument suits you.
Do not rush to choose and always keep in mind your goals, needs, and requirements for a musical instrument.
If you still have questions about the choice of keyboards and the number of keys you need, you can write them in the comments, I will definitely answer you!
Hello! My name is Lucy.
I am a musician, pianist, and piano teacher with over 10 years of experience. I, along with my professional team, created this website. Here I want to share my experience and knowledge with you. I write articles about learning the piano, its features and history, and reviews of the best digital pianos and accessories.
I hope my site will be useful to you!