If you're a musician or music enthusiast, you know that pianos come in all shapes and sizes. But did you know that there are different piano keyboard Types as well? That's right – not all pianos are created equal, and the kind of keyboard you choose can greatly impact your playing experience.

In this post, I'll dive deeper into the different types of piano keyboards available and discuss the pros and cons of each.

From professional stage pianos to portable digital and MIDI keyboards, there's a keyboard piano for every playing style and approach.

So, let's dive in and learn more about the different types of piano keyboards!

Understand The Keyboard Better

Before we get into the types of piano keyboards, let's first understand the keyboard better!

The piano keyboard is a beautiful and complex instrument, capable of producing a wide range of sounds and emotions.

The main feature of the keyboard is its ability to simulate other sounds, which is true of most keyboard types. You can play the musical notes with the keys to produce a variety of sounds, including those of brass and string instruments.

Keyboards have different numbers of keys, divided into two sections: white and black. The white keys are the natural notes (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G), and the black keys are the sharp and flat notes (also known as accidentals).

The pattern of white and black keys repeats itself every octave, a range of eight notes. The lowest key on the 88-key keyboard is an A, and the highest one is a C.

One of the main reasons people choose keyboard pianos over acoustic pianos is convenience and cost. Keyboard pianos are often more portable and versatile, making them an excellent choice for gigging musicians or those who don't have room for a full-size piano in their home.

However, it's important to note that there's nothing quite like an acoustic piano's rich, natural sound. It's all about finding the right balance for your needs and budget.

7 Types Of Piano Keyboards (2023)

Below are the seven different types of piano keyboards:

Digital Piano Keyboard

As the name implies, a digital keyboard piano is a keyboard that simulates the sounds and feels of a piano. It is probably the best keyboard for students who need to focus on practicing musicianship and for adult beginners who want to learn piano.

Digital keyboards use analog sensors for keyboard action and different versions of chips that reproduce the sound of an acoustic piano.

Unlike many other keyboards, this piano keyboard typically has 88 full-size keys. The best digital piano keyboards have graded and weighted keys to replicate the feel of a real piano.

They come with various features, such as built-in speakers, touch sensitivity, and the ability to save and play back recordings.

They also offer extra features such as excellent maximum polyphony, demo songs, lesson modes, USB MIDI connections, and more for added versatility.

Digital piano keyboards are more portable and cost-effective than acoustic pianos.


  • Digital piano keyboards are portable and lightweight, making them easy to move and store.
  • They are much cheaper than traditional pianos.
  • They have various sounds and features, such as changing instrument sounds and computer connectivity.
  • They do not require tuning, saving the cost and hassle of regular maintenance.


  • Their tactile feel isn't like an acoustic piano, which can be a drawback for some pro players.
  • The sound quality may not be as good as an acoustic piano.
  • Some digital pianos can be expensive, especially if you want a high-end model with advanced features.

Stage Keyboard Piano

These keyboard pianos are professional digital pianos specifically designed for live performances. They are generally more lightweight and portable than digital piano keyboards.

Due to their portability and durability, you can easily move between stages, and the sound quality is pro-level. They often have a built-in sound library to access sounds such as electric pianos, organs, and synthesizers.

These keyboard pianos are also highly customizable, allowing the performer to tailor their sound to fit the needs of the gig.

A portable digital piano differs from a stage piano primarily in terms of construction, materials, and overall performance. Stage pianos are sturdier and more portable. The keys feel excellent, and the sonic performance is often superior to that of entry-level to mid-level portable digital pianos.

While the extra features and overall quality may differ from brand to brand and model to model, they are typically top-notch and high-quality musical instruments.


  • They are very lightweight and portable, making them easy to carry and transport to different gigs.
  • Suitable for live performances due to their portability and durability.
  • They have a built-in sound library with various sounds, allowing for greater flexibility in terms of sound.
  • Highly customizable.


  • They don't have the same level of sound quality as a traditional piano.
  • They may be more expensive than entry-level digital pianos.
  • They don't offer as many features as some other digital pianos.

Arranger Keyboard

Arrangers are electronic keyboards that come with auto-accompaniment features. They are designed for solo musicians who want a versatile keyboard at their fingertips on stage.

One of the best features of arranger keyboards is their auto-accompaniment feature, which allows you to create music that sounds like a full band or orchestra is playing it.

That makes arranger keyboards perfect for live performances, where you need to create complex and dynamic music on the fly.

In addition to their versatility and live performance capabilities, they offer different instrument sounds, effects, and USB connectivity. With USB connectivity, you can easily record and edit your music on the keyboard.

In short, arranger keyboards are an all-in-one solution for solo musicians who want to create and perform professional-sounding music. They are incredibly versatile, allowing the user to create complete songs independently.


  • Suitable for composition.
  • The auto-accompaniment feature encourages students to play.
  • They have a user-friendly interface and easy-to-use controls.
  • Ideal for musicians who want a single instrument that can handle various tasks.


  • Starting prices can be higher for keyboards than for less advanced keyboards.
  • While arranger keyboards are generally easy to use, the range of programmable options can overwhelm beginners.
  • They have limited sound options.

Workstation Keyboard

Workstation keyboards are a type of keyboard that is essentially a computer in a keyboard form. They are designed for music production and are great for use in the studio or on stage.

These keyboards allow you to easily manipulate music by sampling, sequencing, recording, editing, and more. They often come with weighted keys, making them ideal for advanced beginners.

It is the versatility of workstation keyboards that makes them so popular. Workstations allow you to do almost everything a digital audio workstation (DAW) can do on a computer or smart device with a DAW. That makes them a great all-in-one solution for musicians, arrangers, and producers of all levels.

However, it's important to note that workstation keyboards are not the best choice for classic piano players. That's because the keys on workstation keyboards are not typically designed to simulate the feel of an acoustic piano. Instead, they focus on the functionality and versatility of music production.

Workstation keyboards come in various sizes and with different features, depending on the brand and model. While they can be pricey, they have generally considered the best all-around instruments for music production in their price range.


  • Highly versatile and perfect for advanced beginner piano students.
  • These keyboards feature weighted keys.
  • Wide range of built-in sounds.
  • Workstation keyboards are much lighter and take up less space than traditional pianos, making them easier to transport.


  • Their prices tend to be higher, especially high-end models.
  • Piano beginners can find these instruments too advanced.


Synthesizer keyboards have been a popular choice for a long time due to their ability to create unique sounds, layer effects, and manipulate sound.

With their digital or analog processing capabilities, synths are commonly used to create particular sounds and beats for studio recordings and on stage.

Synthesizers have many sound manipulation functions that standard keyboards do not, such as an effects library, filters, tones, samples, and more.

A workstation keyboard is a synth with MIDI and DAW controllers and has some additional features.

Synthesizers come in analog and digital forms. It is essential to note the difference between analog and digital synthesizers.

Digital synths operate using a numerically-controlled oscillator, resulting in digital signals. These synthesizers are relatively new and typically feature a keyboard and LCD display.

On the other hand, analog synths use a voltage-controlled oscillator with analog signals and consist of sound-generating circuitry and modulators.

The major difference for musicians is that analog synths provide a continuous signal with a richer sound, while digital synths offer more versatility and additional functions.

Since professionals use synthesizers to create unique sounds and soundtracks, they require considerable music knowledge and experience.


  • They can create unique sounds and manipulate sound in various ways.
  • Excellent for studio recordings and live performances.
  • They offer multiple sounds and output to amps or recording equipment.
  • Digital synths offer more versatility and additional functions.
  • Analog synths provide a continuous signal with a richer sound.


  • Require a significant amount of music knowledge and experience to utilize their capabilities thoroughly.
  • The quality can vary between brands.
  • A bit pricey.

Electric Organs

Electric organs are electronic keyboard instruments that mimic the sound of traditional pipe organs or Hammond organs.

They are primarily used in churches. These musical instruments have been popular for decades and were often used in rock music during the 1970s and 1980s.

Digital organs come in various sizes and key numbers, so you can have the vintage organ sound whenever you want.

Like other piano keyboards, they offer various sound effects and sound sets. Furthermore, they are compatible with both hardware and software. Some high-quality electronic organs produce a sound that resembles a pipe organ.

Several manufacturers have retained the pipe organ parts in the electronic versions, including drawbars, pedal boards, and multiple key decks.

However, this instrument is different from a piano. An electronic organ may not be the best choice if you're serious about learning about the piano.


  • Digital organs mimic the sound of traditional pipe organs or Hammond organs.
  • They are available in various sizes and key numbers.
  • They offer different sound effects and sound sets.
  • It is easier to transport and set up electric organs because they are portable and lightweight.
  • They tend to require less maintenance than traditional organs.


  • They rely on electricity, which can be a limitation in certain situations or locations.
  • They may not be the best choice if you're serious about learning the piano.

MIDI Controllers

MIDI controllers are specialized keyboards designed to control other electronic instruments or software.

MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, a technology introduced in the 1980s. The purpose of this is to communicate between electronic instruments and computers.

The controllers do not produce sounds on their own, but they can trigger sounds or control parameters in other devices. These keyboards transmit MIDI data between the device and the computer to trigger the sounds on your computer.

Because controllers lack built-in sound-generating capabilities, they have lower price tags than other keyboards for beginning pianists.

The right DAW and virtual instrument plug-ins make MIDI keyboards highly versatile. They are advanced mouse and keyboard combinations for playing music and producing it.

MIDI controllers are popular in live and studio projects. You can use them to play any instrument, manipulate sound with effects, create loops, and control your DAW.

Many different MIDI keyboard models are available on the market, from basic 25-key models to highly advanced 88-key models for greater control over your music.


  • MIDI controllers are a good choice for computer composition.
  • They send MIDI information to synthesizers and computer programs.
  • Affordable.
  • You can use them to trigger sounds and control various parameters in real time.
  • Portable and easy to take to gigs.
  • Available in various sizes and styles, it is easy to find a controller that fits your needs and budget.


  • It requires a computer or laptop to run virtual instruments and music production software.
  • No onboard sounds.

Types of Pianos

Now let's take a quick look at the different types of pianos!

There are three primary types of pianos: acoustic pianos, digital pianos, and hybrid pianos.

Acoustic Piano

First up, we have the classical acoustic piano. These instruments are made with wood, metal strings, and hammers and produce sound when the keys are pressed, and the hammers hit the strings. Acoustic pianos are known for their rich, full sound and are the go-to choice for many professional musicians.

They are the most traditional pianos, based on vertically and horizontally arranged strings. Since their strings are arranged differently, they are classified into grand and upright pianos.

Grand Pianos: Grand pianos (aka grands) are known for their elegant appearance and rich, full sound. They have a longer, horizontal design with the strings stretched out horizontally.

In grand pianos, strings and hammers are arranged diagonally from the keyboard. They also have soundboards, which help amplify the sound.

Grand pianos are famous for concert pianists and professional recording studios due to their exceptional sound quality. However, they can be expensive and require more space, making them less practical for the average home.

Upright Pianos: These pianos are more compact and cost-effective. They have a vertical orientation, and the strings and hammers are arranged vertically behind the keyboard.

Upright pianos are an excellent option for those with limited space or a tighter budget. While they may not have the same rich, full sound as a grand piano, they can still produce beautiful music and are an excellent choice for beginners and amateur musicians.

They are often found in homes and smaller venues.

Remember, acoustic pianos require regular maintenance, such as tuning and voicing, to keep them sounding their best.

Digital Piano

The next type of piano is a digital piano. These electronic instruments use samples of real piano sounds and amplify them through speakers or headphones.

In addition to reproducing the sounds of a piano in a memorized manner, this piano model can also increase or decrease the volume of the keys, and its appearance is similar to an acoustic piano.

They offer a range of sounds beyond just the traditional piano so that you can get creative with your playing.

In addition, digital pianos include numerous features such as built-in metronomes, rhythm patterns, recording capabilities, connectivity options, and more. These features allow you to expand your musical possibilities.

They're also more affordable than traditional acoustic pianos, and you don't need to worry about tuning or transporting them.

Digital pianos are an excellent option for beginners or those who don't have the space or budget for an acoustic piano.

Hybrid Piano

This type of piano is a mixture of acoustic and digital pianos. Hybrid pianos combine the best of both worlds - the sound and feel of an acoustic piano with the convenience and versatility of a digital piano.

That means you can enjoy a grand piano's rich, authentic sound and access a variety of sounds and effects on the digital side.

Hybrid pianos often have real strings, hammers, and a digital component that allows for additional sounds and features.

So, which type of piano is right for you? Well, that depends on your needs and preferences. Acoustic pianos offer a classic, authentic sound but require more maintenance and space.

Digital pianos are more convenient and affordable, but they may not have the same level of depth and nuance as acoustic pianos. Hybrid pianos offer a good balance of both but can be pricier.

Ultimately, the best piano for you is the one that fits your playing style and meets your needs.

How To Choose The Right Piano Keyboard

When choosing the right piano keyboard, there are a few key things to consider. Here are some tips to help you make the right decision:

Keyboard Size

The keyboard size is an essential factor to consider, mainly if you have limited space in your home or plan on taking your keyboard with you on the go. In addition to the layout, you should consider the number of keys.

A full-size keyboard typically has 88 keys, just like a traditional piano. If you have the space and plan on playing more advanced pieces, a full-size keyboard is a good choice.

If you have limited space or plan on traveling with your keyboard, a smaller option with 76 or even 61 keys might be a better fit.


The sound quality of a keyboard is another crucial factor to consider. If you're a beginner, you might not be as concerned with the nuances of sound quality.

But as you become more advanced, the sound of your keyboard can make a big difference in your playing experience. Keyboards from the best brands produce sounds similar to those produced by a real piano.

You should also consider polyphony (how many sounds the keyboard produces at any given time) and multiple sounds, such as drums, strings, and woodwinds.


The action of a piano keyboard refers to how well the keys respond when pressed. A keyboard's action varies in firmness and resistance depending on its model.

Keyboards with weighted keys are more responsive than unweighted keys, making them good pianos for beginners.

Some keyboards have a lighter action, which can be easier to play but might not feel as authentic as those with a heavier action. A lighter action might be a good choice if you're a beginner. But if you want a more authentic piano feel, consider a heavier action keyboard.

MIDI Compatibility

MIDI, or Musical Instrument Digital Interface, is a technology that allows keyboards to connect to computers and other digital devices.

MIDI compatibility is an important feature to consider if you want to use your keyboard to create music on your computer. Many keyboards come with USB MIDI, which makes it easy to connect to your computer.


Last but not least, you should consider your budget when choosing a keyboard. There are options available at different prices, from budget-friendly options for beginners to high-end keyboards for more advanced players.

Determine how much you're willing to spend and look for a keyboard that fits within your budget while still offering the features you need.


As you can see, I've discussed different types of piano keyboards. Each piano keyboard type has its own unique features and benefits, and the right choice for you will depend on your needs and preferences.

So, you can choose the most suitable piano keyboard type for your playing needs.

A portable digital piano is the best option if you're a beginner looking for your first keyboard piano at a reasonable price.

If you're more interested in music production, you should consider using a MIDI keyboard with your DAW (digital audio workstation).

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Harlan Kilstein began playing piano during covid with no piano background at all. He taught himself how to play learning what to do and what not to do.
Today he's an advanced intermediate player and can help you grow in your skills because he learned all this on his own.