Portable digital pianos are generally called “slab pianos.” The huge advantage of these instruments lies in its design. These keyboard pianos usually don’t come with a stand or base, and they can be easily moved around and stored somewhere when it is not in use.
Some factors that you need to consider when buying a portable keyboard piano include the number of keys, the response of the keyboard, the velocity sensitivity, polyphony, multitimbrality, MIDI compatibility, computer connectivity, sequencer, arpeggiator, sampler, input/output, controllers, and storage options.
If you are a traveling musician, you will surely know the nightmare that hounds musicians every time they travel from one venue to another. This problem is further compounded if you are going to travel by air for there are regulations about traveling with pianos or guitars. It will surely be a dreadful experience if you are bringing a full-sized piano, for example, together with your luggage. It is good enough that nowadays, musicians can opt for smaller-sized pianos or mini keyboards that are not bulky enough and not heavy to tag along. Moreover, these mini keyboards are still of great quality despite the obvious reduction in their sizes.
You will no longer be burdened with cumbersome keyboards if you opt for the portable or even the mini piano keyboards. But the only problem left is on how to choose the best mini-keyboards with all the myriads of brands out there. Hence, if you’re one of those pianists who are willing to shed your huge 88 full-sized pianos, here are the brief criteria that you must consider to find the best mini-keyboard for your out-of-town gigs.
Last update on 2020-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Having a full-sized classical acoustic piano can readily add elegance to the internal architecture of a living room. However, not many people can afford to buy or acquire even the upright type of piano for their living room. Luckily, the age of electronic and computer technology has brought in a new type of instrument—the digital keyboard—that sounds almost the same as the acoustic piano but is of more affordable price. This digital keyboard is lightweight and very portable as it does away with the bulky steel framing, strings, and hammers of the more complex mechanical constructions of the earlier acoustic pianos.
Here are some fundamental factors that could help you zero in on the right mini-keyboard for your use:
1) Action, Sensitivity, and Key Size
You should go for semi-weighted synth action keys because it allows balance dynamism and nice playability. Of course, if you opt for mini-keyboards, you will have to sacrifice a bit and compromise with sounds. Full-size keyboards can create awesome sounds and tension consistency, but they are weighty. Mini-keyboards, however, are portable enough though they can also provide balance dynamism and playability. So, when shopping around, go for mini-keyboards that offer better key action and sensitivity.
2) Style, Rhythm, and Voice
Although they are portable, it doesn’t mean that mini keyboards are not equipped with many voices. Portable keyboards are packed with many sounds and manufacturers usually equip their mini-keyboards with many features like voices and styles and sounds to ensure that their customers will be satisfied with their offerings. The added sounds, rhythms, and styles are not comparable to full-sized pianos, but if you are just a tyro in playing pianos, you will surely get satisfied with the additional features that come with mini-keyboards. These added features can help you personalize the sounds that you create. Most keyboards are packed with percussions and drum sounds, plus they also have pre-made rhythms. You can use these sounds and rhythms to accompany you while you play your selections.
3) Key Counts
Furthermore, there is the factor of key count or the number of keys. The standard key count for many portable pianos is 88, but many portable keyboards have lesser number of keys.
Portable keyboards are different from the full-size keyboards because most of them only have 61 keys. However, these 61-keys pianos are good enough to allow you to engage in two-handed piano playing using arpeggios and chords. Although the mini keyboards may deal you with some playing handicaps, you can play every musical piece using the mini-keyboard. The 61-key configuration is undoubtedly ideal for traveling pianists who want to travel light.
4) It Should Allow for Recording and MIDI
When you shop around for mini-keyboard, you should look for something that allows you to make a recording. This would be very useful if you are a regular musician or if you are a budding songwriter. This is usually possible via the use of memory card, or via the use of USB cable that connects to a computer. Recording can also be a handy tool when practicing your pieces. Some keyboards allow for MIDI connectivity likewise, allowing you to use your keyboard as the controller for your MIDI or virtual instrument software. Previously, keyboards had 5-pin MIDI sockets. However, nowadays, it is very common to see keyboards with USB Connector.
5) It Should Be Easy to Use
The good thing about contemporary mini-keyboards is that most of them have user-friendly control panels. They also have an intuitive user interface that allows even those who are not used to a computer to manipulate the control panel easily. Moreover, many keyboards are packed with metronome, headphones, accompaniment, and even practical lessons that students can readily use. Hence, if you are desirous of learning how to play piano, you will surely learn it with all these special features that come along with every contemporary keyboard.
6) Additional Features
Since its introduction, the portable digital piano has become a very popular alternative to the classical piano and has been loaded with many different features not found in the traditional pianos. These added features make this digital instrument ideal for use by newbies and professionals alike. These added features generally include illuminated keys, additional sounds, memory, MIDI terminal, and audio output. However, even with highly advertised added features, choosing the most suitable portable mini piano for your need can be a bit difficult for there are many brands on the market today and there are factors that you should consider when buying a digital piano. Foremost of these factors is the consideration of affordability. There is also the factor of appearance and color. Moreover, there is also the factor of its being user-friendliness.
Recommended Mini / Portable Keyboard Pianos
At present, there are many portable keyboard models and brands on the market. Here are some of the most popular portable digital keyboard models that are available on the market today.
1) Yamaha PSR-EW300 SA 76-Key Portable Keyboard
The PSR-EW300 AD digital keyboard is one of Yamaha’s offerings for serious piano newbies and professional musicians alike. The PSR-EW300 features a 76-key touch-sensitive keyboard that allows you to play wide and complex musical passages with the realistic “feel” of a piano key. Moreover, the PSR-EW300 like many other Yamaha offerings offers a massive selection of 574 voices to choose from along with 165 accompaniment styles featuring different musical genres from around the globe. Like, any Yamaha digital keyboards, the PSR-EW300 features the Yamaha Education Suite (Y.E.S.) that is specifically beneficial to newbies. The Y.E.S. is a piano lesson that teaches you musical basics such as chord and musical note recognition, and timing. The Y.E.S. likewise allows the user to practice using a preset until a piece is perfectly played.
Another PSR-EW300 feature is the “Touch Tutor” that allows you to track the speed and strength of the keys. Moreover, as the keys are touch-sensitive, a heavy touch on a key produces louder sound while a gentler touch gives off a quieter sound, and this feature adds expressiveness to the piece that is being played. Furthermore, the PSR-EW300 also features brand new reverb effects, and this keyboard could be played in dual-mode.
The PSR-EW300 is equipped with a “USB to Host” terminal that allows connection to computer or portable device. This port also acts as MIDI terminal. Lastly, this digital keyboard comes with a power supply, a stand, and a stool.
2) Yamaha PSR-E-363 61-Key
If you are looking quality and advanced portable keyboard, then consider this PSR-E-363 manufactured by Yamaha. The presence of sensitive keys, which respond well to touch, helps in the natural playing of the instrument.
This piano is ideal both for beginners, hobbyists as well as professional players. It comes with well over 500 amazing-sounding instrument voices and with a sea of accompaniment styles. Moreover, it has onboard lessons, touch-sensitive keys, mobile, and computer devices connectivity and what not! The USB to host port permits for both audio (output) and MIDI (input) connection witht the computer’s recording software via a single cable, making this instrument great for home recording.
Since it comes with onboard lessons, so all you need for learning to play the casino is to turn it on and start with the lesson that one desires. This is an excellent feature for anyone who wants to get the hang of playing a digital piano.
It is compatible with mobile devices or computers, which helps to record songs and also helps with other things. While buying this piano, one also gets access to the Yamaha Education Suite or YES system. This gives you access to practice and learns the skills by making use of preset songs, which are available on the digital piano.
So you can set the duration and frequency of your practice sessions according to your needs. And with the help of only one cable, one can connect the Yamaha digital piano to the music-making soft wares, which can help to record and create your musical achievements.
3) Korg microARRANGER 61-Key Keyboard Production Station
The Korg microARRANGER is the best choice for more serious beginners as well as musicians on the go. This product does not only function as a keyboard but also as a music arranger to help both beginners and professionals. This keyboard is one of the lightest in its class weighing 9.26 pounds or 4.2 kilograms and measures 34.4 x 10.9 x 3.6 inches or 874 x 277 x 91 millimeters.
This Korg offering features a 61-key manual with velocity sensing that encompasses six octaves. It also features two built-in speakers that offer high-quality Korg stereo sound from 128 user programs along with 32 drum kits and 64 user drum kits. It also has four stereo effect processors that accommodate 89 effect programs. Moreover, it provides 304 styles, each with its own intros, fills, endings, and four variations.
4) Casio CTK-2550 61-Key Portable Keyboard
The Casio CTK-2550 61-Key Portable Keyboard is one great option when buying a portable keyboard piano. It features 61 full-size keys along with 400 high-quality tones. It also comes with 150 built-in Rhythms that include Dance Music Mode.
If you want to jumpstart your creative endeavor, the CTK-2550 will surely deliver whatever you need. You can also use this keyboard piano to learn the rudiments of making music. Furthermore, it provides great sound, and you will surely enjoy using it.
The Casio CTK-2550 61 comes with tons of awesome onboard sounds and great features. It also offers a three-step learning system. Additionally, you can easily hook up this keyboard piano to your tablet and connect it to the Chordata Play app. With this app, you can download the songs you love in the MIDI file. Lastly, compared to other keyboard pianos, this one is very much affordable.
5) Casio CTK2400 61- Key Portable Keyboard with USB
The Casio CTK2400 61- Key Portable Keyboard with USB comes with built-in speakers, good quality sounds and effects, and accompaniment rhythms. It features semi-weighted keys along with many control functions.
You can use it anywhere you want to play music, and it is very lightweight. This keyboard piano is very portable at 11.5 pounds. Its dimensions are 40 x 6 x 16 inches.
The Casio CTK2400 61- Key also features 400 AHL Tones. It also comes with a built-in microphone that allows you to record samples. You can also integrate any of the 400 AHL tones with your rhythm of choice. Lastly, it also comes with 150 rhythms.
6) Hamzer 61-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard Piano
The Hamzer 61-key portable electronic keyboard is an affordable multi-function keyboard that is suitable for both newbies and intermediately skilled users. The Hamzer keyboard is equipped with an integrated learning system that is designed to assist novice and intermediate users. It uses an LCD display to facilitate easy visual access on the keyboard settings and playing modes. Moreover, this electronic piano is capable of producing up to 255 different rhythms and the same number of timbres as well as 61 percussions. It also comes with 24 integral demo songs.
Furthermore, it features standard-sized keys for maximum finger control.
The Hamzer digital piano is also equipped with two built-in 4-watt speakers with volume control for the authentic sound range. Out of the box, the Hamzer comes with a good quality headphone for personal listening, microphone with a 4-feet long cord, a stool, and an adjustable keyboard stand. The Hamzer 61-key electronic piano draws power from six AA-batteries for flexibility, but it can also be plugged to any household 110-volt power outlet using a standard 110-120 volts power adapter.
7) Plixio 61-Key Digital Electric Piano Keyboard
This offering from Plixio has a 61-key manual—with 36 white and 25 black keys—that spans five octaves. This digital piano features a hundred rhythms, 40 musical tones, eight percussions, and other effects such as echo, vibrato, and tempo. Additionally, this keyboard provides 60 built-in demo songs to its user.
The Plixio digital keyboard features a microphone jack to allow the user to sing along while playing the keyboard. Moreover, it features a USB port to facilitate computer connection. With this feature, the user can play MP3 and other audio files onto the digital keyboard. This feature also allows the user to record and store a chosen musical piece in digital format. It also features great volume control and an earphone jack to enable its user to engage in a silent practice readily.
It measures at 34 x 12 x 3.5 inches (or 864 x 305 x 89 mm) and weighs 6.8 pounds or 3.9 kilograms. Out-of-the-box, the digital keyboard includes accessories such as a power adapter, an auxiliary cable, a sheet music stand, and a music note.
8) Casio SA76 44 Mini-Sized Keys 100 Tones
The Casio SA76 is a compact digital keyboard from Casio whose dimensions are 23.8 x 8.3 x 2.24 inches or 605 x 211 x 57 millimeters. Designed for children, the SA76 weighs just 3.6 lbs. or 1.63 kilograms. Due to this minuscule size, its key sizes were significantly reduced, limiting its use to people with small fingers.
However, SA76 is not just a simple toy. This mini keyboard can produce 100 different musical tones and features 50 musical genre patterns, five percussion taps, and a tempo controller. It also features a simple tone selector for organ and/or piano settings and a bank for ten built-in songs. Moreover, this Casio product has two 1.2-watt speakers and an easy to read LCD monitor. However, there is one major drawback in its design. This drawback lies in its power adaptor for its power adaptor comes separately.
9) Casio SA-77 44-Key Portable Keyboard
Just like the SA-76 model, this Casio SA-77 keyboard piano is an entry-level piano that is most suitable for beginners. If you are a piano student and tend to develop music artistic and creative abilities on-the-go, then this portable piano is a perfect fit. If you are someone who loves listening to music and playing it at a perfect pitch, then go ahead and make this instrument as your first piano.
With 50 rhythms, 100 tones, and ten integrated songs, this piano comes with all that required for playing those first tones. Excellent sound quality is ensured by the presence of LSI sound source and 8-note polyphony. It comes with an LCD screen, which helps to select the different music options. Also present is a changeover switch, which helps in easy switching between reed organ/organ mode and the piano. The presence of headphone jack and built-in speakers means that you can easily play whenever and wherever you go.
It comes with five drum pads, and polyphonic sounds can be produced with eight notes. On this digital piano, there is an option for headphones. It is very helpful, especially when one’s child wants to play but you need some quiet time.
10) Lujex Foldable 61 Keys Flexible Soft Electric Digital Roll Up Keyboard Piano
This is not a typical keyboard but a roll-out one. What it means is that Lujez Foldable 61 Key Keyboard Piano comes with a rubber pad, which rolls out in the place of a traditional board.
Tap the keys to make a sound. These keys send the signal to the electronic portion, which is located at the head of the keyboard.
The size of this keyboard gives it an edge over the other keyboards. As you can roll it up, therefore it is much lighter and even more compact than a standard keyboard.
It’s also cheaper as compared to the other keyboards. And what’s more that it has all the features which one expects in an expensive piano. This keyboard has a whopping 128 different tones, 40 different demonstration songs, and 100 fun rhythms. This means there is a lot to explore and a lot of fun to be had with this piano.
The only downside to this is that it has no real keys. Tapping on the rubber pad does not feel the same as pushing the keys down on a traditional piano. You wouldn’t be getting the feel of key sensitive of a piano. This roll-up digital keyboard piano might be a good option for you if the size and portability are the major concerns. After all, it is more suitable for casual and practice purposes.
Last update on 2020-01-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Other Top-rated Small Keyboard Pianos
Should You Get A Portable keyboard Piano?
Slabs or slab pianos, also known as portable digital pianos, try to offer the same comfort like that of a compact machine along with the technology of a digital piano. As they provide a lot of versatility and a wide array of settings, that’s why they make up for great instruments.
As the cost of the portable pianos is at a fraction of vertical or upright pianos, therefore people of different expertise are much more attracted to digital pianos.
People who invest in Portable pianos are the ones looking for assisting them in their around the clock endeavors. It can range from practicing at home, to performing and traveling, and to working in a studio.
Since they are handy and used in a variety of ways, anyone can use them. At times, musicians or younger piano players searching for backup or primary machine might be buying this type of piano.
Digital Piano—a Good Alternative?
The portable digital keyboard has the capability to produce the sounds of other instruments aside from the sound of the piano itself. Using it, you can select any sound output, from a church organ to an electric guitar or saxophone among others.
There are many reasons why the digital piano or keyboard is a good alternative for piano lovers. First, it eliminates the need for the bulky frame, metal strings, soundboard, and heavy wooden body. It uses solid-state digital electronics.
Equipped with these digital electronics, it can readily mimic the sound produced by bulky acoustic piano. Thus, it becomes light sans the bulky frame, metal strings, soundboard, and heavy wooden body. It also becomes very portable and doesn’t leave a large footprint. Moreover, it costs less due to its less expensive manufacturing costs.
You can also set the digital keyboard to any specific musical rhythm you prefer. There are, for example, settings for rock and roll, pop, pop-rock, slow rock, soul, waltz, and many more. The digital keyboard also features a drum beat track that you can follow while playing the piano.
Another feature of the digital keyboard is that it allows you to record your piece as a digital file. It also features volume control and headphone jack so that you can practice anywhere without disturbing other people.