The niche of inexpensive musical instruments has always been quite popular. There are some beginner keyboards under 300 dollars and you will certainly choose something inexpensive you want to try yourself in music, but do not want to immediately spend a fortune on an expensive electronic piano. Or your child just makes his first steps in music and you need to buy him something simple to start with. On this page I tried to collect the most popular models of electronic keyboards for 100-300 dollars to help you with choosing the best keyboard from inexpensive ones. Of course, for an amount less than $300 you will not be able to find a new truly professional digital piano. For choosing something more close to real piano I recommend you going to at least under $500 segment, where you can buy true digital pianos (see my post about the difference between digital piano and electronic keyboard). But even having a couple of hundred dollars you can buy an entry-level electronic keyboard that is suitable for learning and practice.
I’ve decided to split the article into 2 parts:
- Basic Entry-level Keyboards under $150
Here I will write about the most basic keyboards with minimum set of functions for you to start playing the music. Primarily I don’t recommend these keyboards to learn piano.
- Beginner Keyboards under $300
This section is also for beginners and those of you who is ready to spend some more money for a decent keyboard to get more functionality and features.
Table of Contents
- Basic Entry-level Keyboards under $150
- Best Beginner Keyboards under $300
- What about weighted keyboard under $300?
Basic Entry-level Keyboards under $150
Ok, so you are on budget and don’t want to spend much on a keyboard. There are some keyboards in the price range between $100 and $150, but you should keep in mind: these are very basic instruments and are not fully suitable for serious education. This is just the very minimum you can spend on a new keyboard.
I’ve selected top 3 keyboards below $150. Well, all of them have black&white keys and piano voices, and that’s probably the only thing they have in common with an acoustic piano. The keys are non-weighted, and not touch sensitive (except Casio CT-S300). But since these are electronic devices, they definitely have something more then acoustic instruments have, although their price is on the lower end. Let’s talk about the top 3 keyboards in details: Casio CT-S200, Yamaha PSR-E273 and Casio CT-S300.
Casio Casiotone CT-S200
Casio Casiotone CT-S200 is the most affordable, portable and nice looking entry-level keyboard which I can recommend. In 2019 it replaced the popular CTK-2500 model. It has 61 non-weighted and not touch sensitive keys (for touch sensitive keys go for CT-S300) and 48 polyphony voices, which is a standard for keyboards in this price group. What differs Casiotone from most other beginner devices is it’s unprecedented portability and design. It is available in 3 colors: you can choose between usual black, and bright eye-catching white and red colors. Carry handle and very light weight allows you to move the keyboard from one place to another with only one finger.
As per special features CT-S200 has Casio’s famous Dance Music Mode: with it you can create and remix electronic dance music tracks with just a few key pressures, the electronic voices are on top for the price. In the same time if you are picky about acoustic instruments sounds I would choose another keyboard, because this is not CT-S200’s forte. The piano sound is somewhat plastic, but for the price this keyboard costs you can forgive this shortcoming.
Another great feature CT-S200 has is micro USB port, which allows you to connect the keyboard to your tablet or phone and use it with Chordana App. This is really good addition because you are not limited to 60 songs pre-recorded into the keyboard, but can use the app to learn how to play your favorite songs. By the way Casio learning system in this keyboard is stripped down and only allows turning off and on one of the hands.
The keyboard also has a pedal jack input, which is assignable: that means you can assign the effect to the pedal pressure, such as Sustain, Sostenuto, Soft, and Start/Stop (the last one can be used to start and stop the metronome or rhythm).
CT-S200 can be powered by 6 AA batteries (sold separately), but I liked that AC adapter was included in the package (not all brands add power adapter to their devices of this class).
Casio CT-S200 Pros/Cons
- 61 Not touch sensitive keys
- Speakers: only 2x2W
- 400 tones, 77 rhythms
- Piano-like box shape keys
- Dance music mode
- Micro USB port for USB MIDI connection (connect to Chordana app or computer)
- Assignable sustain pedal jack
- 3 colors to choose from
- Very portable (built in carry handle) and light-weight (only 3.3 kg!)
- AC Adapter and Music rest included
Overall my impression of Casio CT-S200 is rather good. The controls are very user friendly. The plastic and especially the keys are very solid and pleasant to the touch. I’m sure that lots of sounds, rhythms and other features such as Dance Music Mode will impress you also, especially if you are fond of electronic music. But bear in mind, this device is not suitable for serious piano studies. For that I recommend going for CT-S300. By adding just a little more money you get a touch sensitive keys which are though not ideal, but way better for practicing piano.
Yamaha PSR E273
PSR-E273 is an entry level keyboard by famous Japanese brand, I put it to the second place in my list of the best under $150 keyboards.
Yamaha’s voices and rhythms seemed for me better then Casio’s. Also PSR-E273 has a little more powerful speakers (2×2.5W). All these benefits could not have no change to PSR keyboard portability and weight: PSR-E273 weighs 8.8 lbs (4.0 kg). It is still very portable, but a little more heavier than the competitor by Casio (3.3 kg).
The keyboard has 32 polyphony voices (Casiotone keyboards have 48), several Reverb and Chorus effects, and also master EQ for adjusting the sound.
Bear in mind, that PSR-E273 doesn’t have a USB-MIDI interface, so you won’t be able to connect the keyboard to computer or mobile app to learn songs. But here comes the built-in Lesson mode which will help you to do it offline with a number of preset songs. Also you can record one up to 300-notes song to the internal memory. Nice feature for a beginner keyboard.
As per connections Yamaha PSR-E273 has Standard stereo phone jack (for connecting to external speakers or phones) and stereo mini jack (AUX IN) for connecting external audio source. Sustain pedal is also supported, but should be purchased separately as well as the power adapter. The keyboard comes only with a music rest.
Yamaha PSR-E273 Pros/Cons
- 61 not touch sensitive keys
- No USB port
- Only 32 polyphony notes
- No internal memory for saving your settings
- Power adapter not included
- Easy to use user interface
- 401 tones 143 rhythms
- Lesson mode
- 2×2.5W speakers
- 1-track recorder (300 notes)
- Music rest included
I think that for the price it is offered PSR-E273 is worth buying for those making their first steps in music. It allows you to play with different voices and styles, to learn some songs with lesson mode, and even to record your playing. And all that functions are controlled by a very easy user-friendly interface. If you are not looking for ultra-portability and don’t need USB-MIDI port, then I would choose PSR-E273 over Casio CT-S200. And again, for piano lessons this keyboard is hardly enough.
Casio Casiotone CT-S300
CT-S300 is another Casiotone model in my list of the most affordable keyboards which are worth buying. And for the price just about $10 higher than Yamaha this one is my favorite. As you can notice from the name, the CT-S300 is a one-step higher than CT-S200 described above. So what differs one Casiotone keyboard from another? Is it worth paying more money for the upper model?
The short answer is yes, it is definitely worth buying. The main difference I should mention when comparing CT-S300 to Yamaha PSR-E273 and Casio CT-S200 is that the CT-S300 keyboard is touch-sensitive. That means the volume of the pressed key sound depends on how hard you press it. This is a step closer to real piano keyboard, but of course still far from it.
Another advantage of this model – improved sound system which now consists of two 2.5W speakers sounding pretty decent.
As in CT-S200 the piano learning system in CT-S300 is stripped down. But you still have the ability to connect the keyboard to Chordana app for learning your favorite songs.
Casio’s Dance Music Mode let’s you feel yourself like an arranger. “My setup” button allows to save your sound presets.
Casio CT-S300 Pros/Cons
- only black color
- still very portable
- 61 touch sensitive keys
- 2×2.5W speakers
- ”My setup” button to save your settings
- pitch band wheel
To summarize, this keyboard is optimal between the 3 mentioned under $150 keyboards because it doesn’t have flaws of CT-S200 and has all its’ advantages including portability, Dance Music Mode, micro-USB port, connectivity with Chordana App and more. Plus it has 48 polyphony voices, touch sensitive keyboard and pitch band wheel for more expressive sound of acoustic instruments – which differs it from Yamaha PSR-E273. Touch sensitivity is that thing which puts this keyboard to the list of instruments suitable for piano lessons. That doesn’t mean I advice it for beginners: I will always recommend to start with weighted keys digital pianos straightaway, but if you are searching for really cheap keyboard to start with, or for a toy (which will probably grow into a favorite hobby) for a child I think Casio CT-S300 is the one you should put your mind to.
Best Beginner Keyboards under $300
|Number of sounds
|The ONE Light Keyboard
I will talk a little about each keyboard.
Recital is number one in my rating of electronic keyboards under 300 USD. This is a good affordable beginner digital piano with 88 semi-weighted keys with adjustable sensitivity. It has many features to help you learn how to play the piano. Also has a 3-month Skoove Permium subscription code included as a free addition if you buy it on Amazon.
- Most affordable 88-key electronic keyboard
- Power supply included, can be running on 6 D cell batteries (optional)
- Weights only 15.7 lbs
- All the required connections: sustain pedal input (1/4″), headphone output (1/4″), usb-midi, RCA stereo out
- 128 polyphony – Maximum polyphony among cheap electronic keyboards
- Split/Layer/Lesson Mode
- 60 preset songs, 2 demos
- Piano sound is very realistic, except for the top octave
- Only 5 voices (Acoustic and Electric piano, Organ, Synth and Bass)
- Keys are semi-weighted, but that is maximum you can get for such low a price
- Sustain pedal should be purchased separately
Yamaha PSR-EW300 is an affordable beginner PSR-series keyboard. It has 76 piano-style touch sensitive keys (that means the volume of the key you press depends on how strong you push it) which are rather comfortable to play. Very nice feature is auto-accompaniment: using 165 built-in styles you can feel yourself as if you are playing with the band by just play the chords in the left hand. For beginners PSR-EW300 has “Key to success” on-board lessons (it replaced the old Y.E.S. – Yamaha Education Suite) – set of built-in learning tools helping you to teach yourself.
- Weight: 13 lbs (6.2 kg) (this is not too much, but Casio CTK2550 weighs less)
- 76 touch responsive keys
- LCD display
- ~500 voices (116 + 361 XGlite + 12 Drum/SFX Kits)
- Split/Layer modes, Metronome
- 154 preset songs, 165 preset styles
- 5 songs to record (2 tracks)
- On-board lessons
- Can run on batteries (6xAA batteries)
- Connections: Headphones, Sustain input, USB to host, Aux In
- No pedal included, but you can buy one separately
- The keys are not weighted
Overall PSR-EW300 is very good 76-key keyboard from well-known brand with a lot of features, but costs a little more then the competitors. It is light-weight and space saving. If you want to spend less money there is a bundle on Amazon (check here) which includes power adapter and keyboard stand at profitable price.
I’ve reviewed more Yamaha keyboards and digital pianos here.
This keyboard has 61 light-weighted keys, so it can’t be called “digital piano”, but it deservedly can be called a nice Casio beginner electronic keyboard. It has all you need to start learning piano and have fun: about 400 various voices, 100 rhythms, step-up learning system and much more. Don’t forget to buy X-style keyboard stand and a pair of headphones.
- 400 voices, 100 rhythms
- 48 notes polyphony
- Included power supply, can run on batteries (optional 6 AA-size)
- Step-up Learning System
- Weight is only 7.3 lbs (without batteries)
- LCD display
- Weight: 7.3 lbs
- Only 61 keys (light-weight)
- Keys are not touch sensitive
To summarize, Casio CTK-2550 is a good electronic keyboard at a very cheap price. The only flaw is that it has 61 keys and they are light-weighted. But if you are a beginner you will like CTK2550 – there are a lot of built in voices and much more features even then in some other more expensive keyboards. Casio has a lot of other interesting keyboards and pianos, I’ve reviewed them here.
The One Light Keyboard
This keyboard is a new model from The ONE Music group. The word ‘Light’ in the name is not only about it’s weight (only 11 lbs), but also about the lights that can show you which key to play. It’s fun and easy both for kids and for adults. Free app for your tablet or phone provides multiple learning schemes for everyone. You can choose from hundreds of sheet music to learn (some of them are free and for more songs you will have to pay) and break down each piece into left and right hand to practice, learn via games or by video lessons.
- 128 built-in voices
- 64 notes polyphony
- MIDI output
- Recording feature
- Free learning app
- Only 61 keys and they are non-weighted
- Though there are lots of songs in the free app, some of them are for 88-key pianos
- The wire from the AC adapter is very short
The One Light keyboard is good piano keyboard for learning, it can save you lots of money as it will act as a teacher for unlimited hours that you won’t pay for.
What about weighted keyboard under $300?
Weighted keyboard is the main thing that distinguishes digital piano from electronic keyboard. Unfortunately you won’t find any new pianos with weighted keys for the price below $300. Semi-weighted keyboard is the most you can count on. But there are cheap 88-key keyboards – such as Alesis Recital and Williams Legato Plus, they are most close to digital pianos in the list. Other keyboards under $300 have 76 keys or less, which is fewer then a real piano has. That’s ok if you are a beginner or just going to have fun playing the keyboard.
If you are ready to increase your budget a little, please see my article about the best digital piano under $500, where you will find digital pianos with fully weighted keys, which feel and sound more like a real piano.