08. 25? 49? 61? 76? 88? Huh?! What?!

Same as with keyboard types – you can find a variety of keyboard sizes. Maybe you just need a tiny set of keys to sit on your desk while you tingle around your favorite VST... maybe you need more keys for synth solos or just use a lot of splits but still don't want to play on weighted keys?

Depending on your need there are variations of the same keyboard in several different sizes. Unfortunately, not all keyboards come in all sizes... Some of them come only in a single size.


The general rule is that low entry keyboards (especially arrangers) come in 61key version only. There are some Casio arrangers with 76key versions but I really recommend staying away from Casio. Korg offers some arrangers in 88key version (like the Pa588) or the 76keys (like the Pa2x). Yamaha has a total line of "piano-like" arrangers (like the YPG or DGX series) etc...

It gets a bit easier when it comes to workstations. Generally those come in all sizes disregarding the model. That way you can find a Motif with 61/76/88 keys, same as you can find the korg M3/M50 or Rolands Fantom in all 3 sizes. One thing you have to note is that the keybed on 88 key version workstations often differ from the keybeds on stage/home pianos.

While the keybeds on stage pianos are graded (meaning the keys on the lower octaves are heavier then the keys on the higher octaves – emulating the real feel of the piano), the keybed on 88key version workstations are usually just weighted – not graded (meaning all keys across the keyboard are of the same weight). Smaller keyboards are usually reserved for MIDI controllers, even though you can find tiny workstations like the Korg MicroX or the Microstation.

The keybed on a keyboard is one of the best ways a manufacturer can save money and offer similar keyboards at different (usually lower) prices. So if you're buying a cheaper keyboard you really can't expect a good keyboard action. Usually you get plasticky keys with "rubbery- bouncy" feel.

Each manufacturer has a different (or similar) name to their keybeds. You can find soft touch keys, piano style keys, synth action keys, semi-weighted keys, balanced hammer keys, hammer graded keys, waterfall key etc...

Basically we can define the keybed action into soft touch (the plasticky keys with cheap feel to them), synth/semi-weighted keys (usually found on 61/73 keybeds of workstations), balanced hammer keys (weighted keys but not graded), waterfall keys (found in hammond clones and some Nord keyboards) and graded hammer keys (piano type keys that are heavier on the lower octaves and become less weighted as you go towards higher octaves).

Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2014
Skipp, Aug 27, 2010
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