How Many Keys Do You Need To Learn Piano?

How Many Keys Do You Need To Learn Piano?

I’ve always wanted to learn the piano. Now that I have a little more free time during my week, I’m committed to taking lessons and making this a reality. What piano should I choose? Is a 61 key keyboard enough? Or should I purchase a piano with 88 keys? What’s the difference? And why should I care?

We get questions like this one from newbie piano players all the time. And with good reason. 

Selecting a new piano for the first time can be a little confusing. After all, there are many different kinds of pianos out there. You’ll find digital and acoustic. Keyboards and traditional. Uprights and grands. What should you choose?

When you purchase a modern piano, it will have 52 white keys and 36 black keys for a total of 88 keys. This allows you to play seven full octaves plus a minor third. How Many Keys Do You Need To Learn Piano?

However, when you move to digital keyboards, that’s when you find more variance in the number of keys offered. 

One manufacturer of a 61 key keyboard promises you’ll never “lose” out on not having the right keys because it allows you to transpose all of the keys up or down an octave. And while that may work in some cases, it won’t always work. For classical music, 61 keys aren’t enough. 

There’s also a more pressing problem with smaller, less expensive keyboard options. They often aren’t structured like a traditional piano, making it difficult to carry your newfound skills from one piano to the next. 

Traditional acoustic pianos have keys that are weighted. And not every digital keyboard mimics these dynamics. The difference is in the feel, the touch. 

If your goal is to simply learn some theory and be able to create a few sounds, the choice may not matter. 

If you want to learn to play the piano, get a piano to learn on. If you don’t, you’ll most likely feel frustrated as you won’t be able to develop the proper techniques. You’ll learn this very quickly when you sit down at a traditional piano and have trouble playing. 

Have additional questions about the right piano for you? We can help. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172