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The Difference Between 61 and 88 Keyboard Pianos

Keyboards come in a variety of sizes.
keyboard image by salimar6 from Fotolia.com

If you’re in the market for a digital keyboard or piano, you’ve probably seen that many keyboards have 61 keys, while others have 88. Know the difference between the two to choose an instrument that meets your needs.

Keyboard Basics

A standard piano has 88 keys, of which 52 are white and 36 black, ranging across more than seven octaves. In recent decades, electronic keyboards have been developed that mimic the piano keyboard and sound. These keyboards have developed into a category of instruments all their own.

88 Keys

Some keyboards offer 88 keys, replicating the full size and feel of a piano keyboard. These keyboards are ideal for pianists looking for a full keyboard replacement, or for serious keyboard players looking for the versatility offered by the larger size. Such keyboards also tend to be larger, heavier and more expensive.

61 Keys

Other keyboards are smaller in size, offering 61 keys. While these keyboards are still perfectly good instruments, they are not as well-suited to two-handed playing as the 88-key version. Few professional-grade keyboards are offered with 61 keys, but many beginners’ instruments use that format to create a smaller, cheaper and more portable instrument.

About the Author

Brian Westover is a freelance writer, editor and publication designer. He has been writing professionally since 2006, and has written for businesses, blogs, newsletters, and individuals. He is currently studying communications and journalism at Brigham Young University - Idaho.