I have a friend who wants to compose music on his computer, and I plan to buy him an electronic keyboard for his birthday. The problem is, I don't have much of an idea of how to pick a high quality electronic keyboard. These are my guidelines.

  • Space does not matter, he has plenty of desk space, so more keys is better

  • Keys must be full sized or at least close. He plays the piano already and doesn't want to have to relearn anything

  • I would like to keep the cost of this peripheral under $50. (I am willing to go over, but not to a ridiculous degree.)
  • For $50, you might get a cheap 25-key model.
    – CL.
    Jan 21 '16 at 14:58
  • 1
    Would you say he is primarily a piano player, or a composer? As a piano player, more keys would be extremely important to me, but I bet most composers would be satisfied with less.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Jan 21 '16 at 16:15
  • He is a piano player, he wants to be a composer and a piano player. Jan 21 '16 at 22:09
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    The big deciding factors for most keyboards are weighted keys and key velocity. Does he need either of those?
    – Adam
    Jan 22 '16 at 19:00

88-key MIDI keyboards for under $50 are a very rare find. Most decently priced ones only have ~50 keys maximum. Based on your budget, I can only recommend the M-Audio Keystation 49ES Black (~$65 USD).


  • 49 full-size keys (velocity-sensitive)
  • USB connection for playing virtual instruments and controlling DAWs (also for power)
  • Pitch bend, modulation, and octave shift
  • Light-weight
  • Compatible with iOS for mobile composing

The big downfall with this keyboard though, and one that 99% of $70 MIDI keyboards have, is no weighted keys. To me, weighted keys make or break a keyboard because they are what truly provide the real piano experience. But if your friend is okay without this, then I fully recommend this product.

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