A full-sized piano has 88 keys in total. A piano has 7 complete octaves containing 52 white keys and 36 black keys. There are an extra 3 keys below the low C which do not make up a full octave.
If you’re just starting and want to get to know the basics of piano playing, a 66 key or 72 key piano or keyboard will be more than enough. You’ll be able to play most of the music you come across.
Professional piano players require the full length of an 88 key piano. Many of the classical pieces of music that pianists spend their careers mastering require the full range of notes that a full-length piano facilitates.
How Many Keys Should A Piano Have For Beginners?
For most beginner and intermediate pieces, a 72 key piano or keyboard will be enough. When you first start your lessons, you will spend a lot of time working on your movement technique. For this reason, you will play many entry-level pieces over a couple of octaves only.
One of the most difficult aspects of learning piano is getting the coordination of moving two hands in different ways at the same time. It’s easier to learn this when your hands can be closer together. Once you crack this, you’ll be able to play most pieces.
Once you’re confident enough, your teacher will probably encourage getting a full-length piano, especially if learning the piano is something you want to pursue seriously.
Is a 61 Key Keyboard Enough to Play Piano Well?
A 61 key keyboard is more than enough to get some great sounds going. Most professional musicians in bands use 61 key keyboards as they tend to be lighter and easier to transport. For bands that are touring or on the move regularly, they are ideal.
Your choice of keyboard length really depends on the type of music you want to play on your piano or keyboard. If you’re a pop or rock fan, then a 61 key keyboard is the ideal purchase for you. If classical music is the right sound for you, then you may want to consider a full-length piano.
In general, 61 key keyboards also start at a relatively inexpensive price point. This is ideal for beginners. Not everyone is a musician. If you start lessons and realize that piano is not really for you, you wouldn’t have broken the bank on your first purchase.
Why Do Pianos Have 88 Keys?
The piano was invented so that composers could have a wider range of notes in their music writing. More notes meant that pieces were able to become more complex and allowed composers to express their own styles in their music.
Before the piano came along, composers were restricted in the range of notes they had, which was reflected in their music. Some of the great composers, including the famous Johann Sebastian Bach, wrote and played their music on the harpsichord.
As music advanced, composers quickly felt restricted by the harpsichord. This was largely because it only had 5 octaves for the composers to work with. This was only 60 keys.
In 1880, Steinway was the first company to build a piano with 88 keys and this has been the standard ever since. Pianos will rarely have more than 88 keys because of their tone.
Once you start to add keys to play lower and higher notes, the tone of those notes becomes almost undetectable to the human ear. For this reason, there is no point in writing or composing music that has higher or lower notes than the standard piano.
A lot of the reasoning behind having 88 keys on a piano is purely for ease of production. Having to install more keys and, therefore, more strings would require more parts. These parts would also have to be custom-made.
The cost of building a customized piano with more keys is huge, which is why anyone who has endeavored to do this has done it on a very exclusive level which is only a few at a time being manufactured.
Are There Pianos With More Than 88 Keys?
Although 88 keys have been the standard number of keys on a piano for over 120 years, there are some piano makers who have pushed the boundaries. There are pianos out there that have over 100 keys on them.
Wayne Stuart, a designer from piano manufacturers Stuart and Sons, has designed and built a piano with 102 keys which are 14 more than the standard piano. It’s rare that you’ll find a piano with more keys than this one.
The designers and concert pianists who have played the piano say that it makes a difference in their music. The notes that are lower than the low A on a standard piano apparently add power and depth to the composition.
Some modern compositions, such as those that use electronic instruments, do contain notes that do not exist on a standard 88 key piano. The demand for more keys may, therefore, increase as music evolves.
How Do You Know How Many Keys Your Paino Has?
The obvious answer is to simply count them. But if you want to take a shortcut, you can count how many octaves your piano has. Octaves are made up of seven white keys and five black keys.
You can also measure the length of your piano keyboard. A standard upright piano with 88 keys is around 58 inches in width. If your piano is shorter than that, you’re likely to have a piano or keyboard with fewer keys.
The Difference Between Black Keys and White Keys
As we know, there are 52 white keys and 36 black keys on a standard 88 key piano. The white keys represent the notes A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The white keys represent the natural notes you get in music. The black keys play the semi-intervals in between these notes.
The sharps and the flats you get in music are therefore played by the black keys. A sharp note, for example, a D sharp (D#), is a semi-interval above the note D. A flat note, on the other hand, would be the semi-interval below the natural note D.
For the sake of this example, this would be a D flat (D♭); however, the note is more commonly referred to as C sharp (C#).
They are vital in music, ad the black keys determine what key a piece of music is played in. They also influence the tone of a composition. A minor key usually sounds sadder, whilst pieces written in a major key tend to sound lighter and happier.
How Many Keys On the Piano Should You Look For?
So now you know that there are 88 keys on a standard piano. There are some keyboards and pianos with more or fewer keys. The number of keys has a huge influence on the complexity of the piece of music.
If you want to master the beautiful discipline of piano, then you may want to consider getting a full-sized upright piano with 88 keys. However, if you’re just trying it out, for now, you’ll do fine with a keyboard that has less range.