How many keys should a piano have

One of the most common questions I get asked on my Youtube channel is ‘how many keys should my piano have?’.

This question might come from one of the videos I have where I explain about the basic notes on the keyboard. I explain how the keyboard is split up into repeating groups of twelve notes. In essence you only really need 12 notes but obviously to have more octaves is useful.

In my video I explain how a full sized piano will have 88 keys and that many electronic keyboards will have significantly less.

This somehow is confusing confusing for those who want to learn piano who immediately go to their keyboard and start counting the keys. They think that they will not have enough keys to be able to learn the piano properly.

As I stated before in a flippant way, the minimum number of keys you will require is 12 but even my 1970’s mini moog had more than that.

The average ‘small’ keyboard these-days has some 49 keys (just over 4 octaves) This is more than enough to learn the piano with. Most pop songs and rock songs will not need half of that.

There are some classical pieces that will need access to high registers and there are some which need you to play down low. There are even a few that call for both in the same piece but they are few and far between. There are in fact a very few number of pieces that require the absolute top note of the piano and the bottom note of the 88 keys. I know there are such pieces but I con’t remember what they are at the moment. If anyone does know then please send me an email and I will publish it here.