Many of my prospective students and their parents ask about which keyboard I recommend to get started for piano study. I have decided to write down my "Budget Keyboard Buying Guide" here, so that all can benefit from it.
I recommend selecting a keyboard from Casio, Yamaha, Kawai, Korg or Roland. I would be wary of other brands in a price range below $1000. (For example, Guitar Center's house brand, Williams, seems to have trouble functioning much past the expiration of the warranty) To budget properly, I would recommend spending about $500 on a keyboard. Anything that is below $300 brand new is likely lacking important features that will make practicing at home much more difficult than it should be. I would much rather a student delay starting lesson by a couple of months and get a quality instrument for practice, rather than jumping right in and not being able to practice effectively at home.
The main thing is to make sure that there are 88 keys and that when the key is struck with more force, it gets louder. Companies usually call this something like "Graded Touch" "Graded Action" "Scaled Hammer Action" or something similar. It just means that, like a piano, you can play loudly and quietly without fiddling with a volume knob. This will help a student move from his or her instrument at home to my acoustic piano more easily.
Below are some models I have actually played on and would recommend. Although I hear the Roland FP-30 and Korg B1s are pretty good, I have never played on any of them.
If you student is shorter than five feet tall, I would recommend investing in an adjustable bench, otherwise he or she will sit too low on a standard bench or a chair. A bench like mine can be found here or here. (You could also just use a chair or normal bench and use beach towels, a seat cushion, carpet samples, etc. to raise the height of the seat)
Most product should be available online through
Amazon.com, Guitarcenter.com, Sweetwater.com, zZounds.com, kraftmusic.com or Musiciansfriend.com
These are all online retailers I trust and have ordered from before, though I would encourage you to comparison shop to get the best rates on a bundle, shipping and financing (if needed.)
If possible, I would recommend making the trip to Piano Solutions in Carmel, IN. They only stock keyboards suitable for piano study and their prices are competitive. They can be found online at www.pianosolutions.net (let them know Jason Allen from Terre Haute sent you!)
If you think you've found something comparable that is available locally, used, or even online, I would be more than happy to give you my honest evaluation of the instrument.