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Roland Go:Keys GO-61K review

The Roland Go:Keys is a fun and modern take on a beginner keyboard.

Roland has been one of the leading players in this market for many decades and continues to be an innovative brand.

In this review, we look at everything this 61-key Roland has to offer.

Roland Go:Keys GO-61K review
Go:Keys keyboard | Image credit: Roland

Our verdict on the Roland Go:Keys 4.5

The Roland Go:Keys is an excellent keyboard; we genuinely believe that. The only doubts that we have are that it costs a little more than some competitors, and the abundance of features might not suit all younger users.

But there aren’t many better options for young aspiring songwriters/producers.

Sound quality 4.8

The Roland Go:Keys has over 500 sounds across multiple instrument categories. The categories cover pianos, organs, synths, guitars, strings, and more.

The keyboard’s flagship grand piano voice is usually a good way to judge the sound quality. In this case, we were pleasantly surprised by the depth and richness this keyboard offers in its main concert grand sound.

We were also very surprised by the organ voices that are far grittier than you’d usually find on a beginner keyboard.

Across the board, the sound quality is very impressive for a beginner keyboard. In fact, it’s good enough to interest some more advanced players.

Typically when a keyboard has so many voices, there are a lot of less-than-stellar additions taking up space.

While we can’t say every sound is as fantastic as the first, we can say that Roland has chosen extremely useable sounds.

The Go:Keys offers 128-note max polyphony.

Built-in speakers 4.2

The Roland Go:Keys built-in speaker system is powered by two 2.5 W amplifiers.

We can look at this in a couple of different ways. On the one hand, the sound quality that it puts out is as good as most in its class. It delivers a clear and crisp sound that projects well in a small room.

On the other hand, you could reasonably expect a little more power from some keyboards at the same price.

We have given a score that reflects both views, and ultimately, we think the quality outweighs any lack of power.

Keyboard feel 4.5

The Go:Keys has full-size keys with an ivory feel. The simulated ivory feel is a feature you don’t commonly see on beginner keyboards, so that’s a nice touch.

The keys are velocity-sensitive with four velocity levels: Light, Medium, Heavy, and Fixed.

Non-weighted keys will never provide the most expressive playing experience, but it’s about finding the best compromise in this kind of instrument.

The weight of the keys has to suit a wide range of sounds, not just piano, while still providing some level of resistance for dynamics/expression.

Most importantly, they need to be the right weight for the intended user, which would mostly be kids. So, we believe these keys provide a well-balanced performance.

As you get more advanced, you might start to think you can’t be as expressive as you’d like with the grand piano voices. But, we could say that about any keyboard without weighted keys.

Features 4.6

The Roland Go:Keys is nothing if not packed with features. It comes with an abundance of cool features, which is why it’s one of the most fun beginner keyboards on the market.

Loop Mix

Loop Mix is one of the coolest and most creatively inspiring features that we have seen on a beginner keyboard.

Loop Mix is a feature that allows the user to trigger loops and phrases from the keyboard. It can be used as a songwriting tool to create songs and as an educational tool to learn and explore song structure.

It can also be used as a live performance tool to practice constructing and manipulating tracks in real-time.

Not all young learners will be ready to take advantage of Loop Mix, but it’s an invaluable first step towards music creation for those who are.

Built-in recorder

Unfortunately, part of being a musician is forgetting some of your best ideas because you didn’t write them down or record them.

The Roland Go:Keys has a built-in MIDI recorder that will capture up to 99 songs (30,000 notes). So, you never need to lose another idea.

Performance pads

The 10 performance pads are another slightly advanced feature for a beginner keyboard, but they offer so much.

You can use the pads to trigger various effects that you can use with Loop Mix or in the regular keyboard mode.

The pads also provide various degrees of pitch bend, which isn’t often found in beginner keyboards either.

Built-in effects

In terms of built-in effects, you get various types of reverb and chorus outside of what can be triggered by the performance pads.

In use 4.4

This area is where things get tricky for the Go:Keys, and it all depends on the user.

With some keyboards, it’s easy to say it suits a reasonably broad age group of users. But, we think some kids will take to the features of this keyboard better than others.

If features like Loop Mix and performance pads aren’t attractive to you, then a more straightforward keyboard might be better.

If those features are interesting to you, it won’t take long to learn how to get the most out of them.

Generally, navigating voice categories is quick and easy, and a good-sized LCD screen makes everything more convenient.

Build quality 4.3

Roland’s Go:Keys has a distinctive look, and there are things we like about it and things we don’t.

Our primary concern is that it looks a little cheap and cheerful, in our opinion. Considering it’s not the cheapest beginner keyboard by any means, you’d expect it to look and feel a little more robust.

It then has some more expensive feeling aspects like the ivory feel keys and touch buttons.

So, it’s a bit hit and miss, although it has one huge thing in its favor when it comes to younger users: it looks like FUN!

Connectivity 4.4

Connectivity is generally good with the Go:Keys, thanks to the addition of Bluetooth.

With Bluetooth, you can connect to your smart device to use educational apps, stream music, or control the keyboard remotely.

You get USB (Type B), a 1/4″ pedal input, and 1/8″ audio input and output.

The audio output is the headphone jack, which would be better as a 1/4″ output, but it’s not a huge complaint.

Compared to other keyboards

We really like the Go:Keys but it’s not the right keyboard for everyone. Here are some more options for beginners that are worth a look.

You can also check our recommendations for the best beginner keyboards and the best cheap digital pianos under $500.

Roland Go:Keys vs. Yamaha NP-12

What we love most about the NP-12 is the simplicity. It’s a straightforward keyboard that looks and sounds far better than the price suggests.

Check out our Yamaha Piaggero NP-12 review

Roland Go:Keys vs. Yamaha PSR-E373

We score the PSR-E373 and Go:Keys almost identically; they just suit slightly different users.

The PSR-E373 is the best simple arranger keyboard for beginners, although it lacks the more advanced features of the Roland.

Check out our Yamaha PSR-E373 review

Roland Go:Keys vs. Casio CT-S1

The CT-S1 offers incredible value for money, and it’s an ideal first keyboard for any beginner.

It doesn’t quite deliver the sound quality of the Go:Keys, but it beats it on value and ease of use.

Check out our Casio Casiotone CT-S1 review

Who is the Roland Go:Keys (GO-61K) best suited for?

It suits younger players who are keen to develop skills in music-making, songwriting, and production.

  • Stunning sound.
  • Loop Mix feature.
  • Performance pads.
  • Build quality could be better.