Table of Contents
- Top 14 Piano Keyboards for Beginners
- 1. Alesis Recital 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano
- 2. Casio Privia PX160BK | 88-Key Full Size Digital Piano
- 3. Yamaha DGX-660 | 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Grand Piano
- 4. Yamaha NP32 | 76-Key Lightweight Portable Keyboard
- 5. Yamaha P115 | 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano
- 6. Yamaha PSR-E253 | 61-Key Portable Keyboard
- 7. Casio CTK2400 | 61-Key Portable Keyboard
- 8. Yamaha P45B | 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano
- 9. Yamaha DGX230 | 76-Key Digital Piano
- 10. Yamaha YPG-235 | 76-Key Portable Grand Piano
- 11. Casio CTK-3500 | 61-Key Touch Sensitive Portable Keyboard
- 12. Yamaha Piaggero NP11 | 61-Key Lightweight Portable Keyboard
- 13. Alesis Melody 61 Beginner Bundle | 61-Key Portable Keyboard
- 14. RockJam 54-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard
- Digital Piano Buying Guide for Beginners
- Do You Need a Digital Piano or a Keyboard?
- Purchase a 88-Key Piano
- Purchase a Piano that has Weighted Keys
- Select a Piano That Has Touch Sensitive Keys
- Purchase the Type of Piano You Need
- Select Either an Entry-level or Ensemble Digital Piano
- Watch for Certain Accessories and Features
- How Much Polyphone Do You Need?
- Consider More Than Just the Brand Name
- Look at All Your Options and Know What You are Buying
Everyone starts their career as a pianist as a beginner. Even those who have advanced their skills and are now professional pianists and music teachers started from a humble foundation. It doesn’t matter if you aspire to become a great pianist like Bach or if you hope to just play the piano as a hobby or for fun, you will need to purchase a high-quality beginner’s digital piano.
Top 14 Piano Keyboards for Beginners
1. Alesis Recital 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano
The Alesis Recital 88-key digital piano has a body style that suits the needs of a beginning pianist. This inexpensive keyboard is perfect for anyone hoping to sharpen their skills.
The keyboard has a futuristic design. The LED buttons keep with the design and complement it quite well. This slim, lightweight keyboard stores easily yet looks nice enough to keep out in your living area.
This keyboard features a full-sized keyboard. The 88 weighted keys have touch sensitivity that can be adjusted. Users notice a natural, realistic feel that similar to that of an acoustic piano. Of course, a digital piano will never completely give the pianist the same feel as an acoustic piano. However, the Alesis Recital does a great job of simulating this feel at a very low price. Just remember that to get the true feel of an acoustic piano would cost considerably more money.
The Alesis Recital features five amazing built in instruments – acoustic piano, bass, organ, synth, and electric piano. When playing, you will have a vast range of musical tones. These musical instruments can be modified to your own style by merging their sounds in the Layer Mode.
The Alesis Recital includes Reverb and Chorus capabilities useful for creating your own unique sound. The two 20-watt speakers give a genuine, rich sound so you will enjoy every practice session.
The outstanding Lesson Mode on the Alesis Recital is one of its best features. In this mode, the keyboard is splits into two sections yet it still produces the same voice and pitch. When this feature is turned on, the teacher can play alongside the student to model proper technique, finger placement, style, and more. This reduces the need to constantly take turns on the keyboard. The Alesis Recital 88-key digital piano is one of the best keyboards for beginners.
2. Casio Privia PX160BK | 88-Key Full Size Digital Piano
The Casio Privia PX160BK is another digital piano recommended for beginners. This durable keyboard features a full-sized, 88-key keyboard. The Privia’s body is crafted from plastic with outstanding construction that is sturdy and has few individual parts. The pianist will feel the solid construction. The natural, easy to maneuver layout makes it easy for the beginner to master playing the piano. Everything about the keyboard is simple. There are no menus to navigate. The controls right on the front of the console are all you have to learn to use.
The standard 128-voice polyphone is supported by this keyboard. This is a feature often reserved for higher-end keyboards. Casio has done a great job of manufacturing a keyboard that allows beginners to learn on an excellent instrument. They did not reduce quality and cut features to establish a low price point. The features included on this keyboard put it in the running with keyboards several classes and price points above. The Casio brand remains true to producing consistently good quality products.
The Casio Privia PX160BK keyboard has some very nice speakers. Other keyboards at the price point usually lack in bass response. However, in this case, Casio does not disappoint. Even the bass is good quality and has adequate volume to provide good sound without using external devices.
Overall, the Casio Privia PX160BK brings quality features at an affordable price. The outstanding construction, quality, authentic sound, and the realistic feel of this keyboard combine to create a great package for beginning pianists. A beginner can learn on this keyboard and continue to use it to take their skills to the next level.
3. Yamaha DGX-660 | 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Grand Piano
The Yamaha DGX-660 digital grand piano features Graded Hammer Standard keyboard with weighted action and a 192-note maximum polyphony. This keyboard features four unique touch responses. These responses include soft, medium, hard, and fixed. When you use the fixed setting, you never have to go back and recall the setting you preferred.
The automatic Intelligent Acoustic Control adjusts the settings to create a balanced sound. While this feature may not work well on some keyboards, the Yamaha DGX-660 has this feature perfected.
The DGX-660 features plenty of speakers – two 12cm speakers, two 5cm speakers, and two 6w amplifiers. These sound devices combine to produce quality sound that does not disappoint. The clean, clear sound and tonal range is very impressive.
The pianist can take advantage of over 150 voices, sound effects, and drum kits to complete their accompaniment. You can increase the sound range of the DGX-660 by combining it with the compatible XGlite. Most Yamaha digital pianos feature this compatibility.
You can seamlessly integrate IOS apps with the DGX-660. Pianists can utilize the extra features of seven piano apps. These apps include settings and calibration, sheet music, playback apps, audio recorder, and video recorder.
Users will enjoy using the Style Recommender. With this component, users play a rhythm pattern and add chords to create a band. When the users alter the chord patterns, the piano automatically follows the change.
By using the apps, the pianists can find and download the sheet music for popular songs. As a bonus, lesson features and lyrics are included.
Another awesome way to learn is with the Yamaha Education suite. The Y.E.S. tracks the user’s progress with timing, waiting, tempo, and listening. The chord dictionary assists the user if they need help. Smart Chord and EZ Chord are great accompaniment features. To have a simple background by just using one button, try out the Smart Chord. EZ Chord is bit more advanced and is useful for performing and making track change on the piece being played.
When considering the purchase of a digital piano for beginner, do not overlook the Yamaha DGX-660. Even though it may be a bit more costly than other digital pianos, it will well worth the money.
4. Yamaha NP32 | 76-Key Lightweight Portable Keyboard
The Yamaha Piaggero NP 32 is a new 76-key digital piano. The piano is simple and has a very neat appearance. The keyboard is streamlined and can be purchased in either white or black to suit your preference. The piano keys are touch-sensitive and light. While it may not seem like you are playing a grand piano, the Yamaha NP32 has some of the same features.
User may wonder why this keyboard has only 76 keys. With this being just 12 keys aware from a full range, it may seem like an unusual instrument. You might even be concerned about it portability when compared to keyboards with 61 or 49 keys. To meet the needs of those who want a lighter keyboard, Yamaha does offer a 61-key version. They call this version the NP-12. If a user wants all the functionality and options of the NP-12 but with more keys, the NP-32 is the ideal fit. Even though the NP-32 includes 15 more keys, it is still very easy to carry. The keyboard weighs just 12 pounds. Yamaha wanted to offer a product that provided pianists with an almost full keyboard but was still short enough to carry around.
While the NP-32 is an excellent electric piano for beginner, it does not have many learning features when compared to other keyboards. Even though it has limited sound features, this keyboard feels good when you play it and the sound is excellent.
The Yamaha Piaggero NP 32 is useful to musicians who are mobile. This inexpensive keyboard is compatible with most computers.
5. Yamaha P115 | 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano
The Yamaha P115 features a graded hammer technology that provides the user with a real piano feel. You will notice that the higher register has less resistance and the lower register has more resistance. The graded hammer action makes the pianist feel like they are playing an acoustic piano. This makes it easy to build skill and technique that transfer to an acoustic piano.
The four levels of sensitivity to touch are soft, medium, hard, and fixed. The Yamaha P115 includes a 192-key polyphone. With this keyboard, you can play using rock organ, bright piano, Wurlitzer, and grand piano.
The Yamaha P115 digital piano has 10 available styles. The user simply plays a chord and chooses a style such as boogie woogie. The piano automatically creates full accompaniment by using chords in the selected style. This leaves the pianist free to create complete melodies.
The P115 connects easily to other technology devices. Through USB to Host connectivity, the pianist can use the Digital Piano Controller app with an iPhone or iPad. Through this app, the pianist controls the keyboard from the iPhone or iPad. Using this device, you can easily change the sounds and settings. The P115 does not offer a wireless connection. Perhaps Yamaha will include wireless capability in the near future.
The P115 is useful for the more professional pianist who enjoys taking on gigs. They are mobile and need a keyboard that can go with them. The Sound Boost option increases the sound and adjust the EQ. Using this feature, the pianist can brighten the sound so it is heard over other instruments. This Yamaha keyboard is very useful for musicians who play music for a living.
6. Yamaha PSR-E253 | 61-Key Portable Keyboard
Another reasonably priced 61-key digital piano is the Yamaha PSR-E253. This keyboard is included in Yamaha’s entry level series of keyboards. This line also includes the PSR-E353 and PSR-E453.
These are the least expensive keyboards made by Yamaha. Notice that just because these are inexpensive, they are not poorly crafted. Let’s take a look at the Yamaha PSR-E253 and notice how pianists are benefitting from this entry-level keyboard. You will find that it is worth the cost.
Weighing in at less than nine pounds, this 61-key piano keyboard is very lightweight and can be easily moved.
Even a child can lift and alter the keyboard stand. The soft touch keys contribute to this keyboard’s light weight. The pianist can press the keys easily and quickly to allow for easy playing. Some pianists are not comfortable with a weighted keyboard.
Because of the keys’ light weight, pressing the wrong key is often easier. Alternatively, playing a keyboard with light keys makes it easier to develop good form and fingering.
The sleek, shiny keys include a small symbol above each one representing drum and effect sounds. Since drums and effects are difficult to locate, Yamaha placed pictures of the drums over the key that needs to be pressed to activate that sound.
In addition to the drum symbols, Yamaha included chord types that are shown in the usual chord notation. If you select a preset that automatically plays the chords, you can press just one key to indicate the type of chord you’re playing. This is a very unique and interesting way to learn the various chord types and provides a great foundation for playing the more complex chords found in classical and jazz music.
The middle of the keyboard features a small screen. The left side of the screen shows the sheet music and notes you are playing. This music includes both the treble and bass clefs. This aids you in learning which notes go where. The screen will also show the selected style or song.
Even though the Yamaha PSR-E253 is designed to be a starter keyboard you will find it to be an outstanding keyboard.
7. Casio CTK2400 | 61-Key Portable Keyboard
The Casio CTK 2400 is another digital piano recommended for beginners. The compact, lightweight digital piano has 61 keys. It includes several outstanding features useful to a musician who records or a piano student. Let’s start by looking at the basics of this piano. Physically, this keyboard weighs 11.3 pounds and measures 40 x 6 x 16 inches. This piano is very portable because it is small and lightweight. Also, it can be placed almost anywhere – even on your desk. Please note that you will have to place it on a surface as it does not include a stand or a damper pedal.
The LCD panel shows a pair of hands to help with fingering. The notes being played are shown on a bass clef and a treble clef. A mini keyboard illuminates the keys you are playing.
The Casio CTK 2400 provides a multitude of choices. The pianist can select from over 400 voices and 150 rhythms. It also includes several drums, organs, pianos, and more. One of its best features is the sampling option. The built-in microphone lets you record as much as two seconds of sound and then use this as voice sample for the keyboard.
When talking about keyboards, the polyphone is defined as the number of keys that can provide sound simultaneously. The CTK 2400 has 48. This is a fairly low number if you want to use this keyboard for advanced music. However, this Casio keyboard targets the market of pianists who want a sampling keyboard.
Beginning piano students would be the ones most likely to purchase this Casio electronic keyboard. It is for learning because it includes many educational options on its LCD panel. The Casio CTK 2400 includes a 20-song bank and a book for accompaniment. People who plan to produce music will like the sampling feature and ability to connect to PCs or Macs via USB or MIDI connection.
The lack of a keyboard stand and damper pedal is definitely a downfall to the Casio CTK 2400. However, a quick trip to the music store and you can pick up these missing items. The omission of these items is a definite disadvantage to this product.
Another possible disadvantage of the Casio CTK 2400 is the lack of weighted keys. This could hamper a piano student’s progress as the move to a real piano since this Casio electronic keyboard does not replicate the feel of an acoustic piano.
8. Yamaha P45B | 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano
The Yamaha P35 is being replaced by the newly improved Yamaha P45B digital piano. The new version adds some innovative features such as a USB option including the ability to use the piano as a MIDI controller and has twice the polyphony allowing the pianist to create a deeper piano sounds and have more style. You will also notice that it keeps the best functions of the older Yamaha P35.
The Yamaha P45B cannot be turned into a master keyboard; however, you will save money since this version includes an on-board USB port. You can take the extra money and invest in an external USB and MIDI interface to make up for the missing audio recorder.
The piano produces an awesome sound with beautiful tone. The keyboard has 64-note polyphony guaranteeing a deep, rich piano when the pianist uses twice the amount of notes and presses the sustain pedal. The same awesome sound can be created using the Dual layer mode.
Piano students who want the realistic feel of a weighted keyboard without the expense will enjoy practicing with the unique touch provided by this Yamaha digital piano. They will notice that the lower keys have a heavier touch and there is more responsiveness from keys in the higher range.
The keyboard features four sensitivity levels for the comfort of any playing style. However, when using a lower volume or headphone, you may find that the keyboard is a bit too noisy.
Even though the integrated voices lack excellent tone, the pianist will still find them an added bonus. The Yamaha P45B is a good choice for anyone who needs a portable, lightweight, and affordable keyboard for playing gigs or for practice session. The string tone and the Rhode-like piano sound produce a nice blended sound when the piano is being used in the layer mode.
The Yamaha P45B makes another stride toward the “perfect” digital piano for entry-level pianists. This piano includes the best features of the Yamaha P35. It has 64-note polyphony to create a great sound. The keyboard weighs in at only 25 pounds so you can take it easily to a gig, rehearsal, or lesson. The P45B is an awesome digital piano for a beginner. You will enjoy using the 88-key keyboard with a very similar feel as an acoustic piano.
9. Yamaha DGX230 | 76-Key Digital Piano
The Yamaha DGX230 is an excellent digital piano for beginners. You will find that it is easy to use. You will have more music sounds, styles, and keys that provide for a wide array of songs. Learning to play the piano will be easier as the key resistance has different levels. If you want to practice playing the grand piano, simply put it in grand piano voice and get started.
The Yamaha Education Suite contributes much to your ability learn to play the piano with this keyboard. It gives instruction geared to each hand as well as a dictionary of chords. Further, you will have a system that grades your progress. This helps the beginning pianist to learn some at their own pace.
You can record up to six tracks with the on-board sequencer. By using the USB connection, you can hook your computer up to the keyboard. When connected to the computer, you can download music in any style that you wish.
The Yamaha DGX230 is not just for practice. The reverb, chorus, and EQ effects, pitch bend wheel, and dual/split make this an excellent choice for performing.
If you want an outstanding quality electric piano that is not hard on your budget, select the Yamaha DGX230. This 76-key keyboard allows you to learn to play the piano and then carry it to your next performance!
10. Yamaha YPG-235 | 76-Key Portable Grand Piano
If you are looking for a portable grand piano, look no further than the Yamaha YPG-235. Even though it is on the low end when it comes to cost and manufacturing, it does not disappoint in quality. This keyboard is long-lasting, functional, and easy to use for pianists at all skill levels. Everyone will love playing this Yamaha digital piano.
The YPG-235 is kin to the YPG-535. Some pianists think of it as a smaller version of the 535. If you carefully compare the two pianos, you would have a hard time finding many differences. One noticeable difference is that the Yamaha YPG-235 has 76 while the Yamaha YPG-535 has 88 keys. Most pianists find that the 76 keys are adequate for learning and performing. The YPG-235 is a good stepping stone for learners as they move from the 61-key beginner keyboards.
Measuring about 46 inches long and 16 inches wide, this digital piano has an excellent size. It weighs a little over 16 pounds. This is the perfect size and weight for a musician to carry to a performance or gig. This size will also fit easily into any room in the house.
One of the YPG-235’s outstanding features is the 2-way speaker system. The included two set of woofers and tweeters bring out outstanding sound quality from this piano. If you want to add a little bass to your music pieces, you will enjoy the Bass Boost System included with each speaker.
The 6-track recording system lets the pianist merge various instrument layers and effects. This helps the beginning pianists learn pieces and then assess themselves. Also, those who enjoy composing and producing music can use this system to put together the parts for different instruments.
The USB port included on the Yamaha YPG-235 allows the pianist to easily connect to any computer. With this connection, the pianist can add content. The included new PC button makes this feature more user friendly by avoiding menus and selecting the correct functions.
11. Casio CTK-3500 | 61-Key Touch Sensitive Portable Keyboard
The pianist and the listeners will enjoy the best dance music from the Casio CTK-3500. The keyboard includes 48 polyphony tones. You can change to over 50 dance rhythms with this keyboard’s dance mode.
The innovative Dance Music Mode allows you to mix and remix electronic dance music with little effort. Simply connect your Android of iOS device to the app, Chordana Play. You are then ready to download and play the MIDI files. The intuitive display on the CTK-3500 lets you and your friends enjoy all the popular songs. The USB port connects easily to any computer or mobile device. You never have to worry about downloading any additional drivers or software. This Casio piano keyboard can be powered by the AC adapter or batteries.
The Casio CTK-3500 is a portable keyboard. Portability is one of Casio’s trademark features. In addition to the popular Dance Mode, the CTK-3500 also provides 150 rhythms and 400 outstanding tones that meet all music preferences. The 61 keys are very touch sensitive and add to any performance.
Whether you are a beginning pianist or a seasoned song writer, the CTK-3500 can be taken anywhere to make music. Never worry about power – either use a connected power supply or batteries.
12. Yamaha Piaggero NP11 | 61-Key Lightweight Portable Keyboard
You might consider the Yamaha Piaggero NP11 to the be the younger sibling of the Yamaha NP31. In fact, you will notice that they share many common features. About the only thing that differs between the two is cost and size.
Portability and style are the main features of the Piaggero line of pianos. These two pianos, the NP-11 and the NP-31, are the first two pianos in this series. Yamaha came up the unique name Piaggero by combining the words “piano” and “leggero.” The Italian word “leggero” mean light. The Yamaha Piaggero NP11 features 61 keys and weighs 9 pound, 15 ounces. At 40 inches long and 10 inches wide, this piano is both light and compact. The all-black finish with a flashy red trim makes for a simple, sleek design for this piano.
The sampling system has an easy job with this piano because it has only 10 preset voices and a 32-note polyphony. Even though you will notice a quality deficit when you play the Yamaha Piaggero NP11, it still provides an acceptable sound. The 10 present voices include: 2 grand pianos, 2 pipe organs, 2 electric pianos, 2 harpsichords, a string section, and a vibraphone.
13. Alesis Melody 61 Beginner Bundle | 61-Key Portable Keyboard
The Alesis Melody 61 is a beginner’s bundle featuring a 61-key keyboard. The bundle includes headphones, a stand, a rest for sheet music, a bench, a microphone, and an AC power adapter.
This keyboard features extremely light keys. When kids are learning to play the piano the added effort required for pressing weighted keys is not enjoyable and makes little fingers tire easily. The light keys make playing much more fun!
The Alesis Melody 61 includes some songs that you can learn to play. Ten songs have onscreen directions that let the pianist simply follow along. While the record feature is user friendly, it is geared for students age 5 and up.
The really young crowd will enjoy playing the over 200 sounds. Some of the sounds included are: pianos, synthesizers, drums, and many more. The very clean sounds rate better than the Huntington’s. You will notice a brighter reverb that is not dull.
You can practice singing by recording with the microphone. This multipurpose bundle will save you money because you do not have to buy extras such as the bench, headphone, or stand. All of those needed items are included.
Weighing only 7 pounds, you can easily move the Alesis Melody 61 keyboard from room to room. Giving a quick performance for friends and family in the kitchen is not a hassle. If you want to practice late at night when others in the house are sleeping, just plug in the included headphones to mute the speakers.
This outstanding Alesis keyboard is great for practice and is useful for taking lesson from a piano instructor. The excellent sound quality and multitude of extras make it a great value.
14. RockJam 54-Key Portable Electronic Keyboard
If you are looking for the perfect piano keyboard to get kids started playing while having fun, the RockJam is the keyboard to purchase.
With RockJam, learning is primary. Piano Maestro provides one of the most outstanding learning programs for kids. This is part of the keyboard but can also be downloaded as an app on a tablet or iPad.
Kids love technology. They love to play on a tablets whenever they can. Simply put the tablet on the music stand and let them play along. They will earn stars based on their performance. The colorful app is filled with interesting characters to keep kids engaged. They will learn piano basic which learning to play a few songs. The 30 included songs provide a great starting place.
The keys and buttons are easy to press and provide opportunity to kids to explore without fear of messing up. The backlit LCD screen helps you see what you are doing. The LCD light is blue rather than the usual yellow so eye strain does not become a problem.
The RockJam RJ-654 electronic keyboard features 100 sounds. Basically, kids stick to the piano sounds when learning. While learning is the goal, this keyboard is also excellent for performance. You will enjoy recording the melodies and adding the drum beats later.
By integrating this keyboard with the app, kids tend to learn very easily. They are engaged with the tablet screen and learn to play easily. The RockJam RJ-654 is one of the best piano keyboards for beginners.
If you want your kids to learn to play the piano but are not ready to take the full plunge into music lessons, the RockJam RJ-654 keyboard and a tablet will let your kids get started right away.
Digital Piano Buying Guide for Beginners
Do You Need a Digital Piano or a Keyboard?
In order to shop and purchase wisely, you must first determine what you want and need. This task can sometime be daunting.
Before you start searching for a new musical instrument, determine whether you want a digital piano or a keyboard. While it is understandable that some people use the terms “keyboard” and “digital piano” as the same item, there are some difference.
Some of the noticeable differences between a keyboard and a digital piano include their weight. A keyboard is quite a bit lighter than a digital piano. This makes the keyboard more portable than the digital piano.
Keyboards usually have 49 or 61 keys. Some high end keyboards are great for music gigs or studio play. The pianos with fewer keys are usually for beginning pianists or people who just want to have some fun with a keyboard.
Basically, if you are a newbie in the keyboard and digital piano world, the keyboard is a good place to start. They are inexpensive, lightweight and portable, include many fun features, and provide a great place for entry-level players. However, they will have some limitations.
If you want an instrument that very closely resembles an acoustic piano, you want to purchase digital piano. Some have only 61 or 76 keys; however, most have a standard keyboard featuring the full 88 keys.
Because digital pianos are placed in a nice cabinet or placed on a stand, they are heavier. Digital pianos often lack some of the sounds often included with keyboards. However, they usually include grand piano, harpsichord, pipe organ, and strings. These sounds are usually a top notch replication of the real life instrument.
Purchase a 88-Key Piano
When purchasing a digital piano, the musician hopes to simulate the touch and feel of an acoustic piano. Obviously, some digital pianos do a better job of that than other.
It is difficult to simulate the feel and look of an actual piano when you have less than standard 88 keys. Most likely, you will want to learn to play on a keybed that has the same number of keys as the acoustic piano.
You might ask yourself if you really need 88 keys to make music. The answer to question lies in your purpose for purchasing a piano.
If you are a beginner, you might find that you can learn more easily with fewer keys—maybe 76 or 61. When pianists start out with lessons, most of their tunes are played on the keys located near the center of the keybed. With that in mind, it is likely that you would not even notice that you didn’t have all 88 keys.
Often, those keyboards that have only 61 keys feature learning software that is easy to understand. Take the Casio LK-164 for an example, it has only 61 keys, but they illuminate to help the pianist learn correct hand positioning.
Therefore, fewer keys might actually be an advantage. Once you have learned piano basic, you can purchase a piano with the standard 88 keys.
When purchasing a piano with a keybed that has fewer than 88 keys, the missing keys are taken from the extreme high and low ends.
Purchase a Piano that has Weighted Keys
When a keybed has weighted keys, the pianist gets the same feel as if they were striking a key on an acoustic piano. On an acoustic piano, when a key is pressed, a felt hammer strikes a string inside the piano.
This feeling is replicated by a digital piano. This is a feature that many digital piano purchasers want. Even though each piano differs from another, a digital piano that lacks weighted key will not feel like the real deal! Now, keep in mind, a digital piano without weighted keys may not be a bad deal. However, you will likely feel that the piano feels cheap when you play it.
Weighted keys prepare the pianist for the move from to an acoustic piano. An acoustic piano has weighted keys that have to be depressed with some determination. A pianist who has always played on an acoustic piano understands the “feel.” When you learn and practice on a piano without weighted keys, you do not have the manual strength needed to play an acoustic piano. In reality, moving from a digital piano without weighted keys to an acoustic piano may feel like you are starting over. Be prepared to take time to get used to the feel of the acoustic piano’s keys.
Some digital pianos feature keys that all have the same weight and touch sensitivity. Others will have “graded” keys. The graded keys are the same for the acoustic piano. So to have a very real touch, consider looking at a digital piano with weighted, graded keys.
With graded or scaled keys, the higher keys are lighter and the lower keys seem heavier. If you see the terms “Graded Hammer Action,” “Scaled Hammer Action,” or “Progressive Hammer Action,” they all refer to the same quality.
You might ask yourself “Are weighted keys a feature that I must have?” The answer lies in your purpose for playing.
If you are playing piano just every now and then for fun, a keyboard with non-weighted keys will likely meet your needs just fine.
Select a Piano That Has Touch Sensitive Keys
What does touch sensitivity really mean? It means that the harder you strike the key, the louder the resulting sound will be.
Unless the volume of some keys can be greater than the volume of others, you may have difficulty hearing the melody over the accompaniment. For this reason, touch sensitivity is of utmost importance.
When a piano’s keys lacks touch sensitivity, the keys all have the same volume. Regardless of how hard you strike the key, the volume does not increase.
While touch sensitivity is almost always a feature of 88-key pianos, it can also be included on 61-key keyboards.
Purchase the Type of Piano You Need
You can purchase three different types of digital pianos: (1) a portable digital piano, (2) an upright digital piano, and (3) a baby grand.
As the name implies, portable pianos are meant to be carried from place to place. These are also called slab piano and are great for any musician who knows that they need to be able to take their instrument with them. One portable piano, the Yamaha P-115, features hammer action and has a sustain pedal. If you purchased this piano, however, you will have to purchase a piano bench and a music stand.
Pianos used on stages also are categorized as a portable or slab piano.
An upright piano is a step up that resembles a true acoustic piano. The upright piano features a nice a cabinet housing and has an outstanding tone. They also better hammer action than portable pianos.
A close replication of the baby grand piano is the digital baby grand. Someone who buys the digital baby grand is a true pianist and piano enthusiast. They are fully engaged in playing the piano and are likely very skilled musicians. This piano is very expensive but is a nice addition to any home.
The types of pianos differ and appeal to a certain audience. Before you set out to buy a piano, determine what you need. If you need to be able to take your keyboard with you, you would want to buy a portable piano. You need something very lightweight—perhaps even just a keyboard. If you desire something that is sturdier, perhaps an upright piano is the one for you.
Select Either an Entry-level or Ensemble Digital Piano
For people who very little or no experience with digital pianos, they may not even consider a piano at the entry level.
These people often think that an entry-level provides too few features and will be just too stripped down for their needs. Others are from another school of thought and do not care for the added features found in ensembles. They feel all that is just a waste.
In the end, the decision is yours! Before you purchase, take time to think about what you need. Do not spend too much money initially. Alternatively, do not scale down so much that you have to upgrade quickly.
An entry-level digital piano is likely to offer the beginning pianist with just what they need. All the extra bells and whistles that a beginner will not need (or use) will be omitted.
For instance, just a few piano voices and a few instrumental voices are usually featured on an entry-level digital piano. This will be enough extras to make your piano sound like a harpsichord or a jazz organ.
The ensemble digital piano is a more expensive option that provides you with more features. Pianists will enjoy the luxurious background accompaniments and instrumental orchestra with just the push of a button. Also, these often have some effects that are a lot of fun to use.
You will have to make the decision as to whether you want to purchase the more basic piano or if you want to have a multitude of voices, features, and effects. Sometimes beginners want the special effects available so that they can expand their piano skills, learn more about making music and have a great time.
Your needs and wants guide your final decision. Do you want to spend more money now and not have to upgrade later? Will you be able to navigate through the features and grow into the piano? Do you prefer to start with a basic instrument and learn the basics before investing a lot of money? Only you can answer these questions to suit your own personal preferences.
Watch for Certain Accessories and Features
When you buy a digital piano, you likely expect all the items you need to be included. However, that may not be true. Be sure to read the all the documentation and ask questions before you buy. If you buy at a brick and mortar store, be sure you leave the store with everything you are supposed to receive.
For example, you might want your digital piano to have speakers. If they are not included, you will need to have external speakers ready to use.
There are six common accessories and features that are essential for your piano. Check to see if they are included or if they need to be purchase separately.
- Sustain pedal(s)
- Jacks for headphones—you might want two jacks if you want your instructor to be able to listen to you play or if you want to play with another pianist
- Stand for the piano—the stands that are shaped like an X are the least expensive. The ones that look like a table or desk are more substantial.
- Stand for sheet music
- Metronome—this devices keeps the tempo for you as you play your musical piece. You will appreciate it as it helps you learn to have exact timing for your pieces.
- Power supply—some keyboards and digital pianos include an AC adapter while others do not. This will be essential so check to see if it is included before you buy.
How Much Polyphone Do You Need?
Polyphony is simply defined as the number of piano notes that can sound simultaneously. Polyphony helps you measure how complex you musical piece can be before you notice notes not being played.
This certainly does not mean that you will not be able to play all your music notes. It simply means that when you have trained yourself well, you may notice that some notes do not sustain.
Since everyone uses their piano for different reasons, stating a minimum polyphony number is not easy. Also, not everyone has an ear trained well enough to hear the notes as they drop out. Pianists may not even mind if the notes do not sustain.
A beginner might want to purchase a piano that has 64-note polyphony. Experienced pianists deem that an adequate amount for most pianists. Others who want more polyphony might opt for a 128-note piano. They might want to play more involved, complex piano pieces. Some pianists may want to use a multitrack/sequencer function to record multiple instruments on multiple tracks and have the ability to play them back together.
Finally, the matter of adequate polyphony depends on the pianist’s skill level. A beginner might be just fine with a 32-note polyphone. If you have more skill than a beginner, a 64-note polyphony might be more desirable. When you move to advanced piano pieces, you will likely want the 128-note polyphony.
Consider More Than Just the Brand Name
When you are planning to buy a digital piano, you want to explore all your options. You likely will notice that some brands and models are superior to others. Of course, you might already have a favorite piano brand that you have enjoyed playing before now.
No matter if this is your first piano or if you have been playing for a while and hoping to advance to a better piano, you want to consider all your options. People often restrict their purchasing power when they make statements such as “I will not buy a piano unless it is a ___.” Or “I think the ___ makes the best pianos.”
When you look at all the pianos on the market, each brand will have some advantages and disadvantages. The different brand excels in certain qualities. Also, all pianists are not the same so one piano will “fit” a pianist better than another. With that being said, do not limit your purchase solely on brand name recognition.
Look at All Your Options and Know What You are Buying
Sometimes you might find an outstanding piano at a great price. If you do, there is nothing wrong with going ahead and making the purchase. You will certainly want to do this if the price is subject to change soon.
However, if there is no urgent need to purchase, you might do well to be sure you are getting the best deal. Check to be sure you are getting all the accessories you need and want at an affordable price.
Remember there is also the used market for purchasing a piano. Whenever you purchase a used piano, be sure to check out the piano and know exactly what you are buying. First, be sure that the piano is in good working order. Ask the seller if he provides help with any problems that come up in the near future.
These suggestions may not seem feasible in all cases. If you are buying from an individual or at a garage sale, the sale may indeed be final with no recourse or future assistance.
Regardless of where you are buying, play the piano to see how it sounds. Be sure all accessories and parts are there and in working order. Get the history of the instrument—how old is it, who played it, what condition is it in and so forth.
Be sure to do a little background work before you pass money to the seller.
When making an online piano purchase, you may not be able to do a physical inspection. However, you can still ask questions and ask for pictures. Be sure you ask for the history of the instrument.
You can look up the piano brand and model online and look at its specifications. Compare the price of a this model across several sellers.
Check out customer reviews and comments so you will know how other musicians feel about the piano. Read and see if they enjoyed their purchase or had any unexpected issues. Their input may help you decide and avoid unexpected problems.
Looking at the manufacturer’s website may be helpful. Often, you can download the manual for all their piano models. This would help you understand the instrument – how does it work? What troubleshooting steps should I take? What warranty comes with this particular model?