10 best digital pianos for beginners

learn piano top digital piano for beginner

Digital piano: what is a good choice for a beginner?

Different pianos.

You took the decision to start to learn to play the piano, very good. But now you need an instrument, right?  Do you buy an acoustic or a digital piano? A beginner piano or a professional? With a full 88 keyboard or less? I will try to give you some solid advice in this post on what your options are and what you need to look for when buying a piano.

There are 3 main categories, namely:

  1. Acoustic piano
  2. Digital piano
  3. Electric keyboard

Which of these categories you choose from is mainly based on budget. But with budget also comes quality, of course the acoustic pianos offer the best sound quality. You will never see a great piano master giving a concert on a keyboard, now do you? But they are far more expensive than electric pianos. Acoustic pianos are divided in 3 categories

  1. Grand piano
  2. Baby grand piano
  3. Upright piano

ranging in price from say $3.000 to $10.000 for an acoustic upright piano, $4.000 to $15.000 for a baby grand piano and $10.000 to $100.000 or more for a grand piano.

The characteristics of an acoustic piano.

The obvious characteristics of an acoustic piano is that it has 88 keys and you probably have seen a piano with its lid open once or twice in your live, exposing all kinds of hardware and strings inside. When you press one of the keys of a piano these components inside will move and a little hammer will hit the corresponding string and a tone will ring out. This means that you as the player have to put the force and energy into it to move the keys and the components connecting the key to the hammer. It also means that the harder you hit the key, the more force you use, the louder the tone will be. Also it takes more force to hit the lower notes than it takes to hit the higher notes.

The force it takes to hit the key is called weight and the difference in weight between the lower and the higher keys on the keyboard is called touch.

An acoustic piano has 3 pedals, of which the most important one is the sustain pedal. As the name suggests, using this pedal prolongs the sustain of a note after you played it. This also works mechanically.

So the main characteristics of an acoustics piano are:

  1. 88 keys
  2. Weighted feel to the keys
  3. Heavier touch in the low and lighter touch in the high
  4. Sustain pedal

There is much more to it, but for the scope of this article, these are the most important.

So if you are a very serious piano player, your goal would be to own an acoustic piano, because that gives you the complete experience.

But we are just starting right? So we might not want to invest that much money in an acoustic piano yet. Besides that, acoustic pianos are not very mobile. They are big and heavy, so you can’t take them with you if you want to play with your friends in a band or want to give a performance somewhere outside your own home.

Acoustic pianos do require quite a bit of maintenance. You will have to tune them once or twice a year, or have somebody come in and tune the piano for you. They are also susceptible to temperature and moist. So the climate you live in can have an effect on the sound of the piano.

That’s where digital pianos come in.

Digital piano.

Digital pianos also come in different shapes and sizes. There are even digital pianos that are the same shape and size as a baby grand piano. I just want to talk about the category known as stage pianos. As the name implies, these are designed to be portable, so they are not to heavy, and do not take up too much space. You will be able to find a place for one in your home somewhere. And if you want to take them outside your own home to play elsewhere you can.

Now, what about those characteristics of the acoustic piano? In its nature the keys on the keyboard of an digital piano are just switches, you press a key, an electric circuit is closed and the electronics inside produces a tone. So they don’t have the same mechanical weight as the keys of an acoustic piano. That is by design. The manufacturers of these digital pianos have gone to great length to make the keys feel as natural and as close to an acoustic piano as possible. Digital pianos in the higher price range also have a different touch between the low and the high, just like an acoustic piano. Some even go as far as having wooden keys with an ivory feel to them. The also have a external pedal available, in some cases a 3 pedal unit, for the sustain.

The sound is, of course, produced electronically. To put it simple, this is done by recording an acoustic piano, store these sounds in the digital piano and reproduce them when you push a key. This can be done to varying degrees of detail, higher sample rate, etc. Again, the higher the price range, the closer the sound approaches an original acoustic piano.

The added benefit of that is that manufacturers can store more than one sound inside an electric piano, the ones I have in mind have like 10 to 20 different piano and organ sounds, or voice, stored in them.

This electronica inside give you also a hole load of other possibilities like:

  1. Headphone connection, so you can play silent
  2. Recording your playing
  3. Built-in preset songs to play along with
  4. Adjustable EQ, Reverb and Chorus
  5. Split keyboard, play base on the lower keys and piano on the higher keys
  6. Layering, play piano and strings at the same time
  7. Aux connector, or bluetooth, to connect external equipment

And more

They are available with different key configurations, not all of them have 88 keys. You can find them with 49, 61, 73, 75 or 88 keys. The price range for digital pianos is from $300 to a $6.000 roughly.

Electronic keyboard.

The last category is the electronic keyboard. Thi is a very broad category and often include the digital pianos as well, depending on who you ask. The prices start from $50 on the really low end, but if you are any bit serious you avoid those as the plague. After all, you get what you pay for. On the high end you will find keyboards costing several thousands of dollars. These are to me different instruments because they serve a different purpose. That is the reason why I separated the Digital pianos from the electronic keyboard category.

In my perception, digital pianos are meant to sound and feel like an acoustic piano and electronic keyboards can sound like a piano, but can produce so much more sounds and do not necessarily have the weight and the touch in the keys. Often they don’t have the full 88 key keyboard layout either. Which is fine and you can play almost all songs in the world with it, but it is not the same as a piano.

So, what should I buy then?

My thoughts on this are that if you are any bit serious about playing the piano, you should buy the most expensive digital piano you can afford. I mean if you start with a piano of $200 and after half a year you find that you actually do like playing, but now the piano you have limits your progress, you run the chance of losing the fun in playing or having to then spend money again on the model you could have bought in the first place.

There is also the option of renting an acoustic piano, but that comes with the same disadvantages of size and weight, plus you don’t own the instrument.

I would look at a digital piano from one of the bigger brands and look for a model that has:

  • 88 keys
  • Weighted action
  • Heavy to light touch from low to high

In the next chapter I’m going to do just that, I will compare a few different models from the different manufacturers and compare their similarities and differences.

My shortlist for choosing a digital piano.

I selected 10 digital pianos ranging in price from $450 to $1,800 in three different in the levels standard, intermediate and professional. All are so called stage pianos and I selected just the piano, many of them are also available including stands and other accessories. 

Let me say that if you buy one of the digital pianos in this category or the other categories, you will by a quality piano that can give you lots of playing fun for a long time. All these are from reputable  brands with a long tradition in building instruments. It is just as I stated before, if you spend more money, you get more instrument. The higher price gives you more options, the samples and voices are of a higher standard. But it certainly doesn’t mean that the standard level pianos don’t sound like pianos. That is the reason why I started at the price point of just below $500, because those instruments all meet my criteria.

Selection criteria.

My selection criteria for all of them are:

  • 88 keys
  • Weighted feel to the keys
  • Heavier touch in the low and lighter touch in the high
  • Sustain pedal
  • Split keyboard
  • Dual mode

Standard level digital piano

I chose 3 pianos for this level, the Yamaha P45, Casio PX160 and the Korg B1.

Digital PianoYamaha P45Casio Privia PX160Korg B1
polyphony64128120
voices10188
demo songs20608
InterfaceUSBUSB,
Line Out
No
MetronomeYesYesYes
RecordingNoYesNo
Speakers2 x 6W2 x 8W2 x 9W
Headphone outYesYes (2)Yes
Sustain pedalYesYesYes
Weight11.5 kg
25.4 lbs
11.1 kg
25.5 lbs
11.8 kg
26 lbs
Dimensions1326 x 154 x 295 (mm)
58.2 x 16.1 x 11.8 inches
1322 x 286 x 135 mm
11.5 x 52 x 5.5 inches
1312 x 336 x 117 mm
51.6 x 13.2 x 4.6 inches

Videos:

Yamaha P45

 

Casio PX160

 

Korg B1

Buy now!


Intermediate level digital piano

In the interemediate level category I chose for the following 4 pianos:
Roland FP-30
Yamaha P-115
Kawai ES-110
Korg SP-280

Digital PianoRoland FP-30
Yamaha P-115Kawai ES-110Korg SP-280
polyphony128192192120
voices35141930
demo songs3064100
InterfaceUSB,
Bluetooth
USB,
AUX
MIDI,
Bluetooth
Line Out
Line In
MIDI
MetronomeYes
RecordingYesYesNoNo
Speakers2 x 11W2 x 7W2 x 7W2 x 22W
Headphone outYes (2)Yes (2)Yes (2)Yes (2)
Sustain pedalYesYesYesYes
Weight14.1 kg
31 lbs
11.8 kg
26 lbs
15 kg
39.5 lbs
19 kg
56.9 lbs
Dimensions1300 x 284 x 150 mm
52.2 x 11.9 x 5.9 inches
1326 x 163 x 295 mm
58.2 x 16.1 x 11.8 inches
1312 x 286 x 145 mm
56.5 x 15 x 11.5 inches
1361 × 406 × 785 mm
61.6 x 18.9 x 11.1 inches

Videos:

Roland FP-30

 

Yamaha P-115

Kawai ES-110

 

Korg SP-280

 

Buy now!


Professional level digital piano

To complete my list of 10 pianos, I also included 3 digital pianos I would consider to be on a professional level.

These 3 pianos are:

  • Roland FP-50
  • Yamaha P-255
  • Kawai MP-7
Digital PianoRoland FP-50Yamaha P-255Kawai MP-7
polyphony128256256
voices37224256
demo songs3074100+
InterfaceLine Out
Line In
MIDI
USB Memory
MIDI
Aux IN
Aux out
USB
Line Out
Line In
MIDI
USBry
MetronomeYesYesYes
RecordingYesYesYes
Speakers2 x 12W2 x 15W-
Headphone outYesYes (2)Yes
Sustain pedalYesYesYes
Weight16.5 kg
36 lbs
17.3 kg
52.3 lbs
21.0 kg
46 lbs.
Dimensions1343 x 313 x 125 mm
52.9 x 12.5 x 4.9 inches
1333 x 351 x 148 mm
59.9 x 18.8 x 10.6 inches
1352 x 339 x 171 mm
53.3 x 13.3 x 6.8 inches

Videos

Roland FP-50

 

Yamaha P-255

 

Kawai MP-7

 

Buy now!

More resources

Now I didn’t come up with al this information all by myself, I found this wonderful resource online called pianobuyer.com.

If you want more information on buying a piano, I would like to refer you to their website, just click on the banner below.

Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

 

Conclusion

There is a lot of choice when you are looking for a digital piano. I tried to give an honest review and overview of which pianos are actually suitable for the aspiring, begingin pianist.

Now that you have chosen your piano, you might want to read the post I wrote on how to learn to play the piano in 30 days.

Now it is up to you. Do you have any experience with one of these pianos? Or with any other piano for that matter?

Please let us know in the comments below.

 

If you think this blogpost is helpful, please share it on your social media pages, that would be highly appreciated.

Thank you for reading.


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