Sifting through digital piano reviews can be a time-consuming task, but it’s important to find the right fit when you’re purchasing your first piano or keyboard! Here, Powell, OH teacher Sara Marie B. shares her top 5 options to consider…
Whether you’re a pianist without the space for an acoustic piano, you want something portable, or you just prefer the bells and whistles of a keyboard, it can be difficult for pianists to find keyboards that really fit all of our requirements.
Most importantly, however, as you begin learning how to play the piano, you should have a keyboard that feels and sounds as much like a piano as possible. Some of the requirements to look for are weighted keys, real-size keys, at least 66 keys (but preferably 88), a sustain pedal, touch-tone sensitivity, piano action, well-sampled piano sounds, an adjustable stand, and an adjustable bench.
When the keyboard is not realistic enough (meaning, it is not enough like an actual acoustic piano), your learning may be hampered when performing live on an acoustic piano. And if you do anything in the way of events, recitals, group classes, talent shows, or even playing for fun in the back of a favorite bar, if the acoustic piano feels too foreign then the results will be frustrating. Dynamics will be harder to produce, keys may be missed due to being used to another weight of keys that is unlike an acoustic piano, and tone quality may be poor. Having a keyboard that mimics the function of an acoustic piano is vital.
Here are five of the best keyboards for piano players that I recommend to my students if an acoustic piano purchase is not possible (all are under $2,000 retail price!), with descriptions taken directly from merchandiser websites, in part or in whole:
Korg SP-170s Digital Piano
The new Natural Weighted Hammer Action keyboard is accurately weighted like a traditional piano, with a heavier touch in the lower ranges and becoming progressively lighter in the higher registers. Three levels of Key Touch Control allow the keyboard response to be matched to nearly any playing style, preserving all of the subtle expression of the original performance.
Yamaha P35B 88-key Digital Keyboard
As the entry level to the hugely popular P-Series digital pianos, the P35 brings together everything an aspiring pianist needs to develop: high-quality AWM (Advanced Waveform Memory) samples, an easy to understand interface, and a slim 88-key graded hammer action for maximum portability. Sheet music stand, power supply and pedal/footswitch are all included.
Yamaha YDP-V240 Arius 88 Key Digital Piano
The Yamaha YDP-V240 is an ensemble console digital piano featuring 88-note Graded Hammer Standard weighted Action. It has the authentic look, feel and most importantly the sound of an expensive acoustic Grand piano. Its 88-key graded hammer action keyboard delivers all the expressiveness, depth and subtle nuances to satisfy even the most demanding pianist, from developing student to seasoned professional.
Kawai KDP-90 Digital Piano
The Kawai KDP-90 Digital Piano is designed using its Advanced Hammer Action IV (AHAIV-F) as an 88-note, “graded” keyboard, formed from extremely accurate stereo “maps” of sections through the entire dynamic range of the original piano. Touch and response authentically reproduce the feel of a grand piano.
Casio Privia PX-850 88 Weighted-Key Digital Piano
The PX-850 is the flagship digital piano from Casio’s Privia line, with big sound and amazing tones. The PX-850 has the advanced AiR sound set providing an additional level of realism including grand piano lid simulation and sympathetic resonance. This 88-key digital piano also has a dual 20W speaker system and a cabinet that opens, providing a rich concert sound.
Whatever you buy, just remember to make sure that you are able to sit properly at the keyboard (adjustable bench, adjustable stand) and that the keyboard is as similar to an acoustic piano as you can find. You probably won’t be able to find these at your nearby big-box stores, so take a trip to the music store nearest you and begin exploring the quality keyboards available for pianists of all levels!
Looking for additional digital piano reviews? Check out some of our favorite resources here:
Sara Marie B. teaches piano, singing, songwriting, music theory, and more in Powell, OH, as well as online. She has been teaching music lessons since 1992, and has been involved in music and performance since 1983. Learn more about Sara Marie here!
Photo by Neil Rickards