Here are the Best Digital Pianos:
The best digital piano with 88 weighted keys (full-size) is the Yamaha P71 (Amazon). You can actually feel the weight of each key under your fingers (just like a real piano) when playing the P71.
For classical pianists, the Casio Privia PX-160 (Amazon) is the best digital piano to buy for under $1,000.
If you're an absolute beginner or just brushing up on your piano skills, the Yamaha P71 (Amazon) is once again an excellent option. You'll feel as if you're playing an actual upright or grand piano when practicing on the P71.
Are you an advanced player? Do you frequently perform on stage, or intend to? Then the Nord Stage 3 88-Key (Amazon) is the way you want to go. It's fairly expensive, but it sure does pay off in the long run with its capabilities and quality.
And if you're just looking for a cheap, budget option to buy as a keyboard (maybe a practice digital piano for your child, for example), then the Alesis Recital 88-Key (Amazon) would be a great option.
A good digital/electric piano can be hard to find. You have to juggle the price and the quality to find one that’s a good fit.
And it’s not a decision to take lightly -- getting a good digital piano is a big, important purchase that you want to get right the first time around.
In the last several weeks, I’ve looked at 30 digital pianos through a microscope in order to pick out all their features and flaws and ultimately narrow them down to a few great ones.
Here’s What I Looked At
I looked at digital pianos with weighted keys, pianos for classical music, for absolute beginners, budget pianos that won’t break the bank, and professional pianos to suit more advanced players (these were more along the lines of playing on stage & portable pianos to carry around to performances).Based on your skill level and experience your needs will change, albeit slightly.
Don’t Buy “Too Much Piano” for Your Level
If you’re thinking, “why not just buy an amazing piano up front?!”, you won’t be wrong in thinking that. You can get a good professional piano up front, but you don’t have to.
If you’re just learning to play, you don’t want to get a super advanced digital piano for over $1,000 -- that would be “overkill”.
You’d want to go with a reliable, more affordable piano to practice on.
If, however, you needed a digital piano for an upcoming stage performance with a significant audience, I’d say get a higher end model without blinking twice. It all depends on the application.
3 Choice Factors: Reliability, Weighted Keys, and a Great Dynamic Range
Here are a few things you do want in the piano you buy.
As you’d expect, you want a reliable piano that’s going to last you at least several years. On top of that, it's a good idea to pick one with weighted keys and a good dynamic range. This will help you develop good technique as you play so you can easily transition to acoustic and grand pianos further down the line.
And of course, it goes without saying that the digital piano’s sound quality should be comparable to a real acoustic upright or grand piano.
Best Digital Piano with Weighted Keys (Weighted Keyboards)
The best digital piano with weighted keys is the Yamaha P71 (available on Amazon).
To recap the benefits of weighted keys once more (even if you’re a beginner), I’ll start by saying that you want as little of a difference as possible between the digital piano you’ll practice on and a typical grand or upright piano.
You should be able to feel the weight of each key under your fingers during every single practice session. It’s the best way to learn, plain and simple.
I’ve actually had a bad experience with this roughly a year back. I bought a really small (49 key) MIDI keyboard to record some music on my computer (it was the Axiom 49).
Even though the keys claimed to have been “weighted” it was extremely subtle. There was some resistance, but it didn’t feel like a genuine acoustic piano. So, as it goes, I played it for roughly 3 weeks nonstop and recorded some great songs, but then I had to go and play on a Grand Piano.
Oh boy, was that a rough warm-up session. My fingers were so used to the smaller MIDI keyboard with lightly weighted keys, I had to sit there and re-adjust to a regular Grand Piano for a little over an hour.
It throws your sensitivity and muscle memory for a loop, making it hard to re-adjust for volume (e.g. playing sections quietly in piano then switching over to loud forte).
The point here is, get some genuine-feeling weighted keys like the ones on the Yamaha P71 (Amazon) and you won’t regret it.
It’ll make your life easier down the line and let you practice on a piano that actually feels like the real thing. Don’t skimp on your keys!
Thinking just a little bit into the future and practicing on a quality, weighted keyboard will pay dividends for years to come.
Best Digital Piano for Classical Pianists (Under $1000)
Weighted keys with resistance are absolutely critical in building up good playing technique, especially when it comes to classical piano.
If you’d like more details as to why this is, read the previous section about weighted keys on digital pianos. I go into detail about the benefits and share a personal example of where buying a ‘semi-weighted’ MIDI keyboard ruined my technique on regular acoustic pianos (like the Grand Piano I had to play).
Anyways, let’s get to the core question here. You’re learning and/or already playing some classical piano and need a good digital keyboard to practice on.
For anyone in this situation, I’d recommend the Casio Privia PX-160 (available on Amazon).
Why? Well, first off it sounds incredible! The sound quality is definitely there.
It has a built-in speaker system (redesigned with the new PX-160 model, it looks sleek) and contains two 1/4 inch headphone jacks for left and right line outputs.
This Casio has all three pedals: una corda, sostenuto, sustain. This is important because some classical music (I can think of Debussy off the top of my head) requires the use of sostenuto. Some classical pieces (such as Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4) directly call out una corda.
Therefore, if you don’t want to limit yourself, having a good digital keyboard with all three pedals is a massive plus! I wrote a more detailed article about piano pedals here if you’re interested in learning the difference between the three.
All in all, the Casio Privia PX-160 is the ideal digital piano for any classical music you’d play. If you’re looking for something great, you can check out the Privia PX-160 on Amazon.
Best Digital Piano for Beginners (Under $500)
Yamaha P71 88-Key (Full-Size) Keyboard
If you’re just getting started with piano and want to build up some good technique while you learn (as you should!), I’d recommend going with the Yamaha P71 (Amazon).
It has 88 weighted keys (full-size piano) that’ll help you easily transition to an upright or grand piano in the future.
The P71 has great sound quality (contains sampled piano tones that Yamaha recorded from actual real grand pianos) and comes with a sustain pedal out of the box.
The sustain pedal is really the only pedal you’ll actually need when learning piano, so this is essentially a “piano starter kit” with all of the essentials.
Another big plus is in how light this piano is -- it comes in at just 25 lbs! This makes it extremely easy to carry around, transport, and practice with in different locations if the need ever arises.
This isn’t your typical cheap keyboard that’s going to fall into pieces after a month either. I’d expect this to last several years for sure if you take good care of it. Yamaha has a 3-year warranty on P-Series pianos in case it malfunctions or becomes defective.
To sum it up, I’d get the Yamaha P71 (it’s available from Amazon) if you’re just getting started and want something that can grow with you.
Even as you start getting more advanced and playing better and better, you can expect this Yamaha to stick with you and continue to perform.
As always, do additional research, criticize, critique, and do anything you need to do to make the best decision you can. Hopefully, this summary of mine helped point you in the right direction -- good luck!
RockJam 61-Key Superkit (Headphones, Power Supply, Stand, and Stool)
If you’re looking for a budget option and don’t care about weighted keys or having a full-sized, realistic keyboard, then the RockJam (Amazon) can be a good option.
This is a piano made for absolute beginners, and it particularly suits younger players fairly well.
The RockJam 61 is a popular digital piano due to its price and the fact that it comes with a full kit. You don’t have to buy anything separately when you’ve got your headphones, power supply, stand, and stool all in one go.
Although it's not the first digital piano I’d personally recommend (because it isn’t as realistic as a weighted, 88-key piano), I can’t deny that its a good option for kids just learning to play the piano.
Best Digital Piano for Advanced Pianists
It’s a pricey one, but if you’ve been around any major band performances close-up, you’ll know that the Nord Stage (Amazon) is the go-to brand in most circles.
If you look at the stage setups of some of the most popular bands today, you’ll notice a signature red Nord keyboard sitting up there with the piano player. It’s hard to miss once you what to look for.
All that being said, if you’re looking for a top of the line professional keyboard, you can’t overlook the Nord.
With regards to sound quality and performance, you’d be hard pressed to find something better. This keyboard is absolutely remarkable with its output audio quality.
Another big plus is the portability -- you can carry it around and travel with it fairly easily (it comes in at ~27.3 lbs).
Being a professional keyboard, it doesn’t have any speakers built-in to the keyboard itself. You’ll need an amp and some external speakers to get the Nord up and running in a stage setup.
There is a headphone jack (1/4 inch), so that could be a great option for some quiet practice sessions.
All in all, this is as good as you’ll get when it comes to digital pianos. It’s jam-packed with features and it may take a while to learn all of its bells and whistles, but once you know how to work it, you’ll have an endless array of acoustic, organ, and synth programmable sounds to play with.
Nord has an Amazon listing for the Stage 3 over here if you want to take a peek.
The Best Budget Digital Piano (Under $300)
When your budget is running low and you still need a great sounding keyboard, I’d recommend the Alesis Recital 88-Key (Amazon).
As you would expect, going with a cheaper option is going to ultimately compromise on some features. This is true with the Alesis Recital, particularly in the fact that it only has semi-weighted keys (not fully weighted like a real piano).
If you’ve read my thoughts above (in the weighted digital pianos section) about why I prefer weighted keys, you’ll know where I personally stand on the topic, but that’s just my opinion.
If you’re really looking to get playing as soon as possible and not break the bank, I’d say go for the Alesis Recital (Amazon) and then transition to a realistic weighted keyboard whenever you get the chance.
You’ll still be able to learn and play music on this keyboard at your leisure, and you’ll still be able to play practically anything you’d like!
After all, it still has 88 keys and will almost feel like a real piano. For the price, this can be a worthwhile investment into your piano-learning journey.
Wrapping It Up
Choosing a great digital piano can be tough. What brand should I pick? How much should I spend? How do I know if a piano is actually good?
You may have thought some of these things along the way, and that’s perfectly normal. I did the same thing when buying my first digital piano.
It all comes down to what you like the most and what you feel will fit your needs best. This is why I tried breaking these up into sections around classical pianos, advanced pianos capable of stage performances, and beginner pianos for newbies.
Whatever your needs may be, the choice is ultimately yours. I wish you the best of luck in your piano searching journey -- you’ll find that perfect keyboard soon enough!
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