If you’re in the market for a digital piano but have very little knowledge on what to buy and why, then we’ve got you covered. With such a huge range of digital and acoustic pianos to choose from, it’s important to know what you need and what you don’t.
First of all, should you buy a digital or real acoustic piano?
There are pros and cons for both, but generally speaking I would always recommend a digital piano because they are much cheaper, produce a better quality sound for the price, and are very easy to transport. Acoustic pianos are great if you can afford one, don’t mind paying the transport costs, have lots of space, and have no problems paying for it to be tuned 3-4 times a year. But for most people it’s too much of a hassle to buy an acoustic piano.
So if you want to pay less but still have an amazing piano sound, then digital is certainly the way to go. Here are the 5 things to look out for when buying a digital piano.
1. Has it got weighted keys?
The hallmark of a piano is the weighted keys. You can buy some digital pianos or keyboards that have non-weighted keys, but this wouldn’t make it authentic. The whole concept behind the digital piano is to emulate a real acoustic one, which is why having weighted keys would be a must.
You can learn to play on a keyboard if you are beginner looking to spend as little as possible, and I would certainly recommend a keyboard for a small child – but if you want to buy a proper digital piano then you must request weighted keys.
Try to also watch out for anything which says ‘touch sensitive’ or ‘semi-weighted keys’ as this doesn’t mean weighted. Touch sensitivity means the keys play louder or softer depending on how hard you play them, and isn’t anything to do with the weight of the keys. Be careful not to get blind sided by any other technical jargon that a shop owner may throw at you.
Why do you need weighted keys?
An advanced player would see weighted keys as a necessity. But that doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t have them right from the start. A beginner is required to strengthen their hands through exercises like scales, which will help them to play pieces quickly and accurately. Having weighted keys is essential for building up strength and dexterity.
For more information on why weighted keys are a benefit to your playing – The importance of weighted keys.
2. How many keys does it have?
A full size piano would have 88 keys. This is the standard amount for acoustic and most digital pianos. But do you really need that many keys?
88 keys aren’t essential for a beginner, and if you were looking to save a little money you could opt for just 61. There are some fantastic digital pianos out there with just 61 keys, like the Yamaha NP12 or even the Yamaha NP32 which has 76 keys – but both don’t come with fully weighted keys. This isn’t necessarily a huge problem, especially if you are a beginner. You will still be able to make huge progressions with any of the two digital pianos above, and you could always consider upgrading to fully weighted keys in a year or two.
For the most part you will come across a digital piano that has 88 keys, like the Yamaha P-45B which also has Graded Hammer Standard (GHS). This means that the keys are slightly heavier at the bottom and gradually get lighter at the top. This isn’t an essential feature, but at only £325 for the Yamaha P-45B it’s an amazing feature that’s included.
So if you want to put weighted keys at the top of your list then you are likely going to have to get an 88 key digital piano. But when you can buy a digital piano for less than £300 like the Roland GO 88P that has 88 weighted keys, you clearly don’t have to break the bank to get what you want.
3. What is the sound quality like?
Most modern digital pianos emulate the sound of a real acoustic piano very well, and naturally the more you spend the better the sound gets. But that doesn’t mean to say you have to spend lots of money just to get something which remotely resembles a piano.
Take a look at the video below of the Casio CDP-S100 which is a fully weighted 88 key digital piano. The piano sound is fantastic and this only costs around £285.00!
What I love about digital pianos is that they sound just as good as most acoustic pianos which cost thousands of pounds. They are lightweight and can be placed anywhere in the home without taking up hardly any space.
So if you are worried about the sound quality of a particular digital piano you have your eye on, then I would recommend going to YouTube and listen to a demo of it. Better still, you could also consider any of the digital pianos I recommend on here today as I have reviewed them all.
4. How portable is it?
Another benefit to buying a digital piano is how easy they are to transport. They can be easily delivered to your home if ordered online, or you can put them in the back of your car if bought from a local music shop. The cost of transporting an acoustic piano could get into the hundreds of pounds – an added expense you may not want.
One thing to bear in mind however is that although there is a huge difference in weight between an acoustic and a digital piano, the latter can still be quite heavy. So you may need two people to carry it to the car and into the house.
I have bought some expensive and heavy digital pianos over the years and I am able to carry them by myself in a carry case. I used to gig a lot in my younger days so I got used to the weight. So you can clearly see how easy it would be for two people.
5. How much does it cost to buy a digital piano?
Prices haven’t changed dramatically over the past 15 years or so, but what has changed is the quality. Learning to play the piano has never been easier, and prices start from around £200 and obviously go into the thousands. But even an advanced player wouldn’t need to spend anything more than £200 if their budget didn’t stretch further.
Digital pianos are fantastic value for money and I would highly recommend them to anyone – no matter what level they play at. Sure, if you are a professional or advanced player then you are likely going to spend quite a bit on a piano. The more you spend the more you get – but for a beginner looking to purchase their first digital piano I would highly recommend the Casio CDP-S100 at around £285 or the DP-6 which is only £320 and comes with comes with stand, stool and headphones.