When it comes to beginner digital pianos in 2020, the market is not lacking for options. A quick browse of Amazon will show just how many products are currently available in the entry-level price range. In this buying guide type article, we’re going to offer some tips as to what your focus should be on when considering an 88-key digital piano to help you in making a purchase you can feel great about. While we’re not going to tell you what we think the best beginner digital piano is, hopefully, this article will give you the tools to make that determination for yourself.
Best Digital Pianos for Beginners in 2020 Review Video Transcription
If you’ve clicked on this article, there’s a good chance that you’re in the marketplace for a beginner keyboard piano and you’re looking for some guidance. There are quite a few options in this part of the market, and you’ll see models come up like the Yamaha P-45 Digital Piano, Yamaha P-125 Digital Piano, the Roland FP-10 Digital Piano, the Roland FP-30 Digital Piano, Kawai’s ES110 Digital Piano, and maybe the Korg B1SP is on that list. Casio Privia has a few notable entries as well, like the Casio Privia PX-160 Digital Piano and the PX-S1000 Digital Piano. There’s probably a list of 12 or 13 models that you are going to be trying to research through and understand what those differences are. The point of this article is to distill some of that information down and provide some advice as to what your main considerations should be, rather than recommending one specific piano, to help you in making an informed decision. With that being said, here are three key focus points to keep in mind as you’re researching and shopping.
Focus Point 1: Key Action:
There are certain things that it makes sense to prioritize when you’re looking through lists of features and specifications when trying to understand what’s going to be the best keyboard fit for your son or your daughter, or even for yourself. Key action is of critical importance. There are a lot of piano teachers who are going to tell you that a good quality piano action is probably the most important thing that you should focus on when you’re shopping for a portable keyboard, portable digital piano, or home digital piano. I totally agree with the above statement and this is why; when someone is first starting to learn piano, the process is very mechanical and essentially a rote type of process for the first several months or so as the student is starting to figure out how to move their fingers and make the associations between music notation on a page and the sound they’re hearing, along with the mechanical motion of the key.
One of the great things about the piano as an instrument is the player’s ability to change the volume depending on how hard or how soft the key is hit. A touch-sensitive key with the right resistance, weighted keys, a graded hammer action and the right number of keys are going to give a student much more feedback in terms of what they’re doing with their fingers than one where there’s either very little resistance of touch response or where the touch sensitivity is extremely basic, such as what you’ll find with basic piano keyboards and synthesizers. A regular full-size acoustic piano has 88-keys notes, so an 88-key weighted action digital piano ensures that the student will be developing the right type of muscle control.
Two actions that I really enjoy as a piano player that are available in inexpensive models are the Roland PHA-4 action (starting in the Roland FP10), as well as Kawai’s Responsive Hammer Compact action (starting in the Kawai ES110). Both of these actions boast triple sensors which are important for accuracy, and both are well regarded in the industry in terms of overall reliability and durability. Without spending thousands and thousands of dollars, these are the actions which I strongly believe are going to simulate a real piano very well for somebody who’s just starting out.
Focus Point 2: Piano Sound Quality:
After making sure the action in the pianos you’re considering is something that is going to give those young fingers a good sense of control and dynamic range, the second thing that I would suggest focusing on would be a really great concert grand piano or upright piano tone. This is something that I think is relatively common once you step-up into the $1,500 range or $2,000 range, but there’s obviously going to be a huge part of the buying public out there that doesn’t want to spend $2,000 on their very first electronic keyboard. If you’re wanting to be under a thousand dollars and close to the $500 mark, focusing on something that’s got a great onboard piano sound engine is going to just lead to more engagement from the student. The closer that their piano at home sounds like the teacher’s piano, or the closer it sounds to a piano that they’re going to hear on a recording, the more it’s going to feel like they’re in front of a real instrument instead of kind of a toy.
When it comes to getting a good piano sound, the onboard speaker system doesn’t necessarily have to be great as there’s a good chance a student will be doing some practicing with headphones. Regardless of speaker quality, playing with headphones ensures high quality sounds every time. Polyphony is something you’ll see come up often, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it as it’s not going to matter much for solo piano playing, especially for beginners.
The piano sound is quite subjective at a certain point, so it’s a good idea to consult with the teacher or friend who knows pianos and can help advise with regards to sound. I have my personal favorites, I happen to think that Roland’s FP-10 is a killer piano for the price, especially in terms of the type of tone it delivers. But it’s not the only one out there in that range and you can go and find some others.
Focus Point #3: Don’t Get Distracted by Bells & Whistles
This is an important one; try not to get distracted by how many other onboard features or sounds a given digital piano might have. These are things that can easily be simulated with external devices, with a simple connection via Bluetooth in many cases. When lots of extra features are included on-board at the beginner price point it’s often at the expense of the musical instrument experience by sacrificing the quality of the action and sound. In some cases, you’ll have teachers that will argue that all of those onboard features create more distraction than engagement. That’s more of a philosophical difference and I’m not going to wade into that argument, but its important to keep that perspective in mind, and critical features like a sustain pedal and built-in metronome are included in virtually every digital piano on the market these days.
To be clear, it’s not that I don’t think that accompaniment features or tons of different sounds, such as electric piano, strings, and woodwinds could be fun, but electing to go with an instrument that has those things onboard at the sacrifice of either good action or good piano tone doesn’t make sense because you can replicate these features easily with an external device. In the year 2020, you can get great action and great piano sound if you do your shopping and research well, certainly well under the $1,000 price tag, and good action and sound are the most important aspects for learning piano successfully.
I hope these thoughts have been helpful. I wish you the best of luck with your shopping. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via our website or by phone if you have any questions as we would be happy to help!