Tips and info to help you pick the right digital piano for your home
Buying a digital piano for your home? Choosing an instrument can be intimidating, exhilarating, frightening, and wonderful all at the same time. With so many options available, it can leave you overwhelmed and content to just play the radio. You’re not alone! We’ve all been there and are here to help you navigate your way through this crazy maze and find your way to the instrument that works best for you. First, we’ll go through a few benefits of purchasing a digital piano. Then it’s time to define a few terms you’ll see throughout your browsing. Finally, we end with a few recommendations at a variety of price points and applications.
Pricing - One of the largest benefits to purchasing a digital piano is the variety of affordable price points for you to choose from. Acoustic pianos are generally tens of thousands of dollars, especially for a new instrument. At Kraft Music, you can choose the right digital piano based on your budget, starting as low as $449.99 and going up to $15,799.99.
Maintenance - Have you ever heard a piano that sounds like it should be in a saloon in Arizona back in 1878? That usually means that the piano is in desperate need of tuning. Acoustic pianos need to be tuned regularly, which can be a bit of a chore. Piano tuners are increasingly difficult to find and have a very specialized set of skills. You never need to tune a digital piano, and it does not require any regular maintenance. Take it out of the box and you’re set to go!
Portability - If you’ve ever gotten an estimate for moving grandma’s piano into your house, you’ll know it is not cheap... and for good reason. Acoustic pianos are extremely heavy (hundreds of pounds), large, awkward, and they have a lot of internal mechanics that are actually quite fragile. When looking at digital pianos, there are many options for portable models that weigh as little as 25 pounds. Many of the larger digital pianos can also be moved by two able-bodied people.
Features - Even the most basic of digital pianos will have several different sounds, a metronome, and a few other simple functions. Another amazing benefit of digital pianos is the ability to control the volume. Not only can you easily adjust the volume on any digital piano like a stereo or TV, but you can also plug in headphones. This means you can practice at any time without waking up the house or your neighbors. Other features found on some models include multi-track recording, iPad compatibility, auto-accompaniments, and much more. If you’re not interested in any of those features, there are plenty of options that keep things simple and focused on playing piano too.
Key Action - This term is typically used to describe how the keys feel compared to an acoustic piano. Acoustic pianos have an internal mechanism called a hammer, which strikes the string within the piano. Each manufacturer has their own name for their specific design or type of key action, but you’ll most often see the word “hammer” incorporated into that. For example, Yamaha’s key action on a P-125 digital piano is called Graded Hammer Standard. Hammer-weighted keys are a critical component as they’ll be heavier, better replicating the wooden key of an acoustic. This is vital for beginners so they build strength, endurance, and dexterity. Digital pianos also have something called graded or scaled action. That means the keys on the left will feel heavier than those on the right, just like an acoustic piano. Every acoustic piano has a graded hammer action and its own unique tone and feel. The same is true for digital pianos. Some hammer actions are heavier and have a lighter touch. If you're a continuing player, you likely already have a preference for a lighter or a heavier touch.
Keyboard & Digital Piano - Aren’t these the same thing? While many of us use those terms interchangeably, they can be very different. By definition, a digital piano will have 88 hammer-weighted keys. Conversely, a keyboard or synthesizer wouldn’t necessarily have 88 keys and will most often have a much lighter touch, more like a spring-loaded action. You’ll see terms like non-weighted, synth-touch, graded soft touch, and semi-weighted when it is a keyboard. If you are looking to learn or play piano, a digital piano is what you’re looking for.
Polyphony - This is a really fancy word that indicates how many notes (or voices) can be played at the same time. If you exceed that number, notes will start to drop out. A great common question regarding polyphony is, “I only have 10 fingers, why would I want it to be more than that?” There are two instances where this really matters in practical applications. The first is when using the sustain pedal. The sustain pedal allows a note to be held so you can move your finger to another note after you release the key. If you played notes with all 10 fingers while holding the sustain pedal, then do the same thing on 10 different notes, that’s 20 voices of polyphony. Second, if you layer a string sound on top of a piano sound, that doubles the number of voices used with each note played. So using the example of the sustain pedal and adding the layering of the strings, you’ve reached 40 voices of polyphony right away. This used to be a much more important feature to pay attention to, but most manufacturers now have more than enough polyphony.
Straight-Forward Digital Pianos
Yamaha P-125 Digital Piano - Following in the footsteps of the P-105, P-115, and many models before, Yamaha continues to make improvements to their P series. The primary purpose of the P-125 is to be a simple and solid digital piano for practice and performance. This model has the capability of adding a matching furniture style stand and triple pedal unit as well. Great sounds, simple controls, and fantastic feeling keys are highlights on the P-125, all at a friendly price point. Click here to shop.
Casio Privia PX-160 Digital Piano - The Casio Privia PX-160 is the direct replacement of the enormously popular PX-150. Their sleek design innovations include a compact frame and speakers that project in a variety of environments, from directly against a wall to a classroom. Casio has packed an accurate key action and easy-to-use basic functions into one of the most affordable digital pianos available. Click here to shop.
Roland RP501R Digital Piano - Compact and family friendly, the RP501R features a full console style cabinet, built-in triple pedal unit, and expressive sounds and action. Turn this digital piano on and you’re ready to make music with no distractions. There are some features within this unit if you want them, but this is an excellent option for straight-forward piano playing. Click here to shop.
Yamaha Clavinova CLP Series - Yamaha’s CLP series of digital pianos aims to give you incredible sounds, powerful speakers, and simple features, all housed within a traditional and elegant cabinet. These pianos have the rich and expertly sampled sounds you’d expect from Yamaha, partnered with a key action that not only feels great to the touch, but is realistic as well. Click here to shop.
Feature-Filled Digital Pianos
Yamaha DGX-660 Portable Grand Digital Piano - Utilizing the same great key action as the Yamaha P-125, the DGX-660 adds an incredible amount of features to keep playing music fun. This piano has over 500 sounds, over 200 rhythm patterns, an easy-to-read score and lyric display, and a 6-track song recorder to capture a performance or song idea. As an added bonus for singers, the DGX-660 also has ¼” microphone input so you can sing along with your favorite songs. This is a wonderful instrument for creative players and students who want to explore new possibilities. Click here to shop.
Casio CGP-700 Digital Piano - The CGP-700 is a versatile, compact, and exquisite sounding digital piano. It features an impressive 6 speaker sound system, including two low-frequency speakers in the included stand. Because of the beautiful color touchscreen at the center of this model, players won’t have any difficulty navigating the expansive sounds, accompaniments, and song recorder. There is a ton of value packed into this digital piano. Click here to shop.
Yamaha Clavinova CSP and CVP Series - Setting themselves apart from the traditional CLP series, both the CSP and CVP Clavinova digital pianos are stacked with features and technology. The CSP is a tablet based, app-driven smart piano with over 700 sounds, stream lights to help you learn, and intuitive accompaniments. The CVP series takes entertainment to a new level with karaoke, vocal functions, and detailed preset style accompaniments. It also features follow lights that let you lead the way while showing you the right notes to play. Click here to shop.
Kawai CA48 Concert Artist Digital Piano - When you sit down at the Kawai CA48, you’ll immediately be floored by how amazing the wooden key action feels. There is an incredible amount of attention to detail in the mechanics of the keys that could only come from a premium piano manufacturer like Kawai. Add in Bluetooth connectivity, built-in lesson songs, and a stunning 4 speaker sound system and you’ve got a truly impressive digital piano. Click here to shop.
Top Portable Options
Korg B1 Digital Piano - The B1 weighs just over 25 lbs and is very slim for easy storage. Korg has created a truly state-of-the-art speaker system that features an enhanced low end, which makes this instrument sound incredible. Additional features include 8 sounds, a metronome, and an easy to use partner mode. All of these combine to make this ideal for a piano student on the go. Click here to shop.
Casio Privia PX-360 Digital Piano - Here is a compact and lightweight digital piano that includes a touch screen, over 500 sounds, 200 rhythm patterns, and a 17 track song recorder. The PX-360 is an adaptable model that checks a lot of boxes in terms of flexibility and potential uses, including easy transport to and from gigs, studios, lessons, and anything in between. Click here to shop.
Yamaha P-121 Digital Piano - The P-121 is quite unique in that it has only 73 keys but still retains the authentic and hammer-weighted key action that is included in all of these models. It is extremely portable and can fit in tight spaces where an 88 key model would not. Perfect for apartments, dorm rooms, condos, and traveling to a quick practice, the Yamaha P-121 is worth a look. Click here to shop.
Top Furniture Options
Yamaha Clavinova Series - From slim console to baby grand piano style, the Clavinova line of digital pianos has the right look and functionality for your home. There are modern and traditional designs with color choices available as well. Whether you want the straight-forward functionality of the CLP series, or the technologically impressive and feature-filled CSP or CVP, the Clavinova line has no shortage of options. Click here to shop.
Kawai Concert Artist Series - Sophisticated and classic, Kawai brings nearly 100 years of piano manufacturing experience to their fantastic Concert Artist. The design will perfectly compliment most homes or studios, giving any space an air of refinement. Kawai’s wooden keys and 4 speaker sound system give the CA48 and CA58 models a significant edge. Click here to shop.
Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid Series - Striking a beautiful balance between classic and modern styles, Casio’s Grand Hybrid series includes three expertly recreated grand piano tones for you to choose from. In addition, Casio’s exclusive six-speaker amplification system gives you a authentic experience. The Hybrid Series also has an adjustable lid to not only change the physical characteristics of the sound, but it also works with the internal sound engine to accurately replicate an adjustable lid on an acoustic piano. Click here to shop.