Your Favorite Digital Pianos [buyer’s guide/popular choice]

In today’s episode of PianoTV, we’re at Long and McQuade to look at your favorite digital pianos (updated 2018).

I sent out a survey to you guys, and you told me what you loved (and didn’t love) about your digital pianos, and we crunched the data into a giant spreadsheet. From there, some clear patterns emerged.

Here are the categories (you can click the links to jump ahead, or scroll through the entire post to see them all):

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The most popular digital piano: Yamaha P45

Pros:

  • Cost ($499 USD on Amazon)
  • Good feel and sound

The Yamaha P45 is consistently recommended for beginners at the piano for two reasons – it’s a solid-quality digital piano from a top brand for a fantastic price.

Yamaha P45: Features

From Yamaha: The P-45 features a graded hammer standard (GHS) keyboard. The feel of the keyboard gradually changes according to the register, so that it feels heavier when playing bass parts and lighter when playing treble parts. The piano also features a keyboard with a natural feel, with black keys that feature a matte finish for authentic piano playing close to that of an acoustic piano.

This digital piano is probably the top one I’d recommend because it’s a good balance of quality and cost. Mind you, at the price of $499 USD, you’re not getting any bells and whistles – the special features are bare bones. But what it lacks in frills it makes up for in quality.

The lack of buttons and features could be a con for some – there isn’t any recording functionality, and a scant amount of sound effects. It does have a USB midi outlet for recording onto the computer in MIDI.

The weighting of the keys is surprisingly realistic on this piano. It’s lightweight and portable (depending on what stand you go with), and should be able to take a beginner through many years of learning.

Advanced students would probably want something more sophisticated, but I would be happy with this as a simple travel keyboard.

You have the option to purchase this furniture-style, with the nicer stand – or if you’re a piano player on the go, you can get the regular X-shaped stand. Furniture-style is nice because it’ll look good in whatever room you put it in, and it’s much more stable/less wobbly.

This was the clear favorite according to you guys – so many of you have the Yamaha P45 and love it. And after trying out a bunch of digital pianos, I’d have to agree that this is a top choice.

 

The most realistic digital piano (acoustic imitator): Yamaha CLP series

If you’re into the brand Yamaha, which many of you are (it was the most highly-voted brand according to you), but you’re looking for a more luxe option, the CLP (Clavinova) series is worth checking out.

These are beautiful digital pianos that, according to you, best imitate the sound and feel of a real acoustic piano. Perfect for those of you who are serious piano players, but might not be in a situation where you’re able to play an acoustic (like an apartment).

This is a series that wasn’t available at Long and McQuade on the floor, since it’s an older series – but I wanted to include it because many of you own and love digital pianos from the CLP series.

It’s a more expensive digital piano at around $2000 USD, which is what a higher-range Yamaha digital piano will run you.

According to Yamaha, it has a “Powerful sound and a superb wooden keyboard offer unprecedented levels of versatility to pianists of all abilities.”

You guys love the good-quality speakers and realistic touch/action, specifically its “virtual resonance modeling” which is a way they make their digital pianos sound so lifelike.

They’re beautiful and make lovely pieces of furniture, like you’d expect in this price range. It’s got a lot of frills, settings and sounds, so it’s easier to customize. You can customize everything from the style of piano to the reverb level to the brightness and beyond. It also has Bluetooth connectivity to hook up to your tablets and so on.

The biggest con for the CLP series would be the size and the price – these are digital pianos that are meant to stay put somewhere, like an acoustic piano – definitely not travel-friendly.

 

My favorite high-end option for a digital piano: Kawai CN37

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I love the Kawai CN37 which I tested out on the floor. It’s not something you’ll find on Amazon, so make sure to head to Long and McQuade in your area if you want to check it out!

This was definitely my favorite keyboard that I tried out today, though the price point definitely reflects that.

I loved the various piano sound presets, and I felt that it was very sensitive and expressive – the keys were really nuanced. I would highly recommend the digital pianos in the Kawai CN series!

You guys like the quality and look of this piano, all of the fun features (like built-in etudes), and the pedal quality.

A con a few of you have mentioned is that the quality through good headphones is much higher than through the built-in speakers, which I find would be the case with most of these keyboards. I personally found the CN37 to have quite good speakers, but it’s a newer model with better technology.

 

A good entry-level digital piano: Kawai ES100

Kawai is another solid brand if you’re in the market for digital pianos. The Kawai ES100 seems to be a favorite among you, and though I didn’t get to try it out in-store, I’m going to walk you through this keyboard online.

It’s comparable to the Yamaha P45 – it’s a little more expensive (currently $729 USD with the stand), but comparable in quality and simplicity, and also makes a great starter piano if you’re looking for alternatives to the P45.

Like the P45, you have the option of getting this with or without the furniture-style stand. It adds an extra $100 to the overall price, but it’s worth it for the look (X-stands are great for travel and live performances, but don’t look lovely in a living room).

One of you mentioned that over time, the tape under the keys can shift and become uneven with use, but Kawai has great customer service and can fix this problem no issue. The Kawai ES100 is a good affordable option from a reputable brand.

 

A well-rounded and well-loved series of digital pianos: Roland FP30/60/90

Roland has a series of digital pianos in varying degrees of fanciness/quality. You have the FP30, FP60, and FP90. You guys had a pretty decent mix of all three, so we’re going to touch on all three in this video (particularly the Roland FP30 and FP60).

The Roland FP30 is $699 USD (on Amazon), and would be in the same ballpark as the Yamaha P45 and Kawai ES100.

The Roland FP60 is fancier with more features, at $1399 USD.

The Roland FP90 is the fanciest at $1799 USD.

Roland FP30: features

Like other entry-level digital pianos, this one lacks the bells and whistles of more expensive options. There aren’t a lot of sound options beyond the basic “grand piano” sound, but fortunately the default is high-quality that feels natural to play.

Like some of the others, it has Bluetooth functionality (which seems to be becoming the norm nowadays), as well as a USB midi out. If you’re an iPad user, it connects neatly to Roland’s app for recording and so on.

A comment one of you made is to the harder edges of a cheaper digital piano like this one – the keys are more square and less rounded, so if you’re pressing loudly and playing for long periods of time, it can get a little uncomfortable on the fingers. Higher-quality digital and acoustic pianos don’t have this issue.

A few of you also mentioned it’s worth it to invest in a better pedal than the default one that the Roland FP30 comes with (which isn’t a big problem considering how inexpensive they are). You also mentioned that the internal metronome sound is hard to adjust and too loud.

Roland FP60: Features

According to Roland,

“If you need a quality piano for home, classroom or live performance, the FP-60 is a fantastic choice. This portable digital piano offers exceptional sound and touch housed in a sleek, stylish cabinet that looks great and is easy to transport. The specially designed onboard speaker system produces rich, impressive sound with ample projection for performing at small venues, while a range of non-piano sounds allow you to cover a variety of musical styles. And with modern Bluetooth® wireless connectivity built in, you can connect a smartphone or tablet and enhance your playing and practice sessions with Roland’s Piano Partner 2 and other music apps. The FP-60 offers truly outstanding value, delivering premium piano quality in a streamlined instrument that travels anywhere.”

One thing I really liked about the Roland FP60 when I was playing around with it was the levers for adjusting the tone of the piano – mids, highs and lows.

This was a really easy way to customize the sound for non-electronic-savvy people like myself, and would be very helpful in a performance setting, where you don’t know what kind of natural room sound you’re going to get.

If you’re willing to spend a little more, I like the added features of this one compared to an entry-level keyboard – the customization of sound is very foolproof, as mentioned. The built-in speakers sound very good, and this piano would be at-home in a living room just as well as on the road for a performer.

It connects to the Roland app via Bluetooth like the others, which is a really neat feature. I haven’t tried it personally, but you guys seem to really enjoy that. The Roland FP60 is my favorite mid-range choice.

Roland FP90: Features

Though I didn’t try this one out myself, you’ve told me that the sound of the Roland FP90 is incredible – it has proper grading and a very realistic feel. The keys are wooden and the speakers on the piano are high-quality.

It’s got special features such as a variety of realistic piano sounds and dozens of presets (and a full MIDI GM2 set). You can also record directly on the keyboard (or use with the iPad/iPhone app).

One of you mentioned a feature of the FP90 that I thought was particularly cool – the diary page. It background records your practice session and it stays stored in the keyboard’s memory for some amount of time (weeks at least). This allows you to revisit previous practice sessions, which can be really inspiring and useful.

If you’re interested in this beauty, check out a full list of features from Roland’s website.

 

A cheap digital piano: Korg B1

The Korg B1 is the cheapest digital piano on our list (USD $499, not including a stand), and is an option to consider if you’re really on a budget.You guys generally consider it a good choice if money is an issue – and you won’t get lower than this price unless you score a good used deal (or get a toy piano).

The keys are quite plastic-feeling and you’re not going to get a realistic acoustic sound from this simple keyboard, but it is decently weighted and has everything you need to begin learning piano. For the price I much prefer the Yamaha P45, but I encourage you to explore both options at your local music store.

 

A great digital piano for performers (luxe): Nord Piano 3

A brand that I’d never heard of, and a digital piano I’d never heard of, was the Nord Piano 3. There were a handful of you with this digital piano who absolutely raved about it.

Since it’s a luxe, premium option, not many of you have it – but you were enthusiastic enough that I had to include it.

One immediate benefit is its red color – which I have a special affinity for. My old performance keyboard was a red Korg and as such, I feel quite sentimental toward red keyboards. 😊

This truly is a stage piano – though it has a very eye-catching “furniture stand” for the home – and all of the presets really lend themselves to the live experience. If you’re a performing pianist/keyboardist looking for something awesome, the Nord Piano 3 is definitely worth checking out.

Nord Piano 3: Features

One great thing about this digital piano is its mass of presets – you can get a Steinway sound, a Bosendorfer, all sizes and shapes of pianos like upright, baby grand, and so on.

Aside from the piano presets, there are also plenty of other customizations you can make to the sound including reverb/ambience, resonance and so on.

The accessories that it comes with – travel case, pedal, etc – are all top-quality.

One downside you’ve mentioned is the “digital diary” space – you’d almost definitely want to connect it to your laptop in order to make more space for saving presets (especially if you’re performing and recording).

 

A keyboard I own (and don’t love): Yamaha P115

This whole post is a list of favorites, but I thought it would also be prudent to mention a non-favorite, since a lot of you talked about it, and I also happen to own it.

Another digital piano that’s often recommended for beginners is the Yamaha P115. I actually have this one as my simple travel keyboard – it was inexpensive, it’s pretty lightweight, and I tend to prefer Yamaha-brand keyboards.

In all honesty I prefer the sound of the P45 – I find the P115 loses a lot of “oomph” in a loud and live setting. It’s very mellow and doesn’t have a lot of clarity at higher volumes. It’s also frill-free, so there’s not much to be customized on this one (like the P45).

Many of you seemed to agree, and were divided on your opinions of the P115 – some of you like it, some of you don’t. The main reason I wanted to mention it was because it’s often recommended, and because I have one and can speak about it more personally.

The Yamaha P115 is currently $569.99 USD on Amazon without stands or anything, so it’s one of the cheapest options on this list. I would skip it and go for the P45, or even the Korg B1 if you really want something at the lowest possible price point.

Final word on your favorite digital pianos

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying a digital piano, whether it’s your first one or an upgrade. Hopefully this gives you an idea of where to look, and what other adult piano students are using and enjoying.

In the future we’ll go more in-depth on individual keyboards/pianos – this video is meant more as an overview. Hopefully it’s given you some perspective!

xo,

Allysia

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