Tips on choosing a digital piano (and why I love the Casio Privia)

***This article contains links to my favorite keyboards, but they are not affiliate links and I am not being compensated for writing this article.***. (Just being a helper!)

As a performing pianist and piano teacher, I am frequently asked by about getting an instrument to practice on.  First off, while a real piano is nice to have, not everyone has the budget to buy one or the space to put it.  Having a digital piano also means you can practice in any space at any time, since you can use headphones.  (Hello, practicing after the kids have gone to bed!). Nowadays, there are excellent digital pianos that not only provide a good sound, but also mimic the feel of a real piano.  And, they never need to be tuned!

Here are my top tips for choosing the right digital piano for you.

1.  Choose an instrument that has 88 keys and has at least one decent piano sound.  Stick to instruments called “digital pianos” and avoid “synthesizers”, as they are very different products.  Digital pianos usually have weighted, touch-sensitive action which will feel more like a real piano and will be better for your technique.  Synthesizers are more for programming or recording and tend to have a lot of sounds but don’t often have weighted keys.

2.  Consider also where you will put your electric piano.  If you have a dedicated space for your electric piano and won’t need to move it often, you could get one that has a permanent built-in stand.  If you will need to put away the keyboard on a regular basis, or plan to use it for gigs or rehearsals elsewhere, you should probably purchase a keyboard with a separate stand.

3.  Choose a keyboard with built in speakers.  Some keyboards have built in speakers, which saves you having to purchase an amplifier.  Even if you plan on playing with headphones on most of the time, you will want a keyboard with built in speakers so you can play for others or just practice without headphones on all the time.

4.  Consider how you will use your digital piano.  Will you be playing rehearsals or gigs?  If so, you’ll need to make sure the keyboard is portable and has a spot where you can plug it into an amplifier.  If you plan to use your keyboard for writing or recording music, you will want to invest in something that is MIDI compatible so that you can plug it into the computer.

There is a wide range of cost for digital pianos, from less than $100 dollars to over $2000.  Generally speaking, a good quality keyboard will cost between $500-$800 and will include a power cord, a foot pedal and a music stand.   All of my picks have built in speakers and are MIDI compatible, which makes them perfect for home recording.

When purchasing gear, I always go to Sweetwater.  Not only do they have an excellent selection and really great prices, they also have the absolute best customer service around.  My sales engineer Cody Kraus has been super helpful every time I have questions or need help and he always keeps me posted when gear I’ve been looking at goes on sale.  He was even kind enough to give me suggestions and share his picks for this article!  (You can contact him at cody_kraus at sweetwater dot com. Tell him I sent you!)

Cody Kraus knows a lot about gear (and has great hair!)

My #1 top pick for keyboards that gives great bang for your buck is the Casio Privia PX-160 Digital Piano.  For only $599, it comes with a sturdy stand.  It doesn’t take up a lot of room and has built in speakers and a headphone jack.  I have a higher-end Casio Privia that has been gigging with me for years and I love the touch and sound.  This one is a terrific entry-level keyboard that comes with its own stand.

Cody says,   “The PX-160 is the best value on the market in terms of sound quality and feel. Flexible too! With a console stand option and only weighing in at 25lbs, it makes for a perfect home piano and a portable stage piano.”

For a bit more money, the Casio Privia PX-S1000 is a bit higher end.  For $649, it offers more options for touch sensitivity and a more complex piano sound.  You can pick up a portable stand for this one for less than $100.

Cody says, “Casio took all of the great features of the PX-160 up a notch with the PX-S1000. New slimmer design and soft touch buttons provide a more elegant experience while 88-key digital scaling and simulated string resonance bring the playing experience of this keyboard closer to that of an acoustic grand piano.”

I didn’t want to just sing the praises of my beloved Privia without giving you other options.  Here are a few other choices that are solid choices for your digitalpiano needs.

Yamaha is a trusted name in pianos and electric pianos alike and the Yamaha P-45 gets the job done.  It has a good sound and a decent touch and is a steal for only $499.  Make sure to buy a portable stand like this one and you’re good to go!

For the next level up, I recommend the Yamaha P-125 Digital Piano.  It comes with a few more whistles and bells for $649.   It has a solid piano sound and a few other sound choices, plus it is a well made and reliable keyboard.

Korg is another electronic instruments company with a great reputation and excellent products.  Their entry-level digital piano the Korg LP-180 Digital Piano is $649 and features all three foot pedals, which is a bonus.

For a higher end experience, the Korg SP-280 Digital Piano is $799 and has 30 different instrument sounds.  It also comes with its own stand.

While the Casio Privia remains my favorite, any of the digital pianos listed above will serve your purpose and will be great to practice and perform with.  If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.  If you want some great, personalized help while you prepare for this investment, reach out to Cody Kraus at Sweetwater.

Have you been searching for a digital piano?  Did this article help?  What instrument did you buy?  Leave a comment below!


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