5 Options For Buying An Affordable Digital Piano

If you’ve decided that you want to avoid the constant and expensive maintenance of an upright acoustic piano, but you want to have an instrument that will closely resemble a traditional piano sound, here are 5 options for buying an 88-key digital piano that will meet your needs.

Before we go into the specifics, it’s good to know the general categories at play.  We’re dealing with piano-focussed digital pianos, not synthesizers, workstations, arrangers, or any of those other fun instruments that are full of bells and whistles.  These instruments will usually have many different sounds, but where they shine is in replicating the sound and touch of a traditional piano, with more portability and affordability.

Here are 3 main types of digital pianos (depending on the brand they might go under slightly different names):

Portable Digital Piano Without Speakers- requires an amplifier and your own stand. This is great for a person that wants to further customize their set-up or wants to plug in to a professional sound system.

Portable Digital Piano With Speakers- can serve the same purpose as the above style but doesn’t require your own amplifier. This can make it much more portable, save space and money, since you don’t need to buy extra equipment. You will likely need your own stand if it doesn’t come with a matching one, and I would opt for a heavy duty folding stand so that the keyboard doesn’t wobble.

Living Room/Home Style Digital Piano – These are still quite light, but are not made to be moved around quite as much as the others. They tend to have better quality speakers and excellent touch, as well as having a wood finish made to impress. Since these are a little more expensive, I’ll cover them in more detail in another article.

Below are 5 options of digital pianos that  will meet your needs:

Yamaha P-95

This is the entry level model in the P series. It’s designed to be compact and affordable with an on-board speaker and has an optional matching stand.  The Graded Hammer Standard Action closely resembles a Yamaha upright acoustic piano’s touch.  There are a handful of extra sounds on here, but it’s about as basic as it gets while still having an acceptable level of overall quality. Depending where you go this will run you about $550-$750. If shopping used, you may come across the P-85. It’s almost identical, so it can be worth the savings.

Yamaha P-155

This does everything that the p-95 does but is an overall upgrade. The action is made to replicate a grand piano, rather than an upright. The audio samples used, are also taken from a grand piano rather than an upright, with a higher resolution sound. This is essentially the same style as the P-95 with more sounds, better sounds, and a better touch as well as a USB port for recording. It is priced at about $1000.

Korg SP-250

Korg is another high quality make of musical instruments carried by many dealers throughout the world. This model is the equivalent to the above mentioned Yamaha digital piano P-155. The touch is modeled after a grand piano, the speaker system is built in and the stand and pedal are included (not so with the Yamaha). It can also be connected to external speakers through audio or midi. It is priced at about $700-$1000.

Roland FP-4

Roland is another industry leader known for overall high quality, and accurate sound and touch. The FP-4 is an entry level model but it’s extremely high quality. This model has internal speakers, concert grand piano sound and touch and over 300 sounds. It’s a slightly more professional model all around with more versatility. With all this, the Roland FP-4 is a little pricier than the other models we’ve discussed running $1200+.

Yamaha YDP-135R or YDP-141

These are the base models of Yamaha’s living room/home style digital pianos. The main difference between the two is the upright piano action vs. the grand piano action, an upgrade in sound quality and the ability to use half-pedal. These pianos are light and don’t take up much space, but are meant to stay put in your living room. They both provide a more accurate  piano experience than some of the other models, and when you factor in the low maintenance cost ($0/year for all digital pianos), the price really isn’t so bad.

YDP-135R: $1000-$1200

YDP-141: $1200-$1500

You don’t need to break the bank to get started playing piano. It’s important to buy an instrument that you’ll be happy with, but don’t forget that you can always trade it in or upgrade to a higher model later. In order to make a decision, I strongly recommend that you book off a couple hours to hang around your local music store and get your hands dirty. Even if you don’t play yet, you will begin to notice things you like or dislike about each instrument.

Some final things to look out for:

Touch – Is it heavy or light. How do you like it?

Half-Pedal Capabilities-  is the model you’re looking for able to produce this effect?

Voices – we may be focusing on piano, but are there any other sounds that you are interested in making, like organ, strings, or Fender Rhodes? Check these out, because you will not be happy when your jazz organ turns out to be a church organ or vice versa.

Sound quality, speaker quality and volume.

Sturdiness of stand – The last thing you want is a wobbly piano to play on every day!

Good luck and let me know below if you have any further questions!


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