Best Digital Piano Keyboard For Beginners

[Cover] Best Piano Keyboard For Beginners

It’s amazing how far things with a keyboard have come. I mean there are midi controllers, music synthesizers and now, piano keyboards. Also known as digital pianos.

Simply amazing.

Digital pianos were born out of a need which was pretty apparent . . .

Grand pianos are just too darn expensive and take a lot of space.

Since most people can’t get a giant grand piano to practice on, some popular and smart companies noticed this gap in the market (Thank god) and started making a digital version of a full-on acoustic grand piano.

Don’t get it twisted though, these so-called “digital” pianos are super high-quality and sound just like the real thing. In fact, brands like Yamaha, Roland, and a few others have spent millions developing “Piano engines” that create phenomenal grand piano sounds.

Yes, technology has come a long way since the days of Beethoven.

We can assure you that.

So if you’re a practicing piano play or someone who always dreamed about being one, a digital piano is the best way to practice and hone your existing skills.

Below you will find some of the most popular digital pianos out right now.


Best Yamaha Digital Piano – Yamaha P-125

When it comes to digital pianos, Yamaha is hands-down is one of the true leaders in this market. The Yamaha P 125 digital piano is a fine representation of why Yamaha is regarded as one of the authorities in the digital piano game. The P 125 is simply one of the best Yamaha 88 key digital pianos out today.

This specific pack comes with a few additional things like 3 pedals, a bench, and a piano stands as well. If you’re just getting started or are looking for a digital piano that you can practice on a regular basis, then this is just a phenomenal bundle.


Yamaha DGX 660 Digital Piano

If you’re looking for a proper grand piano sound, this digital piano is for you. The Yamaha DGX 660 is one of the best digital pianos out there. It has 88 hammer action keys (Yamaha’s GHS – Graded Hammer Standard) so you know you’ll be playing and practicing on the real thing.

Although the Yamaha DGX 660 has a professional feel to it, it also comes with its own built-in songs like a keyboard for kids usually does. This way, you can play popular songs and drastically improve your own piano playing skills.

If your own folks or people in your house complaining about the sound, just use the headphone input to plug in your headphones and back to practicing your piano skill you go . . .

All around, this is a great package but it wouldn’t hurt to have a much more refined learning guide. That’s the only thing lacking about this whole entire package.

We would also like to see an improved version of the existing pedal that it comes with. Most of these pedals are pretty lightweight so it wouldn’t hurt to have something that stays in one spot, especially without falling off.

Last but not least, just make sure you have enough space as it is a decent-sized piano keyboard. Especially with the stand and all.


Casio Privia PX 160 Digital Piano

If there’s any other brand in the digital piano world, that can go head to head against Yamaha, that would be Casio. Now that I think about it, my very first keyboard although it was super small, was a Casio keyboard (Casio PT-1).

They are both Japanese so you don’t have to worry about quality here.

Overall, the Privia PX 160 is right up there with any popular Yamaha digital piano, but this one has one really special thing . . . the pedals are actually attached to the whole thing (Piano Stand).

All thanks to the CS 67 Stand. It also comes with an option to get it without the stand/pedal so make sure you pick the one that’s right for you. A piano pedal, especially on a piano keyboard, can be pretty sensitive, so it moves around on its own sometimes even with the slightest of sound. Since the geniuses at Casio attached it their CS 67 stand, this problem is solved (Really smart and practical idea).

As far as the sound goes, it pretty much sounds just the same as any popular Yamaha digital piano’s out there. Which is a great thing.

Some say the Yamaha P115 might have a slight edge over this Casio but it still doesn’t diminish the Casio Privia in any way. Honestly, that’s just a matter of opinion.

However, what makes this Casio Privia bundle really special is the additional things that it comes with. I would say this is one of the best bundles for the long-term user.

First let’s look at the piano stand that comes with the Casio Privia. This is not your usual X-type stand. Nothing against them but this Casio CS 67 keyboard stand is just so stable. Sometimes, when you really start getting your “Mozart” on,  this stand will keep things stable.

Okay now this is kind of important . . .

Since you’re going to be seated for the longest time, you need to make sure you get a proper bench. Thanks to the Casio team, you get a nice comfortable and most of all, a sturdy piano bench as well.

Even the seat cushion is surprisingly thick. The little thing even comes with legs that can be adjusted.

You can tell by these little details that the Casio team really put some thought into this before putting this package out there.

In fact, the overall consensus by most users is although the piano bench is included in this package, it is still well worth it to acquire it on it’s own.

Now that’s says a lot.

Anyways, the Yamaha P115 is definitely one of the most well thought out digital piano and overall this is a very strong piano package.

Thank god for Japanese digital piano companies.


Korg B1 Digital Piano

Another great addition for the beginner digital piano player. The Korg B1 seems to be the “go to” digital piano for beginners.

Especially for piano players who like to take things easy on their wallets.

The B1 has a really good sound to it as well (The built in sampler creates near authentic piano sounds). Not as good as the Yamaha’s as some people say but still . . . good enough for you to continue practicing and keep getting better at your craft.

The keys have hammer action so beginners would be impressed and professional players will slide right in.

Korg already is known for world class synthesizers so at the end of the day, you are still getting a quality musical instrument.


Roland F 140 Digital Piano

Roland is another monster brand when it comes to keyboards. I would say I like them a tad bit more than Korg.

The F140 is quite popular with people who want that authentic acoustic grand piano sound. An all around quality instrument that comes with over 300 additional sounds including acoustic guitars, etc.

This is one pretty solid advantage of owning a digital piano. If you get tired of hearing just the piano sound, you can switch to a guitar, brass or whatever other classical instrument sounds it came built in with. Heck maybe even a theremin.

Why not?

As long as it’s a quality digital piano, you should be good. Speaking of quality, you get Roland’s progressive hammer action on the keys.

The only downside to this whole thing is unlike most of the digital pianos that we’ve featured, this one isn’t a bundle.

Did you know that Roland and Korg are both Japanese brands?

We always thought Roland was perhaps American and Korg was German or something.

Shows how much we know right?


Roland FP 30

If Roland is your brand, this bundle is for you. It literally comes with everything you need to get started. The FP 30 is famous for it’s SuperNatural Piano engine (That’s the real name by the way) and there is a reason why it’s called that.

The Roland piano engine is world renowned for creating incredible piano sound so whether you get the FP 30 or FP 60, either way you’ll be getting one powerful digital piano.

In addition, you also get to select from either white or black models and since this a bundle. it comes with a piano stand, a piano bench and pretty much the whole works.

As mentioned earlier, not really into the x shape piano stands but hey, it’s better than having no stand for sure.


Korg D1

This is the Korg D1 (Not to be confused with the B1 earlier). So what is the difference?

The D1 is just the next generation after B1. Not to say the B1 digital pianos are obsolete or something, it’s just that D1 is the next model in line. If B1 is a Lamborghini Countach, the D1 is the Murcielago.

At the end of the day, both are liked by most piano players.

Also just like the Korg B1 we mentioned earlier, this one is also an entire bundle.


Yamaha DGX660

Okay this is very rare but these guys even took the whole bundle concept to the next level.

Included in this digital piano package is the Yamaha DGX660.

Let’s start with the digital piano first:

The Yamaha DGX660 has the infamous “Pure CF Sound Engine”. This is basically like Roland’s piano engine mentioned above. Both are super popular and loved by many beginner and professional piano players.

So as far as a digital piano goes, you’re getting a pretty solid one. Keys are Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) and that’s why a lot of professionals like the DGX660.

On top of that, you get all the necessary equipment but unlike the other bundles, you get a microphone and headphones as well.

Which is pretty crazy if you ask us.

Some consider the DGX 660 as one of the best digital pianos they’ve ever played on.

I think it’s due to the built-in sound engine but nonetheless, it’s a pretty common feedback that you will get about this Yamaha digital piano.

Some even consider this better than a Fazioli. Now that’s a powerful statement.

Our recommendation to the Yamaha team (Pretty much anyone that likes to bundle up digital pianos) is please upgrade the sustain pedal. That would make this package and every other digital piano package simply in a league of it’s own.

By the way, try the concert hall feature, it’s a favorite for many users of the DGX660.


Yamaha Arius YDP-181

This is a great straight-to-the-point package by Yamaha. You get the Arius digital piano, a bench and noise isolating headphones. I wouldn’t consider them the best headphones for a digital piano but not bad nonetheless.

What else do you need right?

The digital piano that you get with this package is the Yamaha YDP-143B.

The YDP-143B is just sleek digital piano, which has a great sound and would most likely look great anywhere you place it.

Highly recommend this package for the total beginner or for someone who already started taking piano lessons and need a robust digital piano player to continue practicing on.

A great purist package without any distracting bells and whistles.

If you want to practice or if you want your kids to continue practicing, this might be the digital piano package to check out further.


Yamaha P-515

Nothing looks more elegant than a white piano eh?

Especially if you have some modern or sleek furniture in your house. However, there is a good chance you’re not getting a digital piano just to compliment your current interior, you’re getting a piano because you want to keep improving your piano playing skills.

Right?

Regardless, you can’t deny how beautiful this piano looks but at the same time, the sound is quite outstanding. At least that’s what the verdict is from other fellow piano players who have had the pleasure of testing the P-515 out.

The Yamaha P-515 is a 88-key digital piano based with sound and feel based on a concert grand piano. Literally . . .  straight from the Bösendorfer imperial concert grand piano.

If you haven’t heard of them, that’s fine but they are one of the best grand piano creators of all time. A company that started in Austria but now it’s subsidiary of you guessed it . . . Yamaha.

At the end of the day, you are getting one stupendous digital piano with weighted keys and that’s amazing news for all digital piano fans.

Witch this specific package, you also get a choice of an adjustable stand or the regular one. Regular one is just more sturdy, remember that.

Although this is a bundle you do get some unique stuff like a piano cover. On a little odd side, some users have reported they didn’t receive the entire package. Like although they got the digital piano but other stuff was missing.

Well we hope the Yamaha boys take care of the shipping issue because this digital piano even by itself, is definitely one of the best ones out there right now.


Casio PX150 88 Key Touch Privia Digital Piano

If you already have some experience in playing the piano, especially on a typical grand piano, you may really enjoy having the Casio PX 150 around.

If you’re a student, this digital piano just might be the ideal instrument for you at this stage. Especially if all you need is something that is close to a real piano so you can continue to practice on it.

The 88 keys on this digital piano have hammer action (Casio’s Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action) and really well designed keys (Ebony and ivory) which gives it a really good feel on the fingers. Like we said, a good number of experienced Piano players really appreciate the keys on this one.

It is recommended that you put on your headphones for this one because the built-in speakers with are not necessarily the best.

That would be one of the few downsides so if you like to practice without the headphones, the Casio PX 150 may not be the right choice for you.

All in all, a very good choice for most beginner digital piano enthusiasts.


Anatomy of a Digital Piano

Today digital pianos are basically used in professional settings more than an actual grand piano.

Yes they are just that good.

Depending on the piano brand or model you get, the features can vary. From having over 300 sounds or even some type of midi or recording functions to having a whole bunch of built in songs, etc.

One thing is for sure, a good digital piano must have these three basic things. Speakers, keys and a headphone jack.

Anatomy of a digital piano

Piano Keys

Most digital pianos have 88 keys. At least that seems to be the standard size these days. When getting a digital piano, make sure the keys are fully weighted or have some kind of hammer action.

Digital Piano Speakers

Another thing you’ll find on digital pianos is built-in speakers.

How else are you going to hear the sounds that you create right?

In some digital pianos, you also get an option to add external speakers. This is usually for live performances, etc.

Here we suggest that you actually add studio monitors, just so you’re hearing the actual sound (If you are recording music that is).

Or just get any other pair of quality external speakers for your piano. There are a few of them out there today.

Headphones Input

As mentioned earlier, idea for creating digital pianos came from piano users wanted and alternative to something much more smaller than a grand piano.

Considering this notion, the digital piano brands took this concept to the next level by adding a headphone jack as well.

This allows a budding piano player such as yourself to play for hours and without disturbing anyone (Neighbours, your parents, etc).

Yes it’s a simple idea that has been embraced by the digital piano community almost instant.y


Best Digital Piano Brands

One of the best things about digital pianos is not everyone can make a quality product.

In fact, if you see anyone else making a digital piano and it’s not one of these four brands, you might want to just ignore them.

Not to disrespect any new brands that are looking to break through into the digital piano space but let’s face it, these four monsters own the market with their quality products.

Yamaha Digital Pianos

Yamaha, as I mentioned earlier, is one of the leading brands in the digital piano genre. I mean these guys wrote the book on acoustic guitars but they are just as experienced with making quality digital pianos, electric drum kits and more.

When it comes to digital pianos, I would say Yamaha and the other brands mention here are just as good as the next one. So no matter which brands you with, most likely you’ll end up with a quality product.

When we think of Yamaha, we usually think of guitars but they are definitely in the top three when it comes to digital pianos.

Most of Yamaha products are made for intermediate or professional piano players so it’s nice to see them start getting into the beginner market as well.

Casio Digital Pianos

Now speaking of the beginner market, a Casio keyboard is what most of us got started on.

In fact, it was the Casio PT-1 that I made my first few tunes on.

Casio PT 1 Keyboard

Pretty awesome right?

Especially back in the 90s when Casio keyboards were the rage.

Not just as toys but also as professional keyboards and even calculators.

Casio is still big in Japan and a few other countries overall but they’ve kind of taken a backseat when it comes to musical instruments in the US.

They are still killing it in other areas (Watches for example) but not so much in the musical instruments department.

That said, it doesn’t mean that they’re out of the game completely.

Casio is still going very strong in the digital piano and keyboard arena even to this day.

Believe it or not, they still make one of the best digital pianos for beginners.

Roland Digital Pianos

Don’t want to be biassed but we personally love the Roland brand. They’ve done so much for music and the home music producer in general.

The Japanese founder of Roland actually created two amazing things:

  1. 808’s
  2. MIDI Technology

So as far as digital pianos go, especially professional models, Roland is right up there if not ahead of the game versus Yamaha or anyone in this field.

You just can’t mess with this kind of pedigree and accomplishments.

Korg Digital Pianos

Korg is legendary for synthesizers so it makes total sense to see them in the digital piano market. In fact, they have been making digital pianos since the 1980s.

We are big fans of Korg and they are another killer brand. You can’t go wrong with them either.
Any hu, let’s now move to Step 3.


Why does a digital piano come with pedals?

Depending on your digital piano, sometimes you’ll see it will come with one, two or three pedals.

Digital Piano Pedals

Sustain or Damper Pedal

If your digital piano came with just one pedal, it’s most likely this.

In most cases, it’s referred to as the sustain or damper pedal.

Same pedal just different names.

The way it works is before you start playing on your digital piano, just press on the pedal with your foot, once you let it go, it will stop the sound entirely without any reverb, etc.

Hence the name ‘damper’. It will help you ‘damper’ or stop the sound immediately. It is usually used at the end of your performance. For our music producer friends, it will help you kill the sustain. Hence the other name ‘sustain’ pedal.

They should refer to it as the ‘sustain killer’ but guess that doesn’t sound so attractive now, does it?

Soft Pedal or Una Corda

The second pedal is known as a ‘soft pedal’ or ‘Una corda’. Again, the same thing different names. The soft pedal is usually on the left of the sustain pedal. They literally just ‘soften’ the sound of your piano.

You see, on a grand piano when you hit a key, it hits about three strings that create the piano sound that you hear.

When you press on the soft pedal and then press the same key, it only hits one string hence the name ‘una corda’.

Pretty sweet eh?

On a digital piano, the way the sound is processed in naturally different but the effect is the same.

A softer sound is created with a digital piano pedal as well.

Sostenuto

Sostenuto pedal allows you to individually sustain certain notes while you continue playing in a normal fashion. It’s a pretty cool feature actually. I would say this is more for the intermediate or advanced users.

All this aside, don’t forget you are now on a digital piano and you know what that means?

You can assign these pedals to other built in features on your digital piano as well.

Types of Keys

This is a big one as well. One key difference from your average midi controller vs a grand acoustic piano that Elton John might be getting all diva-like on is the sensitivity of the keys.

When getting a digital piano, you want to make sure the keys are sensitive enough. You don’t want them to be too hard as your typical MIDI controller but at the same time, you don’t want them to be too flimsy either.

Let’s have a look at the 4 different kinds of piano or keyboard keys.

Non-weighted Keys

Usually found on midi controllers or a plastic keyboard. It doesn’t mean the can’t do the job but they don’t have that ‘weight’ you get with your typical piano keys. You see when you play the piano, your fingers get use to a certain strength level. If you suddenly move a seasoned Piano player to an average midi controller, they will feel like they are playing on keys made out of paper. The bottom line, most likely it will affect their performance in a negative way.

Semi-Weighted Keys

These have a little bit of weight. If you are a Piano player, you might not feel too bad about these keys.

Weighted Keys

Most quality digital pianos have either weighted keys or have some hammer action on them. Weighted keys are pretty close to the real thing (Actual acoustic grand piano) so this would be a good choice for beginners. As it’s not too hard or too soft on your fingers.

Hammer-action

This is where the keys literally mimic the keys of a grand piano (Even the mechanism). Having this is like basically playing on a proper acoustic grand piano. Truth be told though, weighted keys and hammer-action is pretty much the same thing. At least to your fingers.

So at the end of the day, as long as the piano keys are semi-weighted, weighted or have the hammer action on them, you should be good.

The good news is you don’t have to worry about that with this Yamaha P125 digital piano as it comes with Yamaha’s GHS hammer action. Which is their own world-famous hammer action setup.

Sources:

Peter Thomas
Peter is a well-known guitar teacher in Ealing. He’s taught hundreds of guitarists of all levels, covering everything from rock and pop to jazz and classical.Have a question, need some help, or want to give your opinion? Drop us a comment below!

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