How to Choose a Piano for Beginners

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So you’ve decided to buy yourself a piano. Congratulations, you’re going to have a blast! In this article I share with you what I have learned about choosing the right piano for yourself, and how I made my own choice in this regard.

Acoustic Piano or Digital Piano?

The first choice you’ll have to make is if you want an acoustic one or digital. As someone on a budget and living in an apartment, this was a no-brainer. Acoustic pianos are incredible, but they are also pretty expensive, take up more space and, well, they are loud πŸ™‚ Since I needed the option to play it any time of the day without bothering anyone else, a digital one was the way to go, having the ability to control the volume or just plug in some quality headphones for a careless practice session.

What to Look For in a Digital Piano

So, first things first, people can differ widely in how they approach a purchase of any kind. Personally, when possible, I like to buy the most affordable alternative that meets all my criteria. You may be different. Maybe you like the luxurious feeling of owning the most expensive item in the store, and in that case you probably don’t need to read this at all. For everyone else, here’s what I considered the most important to have in my Digital Piano:

Let’s go over why each of these were important to me.

88 Keys

The standard number of keys of a contemporary piano. Anything below this may limit your ability to play more complex pieces at some point.

Weighted Keys

Having weighted keys on your keyboard is very important, since it will make the experience feel much more realistic. Unlike a typical MIDI controller keyboard where the keys are very light and actuate easily, a keyboard with weighted keys will feel (or at least try to feel) like an acoustic piano. When pressing down the keys you will feel they are heavy and require some extra force to actuate. This means that even though you may rarely play at an acoustic piano, if you ever get the chance it won’t feel so different to your fingers. “Graded Hammer Standard” is a popular standard for this kind of weighted keys system, so look for it in the specs of the digital piano you are considering.

Sustain Pedal Interface

I didn’t require the piano to include a sustain pedal, but it needed to have the interface to plug one in. I didn’t mind if there was no option to include the 2 other pedals (soft and sostenuto) since they are rarely used and I was choosing a piano mainly for practice, not performance.

MIDI Output

Having a MIDI output is very important to me, since I’ve always wanted to experiment a little with music production and I liked the idea of being able to record myself with good quality and possibly make some youtube vids πŸ™‚

Headphone Jack

I live in a flat and work during the day, so I need the option to play at night or early mornings without bothering anyone. As far as I can tell, pretty much any digital piano has this feature, so not much worries there.

Built-in Speakers

Even though most of the time I’m playing with my headphones on, it’s nice to still have the built-in speakers for when someone wants to listen to me play for a bit.

Simple Design

I’m not a fan of digital pianos with tons of buttons with all kinds of effects, rhythms, bells and whistles (looking at you, Dgx660B​). I prefer simple, minimalist aesthetics. Don’t get me wrong, some pianos have some really extraordinary features, but personally I prefer not to have all of that, since I’m a beginner who just wants to focus on the basics.

Matching Stand

I really wanted the piano to have a uniform feel with its stand. I think they look much better with a nice fitting wooden vertical stand instead of a generic X stand that you have to manipulate to get to your desired height. On the other hand, you can save a bit of money if you opt for that kind of stand instead. It won’t affect your progress at all, but I guess it was important to me because I’d be happier to look at something classy hehe

All things considered, I got the Yamaha P45. This digital piano checked all the boxes in my list, and did so with style 😎 It is also a very popular line of digital pianos, which is great: I’m confident that if I ever find the need to upgrade it, I can easily sell it used and it will have been a pretty good investment overall. I doubt I will outgrow it anytime soon though, just check out Gyuraffe using this piano and playing it like a pro!
I bought mine at a local shop here in Portugal. Together with its stand (Yamaha L85), it cost me around $500. You can likely find it on Amazon around that price (the piano by itself should be around 450$). Here’s a quick unboxing where I assemble it for the first time πŸ˜„

Other Options Worth Considering

I’m very happy with my digital piano choice, but you might have a different taste, or slightly higher budget. I’ll leave you with some other options that might be worth considering.

Similar to the P45, the Yamaha P125 also gives you great value for its price. It is equipped with better in-built speakers and updated sounds. It can to record your performances, which is great for listening to yourself play without much effort (an important step to self improvement). It also includes some backing tracks for you to play over, although you can easily find a wider variety online. Coincidence or not, whenever I find street pianists performing, they are usually using this digital piano.

Released in 2016, theΒ FP-30Β its regarded as a very safe choice in the digital piano scene. It is one of the election brands of most of the piano teachers I have met and you can tell by the online reviews that its owners are always very happy with the purchase. It also covers all of the boxes in my personal checklist above.

This is the piano I use in my piano classes. I have to admit, theΒ Roland F-140RΒ does have a very premium feel to it. There’s something about the keys and how they actuate. The coating of the white keys also feels a little better, with a subtle wooden-like texture. It’s very nice and sturdy, it has a bunch of built-in sounds and features and all that jazz. It’s great, but if you’re just a beginner I’d advise looking for cheaper alternatives. Comparing to my P45, this is over 3x the price! πŸ™‚

So What Now?

Hopefully you are now much more informed on how to choose a digital piano. I gave you a lot of information that was important to me when making my own choice. I believe these cover the most important foundations for someone wondering how to choose a piano for their first years of learning. In any case, I recommend that you investigate more by yourself too. Oh, and before you buy a piano, it’s always a good idea to experiment with it if you have a chance. Go to a couple of music stores and try the models you are interested in. Feel and hear how different they are and make up your mind πŸ˜‰

In case you already have a piano – how do you feel about it? If you were to get a new piano, which one would it be? 🎡

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. SamuraiAnger

    Thanks, it helped a lot

    1. lifetap

      Glad to hear mate, get that piano πŸ’ͺ

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