When you decide to buy a digital piano, you need to know a few things. First, there is a difference between a keyboard and a digital piano – the best ones in the latter category feature 88 fully weighted hammer-action keys. This trait allows them to sound as close as possible to an acoustic piano. Second, you will find reputable brands offering such highly performing music devices. Your dilemma will probably be how to pick the right make and model for you and this is what we are going to talk about next.
The Best Digital Piano with Weighted Keys – Brands Matter, but Less than You Think
You can go around asking music college students, artists, and people who are into playing instruments about the best digital piano brands out there and they will tell you names like Yamaha, Casio, Roland, Korg, Kawai, and a few others.
As you know, big brands promise the best quality. If you want to learn more about the most prominent digital piano, you can consult this best digital pianos with weighted keys analysis and learn what these labels promise, what price ranges they practice, what old and new models they work on, and what they offer the beginner or seasoned musician in terms of sound.
Digital pianos, however, are just like the computers: you trust the reputation of a brand, its history, and the universal praise it gained with the users, but you also want that computer (or that piano) to be able to do or feature some specific things that you need and want.
In this framework, let us offer you a guide on how to pick the best digital piano with weighted keys to meet your expectations and your needs.
1. Your Experience / Skill Level
Absolute beginners – children learning to play, aspiring artists, hobbyists – should get an affordable make and model. Many brands offer exquisite 88-keys weighted keys for beginners to learn until they are ready to move up to a more advanced version.
- Advanced and seasoned musicians should consider features such as touch response, velocity, connectivity, tone, and other issues we will discuss as follows.
- If you are a beginner and work with a teacher, make sure you get a dual-mode piano – it allows you to split the keyboard in two so you and your teacher can play at the same time using the same octaves.
- Beginners should also look for digital pianos with built-in metronomes.
2. Portability / Storage
Some digital pianos not only mimic the sound of an acoustic or grand piano, but also its size, looks, feel, and weight. Before you buy your piano, make sure its sizes match the place where you want to keep it, while its weight is comfortable enough for you to carry it around.
- Children and beginners will do well on a high-quality piano that they can take to music classes and keep around the house or travel with;
- Usually, experienced artists and performing artists go for the more massive makes and models; they can take such pianos on tours and in the studio, but carriage and storing are a problem no one should ignore.
3. Keyboard Hammer Action and Touch Response
Now this is the point where things become really interesting. Pianos with weighted keys manage to mimic the feel you have when you play an acoustic piano. The hammer action brings along actual mechanical hammers that enhance the piano’s response and make it similar to an acoustic piano’s response.
The hammers come together with the keys (embedded in them), offering a subtle but evident thump every time you strike the keys – just as classic pianos do.
Touch (or velocity-sensitivity) is another important feature you want to look for if you are serious about getting a professional digital piano. Low-cost, beginner-centered pianos come with volume level switches, a feature indicating that they don’t have real velocity-sensitivity. You can set the volume on pianos featuring velocity-sensitivity by striking the keys – volume depends on how hard you strike.
4. Sound Quality
The sound of a digital piano represents the sound of high-quality samples of veritable concert grand pianos recorded at different volume levels. The technology behind the recording of sounds is what makes a huge difference between beginner’s pianos and live performance/studio pianos.
Some brands come with their proprietary sound technology (Casio’s AiR sound engine, Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound technology etc.). These models are, of course, more expensive, but a few of them annul any difference between digital and acoustic or even grand, so they are something to look for in the future.
Regarding the built-in sounds of a weighted digital 88 keys piano, you will find models boasting 20-30 sounds, while others luring you with hundreds of sounds, songs, accompaniment styles, and interactive features. Not even professional musicians use all of them, so you should start with a standard built-in of sounds and move forward to advanced models, as you get ready for live gigs or studio recordings.
Do not neglect, however, the fun factor in playing a digital piano. Enjoy the reverb effect to enhance the sound of your music and play with the backing instrumental tracks to create your own experiments. If you want to play Blue Bossa, learn how to switch the keys and have some fun with the sounds.
Some of the best 88 weighted digital pianos feature 128-note or 264-note polyphony. This means the piano delivers 264 individual notes at once.
6. Accessories and Peripherals
In this category, you should look for amplification, speakers, and connectivity means. A digital piano for home use should come with a built-in amplifier and high-quality speakers, delivering a crisp, clear, pleasant sound. Home digital pianos usually come with built-in speakers, while professional ones feature external speakers and many other accessories.
You can start with an educational digital piano as well. The Yamaha Education Suite and Performance Assistant Technology helps students, young players, and beginners to learn and master the skill.
Live concert/studio digital pianos also come with LCD displays and means so you can connect it to PA systems, external amplifiers, recording consoles, or computers. Headphones jacks and USB ports are also incredible additions if you want to store the music you make yourself.
Before you decide to buy a weighted-keys digital piano, you should factor in your budget along with the criteria we presented earlier. Luckily, you will find reputable brands offering affordable and mid-range excellent pianos for beginners and players that are even more experienced. Our advice is to read the reviews, consult the databases, check out dedicated sites and forums, and do your homework thoroughly. You should arrive at a short list, containing 2-3 models, you can then explore further to make the right purchase decision.