Interested in giving piano playing a shot? Whether you're seeking a fresh and engaging pastime, exploring the world of songwriting and performance, or nurturing a young prodigy's musical dreams, having your own digital piano is essential. Regardless of your specific situation, aspiring pianists need to invest in the “right” digital piano. Whether you prefer a compact, portable option or a full-sized model that emulates the feel of a traditional piano, established brands like Yamaha, Roland, Alesis, and Casio offer a wide range of choices to cater to your enthusiasm.
You Can Take It with You
There’s nothing wrong with being small, especially when it comes to keyboards that travel well. Perfect for “why-are-these-walls-so-close-to-me” apartments, tight budgets, and young children, these compact and portable keyboards can help you out.
The budget-friendly Casio SA-81 is a great way to introduce your child to music. It comes with a variety of learning features that make it easy and fun for kids to play and enjoy themselves, while developing their musical skills. The 44 mini keys are perfect for small hands. This keyboard boasts 100 built-in tones that encompass a variety of instruments, such as piano, wind, percussion, and more. The 50 rhythm patterns (in a variety of genres including pop, ballad, dance, and more) and 10 built-in songs that are famous, make it fun to practice and play along. The SA-81 also features two built-in speakers and a headphone output for quiet playing. It is lightweight and portable, so children can take it wherever they go.
Loaded with bigger keys (and more of them), stereo speakers, more sounds, more songs, and access to extensive online lessons, the Alesis Harmony 61 Pro manages to bring features usually found in larger and more expensive keyboards while still being very cost-effective and portable. This keyboard has 61 touch-sensitive keys―play the keys heavily and you'll get louder tones or play softly to achieve quieter sounds. Enjoy 580 tones, 180 accompaniment rhythms, a DJ-Style Mix Mode with 30 modern styles, and 177 demo songs—you can play with the preset songs, record your performances, and even plug in a microphone to sing along. If you have an iPad or a tablet, set it on the Harmony 61 Pro’s music rest and be thoroughly engaged with Skoove—online adaptable lessons and personal support from seasoned musicians—and two months of free live classes from TakeLessons. Although the Harmony 61 Pro comes with a power adapter for home use, it can alternatively be powered with six AA batteries for mobile operation.
Plenty of Keys for Wandering Hands
For players who really want to explore multiple octaves of musical space, as well as more dynamic playability, these larger keyboards are ideal.
Available as the 61-key PSR-E373 or the 76-key PSR-EW310, both are Yamaha keyboards outfitted with touch-sensitive key beds for more responsive performance and AWM stereo sampling technology for natural, realistic sounds. With 622 voices, 205 accompaniment styles that follow your lead, and 154 preset songs, there are multitudes of ways to inspire enthusiastic players. Play intricate chords without using all your fingers, suppress melodies in your favorite tracks as you play along, and use the built-in arpeggiator to turn chords into rhythmically exciting phrases. You’ll also get immediate access to Yamaha’s “Keys to Success,” built-in lessons that break songs into digestible chunks and guide you step-by-step through learning them.
Those who seek to dabble in the art of multi-instrument production should look to the Casio WK-7600 workstation keyboard. Equipped with 76 touch-sensitive keys, a 17-track sequencer, 32-channel mixer, external mic and instrument inputs, and 305 presets that configure the keyboard for various musical styles, the WK-7600 is a powerful all-in-one tool for creating keyboard-driven tunes. Step recording lets you efficiently assemble parts that are difficult to play in real time, onboard DSP effects and EQ make it easy to enhance your tracks, and the ability to record audio to an SDHC card provides a convenient way to get material out of the keyboard and into the world. Additional goodies include a two-way, four-speaker sound system, USB connectivity with Mac/Windows computers, extensive tone editing, and 150 arpeggiator types. Considering that the WK-7600 has 820 tones—50 are drawbar organ sounds that can be modified via the nine front-panel sliders—and 260 preset rhythms with auto accompaniment, you should have no trouble tinkering around with anything from piano to full orchestral compositions.
The Feel and Sound of a Real Piano
Let us say that deep down in your soul, it’s the experience of a real acoustic piano that matters most to you. The problem? You have neither the space nor the funds to obtain one. The solution? Get a digital piano like one of these models. They have big piano sounds in a small footprint, plus onboard speakers so you don’t even need a stereo system.
Designed to be portable and ideal for fitting into smaller spaces, the Roland FP-30X can be had in black or white. You can mount it on a color-matched furniture stand and attach a piano-style, triple-pedal unit (both available separately) to provide an even more comfortable piano-playing experience. With matching finishes, these two additions help transform your keyboard into a compact grand-piano replacement, great in a living room, bedroom, classroom, or lounge. Just like a traditional acoustic piano, the FP-30X features 88 keys, which utilize weighted, hammer-action construction to ensure natural playing response—to the extent that you’ll find heavier action in the lower register and lighter action at the high register.
The FP-30X is quite piano focused, with ten expressive piano sounds and 46 others such as strings, harpsichord, and organ. It features a powerful 22W stereo speaker system for room-filling sound and dedicated settings for optimizing the sound when placed on a desktop. Bluetooth audio and MIDI connectivity give you access to play-along sessions and online lessons using the Roland Piano and Piano Designer apps. Whether you’re a beginner or an accomplished pianist, the FP-30X has you covered.
Lastly, I’d like to introduce the Yamaha DGX-670 (also available in black or white). Like the FP-30X, it can be used with a color-matched furniture stand and triple-pedal unit to provide an even more realistic piano-playing experience. It has 88 weighted keys and built-in DSP to handle Virtual Resonance Modeling (VRM), which recreates the natural resonances that occur in a grand piano's strings and body and produces a rich and complex sound. The DGX-670 gives you the sound of a meticulously sampled Yamaha 9' CFX Full Concert Grand, and with 630 total sounds, 29 drum kits, and 263 auto-accompaniment styles, it can take you far beyond the ivories. The inclusion of a mic input means you can practice and record vocals along with your keyboard performance. Thanks to the supplied interactive software and the onboard music notation display, the DGX-660 is quite the capable learning tool.
I hope this has steered you in the right direction for your first digital-piano purchase. Consider yourself invited to visit our website and the B&H SuperStore to learn more about these keyboards and others! And, if you happen to be a seasoned player, we'd love to hear from you in the Comments section, below, and learn about the digital piano that accompanied you on your musical voyage.