If you are lucky enough, you will be able to play on a real Grand or Upright Piano. For big appartments and in buildings where the neighbours don’t complain, this is certainly the best way to play the piano at home. Moreover, in particular used Upright Pianos are so numerous that you can buy one in an acceptable state usually for very little money, even less than 1000 $! You might even be able to pick one up for free if the owner needs to get rid of it. The best way is to check www.craigslist.org in your region and see if therer are any Uprights near your place for sale.
The disadvantages of classical Upright or Grand Pianos on the other hand are its weight and hence problems when you move, the need to tune it on a regular basis, and the inability to play it over headphones in order to not disturb your family and/or neighbours and practice whenever you feel like.
Keyboards, Synthesizer, workstations, digital pianos, home pianos are therefore becoming more and more popular even with amateur Piano players. This text explains the basics about how to choose a keyboard or digital piano that fits your needs. First lets review the different categories of keyboards available today:
- Synthesizer: Keyboards with a focus on digital synthesis of various kinds to create a variety of sounds famously known for. The main goal here is to allow the player to create his or her own sounds using a variety of synthesizing techniques. This category is not particularly suited for Piano players but more for sound designers. Famous models include MOOG synthesizer, Prophet, Virus etc. Characterized by a large number of knobs and sliders to control a particular sound these instruments are more for professional keyboard players than amateur piano players.
- Workstations/ROMplers: This category is probably the most widespread of keyboard instruments. The keyboards in this category are fully equipped keyboards that cover elements from all other categories. The broad aim is to allow a wide range of Piano, Synthesizer, and natural instruments such as strings or brass. Moreover, a sequencer (to record your own creations right on the board), a sampler to create your own samples, drum sounds and rythm patterns to accompany your sound are onboard and make this family the most versatile. Current workstations include the Roland FANTOM, Korg TRITON and KRONOS, Yamaha MOTIF and the Kurzweil PCx series.
- Stage Pianos (or Digital Pianos): This category aims at players mainly interested in playing piano while at the same time allowing the instrument to be easily moved around (hence the name “Stage”). These instruments typically have 88 weighted keys to most closely resemble a piano, decent piano sounds and sometimes addons such as sequencer, other sounds, drum tracks etc. There are typically no speakers and no stand included which makes this class a very versatile one. As I will show later, this class is perfectly suited for beginners who want to play piano on an electronic instrument without limiting future possibilities of, e.g., playing live.
- Home Pianos: This class of Pianos are most closely related to real Upright Pianos. Being very similar to the Stage Pianos, they include a solid stand, often resembling an Upright Piano and Speakers so qou don’t need additional amplifiers. The downside is that you cannot easily transport the instrument, e.g., for playing with others. Famous Home Pianos are the Yamaha CLAVINOVA series.
As I said, Digital or Stage Pianos are a very interesting compromise between a Home Piano and other Keyboards since they provide a close copy of a real Piano while at the same time allowing for more flexibility. Given that nowadays more and more Stage Pianos include speakers, this renders the Home Piano category less interesting. But how to choose the Piano that best fits your needs?
The most important rule is: Play! Go to the music store closest to you that has many different models available and try them. It is important that you like the touch, user interface, and sound of an instrument, otherwise you will not be using it for a long tine, trust me on this one!
In terms of quality and price, I would say that there are basically two classes
Professional Instruments (>1000 USD)
- Yamaha CP-1, CP-5, CP-50
- Kawai MP-10, MP-6
- Roland RD-700GX/NX
- Nord Stage/Piano
Beginner/Intermediate Instruments (<1000 USD):
Don’t buy the cheapest one you can find at Walmart! Almost surely it will end up in the closet putting on dust!
But for less than 1000 USD you can find a decent Piano from a renowned brand.
Here is a quick comparison of the main current line of models available on the market:
|Rather heavy touch, a bit bulky
|Casio PX-3 BK Limited Edition
|no speakers, Ivory feel keybed, affordable
|keybed a bit cheap, sound great, used an excellent deal!
|released in September 2012, seems to be the winner in many categories! 330 with better Piano sound and Ivory touch
|A bit dated, also more heavy keybed
|Korg Sp250 Bk
|Heavier, including piano stand, excellent Piano and Rhodes sound
If you have any further question, please comment here!
Casio revolutionized the Stage Piano market with its PRIVIA series which is also considered by PROs as an excellent keyboard and moreover cannot be beaten in terms of price!
For good reviews of these Digital Pianos, I highly recommend this website by a real Piano Enthusiast: http://azpianonews.blogspot.fr/