Most parents would like for their children to play some type of musical instrument. Most experts suggest starting to learn music on a piano, since it incorporates both treble and bass staves and learning to use both hands somewhat equally.
Music theorists who study the neuroscience of music and how it affects the brain also recommend learning to play a piano first, preparatory to learning to play any other instruments. They theorize that the whole-brain activities of learning to play the piano using both hands develop neural pathways that help simplify learning other instruments.
To better help you find the right piano, we encourage you to use our interactive guide below, where you can compare some of the best digital pianos for beginners in 2019 against one another.
Buying a Digital Piano
Investing in an acoustic or high-priced digital piano would probably not be a good idea at the beginner stage of learning to play. An acoustic piano is a pricey investment, even if purchased used. Spending thousands of dollars on a musical instrument that may end up gathering dust, however, is a frugal parent’s nightmare. Piano manufacturers have long been aware of this conundrum.
Fortunately, there is an alternative. Due to advancing improvements in the quality of sound systems and digital engineering, a lower-priced alternative instrument seems to be the wisest course for a parent—or anyone—wishing to purchase a piano for the first time.
A digital piano or keyboard is a great way to find out if you or a child truly wishes to learn the piano. Besides costing significantly less than an acoustic piano, digital pianos and keyboards usually have lots of fun ‘bells and whistles’ that tend to keep a student engaged, and thus learning.
To help you or anyone else make a prudent decision about a piano, I have compiled a list of instruments that would be suitable for beginners. Some of these pianos are portable, meaning they are designed for tabletop usage or to carry around.
Some are much too heavy to be considered portable; these instruments usually come with a stand or some sort of cabinetry. None of these instruments retail for more than $1,000, and many of them are in the $500-600 range.
Here are my recommendations for 10 pianos/instruments that could satisfy the beginning student:
- Alesis Coda Pro
- Yamaha P45
- Artesia FUN-1
- Roland Juno-DS88
- Casio Privia PX-770
- Yamaha Arius YDP-103
- Yamaha PSR-EW300
- Yamaha EZ-220
- Yamaha YPT-360
- Roland RP 102 (replaces 101)
Now I’ll explain to you the features and selling points that landed these instruments on my list. Keep in mind that all digital instruments will save you money because they don’t require tuning. Considering that piano technicians recommend tuning an acoustic piano once or twice a year, this savings amounts to $200 to $300 per year, or more.
And below, please take a look at some of the best selling digital pianos currently on sale online (and see how they compare to the pianos we discuss in this article):
|1) Yamaha P-515
|2) Casio PX-S3100
|3) Casio PX-870
|4) Roland FP-E50
|5) Roland FP-30X
Alesis Coda Pro
This little keyboard from a rather obscure manufacturer isn’t really so little. The Alesis Coda Pro offers 20 built-in piano voices on a full size 88 keys. It features a built-in sound system which alleviates the need to plug it into any speaker system. It also allows the keyboard to be split, which enables two different voices to be played simultaneously.
An optional keyboard stand gives the keyboard a 3-pedal option similar to an acoustic grand piano. It also features a USB/MIDI port to plug into a computer or tablet, creating full control over the software.
- You can read our Alesis Coda review here!
You’re going to see a lot of Yamaha products on this list. Besides being the premier manufacturer of acoustic pianos for over 100 years and of digital pianos for more than 30 years, Yamaha somehow manages to incorporate a good deal of their manufacturing “smarts” into their smaller, more price-friendly instruments.
The P45 is an excellent example of this. Yamaha has included the Graded Hammer Standard on this instrument, giving the weighted, full-size keys a touch similar to the feel of an acoustic grand. The Advanced Wave Memory sampling, recorded using two separate microphones for a fuller, richer sound, allows this instrument to resemble the sound of a grand piano. For a piano beginner, this would be an excellent choice for their first instrument.
- You can read our Yamaha P-45 review here!
This cute little digital piano put the ‘FUN’ in ‘FUNCTIONAL’! Designed especially for kids, it even includes animal sounds! It comes in white or pink. Yes, you read that right: PINK. It offers 61 full-size, touch-sensitive keys so that a little one can learn the correct hand posture and dynamic control. It comes with a matching bench, headphones, a sustain pedal, and a DC power supply.
This instrument also includes an iPad app for teaching piano, so a parent can find out the interest level of their child before they engage the services of a qualified private teacher (always recommended if your student shows interest for more than a month or two!). This can save a parent a lot of money! The Artesia FUN-1 61-Key Children’s Digital Piano is recommended for students from age 3 to 10. Unless you find a reputable Suzuki teacher, I would suggest waiting for formal piano lessons until your child is 7 years old or older.
Whatever you decide, please make certain to engage a qualified teacher! For less than $300, this whimsical instrument provides a great and inexpensive way to find out if the piano will interest your child.
This instrument truly is a synthesizer and the Juno-DS88 looks like a synthesizer. Marketed as a ‘band’ instrument for working musicians, it could easily become a new musician’s first keyboard. It offers technological options from pre-recording music to connections with your computer or tablet. It doesn’t weigh much—just 35 pounds.
Yamaha provides optional accessories such as 3 different keyboard stands and a sustain pedal. The 128-voice polyphony allows the musician to record their own background band or orchestra to play along.
- Check out our Roland JUNO DS88 review.
Casio comes through with a nice little digital piano with 88 keys, weighted hammer action and a rich, full tone. This instrument will plug into virtually any smart device or computer system you could own to allow you full access to its many features.
Using the Chordana Play app, a free feature, allows you to display PDF music files, giving you access to hundreds of songs you can learn to play right along with the score. Casio has come a long way in its manufacturing process for digital pianos, and this model is a great way for a beginner to start playing piano and learning to incorporate technology into their musical experience.
- You can read our review of the Casio PX-770 here.
This console digital piano by Yamaha is priced a bit higher than the pianos I’ve discussed so far, but in the piano world, anything with a Yamaha brand on it is worth every penny. Just like other Yamaha digital piano, this instrument utilizes the Graded Hammer Standard, which ensures that the keys on the treble end of the piano have a lighter touch than the mid-range keys, and the keys on the bass end of the piano have a heavier touch than the mid-range keys.
This simulates the touch of an acoustic grand piano and helps a beginner become accustomed to a standard piano touch. Among other features, this instrument can plug into your tablet, allowing a full range access to all of the electronic features this piano offers. Yamaha has been making acoustic grand pianos for more than 100 years, so purchasing one of their fine digital pianos is always a good idea for a beginner in the music world.
- Check out our Yamaha YDP-103 review.
If you prefer a more portable Yamaha product, the PSR-EW410 may be just what you’re looking for. It offers 76 touch-sensitive keys and some versatile functions. It offers “Keys to Success” lessons and over 500 various voices and sounds to keep a beginning student interested and engaged in learning.
This keyboard is the successor to the popular Yamaha PSR-EW400.
Maybe the most dollar-friendly keyboard from Yamaha, the EZ-220 is a tabletop, portable keyboard that still has 61 touch-sensitive keys and connections to your tablet that will turn this keyboard into a veritable music studio. The keys are lighted, which helps a beginner learn how to follow along in a musical score.
This instrument has 392 different voices to satisfy even the most adventurous musical beginner! It also has 100 built-in songs to enjoy listening to or to learn how to play along. It retails for less than $350 and could probably be found at an even lower price with some research.
This touch-sensitive keyboard has 61 keys and over 500 sounds, making it a versatile instrument that is fun for a beginner. It boasts 48-note polyphony, which will allow a beginning musician to experiment with sound layering. The Yamaha Education Suite allows you to learn to practice playing along with the preset songs at your own pace—one hand at a time, if necessary—to develop your piano skills along with finger facility.
This instrument includes 165 auto accompaniment styles, enough to satisfy any beginning musician. Of course, it also features USB and MIDI capability for connecting to your favorite tablet or smart device.
This Roland digital piano offers great value with a price surprisingly low for the features. The MSRP is $1,000, although a lower price could likely be found or even negotiated at your local Roland dealer. What makes this piano such a good value? It comes with an attractive cabinet and integrated 3-pedal performance. It provides Bluetooth capability for instant access to hundreds of apps through your tablet or smart phone.
If you pair the piano with Roland’s free Piano Partner 2 app, you will find learning opportunities not available from the instrument alone. This app allows the musician to display digital notation for the songs imbedded in the instrument, as well as turning pages to follow the music. The app also provides accompaniment rhythms and flash cards and games to advance musical learning, no matter the age of the student.
The instrument has over 200 pieces to enjoy listening to and playing along, from traditional music and classical geniuses like Mozart and Beethoven to etudes from Hanon and Czerny designed to develop hand agility and speed. If you want to play piano in a crowded room or late at night, the headphone feature allows private practice. Should you want to play duets with a teacher or friend, the Twin Piano mode allows you to split the keys into two identical 44-note keyboards, pitched the same.
- You can read our Roland RP-102 vs Roland FP-30 review here!
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