In this article, I’m going to provide you with my list of what I feel are the 7 best digital pianos under $1,000 that you can buy on the market and truly get fantastic value for your money. And, in order to better assist you, please take a look at the interactive guide below so you can easily compare some of these pianos against one another
|Yamaha YDP-144||GHS action, CFX Grand Piano Voice|
|Yamaha YDP-145||GHS Weighted, Graded Hammer Action|
|Yamaha YDP-165||GH3 Weighted, Graded Hammer Action|
|Casio PX-870||Redesigned Cabinet, Speaker System|
|Roland RP-102||Works w/Roland Piano Partner 2 app|
|Casio AP-470||256 Note Polyphony|
|Yamaha YDP-184||Graded Hammer 3 Action (GH3)|
Digital Pianos Under $1,000: Value for the Money
One thousand dollars is a great starting budget from which to pinpoint the best models for your needs. This price range allows you to choose from a roster of digital pianos all with their own unique stylings and features, without having to substitute on quality.
The first thing one should consider when buying a digital piano is the keys themselves. One of the most fundamental parts that constitutes the acoustic-piano playing experience is the playing of the keys, the subtle nuances of touch as you trigger hammer hitting string. As stated previously in this article, digital pianos have come a long way since their inception, and frankly the keys on all good digital pianos these days is outstanding.
Go back ten or ten or twenty years, and a lot of the keys on keyboards felt plasticky. The weighting was present but failed to replicate accurately the feel of a real acoustic piano – unless of course you were willing to spend a considerable sum of money. Luckily, if you are looking to buy a digital piano for around the $1000 mark today, then you are right to expect quality keys. While there are subtle differences between the action and reaction of different models and brands – the starting point should always be one of value.
The second aspect to consider when buying a digital piano at this price range is the sound of piano, and the quality of the inbuilt speakers (if indeed there are in-built speakers included). In terms of the quality of the sampling used by each manufacturer – this has also come a long way in recent years. No longer do digital pianos sound noticeably like an emulation, or as if you are playing an electric piano adjusted as closely as possible to sound like a real piano. Now, even the cheapest models of keyboard feature well sampled and well implement piano sounds – so convincingly that they are often even used as stand-ins for the real thing.
Of course – as with the keys – there are subtle variations between all the different models, and you can’t expect the kind of top-of-the-range super sampled sound you would get at a much higher price range (we’re talking thousands rather than hundreds of pounds): however, the sound should still be of a high standard, and you should settle for nothing less.
And before we move on, please take a look (below) at some of the best selling digital pianos currently available online:
|1) Casio PX-S3100|
|2) Casio PX-870|
|3) Roland RP-102|
|4) Yamaha P-515|
|5) Roland FP-90X|
Keys, Sound, and Speakers Matter
Another factor that ties into the sound performance of each instrument is the quality of the inbuilt speakers. While at lower price ranges, good in-built speakers are not always guaranteed, or even present at all in some models; those looking to buy a keyboard at around the $1000 mark should consider each models performance in this regard.
The kind of outputs each model wield is another element to consider – how many headphone ports will you need? Does the instrument feature the correct output options for your studio monitors, or PA system?
Alongside these two pillars of digital piano quality – the keys and the sound – its important to consider all the other features and elements that make up each model.
Understand What You Need
First consider your needs and wants – specifically what, why and where are you looking to buy and use your digital piano? Are you looking for a digital piano to take on the road with you, or to various venues to perform live with? If this is the case, then portability and output feature among your main priorities.
Can the keyboard be stored, moved, and setup relatively easily enough? Are the audio output options diverse or specific enough to allow you to get plugged into a venues sound-system? Is it just piano emulation you are after, or do you need a diverse sound bank featuring various sound-manipulation control?
If you are looking for a digital piano for use at home, then your needs are a little more straightforward. The quality of the instruments acoustic piano emulation will be top of your agenda, if you are buying to replace a real piano. The next thing to consider would be your spacial needs – are you limited for space; if so: what width and depth can you cater for?
If you are not low tied by spacial requirements, then you might want to consider more carefully the style and look of the digital piano. Are you looking for something low-key, an unobtrusive addition to your household? Or are you after a centre-piece, a stylish digital piano visually reminiscent of an acoustic piano?
Once you have considered all of the above points, continue on with the remainder of this article. Once you have a better understanding of your requirements and limitations, you will better judge which keyboard really is right for you.
Breaking Downing the Best from the Rest
I will now outline my picks for the 7 best digital pianos under $1000. This list is of course highly subjective, but I have tried to include a diverse range of different options – so that’s, no matter your needs, there is a great option for you.
- Yamaha P121
- Yamaha DGX-660
- Yamaha YDP-143
- Casio PX-870
- Korg LP-380
- Korg Havian-30
- Roland FP-30
The Yamaha P121 is a compact and versatile digital piano that is great for those looking for an instrument to take with them gigging.
The first thing we should note is that this is a 73-key piano – and therefore does not quite include the full range of notes necessary for those of you looking to play pieces that use the full range of the keyboard (typically more complex pieces of classical music), although this isn’t a problem for most people, with musical pieces rarely venturing to the extreme highs and lows.
The keys themselves are great, the P121 features Graded Hammer Standard keys – which are built in to the majority of Yamaha’s less expensive models. That’s not to say that the keys on the P121 are at all substandard – in fact they provide reasonable weighting and hammer-action emulation perfect for beginners and intermediate plays alike.
The weight is graded across the keyboard, meaning the lower keys are slightly heavier than those at the top end of the spectrum, and the black keys feature a matted effect, simulating touch of black ivories on an acoustic.
These keys are not the best quality on this list – and if you are an experienced and/or expert piano player this may not be the model for you – while the keys are fine (particularly for beginners), they do not quite capture the nuance of acoustic play that other models might.
The inbuilt speakers are robust and punchy – defiantly a plus considering this model sits at the smaller end of the scale in terms of build. The speakers are accurate even when played at loud volumes, and output options include USB and L/R Auxiliary – meaning these are able to be well connected to most external speaker systems and PAs.
The piano sampling is, typically of Yamaha, great – the piano sound is sampled from one of their expensive grand-piano models – and allows you to perform with the dynamic range and expression not possible on lesser models. As well as the main piano sound, the P121 features 23 other instruments, including a range of electric piano and string sounds.
The instrument is extremely compact, and weighs in at only 22 lbs – so is extremely portable, and suitable for use in limited spaces. Through the use of smart technology, the keyboard can be paired up with your smart device for an intuitive and deep interface at your fingertips, and is capable of easy MIDI playback and audio recording.
Overall, the P121 is a great option for those looking to play on-the-go, being both compact and portable; allowing for easy transport and performance in the tightest spaces. There is ultimately a slight dip in the quality of the keys themselves as a result of this how compact the instrument is, however this should not be too big a concern whilst you are gigging, and the keys still hold up favorably against many other models.
The P-121 is also compatible with the wonderful Yamaha Smart Pianist app, as well. It should also be noted that that Yamaha P-121 is just a smaller version of the very popular Yamaha P-125 (which of course features 88-keys).
- You can read our review of the Yamaha P-121 here.
The Yamaha DGX-660 is another great offering from Yamaha, who really are on top of their game when it comes to manufacturing digital pianos.
The DGX-660 boasts a set of 88-weighted keys, using the same Graded Hammer Standard keys as the P121: effective, but not top-of-the-range. These weighted keys can be altered to suit your needs and/or playing style, however: with 4 different response levels ranging from light to heavy. This means this model is great for those looking to perform with heavier, more traditional keys on occasion, but would appreciate the lighter touch of a conventional keyboard on occasion.
The speakers on this model are more than adequate – managing to product clear sound at high volumes, with little in the way of distortion. The DGX also boasts an Intelligent Acoustics Control – allowing you to subtly adapt the EQ of the sound to suit your surroundings.
One of the stand-out features of the DGX-660 is that fact that it boasts an arsenal of around 150 voices – including drum-kits. These sounds can all be changed with various sound-modulation options: including a host of different reverbs.
This digital piano is not nearly as light as the P121, however, weighing in at 46lbs without the stand, and a whopping 61lbs with.
This keyboard would have been a great travel & gig companion, had it not been so heavy – so I would recommend this more for the home producer, or those with a more permanent performance or recording setup. The combination of weighted keys, with the inclusion of so many different voices result in a keyboard that is perfect for the more creative among us, looking to experiment with different sounds and styles.
- You can read our review of the Yamaha DGX-660 here.
The final Yamaha model on our list os the YDP-144, and is very different from the previous two entries. The YDP-144 is built more in the fashion of a traditional acoustic piano – with the keyboard built into the frame of the body.
The instrument is available in a few different finishes, each a wooden styling in keeping with those of us used to acoustic pianos – and while the design of the body is very much in this spirit – it is done so compactly. With a width of 53.4” and depth of 16.6”: this is an ideal model for those of you looking for a permanent home fixture, but whom are still limited by space restriction.
This is, however, not a particularly light keyboard, so bear in mind while this may be compact – this is not something that can be moved about too easily.
The YDP-144 features the GHS keys seen in the previous two models, which while adequate (as explained previously, these still offer good weighted action and response), is slightly disappointing when we consider this model is made as a permanent fixture: more home-piano replacement than portable keyboard. One thing it is worth adding about the GHS keys, however, is that they are relatively quiet – so you won’t hear too much clicking and tapping whilst playing with headphones on or at lower volumes.
The YDP-144 does makeup for this, however, with a fantastic sounding piano output. The Pure CF integration is sampled from another of Yamaha’s top-of-the-range Grand Piano lines – however is more advanced than the sampling featured in the last two entries. The Pure CF integration allows for the performing of a wide dynamic range and nuanced expression: it is no surprise that this system is implement amongst some of the more expensive instruments available from Yamaha.
Two stereo speakers built into either side of the body allow for good translation of this excellent sampling – and there is little to no distortion at higher volumes.
Those of you looking to play through headphones will be pleased to hear about the addition of a Stereophonic Optimizer, which broadens and adjusts the output of sound so as to perfectly suit those playing through headphones. This leads to a much richer and deeper sound experience.
Overall, the Yamaha YDP-144 is a decent option for those of you looking for a permanent home fixture, without wanting to invest in something too bulky. It is a little disappointing a better-quality range of keys are not built into this instrument; however, the superb sound of the piano, and decent speakers makes up somewhat for this oversight.
- You can read our review of the Yamaha Arius YDP-144 here.
Moving on from Yamaha, we next come to Casio, and their PX-870 digital piano. This is another keyboard designed in the manner of an upright acoustic piano – so is again for those looking for a permanent home fixture, as opposed to a travel companion.
The keys on this instrument are absolutely fantastic, particularly considering the price-point. The PX-870 features 88, fully weighted Tri Sensor Scaled Hammer Action keys, which in simple terms they are pretty darn intuitive. As with most digital pianos at this price-point, they are fully weighted, however these keys feature some of the best acoustic-piano emulation around, thanks to the inclusion of three sensors (as opposed to just two) underneath each of the hammers. This allows for you to really capture effectively the nuances of playing a grand piano, for example you can play each note multiple times without having to de-press the key fully.
The piano sounds have been sampled well, and are processed so as to emulate the speed with which hammers inside a grand piano will move in relation to the speed in which the keys are pressed.
The different piano sounds all sound great – with different tones available, ranging from mellow options to brighter sounds.
All of this combines to create a fantastic piano-playing experience – if you are after nothing more than a good emulation of acoustic piano playing – then the Casio PX-870 is a good option.
- You can read our review of the Casio PX-870 here.
Korg are another manufacturer renowned within the digital piano community; and, like Yamaha and Casio, have a proven track-record of delivering quality.
The LP-380 is another heavy, bigger built instrument, so this is agin aimed at those looking for a permanent home-fixture, especially considering it weighs in at 81.51 lbs. The first thing to note about the LP_380 is that it is an extremely stylish and good-looking keyboard. The aesthetic is best described as elegant minimalism, and is available in both black and white (each looking equally sleek).
Korg have been personal favorites of mine when it comes to the action of their keys – however I find this more prevalent around the low-high end keyboards, whereas the mid price models seem to lack somewhat compared with their competitors.
The RH3 system implemented in the LP-380 offers very good and detailed weighting, however does not quite capture the same nuances and imperfections of acoustic pianos that the Yamaha’s and Casio do – again this is only something noticeable if you are an expert player, or have become used to playing acoustic pianos.
The Korg Stereo Piano System coupled with a decent set of speakers mean that your playing is translated very well into sound: with the piano sampling decent.
This model is a good digital piano to consider if you are looking for a stylish addition to your household – while it is not quite up to scratch in the performance department – at least compared with the others – the LP-380 is the most visually striking entry on this article, and only sacrifices a little quality as a result.
The final keyboard on this entry is a little bit of a curve-ball, and is very different from the other models already listed.
The Havian-30 boasts 88 weighted keys – with the hammer-action emulation you come to expect from this particular price range. That being said, the keys are not quite as responsive as the other entries on this list, with the velocity sensitivity being a particular concern.
Accessible through a colour display on the front of the body – the Havian-30 includes a huge and varied sound-bank – even featuring 64 different drum kits!
The various different piano sounds are well sampled, if not quite top-of-the-ranges, and are amplified well through a good set of speakers built into the body of the instrument.
The in-built features are the real stand-out element of this keyboard, however. Various accompaniment options across a huge array of different styles mean you are able to play just about anything with the right backing track for you.
Processors within the instrument work with the sound so as to produce audio output not too far removed from studio-quality, which sounds great regardless as to whether it is being played through the speakers of the headphones.
You are able to program chord sequencers, and can record, save and export your songs to MP3 or even MIDI – integration with your smart device through USB makes this a beast of an outlet for your creativity.
This all comes in a portable, compact package – making this model a great choice if you like to play around and make your own music and arrangements at home, or even on the go.
I have managed to include a widely varying different range of options above for you, however it is now time to choose my pick of the bunch.
I believe that the best option listed above is the Casio-870: purely for its outstanding performance delivering an excellent piano-playing experience. The keys and the sound produced are really top-of-the line in at this particular price-point, and if you are looking to replace an acoustic piano at home, then this is the model for you.
Do bear in mind that this is by no means the best keyboard if you are looking for something compact and/or portable – I would recommend the Yamaha P121 with this in-mind – so long as you don’t mind sacrificing the extra keys.
The Roland FP-30 is a slimline and portable digital piano, that also manages to pack in absolutely great weighted key action, making this a fantastic option for those of you limited by space, but still looking for a good acoustic piano playing experience.
The keyboard is designed unobtrusively – with the build being sleek, black, and uncluttered by few buttons. The keyboard can be controlled from any smart-device using Roland’s own app – which means you are less and less likely to use what buttons are on the body particularly often.
Despite being on the smaller size, despite being ideal to fit into tight corners, or in cramped rooms – the Roland digital piano actually boast my favorite set of keys on this list.
The weighting is fantastic and is graded from low to high. The resistance while playing is accurately emulated, and the keys seem to pick up all the nuances of your playing well. The clicking and tapping of the keys themselves, so normally infuriating for those in the same room as someone playing on through headphones – is virtually non-existent: these keys are so, so quiet.
The Roland FP-30 manages to both be portable, and display a fantastic set of weighted keys – and I would heartily recommend this instrument to beginners and experts alike – you will not be disappointed whilst playing these keys.
- You can read our review of the Roland FP-30 here.
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