In this article, we’re going to provide you with 7 awesome stage pianos under $1,000 that we think are awesome values for the money. And to better help you, please take a moment to view the interactive guide below, which allows you to compare some of these pianos against one another.
|Roland RD-88||PHA-4 Standard action, ZEN-Core sound engine|
|Nord Stage 3||OLED Display|
|Casio PX5S||Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II Keyboard|
|Nord Piano 5||Polyphony: 120 Notes (piano section), 46 Notes (sample synth section)|
|Yamaha YC88||128 Notes (AWM2/Organ), 128 Notes (FM)|
Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Vibe, Pan, Tremolo and more
|Casio PX-560||5.3” Color Display|
Finding the Right Digital Piano
In order to be self reliant, you will have had to invest in a digital stage piano. Unfortunately, these were not at all cheap, and were never really of a good enough quality to properly emulate the acoustic piano-playing and transpose it during live performance.
Luckily, the digital piano market today is a lot more diverse and affordable: meaning that even those of us on a budget are able to choose from a range of different models all capable of facilitating your live piano performance.
Before continuing with our assessment as to the best digital stage pianos under $1000 dollars, it is important to to distinguish the main differences between a normal Digital Piano, and a Stage Piano.
The first difference between the two comes with regards to the importance of portability. While a conventional digital piano will predominantly be bought for use at home, and is therefore likely to be heavier; a Stage Digital Piano is designed for the road, for the gigging musician; and therefore, needs to be able to be moved and transported with relevant ease.
The second difference between the two comes with regards to the importance of sound output. If you were looking to buy a digital piano for use at home, sound output will not have been a primary concern. So long as the speakers were able to output clear audio, the level at which it does so will probably not have been a major factor when buying a model (especially if you prefer playing through headphones or are conscious of noise-limitation).
This is certainly not the case with a stage piano, in fact: it means that audio output is one of the chief elements to consider before buying one. Stage Digital Pianos either need to be capable of outputting at high volumes, without also producing much in the way of distortion; or need to have options in terms of outputting sound to an external speaker or device – so that you are able to plugin to monitors, amps, or PA systems.
The touch and feel of a digital piano will always be an important factor, regardless as to whether you are playing live or not – however the weighting and number of keys may not be of paramount importance, depending on your needs. While I would always recommend choosing a digital piano that at least has weighted keys, it may be that you prefer a lighter touch whilst playing.
Provided a stage piano translates your performance into accurate live performance – the intricacies of the keys will not require so much analysis as they would if you were choosing a digital piano for the home, where you are much more likely to notice and appreciate the subtle nuances between different manufacturers key beds, and so on.
Other things to consider include the depth of sound-bank – what other instruments are you likely to want to use – and features such as chord sequencers, arpeggiators, and the ability to playback via MIDI.
The above features are traditionally more associated with keyboard players, however the two instruments (digital piano and keyboard) have come together over the years so as to almost fuse into one.
While the digital piano will have been built with acoustic piano emulation as the single most important element of its design – keyboards were instead produced for multi-tasking.
As such, keyboards would usually substitute a fully weighted 88-key keyboard for a host of difference voices, audio manipulation filters (think the ability to pitch-bend, or add tremolo), and added usability.
While there usually been effective hybrids available at the top-end of the market, recent years have seen more and more cross-over models available at a decent price – with keyboards being developed with more advanced keys, and digital pianos including ever more different features and functionality: the two instruments have almost become inseparable.
That being said, here are the stage pianos we’ll be discussing today:
- Korg D1
- Yamaha P45
- Yamaha DGX-660
- Alesis Recital Pro
- Alesis Coda Pro
- Casio PX-360
- Casio PX-5S
- Korg Grandstage (bonus)
- Roland FP-90 (bonus)
Let’s begin with the Casio PX5S.
Now first, before we get to the sub-$1,000 pianos, I wanted to provide you with about three that will cost you $1,000 or more, but are really worthwhile instruments if you’re willing to spend the extra cash.
The PX-5S stands at a similar price-point to the PX-360, but is both aesthetically and systematically different.
While the PX-360 was more aimed at the piano player, despite being functional in the other regards, the PX-5S is an instrument more aimed at keyboard players, and those whom enjoy manipulating and experimenting with different sounds.
The keys themselves are similar to the keys on the PX-360, being tri-sensored actioned, however are slightly inferior: with the lack of after-touch leaving you with a slight lack of nuance to your playing. The keys themselves are slightly lighter than most of the other models on this list, and do not feature any ebony and ivory texturing – so are much more in line with the playing performance once would expect from a traditional keyboard. That being said, the keys are weighted and graded, so are capable of decent piano playing.
What the PX-5S lacks in the piano playing department, however, it more than makes up in the rest of its additional features.
Around 370 preset and 350 user voices are available within the database, each of which can be layered on top of another in a ‘hex layering system’, which allows you to layer sounds over another, and playback different sounds depending on the velocity of your playing.
Arpeggios and chords can be sequenced, and you can apply a variety o foddering effects and modulators to each sound – including Reverb, pitch bends, chorus and wah.
Not only this, but layered sounds can be EQ’d and compressed, allowing you top create rich and unique tones and voices.
Weighing in at just 25 lbs, this is both a portable and complex keyboard, and is perfect for those of you looking to experiment with your sounds. While the weighted keys do not quite stack up against other models on this list, and may not be suitable for those of you seeking the best stage acoustic-piano playing experience, the host of additional features mean that this is not a keyboard to be trifled with.
- You Might Also Like: Casio PX-5S review
The Korg Grandstage is, quite simply, a beast of a digital stage piano. Designed with the gigging musician in mind, the Grandstage comes with multiple dynamic knobs that allow you to easily control the piano’s sound and its ability (or its degree) to be expressive.
Using a 3-band EQ, Korg allows you to really shape your sound Layer/split to your hearts content.
The Grandstage comes with seven powerful sound engines, so you’re really going to be getting your money’s worth when it comes to to sound on this piano.
Housed inside this stage piano are great piano sounds, including the SGX-2 acoustic piano sound engine.
The Korg Grandstage sure ain’t cheap—be prepared to shell out over $2,000. But as we all say with most things in life—you get what you pay for.
Roland has really been rocking it out with their stage pianos, and that excellence continues with the Roland FP-90. This piano provides you with an authentic feel, as it comes with a PHA-50 Keyboard, so you really get the sense that you’re playing on a grand piano.
The four speakers on the FP90 are also going to provide you with richer sound that will come across as being far more detailed than you might be used to if you are more familiar with cheaper digital pianos.
This being a digital piano, be prepared for a large selection of different voices, including electric piano, synths, organs and strings.
And a digital stage piano, certainly in this era, wouldn’t be worth much without Bluetooth wireless connectivity. And that’s certainly the case with the FP-90, which allows you to connect your phone or tablet via Bluetooth to your piano. Once you do this, you’ll be able to play along with music from your apps, affording you a more fun and interactive experience.
- You Also Might Like: Roland FP90 review
Other Notable Options
Now, let’s move onto a few other cheaper options that, while they all aren’t necessarily stage pianos in the traditional sense, might function as more value options if you don’t want to spend close to $2,000 for a new instrument.
Korg’s Digital Pianos have offered some of the best value for money in recent years – with quality all but guaranteed. Despite this; Korg have no released a budget Stage Digital Piano in a while, with fans having to choose between the affordable, but limited Korg SP-280, and the advanced yet pricey SV-1. The recently released D1, however, offers a great middle ground between the two: giving you great acoustic piano emulation at a decent price.
The first thing to note about the D1 is its design. The Korg D1 is a sleek and smart piece of kit – with the 88-note key-bed set into an all black body, projecting both a smart and sleek appearance. The D1 is built for portability, and the compactness of design, alongside a weight of just 33lbs means you will be able to transport this about with relative ease.
This partially aided by the fact that the D1 does not include in-built speakers, so make sure that you have access to a good set of external speakers before considering buying. The Korg has a basic set of outputs, including ¼ stereo output: which means you should easily be able to plug this in to a venue’s PA or amp setup.
Unfortunately, this Korg digital piano does not include USB out – so if you are considering hooking this up to your computer or another device, bear in mind that your will have to invest in a good MIDI-USB converter.
Bearing in mind that most newer models of Digital Piano, even amongst the budget market, do feature some kind of USB connectivity (whether wired or wireless), this is somewhat disappointing, however USB connectivity may not be a concern, depending on your needs.
The 88 RH3 keys built into the body are impressive, considering the relatively small foot-print of this instrument, and are the same keys included on the more expensive SV-1 stage digital piano.
The RH3 keys feature graded weighting, meaning the the lower keys are heavier than their counterparts at the top of the range, all in all making for an accurate piano-playing experience: capturing most of the nuances of acoustic piano-playing. The fact that Korg have managed to include the RH-3 set of keys in such an affordable and slim stage piano is impressive and means that the D1 is a good option for those of you looking for a solely piano based live experience.
The D1 features a range of different piano voices, and boasts a bank of 30 unique voices in total – including various electric piano and string sounds, which translate across at higher volumes to different quality. While the piano sampling is fine, some of the other sounds tend to lose some of their clarity when being performed, especially at higher volumes.
These sounds can be creatively changed through filters including reverb and brilliance, however there is no complex audio modulation built into this keyboard.
Overall, the D1 is a great all-rounder; offering a combination of good acoustic-piano emulation and portability. If you are looking to play piano on the roads, without caring fro all the frills and features of other more complex models, then this may be the instrument for you.
You can also read our Korg C1 Air review here.
Yamaha are well known amongst the music community as a safe pair of hands when it comes to digital pianos, and the P45 only adds to their reputation.
These keys are fully weighted, and feature hammer-action within the main body to really emulate the feeling of playing an acoustic piano: with the lower and upper ends of the keyboard graded. The velocity of the keys can be amended to your tastes – with 4 presents from heavy to soft to flip between; and the keys make little noise whilst being played. The quality of these keys is no surprise considering Yamaha’s pedigree as a a reliable digital piano manufacturer.
The base piano sound has been captured superbly by Yamaha’s audio engineering team, with the P-45 featuring Yamaha’s AWM Dynamic Sampling technology – which, put simply, delivers high quality piano emulation through their range of different digital pianos.
This keyboard features perhaps the best quality simulate piano sound of all the keyboards featured in this list – and while the 64-note polyphony is not quite up there with the Casio PX-160: there are very few foreseeable situations where this might make a tangible difference.
The ability to layer sounds whilst playing is an added bonus, with the user able to create unique and lush sounds when combining voices.
The in-built speakers on the P45 are suitable for home use, but should not at all be considered for live performance – and therefore it is essential that you hook these up to external speakers or a PA system.
This Yamaha digital piano is approximately 11 ½ inches deep and is light enough to be carried by one person, which makes this keyboard extremely portable. The weight and size, coupled with a durable build quality; means that the P-45 is well-suited to the musician on the go, however I would still look to invest in a proper keyboard case if you are planning on hitting the road.
The P45 is another solid all rounder, and is essentially a cheaper stand in for the Korg B1 – offering a good set of keys built into a compact and slimline design. While not quite at the level of the B1, the P45 is good affordable alternative.
- You Might Also Like: Yamaha P-45 review
The Yamaha DGX-660 contrasts greatly with the previous two models on this list – in terms of both its aesthetic, and portability. The DGX-660 is not a compact keyboard, weighing in at 61lbs, and with a depth of 17.5” – while this is classed a Stage Digital Piano you should bear in mind that this will not be the easiest instrument to transport, and will take around 20-30 minutes to assemble on its stand.
That being said – this is a smart and good-looking digital piano, available in a brushed wood and black finish that looks good and feels good.
The interface across the body of the instrument is rather cluttered, however this is mostly down to the huge array of features and voices available. The DGX-660 boasts well over 500 individual voicing, covering everything from piano, to drums, to guitar: meaning you really are spoilt for choice in terms of your choice of sound. Not only this, but all of these sounds can be modulated and changed through the application of different filters.
For example, there are almost 50 different reverbs you can apply to a single sound.
There are various different accompaniment styles (if that is your kind of thing), alongside different options and accessibility as to how you play along with said accompaniment.
All of these features are supported by the inclusion of an LCD screen, meaning you will not have to figure out too many complicated buttons presses in order to get the sound you desire.
The keys themselves are of a good quality, once again being bother weighted and grade – with the same bed of keys as the P-45. The touch sensitivity of the keys can be amended between Light-Medium-Heavy; which means, while the keys are still designed for the piano player rather than the keyboard player: you are still able to change the sensitivity to better suit your style. The keys do feel a bit plasticky, which is a shame: however, that is something you will find more often than not feature among models below $1000 – the black keys do have a matte finish, which does help recreate the contrast between them and the white keys to an extent.
The DGX-660 uses the Yamaha PURE CF sound engine, which produces deep and resonant acoustic piano sounds, with the sampling all taken from an advanced Yamaha Grand Piano. All of your playing will be translated well, with the piano sounding rich and vibrant.
The Yamaha DGX-660 is a great option for those of you willing to trade-off a measure of the portability, in favour of a deeper sound-bank. The piano playing experience on this keyboard is good and translate well into outputted audio – with the design choices made by Yamaha feeding into the acoustic piano-playing experience. While this sacrifices a great deal of its compactness, it more than makes up for this in all other areas.
- You Might Also Like: Yamaha DGX-660 review
The Alesis Recital Pro is a decent budget stage piano – if you are not look
The first thing to mention about this keyboard is that the keys are not fully-weighted. This is not necessarily a bad thing – semi weighted keys are sometimes preferable for those playing live and still encourage the beginner to develop some sensitivity to velocity – however this is not the keyboard for those looking for budget emulation of a real acoustic piano.
The keyboard features 5 different voices, all sampled to a decent standard. These can be fleshed out by layering on top of one another, however the base piano sound does an adequate job, if not quite as nuanced as some of the other pianos on this list.
The Recital Pro really comes into its own when we consider its design, as almost tailor-made to be taken out on the road. Weighing in at only around 16lbs (possibly helped by the semi-weighted key), and with a simplified interface and low-profile build – this keyboard is certainly portable.
So, if you’re looking for a compact and low-maintenance keyboard you can easily take with you to band practice – the Alessis Recital Pro is worth considering.
- You Might Also Like: Alesis Recital review
Alesis Coda Pro
The Alesis Coda-Pro is another option to consider if you are looking for a digital piano-keyboard hybrid.
This black digital piano features a full set of 88 weighted keys, offering a decent digital piano playing experience. It is worth nothing however that the keys are not graded, so the notes at the bottom of the scale will be no heavier than those at the top – however this could be considered a luxury feature, especially considering the keyboards lower price point.
The piano voicing is good, if not quite to the standards of the Korg and Yamaha models, however the Coda Pro does feature a further 20 voices, as well as various different tone and effect controls: enough to whet the appetite of those seeking to explore a host of different sounds.
The instrument itself is compact, with a depth of only 14”, however weighs in at close to 30 lbs, so is by no means the lightest addition to this list, however should still be able to be carried by one person.
The Coda Pro is aesthetically one of my favorite models on this list – the smoothed deep black finish, combined with the rounded edges and contrasting orange interface result in an instrument that looks more like a high-end keyboard/synthesiser than a digital piano.
The Alesis Coda-Pro is a great alternative option if you are considering investing in a hybrid digital-piano/keyboard – offering a good trade off between price and functionality.
- You Might Also Like: Alesis Coda review
The PX-360 is one of the more expensive cheaper models on this list – coming in at just under $1000, however this is a model in which you certainly get value for money.
Weighing in at 26 lbs, this is a slimline and portable keyboard, that can easily be transported and setup on your travels, and features ¼ stereo, midi control, USB output options – meaning this keyboard is versatile enough to meet your needs, whether you are looking to use a second keyboard, play through your computer, or just as a stage piano. Despite being so compact, however, this keyboard by no means suffers from a lack of quality in other departments as a result.
The 88 tri-sensor keys are fantastic, especially at the sub-$1000 category, and especially considering how light this keyboard is.
The three sensors built into the internal hammers below each key mean that the keys are able to pick up all the slightest nuances of your playing – including the ability to press the key more than once without having to release it.
The weight is well applied, and is graded from low to high. The keys themselves have been textured, also as to replicate the feel and friction you would get playing a real set of ebony and ivories – meaning you wont struggle with faster/more complicated playing, and you won’t have to worry about fingers slipping from keys.
The Casio AIR system is one of the more advance piano processing systems around – it operates through the combination of fantastic digital piano sampling, and digital processing and manipulation of the sounds so as to create a piano sound that sounds both quality and organic.
Not only is the piano sound on this model fantastic, but the PX-360 also features around 500 unique tones and instruments to choose from, as well as various audio effects – all of which can be accessed through the colour LCD screen on the front of the body.
The PX-360 is an extremely capable digital piano, and will do a fantastic job no matter how or why you play keyboard. The piano-playing experience on this model is of the best quality you are likely to find for a Stage Piano at this price point: with fantastic feeling through the keys, and a top translation of this playing into piano sound. With 500 unique sounds to choose from, and its ability to be played via USB or MIDI – this is a versatile and capable instrument, made even more noteworthy because of its portability.
Despite being at the higher end of the price spectrum, this is a Stage Digital Piano that ticks most boxes when it comes to form and functionality.
- You Might Also Like: Casio PX-360 review
Conclusion: What Should I Buy?
Having reviewed all of the above keyboards, I must say that the Yamaha PX-360 is my pick for the best keyboard under $1000. No matter whether you want to sue this instrument for accurate acoustic-piano emulation, or to experiment with your sound – the PX-360 is able to tick the majority of people’s boxes. This is a perfect all-rounder, yet remains portable.
If you are warier of your budget, then the Korg D1 would be my choice, managing to offer an effective yet portable digital piano experience.
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