In this article, we’re going to discuss how you can best determine what digital piano with 88 weighted keys you should purchase. We’ll compare and contrast models and brands, and base our decision not just on the quality of the keybed and piano’s features, but also it’s price and overall what it offers you as a piano player.
Be sure to quickly take a look at our interactive table below that features a small handful of fantastic digital pianos that have 88 weighted keys:
|Casio PX-S3000||88||700 Sounds, 200 Rhythms|
|Yamaha YDP 144||88||GHS action, CFX Grand Piano Voice|
|Roland FP-60X||88||16 piano tones, 18 electric piano tones|
|Korg B2SP||88||Stand and Pedal Unit Included|
|Casio PX-870||88||Redesigned Cabinet, Speaker System|
Significance of 88 Keys That Are Weighted?
As expected, one major characteristic of a digital piano that heavily influences purchases is the presence of 88 weighted keys.
Digital pianos come in different ranges and sizes, but the most standard of them is a full length keybed containing 88 keys. 88-keys is the basic range that pianos have been made with for many years, and this range consists of 52 white keys, 36 black keys, all ranging over 7 octaves plus a minor third.
The only real exception to this comes from very expensive pianos made by Austrian manufacturers Bösendorfer, which sometimes come with an extended 92 keys.
As the making of digital pianos have progressed, the weight behind the keys has only increased and been made more technologically advanced than ever before. Nowadays digital pianos have exquisite hammer action key systems that are made to the exact detail of the real hammer action in an actual acoustic or grand piano. There are varying levels of detail, cost, and weight that come with these systems.
And below, please take a look at some of the best selling weighted digital pianos currently available for purchase on Amazon:
|1) Roland RP-102|
|2) Casio PX-780|
|3) Casio PX-870|
Recommended Digital Pianos for 2020 (and Beyond)
It’s been a little bit of time since this article was originally written, and I wanted to give a 2019 update to the recommended digital pianos with weighted keys that are in this article (as new models have been released, and other pianos have risen in popularity).
So, what I’m going to do below is start small in terms of prices for these recommended digital pianos, and gradually grow from there.
First, let’s begin with the Yamaha P-125.
The Yamaha P-125 features a Graded Hammer Standard keybed, which means its moreso aimed at those that are beginners. As it says in the name, the keys on this portable piano (which replaces the popular P-115) are graded keys, which means the keys are heavier on the lower end and lighter on the higher end.
Yamaha P-125 vs Yamaha P-115
Now the P-125 is the successor to the P-115, but you’d never guess by how they look. These two pianos are nearly identical in the looks department, with the only major difference being the P-125 has a bit more height than the P-115.
A much bigger difference is in the sound department, though. The P-125 has an improved speaker system built into its body, so you’re going to experience better and richer sound. The sound is also improved by the use of the Pure CF Sound Engine, whereas something like the Yamaha P-45 uses AWM to play just one sample per key at differing levels of volume.
Yamaha P-125 vs Yamaha P-515
As we begin to step up the ladder of digital pianos, we encounter the Yamaha P-515—a piano that really fits the bill for being great for beginners and more serious players alike.
Now, in terms of touch and feel, the P-515 features Natual Wood X action (this portable piano actually has wooden white keys!). This is a better key action than the P-125’s GHS or Graded Hammer Standard action. Both are very nice, but the NWX action on the P-515 is just much more suited for a serious piano player than the GHS.
One additional thing I’d like to note here is the polyphony. Now, the P-125 has 192 notes of polyphony, which is really quite good for a piano that’s in the $600 range. But, the Yamaha P-515 features an incredible 256 notes of polyphony.
Polyphony is all about note decay—being able to sustain a note. And so, the higher polyphony in your piano, the more notes you can technically play, which means the more complex pieces you can play on your digital piano.
If you’re a beginner, or you just don’t really care about this sort of thing, by all means stick to the Yamaha P-125. You’re going to get truly great value there.
But, if you’re someone that plans to play digital piano over the long haul, and wants a great portable digital piano to grow into, you’ll definitely want to consider the P-515!
Let’s now move onto the Yamaha YDP-144 and Yamaha YDP-164
The Yamaha YDP-144 and Yamaha YDP-164 are two of the newer entries into the Arius lineup. And what’s beautiful about them, aside from their wonderful appearance, is that there have been a few unique changes to these pianos that strongly (in my opinion) make them worthy of being purchased if you’re in the market for a new digital piano.
These two pianos, which replace the YDP-143 and YDP-163 respectively, feature different key actions. The YDP-144 has a GHS or Graded Hammer Standard action. This action is good, there’s no question about it, as it features graded keys (exactly like you’d find on an acoustic piano). But the Yamaha YDP-164 steps things up a notch by including a GH3 or Graded Hammer 3 keyboard.
In addition to graded keys, the GH3 keyboard features a three sensor configuration in the keys, allowing for more precise expression when playing the piano.
Another thing that is different here is the sound amplification. Simply put, the YDP-164 is going to fill up a room much better and easier than the YDP-144. While both pianos definitely sound pretty wonderful, with the YDP-164, you’re getting a digital that features a 20 wattage speaker system. With two speakers, this comes out to a total of 40 watts.
By contrast, the YDP-144 features just an 8 wattage speaker system (16 watts in total, thanks to its two on-board speakers). That’s a big difference.
So, if sound matters greatly to you, then you’ll probably want to lean towards the YDP-164.
Other than that, these pianos are remarkably similar. Both features the CFX Grand Piano Sound, an upgrade over the CF Grand Piano sound engine in previous models. On top of that, you also get a Pop Grand Piano sound if you want a more jazzy, upbeat tune, and Mellow Grand Piano sound whenever you want to play something that gives off a more sweet or nostalgic vibe.
In all honesty, you can’t go wrong with either digital piano. But if it truly did come down to a match between the Yamaha YDP-144 vs Yamaha YDP-164, I think the 164 is going to win out.
Let’s now move onto the Casio PX-870.
Now, the Casio PX-870 replaced the PX-860, and has quickly become a popular digital piano on the market.
The PX-870 can be had for roughly $1,000, and comes with the Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II.
The PX-870 comes inside a beautiful cabinet with a lid that slides up and down, so you’ll feel like you’re getting an experience that’s almost akin to that of an upright acoustic piano—but for whole lot less money.
Casio PX-870 vs Yamaha YDP-143
One of the digital pianos that’s probably most compared to the PX-870 is the YDP-143 by Yamaha. The YDP-143 is part of the Arius line of digital pianos, and it replaced the well known YDP-142.
Now the YDP-143 costs about $1,099, and comes with a padded bench. In some instances, you can find very affordable Yamaha YDP-143 bundles that also include things like headphones, song books, instructional DVD’s and more.
The YDP-143 features the Pure CF Sound Engine, and many will be thrilled to know that the Yamaha CFIIIS 9′ concert grand piano’s sound is well reproduced here within the YDP-143.
One thing that’s really nice about the Casio PX-870 is its polyphony count. Despite the Yamaha YDP-143 costing so much money, its polyphony count is 192 notes. While this is no doubt pretty good, when you look at the specs and see that the Casio PX-870 features 256-note polyphony (and the piano actually costs about $100 less), it’s easy to set your sights on the PX-870.
And why’s that? Well, polyphony count is a concept that’s all based around the fundamental idea of note decay. The slower the note decay, the more notes you can play and hear being played on the piano.
So, as you can see, a higher note of polyphony means you’ll be able to enjoy learning and playing more expressive musical pieces. This isn’t necessarily something you’ll want or need if you’re a complete novice, but if you’ve been in the game a while, are an accomplished pianist, or you just want a digital pino you can grow into, the PX870 is a definite winner.
Now, let’s move onto a new flagship digital piano from Yamaha, the P-515.
So the Yamaha P-515 is the latest addition to the P-series lineup, that includes much more affordable digital pianos, like the P45 and P-115. This new instrument is considered to be the absolute cream of the crop in this line, which is a big reason it costs about $1,499 online and offline.
The P-515 is actually a replacement for the Yamaha P-255, and I actually think it’s quite a significant upgrade. First, the P-515 uses a NWX (Natural Wood X) key action. This is the first time we’ve seen NWX hit the P-series line, as this is usually reserved for more expensive Yamaha digital pianos. It’s really cool, therefore, to see Yamaha break out the really good stuff and package it inside a smaller digital piano that’s suited best for those that want a portable piano rather than one that sits inside a cabinet.
Yamaha P-515 vs Yamaha P255
So as I mentioned earlier, the Yamaha P-515 has been released in an effort to actually succeed the P255. And the P-515 is surprisingly a pretty radical improvement over its predecessor.
First, the NWX action features white keys that are actually made of wood, just like you’d see on a traditional piano.
On top of that, you get a much better quality graded key action in NWX, as opposed to what the P255 used, which was GH or Graded Hammer. When you compares these two side by side, despite the P255 being a great digital piano, when we talk about key action, the P255 is no doubt great in its own right, but the P-515 is Clavinova-like quality when it comes to key action.
Now, similar to the P-125, I really like how the P-515 is able to integrate with the Smart Pianist app. Capable of being used with an iPhone or iPad, the Smart Pianist app is a great way to visually control a lot of your choices and settings on the piano that you’d otherwise change by sliding levers and pushing buttons.
With that said, the P-515 does come with an LCD screen built into its front panel. It’s very clear and easy to navigate. But it’s definitely pretty small in the grand scheme of things—to the point where using your iPhone or iPad screen would definitely serve as a worthwhile substitute.
Another thing that’s great is the Chord Chart feature (in the Smart Pianist app), which will allow you to play along with some of your favorite songs. Now, as your favorite tune is playing, you’ll see chord charts being displayed, allowing you to literally play alongside your favorite tracks.
This is a very cool new feature that is not offered with the P255.
Both the P-515 and P255 do indeed have the same 256-notes of polyphony. So if that’s a big factor for you, you might be better off trying to hunt down the P255 for a bit of a discount.
Touch Sensitivity Catered Towards the User
Another one of the characteristics that makes up part of the decision of a purchase is that of touch sensitivity.
One of the advantages of having a digital platform in dealing with pianos is adjustment and customization. Anyone who has every played a real piano has always had that shocking reaction to the weight of the piano keys—keys that seem to be as heavy as bricks under your fingers.
The classical pianist has learned to develop that hand and finger strength over time, while maturing with the instrument to create a stronger expertise and greater ability to play more intense pieces.
With the advent of numerous technologies and the different climate of much of music today, many times that culture of classical piano no longer is as mandated. This does not mean there is no place for it at all, as there now exists the option to adjust the settings on modern digital pianos.
Most pianos come with about three to five different touch sensitivity settings, usually including hard, medium, soft, and fixed. These settings make it easy to adjust to a setting that is most suitable to the player’s desire.
However, there are some drawbacks to this.
If you are a serious piano player, you may want to take note of the lack of muscle memory generation that may take place if you use these settings in a fashion that it is not intended.
Simply put, practice makes perfect.
So, if you are using these machines to serve as a substitute while real pianos are not available, you will easily be doing a disservice to yourself because when you jump back to playing a real piano, it will suddenly become very difficult for you again.
It is always important to be aware of these touch sensitivity settings and always remember to push yourself if you intend on being a real pianist.
Even though having an 88 key digital piano is the standard, this is not always a hard and fast rule.
Most pianos come with 88 keys, but there are many pianos that come with 76 and 61 keys too. Many times this is done to increase the portability and ease of transport of the machine, and also for machines that are meant for smaller settings such as studio or in home use.
Other times, the full 88 key range is not needed because the user of the piano is most likely a beginner to intermediate player, and is still working on simple concepts and pieces.
For the serious piano player, however, it is almost imperative that you have a piano with a full keybed. One reason is simply that without it, there will be many pieces of music that you just will not have the pleasure of playing, since your machine cannot accommodate it.
With that said, if you feel that this is not a serious concern of yours, then do know that there are many 76 and 61 key machines that will perform adequately for your needs and will be fun to play.
Inexpensive Options for 88 Weighted Keys
First, let’s discuss the cheaper option for those interested in an weighted, 88-key digital piano One such model is that of the Williams Allegro (we also recently reviewed the Williams Allegro 2, as well).
Williams Pianos is a lesser-known company, but they produce dependable machines that appeal to those that are not willing to drop huge stacks of cash on digital pianos.
The Allegro comes with a hammer action system that is not trademarked, but certainly gets the job done. The keys on the piano are all velocity sensitive, so the expression of your music will always come through, instead of the uniform velocity that you see on many a cheap digital piano.
The piano also comes with 8 dependable tones, a metronome, a two track recording system, and MIDI connectivity. All of this for around $300 is truly an amazing package.
I have to keep it real, however, and that means the truth is most people aren’t feeling Williams Pianos. And if you’re one of those people, you may want to try another affordable option. If so, I’d recommend the Yamaha P-115. (Please note, we have recently reviewed the new Yamaha P-125).
The predecessor to the P-115, the Yamaha P-105 (which is now currently discontinued) had previously been one of best selling options on the market for years, and provided a lot of what a young beginning piano player would need to get up and running.
The P-115 features Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) key system, a dependable and awesome option for this price range of piano. It has hard, soft, medium, and fixed touch sensitivity settings, along with the tone generation of the original Pure CF Sound Engine, which features real authentic piano samples.
The 14 voices housed on the machine are backed by 192 notes of polyphony (up from a “mere” 128 polyphony housed in the P-105), along with 14 demo songs (and 50 piano songs). This is certainly one of the best options available on the market, and if you shop well, you should be able to find it for roughly $600 brand new.
High End Options for 88 Weighted Keys
If you aren’t afraid of spending a little money, then you have certainly opened yourself up to some of the best options on the market for any digital piano, not just one with 88 weighted keys. And one of the first places to look is the Privia series of pianos from Casio.
The Casio Privia PX 850 is the proclaimed flagship of Privia, and it is easy to see why. It comes with Casio’s Tri Sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II system, which is one of the best systems on the market and features 3 sensors for every key in the range (you can read our comparison review between the Casio PX-850 vs Casio PX-860, as well as our Casio PX-870 review).
There are 3 different sensitivity levels, all being supported by the Acoustic and Intelligent Resonator (AiR) sound source, and a whopping 256 notes of polyphony. There are 18 tones here, which is more than enough for any serious piano player, and the entire package will cost you around $1500 retail (likely less if you buy online).
This model uses Roland’s proprietary Ivory Feel G keyboard system, which has the most advanced sensor technology Roland has to offer, with the addition of an escapement mechanism to make the pianist feel at home.
The board is supported by the SuperNATURAL sound engine, which improves upon the velocity response, note decay, and key range behavior of past sound engines.
It features an amazing 128 tones and voices, with over 80 FX controls and 200 rhythm patterns.
On top of that, the Yamaha Arius line is a wonderful line of digital pianos. Featuring a mix of Graded Hammer Standard or Graded Hammer 3 keyboards, these are beautiful pianos that look and sound wonderful. Ranging from more inexpensive options like the Yamaha Arius YDP-103 to the more expensive Yamaha YDP-184, Yamaha’s Arius line is one to consider if you are serious about having an authentic piano playing (or practicing) experience.
The next line up from the Arius would be the Clavinova. This is where the big boy and big girls are more apt to gravitate to if you know you’re “all in” on piano playing and you want an upright digital piano that’s going to do the absolute best job at replicating the acoustic piano experience.
Why’s that? Because the Clavinova line is where Yamaha begins to move away from its popular Graded Hammer key action and move towards Natural Wood X (NWX) action, allowing for the digital piano to have wooden keys and give you a feel and response that best replicates the feel of playing on an acoustic piano. You can read our review of the Yamaha CLP-635 here.
More Expensive Options ($1,500 and Beyond)
Now, most of the digital pianos we’ve covered so far in this article are fairly affordable (aside from the RD-300NX, which costs over $1,000).
But what if you were interested in even higher-end digital pianos that are excellent in what they provide the user, including weighted keybeds? What are your options then?
Well, if you find yourself willing to spend a little bit more money, brands like Nord, Roland, and Kawai have you covered. In fact, here are a few our our favorites are:
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- The Best Piano or Keyboard for Beginners on the Market
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- Digital Piano Buying Guide: Beginners Edition
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- How to Pick the Best Digital Piano Under $500?
- The Best Piano or Keyboard Brands on the Market
- Yamaha Arius YDP-184 review