In this article, we’ll take a look at three of the best digital pianos for beginning piano students. I often hear from piano teachers who are searching for an electronic keyboard to recommend for beginning piano students who aren’t yet ready to commit to an acoustic piano. Thankfully, the technology has evolved to the point that from the perspective of a beginning student, it’s not necessary to compromise too much by delaying the purchase of an acoustic piano. We’ll evaluate these digital pianos for their action, their sound, and their price point. When appropriate, we’ll also explore any notable features.
Casio Privia PX-160 Digital Piano
Gone are the days when Casio was known as a second rate manufacturer of electronic keyboards. Their product offerings for digital pianos are first rate. I often recommend them to producers as rehearsal keyboards for Broadway and touring productions because of their price point, their sound, the action, and their durability.
The Casio Privia PX-160BK Digital Piano is no exception. It features an 88-key scaled hammer action keyboard for a realistic touch, built in speakers, and Casio’s proprietary AiR technology for extremely realistic piano samples. At a price point of $399, this is about the best sounding piano you’ll find.
One especially unique feature of the Casio Privia PX-160BK Digital Piano is Casio’s Duet Mode, in which the keyboard can be split into two equal ranges, allowing the student and the teacher to play the keyboard simultaneously. This feature could be especially useful for teachers who travel to the home or for students sharing a keyboard in a group learning situation. Duet Mode makes this unit an especially useful digital piano for beginners.
Yamaha P-125 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano
The Yamaha P125 Digital Piano represents a modest yet well-earned price jump from the Casio Privia. It is reminiscent of the other models in their “P” series of digital pianos, and is a formidable alternative to the Casio Privia series.
The Yamaha P-125 is built around the sound of the world famous Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand piano. The graded hammer action of the instrument emulates the feel of a grand piano, heavier on the low keys and lighter on the high keys.
Like the Casio Privia, the Yamaha P-125 also includes a set of onboard speakers. I’ve recommended digital pianos from this series for several Broadway productions for use as rehearsal keyboards. At a slightly higher pricer point of around $599, the Yamaha P-125 digital piano will offer a slightly better action, a richer piano sound, and better quality onboard speakers.
While this is an excellent instrument, the price tag may scare off some beginning piano students. That said, I believe that beginners would really appreciate the superb sound and action and that the investment would be well worth it.
Korg SP-170S Digital Piano
I’ve long been a fan of Korg keyboards, though mainly for their sound, especially with the Korg Kronos, which I’ve used on the Broadway production Finding Neverland. At $399.99, the Korg SP-170S Digital Piano offer a ton of bang for the buck.
Like the Casio Privia and the Yamaha P-125, the Korg SP-170S also has an 88-key weighted action keyboard and boasts a pair of onboard speakers. The action is Korg’s NWH (Natural Weighted Hammer) action, which is similar to the Yamaha Graded Hammer action technology. In my opinion, the Korg is my favorite action of the three keyboards mentioned in this article.
One very interesting feature of the Korg SP-170S Digital Piano is the dual headphone jacks, which make it easy for the student and teacher to both listen with headphones without having to use a headphone splitter. In my opinion, this is a very simple and elegant solution. I like simple solutions. And I like solutions which enable piano teachers to work effectively and more easily with their beginning piano students.
At $399.99, this unit is very reasonably priced. And at this price point, I’m quite impressed with what Korg has done with the quality of the sound and the keyboard action.
There are certainly many more options out there, but I wanted to highlight three options which have 88-key weighted action, a decent sampled piano sound, built-in onboard speakers, and are manufactured by one of the major manufacturers. I also was aiming for products under $600, and preferably even lower. As this article is meant to highlight digital pianos suitable for beginning piano students, I didn’t see any point to reviewing units above $1,000 as this brings us into a different category, and even puts us into a price point in which one might consider spending a little bit more to purchase a used acoustic piano.
Any of these three electronic keyboards would serve a beginning piano student well for at least several years. Also, they’re all of a high enough quality to be able to be used in a home studio after the student has transitioned to an acoustic piano. All three are reasonably portable, which make them viable candidates for use on gigs.
All three digital pianos are available on Amazon:
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