Home > How To Buy a Digital Piano. Digital Piano Buying Guide

How To Buy a Digital Piano. Digital Piano Buying Guide

Finding the best digital piano or keyboard to suit your needs and budget can be a challenge given all the options that are available, particularly if you are just beginning to learn the instrument. To help with this, we’ve created a simple, step-by-step guide to help you determine which piano you need to buy.

In our experience, we feel that the steps in this guide are the most important things to consider when purchasing a digital piano, so take a careful look at each one and you’ll have narrowed down those hundreds of options to a perfect few in little time at all.

Step #1: Determine What You Want to do With the Instrument

Determine What You Want to do With the Instrument
Courtesy of Tim Hamilton

On the home page we talked about the different type of digital pianos and keyboards that are available, and with each one their difference can really be narrowed down to what their intended purposes are.

If you’re wanting to get into music production then a keyboard or synthesizer full of different sounds, MIDI and USB connectivity, and a bunch of editing and mixing features is probably your best choice. Things such as speaker quality and key action will mean little to you in this case. You won’t even necessarily need a keyboard with a full eighty-eight keys.

If you’re wanting to play on stage, then you may want to look into a piano that classifies itself as a stage piano. Even if it doesn’t have this exact description, make sure you get one that can connect to a quality amp.

If, like most people who purchase a digital piano, you are wanting to learn to play the piano, then you’ll want to buy a quality, full-sized digital piano that has plenty of polyphony (128 notes or above is preferred) a realistic key action, and great acoustic sounds. Other features such as USB connectivity and a number of instruments to choose from are just icing on the cake.

Whatever your reason for wanting a digital piano, determining it is the first and arguably most important step in deciding which instrument is the best one for you.

Step #2: Self Assess Your Skill Level

Now is the time to be entirely honest with yourself in order to determine which features you will actually be able to make use of and which ones you could really do without. If you are just beginning to learn the instrument, then too many features will only get in your way.

Likewise, if you’re an experienced pianist then you’ll want to purchase an instrument that can do all that you want it to. Determine where in between these two points you fall and look for a piano that matches that level.

Step #3: Determine Your Size Requirements and Check the Piano’s Portability

Few things are more frustrating than buying a piano that doesn’t fit into the space you need it to. Before you ever start your search, measure the area you’re wanting to place the instrument.

That way you can check the dimensions of every piano you consider against that measurement. It’s a small thing to do, but it could end up saving you a lot of hassle.

If you plan on moving the piano around a lot then you will want one that is a little more portable. Check the weight of the instrument and also try to determine how easily it dissembles. The latter may not be easy information to find, but a great place to look is in the reviews.

If you need the piano to be extremely portable, then you may want to look into semi-weighted keys instead of fully weighted keys. This takes away some of the key action of the instrument, but it helps keep the weight down considerably.

Step #4: Set Your Budget

Set Your BudgetThis part may seem pretty obvious. So much so that it almost goes without saying. Still, figuring out how much you are willing or able to spend is an important step in determining which piano to buy.

There are a lot of great digital pianos out there for under $1,000 and even more for under $2,000, meaning how much you can spend isn’t so much a limiting factor as it is a way of narrowing down which pianos you should consider.

Once you actually start looking at pianos, you may find a great one for even less than you anticipated spending or you may decide to splurge a little, but either way, having a rough idea of how much you’re going to spend is a great place to begin your search.

Step #5: Read Online Reviews

Read Online Reviews
Courtesy of Kevin McShane

Once you’ve got the foundation set of what kind of piano you need and how much you’re willing to spend on it, it’s time to start looking into specific pianos that fit these qualifications. In order to do that, online reviews are a great place to start.

To help you with this, we’ve amassed some in-depth digital piano reviews, we feel are the best available, so feel free to read through as many of them as you please.

Customer reviews on Amazon are also a great place to learn more about a particular instrument as you are often able to read a wide range of thoughts and opinions from beginners and experienced pianists alike who have already purchased the piano you are looking at.

Read all of the reviews you can. Use these reviews and the wealth of information they have to narrow down the list of pianos you would consider buying to just a few, top-notch instruments. Jot down some quick notes about the pros and cons of each one and then proceed to step number four.

Step #6: Consider the Details

Once you have just a few pianos that are well reviewed and will fit your needs, it’s time to consider the details. By now, any piano left on your list would most likely suit you well, but if you want to get the best possible digital piano then it is time to consider some important details:

  1. Consider the Details
    Courtesy of Kelly Hunter

    The first of these is polyphony. In the case of polyphony, the higher the better, as the more notes of polyphony a piano is capable of producing the more complex pieces you will be able to play without it being noticeable that some notes were cut off prematurely. Determine which piano you’re still considering has the highest polyphony and give it a big plus.

  2. Second, you will want to compare the key action of each instrument. Graded key actions are always great, but other than this, you won’t be able to tell much just based on the name. Consult the reviews for a second time and see what has been said about the key action of the piano. The more realistic it is to that of an acoustic piano the better.
  3. Something else you’ll want to be realistic to an acoustic piano is the sound. Again, the best way to determine the sound quality of a digital piano is to check its reviews. Another way to get a rough idea of the sound quality is to consider where and how the samples were taken, (individual sampling on a quality acoustic piano is optimum) the size of the speakers and what was said about its dynamic range (how soft or loud the tone is based on how hard you press the key).
  4. The response of the pedals used to sustain the notes is another thing to look for in a digital piano. Check the reviews to see how responsive they are as well as their durability.
  5. Something that is often overlooked that you will definitely want to consider is the warranty coverage of the instrument. The longer the coverage period the better.
  6. Lastly, you’ll want to look at all the other details of the piano, weighting them all based on their importance to you and what you want to do with the instrument. USB connectivity, instrument selection, attractiveness, and headphone connectivity are just a few of the features you need to consider, with each one ranging from little to great importance depending upon your own needs.

Once you’ve weighted each of these factors based on their importance to you and decided how each of the pianos left on your list stacks up in each area, it’s time to go back and tally up the score.

Find the piano that is the highest quality and best reviewed in each of the factors you’ve deemed most important and you will have found your piano.


Step #7: Purchase This Piano

Purchase This Piano
Courtesy of Nate Grigg

Once you’ve reached this point, you’ll undoubtedly have that nagging, lingering doubt that you still haven’t found the best digital piano for you. Now, the best thing you can do is to ignore it. If you’ve followed these steps and narrowed your choices down to one piano, than what you’ve found is a piano that fits your needs, is within your budget, is well-reviewed, and contains all of the features and details that you find most important.

For all intents and purposes, this is the best possible digital piano for you. Purchase and enjoy!