10 Best

Digital Piano 88 Keys

of January 2023

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A Guide to Selecting a Digital 88-Key Piano

Yehudah Posnick

If you or your children want to learn to play piano, you’ll encounter a few logistical obstacles. An acoustic upright piano can cost from $3000 to $5000. Also, you’ll need enough room in your house for an upright piano. Also, if you want to play or practice, you’ll be constrained to being at home to do so. Purchasing a digital 88-key piano can help circumvent all three obstacles.

As for the price, you can purchase a quality digital 88-key piano from $500-$1000. Also, they are significantly more compact and portable. In fact, some are even battery-operated, so you can take them with you almost anywhere! Many have sophisticated mechanisms to recreate the effect of playing a real acoustic piano. And they offer options to make it easier to learn piano with an instructor, as well as the possibility of sounding like an organ, vibraphone, or even harpsichord! You also have the option of quietly listening to your playing through headphones, recording what you play, and playing accompanying instruments as well!

We’ll go through some options of the best digital 88-key pianos on the market nowadays. Whether you’re just starting to learn to play, or if you’re already more advanced and need something on which to practice, a digital piano is a wonderful idea!

FAQ

What is the difference between a keyboard and a digital piano?

A musical keyboard is an electronic instrument that is typically smaller in size and has a range of sounds that can be selected through buttons or knobs. On the other hand, a digital piano is an electronic instrument that is designed to replicate the sound and feel of an acoustic piano. It usually has weighted keys, an expanded range of sounds, and other features such as a sustain pedal.

Types of Digital Piano 88 Key

There are three main constructions of digital pianos:

  • Standard digital pianos: These are compact models, and are ideal for playing and practicing at home, rather than for performances. They’re typically lightweight as well, weighing around 25 lbs. That will allow you to take the piano with you to another room, or even on a commute. An example is the Yamaha P45 88-Key Weighted Digital Piano. Like most digital pianos, it allows you to imitate the sound of a grand piano, an electric piano, an organ, a harpsichord, a vibraphone, string instruments, and more. The black keys are given a matte finish to keep your fingers from slipping while playing. One customer was a bit disappointed that this Yamaha doesn’t allow you to store personalized settings for quick recall the next time you play.

Yamaha P45 88-Key Weighted Digital Piano

  • Upright digital pianos: These are also called “console pianos”. These come in a large cabinet, with the appearance of a real upright piano. They also have three pedals as in an acoustic piano, for damping, sostenuto, and sustain functions. An example is the Kawai KDP120 Digital Home Piano. It comes with a rosewood case, giving it the appearance of an acoustic upright piano. It uses a hammer-action key system, to recreate the feel of a real acoustic piano.

Kawai KDP120 Digital Home Piano

  • Stage pianos: These are meant to be used on stage in a performance. Their construction is more sturdy since they’re intended to be more portable, where you’ll take them from one gig to another. An example is the Casio Privia PX-S3000 Digital Piano

Casio Privia PX-S3000 Digital Piano

What reviewers say

We went over some customers’ impressions of the digital pianos that they bought:

  • Some are better for children than adults: A customer who bought the RockJam 88-Key Digital Piano Keyboard noticed that it has only semi-weighted keys. It also has keynote stickers to attach to the keys, for beginners to get familiar with the keyboard. That would be suitable for a student just beginning to learn to play, but for an experienced pianist, such a choice is a bit of a disappointment. It is quite affordable at only $257, but you’ll have to spend more for a more professional sound.

  • Keys degrade over time: One thing that customers noticed with digital pianos in the $500 range was that the key responsiveness will start to degrade after about 4 years. The key response becomes “mushy”, and they start to develop a clicking sound. If you want something that will last for 10 years, you’ll probably have to invest in something more expensive.

Important Features

Here are some tips and features of different digital 88-key pianos, that can help you decide on a particular model:

  • Study aids: Many digital pianos have a number of useful study aids for people learning piano.

    • Duet mode: The Casio Privia PX-870 Digital Piano has “duet mode”, where the 88 keys are divided into two sections of 44 keys each. An instructor can play on one end of the piano, while a student tries to recreate the teacher’s technique. The Casio also allows you to slow down musical accompaniment, so that you can learn to play along with it until you get up to speed!

    • Piano lessons: There are digital pianos with lessons already programmed into the instrument! The Alesis Recital 88-Key Digital Piano comes with 60 virtual piano lessons, and a 3-month subscription to Skoove, for interactive online lessons!

    • Headphone jack: Many digital pianos have a headphone jack so that you can listen to yourself play, without disturbing anyone else in the vicinity.

  • MIDI recorder: A great advantage of digital pianos is the ability to record what you play. Many have a MIDI (=Musical Instrument Digital Interface) recorder function, where you can record to a computer via a USB cable, with another track of musical accompaniment. It can also take musical input from your iPad, mobile phone, or laptop. However, note that you’ll need the right type of interface on your computer, such as a USB-B connector port, or a MIDI host port.

  • Hammer action, Fully weighted keys, and Semi-weighted keys: You’ll notice that digital pianos will describe the key response as “hammer action”, or “weighted keys”. These describe the different responses that the keys on a digital keyboard have when pressed. Let’s look at the difference between them:

    • Hammer-action keys: This mechanism tries to recreate the feel and response of an acoustic piano, where the bass keys are heavier than the higher-pitched treble keys. Experts recommend buying a digital piano with hammer-action keys. This will be the best for preparing you for playing an acoustic piano.

    • Fully-weighted keys: There are digital pianos that are fully weighted, with the same resistance on all of the keys. They use weights to provide the resistance, and springs to restore the key to the original position.

    • Semi-weighted keys: These use springs and weights to provide resistance, resulting in a touch that pushes down on the key quickly, but the key rises up slowly.

  • Polyphony: You’ll see some digital pianos advertise that they are capable of 192-note polyphony. Polyphony means “many sounds”, describing the ability to play several notes simultaneously. Using a digital piano that can play 192-note polyphony means that it can play several voices at once, besides the notes you’re playing on the piano. That can include drums or string accompaniment and a metronome to help you maintain the correct meter. So, greater polyphony can make for a richer musical experience.

  • Voices and effects: As we saw, an upright digital piano will have the three pedals that you see on an acoustic piano. If you choose a portable digital piano, you can usually attach a sustain pedal by means of a ¼” jack. Also, there are digital pianos that are capable of playing in several voices, such as acoustic piano, electric piano, organ, vibraphone, synth, string instruments, or bass. There are also effects that some digital pianos provide, such as playing chorus, reverb, or the ability to layer sounds.

Final Verdict

We studied the features of some of the digital 88-key pianos in the Best Reviews Guide list, including compact models, upright pianos, and stage pianos. We saw that a more expensive unit will give you more years of use, as well as a better duplication of the feel of playing an acoustic piano. Whether you want a digital piano for on-stage performing, or just to learn or practice at home, you should be familiar with the options out there!

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