For classical pianists, practicing on a quality instrument is one of the keys to developing good technique, hand strength, and musical expression. And while many see a traditional grand piano as the ideal instrument for budding classical pianists, they aren't always practical or available. So you may be interested in a digital piano, instead.
A digital piano will save space, maintenance, weight, and money, making it more accessible to people with a tight budget or tight spaces. Digital pianos also offer a variety of sounds, learning tools, recording capabilities, headphone jacks, and even Bluetooth.
In this article, we'll take a look at the top 6 digital pianos for classical pianists.
Quick glance at the best digital pianos for classical pianists:
If you're looking for the best mix of budget, feel, and sound, you might be interested in the Kawai CA49. This digital piano is compact and is available in a black satin finish with a matching piano bench.
The keys of this digital piano are made from wood with a synthetic ivory overlay to give them a realistic piano feel. In addition, the keys use a seesaw motion and counterbalance weight to provide a more realistic playing feel, while three key sensors create a more natural piano tone.
This digital piano is recommended for anyone looking for a great-sounding, all-around, easy-to-use piano without a lot of distracting bells and whistles. Kawai put their focus on the piano sound and feel rather than on sound effects. With 192 voice polyphony, you'll also get lots of natural-sounding resonance.
It resembles the look of a traditional upright but is a little smaller, making it a space-saver. The low volume balance function is an excellent addition to this model. It means you still get excellent sound quality even turning the piano down, something that many digital pianos have lacked in the past.
If you're looking for a digital piano at a reasonable price, you may be interested in the Roland RP102. This digital piano employs all the important pieces you would look for in a digital piano without breaking the bank. Roland is well known for its deep, rich sound and nuanced expression, but this digital piano also includes progressive hammer action and natural feeling keys.
You'll find easy connectivity with Bluetooth so that you can use Roland's free Piano app. You can also split the keyboard in two, making it great for duets or private lessons. There's a built-in metronome and four different piano sounds, as well as other included voices.
We love this piano for anyone needing to save money and space but still have a reliable, nice-sounding digital piano. It simply gives you overall good quality for the price. The Roland RP102 might be a good starter piano for those looking to get into classical piano playing but aren't ready to invest a lot of cash upfront.
The Yamaha YDP184 Arius Series Digital Piano is available in a dark rosewood finish with included piano bench. This digital piano comes standard with graded hammer three action to give it the most realistic piano feel, especially when combined with the synthetic ebony and ivory keytops.
Yamaha really shines with its Virtual Resonance Modeling, which is a fancy way of saying Yamaha has found a brilliant means of copying a piano's natural overtones.
This piano might be the best choice for someone looking to mimic natural piano resonance as much as possible. Yamaha went above and beyond to recreate the sounds of their Flagship Grand Piano, and you can hear the difference. So if the sound of the instrument is more important to you than its other characteristics, this might just be the ideal digital piano for your needs.
If Korg has a reputation, it is for the quality of their sound samples on all of their instruments. The Korg G1 Air incorporates amazing sound samples from 3 of the world's top piano makers, naming them German, Austrian, and Japanese, which is a copyright-free means of referring to the top three grand piano builders: Steinway, Bösendorfer, and Yamaha.
You won't find a lot of bells and whistles on this digital piano. All of the company’s efforts went into creating a realistic feeling and sounding digital piano. Korg put extensive efforts into creating a natural feeling piano capable of exquisite musical expression and sound. The Real Weighted Hammer Action feels like a moderately-weighted upright piano. However, you can adjust this to feel heavier, like a grand, or lighter, like a spinet.
We'd choose this digital piano for anyone who loves the feel and sound of an acoustic grand but needs the price and size of a digital piano. It is highly user-friendly without a lot of excessive sound banks and features to distract you. To get the full benefit of the sample quality, you'll want to hook this digital piano up to a high-quality pair of headphones or external speakers because the incorporated speakers just don't do it justice.
If you want a digital piano that also acts as a keyboard, you may want a Kurzweil Home KAG100. Of course, it has the 88 weighted action keys you would expect from any digital piano. Still, it also has oodles of presets, recording features, onboard accompaniments with orchestral arrangements, reverb, and chorus.
This is a great digital piano for someone who wants to venture beyond the realm of classical piano playing. With all of the extra presets and auto-accompaniment, you can create your own music with ease and save your settings to a USB drive.
If money is no object and you are looking for a beautiful digital baby grand, you might be interested in the Suzuki MDG-400. Although it is smaller than a traditional baby grand, it still has the charm of an acoustic baby grand.
For the student who wants a piano that does it all, the Suzuki MDG400 might be the best choice. First, it's full of charm and grace as the modern baby grand style cabinet will enhance any room. Second, it has the 88 key weighted hammer action with touch velocity that you would expect from any high-quality digital piano.
But this isn't just a digital piano, it's a sound recorder with a built-in equalizer, MIDI controller, and keyboard with plenty of voice presets to turn your living room into an entire entertainment center. The only drawback is its smaller 128 voice polyphony.
There are a number of factors that we took into consideration to choose the best digital pianos for classical pianists. First, we looked at what would be necessary to those playing classical music and which functions would be most important. Of course, not every digital piano has all of the functions we discussed, but they all have a few in common.
Almost every acoustic piano has 88 keys. There are a few exceptions of unique acoustic pianos that have a few more, but for the most part, all of them have 88. And because of this, almost all classical music is written for a piano with 88 keys. A quality digital piano for a classical pianist should have 88 keys. There is enough range to play octaves, scalar passages, or anything else that the composter may have put into the piece. Unfortunately, smaller keyboards often don't have enough keys for classical music, and therefore, the music suffers.
One of the most critical characteristics of a good digital piano is weighted action keys. Spring action keys, which are lighter and cheaper to manufacture, just don't have the same feel as a weighted action key. Weighted action is essential for new and experienced classical pianists because it enables the development of hand strength, proper technique, and musical expression. Other types of keys just don't have the tactile feedback necessary to develop this expression for classical pianists.
Along with the weighted action comes graded action. Graded action means that the higher notes on the right-hand side of the keyboard are easier to press than the lower notes on the left-hand side of the keyboard. They do this because real-world acoustic pianos do this. The larger, heavier strings on the lower notes of the piano are physically harder to play than the smaller, higher strings.
An excellent digital piano will mimic this feel to give you a real-world experience. This natural feel is especially important if you'll be switching between digital and acoustic pianos so that you can be consistent in your playing.
No one wants to play a piano that sounds like a child's toy, especially when it's an expensive instrument. So the best sound digital pianos use sampled sounds from actual real-world acoustic grand pianos. Additionally, you'll want a digital piano that can imitate the sympathetic resonance that happens on an acoustic piano.
For example, when you play an acoustic piano, the strings surrounding the notes you played will vibrate slightly, adding to the overall tone and resonance of the piano. An excellent digital piano is capable of imitating this digitally, so you have the feeling of a real acoustic grand. You can check out the Key-notes blog for a quick explanation of resonance and why it's essential to piano playing.
Polyphony, or the number of tones a digital piano can play at a time, is vital to our list. A piano without enough polyphony won't be able to reproduce overtones, and it will unnaturally cut off tones while you are playing. This will give your playing a flat, choppy feel and won't' sound natural at all. The higher the polyphony, the better, and in our list, the highest number was 192.
Digital pianos aren't cheap, but they are a good investment in your classical pianist. Therefore, we included digital pianos with a range of prices, from the very budget-conscious to those that don't need to worry too much about the cost. While cost shouldn't be the only factor to consider, we realize it is an important piece of the puzzle.
We only touched on the aesthetics of some of these digital pianos, but it is important to mention here. First, you'll want to take the look of a digital piano into consideration. These aren't small keyboards that can be stashed away in a closet when you aren't using them. Instead, these are larger, heavier pieces of furniture that will adorn your living area, so you want to make sure it is something that you enjoy looking at.
Most of these pianos have modern, sleek cabinets that don't take up a lot of room, but some are definitely more charming than others, which we have pointed out.
With modern resources like apps available, you'll want to think about whether or not connectivity is important to you. For example, most of these digital pianos include Bluetooth connectivity so that you can connect your tablet, headphones, or speakers to expand the capabilities of your digital piano.
Most digital pianos will come standard with their own bench and music desk. If the one you purchase does not check out our buying guide and reviews of the best piano benches. Some come with extensive sound banks, while others focus on simplicity and ease of use. For example, you may prefer an easy-to-use digital piano with just piano sounds. On the other hand, you might want to find a digital piano that is less focused on the piano sounds but has more voices and accompaniments installed.
Even so, it's easy to make mistakes when purchasing a digital piano. Therefore, you really want to do your research to make sure that your money is well spent. For a little more information on what to look for in a digital piano, check out this video:
Our favorite digital piano from this list is easily the Korg G1 Air. This digital piano gets the highest marks for its sound and feel and ease of use. For a classical pianist, sound and feel are what make a digital piano feel like an acoustic.
For a budding pianist, the weight of the keys and the velocity sensors will contribute to musical and physical development so the pianist can reach their full potential. However, we also love this digital piano for an established pianist because it is so easy to sit down and play, getting lost in the music and feel of the piano without being dragged down by extra features, poor touch sensitivity, and sub-standard sounds. You can learn more about why digital pianos are good for practice, here.
We love that you can choose from sounds inspired by the top grand piano manufacturers and it’s a great addition that you can also adjust the weight of the keys to suit your hands.
So for the most natural and lifelike musical experience, we love the Korg G1 Air and think you will, too. But don’t just take our word for it – find a music store and take your favorite digital pianos for a test drive so you can find the one that best fits your style and ability.
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