You may be wondering…
“Can I just get one of those $60 electric keyboards from Walmart because we aren’t sure our child is going to like playing?”
Well, would you sign your child up for basketball and expect them to play with a partially flat ball OR dance class with shoes that don’t fit OR football without a helmet?
Do you want your child to love playing and be excited to make music every day or not take it seriously because they are being asked to work with a toy, not an instrument design for the creation of beautiful sound? So, the answer is NO, please don’t plan to take lessons with a toy!!
Do you have to spend a lot of money on a good starter instrument? No! And sometimes you can even luck out and find people giving away their upright pianos for FREE!! However, if you are not so lucky, we have put together a list of options to buy.
Your next question might be… “Should I get an acoustic piano or a digital piano?”
What to consider:
Functional difference between an acoustic piano and digital piano
An acoustic piano produces sound with felt-covered hammers hitting steel-wire strings. The vibrations this creates is an amazing feeling that is given back to the player and resonates through the whole body. (It’s makes playing so exciting on a little bit of a subconscious level!) A digital piano doesn’t use hammers; instead it features electronic speakers to playback high quality recordings taken from acoustic pianos. Digital pianos can be fun to play too with all of the extra sample sounds and depending on the recording quality and the speaker quality, it can be a great experience.
Beginner players may worry about spending too much on an instrument that could turn out to be something that is short lived. What if playing the piano is not for you? It is perfectly fine to start out with a more budget friendly option and upgrade later. (The instrument can always be resold too.) Digital pianos are a one time purchase and usually have no need for maintenance within the first few years. Acoustic pianos will require an annual tuning by a certified piano tuner. The cost of tuning varies depending on the size of the piano and the tuner’s rates.
Value of Purchase
The design and quality of new digital pianos have gotten better and better with the advancement of technology. Newer models will play better than models from 5 to 8 years ago. Digital piano parts get worn and lose functionality and cost of repairs do not always justify the expense. Acoustic pianos, if well maintained, depreciate very little over time and any necessary repairs help maintain the value.
Experienced players might want features like an acoustic piano with specific tone quality and key weight or a digital keyboard with sound-shaping or detailed recording facilities. If you’re just starting out, all you need is a piano that facilitates the practice of proper piano technique. Any acoustic piano automatically provides this. If going the digital route, be sure it has:
88 weighted keys
at least one pedal
an appropriate bench (Dining room chairs rarely offer the desired height, support and space necessary for proper body alignment and distance from the keys.)
a sturdy furniture cabinet (portable stands often shake and move at the slightest touch, making it difficult to play.)
Will your new instrument be living on the ground floor or a higher level? Digital pianos are the way to go if needing to take the instrument up a long flight of stairs! Will the instrument be used in a multi-use space in your home? Again, digital provides the option of volume control or use of headphones. Will the instrument be in a prominent place in your home frequented by guests and considered a cherished piece of furniture? Many digital pianos now offer beautiful cabinets that look a lot like the real deal, but acoustics usually still win in visual appeal (in my opinion.) Digital pianos work well in any temperature, but an acoustic piano needs to be in a room where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate as changes in humidity can affect tuning. A humidifier that attaches to the instrument can be purchased and used to aid this issue.
One last pitch for reasons why to purchase a quality instrument for the musicians in your life:
Avoid injury: Proper technique can not be taught on plastic, weightless keys. Weighted keys are necessary for developing the finger independence and muscle coordination needed to play without invoking possible injury in the future.
Keyboard Topography: Students miss the opportunity to explore the full range of pitches and become comfortable and familiar with the relationship of the octaves to the staff notation on anything less than 88 keys
Setting up for Success: You are already investing time and money in lessons (money that is well spent, but can not be returned), why short-change the experience with a subpar instrument (that can be resold and most of the money recuperated)?
Where to Shop?
Amazon - for lower end and mid-range priced digital pianos
Sweetwater - for all price point digital pianos
Facebook Marketplace - for pre-owned acoustic and digital pianos ( We recommend you go to the home of the owner and test out the piano first and if purchasing an acoustic instrument, you will most likely need to hire a piano mover too.)
The following locations sell new, used and preowned instruments:
Ruggeros https://www.ruggeropiano.com - specializes in digital pianos by Yamaha and acoustic pianos by Yamaha, Bosendorfer, Schimmel, Estonia, and Seiler
Hopper Piano & Organ Co. https://hopperpiano.com - specializes in digital pianos by Roland and acoustic pianos by Steinway, Boston, and Essex
Maus Piano https://www.mauspiano.com - specializes in digital pianos by Kawai and Casio and acoustic pianos by Kawai, Pearl River, Ritmüller, and Story & Clark
What to buy?
Here are our current recommendations: (Last updated Nov 2021)
Prices are approximated.
$480 Yamaha P71 88-Key Weighted Action Digital Piano with Sustain Pedal and Power Supply (Amazon-Exclusive) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LY8OUQW/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_XK2XZX5K6SP49JGS0QZZ
$640 Yamaha P-45 Compact 88-Key Portable Digital Piano + Keyboard Stand + Keyboard Bench + Keyboard Pedal + Studio Monitor Headphones by Adorama https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084S6Y6V3/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_E0JPJ4CYZFEHVW5QCV34?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
$880 Yamaha P125 Digital Piano Deluxe Bundle with Furniture Stand and 3-Pedal Unit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GB1NCB8/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_7MPEY9P8QNPBJWN6EFN2
$1150 Casio Privia PX-870 Digital Piano - Black Bundle with Furniture Bench, Instructional Book, Online Lessons, Austin Bazaar Instructional DVD, and Polishing Cloth https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074F3DNGN/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_KT2XK0XBA82MS842BGHJ
$1200 Kawai KDP120 88-Key Digital Piano with Bench, Premium Rosewood by Adorama https://www.amazon.com/dp/B096TLTJZN/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_E7X2TZY3PPD8FF6AKVX7
$1600 Roland, 88-Key Digital Pianos-Home (RP701-DR) by Adorama https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08S8W45HZ/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_H8M155BF927TPPCQSGGD
$1600 Yamaha YDP164 Arius Series Piano with Bench, Black - sold at Ruggeros OR https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MBBT1GF/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_XX626GKE6X32XS7C7BMJ OR https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/YDP164BW--yamaha-arius-ydp-164-digital-home-piano-with-bench-black-walnut
$2900 Yamaha Clavinova Series CLP 735 https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/CLP735R--yamaha-clavinova-clp-735-digital-upright-piano-with-bench-rosewood-finish
$3000 Roland LX705 - Sold at Hopper Piano (currently used in THIS Studio!) https://www.roland.com/us/products/lx700_series/lx705/
$5000 Yamaha Clavinova CLP-775 Digital Upright Piano with Bench - sold at Ruggeros Piano OR https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/CLP775R--yamaha-clavinova-clp-775-digital-upright-piano-with-bench-rosewood-finish
$7000 Yamaha Hybrid NU1X PE - Sold at Ruggeros piano https://www.ruggeropiano.com/product/yamaha-nu1/