Trying to find a digital piano best suited to your needs it’s important to look at such factors as…
- Number of keys
- How realistic the piano sounds are
- How close it emulates a real piano to play
- Compactness and portability
- Cost (value for money)
Electric Piano Reviews What To Look For
For now, let’s take a look at some specific features which many people deem to be incredibly important when choosing a new digital piano for themselves or their children.
Number of Keys
The number of keys on your digital piano is always something you should consider before making a purchase. If you purchase a keyboard with fewer than 88 keys you may find yourself needing to upgrade in order to tackle advanced pieces of music that require a full range keyboard.
Some beginner electronic pianos have keyboards with only 61 or 76 keys. Because these do not provide the full octave range of a ‘real’ piano you may not be able to play all the music you want to without having to transpose the key.
As a general guide, 61 keys are sufficient enough to allow you to play most songs you would be likely to play as beginner. For DJ’s or digital artists requiring a workstation rather than a full piano, 61 keys will almost certainly do the job you need.
A 76 key digital piano will allow you to play virtually all music targeted for beginners and many intermediate songs also. We looked further into this topic here, where we covered 76 or 88 keys.
An acoustic piano has 88 keys so if you’re after a piano experience as close to the real thing as possible then 88 keys should be what you should look for. With 88 keys you’re piano will allow you to play any piece of music no matter how advanced it is.
Tones and Sounds
More is not always better. Too many sounds or instruments can sometimes prove more of a distraction than ‘real’ features that will benefit your playing. Think about what types of instrument sounds you really need rather than choosing a digital piano that boasts hundreds of voices. The likelihood that you’ll ever need to use most of them more than once is realistically very low.
Polyphony refers to the maximum number of notes that are able to sound simultaneously. The more polyphony you have the better. If you’re serious about learning the piano don’t consider anything less than 64 polyphony. If you’re looking for a piano that will see you through to being an advanced player look for an 88 key digital piano with a 128 polyphony.
If the polyphony number is too low some notes in complex pieces of music will not sound so you wont hear them at all. Even after your finger has left a key the note that was played may continue to ring which means there could be many notes that you should be hearing in a piece of music at the same time.
Many digital pianos have weighted keys which will respond to playing in a similar way than those on an acoustic piano. Fully weighted keys will generally have a more realistic feel than semi-weighted keys. If you’re serious about playing a digital piano you should always choose one with at least semi-weighted keys.
The great thing with new digital pianos is how many features are available. But, just like with tones and sounds too many features can prove distracting rather than empowering you.
Some features you should consider are:
- What type of connectivity you might need (e.g. MIDI, USB, external amplifier)
- What type of inputs you might need (e.g. MIDI, USB, external sound source such as an mp3 player or instrument)
- If you want built in lessons
- Do you need a split keyboard so you can play different instruments with each hand (e.g. bass and piano together)
- Do you need a built in rhythm track or metronome
- Do you need a built in recorder
- Do you want a built in screen for a visual reference
- Headphone jacks – do you require one or two. Two headphone jacks are ideal if you need privacy to take lessons and you don’t wish to disturb your household
- Will you need to purchase a seat or bench so you can be seated at the correct height to play
- Do you need a stand to support your digital piano
- Will the piano be loud enough or will you need to connect it to an external amplifier
Many digital pianos are sold without even what would be considered a basic accessory. One common example of this is a power cord, especially if the digital piano you choose is capable of running on batteries. A sustain pedal is another sought after addition.
Other accessories that may not be shipped as standard are; bench or stand to support the piano on, seats or a stool, music stand, foot pedals and headphones.