If, after watching the video of the homeless man with incredible piano skills, you’ve decided to take to a digital piano for practice, the next step involves shopping for the best model based on your needs. Unfortunately, there are over 200 digital piano models on the market. Narrowing the field requires investing time into some basic research.
Digital pianos are available in three basic styles; slab, console and grand. Aside from determining the style of digital piano you want, you also need to ask the following five questions.
Question 1: Will it fit in your home without getting in the way?
A slab digital piano is a keyboard and pedals, without a stand. If you need to take the piano somewhere or you have little space in your home, a slab is a great option. You can place it on a table or stand for practice and stick it in a closet whenever you’re not using it.
The console piano has a cabinet or stand that holds a built-in pedal assembly. This digital piano style looks like an upright acoustic piano. The cabinetry is available in a variety of finishes, including real-wood veneers and synthetic wood grain.
If you will place the piano in elegant surroundings, the grand-style digital is the option for you. These grands usually measure about three feet to five feet. The grand-piano digital features space for larger speakers that result in better sound reproduction.
You just cannot place a digital piano anywhere in your home; you need to make sure that it is in some spot that protects it from tear and wear. In other words, your digital piano needs to be placed away from humidity, which is bad for the wiring inside.
In addition, you need to keep it away from kids if it is an adult instrument because children can easily wreck it and will not be careful around your prized instrument. Once you have identified the optimum position for your instrument, chances of it getting damaged fall dramatically.
Question 2: How much are you willing to spend?
Whenever possible, always determine what you are willing to spend on a digital piano before you start shopping around. Establishing your budget will help you cut through the numerous options available, while giving you freedom to choose a unit that’s slightly above your price range – if it really impresses you!
Note that there are numerous competing brands on the market creating high-quality pianos. In a few cases, some options even tend to rival even the most expensive models. So, do your homework when you are looking for the best digital piano for you.
Question 3: Is key action important to how you play?
On acoustic pianos, lower-note keys tend to be heavier than higher-note keys. It’s recommended you purchase a digital piano that offers you weighted keys for an authentic experience.
Fortunately, most digital piano keys are available in one of a few different styles, namely:
- Un-weighted key movement
- Semi-weighted keys
- Weighted keys
- Fully hammer-weighted keys
All these variations respond differently depending on the touch and pressure from your fingers. Many cheaper pianos have 76 or 61 un-weighted keys. This translates to keys feeling the same whenever you press on them – unlike the keys on real acoustic pianos.
Some casual players would rather play with un-weighted key action pianos. These options tend to be lighter and therefore much easier to carry around. These varieties of digital pianos are great if you are looking for something you will play even while traveling.
On the other hand, a fully weighted digital piano uses a counterweight and weight design instead of a spring-load system for key-press authenticity. Such a construction offers you a better realistic upward and downward touch, width, depth, pivot point, and static and dynamic touch.
In the end, your expectations and skill level are what will help determine the key action quality that best suits you. However, weighted keyboards tend to be more expensive, but it’s a price worth paying for if you are serious about learning and improving your craft.
Question 4: What connectivity options are important to you?
One of the biggest advantages of digital pianos and keyboards is the various connectivity options available. In fact, you can achieve much more when you connect a piano to a computer, making your performance smoother, better and even more creative.
Some of the connectivity options to watch out for include:
- USB type A – Also known as USB drive port or USB to Device port, this port allows you to plug in your flash drive for exchanging files easily and quickly. Apart from saving your own performances on a flash drive, you can also replay MIDI and WAV files without loading them into your instrument’s internal memory.
- USB type B – This port is used to connect your piano to a tablet or computer to exchange files, songs and MIDI data. Through the piano’s MIDI controller, you can control sounds through music-making apps and music learning apps.
- Headphone jack – The jack allows you to plug in your pair of headphones and practice during the day or night without bothering others.
- Sustain jack
- Line out/in
- Audio in
- Bluetooth MIDI
- MIDI in/out
- Mic in
Question 5: What accessories will you connect to your digital piano?
While purchasing your digital piano, there are several accessories you might want to consider. The accessories you choose depend on what the digital piano offers you out of the box and your personal needs.
Most console digital pianos have an integrated stand or cabinet with three pedals, so you don’t have spend more money on these. Many portables on the market don’t have their own stands and usually have a small plastic footswitch. Other accessories you may consider purchasing include headphones, a bench, an amplifier and a bag or case.
When buying your first digital piano, keep these five questions in mind. They will help you narrow down your search and find an instrument that’s the best fit for you.
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