When parents are thinking about getting a child started with piano lessons, they often approach me and ask, “What kind of piano should I buy?”
Buying a piano is KIND OF A BIG DEAL.
It’s not like buying, say, a harmonica. A piano purchase is an investment and it takes up a lot of room. It’s the kind of thing where you’ll rearrange furniture to accommodate it.
However, I can think of no piece of furniture in our house that has provided us with such beauty and joy as our piano.
But if you’re struggling to figure out what is a good fit for your budget, your house, your level of commitment – here are my recommendations for taking the plunge and buying that first piano.
(This post includes affiliate links to my recommended products. All opinions are my own.)
To answer the question, “What kind of piano should I buy?”, we’re breaking piano types into two categories: acoustic and digital.
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. The sooner a student has opportunity to practice on an acoustic piano, the better. If your budget and your home can accommodate a quality acoustic piano from the get-go, do it. Playing on an acoustic piano enhances musicianship tremendously. It also makes a statement about the dedication you have to making music a part of your family life.
An acoustic piano produces sound from real wood and real strings. The touch is different, the range of dynamics is richer and the tone is more beautiful. Even the most expensive digital piano simply can’t match it. Yes, it is going to be expensive. An upright (or vertical) piano can be anywhere from $4k to $9k.
(My personal favorite brands for these pianos are Kawaii and Yamaha – I love their rich sound and find them easy and enjoyable to play.)
This doesn’t mean you need to look at purchasing a brand new acoustic piano. Check Craiglist for previously-owned pianos. Ask your local music store if they have a rent-to-own program.
Acoustic pianos do require more maintenance than digital pianos. It is important to keep your instrument tuned to help you develop a musical ear!
While it’s impossible to perfectly replicate the experience of playing on an acoustic instrument, a digital piano is perfectly fine for a beginning student.
If there’s one thing I always stress to my students that they need to look for when purchasing a digital piano, it is to buy one with WEIGHTED KEYS. Keys that are weighted provide the right resistance to touch. They are more sensitive to pressure, give a range of dynamics and therefore sound and feel as much like an acoustic piano as they can.
A piano with weighted keys will cost more than the electronic keyboard at Target. However, it is essential to have weighted keys in order to develop good technique and a strong foundation.
The Yamaha Arius series (pictured above) are my personal favorite line of digital pianos. At around $1,000, they are spendy.
My favorite budget-friendly options are the digital pianos in the Casio Privia series. I actually have 7 of these Bad Boys that I use in my group class studio. While the sound isn’t as rich as those in the Yamaha series, they have everything a beginning pianist needs in a quality digital piano. Casio pianos have weighted keys, an outlet for a damper pedal and the full 88 keys. They also have some fun features. Students love the recording options, an outlet for headphones and using different ensemble sounds. (I love having my students play on the “harpsichord” setting whenever we learn something from the Baroque period!).
At under $500 at the time of this writing, I believe the Casio Privia PX160 is the best budget friendly digital piano option for a beginner.
I get it — $500 is still no small chunk of change. BUT I PROMISE YOU, having a quality instrument on which to practice is such a worthwhile investment. We find this type of wiggle room in our budgets to purchase a flat-screen television, the latest iPhone or a weekend away. An instrument that your family will use to practice and create beautiful music on for what I hope will be years to come is a worthy purchase.
- Quality acoustic instruments are almost always a better option, if space and budget allow.
- Digital pianos are perfectly suitable for beginners, so long as they have weighted keys.
- The Casio Privia series is a quality, budget-friendly option.