Buying a piano is KIND OF A BIG DEAL.
It’s not like buying, say, a harmonica. It’s an investment and it takes up a lot of room – the kind of thing where you’ll rearrange furniture to accommodate it.
That said, I can think of no piece of furniture in our house that has provided us with such beauty and joy as our baby grand piano.
HOLD UP. That doesn’t mean I think you MUST purchase a baby grand (though if you have the means available to you, then I do think you must). 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.)
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, it enhances musicianship and 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, or ask your local music store if they have a rent-to-own program. Acoustic pianos do require more maintenance than digital pianos, and 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, are sensitive to pressure, give a range of dynamics and will 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, but 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. But, at around $1,000, they are a bit spendier.
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 — weighted keys, an outlet for a damper pedal and the full 88 keys (some lower-priced pianos only have 66 keys). It also has some fun features that we use in our classes — recording options, an outlet for headphones and 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.