Beautiful though they are, acoustic pianos have one or two issues. They’re large, expensive, heavy, loud and require frequent tuning and proper maintenance. All of which are reasons why smaller, cheaper, lighter, low-maintenance digital pianos with headphone outputs have become such an overwhelmingly popular alternative. If you’re just starting out, or perhaps looking to upgrade form a regular keyboard, we’re here to help you find best digital piano for beginners.
With any instrument, the example you begin learning on needs to be beginner-friendly, but also good enough to inspire you to persevere when the going gets tough.
So we’ve rounded up ten of the best beginner digital pianos available right now that not only provide a great foundation to build on, but will also keep pace with you as you progress on your musical journey.
With Amazon Prime Day coming on 13 and 14 October, it could be worth holding off on picking up a new beginner digital piano until the Prime Day music deals start emerging. We’ll be reporting on the best offers right through to Prime Day itself.
What are the best digital pianos for beginners right now?
While all broadly suitable for beginners, we found that the digital pianos we checked out fell into three main price brackets – sub-$/£500 portable, sub-$/£700 portable and sub-$/£1,000 home pianos.
In the sub-$/£500 category, the Roland FP-10 came out on top for its killer combination of that peerless PHA-4 keybed and SuperNatural sound engine. Jump up to the bracket above and the Casio PX-S1000 edges it, with its innovative design, ultra-slim profile and superb sound from its updated AiR processor.
Meanwhile, in the home piano sector, we’d go for the Casio Privia PX-770 as it represents the best value overall.
Best digital pianos for beginners: buying advice
A digital piano is a keyboard that replicates the feel and sound of an acoustic piano through the use of digital sampling technology. The advantages of a digital piano over its acoustic equivalent are the ability to practice with headphones, the fact that they don’t require tuning, are much lighter and are available in much more compact and portable forms than acoustic instruments.
A full 88-key model is by far the best way to go if you can fit one in, particularly if you’re going to learn classical piano – it’s the closest thing to an acoustic piano in terms of size, feel and response.
Most major manufacturers now keep costs manageable by dispensing with large onboard displays and opting instead for the ability to control your piano’s sounds and settings with a remote mobile app.
This not only means you can get a better-sounding, more feature-laden piano for less money, but also opens the digital gateway to use your instrument with the many educational and online lesson services compatible with your device.
The majority of the pianos featured in this guide are of the slimline, compact and more portable type, rather than the traditional cabinet style, although many can be transformed into a more traditional piece of musical furniture with the addition of an optional stand, which may or may not feature a full set of three pedals as found on an acoustic piano.
All the instruments on this list were chosen because they each provide the full range of essential features you need to look for when buying a great digital piano for a beginner. They all also come with detachable music stand, basic sustain or ‘damper’ pedal and power supply included.
Keybed, action and weighting
The way the keyboard feels and responds as you play it is known as the ‘action’, and each manufacturer has their own method for replicating the feel of a real piano. Most crucial in our opinion is the keyboard itself.
All pianos listed here feature 88, full-size, touch-sensitive keys, just like an acoustic piano, and many include a hammer-action. This replicates the feel of an acoustic piano even further by including mechanical, moving hammers that move in the same way as the hammers on an acoustic piano.
The keys will be weighted so that the feedback feels right and an authentic amount of pressure from your fingers is required to produce the notes. Ideally, they’ll also be graded in weight from left to right so that higher notes require a lighter touch.
If you’re looking for a great digital piano, a realistic acoustic piano tone is essential: if it doesn’t sound and respond like the real thing, it’ll be much less inspiring to play. For digital pianos, quality rather than quantity is the focus – keyboards offering a gazillion sounds all resembling an elastic band being plucked over a coffee tin should be avoided.
These days, with incredibly refined sampling and sound generation techniques employed by all major manufacturers, and increased maximum polyphony ensuring that more sustained notes can occur at once without notes cutting off abruptly as you play, digital pianos can sound almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
So as long as the main piano sound works for you, there’s no real need for more than a few variations on the basic piano tone, especially if your main reason for buying is learning the piano!
That said, common sounds will include a few different acoustic pianos, strings and electric pianos. These can often be layered alongside your ‘standard’ piano sound so that they play simultaneously, or applied as a split so that you can play a different sound from each hand.
Acoustic pianos can feature up to three foot pedals, but only one of them is absolutely essential when starting out, and that’s the sustain or ‘damper’ pedal. For this reason, all of the pianos on our list offer a sustain pedal input, with a basic pedal or footswitch included in the purchase price.
Most provide the opportunity to add an optional three-pedal board with metal footplates as you’d find on an acoustic piano at a later point should you need one.
A built-in metronome is always useful to help keep things in time, particularly when practicing scales and arpeggios, and can be found on every one of our chosen pianos. A couple of our choices also feature built-in drum patterns to play along to, and many offer basic performance recording and playback features to monitor your progress.
Finally, as well as built-in speakers, a headphone output is absolutely essential so that you can practise confidently to your heart’s content while the rest of the family does their own thing. All of our contenders sport at least one headphone socket, and a couple provide a second, extra socket for your teacher or proud parent to listen in!
Other common features include extra keyboard modes such as duo, dual, or split. Duo mode creates a four-octave keyboard at each end of the piano so that students and teachers can play together.
Aside from advances in sound generation, technology has enhanced the digital piano experience even further recently, with some models featuring Bluetooth MIDI/Audio capability.
Together with companion smartphone apps, these functions allow you to edit sounds remotely, stream music from your mobile device through the piano’s speakers, or record MIDI data of your performance for evaluation and editing.
Best digital pianos for beginners
The best digital pianos for beginners available today
Casio’s PX Privia range of home pianos has always been a step up the ladder quality- (and price!) wise from the CDP series, and the PX-S1000 is no exception.
This great-sounding new-kid-on-the-block is billed as the slimmest 88-key digital piano on the market, with a super-slinky 23cm front-to-back profile, yet the action on this instrument, along with the tone from the updated AiR sound engine, belies its affordable price tag.
The PX-S1000 is available in a gloss black, white and red colour options. Plus, with 192-note polyphony, Bluetooth audio capabilities, 60 built-in songs and a swanky, Active Touch Panel Display the PX-S1000 looks set to be more than a worthy successor to the mighty PX-160.
As Roland’s newest entry-level, full-size digital piano, the standout feature on the FP-10 has to be its class-leading PHA-4 keyboard. Beautifully responsive and representing staggering value, it’s exactly the same action found on the pricier FP-30 model.
All 88 keys are individually weighted with different weights, as you’d find on an acoustic piano, delivering one of the most authentic-feeling keybeds in this price bracket.
Roland’s patented SuperNatural piano technology delivers an amazingly detailed and nuanced sound, while split mode gives you a four octave piano at each end of the keyboard, great for teaching.
MIDI via both USB and Bluetooth means that the FP-10 plays nicely with Roland’s excellent Piano Partner 2 app, and also makes a great MIDI controller keyboard.
Part of the Compact Living range, the Privia PX-770 is Casio’s most affordable console-style home digital piano, and as such includes a self-assembly, wood-effect, furniture-style stand complete with triple pedalboard and sliding lid.
It features Casio’s Tri-Sensor Scaled hammer action II keybed with simulated ivory & ebony key surfaces to deliver a natural, non-slip playing feel. Meanwhile, the multi-dimensional morphing AiR sound engine produces a rich and authentic tone, with five acoustic piano variations included amongst the 18 available sounds.
The Concert Play function provides a built-in library of ten classical pieces to learn and play along to, featuring backing recordings of a symphony orchestra, and the PX-770 is also compatible with Casio’s Chordana Play app via a USB connection.
Yamaha’s P-45 digital piano has been top of the bestseller lists for a long time now, for good reason. You get the reassurance of the Yamaha’s fine musical pedigree, combined with the brand’s tried-and-tested Advanced Wave Modelling (AWM) sampling technology.
Add in the excellent Graded Hammer Standard keyboard, weighted heavier from left to right like an acoustic piano, and you have a great all-rounder, perfect for beginners.
True, it may be a little light on features compared to some of its peers, and Yamaha’s AWM technology may be getting on a bit now, but as an entry into the world of Yamaha digital pianos, the P-45 still represents great value for money, backed up by a peerless heritage.
Kawai is another heavy hitter from the acoustic piano realm, and the ES110 is their contender for the beginner digital piano crown. It features 19 tones, 8 of which are acoustic piano sounds sampled from the Kawai 9’ EX Concert Grand piano and powered by their Harmonic Imaging technology for increased realism across the dynamic range of the samples.
The ES110 benefits from Kawai’s newly-designed Responsive Hammer Compact action, which employs the same principles as the higher-end RHIII action, but redesigned to fit into the more compact case of the ES110.
There are 100 different drum rhythms on board to make practise sessions go with a swing, and you also get MIDI over Bluetooth for wireless communication with iOS and Android devices, plus Kawai’s own Virtual Technician app for tweaking advanced parameters such as temperament and touch response.
A full-size 88-note piano weighing in at a paltry 7kg that can be set-up anywhere and run off batteries, Roland’s GO:PIANO 88 is great for beginners and buskers alike. The downside of this portability is that the keyboard is only semi-weighted rather than fully-weighted, but it’s a compromise many would be happy to make.
The GO:PIANO 88 has fewer sounds than the smaller GO:PIANO 61 – only 4 – giving you a more focused piano experience, but it’s a case of quality over quantity here, as the sounds that are there are better overall, and it also has the second most powerful speakers on our list.
Bluetooth audio and MIDI connectivity means you can play along with tunes streamed from your smartphone, and record your playing into the Roland Piano Partner 2 app over Bluetooth too.
Korg’s B2N provides the same functionality as their B2 digital piano, but in a more portable unit with a graded, lighter-touch ‘Natural Touch’ keyboard specifically aimed at children and beginners.
The B2N offers the same high-quality ‘Italian’ and ‘German’ piano samples as the B2, and supports half-pedalling like an acoustic piano, although you’ll need Korg’s optional PU-2 damper pedal unit to take advantage of this.
Its USB connection transmits and receives both MIDI and audio, and there’s a generous Korg software bundle included, comprising Korg Module LE and Korg Gadget LE, along with a 3-month subscription to the Skoove online piano lesson service.
Yamaha’s YDP-S34 is a superb entry-level, cabinet-style home piano for those not looking for a portable solution. Some self-assembly is required, but it’s easy to put together, after which you’ll have a fixed and compact musical focal point for the home.
At this level, your extra investment gets you a Graded Hammer Action keyboard, the sampled sound of the flagship Yamaha CFX 9’ concert grand piano, 192-note polyphony and a lidded cabinet stand with three-pedal setup that will take you through the ABRSM Grade 4 lessons and beyond.
There’s a second headphone port for your teacher, and using Yamaha’s Smart Pianist app, you can control advanced features such as damper resonance, access your own music library and even create chord charts based on your favourite tracks.
As the entry-level digital piano from Casio, the idea behind the CDP-S100 is to bring a decent, fully-weighted, hammer-action 88-note keyboard down to an affordable level, a task it pulls off with aplomb.
Employing a new sound engine, the acoustic piano sounds, of which there are 3 on board, improve greatly on those found in previous CDP range pianos, and are more than decent enough for beginners, while textured keytops further enhance the playing experience.
As a bonus, the CDP S-100 can be run on battery power and features a useful audio input jack for plugging in an external sound source to play along to, rounding off what amounts to an excellent beginner piano at a price that can’t be argued with.
A step up in quality from the P-45 brings you the Yamaha P-125. Featuring the same Graded Hammer Standard keyboard as its stablemate, the P-125 ramps things up a notch in terms of sound quality and breadth of features.
The Pure CF sound engine with a maximum polyphony of 192 notes delivers an exceptionally realistic piano tone. Plus, you get more sounds, an additional 20 onboard rhythms as an alternative to the regular metronome, control over EQ and damper resonance and a one song, two-track recorder.
Dual headphone outputs make it a winner for teachers and students, and, unlike the P-45, the P-125 is compatible with Yamaha’s free Smart Pianist app for iOS devices.