Playing the piano can be a fun and exciting experience, no matter your age. As a beginner, it can be daunting trying to pick a suitable option (one that’s both worth your money and will last).
Most websites covering digital pianos for beginners usually only recommend the best sellers on Amazon, with no justification other than specs. In my guide, I’ll give you the top options based on my experience as a professional touring musician.
- 1 Why Learn on a Digital Piano as a Beginner?
- 2 The Difference Between Keyboards & Digital Pianos
- 3 The Best Digital Pianos for Beginners of 2020
- 3.1 1) Roland FP-10
- 3.2 2) Korg B2
- 3.3 3) Casio Privia PX-160
- 3.4 4) Alesis Recital Pro 88-Key
- 3.5 5) Williams Rhapsody 2
- 3.6 6) Medeli SP4200
- 3.7 7) Yamaha YPG 235
- 3.8 8) Yamaha P71
- 4 Why Do Instructors Recommend Digital Pianos for Beginners?
- 5 Conclusion
Why Learn on a Digital Piano as a Beginner?
Learning how to play on a digital piano as a beginner is smart, as you save money while still playing a quality instrument. You will get a lot more value than most cheap keyboards offer.
Watch out for snake oil—as stated before, many other websites highlight regular keyboards as digital pianos in their guides. There’s a big difference. Let me explain…
The Difference Between Keyboards & Digital Pianos
Keyboards typically have more sounds, cheap plastic keys, and usually start at a more budget-friendly price.
Digital pianos, on the other hand, generally have weighted keys, which help tremendously while learning how to play the piano properly.
Both keyboards and digital pianos can be portable, but I highly suggest starting on a digital piano as a beginner.
If you’re a beginner but can’t afford the following options, check out my roundup of the best digital pianos for under $300.
The Best Digital Pianos for Beginners of 2020
Below I have listed eight different options for beginners and first-time players. As of June 2020, I still believe the Roland FP-10 is by far the best digital piano for beginners, which is why I have listed it first.
1) Roland FP-10
The Roland FP-10 is hands down the best choice when on a budget. It’s relatively new, and it’s an excellent instrument.
I recently did a full product review on the Roland FP-10, so don’t miss that if you want a more in-depth read. The exceptional features to note here are the Bluetooth technology and key-bed.
With the key-bed, you will be surprised by how it feels since the keyboard is so affordable. The keys genuinely feel like some of the better ones I have played.
For beginners on a budget looking for a digital piano, the FP-10 is a no-brainer. Roland knocks it out of the park once again.
2) Korg B2
The B2 is Korg’s entry-level beginner digital piano. Many private lesson instructors often recommend the B2 for beginners, as it boasts serious quality for a reasonable price.
I love the built-in speakers on this keyboard. They’re loud but crisp-sounding. For those who need to keep the noise down for family or live in an apartment, there’s a headphone jack in the back.
The more expensive Korg B2SP comes with a stand along with three attached pedals.
The Korg B2 is a fantastic digital piano for beginners, especially for the price. The speakers and the keys put this a step above most of its competition.
3) Casio Privia PX-160
The Privia PX-160 is one of the lighter beginner digital pianos coming in at only 24 pounds. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Casio instruments, but lately, they’ve changed my mind.
The keys on the PX-160 are something to note as they feel heavier on the lower end. I like this, as it yields a playing experience similar to a real piano. The keys should feel lighter in the highs and heavier in the lows.
Along with the Privia, you also get two free months of lessons, so beginners get a little more value.
The Casio Privia is one of the better picks for beginners to intermediate players. The key-bed is excellent, and the sound is pretty close to something like the Yamaha P-115.
4) Alesis Recital Pro 88-Key
The sound on the Recital Pro is surprising. I think Alesis has been stepping their game up. The Recital Pro is a win in my book. For such an affordable price, it’s hard to find a nice-sounding keyboard. This one makes the cut.
The Recital comes with five realistic sounds, including organ and bass.
I think that the Recital is one of a few right choices for beginners learning piano. It’s a step up from the Rhapsody 2—I just prefer Alesis over Williams.
5) Williams Rhapsody 2
This Williams Rhapsody 2 88-key weighted keyboard is the upgrade from the Williams Legato. It comes with 88 fully-weighted hammer-action keys that have a realistic feel, including the feature of aftertouch.
Aftertouch controls the pressure sensitivity of held down notes after being struck. This feature is useful for something like a Rhodes piano where you want to add vibrato at the end of the note.
The Rhapsody 2 is on the heavier side, which makes it less portable. Like most entry-level digital pianos, you get a headphone jack for quiet practice. The key-action is okay, but I can’t recommend this to an experienced player.
Features of the Rhapsody 2
- Fully weighted hammer-action keys
- Split and layer mode
- 12 voices with 64 note polyphony
- Built-in speakers
- USB MIDI capable
- 12 quality sounds to browse
I think this is a decent product. It’s not by any means the best, but it has everything you need in a keyboard.
6) Medeli SP4200
The Hong Kong brand Medeli is relatively unknown to most. I hadn’t heard much about the company prior. Still, I decided to dig into the SP4200 as I read tons of positive reviews.
The keys feel nice and heavy for this price range. Finding keyboards that have heavy weighted keys is not a straightforward thing for anything near this price range.
I was surprised by the sound of the SP4200, but I don’t think it competes with most others on the list. Still, it seems like a step above the Wiliams Rhapsody 2.
Medeli’s SP4200 can’t compete with higher-end Roland or Yamaha models, but it is a great entry-level option for beginners.
7) Yamaha YPG 235
The Yamaha YPG-235 features 76 keys and nearly 500 built-in sounds, and the highly-acclaimed Yamaha Education Suite. It’s a perfect choice for beginners learning.
The Yamaha Education Suite teaches you how to play by breaking down songs into individual components, like pitch and rhythm.
Yamaha makes excellent products for beginners, and the YPG-235 is a keyboard I like to recommend.
The YPG technically is a keyboard and not a digital piano because it comes with 500 different sounds—it’s primary function isn’t emulating an acoustic piano.
The YPG-235 comes with 30 different songs you can play with, as well as a recording mode.
Features of the YPG-235
- 76 piano-style keys with Graded Soft Touch Technology allowing for expressive performances
- Nearly 500 voices, 160 preset styles, and 30 preset songs with a built-in recording feature
- USB connectivity and compatibility with music software on your computer
- Yamaha Education Suite
The YPG-235 is an excellent option, but the lack of weighted keys makes me hard-pressed to suggest it for beginners. The integrated education software does make it rather convincing, however.
8) Yamaha P71
The Yamaha P71 is very similar to the P45. You’ll get a quality piano at a reasonable price, along with years of life.
I tend to recommend the P71 and P45 for beginner 88-key digital pianos because they last for years while you learn. In contrast, some of the other options around this price range are easy to outgrow.
The P71 is a full-size piano boasting 88 weighted keys. No matter which option you pick from this list, make sure it has weighted keys. Trust me; you can thank me later.
Your finger dexterity will be far greater than your friends learning on cheap keyboards, and you’ll progress much faster.
The P71 comes with a dual-mode, allowing you to split the digital piano keys to get different sounds in each hand. Some bundles, depending on where you look, come with a sustain pedal. I suggest checking the latest deals at Sweetwater.
Features of the P71
- 88 fully weighted piano-style keys simulate the feel of an actual acoustic piano
- Dual Mode lets you combine two voices, like strings, organs, or pianos
- Sleek design
- 25 pounds
- Includes a sustain pedal
Why Do Instructors Recommend Digital Pianos for Beginners?
Most instructors advocate using digital pianos to learn how to play piano over regular keyboards—they can lead to terrible habits.
Most keyboards do not have weighted keys, leading to lousy wrist posture and poor finger dexterity. Building your strength early on is key to progressing quicker.
And while you wait for your new digital piano to ship, be sure to bookmark my favorite finger strength exercises for piano.
And probably worst of all—the sounds on most entry-level keyboards are terrible.
Keyboards Can Lead To Poor Dynamics And Technique
Non-weighted keys don’t allow for dynamics—this is a proven fact. Some musical pieces require you to play soft and then to play loud; you can’t do this on a cheaper keyboard.
When you play the keys louder, sure they might play louder on a keyboard, however, you’re not getting accustomed to how hard or soft you should be playing.
Improper technique will be a crutch while learning if you use a cheaper keyboard. I recommend trying to play a real piano as often as you can, whether at a friend’s house or a local music store, to improve your finger dexterity.
The lack of weighted keys causes some students to sag their wrists when playing and learning on keyboards. It’s better to learn correctly at the beginning than correct mistakes and poor technique later down the line.
Instructors know that most budget keyboards are of poor quality. If their students are going to buy a keyboard, they want them to purchase something that will last a few years. If you get a cheap keyboard, you will outgrow it as you get better at the piano.
With a digital piano, you can use the same thing for your entire journey as long as you get a decent one. I look at it as, “yeah, you can save at first, but in the end, you will lose money when you purchase a nicer product.”
That said, if you’re unsure whether or not you will continue with learning piano, a cheaper option may be the way to go. You will lose out if you decide to sell it three months into starting to play.
Instructors want to demonstrate to students on a comparable instrument. Switching from keyboard to piano every time you practice is not fun, and it’s not preferred.
Practicing frequently on something that has weighted keys furthers your progress, and no one disagrees with that statement.
Do I Need To Spend A Fortune?
No, especially not in this day and age. A quality instrument these days can last forever and give you all the features you need from a piano.
When buying a digital piano, the best rule of thumb is not to break the bank before you know how serious you are about playing the instrument. I’ve seen many people spend far too much on a keyboard to give up only before giving it a chance.
If you are someone who wants to learn the right way and doesn’t want to spend too much, our pick is the Alesis Coda Pro. It’s quality and is still cheap for an 88 key keyboard.
If you play on an acoustic piano but are looking for something lighter and more convenient, then yes, spending the extra money will be worth it in the long run.
Do I Need A Sustain Pedal?
If you’re spending the money already on a piano, then the answer is yes. Sustain pedals are very cheap and also really important.
Once you play with a pedal, not playing with one is annoying because it’s hard to perform smoothly and connected.
You don’t have to spend a ton of money on a sustain pedal (see my favorites here) to get one that will last you a few years. Like anything in audio, typically, the more money you spend, the higher the quality you’re getting to a certain extent.
As far as what type of sustain pedal, it’s all preference. Some people love the feel of the traditional piano sustain and want one like that. However, others like the square sustain pedals more.
When I perform live, I like to move around, so I take the rubber off the bottom of my sustain pedal so I can push it around. I have always found the traditional piano sustain pedal annoying when playing live—they’re a little too small for my style.
My foot always gets caught and doesn’t hit the sustain pedal accurately. With cheaper square sustain pedals, it’s much easier to hit, and the durability isn’t terrible.
These will break over time, but you should be able to get at least a year out of them as long as you’re not crushing it when you hit it every time.
Do You Need Lessons?
I believe the answer is no. However, I do think lessons can be beneficial in the beginning. With all of the free content of YouTube and instructional videos, you can take your game pretty far if you have passion and dedication.
Getting lessons will only aid in your progress. If you have the budget, I suggest getting a few lessons and seeing how you are improving.
Things To Consider For Beginners
Do you need to keep down the noise frequently? If so, make sure whatever you pick has a headphone jack (most these days do).
If you go this route, look for a decent pair of headphones. You can sacrifice speaker quality if you are going to be using headphones often.
Don’t miss my article on my favorite headphones for digital pianos.
Weighted keys are great for adults and kids who are motivated. In the end, the extra weight will significantly help your finger dexterity as a pianist. The quality of keys is improving on a lot of the newer keyboards, so this is a big plus.
Weighted keys are going to be a vital part of building your finger dexterity in the long run. Still, many players begin to learn on semi-weighted keyboards or even non-weighted.
I started on a cheap Casio keyboard when I was 11, and it had 49 keys. The big thing to keep in mind here is figuring out how serious you are about playing the piano.
Some beginner pianos will come with stands, and others won’t. Make sure you identify this before purchasing as you want to make sure you have one when your instrument arrives.
If you don’t have the budget for a stand, you can easily set your keyboard up on a table temporarily. It’s not ideal, however, as the height will not be what you want or need.
I hope you enjoyed this list of the best digital pianos for beginners. All of these were carefully reviewed and selected for your benefit!