My good friend and colleague Susan Blanchard Shaw put together this post for her students. She was doing research in her area in order to help guide her student’s parents in their selection of a piano.
I liked the post so much I asked her if I could repost it here for all of you, and she said yes. Thank you, Susan!
A Piano for Christmas?
Around this time of year, many people consider getting a keyboard for someone as a gift or upgrading from the one they have. If you are considering buying a keyboard ( versus an acoustic piano) please consider the following:
* The better the instrument, the better the progress. A student playing on an inexpensive keyboard with less than 88 Keys will not fare as well as one who has the full range of notes to play.
* Is the keyboard touch sensitive and does it have weighted keys? Most inexpensive keyboards do not. The keys are not weighted and thus do not give a real piano feel. This can lead to improper technique and frustration on the student’s part. A weighted keyboard will feel more like a real piano and will help the student be able to play with dynamic shading.
* Is the keyboard on a steady stand at the proper height? This is vital to proper technique. Students who sit too low, too high can develop issues with muscle tension. This could lead to tendinitis or worse. The student should be able to sit with their arms perfectly parallel to the keys.
* How does it sound? An inexpensive keyboard sounds like it. There is no depth of sound, no real piano feel or sound.
* What kind of pedal does it have? After the first year of lessons, pedal technique is usually introduced. A cheap square plastic pedal will not give the desired results and usually skates across the floor.
* How many notes of polyphony are there? Without getting into too much detail, the higher the number, the better. If you are going to play fast, advanced music, notes will blip or clip out on lower than 64 note polyphony. Imagine playing a piece and half the notes are silent. Then again, if you are an advanced player I suggest an acoustic piano.
So which keyboards are preferred? There are many keyboards in all prices ranges, with 88 weighted keys, solid stand, bench, and pedal. Here are my recommendations:
Yamaha P45- not as good as I thought for the money. $499 with a base. To get the good base and pedal would be an additional $150.
Casio Privia PX160. I liked this a lot. Great feel and sound, not a lot of bells and whistles. $499 for just the keyboard. But a site called kraftmusic.com has a bundle that includes the furniture type stand, triple pedal board, bench and headphones for 599.99 with free shipping.
Casio Privia PX 350. Above the 160. More bells and whistles. Better piano sound. Same feel as the 160. Piano only $599. With furniture stand, triple pedal board, nice bench with storage, dust cover and headphones. Kraftmusic.com. Has the best price at $879.
Now that is pricey. Once you get up there you may want to look at acoustic pianos.
Next up Yamaha DGX 660. Lots of bells and whistles including the ability to record. $799 at kraft music includes furniture stand, bench, headphones and a single ( not triple) pedal.
There are of course more expensive digital pianos out there ( Yamaha Clavinova).
If you are in the market for an acoustic I can do some research as well. A good acoustic will last 100 years if well maintained and will not lose value. There are quite a few nice ones on Craigslist. Anywhere from $350 on up
I would avoid the Williams pianos. The touch is very stiff and the sound is not great. I had to play one for a show and by
The end my hands were hurting.