September 30, 2015
Digital Piano Buying Guide
Whether you’re a cost-conscious parent or don’t have the space for a grand piano, sometimes a digital piano just makes more sense. Far cheaper than an acoustic piano and much lighter, too, a digital piano is an electronic solution that will never go out of tune. Due to the wide range of functions and features digital pianos offer, finding the right digital piano for your child can seem like a daunting task. From keys and features to tones and sounds, here’s everything you need to know about digital pianos.
If you’re still undecided about whether you should invest in a digital piano, there are some key advantages you should pay attention to. First, digital pianos are far more convenient than their acoustic counterparts- they’re much lighter, easier to move, and most models can be broken down for storage or transport. If cost is an issue, you can’t go wrong with a digital piano, as they generally cost far less than an acoustic piano and, since digital pianos won’t require frequent tunings, you’ll save some money on maintenance as well. When it comes to technical features, most digital pianos allow you to record your performance, which can be beneficial for those new to the instrument. Finally, some digital pianos have MIDI capability and accept memory cards so you can transfer your recorded music to a computer.
88 vs. 61 Keys
Although 61 keys may seem like a space-saver, most experts recommend purchasing a digital piano or keyboard with a full set of 88 keys. Why? Because learning to play or practicing the piano on a smaller keyboard can make transitioning to a larger keyboard difficult. Since most piano lessons are taught on a stationary, acoustic piano, it may be confusing for your child to switch back and forth. Since playing the piano is both a visual and muscular activity, a student who gets used to using a smaller sized keyboard can have trouble adapting to a full-sized version.
Number of Tones & Sounds
While it may seem like a big deal that modern-day digital pianos include hundreds of sound samples from different instruments, at the end of the day, they really aren’t necessary. Once the novelty wears off, your child will likely find themselves sticking to the more basic piano sounds. Plus, all those sounds may be distracting to your child early on. With this being said, focus on the quality of the dozen or so sounds your child will actually use. When it comes to tones and sounds, quality is definitely more important than quantity.
What about Brand?
One of the key characteristics of choosing a digital piano is deciding on a certain brand or manufacturer. While it’s completely fine to go from piano to piano without paying attention to brand, sometimes familiarizing yourself with a certain brand or manufacturer will help you gain a deeper understanding of what to expect from the process. Many of the most notable digital piano brands have been manufacturing musical instruments since the beginning of the technology boom. If you don’t like the idea of spending hours upon hours researching digital pianos and their manufacturers, some of the top companies include Korg, Casio, Roland, and Yamaha.
Opt for Fully-Weighted Keys
On acoustic pianos there are tons of tiny parts that have to interact with each other and move, providing a weighted feel. A good digital piano will do whatever they can to imitate a real piano, including imitating the feel of weighted keys. If you see the word “weighted” in the product description, you’re on the right track. If a manufacturer makes no reference to how a piano feels to the touch, avoid it at all costs. Non-weighted keys give a much different type of action, and can actually be quite distracting. When played over time, a non-weighted digital piano can actually hinder proper playing technique, especially if the student plans to eventually switch to an acoustic model. When browsing for digital pianos, stick with fully-weighted or graded/hammer action.
Do You Need a Headphone Jack?
Essentially, a headphone jack is a matter of preference. If you live in a small space and don’t want to be interrupted by your child’s practicing, a headphone jack makes sense. If you do purchase a digital piano with a headphone jack, many music teachers recommend asking your child to occasionally play without the headphones plugged in so you can ensure they’re actually practicing what they’re supposed to. Also, pay attention to how loud the volume is when your child has the headphones plugged in- too loud and it could contribute to premature hearing loss. Although the majority of digital pianos already come with a headphone jack, if it’s a priority to you double check the product descriptions to be on the safe side.
Used vs. New
If you’d prefer to save even more money by purchasing a used digital piano, be sure to do your research and only buy used from stores you can trust, including Music & Arts. If you’re purchasing a used piano in-person, push down the keys and make sure it works. If someone doesn’t let you sit down and play the piano before purchasing it, walk away. Always be careful when buying used, and do your best to avoid scams. If it seems too good to be true, skip it and move onto your next option. In some cases, you can rent a digital piano or rent-to-own, which means your monthly rental payments go towards the total price of the piano and, once the piano is paid in full, it’s yours to own.
Digital Piano Accessories
Depending on the digital piano you choose, and what your child plans on doing with it, you should also consider picking up a few piano accessories while you’re shopping. Although some of these items may be included in whichever package you choose, they aren’t always standard. If your child plans on transporting their digital piano to and from practices, you should invest in a sturdy case hat will protect the piano from any accidental drops or bangs. Amps and cables are essential for those who wish to amplify the sound of a digital piano, and a bench or stand is important for virtually any type of player. Take a minute to decide what you’ll need before you check out, so you can make sure you’re getting everything you need at once.
Once you purchase your child a digital piano, it’s a good time to enroll your child in piano lessons. Whether you’re interested in private or group lessons, Music & Arts can help you find a qualified instructor. As the nation’s largest private music lesson provider, we teach over one million lessons each and every year. With highly qualified instructors, in-store recitals, and customized lessons that are guaranteed to fit all levels, ages, and genres of music, you can rely on us to help you find the perfect piano teacher for your child. Find an instructor today!
Torn between a piano or a keyboard? Check out Pianos vs. Keyboards: What Does Your Child Need?