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We are often asked for advice by beginners on buying a digital piano. Here is some frank advice from an experienced pianist on another thread ... don't worry too much about it!

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Don't obsess about "which piano to buy". It's a tool for learning to play. As you learn, your needs, and tastes, may change. Your first piano may not be your last piano.

Yamaha / Roland / Kawai / Casio -- any "digital piano" (88 keys, "weighted action") from those makers will be OK. Some have cabinets, others are "slab pianos" which have built-in loudspeakers, but need a separate stand. The trade-offs are complicated, and depend on your living situation and budget.

A good teacher is priceless.

Have fun, and enjoy the journey --

To reiterate, it is not important what you buy, as long as it is a weighted-key piano from one of the reputable manufacturers: Casio, Kawai, Roland and Yamaha. Debating nuance on this forum in pointless for beginners, and will waste time better spent in starting to learn.

It is far more critical that a beginner sets aside a portion of his or her budget (half? more?) to learn how to play the instrument. This could be through books, apps, online or in-person lessons with a teacher. And that he or she puts in the time to practice, at least an hour a day. Learning to play is not easy, but is certainly fun and rewarding!

The Kawai ES110, Roland FP30 and Yamaha P-125 are fine weighted-key pianos that will not hamper a beginner's progress for 3-5 years, at least. If you want to dip your toes in the water, an unweighted old keyboard obtained free or almost free might even be enough to learn the basics over the first few months. But its touch and tone will not feel or sound realistic, so your first serious purchase should be a weighted-key piano.

If all goes well, in a few years you will not be a beginner and can decide how you want to upgrade: a better digital, a hybrid, or an acoustic? Or you can decide, like Charles (quoted above), that an older entry-level Casio is still the best for you!

And if you find that learning to play is an endless struggle and decide it is not for you, a $500 keyboard will be far easier to resell than a $3000 console, due to its price and portability. There's no harm in moving on to something better suited to your skills and interests.

I learned the formal way as a child, three lessons a week for twelve years, with lots of exams and recitals. However, I let it slip during my professional career and hardly played for the next forty years. Returning to the piano is one of the best decisions I've made in retirement, first purchasing an entry-level Yamaha digital and later upgrading to an acoustic grand.

All the best for your unique piano journey!
Lotus
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Having fun with: Tema con Variazioni from
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Kawai GM-10 grand / Yamaha DGX-660 digital

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Having proper guidance is very important IMO. Connecting with other beginners would also help a lot ! And of course, "Having fun" should be a major portion of the piano playing experience.

Emily <3

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Originally Posted by Lotus1
It is far more critical that a beginner sets aside a portion of his or her budget (half? more?) to learn how to play the instrument. This could be through books, apps, online or in-person lessons with a teacher. And that he or she puts in the time to practice, at least an hour a day. Learning to play is not easy, but is certainly fun and rewarding!
An hour a day is debatable.

A quarter hour a day is good enough to make progress at the beginning. Or half an hour. Whatever time you have is better than none.

What's also important is knowing when to stop. If your wrist or elbow muscles start twinging and aching, that's a warning sign. Maybe look up a youtube video about proper posture - you could be sitting wrong and straining yourself that way.
Or just stop for the day. Continuing on blindly because of 'have to practice a full hour' can lead to repetitive strain injury or other afflictions and then you'll not be able to practice for quite some time.


Originally Posted by Lotus1
The Kawai ES110, Roland FP30 and Yamaha P-125 are fine weighted-key pianos that will not hamper a beginner's progress for 3-5 years, at least. If you want to dip your toes in the water, an unweighted old keyboard obtained free or almost free might even be enough to learn the basics over the first few months. But its touch and tone will not feel or sound realistic, so your first serious purchase should be a weighted-key piano.

I disagree on the bad old keyboard.

When I moved out of the house, I brought my parents old digital piano (from the 80s or early 90s I think) with me. The action was so bad that I had zero fun playing it, which led to me quitting the instrument entirely for thirteen years - after twelve years of (mostly) enjoying learning how to play.

This January I got a good digital piano and I'm having fun again.

Below a certain level, a bad instrument can destroy any fun you derive from playing it, sadly.

Last edited by steamrick; 01/16/22 01:31 PM.

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Originally Posted by Lotus1
The Kawai ES110, Roland FP30 and Yamaha P-125 are fine weighted-key pianos that will not hamper a beginner's progress for 3-5 years, at least.

This is an oversimplification that I don’t agree with for a serious student whose goal is ultimately to play any piano well. I was not a child prodigy, but after 5 years of regular lessons with a fantastic teacher and my enthusiasm for practicing, I was certainly working on things where regular access to a better piano (with a better action, better pedals, and better sound) would have made a difference.


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I found a CN39 out of state. Should I order it? How much of a chance it will arrive damaged, then the shenanigans once that happens. Would you do it giving the market condition right now.

I appreciate your opinions

Last edited by Wasabi Coated; 01/16/22 01:29 PM.
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Originally Posted by Emily121
Having proper guidance is very important IMO. Connecting with other beginners would also help a lot ! And of course, "Having fun" should be a major portion of the piano playing experience. Emily <3

Very good points, Emily!

I recommend the Piano World "Adult Beginners Forum", whatever your age and even if you are not an absolute beginner. It has useful threads on everything from learning tips to online courses to friendly encouragement when necessary.

And you're right about having fun playing the piano. Perhaps my original post was a little too serious? If so, I apologize!

The best thing about the piano, whatever your level, is that progress is directly related to the time and effort one puts in. I still feel astonished that I can play pieces that a few months ago seemed difficult, if not impossible.

All the best on your piano adventure!
Regards,
Lotus
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Having fun with: Tema con Variazioni from
Mozart: Sonata in D, K. 284, "Durnitz" on
Kawai GM-10 grand / Yamaha DGX-660 digital

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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by Lotus1
The Kawai ES110, Roland FP30 and Yamaha P-125 are fine weighted-key pianos that will not hamper a beginner's progress for 3-5 years, at least.

This is an oversimplification that I don’t agree with for a serious student whose goal is ultimately to play any piano well. I was not a child prodigy, but after 5 years of regular lessons with a fantastic teacher and my enthusiasm for practicing, I was certainly working on things where regular access to a better piano (with a better action, better pedals, and better sound) would have made a difference.

Owen, I have always appreciated (and learned from) your posts and never thought I'd see the day when I disagree with you! The point of my post was to encourage beginners to take the plunge with a decent weighted-key piano, rather than debate nuances that probably mean nothing to them. Perhaps you missed the threads by an absolute novice on the GP510 vs. the CA99 vs. the CLP775, for example.

I believe that the next step up from entry-level (Kawai ES920, Roland FP90, Yamaha P-515) represent better value for the serious student due to their superior actions. But, as I'm sure you know, so many beginners find learning the basics too difficult and the time commitment too much, and move on to something else.

Considering that you went on to get a doctorate in music, and now teach and work in the field, perhaps you were more talented and dedicated than most children? I think so!

Originally Posted by steamrick
Originally Posted by Lotus1
The Kawai ES110, Roland FP30 and Yamaha P-125 are fine weighted-key pianos that will not hamper a beginner's progress for 3-5 years, at least. If you want to dip your toes in the water, an unweighted old keyboard obtained free or almost free might even be enough to learn the basics over the first few months. But its touch and tone will not feel or sound realistic, so your first serious purchase should be a weighted-key piano.

I disagree on the bad old keyboard.

When I moved out of the house, I brought my parents old digital piano (from the 80s or early 90s I think) with me. The action was so bad that I had zero fun playing it, which led to me quitting the instrument entirely for thirteen years - after twelve years of (mostly) enjoying learning how to play.

This January I got a good digital piano and I'm having fun again. Below a certain level, a bad instrument can destroy any fun you derive from playing it, sadly.

Steamrick, my point was that learning the basics, e.g., key names, printed notation, perhaps a simple tune or two, can be done on any keyboard. Something obtained free might encourage a beginner to give the piano a try, have a little fun, and understand the commitment needed to progress. As I said, this might be enough for the first few months, and the first serious purchase should be a weighted-key piano.

As someone who had earlier played for twelve years, you are clearly not a beginner. Your new Kawai CA79 has the best action in a digital piano, in my opinion, and I'm glad that you're enjoying it. But it is over five times the price of an entry-level weighted-key piano, an investment that most beginners would find a step too far.

All the best!
Lotus
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Having fun with: Tema con Variazioni from
Mozart: Sonata in D, K. 284, "Durnitz" on
Kawai GM-10 grand / Yamaha DGX-660 digital

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Originally Posted by Lotus1
Steamrick, my point was that learning the basics, e.g., key names, printed notation, perhaps a simple tune or two, can be done on any keyboard. Something obtained free might encourage a beginner to give the piano a try, have a little fun, and understand the commitment needed to progress. As I said, this might be enough for the first few months, and the first serious purchase should be a weighted-key piano.

As someone who had earlier played for twelve years, you are clearly not a beginner. Your new Kawai CA79 has the best action in a digital piano, in my opinion, and I'm glad that you're enjoying it. But it is over five times the price of an entry-level weighted-key piano, an investment that most beginners would find a step too far.

I used to play that particular piano for about a week a year every year while visiting my grandparents for christmas - and I hated it from day one, even back when I was a true beginner.
It's from 1988 according to my dad, has no weighted action, is quite sluggish on the return and is barely sensitive to how hard you press - which makes it precisely the kind of piano you might get for nearly free as you recommended and I disagree with.

All I'm saying is that a particularly bad piano can suck all the fun out of playing it and someone who's not having fun will never make the jump from 'interested' to 'mentally invested', so to speak.

Last edited by steamrick; 01/16/22 02:53 PM.

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And not all "good" piano keyboards are equal. Everytime there are upgrades (the silly season) the actions change. From light to heavy, from heavy to light. But one thing is pretty sure; a heavy digital action will cause hand issues given time. Acoustic protagenists seem to fare much better judging by all the stuff online . . .but much of this could be due to the digital being played too quietly, more force being applied to create the dynamics.
A learner, particularly a youngster, does not need a heavy key action.


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Originally Posted by Lotus1
I have always appreciated (and learned from) your posts and never thought I'd see the day when I disagree with you! The point of my post was to encourage beginners to take the plunge with a decent weighted-key piano, rather than debate nuances that probably mean nothing to them. Perhaps you missed the threads by an absolute novice on the GP510 vs. the CA99 vs. the CLP775, for example.

I believe that the next step up from entry-level (Kawai ES920, Roland FP90, Yamaha P-515) represent better value for the serious student due to their superior actions. But, as I'm sure you know, so many beginners find learning the basics too difficult and the time commitment too much, and move on to something else.

No problem, and no hard feelings - if we all agreed on this stuff, there would be one "official" digital and acoustic piano for every market segment, size, and budget!

I agree with what you've said in the quotation I just embedded. The more entry-level models have their rightful place: where size is at a premium, where light weight is a major factor, where budgets are most limited, or where the usage (for higher level players) is infrequent. Heck [and at the risk of going off-topic], two of my undergraduate piano majors bought a Roland FP30 and a Kawai ES110 in the last couple years (I assisted them in the shopping process); I know another one has a Casio Privia PX-S 1000/3000 and another has a Yamaha P125. But they are typically using these for late-night work and not as the primary daily practice piano. I might even have to buy one of these for myself, for a remote placement where I'd only use it, 7-10 days a year, max.

For a beginner, this more entry-level rung of instruments you originally mentioned at the top of the thread are perfectly fine, and a better option than just about any acoustic spinet, or clapped-out acoustic console that is unlikely to be properly maintained. But after a couple of years of diligent or intensive study, the piano teacher side of me would suggest moving on to something better, whether that's a digital with upgraded action/samples/models/speakers, or a new or recently-made, used acoustic studio upright (or better) in good shape. I think it was the part where you say, "...that will not hamper a beginner's progress for 3-5 years, at least," is where it probably set me off a bit!

When I'm doing festival and lower-level competition adjudications, an activity that takes up probably a third of my weekends from February to May each year, it's often obvious which students are practicing on actions and pedals that are crude simulations or function poorly, whether that's an acoustic or a digital piano at home. Problems with tone production and pedaling (if students are "outliers", compared with the other pupils of the same teacher) are dead giveaways. It was even more sad to hear some of the acoustic pianos students had at home when I was doing more virtual/distanced adjudication, during the more locked-down phase of the pandemic-- pianos that were unevenly a half step flat, actions that were not dynamically controllable, dampers and pedals that didn't work correctly, instruments that had not been serviced in years...


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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
No problem, and no hard feelings - if we all agreed on this stuff, there would be one "official" digital and acoustic piano for every market segment, size, and budget!

I don't disagree with a word of what you've just written. In fact, I'm a little surprised that undergrad piano majors would touch any of these entry-level digitals, but as you say it's only for occasional practice, not regular use. We agree that such digitals have their place as reasonable entry vehicles for absolute beginners.

Your characterization of some piano pedals as crude simulations is interesting. I found this to be a major differentiating factor between all the digitals and even acoustics that I tried. I love the fact that Kawai, on my little entry-level grand, designed a sustain pedal that allows the pianist to mete out precisely how much of the effect is desired.

Best regards,
Lotus
_____________________________________
Having fun with: Tema con Variazioni from
Mozart: Sonata in D, K. 284, "Durnitz" on
Kawai GM-10 grand / Yamaha DGX-660 digital

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Over the years I have played and taught on many various digital pianos, and the only ones I rate are Yamaha - read more. The others have an insubstantial sound and lack of sustaining power.

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In the beginning it's common for parents to ask what is the least they need to spend for a playable keyboard for the kids' music lessons. They're not sure if the kids would continue piano for more than a year and upright pianos are hard to get rid of. Unless you're in Suzuki piano, teachers generally accept DPs for learning.

As you get to more advanced repertoire, a piano with at least 76 weighted keys is a must. And there is the common concern for a good piano sound and touch. Different brands & models have their unique touch and piano sound so need to spend time at a piano store and test many models.

The last thing is not to expect a keyboard to last for many years. People upgrade their portable phones every few years. You can't get any more than 88 keys but the piano sounds and other features improve over time. And the parts are not made to last forever. When a keyboard starts to break, it may be expensive to fix the parts than to buy a new keyboard.


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