10 Best Digital Pianos with Weighted Keys – Play Harder than Ever
A good acoustic piano can set you back a couple thousand bucks. Why not trade the old learning methods for learning to play on one of the best digital pianos, complete with weighted keys like the real thing?
Whether you just want to learn or perform live on stage, digital pianos can offer a cost-effective way of doing both.
Check out my top picks, followed by a buying guide, to understand what separates digital pianos from the standard keyboards and why they might just be superior in all respects for an aspiring musician.
10 Best Digital Pianos - Budget-Friendly and Premium
Table of Contents
- 10 Best Digital Pianos - Budget-Friendly and Premium
- Digital Piano Brands
- Digital Pianos vs. Keyboards – The Feel
- The Importance of Sample Quality
- How Many Keys Do You Need?
- How Much of a Factor is Portability?
- A Pricing Overview
- Types of Digital Pianos You Should Be Able to Recognize
1. Yamaha P71
The Yamaha P71 has among the best price-to-performance ratios of all portable digital pianos on the market. It comes together with a power adapter and sustain pedal, the latter of which is a nice addition as it allows for more complex playing techniques.
Like most standard digital pianos, the Yamaha P71 features 88 keys. The keys are fully weighted and feature hammer action. This allows for a very authentic playing experience, especially when the P71 is paired with the sustain pedal too.
In terms of sound quality, there’s not a bad thing I can say about it. The P71 comes with 10 preset voices. These are made up of recorded samples of both acoustic and grand pianos. Yamaha grand pianos were likely the source. This is a surprising feature because digital samples of grand pianos are usually reserved for top-of-the-range digital pianos.
Another cool function is the Dual Mode. This is a feature that allows using two voices at the same time, such as piano and strings. It’s a nice function to have if you want to play modern tunes and have a more complete playing experience.
The speakers are quite good, although they may not be sufficient for rehearsals or live gigs. For a practice setup at home, they do a fine job, for the money. You might also appreciate the fact that the P71 has a slim design and weighs just under 25lbs. That’s pretty much the most you could ask for in an 88-key portable digital piano.
Alesis digital pianos strike a good balance between affordability and sound quality. The Alesis Recital Pro is equipped with 20W speakers that have a rich sound projection. You will find that the piano can support headphones, mixer, and amp connectivity, as well as one sustain pedal.
The build of the Recital Pro digital piano is nothing too fancy. It’s robust and long-lasting but may not appeal to everyone in regard to aesthetics. That said, this is a cool digital piano for its multiple educational features and 128-note polyphony.
The piano has built-in lesson modes as well as tone customization features for chorus, reverb, and modulation. A built-in metronome is also available. It can be used within or outside the Record Mode, which is a nice feature to have for the student-teacher interaction where one can record lessons and exercise for ear training, among other things.
I find the Recital Pro even better because of its USB connectivity. It’s so easy to connect to a computer and make use of virtual instrument plugins in programs like Cubase or Audacity. Or, with any educational software that supports the piano’s MIDI output.
When it comes to authenticity, the playing experience is not bad at all. The weighted keys have a bit of resistance and fine touch sensitivity that will simulate playing on the real thing. What’s perhaps even more impressive is that the touch response is customizable.
The piano also has 12 voices, out of which four are string voices. There is no grand piano sample preset but there is a church organ sample that sounds really rich and powerful.
The Casio Privia PX-160BK is a portable digital piano with an elegant look and a versatile chassis. It’s a mid-range piano, at least as far as Casio prices are concerned. But its performance potential and feel are above its price range. The Privia PX-160BK features 88 weighted Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keys.
This keyboard design allows the player to exercise a great deal of control over the loudness of each note and chord. It also means that when recording directly through the piano, there won’t be much need to edit the velocity lines in editing software like Cubase.
As a successor to the PX-150, the PX-160BK also comes with some enhancement in the sound department. The redesigned 8”x8” speaker system, for one, offers a much richer sound. And, when it comes to voicing, the grand piano samples are nothing short of impressive.
Casio used a 9ft. concert grand piano to record four voices at four different dynamic levels. Hence the expressivity and realistic tone on either preset used. Of course, in order to get the highest sound quality, it’s probably best to use a damper pedal too. The PX-160BK has a damper pedal but it’s sold separately or as part of a slightly pricier bundle.
The Korg B1SP is a very good starter digital piano. Its value is even greater when accompanied by the Knox bench and 3-pedal stand. If you’re looking for more value for your money and a complete starter kit, this is one of the best available choices on the market.
This piano has a simple but very effective weighted hammer keyboard. The touch response has been pre-calibrated to simulate an acoustic piano. This should make the transition from digital to acoustic much easier.
There are three pedals included: damper, sostenuto (sustain), and soft. The Knox bench is quite comfortable, sturdy, and provides decent support for both teacher and student.
The two 9W speakers have impressive clarity but do lack volume. They are sufficient for practicing, which is the intended purpose of the B1SP.
It’s worth mentioning that this is not a very heavy piano, or a very robust one at that. Although the bundle also includes a furniture stand, the instrument is quite easy to transport to a classroom or a rehearsal studio.
5. Yamaha P125
The Yamaha P125 is a cross between a portable and an entertainment digital piano. It comes in two keyboard sizes, 73-key and 88-key keyboards, which means that you can consider it budget-friendly, should you not need the complete keyboard.
It’s available in black or white, although I find the black model to be the most aesthetically pleasing. What is most impressive is the GHS weighted action. It’s very realistic because there’s a noticeable difference between the low keys and higher keys. The action is lighter with the high keys, which is just how a proper acoustic piano keyboard feels.
The main sample has been recorded from the Yamaha 9’ CFIIIS concert grand piano. A piano that’s highly popular and well-regarded by many professional musicians.
One feature that’s very cool is the Split Mode, which you won’t find on many digital pianos. This function allows you to split the keyboard in half and set a different voice for each half. Talk about sound richness and complexity. This can be used for composition or as a teaching aid.
Last but not least, the USB connectivity will allow you to record or play directly onto a computer and use virtual plugins for even more voice diversity.
The Roland FP-10 is one of the best entry-level digital pianos for many reasons. First and foremost, the Bluetooth connectivity makes this a very versatile instrument for home use. You can transition from beginner to intermediate player and use the Bluetooth MIDI to quickly improve your technique by way of educational apps.
If you’re looking for keyboard authenticity, the FP-10 can offer it. It has progressively weighted hammer action, which means that the lower keys are harder to press than the higher register keys. Just as an acoustic piano.
The tone of the Roland FP-10 is very rich and responsive and produced by the SuperNATURAL piano sound engine. This is based on Roland’s proprietary technology that ensures consistency and a uniquely recognizable tone.
Speaking of practicing, the headphones output and quiet keyboard action will allow you to practice your technique at any time of day. And, unlike many other digital pianos, the FP-10’s consistency in quiet action is reflected in the pricing.
Adding even more value to the bundle are the Roland DP-2 sustain pedal and a music stand. Entry-level and suited for beginners, the FP-10 is still a force to be reckoned with in terms of playing comfort and tone richness.
If you feel like splurging and you’re not particularly interested in a portable setup, then the Yamaha YDP103 may be the digital piano for you. It’s a digital console piano that comes with either a dark Rosewood or Black Walnut stand.
A bench is also included, as are three essential pedals for a realistic playing experience. The GHS weighted action is a given and it’s well-enough calibrated that the heavier for the low keys and softer for the high keys.
The keys are also premium quality with the matte key tops doing a great job of absorbing moisture and preventing the formation of a slippery playing surface. The YDP103 obviously uses Yamaha’s acclaimed AWM (Advanced Wave Memory) stereo sampling in order to recreate a realistic acoustic piano sound.
Dual Mode is also available, which is another cool Yamaha function which allows the use of piano and string voices simultaneously. Last but not least, the YDP103 goes really well with iOS devices thanks to the Controller App.
This is not the most beginner-friendly app but it does come with an intuitive graphical user interface. You can use it to configure tones, add effects, and navigate the piano’s menu remotely and smoothly.
This is a beginner-friendly and kid-friendly digital piano. RockJam opted for semi-weighted keys instead of fully-weighted keys to make the piano more approachable. Given the popularity it enjoys, it wasn’t a bad decision.
The semi-weighted keys will not feel authentic to an experienced pianist. However, it still allows a good deal of control over the intensity of each note. The playing experience is far from bland, especially if you also consider the high-quality voices.
The voices include an upright piano, electric keyboard piano, Hammond organ, church organ, and a grand piano. There are some string voices too, as well as a synth preset. The two 12W built-in speakers sound surprisingly good for this price range and deliver a rich sound projection.
In terms of connectivity, the RockJam 88-key digital piano has a lot to offer. It has inputs for a sustain pedal, a soft pedal, and a microphone. But neither pedals are included with the instrument.
If a digital home piano is at the top of your list, you might want to consider the Casio Privia PX-770. This piano comes in a black, brown, or white finish and features some of the best technologies that Casio has to offer.
It is equipped with a Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard. It also uses the AiR engine for a powerful and accurate rendition of recorded grand piano sounds at different dynamic levels.
The PX-770 has a very nice feel to it, to say the least. As a home piano, it has some distinctive features too. One of which is the Concert Play function. This allows you to play along recordings of orchestral pieces, 10 of them to be exact.
Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about amplification either. The built-in stereo system has a clear sound projection and maintains the richness and complexity of a grand acoustic piano sample.
The PX-770 can also mean fun for the family since it also features Casio’s now trademark Duet Mode. This feature allows you to split the piano to accommodate two players, each playing in equal pitch ranges.
10. Yamaha DGX660B
The Yamaha DGX660B is part of a number of bundles. You can get the piano and stand combo, add a bench, a microphone, and many more accessories, depending on how much you can afford to spend.
The DGX660B uses the same GHS weighted action as most Yamaha digital pianos, with the exception that this one seems a bit better calibrated. The realistic keyboard feel is worthy of the premium pricing.
Wireless connectivity is a big part of what makes the DGX660B so popular. The option to stream your music to an iOS device can come in very handy for practicing or recording purposes. What’s very interesting is the customizable pedal which is not tied to any particular piano function.
The piano has 88 keys, which means it’s full-sized. It’s on the heavier side which may not do much for portability but it probably enhances its durability and longevity.
For all entertainment features, it’s no wonder that the DGX660 digital piano is very popular with streamers too. It has a large LCD display for score and lyrics, a Smart Chord function, and loads of built-in effects and presets, as well as plenty of memory to download or customize and save more.
Digital Piano Brands
When it comes to music instruments, Yamaha has its hand in just about anything, digital pianos included. This is why it’s one of the most recognizable manufacturers of digital pianos and keyboards. The brand also offers a nice range of instruments from entry-level to professional digital pianos.
Casio is another brand that you might want to look for. Its digital pianos tend to be more budget-friendly yet still manage to give a nice feel due to their impressive weighted keys design.
Most well-known for its keyboards, Roland is another brand worth paying attention to. The company excels at making digital pianos above all else. Their instruments have a very nice, realistic feel and are usually packed with high-end features.
There are of course other reliable manufacturers like Korg, Alesis, RockJam, Kawai, and others. But the three previously mentioned are arguably the backbone of this niche.
Digital Pianos vs. Keyboards – The Feel
Many people can’t or may not care to differentiate between the two. It’s somewhat understandable since most digital pianos and keyboards look very much alike. But, on closer inspection, one thing becomes very clear. The feel of the keys is nothing alike.
Digital pianos are designed to mimic an acoustic piano. This means that they have weighted keys. Not all of them, but the majority do. The weighted keys allow you to control the volume while playing.
This promotes learning good habits while also giving your playing more depth and range. Keyboard keys are soft in comparison and don’t feel authentic. Whenever a digital piano or a keyboard (on occasion) has weighted keys and is sensitive to pressure, the manufacturer should list the instrument as having Graded Key action.
Another feel-good aspect of playing a digital piano as opposed to a keyboard is the pedal compatibility. This also enhances the feel by introducing a feature predominantly found in acoustic pianos.
The Importance of Sample Quality
In a head-to-head showdown between digital pianos and keyboards, keyboards win every time when it comes to quantity. Call it strength in numbers if you will. But the big difference is in terms of sample quality.
Digital piano manufacturers put a lot of effort to only include the very best audio samples of acoustic pianos. Whereas for keyboards, the emphasis is usually to include many different types of samples as possible instead of just a few good ones.
Of course, there’s a lot that goes into creating a great sample. The end result depends on what piano was used to record the sound, the recording instruments, post-processing and modeling algorithms, sample lengths, dedicated memory, and a couple of other factors.
This is where sometimes the brand makes the difference. But there’s also a trick you can use to give yourself the best chance of picking a good-sounding digital piano.
You can look at the memory. If the piano has more memory, it means that it can hold higher quality samples. This is mostly because low-memory pianos resort to filling in the gaps between the recorded keys.
How Many Keys Do You Need?
Digital pianos come in a wide range of models. They’re very similar to keyboards in this regard, as in they can have a variety of scale lengths or number of keys. If you’re looking for the complete piano experience then your only real choice is an 88-key digital piano.
Digital pianos can also have 61 or 76 keys. But, any one of these models won’t allow you to tackle complex musical compositions. If you want to play classical music, then 90% of the time you’ll need all 88 keys at your disposal.
Another aspect worth considering is authenticity. Without 88 keys, you’ll have to adjust various passages of your sheet music in order to play all the notes.
Not only that, but you may actually find it difficult to transition to a full-size acoustic piano if you haven’t touched an 88-key digital piano and have only practiced on a 61-keys model. That said, the number of keys also ties into the portability and pricing.
How Much of a Factor is Portability?
As you can see, there are many factors that may influence your decision about which digital piano to buy. Portability is another one of them. Most musicians and students tend to opt for portable digital pianos because they can take them on the road or take them to their music lessons.
If portability is important to you then it’s best you look for a digital piano that looks like an electronic keyboard. It’s important to make this distinction because digital pianos can be very large too. Some are designed to feel like and look like an acoustic piano from top to bottom, meaning that they are meant for permanent installation.
These types of pianos may be digital cabinet pianos or replicas of furniture upright models. If you want portability, the best you’re going to find is a digital piano with a stand, which may look a lot like any digital keyboard to some.
Obviously, 88-key digital pianos are kind of long and may be awkward to carry at times. They also tend to be slightly pricier. Of course, the pricing changes along with build quality and sound quality too, so you can’t always assume that an 88-key model will sound amazing, if it’s really cheap.
A Pricing Overview
It should come as no surprise that digital pianos aren’t very cheap. Sure, they’re nothing compared to acoustic pianos but they’re considerably pricier than digital keyboards. At least if you opt for the 88-key design and if you want some decent audio quality too.
Types of Digital Pianos You Should Be Able to Recognize
There are four main types of digital pianos: portable, console, entertainment, and stage pianos. For the purpose of this article, we won’t discuss console types since they’re very big and expensive, even though they offer the most authentic experience.
Portable digital pianos almost always have 88 keys. They can have upwards of 25 tones and are very limited in terms of prerecorded songs or rhythms. A portable digital piano would be your best bet if you’re trying to get something affordable, beginner-friendly, and smaller in frame.
Entertainment-style digital pianos also have 88 keys but they can feature hundreds of tones. They’re generally more expensive, sometimes an entry-level entertainment piano being twice as much as an entry-level portable piano.
This type of piano may be best suited for composers or any player that wants some recording features, an LCD screen, and many presets.
Last but not least, there’s the stage digital piano. This is the kind of piano that can come with fewer than 88 keys. The design is usually highly portable and often features a stand too. What separates the stage piano from the rest is usually in terms of tones, presets, and connectivity options.
A stage piano may have hundreds of tones but it will also have various customization options, which other models almost always lack. It should also have an extensive library of rhythms, songs, and effects.
Another distinctive design feature is a lack of built-in speakers. A stage piano doesn’t have them because it doesn’t need them. This type of digital piano is designed to work with amps or PA systems.
Given the number of bells and whistles and very specific live show-oriented features, you can expect a stage piano to be just as expensive if not more than an entertainment-style piano, though not necessarily as expensive as a digital console model.
Are You Ready to Step Up Your Commitment?
A digital piano is going to set you back by quite a few bucks. But if you’re shooting for sound quality above all else, there’s just nothing else that would offer a better alternative.
You’ve probably already found your best fit by now. If not, feel free to put the information in the guide to use and choose the piano you think will do justice in helping you learn, compose, record, and entertain.