Instrument in music shop

Selecting the best keyboard to learn piano on is not an easy task. Not with all the new makes, models and upgrades hitting the market every year.

Truthfully, buying guides like this one probably would have been helpful for me as a young musician starting out in high school. Now, nearly two decades later, though I’m much more experienced and confident as a pianist, I still find comprehensive guides useful.

They can help anyone from beginner to advanced players navigate the immense selection available and find the best instrument to meet individual needs.

My hope is this guide will provide that same benefit to you.

Why Buy A Digital Piano Instead of an Acoustic One? 

But before getting into characteristics and features, I’d like to discuss the merits of a digital keyboard in the first place, and why I tend to recommend it over an acoustic one. I can actually think of at least five solid reasons why purchasing a digital piano is well worth your investment:

1. You don’t have to worry about tuning your instrument.

While gorgeous and intricate pieces of artful machinery, acoustic pianos require a decent amount of maintenance.

2. You can practice and play in private, thanks to stereo headphones.

Plug-in optional headphones allow you to jam your heart out without getting on your roommates’ or neighbors’ nerves.

3. An electric piano keyboard offers much more versatility and variety.

With tons of different sounds, operational features, and learning aids, digital pianos are perfect for anyone looking to advance their skills. Plus, they are more feasible options for people living in small homes, given how easy they are to move and store.

4. The digital version offers you more customizable volume control.

Unlike on acoustic varieties, songs on a digital board can easily be played pianissimo or fortissimo without muffling sound quality. Volume control is especially helpful if you live in a shared living space or apartment building.

5. Digital keyboards are much more cost-effective.

Even high quality and expensive digital instruments tend to be way less expensive than their acoustic cousins.

money bag

Maybe that’s little too much

Consider Your Budget

Whenever possible, determine what you’re willing to spend on a keyboard before shopping around, give or take a few (hundred) bucks.

This helps you cut through the immensity of options while also giving you the freedom to go with one slightly above your price range if it really wows you (because of looks, special features, etc.).

The thing is, there are tons of competitor brands out there creating quality instruments. In many cases, these options rival even the most expensive models on the market.

So, do your homework, or in other words, study this buying guide.

What to Look for in a Full-Size Piano Keyboard


Honestly, digital pianos are like the auto industry of the music world.

For every brand of electric piano manufacturers out there, there are about a dozen or more different makes and models.

Important Tip
When looking for a good beginner keyboard (or intermediate, for that matter), it’s generally your best bet to go with companies who have a long history with this instrument.

Brand awareness will tend to get you better quality assurance, customer support, and personal experience with your new instrument.

So, consider selecting from companies like Casio, Kawai, Korg, Roland, and Yamaha. These big players are all known for creating high-quality gear for musicians, with Yamaha and Kawai even being leaders in the acoustic piano world, as well.

Of course, this isn’t to say another brand out there isn’t worth your money. If you find a reliable board that is fun and inspiring to play, then by all means, have at it!

Number of Keys

The 88 key digital piano is considered full size. It’s the largest and generally most expensive of your digital options.

88 and 61 keyboards

Comparison of 88-key and 61-key pianos

These many keys are great for people looking for the closest approximation to an acoustic piano without the expense of a concert grand. Medium and small options have 76 and 61 keys, respectively.

Deciding how many keys your instrument should have really decides on who you are (or who you plan to be) as a player. That is, you may decide 76 or 61 keys are enough for your needs as the novice or casual player, especially if portability is important to you.

However, an 88 keyboard allows pros and advanced players to have a legitimate back-up and helps beginners avoid an incidental “ceiling effect” that can happen when someone outgrows their instrument’s range as they develop and improve with practice.

Here’s my two cents:

Recommended Option
If you’re going to spend money on an instrument, even if it’s “just” a beginner keyboard, you may as well go with a full-size piano if you can find a good one fitting your budget. Otherwise, your instrument may soon begin limiting your practice.

Key Size and Response

The size of your instrument’s keys matter as much as the number of keys. As far as I’m concerned, the best piano for beginners has the feel and weight of a “real” instrument, so new players can translate their skills from digital to acoustic when and if the opportunity arises.

So, I recommend choosing an instrument with full-size keys, whether it has 61, 76, or 88 keys in total. Smaller 66 key electric keyboards often have miniature keys that feel toy-like.

Important Tip
Going with full-size keys helps you build appropriate dexterity, strength, and muscle memory, which is probably best for anyone who doesn’t plan on playing just for fun.

The responsiveness of the keys also matters. On a quality weighted keyboard, sounds will be soft when keys are played lightly, and sounds will be loud when keys are played forcefully.

This is touch response, and it’s crucial to the beginner pianist. You must be able to hear and play varying sound levels, since the sheet music you’re learning typically calls for different notes to be played at different volumes.

A small “toy” keyboard doesn’t offer this kind of touch sensitivity, while the best electronic pianos will.

Key Action

On a real acoustic piano, the keys which make lower notes are actually heavier than the keys which make higher notes. I would recommend a keyboard with weighted keys since it’s the most authentic experience for the player.

Key Action Types

Trade lingo varies, but most digital piano keys come in one of a few different types:

  • Fully hammer weighted key movement
  • Weighted key movement
  • Semi-weighted key movement
  • Unweighted key movement

These are all variations in the way a key responds to the touch and pressure of your fingers. The video below describes differences between action types:

Most cheap pianos that aren’t full size (with 76 or 61 keys) will have unweighted key movement. This means the keys all feel about the same when you press them – totally unlike acoustic keys.

Drawback Of Unweighted Movement
Unweighted key action is like a super spring-loaded system. After you press on it, the key quickly comes back up. This makes it hard to gradually press down on the key and translates to poorer touch response, volume variation, and sound quality.

Of course, some casual players don't mind boards with unweighted key action. These instruments are typically made of lighter-weight plastic and therefore much easier to lug around. This can make it an acceptable option if you're just looking for something you can play around on wherever your travels may take you.

On the other hand, a fully or graded hammer weighted keys feel the most like the acoustic piano (with semi-weighted key action falling somewhere in between the two extremes).

Recommended Option
A fully weighted instrument will typically use a weight/counterweight design instead of a simple spring-loaded system, which is great for authenticity. This lends it the most realistic depth, width, length, pivot point, static and dynamic touch, and downward and upward touch.

Ultimately, your skill level and expectations for your playing experience can help you determine which quality of key action matters to you. Understandably, the best weighted keyboard will be more expensive, but this may be a price worth paying if you're serious about learning the craft.

Key Quality

As with most material goods, you tend to get what you pay for with digital keyboards.

A high quality electric piano with weighted keys will be more expensive than cheaper options, but aside from producing a more authentic playing experience, it will be durable enough to withstand hours and hours of practice.

Quality keyboard view

My suggestion is to look for a fully weighted keyboard that has good movement and minimal key noise: no squeaking or clicking when you press on them.


If you're learning how to play an instrument, developing your ear (pitch and tone) is essential. Choosing a piano that offers quality and diverse sound is definitely important to your growth as a pianist.

I identify a few key characteristics of sound to consider when looking for your device:

Replicating the "Real" Piano Sound

The best 88 key keyboard will emulate the tone of the highest quality concert grand (and whatever other instrument sounds are featured on the device).

Important Tip
The resolution must be high and the sound should be realistic, crisp, and clean. This is probably a fairly subjective issue, but looking at user reviews and listening to demos can be helpful for this.

Number of Sounds (Voices)

You should think about how much variation you want in the sound presets on your digital piano. If you're looking for a ton of "fun" options, smaller portable boards may suit your preferences.

headphones for music on the instrument

But if diversity of sound is less important than replication of the acoustic version, a larger digital piano will offer what you need while also being higher quality to boot.

The piano sound presets which usually matter to most players include: Grand, Baby Grand, Closed Lid, Open Lid, Upright Piano, and Electric Piano. Other options include strings, guitar, organ, and synthesizers, though this list is not all-inclusive.


How many notes can your digital keyboard of choice play at once? This is polyphony in a nutshell.

The digital technology inside an electric piano (as well as the amount of memory storage it contains) will dictate how many notes it can play at once.

Using a sustain pedal attachment allows you to play multiple keys in success and maintain the sound of their associated notes. Older notes are softer and more in the background, and more recently played notes are more prominent (a lot like a real piano). Once you hit your keyboard's max polyphony, the oldest notes drop off.

64-note and 128-note polyphony are the most common numbers, though you may also find 32 or 192 and 256 less commonly.

Synthesizer speaker isolated on white

Speakers: Volume & Quality

If you plan on playing your instrument loudly, but don't want to give up sound quality in the meantime, you should look for a digital keyboard with a high amplifier power rating and big speakers. This is especially important for maintaining full and resonant bass notes.

Likewise, if you plan on using your keyboard to perform in front of other people, you may want to look for a model which features an auxiliary output so you can attach a keyboard amplifier.

Design, Ergonomy & Portability

Does the look and feel of your keyboard matter to you as much as its sound? If so, there are a few additional design features to consider:

Key Feel & Material

These days, real ivory and ebony are rarely, if ever, used on acoustic pianos, let alone digital ones. However, many leading brands are now using synthetic materials that mimic ivory and ebony.

Recommended Option
Synthetic ivory keys tend to be non-stick, non-slip, and satisfying to play. Most users find these preferable to plastic keys, which tend to feel more toy-like.


If you want your instrument to look like a piece of furniture, then be sure to look at the material and appearance of the keyboard. For instance:

  • Does it have a digital screen? What sort of information is displayed on it, and what is the interface like?
  • Can it be used on a desk or other sturdy surface, or do you need to get a folding stand or furniture for it? Folding stands are less expensive than furniture stands, so be prepared to work this into your budget.
  • Does it have any sort of faux finish, like polish, black walnut, or rosewood? Which sheen and color will match your decor?
  • Where in your home do you plan to put your piano, and how often do you plan to use it? If it needs to be moved a lot, lighter-weight plastic construction may be ideal. But if you're getting an instrument for the whole family, a larger digital piano can fit nicely if your budget allows it.


These concerns may not be of importance to you, but as a matter of preference, it can be worthwhile to consider. After all, your piano should inspire you to play, and not be an eyesore you want to scurry off into a closet when you're not using it.


It's obvious just how much more portable digital pianos are compared to their acoustic predecessors, but even digital instruments can get pretty heavy.

Important Tip
If it’s important to you that your keyboard is easy to move around, be sure to take a look at the weight, depth, and width of the devices as you’re shopping.


piano with audio jacks shot with shallow depth of field.You can use a digital keyboard as a stand-alone unit (hence built-in speakers). However, I've found many users love having the option to plug in amplifiers, microphones, and headphones, too.

Do you plan on teaching someone else how to play on your device, or performing duets with a buddy? Look for a digital instrument with two headphone jacks.

Want to connect your keyboard to your computer or smart device so you can download or upload music?

Look for options which include things like 5-Pin MIDI and USB, or even Bluetooth connectivity. Technophiles-cum-music lovers rejoice!

Learning Tools

If the main reason for purchasing a digital keyboard is to advance your practice, it's great to look for a model that contains helpful learning tools.

Bestselling brands (some of which are discussed in greater detail in a later section) often feature lesson plans, built-in metronomes, visual aids (e.g., for playing melodies and chords). Some models have keyboard splitting options so teacher and student can play the same octaves at the same time.

Additional Features

Piano Pedals

Your standard digital piano comes with one sustain pedal (for the all-important polyphony feature discussed earlier). Some pianos have 2+ pedal connection options, although extra pedals are usually sold separately.

Certain furniture stands may also feature piano-like pedals which mimic the acoustic option of Una Corda (soft), Sostenuto (half-damper, for specific notes), and Sustain (damper, for all notes).


Are you a fledgling songwriter? What about an established composer? Digital keyboards with a recording option may be great for you as you flex your musical creativity.

Recording with microphone

Recording parts of your practice sessions and playing back the tracks can help you develop your skills, learn from your mistakes, and hone in on things like tempo and pitch.

Warranty Coverage

Buying an instrument is a bit of an investment. As such, one of the final things you should consider when selecting a digital piano is the type of warranty offered by the manufacturer.

Longer warranty periods are better, of course, but your personal risk tolerance will help you determine what sort of protection you need to feel good about your purchase.

Best Piano Brands In Digital World

There are tons of different piano brands out there. I'll briefly highlight the three I like best (and it's worth noting thousands of other users and musicians tend to like these best, too):


Casio_logoBack in the day, Casio used to have the dubious reputation for making low-quality instruments and music gear. But thanks to its foot in the tech world it became a respectable brand for digital pianos.

Casio models suit beginner, intermediate, and advanced level players. Created by innovative engineers and designers, their models frequently feature graded hammer key movement and advanced sound technology. Specific digital lines include Privia and Celviano.


KAWAI-LogoThis Japanese company has produced several industry standard models of digital keyboards and pianos (let alone acoustic pianos). Their models are routinely used by recording studios, universities, and even professional pianists.

They've done a great job translating the quality sound of their grands, baby grands, and uprights into their digital versions, making them good options for anyone serious about their music.

Plus, key quality and action of Kawai instruments are leaders in the market, giving a closely authentic playing experience for consumers.


Yamaha may be the leading brand synonymous with musical instruments. Their digital pianos, along with their acoustic instruments, are among the most sought-after brands available, and consistently rated as being reliable, sturdy, and high quality.

The company's designers have created proprietary technology for things like tone and voice selection, wave sampling, graded hammer action keys, and more.

Yamaha is particularly famous for their CFIIIS 9-foot acoustic concert grand piano. Many intermediate and professional players feel this instrument is just about as close to the real thing as you can get, without all the expense and hassle.

Buying Guide Summary - Questions to Ask when Choosing a Digital Piano

Woman keeps paper with question markWhen buying a digital piano, keep the following questions in mind. They'll help you narrow down your search and find the best fit for you:

  • What’s my budget?
  • What’s my current skill level?
  • What are my goals and expectations as a pianist?
  • Do the keys feel, move, and respond realistically?
  • Are the keys noisy?
  • How many voices do I want or need?
  • What’s the max polyphony of this instrument?
  • How much room do I have for an instrument?
  • Will I need or want to travel with this instrument?
  • Are the built-in amplifiers and speakers on this digital piano loud enough?
  • Does this have a warranty?
  • Does this brand have a long-standing history of piano experience and quality customer service?

The Best Digital Piano Reviews

So far you've been given some helpful tips on what to look for in a digital piano. Now, I'd like to get into some specifics. I'm reviewing some of my favorite digital keyboards, organized by price. I'm hopeful this will help you figure out what kind of instrument you should expect based on your desired budget:

Best Budget Option: Yamaha 235

Though not considered a full size board, the Yamaha 235 still allows you to play most songs. Its 76 keys have a graded soft touch, making it a less realistic than weighted options but feels acceptable to most users for its lower price. Plus, it's super portable and perfect for the traveling musician with a laid-back attitude.

Enjoy a large variety of chord arrangements, voices, drum beats, and even recording features on this instrument, perfect for the beginning to intermediate level player. Beginners in particular seem to appreciate the Performance Assistant Technology (PAT) which is great for learning your all-important chords.


  • Lightweight design gives it great portability
  • Highly diverse voices (nearly 500) as well as 160 preset styles
  • Recording features, for ideas, outlines, and practice sessions
  • Additional learning tools including PAT and the Yamaha  Education Suite make it a great choice for beginning pianists


  • Without the full 88 keys, players are limited in their classical training capability
  • Graded soft touch key action makes it less desirable compared to a fully weighted hammer system
  • Advanced and/or improving players often find it doesn't feel "realistic" enough and not ideal for developing finger strength and position

Best Digital Piano Under $500


Yamaha P-45

Yamaha's popular P-series begins with the entry level model, Yamaha P-45. For your money, it's really one of the best and most affordable digital instruments around, and I doubt you'll feel as if you've sacrificed sound quality in exchange for cost.

Reviewers have noted great sound and a 64 polyphony, which should be sufficient for beginning and intermediate players. It features a pleasant sounding stereo acoustic voice that beautifully mimics a grand piano. 9 other voices are included, although most users note the grand piano one is the best.

The P-45 features a full size keyboard with Yamaha's excellent graded hammer standard (GHS) weighted action. Additionally, each key features three distinct levels of touch sensitivity to accommodate for volume variation. Plus, its slim and lightweight design (just 25 lbs) makes it easy for one person to carry and store in a car or under a bed.

This affordable instrument is a great option if you're less interested in tons of features (less voice and preset style options, for instance) but are simply looking for a quality piano to practice your technique on.


  • For its price, it excels in quality and feel
  • The grand piano sound is rich and warm
  • A full size board with 88 weighted keys
  • User-friendly and easy to carry


  • Missing a recording option
  • The polyphony could be more substantial
  • Speakers aren't optimal

Casio Privia PX-160

Casio really has worked hard to re-establish itself as a respectable and dependable manufacturer of digital pianos, and the Privia PX-160 is a great testament to this. Here's why I like it:

The sound is great and features nearly 20 instrument sounds (strings, organ, and so on). The Concert Grand Piano voice is especially pleasing and realistic, including quality hammer response, damper, and resonance. It leads its price range in tonal range, likely because it uses a lot of the same technology as the brand's higher end models.

This Casio keyboard with 88 keys is well-received by users, particularly because it has 3 sensors per key (compared to just 2 in competitive models). This is a great feature for note repetition. Users also enjoy the feel of the keys, which are made with the synthetic ivory and ebony material that can help wick and evaporate sweat (goodbye finger slips).

The PX-160 is a great option for teachers and students looking to play together thanks to its 2 front-end headphone jacks, keyboard split option, and sound layering (e.g., strings and piano at the same time).


  • The best value for the $500 price range
  • A full board of 88 keys with quality feel and function, including fully weighted key action and 3 sensors per key
  • Handy features including USB connectivity and dual headphone and pedal jacks


  • A few users noted that the keys make mechanical noises that can be noticeable when practicing at lower volumes.
  • Somewhat weak speakers
  • Low Quality Sustain Pedal

Best Digital Piano Under $1000

Yamaha P-115

Preceded by the ever popular P-105, the Yamaha P-115 is the next in line of this reputable company's P-series. If you're willing to spend up to $1,000 for your instrument, the P-115 may be exactly what you've been looking for, whether for personal or public playing.

Keep in mind that Yamaha has it's wildly popular (and extremely expensive) acoustic classic, the CFIIIS 9 concert grand. Fortunately for us, the company uses this instrument for inspiration within their digital P-series. You can feel this inspiration in the action and feel of the keys, which utilize the graded hammer action to closely mimic piano strings hit with actual hammers in the real concert grand. Although the keys are made with plastic, I find them still to be pleasant to touch and play and don't cause my fingers to slip around. Plus they make less noise compared to earlier P-series models.

You can also hear the CFIIIS 9 design inspiration in the rich and organic sound of the Yamaha 88 key weighted keyboard. The company utilized a "Pure CF Sound Engine" in capturing the sound of the concert grand at different volume levels, giving you greater dynamic and responsive sound when playing. The P-115 also has 192 polyphony, making it a great choice for anyone learning to play complex, layered songs.

With all the effort they put into making their piano voice as realistic as possible, it's a good think Yamaha also invested in 4 speakers in the P-115 as opposed to just two. This, along with a patented sound circuitry, helps boost the fullness of bass and overall sound.

To reiterate, this is a great piano and absolutely worth the price.


  • An excellent "real feel" piano for its price
  • High quality sound signature
  • High polyphony at 192 notes
  • Though it has a solid and sturdy build, it's still easy to carry around at just over 26 lbs


  • Not many sound customization options
  • Each key has only 2 sensors, making them slightly less sensitive than the Casio Privia PX-160
  • It has slightly less common 6.5 mm headphone jacks (instead of 3.5 mm)
  • Its digital piano controller application is only compatible with iOS (iPhone and iPad)
  • Stands sold separately (although this is true for most digital keyboards)

Kawai ES110

Kawai currently offers 2 digital pianos in their ES line: the pricier ES8 and this simple beauty, the ES110. I think the latter is a great option for people who love to play but aren't willing to shell out 1700+ bucks for their musical hobby.

Instruments like this remind me that you really don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get something with great sound quality or feel. The ES-110 has 8 fantastic piano tones and customizable settings, along with its proprietary key sampling (from the EX Concert Grand) for its entire full size keyboard. As far as I know, this is the only (or at least the highest quality) keyboard under $1,000 that offers this 88 key individual sampling, which lends it a much more natural sound and smooth transition between notes.

The speaker system is also great, and upgraded from its previous model, the ES100 (and even that sounded decent to me).

The fully-weighted key action is called Responsive Hammer Compact (RHC) and truly a leader in its price range. Keys feel medium-light in responsiveness, move well, and are totally conducive to longer jam sessions.


  • Realistic key feel and piano note sound, with a fully weighted RHC key action
  • Generous 192 polyphony
  • Unbelievably light for its construction, just 26 lbs so easy to tote and store (a full 6.5 lbs lighter than its predecessor, the E100)
  • Does come with Bluetooth MIDI connectivity and a Kawai app that's compatible with iOS devices


  • It's lacking a LCD display and USB connectivity
  • Many users have found that editing features aren't super intuitive (definitely a bit of a learning curve)


Casio Privia PX-870

If you're in the market for a piano and not in need of something with tons of different sounds and features, the PX-870 from Casio's Privia line may be ideal for you. Plus, at under $1,000, it's affordable for most consumers.

It has high-quality sampling from an acoustic concert grand, offering realistic reproduction of resonance, damper, key on/off action noises, and more, lending it great authenticity. Sound is supported with a 40W system complete with 4 speakers and the option to plug in external speakers or amplifiers as well (you know, if you really need to impress someone).

Keys are made with simulated ivory and ebony and have a graded velocity sensitivity along with 3 sensors per key.

I've noticed intermediate and advanced players like the accompaniment and recording capabilities of the device, but even beginners will enjoy it thanks to its Lesson mode which offers 60 saved songs to play along and practice with. You can even mute one hand at a time to focus on specific sections in your training.


  • Surpasses its predecessor the PX-860 in sound quality (where the PX-860 was already awesome)
  • A standout 256 note polyphony
  • Record and play back feature in both WAV (audio) and MIDI format
  • Concert feature allows you to play along with an orchestra accompaniment
  • Hammer Action Keyboard II with an excellent feeling synthetic ivory and ebony
  • Attractive cabinetry
  • It's possible to connect external speakers and amplifiers


  • Not portable
  • Not many features


Best Digital Pianos Under $2000


Yamaha YDP-163

This is a great home piano for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players. With 192 note polyphony (increased from its previous 128 polyphony), you definitely won't outgrow it. Plus the realistic and high quality GH3 key action (giving more resistance in bass and less in treble) helps you develop great finger strength and proprioception.

The YDP-163 has 3 sensors per key along with its graded hammer 3 action (which, it's worth noting, is also found in the higher end Clavinova models, too). Sound technology is advanced thanks to Yamaha's "Pure CF Sound Engine" sampled from a real acoustic piano. This home instrument also comes with 3 pedals for damper, sostenuto, and soft.


  • Excellent key quality thanks to its Graded Hammer 3 (GH3) action and 3-sensors per key, made of synthetic ivory
  • Yamaha Pure CF Sound Engine
  • Simple, elegant cabinetry
  • High quality pedals
  • Upgraded 192 polyphony


  • No digital screen display
  • Not portable
  • Its bench doesn't feel super high quality, though it's nice that it's included

Kawai KDP90

With its trademarked Harmonic Imaging™ Sound Technology, the Kawai KDP90 offers a gorgeous acoustic stereo reproduction with natural tone, smooth velocity, and realistic transition and depth. I find even the middle key notes to be balanced and deep, which can be tough to accomplish on digital pianos. Every note from this full size 88 graded hammer key action board has been individually sampled from the company's acoustic grand, adding depth and fullness to your overall sound.

It looks impressive, too, and comes with 3 full size pedals which utilize Kawai's "Grand Feel Pedal System" for ultra-realistic effect.

While many reviewers love its simple and streamlined panel, this may not be the preferred digital piano for you since it lacks a lot of digital features like USB connectivity, display screen, multi-track recording, or automatic accompaniment styles. This device does have one-track recording, however.

Overall, she's a grand yet simple one, but this makes her a good choice for anyone who wants a super high quality piano simply to play but doesn't need a lot of flair.


  • Excellent weight and feel to the keys, complete with Kawai's "AHAIV-F Advanced Hammer Action"
  • Fantastic sound quality
  • Concert Magic feature
  • 192 note polyphony with individually sampled keys
  • Beginner-friendly with a set of Alfred lessons


  • The keys do not have an ivory feel to them, although reviewers note they aren't particularly noisy like other plastic key types
  • Limited connectivity, including no USB output (though it does have MIDI connectivity)
  • No digital display or USB connectivity

Kawai CE-220

Kawai's CE-220 model has an impressive 192 polyphony which perfectly accentuates and complements its realistic piano sound. You can also select from one of 22 sounds to expand your ear and creativity.

Kawai has used its 'Progressive Harmonic Imaging Sound Technology" to individually sample all 88 keys from a real acoustic grand. To my ear, this gives it a pretty significant advantage over other brands in the same price range.

Of all the digital keyboards out there, the CE-220 is one of the most realistic looking too. It comes with a solid wooden-like frame in a classy black satin finish (complete with a sliding key cover), and real wooden acoustic keys which are sturdy, quiet, and durable thanks to their AWA Grand Pro II keyboard action. The frame also features 3 standard pedals for greater diversity of sound including dynamic damper and half-damper expressions. You can even opt to purchase a matching bench along with it. This instrument truly will look stately in any home, though may feel a bit larger for people in small apartments.


  • It's got real wooden acoustic keys and an attractive cabinetry, giving it a classy appearance and great key action feel
  • Kawai used individual sound sampling for an overall greater and more realistic note quality
  • Excellent digital features including USB connectivity


  • The metronome is a bit limiting in range and tempo
  • Some reviewers have noted the keys feel a bit stiff
  • Big and not really feasible for gigs

Best Digital Piano Over $2000

Nord Piano 3

So I saved the big boy for last.

At nearly $3,000, the Nord Piano 3 may be a shock to your wallet, but the grand weighted key action, sound, and overall feel will definitely meet the needs of any serious pianist.

When I've played on this instrument, I automatically felt like a more serious musician. There's something very professional-feeling about it, and great for serious artists or band members.

Like less expensive models, it's got a full size 88 keyboard with 3 sensors per key, although it rivals any other competitor in quality and smoothness of the notes played. Unlike less expensive models, however, it doesn't use internal mechanical hammer systems. Instead, it has a "Virtual Hammer Action Technology" which works exceptionally well and lends a realistic feel to the keys.
Aside from feel, the Nord Piano 3 offers a sound quality which many users note is pleasing to trained and untrained ears. The overall sound is rich and full-bodied yet delicate and nuanced enough to suit any individual style or range. It also features the wonderful option to split the keyboard or even layer sounds on top of each other, which is ideal for students, teachers, and songwriters.


  • Top of the line keyboard that is as close to the real thing in feel as you can get
  • Solidly built with handsome and streamlined construction
  • Includes a diverse sample library which takes up 256 MB of the instrument's 1 GB total memory; reviewers have noted this library is customizable and easy to use
  • Gives high quality and impressive piano voices
  • Impressive effect options to add some personality to your music using intuitive controls and commands


  • If you're going with the Nord Piano 3, you're going to be paying a lot of money (but rest assured, you're getting the highest quality digital piano around)
  • It's heavy, some although professional reviewers have noted they can still take it on gigs


If you're anything like me as a musician, sound is only one factor that needs to be considered when looking for a new piano. The feel of your instrument, the look of the device, its overall cost and portability, and even the level of creativity it instills in you all matters, as well.
Fortunately, thanks to an ever-advancing march of technology and engineering, these days it's possible to find decent or even high quality digital keyboards at just about any price range. The pianos I've reviewed here are hopefully great places to start your search, and ultimately you should trust your gut when it comes to selecting your instrument. If you find one you love, take care of it and enjoy it!