Digital pianos are a great alternative to acoustic pianos for various reasons. Not only do these pianos save on space in the home, but they are budget friendly solutions for aspiring pianists. Still, there are some digital pianos that are extremely expensive for one reason or another.
So, why are digital pianos so expensive? Digital pianos are expensive because they cost a lot to produce. The most expensive digital pianos use innovative technology to offer self-teaching features, professionally recorded sounds, and Bluetooth technology to work with smart apps. Branding also has an influence on the final price.
There is a noticeable difference between the top of the line digital pianos and the cheaper alternatives. I’ll explain those differences next, as well as discuss how the production of these instruments and branding can drive up prices. I’ll also share with you some of the best digital pianos available at an affordable price.
Why You Should Not Purchase A Cheap Digital Piano
Most people buy digital pianos because they want to learn how to play the piano. The first instinct is to purchase a cheaper model because the assumption is that all digital pianos are the same.
That’s actually not the case as there is a huge difference between cheaper models and more expensive models.
In order to become proficient at a real acoustic piano, you need a good digital piano for piano, not just a cheap one. Here is a break down of some of the key areas where less expensive digital pianos fail.
Lack Of Quality Sounds And Effects
Cheap digital pianos are very limited in their features compared to their more expensive counterparts. This includes everything from the sound samples offered, customizable features like transposing and splitting voices and even working with ambiance.
Only a small percentage of those sounds are high-quality samples. Many are produced using MIDI samples and the samples are usually outdated. The more you play the piano the less pleasing to the ears it will be, especially when you compare it to a more expensive digital option.
With more expensive pianos though, the sounds are typically recorded with high-quality microphones in ambient studios. The attack and release of the notes are also much more authentic, and it helps pianists develop a genuine sound that they otherwise would not be able to on a basic digital piano.
Touch Response And Polyphony
Other features that are missing usually include touch response in the piano keys, ambient effects, LCD menus, and transposition or modulation knobs. This really limits what you can do musically on the keyboard.
Inexpensive digital pianos also have lower a lower polyphony count. The polyphony affects how many notes you can play at one time. If you were to play a chord of 10 notes, but hold the pedal down, it would create even more tones.
Because the piano cannot handle that many notes, it will simply drop some of those pitches out leaving you with a funny sound. A good quality keyboard should be able to produce at least 128 notes.
Self-Teaching Modes And Smart Technology
In today’s world, it’s important that your digital piano has supplemental teaching modes and smart technology.
The self-teaching modes tons of entertainment for both adult and young students wanting to really enjoy their instrument. These lesson modes are usually only available on the more expensive digital pianos, and allow pianists to learn new pieces from regularly updated databases.
With more expensive digital pianos you’re able to link up to a smart device and use sheet music apps and more to learn music. Depending on the app you can subscribe to weekly lessons and unlimited access to sheet music.
No Bluetooth mode also means you cannot use wireless headphones with them for distraction-free playing. This means more wires to deal with and less convenience.
Questionable Build Quality
The build quality of cheaper digital pianos pales in comparison to more expensive models. Everything from the thickness of the plastic frame, the thickness of the buttons, and even the quality of the accessories factor into this.
Typically a really cheap digital piano won’t even have weighted keys let alone hammer action. The difference between hammer action and weighted action is important because that helps develop your playing ability.
Unweighted keys will hinder the development of muscles needed to play the piano quickly and with a good tone.
Over time the thinner piano keys will break down, get stuck and eventually stop working. If the piano were to ever accidentally fall off the music stand or get bumped the wrong way, that could cause parts inside to shift and break down too.
The warranty periods are also not as long on the cheaper instruments. If your piano suffers an electrical failure or keys start to break off, you will simply have to purchase a new replacement piano.
While it’s not a huge investment, it can be annoying to know that your piano may last maybe a year max.
On the flip side, the more expensive digital pianos are built tough. They are noticeably heavier in weight because the parts are denser. Instead of a plastic frame, the more expensive models feature wood and metal casing.
Especially with the console-style pianos like the ones I mention here, the entire instrument is built to last for decades. The quality of the keys is also much better.
The keys are thicker and feature weighted and hammer action. Some models even offer customizable keys made with wood and ivory keytops for a more authentic feel.
Not Enough Piano Keys
With a lower price comes fewer keys in most cases. The cheaper digital pianos also have less than 88 keys in many instances.
You will mostly find pianos in the lower price range only with 61 or 72 keys. That may get a beginner pianist by initially, but after a while, there’s going to be a major block in their development.
When a pianist needs to understand how to find specific key registers and locations on an acoustic piano, confusion can occur because they’re not used to it. Especially when dealing with young children learning the piano, it’s absolutely they start with 88 keys regardless of the price of the instrument.
While cheaper digital pianos lack a lot of innovative features, the principal function of the pianos does work. They are playable and can still function well enough to practice on. For a serious pianist trying to develop playing skills, you need to opt for the more expensive models.
Reasons To Buy A Quality Digital Piano
The quality of digital pianos matters. A good quality digital piano will have the features, durability, and value that you need, especially if you want to start taking piano playing more seriously.
The most notable benefit of quality digital pianos is in the touch and response of the piano keys. This greatly affects the authenticity of the pianos, making them feel like real grand pianos.
There are some grand hybrid pianos like Casio which do a great job of pulling this technique off. The keys are actually made of genuine spruce wood.
When it comes to the hammer action, some brands feature a whippen and repetition lever just like a real acoustic piano would have.
The more expensive pianos also have much better pedal mechanisms built in. Usually, a pianist can only get a basic sustain sound with a cheaper digital piano. With the expensive ones, pianists can successfully add a range of tones and colors to their sound.
These pedals work excellent for syncopated pedaling. There’s also the option to work in sostenuto and una corda pedaling as well.
My favorite feature besides the built-in lessons and Bluetooth modes in any digital piano is the acoustic effects. Many of the top pianos allow you to work in ambient effects to simulate concert halls, small recording studios, and much more.
These pianos often have recording features to allow you to record yourself and edit the sound later.
For beginner pianists, this is a helpful feature to allow for better development and to check your progress. Rather than using a floppy disk, digital pianos now allow for USB transferring of files from their internal storage space.
Popular Brands Are More Expensive
With the wealth of digital pianos available online and in music stores, it’s not too hard to find a quality one for practice. You’ll find comparable models at very different price points.
This is almost always attributed to the brand label on the keyboard. Brands like Alesis and Casio offer very good options for beginners who want a quality instrument with quality sound.
Yamaha, Korg, and Roland have some of the most expensive digital pianos on the market. While their pianos are top of the line in terms of features and build quality, there are models that can do much of the same for less.
These brands are heavyweights in the keyboard world, consistently delivering excellent instruments that feel just like their acoustic counterparts. Yamaha even offers a complete digital piano learning setup with their Clavinova pianos.
Many piano teachers will purchase an entire set of pianos and use them to teach group piano classes. Because the keyboards are offered as a set, usually a discount can be achieved there.
These brands also have exclusive deals with concert artists that help drive more business for them. Some brands even form their own exclusive learning centers that feature only their keyboards.