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Low Budget Digital Pianos
My niece asked me the other day if I would like to help her find a digital piano to buy. “Sure”, I said. “How much do you want to spend??”. This is usually the first question I ask if someone wants my help recommending something. You see, there are many different models to choose between when it comes to buying a electric piano. So let us narrow it down somehow. Let’s try to find a digital piano in a price range that we can afford. “No more than 500 dollars”, she said. “Can I get a decent model for that amount?”. Spending no more than $500 on your first digital piano is actually good advice. You want to make sure that playing piano is something that you or your family are going to continue doing for years to come before buying a more expensive model. “I am sure you can”, I said. “Let’s take a look at the models there are on the market right now for 500 dollars and less”.
So away we went to visit our local music store. First we tried a “bang for the bucks” $300 digital piano, the Yamaha NP-30. Check out all we learned about the piano here:
Next up we walked over to the Casio Privia Pianos. To our surprise we found a model with 88 notes and weighted keys that was in our budget. Could this be the ultimate low budget digital piano? Check it out:
Hammering away on the Casio PX 130 the dealer came up to us and asked if we have tried the brand new Korg SP 170? Korg is a great brand and very respected in the keyboard world for its awesome sound. If anyone can make the perfect low budget piano is must be them. Did they live up to their reputation? Find out here:
So which digital piano did she end up getting?
First let’s make a comparison and look at the specs for each digital piano. Please note that specs and online prices are accurate at the time of writing. Subject to change.
As you can see the Casio PX 130 offers by far the most features. Also the Yamaha NP 30 is much cheaper than both the Korg and the Casio digital piano. So according to the chart the least attractive electric piano would be the Korg SP 170. Then…. why did she end up picking that specific piano??
Well, what the specs tells you doesn’t say anything about the most important qualities for her regarding the 3 pianos. How did they feel to play and how did they sound?
Let’s start with the feel of the 3 digital pianos.
How joyful and inspiring was it to play each piano? The Yamaha has spring back action for it’s keys. That means there is a spring in each key that makes it go back after release. Because of that they can’t make the keys as heavy as real piano keys. So they feel lighter and not quite right when playing. They did manage to make it pretty close with they graded technology meaning the keys got easier to play in the higher registry just like a real piano, but then comparing with the Korg and the Casio pianos they just didn’t quite feel right. In fairness to the Yamaha, it is 230 dollars cheaper than the two other pianos and if they had offered weighted keys in the NP 30, it would have made it more expensive. The weighted hammer action keys of the Korg and Casio pianos felt more like playing a real piano because of the heavier keys and natural release. We both felt that the Korg SP 170 were slightly better and more accurate than the Casio PX 130. Did it feel like playing a real grand piano? Not quite,but pretty darn close.
Digital Piano – The Sound!
There is no doubt that one of the most important things to learn about when choosing a digital piano is the sound. When you sit down and play you want to be fulfilled and inspired by the sound. If it does not sound great you will not want to play as long. I once stayed as a house guest for a month at a really good friend. She had the most beautiful house, but the greatest thing for me was the stunning Steinway Baby Grand Piano she had in her bright and roomy living room. It was the most beautiful sound and it inspired me to play for hours and hours every day. When I sat down to play I got so into the sound and feel that I just kept playing in my own little world of beautiful tones.
When we compared the sound of our 3 digital pianos here we came up with following conclusion. While none of the three pianos came just close to the gorgeous sounds of my friends Steinway Baby Grand, we both felt that the Korg digital piano had a really pleasing and balanced sound. Like the Steinway, the Korg inspired me to play. By itself the Casio digital piano sounded nice, but when comparing with the Korg SP 170 it just felt short. It didn’t have the warmth and width that the Korg electric piano had. The Yamaha NP 30 had a really nice piano sound but again we felt the Korg were slightly more pleasing to the ear.
So my niece ended up with the new Korg SP 170 Digital piano. It had the least amount of features and although it would have been nice with a recorder and split functions, the important things, like the playability and sound, had to be the deciding factor. When trying to learn to play an instrument you want to be inspired to play everyday and the Korg SP 170 digital piano does just that.
Even though we went to our local music store to try out the different pianos, we actually ended up buying it online at Amazon. They have a great customer service and we saved the tax which would have been close to 50 dollars. And with their free shipping offer at the moment is was pure savings.