For many pianists, it just isn’t practical to own a grand piano. If having your own traditional piano isn’t an option due to space requirements or budget constraints, a digital piano is the next best thing. Whether you’re looking for a quieter, more portable option for your practice sessions or a keyboardist on tour, the digital piano can be a powerful tool to have in your musical arsenal. There are tons of different options out there and trying to pick out the right instrument can seem like a dizzying task. To help you find the right instrument, we’ve tested out five different models to find the best digital piano under 500.
BUYING GUIDE: HOW TO CHOOSE A BEST DIGITAL PIANO UNDER $500
There are a number of different fssactors to take into consideration when shopping for a digital piano. First and foremost, the most important qualities are sound and performance, but there are other factors you should be thinking about as you shop. Different factors like your skill level and how you intend to use the instrument will help to guide you to the right digital piano for you.
One of the most important elements of a digital piano is the number of voices that are included. Some keyboards go for a more straight forward approach and keep to a basic selection of traditional instruments in order to focus on sounding like a real piano. Other digital pianos will feature around 500 eclectic sounds that give the player more versatility, with pianos, strings, guitars, drums, synths and more.
Number Of Keys
One of the main differences you will find across different keyboards is the number of keys present. A traditional piano has 88 keys in total, but many keys shorten this to 76 or 61 in order to bring down the cost. Players who are used to practicing on a real piano will find it difficult to adjust to a smaller keyboard, though beginners will be able to play plenty of songs on a 61 or 76 keyboard to start out with.
Price is always a priority, but as every item on this list can be bought for less than $500, we have a head start on that. Of course the different instruments on this list will vary in terms of price, as will their quality. Aside from price, you will want to consider sound, performance and build. What keyboard will work best for you will ultimately depend on your skill level and how you intend to use it.
If you’re shopping for a digital piano for a player who is just learning the instrument, it may be a good idea to look for keyboards that come with educational materials. Many digital pianos these days will feature built-in piano lessons, songs you can learn to play along to and practice exercises that will help you improve your fingering form. For players who can’t afford private lessons, these educational materials can be the next best way to hone your piano playing skills.
Another important factor to consider is how you intend to use the instrument. For instance, someone who is playing in a band and needs a digital piano for their performances may need a versatile keyboard that comes loaded with plenty of different sounds. However, a veteran pianist looking for a quick and easy practice keyboard may only care about having high quality piano sounds.
Another aspect to keep in mind when shopping for a digital piano is the construction of the instrument itself. As prices get lower and lower, you will find cheaper and cheaper materials used in the keyboard’s build, which will ultimately be less durable and more prone to breaking. Common issues with cheaper quality materials can include having keys go out, making the instrument much less useful for practice.
TOP 5 BEST DIGITAL PIANO COMPARED
Yamaha DGX230 76-Key
Williams Allegro 2
Yamaha P45 88-Key
Williams Legato 88-Key
Alesis Coda Pro
TOP 5 BEST DIGITAL PIANO UNDER $500
1. YAMAHA DGX230 76-KEY DIGITAL PIANO
Yamaha’s DGX230 is a 76 key digital piano with features such as touch sensitive keys and 489 included sounds to play with. The keyboard is housed in a light grey case with two speakers and a small LCD screen that can be used to navigate the instruments options. This piano allows the player to press up to 32 keys at once, and a number of effects are included such as reverb and chorus.
In addition to the standard metronome, the DGX230 features some interesting functions, including the ability to record up to six tracks at a time. This makes it possible to create backing loops that you can play along to, giving the player the option of making music as a one person band. With six tracks, the player can record a variety of parts utilizing the different sounds included with the keyboard, making it very versatile for creating full compositions.
Also included is the Yamaha education suite, which will appeal to beginner players. The suite features a total of one hundred songs that you can learn to play along to. Lessons are broken down into left hand and right hand parts, with different modes to help you learn. There is also the Digital Music Notebook service that allows you to buy and download additional educational materials over the internet.
-Six track recorder/sequencer
-489 included sounds
-touch sensitive keys
-32 note polyphony
2. Williams Allegro 2 88-Key Hammer Action Digital Piano
The Allegro 2 is designed to appeal to pianists used to playing a real piano, and one of its main selling points is the full 88 keyboard with “hammer action” touch response. Overall it plays pretty similar to a real piano, especially considering the price point. It’s not perfect, but most players should be satisfied by the performance quality of the weighted keys present. This keyboard can be powered with either batteries or a standard AC adapter, and has a polyphonic limit of up to 64 notes at once.
The Allegro 2 keeps it simple in terms of sound selection, offering just ten instruments that they player can choose from. This may be a downside for some players, but pianists using the keyboard for practice likely won’t be deterred by the smaller sound library.
Other feature for the Allegro 2 include sound effects such as chorus, reverb, rotary and vibrator. This keyboard is lightweight, making it very portable should you need to transport it to gigs or practice sessions regularly.
The built in speakers boast good sound quality, and the LCD display screen makes it easy to navigate the piano’s different modes and options. There is also an included metronome to help keep you in time as you play, and a split/layer function that enables the player to use multiple sounds on different parts of the keyboard.
-full 88 keyboard
-realistic, weighted keys
-Ten sounds -lightweight
-Battery or AC adapter powered
3. YAMAHA P45 88-KEY WEIGHTED ACTION DIGITAL PIANO
With the P45, Yamaha has gone the extra mile to ensure the keys have a very realistic performance with Graded Hammer Standard weighted keys. GHS keys are designed to have more resistance on the lower keys and less on the higher notes, making it play like a true piano. This will appeal to seasoned pianists and will help newcomers learn the proper fingering techniques. For the price, the P45 has some of the most realistic play action you’ll find. Couple that with the fact that it has a full 88 keyboard makes for an authentic performance experience.
The P45 features a sleek and lightweight design, making it a breeze to move around should you need to. It only weighs 25 pounds and has a depth of less than twelve inches. An AC adapter is included with the keyboard but battery power is optional. Other features included are reverb and chorus effects, split mode, octave transpose, fine tune and double voicing.
Yamaha keeps the sound selection simplified with the P45, including a total of ten standard instruments to choose from. There are two grand pianos, two electric pianos, two pipe organs, strings, two harpsichords and a vibraphone. For straight forward pianists the selection should be acceptable, with enough variety to keep things interesting and high quality samples that sound great. Keyboardists looking for more versatility may need to look elsewhere, but overall the P45 offers a very realistic performance and some solid sounds.
-full 88 keys
-GHS weighted action
-Upper end of the price range
-64 note polyphony
4. WILLIAMS LEGATO 88-KEY DIGITAL PIANO
The Williams Legato 88 key digital piano was designed as an affordable option for piano players. Out of all the keyboards on this guide, the Williams Legato generally has the lowest price point, so it may appeal to budget minded shoppers who want to stay as far away from $500 as possible. However, even with the low price point Williams has delivered a serviceable instrument that doesn’t sacrifice too much in terms of quality.
While the Legato has a full 88 keyboard, it only features semi-weighted keys and won’t feel as realistic to play as other models. This digital piano keeps it simple and comes with five sounds included, with piano, electric piano, organ, synth and bass. Like many keyboards, the Legato has a split mode that will allow you to use two different sounds at once on different parts of the keyboard. There are also standard reverb and chorus effects that can be used, and the keyboard will keep their settings even after it is turned off.
There are two built-in speakers that project with a decent level of volume. It should also be noted that the Legato can be powered by AC adapter or battery, but neither are included out of the box. There is an included music stand for holding your sheet music that can be attached or detached depending on preference. While there are certainly areas that feature reduced quality to compensate for the low cost, you will be hard pressed to find other full size keyboards in this price range.
-full 88 keyboard
-Five included sounds
-Reverb and chorus
5. ALESIS CODA PRO | 88-KEY DIGITAL PIANO
The Alesis Coda Pro is another affordable option for pianists looking for a full 88 key digital piano. The Coda Pro features fully weighted keys with realistic touch response that will satisfy players who are used to the real thing. In addition to realistic feeling keys, this keyboard also features twenty sounds, including piano, electric piano, organ and more. Alesis has included a sustain pedal with the Coda Pro, which isn’t a feature you normally find included with digital pianos.
With the Coda Pro, players are able to split the keyboard up with different sounds as well as layer two voices together. There are also some built-in digital signal processing options available, such as EQ, reverb and chorus. There are 60 songs that come with the keyboard for you to learn to play along with, and you can even record your own songs using the user recording mode. To make the instrument a more dynamic performance machine, Alesis has included a duet mode with 50 accompaniment patterns.
The Coda Pro includes two decent quality speakers, as well as a number of connectivity options including MIDI, USB, and ¼ inch jack. Other basic functions include a metronome for keeping time, a pitch bend wheel and the ability to transpose. Alesis has also gone the extra mile by including a power supply with the keyboard, which is all too often not the case. All in all, the Coda Pro is a great value for the price and would make a great choice for students, experienced players and performers alike.
-Twenty included sounds
-full 88 keyboard
-Hammer action fully weighted keys
HOW WE PICKED THE BEST DIGITAL PIANO UNDER 500
To pick the best digital piano under 500, we took a look at a number of factors such as how much value the customer gets for the cost, the variety and quality of sounds included, and the performance action of the keys. In the $500 or less range, you’re not going to find the most amazing instrument in the world, but you can still expect to find a good quality keyboard and it’s important to keep in mind that we’re still on the lower end of the price spectrum as musical instruments are concerned.
Overall, performance was among the top considerations, as it’s important for players to have solid keys to practice with. Sound quality was another important area that needed to give the player a lot of value, and we also took a look at the durability of each instrument to make sure they would stand the test of time. Advanced features like sound effects, educational materials and included songs to play along to were secondary considerations.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DIGITAL PIANO
Touch response is one of the most important aspects of a digital piano.It refers to the way the keys feel during play, and ultimately has an effect on a musician’s playing style. There are three types of touch response that you should be aware of; no touch response, touch sensitive, and fully weighted.
Lower quality keyboards will generally forego touch response altogether to keep costs down, and the result is a much poorer experience for the player. Without touch response, the keys feel wooden and unresponsive. Higher quality instruments may include touch sensitive keys, which are a step-up but not perfect. Touch sensitive keys allow the player to vary the volume level depending on how hard they push the keys, but without any resistance they still feel unrealistic and clunky.
Weighted keys simulate the mechanism within a real piano that pushes the hammer onto the string. This gives the keyboard a more dynamic, realistic response for the player and can help to improve their playing. If you’re used to playing a real piano, it will be incredibly jarring to play a keyboard with cheap keys. Weighted keys will drive up the price, but it’s worth it in the long run if you can fit them into your budget.
All keyboards are more portable than traditional pianos, but each instrument will vary a little bit. If being able to take your digital piano with you wherever you go is an important feature, it may be best to choose a model that features fewer keys than the full 88. Weight is another thing to keep in mind, as this will ultimately effect how easy it is to lug around. Luckily, there are plenty of lightweight options out there that won’t be too difficult to transport regularly.
A term you should be aware of when shopping for a digital piano is polyphony. Polyphony refers to the keyboard’s ability to play multiple notes at once, which you’ll find on practically all modern digital pianos. However, the limit of notes you can play at once will vary from model to model, so it’s good to keep an eye on so you know the instruments limits before you buy.
Most modern pianos come equipped with built-in speakers that allow the player to listen as they play without needing to plug into an outboard sound device like an amp or monitors. However, the quality of these speakers is generally fairly low to begin with and can vary from model to model, so it’s good to keep this in mind when shopping. Of course pretty much all keyboards will give you the option to listen with headphones or plug into an amp or monitors, so consider whether you will be doing this or not before buying.
Digital Signal Processing
Another common feature found on many keyboards is digital signal processing. This is the process of changing the sound with various effects, such as reverb or delay, chorus, or vibrato. Many digital pianos will feature pitch bend and modulation wheels, which allow the player to add different expressions to a performance and make the instrument more versatile.
Important Q/A About Electric Piano Question:
Do you need to tune a digital piano?
Answer: No, you do not have to tune your electric piano. All of the sounds feature standard tuning and because they are digital, they won’t go out of tune. Many digital pianos will allow you to adjust to play out of standard tuning though.
Question: Can I use a digital piano on my computer?
Answer: This will vary from product to product, but most keyboards include MIDI functionality that will allow you to connect the keyboard with various music software programs. You will need either a USB or MIDI cable for this, which will generally need to be bought separately.
Question: Can I connect a digital piano to louder speakers?
Answer: Yes. Digital pianos usually come with speakers that can be used for practice, but they generally aren’t loud enough for a performance setting. You will be able to connect to additional amps and monitors using standard connections which will be available on most models.
Question: Can I play this piano without power?
Answer: No, a digital piano requires some sort of power source. An AC adapter is generally the preferred choice for powering your keyboard, especially if you will be playing the instrument indoors where there is access to a wall outlet. However, most digital pianos can also be powered by batteries, giving you the option to take it anywhere and play.
There are many great digital pianos on this guide, and choosing the best digital piano under 500 was a tough task to pull off. However, after comparing the features of all five keyboards, it became clear that Yamaha’s P45 is the best value for the money. Not only do you get a full sized keyboard for less than $500, but you also get great performance action that closely resembles a real piano. Couple that with the ten high quality sounds that are included with the keyboard and you have a worthy instrument that will satisfy most pianists.
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