Recommend a digital piano (price range: 400 - 900 bucks)

To start with, a search found several similar threads, but from 6 - 19 years ago, which is an eon in consumer electronics.

My 13-year-old wants to get a digital piano. She has a modest budget of 400 - 900 euros / ~ dollars. She wants to have 88 full-size keys and an action close to an acoustic piano (weighted keys etc.). Can you point to some value-for-the-money digital piano models within these parameters?

Have you considered purchasing a used one on Ebay or something similar?

My e-piano is nearly 15 years old now, still works fine. Getting a used one from someone upgrading might be an option. The prices are all over the place on the used market, of course, and you’ll have to do a little research on brands and models but if I was in the market for a replacement on your budget that’s what I would do.

Of course, this is just one opinion and I’m sure others will be along with other opinions and perhaps more specific advice.

See if you can find a used Fatar/Studiologic controller locally.

I purchased a Yamaha P-125 (https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical_instruments/pianos/p_series/p-125/index.html) last year and have been happy with the purchase. That MSRP is not right, I think you can buy it new for about $650 from a variety of places in the US. Not sure about European prices.

It’s a good close to entry level piano in my opinion. The action of the keys is good enough to not be a hindrance for a beginner and I suspect will be good enough even into the intermediate level. It sounds pretty good. You can use headphones if you want a peaceful household (although I don’t find that sounds as good for some reason).

I looked at a lot of reviews. I selected a Casio Privia. There’s several Privia models in various price points.

I bought the PX-160. A less expensive model at about $550. Has a built-in metronome, records to USB, and can transpose keys.

Recording is a very important tool for students. They need to hear themselves play and hear what needs improvement.

The more expensive Privia models include advanced features. Like a drum machine to accompany what you play. You can get synth features that make the keyboard sound like other instruments.

Great options for more experienced players. I needed a basic model. I was taking lessons until Covid closed the school.

While I love my Studiologic controller due to the natural piano feel of the keys, they don’t have a sound source and required connecting to a synthesiser of some sort. OK if you are technically adept, but possibly a challenge if you just want to play piano.

As a guy who has been married to a piano teacher for decades, I would suggest looking at the highest quality Yamaha that fits in that price range. I’m willing too say you can’t go wrong with Yamaha.

Over the years we have purchased 4 Yamaha pianos that run the gamut and are all still in service.

The cheapest was around 500 (some years back), and it still works fine in the school.
The next cheapest was about 600 or 700, and would be excellent for anyone–it is my wife’s “play quietly in the bedroom with headphones” piano.
The third was an electronic baby grand for our church, somewhere in the 5-7K range.
Finally, my wife’s baby grand piano was somewhere around 16k.

The first two are perfect for pianists on a budget, young and old.

Go to the store and see what the real prices are–the MSRP for Yamaha is not what you pay. For example, that electronic baby grand had an MSRP that was a few thousand higher than what we actually paid for it.

Background: I am by no means an accomplished piano player, but I’ve played many pianos, both acoustic and digital, including my brother’s Steinway, and other digital pianos he has, whose names escapes me.

Roland has been making weighted-key digital pianos for decades, and I am a huge fan. I have this model:

It has three piano versions, each one distinctive, and all with great sounds. It also has the usual guitar, strings, electric piano, organ, etc, if that is her thing. I am extremely happy with it, including the quality weighted keys, which feel natural and smooth. I highly recommend it.

This helped convince me to buy it:

I answer this question all the time for friends and students. Here’s a copy and paste (with a few edits) from an email I sent just a month or so ago:

These folks were really hoping to fall into the $400-600 range, so I didn’t recommend the Yahama P-125 or the Roland FP-30 (both mentioned upthread) which are also great contenders at this price point. The Roland FP-30 and FP-10 both have the same sound engine and key action, but the 30 has a few more “bells and whistles” that might be worth it, or not.

Big questions I always ask folks I’m recommending boards to:

  1. Do you want internal speakers, or are you expecting to connect this to a separate amp/speaker (all the recommendations above have internal speaker systems)?
  2. Do you want this to be easily portable/movable, or do you expect it to stay in one place for a long time? Do you anticipate wanting to bring the keyboard “on the road” to a friend’s house, or even the back porch? This impacts the kind of stand you’ll want for it. All of the models above have “furniture-like” stands that screw onto the boards, and make it look a little less ramshackle than more portable options, and is going to feel stable and at put the instrument at an appropriate height by default, but these stands are a pain to take off and on, and make it harder to move the instrument. The cost difference between a portable stand and furniture stand is negligible, so it’s simply a matter of preference and desired function.
    . . .

My son took piano lessons all through his childhood with a Yamaha P60 digital piano. It’s an 88-key stage piano with weighted keys. It was purchased back in 2003, and was used every day until he went off to college.

Sorry if my info is dated, but I would highly recommend whatever Yamaha model has replaced the P60.

Since we’re showing off a bit here - I own a Kurzweil K2600X (that’s the one with a full 88 keys) which, I’m told, is now an obsolete, discontinued model. It’s actually more piano than I will ever need. Why that particular keyboard? My late spouse did the bagpipe soundfiles for it. Took the keyboard in lieu of monetary payment so he could finally fulfill the promise he had made to his wife that he would buy her a piano. We couldn’t afford it when we married (hell, we couldn’t afford a wedding, that’s one reason we eloped) but he did deliver when he was finally able to do so.

Yes, I’m bragging slightly and used they’re running around $2000. Probably not the best choice for a beginner, but I’ve been playing about 50 years now so I think it’s a hobby that I’ll stick with as long as I have working fingers.

In truth, I’m not an excellent player - I’m a hobbyist with probably more practice involved than raw talent. I’ve gotten as far as I have because I’m willing to work at it. Honestly, when we first got this keyboard I was a little intimidated by it.

Maybe when I retire I’ll have the time to fully explore all of its potential.

I’ll just add to this that I have something like this for my Roland FP-30 ( mine was a bit cheaper), and the keyboard sits on it just fine and is heavy enough so that it doesn’t move around when I play. It’s quite stable actually.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/XStdDbl--on-stage-stands-lok-tight-pro-double-by-ergo-lok-ks8291

Thank you all for the suggestions! It feels good that the choices I’ve especially looked into pop up here, via first-hand experience. I’ve urged my daughter to take her time and really think about the particulars that she’d like in her piano, as a quality entry-level / intermediate instrument can be had with her budget, and subtle differences abound in this hotly competed market segment.

I have a soft spot for Yamahas, myself, but I’m not the one who makes the decision.

I think it’s really cool that you’re helping her make the decision herself.

I have this as my weighted keyboard controller. It’s a great instrument and has a surprisingly great piano feel to it. I picked it up for around $250 to use as a controller, as its sound board is toasted (or at least that’s what the guy who sold it to me thinks. I was considering trying to repair it myself, but this guy specializes in synthesizers and repairs, so if he couldn’t do it, there’s little hope I could find the parts to fix it.) Hooked up to a a piano module, it feels great under the fingers.

My daughter brought up a point: her cats will walk on the keys, jump on / off them, and probably sleep on them as well. So she thinks a piano model with a cover (fallboard?) for the keys would be best. Most digital pianos within her budget don’t have one, but a Casio PX 870 Privia has. So that’s one qualifier. Pedals are also a must, I hear.

How does your pianos and cats mingle?

I’d definitely look into whether you can buy a a cover separately. I’ve definitely seen them for sale. It would seem silly to me to buy one you didn’t want for the cover if the one you did want had a separate cover you could buy.

Another Yamaha fan here. I’ve bought four Yamaha keyboards: three digital and one six-foot Disklavier grand. Two of the digital models were gifts, and one was for myself, before I bought the Disklavier. The latter was a DC3A, but I’m afraid I don’t recall the model numbers of the others. The first was more than 20 years ago, and the others ten or more, so there are undoubtedly newer units now.

I second Eonwe’s points about speakers and portability, and urge your daughter to audition any instruments she’s considering in person at a store. She might also talk to her piano teacher about his/her recommendations. The presence or absence of a fallboard should NOT be a determining factor.

Does she have the opportunity to play real acoustic pianos? If she intends to play classical and study music seriously, knowing what a real instrument is supposed to feel and sound like would be an important factor in selecting a digital keyboard. That’s one reason I like Yamahas: playing their digital keyboards is very much like playing their acoustic instruments.

As for cats and pianos, just ask Zez Confrey.

I don’t have cats, I have parrots who, being parrots, are very interested in anything that makes noise and knobs and switches and sliders are a BONUS!

I have a cover made of cloth for mine, which works because my birds weigh mere ounces. I made mine myself, but then, I make things. With cats you might need something a little more substantial. It might be an option. A quick look on Amazon and I saw this semi-random example for $15. You may or may not want something more substantial.