There’s no denying that the landscape of music production looks vastly different in 2019 from the way it looked in 1999. In fact, the landscape looks vastly different from the way it looked in 2009. There are more bedroom musicians than ever in the modern world because it’s easier than ever to create music in the modern world. All you need is some cheap software and equipment to get started; you can even get GarageBand for free on your iPhone. That’s the current age. Still, there’s no substitute for tangible instruments – it’s more fun to create music on a proper instrument, rather than a screen. If you’re constrained by a restrictive budget, however, then you might have to make some compromises. One day, you might own a grand piano, but you probably want to start with something more affordable. A digital piano could be the answer, and these are some of the best digital pianos under $1000.
Let’s start off with one of the most basic models on the market. Of course, that doesn’t reflect negatively on the quality of this product. On the contrary, a straightforward piece of equipment such as this is often the best option for a beginner. Alesis nails simplicity with this sleek and minimalistic keyboard. It might have limitations, as outlined at Digital Piano, but it’s a valuable piece of kit for the price tag that comes with it.
That being said, as will be the case for all of the products on this list of reviews, there are a few cons, and it’s important to flag up these minor downsides. You need to know what you’re buying. So, these are the cons:
- It’s not a digital piano for professionals. If you’re a professional musician who’s looking for a cheap piece of equipment for live shows, then you should probably keep scrolling.
- There are only 5 sample sounds. Minimalism comes at the expense of useful added features. Again, this is an entry-level piano.
For a beginner, of course, those cons are probably irrelevant. So, let’s assess the pros of the product:
- It is a light and portable device. Want to start a band? You’ll find it easy to take this to practices.
- It connects via USB to Midi. If you have a low budget but you want to start recording and producing music, this piano can handle that. Just don’t expect the bells and whistles that come with higher-end models.
You’re really going to struggle to find a better keyboard than this if you’re getting started and you want a straightforward device that’s been designed for complete beginners. Simplicity isn’t a negative if you’re new to digital pianos. Seasoned professionals might want to check out the following options.
Yamaha P-115 Digital Piano
Yamaha is one of the most famous keyboard brands. Even people who display no interest in music creation have come across this brand at some point in their lives. So, you know that this piano has name power on its side. Does it have anything else going for it?
It sure does. Of course, before we take a look at the pros, let’s discuss the cons. It’s important to ensure that you’re the right kind of customer for this particular model:
- It’s not the newest model in its range. Yamaha has higher-quality products on offer in the P-category.
- If you want added app functionality, then you’d probably prefer the P-125. It all depends on your specific requirements in terms of your music production style, of course, but it’s always worth noting that affordability means fewer features.
Still, the P-115 hasn’t been included on this list for no reason. For its price, I was pleasantly surprised by the features that were included. These are the pros of the piano:
- It has weighted keys. There’s nothing more disappointing than a digital piano which feels stiff and unresponsive. I’ve felt that resounding sinking feeling in my stomach as I’ve pressed down on keyboard keys which felt clunky and wooden. The P-115, much like its preceding versions, feels like an authentic piano.
- Given that it’s modeled on a Yamaha Grand piano, this digital keyboard is well suited to a player who’s moving to digital technology from an acoustic instrument. It suits beginners, of course, but I think intermediate musicians would feel comfortable playing on this piano.
- This is a cheap model. Yes, there is a subsequent P-model, but if you want to save some money and get the majority of the same features as the newer P-125, then opt for this. That’s just my suggestion, of course. It depends entirely on your specific musical requirements.
Here’s another big brand. Casio has reputability on its side, obviously, much like Yamaha. Nevertheless, I try not to dive into product testing with preconceived notions as to what I should expect. Big names can let you down, and small names can surprise you. That’ll be discussed in greater detail at the end of this article. So, if we ignored a supposed foregone conclusion, how did the PX-160 fare in comparison to other digital pianos that I tested? Quite well, I thought. That doesn’t mean it had no negative aspects, but let’s weigh up the pros and cons.
- The speaker isn’t as powerful as others on digital pianos in a similar price range. From such a gargantuan music-technology manufacturer, this surprised me.
- It’s a great piano for a beginner, but that means it lacks quite a few features which can be found in more technical models – this will become clear when you read about some of the other pianos that I tested.
- It comes with fantastic samples from real grand pianos. If you’re trying to create an authentic sound, then I imagine you’d be satisfied with this feature.
- The hammer action and textured keys make this digital piano feel like an acoustic piano, too. Casio have done a good job of making a keyboard which feels classic and genuine, in my opinion.
Lagrima LG-8830 Digital Piano
This is a brand name which is probably entirely alien to you. Still, don’t be immediately swayed by the magnitude of a name such as Casio in comparison to a name such as Lagrima. The LG-8830 is a keyboard with positives and negatives, so here they are.
- It’s not portable. So, if you’re looking for a lightweight piano that’s easy to transport, then I’d suggest looking elsewhere.
- The samples aren’t quite as good as many of the models offered by Yamaha and Casio. That’s the compromise you make when you choose a cheaper keyboard, I guess.
- The first con could actually be seen as a pro, depending on your perspective. The LG-8830 is hard to move because it’s designed to be a permanent fixture in your home. It has an authentic stand; so, if you’re looking for a digital piano with the appearance of an acoustic piano, then I think this could be the right option for you.
- I also have to note that it offers an extensive range of features to the user, given its low price tag, and that impressed me. It has a teaching mode, a recording feature, and even reverb. For a cheap keyboard, you get a lot.
Now, this is just my opinion, but Kawai is one of the best manufacturers in the industry when it comes to digital stage pianos. So, right off the bat, it’s worth taking that into account if you’re a musician who currently performs in a live setting or wants to perform in a live setting. The ES-110 could be the right option for you and your musical needs.
That being said, there are upsides and downsides to this model, as you’ll find with all of the keyboards that I’ve reviewed. Let’s go over the good and bad points that you should take into account.
- It’s slightly more expensive than other options on this list, though it is still cheaper than $1000, so you shouldn’t completely dismiss this digital piano.
- This is another piano with high-quality sampling, and that’s what I love about it. For experienced musicians out there, you should love this, too. How often have you longed for a keyboard that could sound like a “real” piano? That was a real treat for me.
- Again, this is a digital piano with weighted keys. I haven’t found many quality digital pianos under $1000 with weighted keys, but the ES-110 definitely delivers in that sense. I think Kawai have outdone themselves with this one.
A lot of keyboards with authentic keys and sounds have been discussed in this list, but the ES-110 was certainly one of the best ones that I tried.
Which digital piano was the best? I’d have to say the Casio Privia PX-160 impressed me to the greatest extent. As mentioned above, I’ve reviewed a lot of digital pianos with authentic sounds, but the PX-160 has the best balance, in terms of cost and features. It’s affordable, but it doesn’t compromise on the aspects that truly matter. The main negative points include a slightly quiet stereo speaker and a lack of features, but those cons are outweighed, in my view, by the incredibly intuitive and realistic keys. Plus, the high-quality samples are so authentic. That sold this keyboard to me. Of course, I wasn’t surprised, as I couldn’t help but expect big things from Casio. They’re the industry leaders when it comes to music technology.
But which digital piano is best for me?
Even after reading this article, you might still struggle to answer that question. This is understandable. My reviews were based on the things I seek from a good digital piano under $1000. You might be looking for something different. You can assess the pros and cons that I laid out and apply them to your own situation, but you might still find it difficult to pick out a keyboard that’s right for you. So, make a list of your needs. Are you a performing musician? You should look for digital pianos that are portable. Are you a producer? You should look for digital pianos with good connectivity options, in order to record compositions directly to your computer. Lay out your wants, and work from there.
Do I even need a keyboard?
Only you can answer that. Obviously, with every digital piano, there are advantages and disadvantages. In order to figure out whether you want or even need one, you should outline your goals. Plenty of producers are content to use virtual keyboards for music production. Others want to use a tactile instrument. Which category sounds like the right fit for you?
How should I differentiate between digital pianos?
This is another tricky question. The differences between pianos can be easy to pinpoint when you’re looking at lists of pros and cons in a list of reviews. It’s not always easy to distinguish between keyboards when you do your own research, however. The key is to make your own lists of pros and cons. After all, pros and cons depend on the perspective of the reviewer. You might want to check out this insightful article that provides more information regarding the best ways to choose the right digital piano for you.
How do I use one?
You might think this is a strange question. If you know anything about pianos, then you probably understand the general gist of using one. But this is about more than just pressing keys. In order to know how to use a keyboard, you need to understand the technical side of using one and setting it up, as well as the musical side of doing so. For example, if you want to know how to connect your piano to a computer, you might want to check out this useful YouTube tutorial which makes the process quite straightforward. YouTube is a great resource for instructional videos on using digital pianos, so go down the rabbit hole.
Which digital pianos would be wrong for me?
Again, you have to figure this one out by conducting research. You can read endless lists and reviews regarding the best keyboards on the market, but you’ll find plenty of solid evidence both for and against buying every individual digital piano that you see. At the end of the day, you just have to weigh up multiple options to assess which piano is the best fit for you. Check out YouTube walkthroughs of different keyboard models to gauge how they function in reality. That’s much more effective than simply reading about them.
How do I take the necessary precautions?
This is one of the most important questions to ask. Obviously, you shouldn’t be worried about this question. A digital piano isn’t a dangerous device, evidently. However, it is a fragile device. Yes, many keyboards might be more durable than many grand pianos, and they certainly require less maintenance (you don’t have to worry about retuning keys). Still, you will be using a sensitive piece of technology, and it’s essential to recognize that. You can still be too rough with keys and damage them, for example.
You should also be cautious with regards to buying and selling used keyboards. This applies to any technological product, of course, but you might want to check out this YouTube video for some useful advice on the topic. Before you purchase a digital piano, it’s essential that you do the necessary research. A keyboard is an expensive asset, so you don’t want to buy the wrong one or buy the right one at the wrong price. Be diligent to avoid disappointment. That’s the best advice I can offer to you.