2023 Digital Keyboard Guide for All Levels

The Complete Guide to Buying a
Digital Piano or Electronic Keyboard

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Marc Levesque   12/28/21 updated 1/18/23 • 4 min read

2023 Digital Piano Recommendation

Here are our exclusive recommendations for digital pianos, updated for 2023. If you would like to explore more options yourself, scroll down to learn the three factors for buying a digital piano in order to get the most out of your piano lessons.

Table of Contents

The Best Overall Option: Yamaha P71 (Amazon Exclusive)

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The Yamaha P71 is our best overall pick for 2023. It has everything we look for in a digital piano, including the best sound quality, 88 weighted keys, and includes a music rack and a sustain pedal.

Its depth is less than 12 inches which also requires little space and weighs only 25 pounds. For the price, you won’t find a better option.

A similar option is the Yamaha P45 (below), which is available from Amazon. Compared to the P71, P45 model provides a better hammer action, which creates more realistic acoustic piano touch.

The Yamaha P125 (below) is an upgraded version of the P71 keyboard with a higher pricing. It offers a split mode which lets players play a different voice with each hand. Compared to the P71, P125 model provides more tone options, effects and better sound quality.

The Best Option Below $300: Donner DEP-10

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If you’re looking for an option below $300, the Donner DEP-10 is fine for beginners. It has 88 keys, which is a must, and it includes a sustain pedal. However, the keys are only semi-weighted, which means that the touch is artificial feeling and does not replicate the feeling of an upright or grand piano.

This will be problematic for intermediate or advanced students who also need to develop hand muscle for playing more difficult music.

The Best Option Below $150: Donner DEK-610

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Sometimes price is the main factor in buying a piano, and this is the absolute cheapest piano that will work for beginner piano lessons. It only has 61 keys, not 88, and the keys are not weighted. The sound quality is also not very good, 

It would be necessary to upgrade soon after buying this piano, so it’s best suited for children who are beginners and are not yet sure if they want to take many piano lessons in the long term.

Three Things to Look For when Buying a Digital Piano

When buying a digital piano, there are three main things to keep in mind:

88 Keys

No matter your level, whether you’re a beginner level keyboard or one for an advanced pianist, you will want to get a piano that has at least 88 keys. This is the same number as an upright or grand piano, and it is essential in order to get a proper piano experience. 

Some “beginner” pianos come with 61 keys or fewer, and these should be avoided. Not having access to the full number of keys can hinder your progress, so you should aim to get a piano with 88 keys.

Weighted Keys

The second most important thing to look for is weighted keys. Weighted keys just means that the keys have some resistance to them, just like acoustic piano keys do, gives them much greater touch sensitivity and dynamic range. Even beginner pianists will want to be able to play expressively, and having weighted keys allow pianists to shape their playing in a musical way.

You may also come across some “semi-weighted” options. This is better than non-weighted keyboards, but it will still limit your expressive abilities. For piano beginners, semi-weighted keys might be fine at first, but if you’re looking to keep the piano for some time without having to upgrade, then it’s better to go for fully weighted keys.

Good Sound Quality

Once you’ve found a piano with 88 weighted keys, you’ll want to aim to get as good sound quality as possible. Sound quality is difficult to tell through online listings, so the best place to look will be the reviews of the keyboards. 

However, by having found a piano with 88 weighted keys, chances are that the sound quality will already be decent as the ones with very poor sound quality tend to have less than 88 keys and are not weighted.

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Features that Don't Matter When Buying a Piano

Given the number of options available, some pianos will have 1 or 2 of the features that we look for, and many other features that really don’t matter in terms of becoming a better pianist. These include:

Extra Sounds

Assuming this piano will be used for piano lessons and for becoming a better pianist, extra sound options on the pianos such as synthesized strings or organ sounds, can be fun but are not really relevant. It’s more important that the keyboard has a good piano sound than that it has many other sounds.

Recording and Playback Features

Just like the extra sounds, recording and playback features can be a nice bonus but they’ll have little effect on your piano studies. Any live performances you do will likely not need recording capabilities, and being able to play along with yourself has limited value when practicing. Plus, you can always record yourself on your phone, so recording directly into the piano has little benefit.

Teaching Mode

The best teacher for you will be a live one, so any pre-installed teaching software will only get you so far. Most pianos with teaching modes built in will likely have less than 88 keys, so you’ll want to avoid them even if just for that reason.

Demo Songs

Demo songs that you can have the piano play just by clicking a few buttons are entertaining, but there’s no actual benefit to them and it’s just as easy to find and listen to songs through YouTube, Spotify, or similar options.

Additional Piano Accessories To Buy

In addition to the keyboard itself, you will also need a music stand, keyboard stand, sustain pedal, and a bench.

The pianos we have recommended above already come with a music stand and sustain pedal, but just in case you’re buying the items separately, here’s what to look for:

Keyboard Stands

Most stands will work with most keyboards. Just make sure by reading the reviews that the stand will be strong enough to support a full sized keyboard. 

The reason you need a stand is because you need room under the keyboard for the pedal, and you’ll want to be able to adjust the height of the stand so that the keyboard is at it’s proper height. Here are our top two recommendations:

Sustain Pedals

The sustain pedal allows notes to keep sounding after you let go of them. If this is new to you, don’t worry, your teacher will be sure to cover it in your first lesson. Just know that it is a significant part of piano playing, and so you’ll definitely need a sustain pedal to make good progress.

Most well-rated sustain pedals will be fine. Just make sure they have a 1/4” plug which will be compatible with most digital pianos. Check out our top two pedals recommendations:

Piano Benches

Piano benches are different from standard chairs as they don’t have a back, and the height can be adjusted. It is important that the height is adjustable because even beginning pianists need to sit at the right height so that they can develop the proper posture and technique. 

Other than being adjustable, the main differences between benches are how they look, how comfortable, and how long they last. Here are our top two piano bench recommendations:

Liquid Stands Adjustable  Piano Bench – Padded

SONGMICS Adjustable Piano Bench with Sheet Music Storage

Yamaha OEM PKBB1 Adjustable Padded Keyboard X-Style Bench

Music Racks

Most digital pianos will come with a keyboard music stand, which sits on top of the piano and holds your music. (This is different from a conventional music stand, which stands on the floor and does not fit on top of a piano.) If you buy a piano that does not come with a music stand, you can buy an affordable one that either sits on the piano or rests against the wall. 

Here are our top two recommendations for music racks:

Hanghs Desktop Music Book Holder

CAHAYA Tabletop Sheet Music Stand

Where can I buy Pianos?

All the pianos we have recommended here are available on Amazon since that’s an option that works well for most people. You can also buy pianos at our exclusive online music shop here.

Some other good places to look are Yamaha official website, Guitar Center (despite the name), Sweetwater, and Musician’s Friend. Those sites will tend to have good quality options, so as long as the reviews are okay and the piano has 88 weighted keys, you’ll probably make a good purchase.

Should I buy an Acoustic Upright or Grand Piano?

If you don’t want an electric option, and you have room in your budget, we would definitely recommend getting an upright or grand piano. Yes, both pianos have to be tuned regularly and they’re not portable, but nothing beats the experience of playing on a good acoustic piano.

To find a good upright or grand piano, you will want to visit a store in person and try out the pianos. Each of those pianos will have it’s own sound quality and touch feel, so you should try it out yourself and see if you like it before purchasing it. Based on how long you intend to keep the piano, and what level you’re hoping to reach, store employees should be able to help you make a selection.

The average price for a one-hour piano lesson is $80. Live online piano lessons using Zoom or Skype charge between $20-40 for a half hour lesson. Local private one-on-one piano lessons range from $30-50 for a half hour lesson, while in-person group lessons can cost $20 for a half hour lesson.

Piano instructors without a college music degree will charge as little as $30 per hour, and professionally performing concert pianists with with prizes from top piano competitions might charge as much as $400!

Learn more about overall piano lessons cost HERE.

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