Buying a pro-level piano that costs thousands of dollars usually isn’t in the cards for the average novice pianist, which is why the main focus of this article is affordability. This article will help you pinpoint the best digital piano under 500 dollars, so you may want to stick around for a bit.
Best Under $500
Casio is a prominent brand in the piano market, and the Privia PX160BK is one of Casio’s most popular models. This piano weighs around 25 pounds, which is fairly lightweight compared to a lot of its competitors. The construction is compact and can easily be moved around.
The Privia PX160BK is equipped with Casio’s Tri-Sensor Hammer Action Keyboard II which is a detection technology that allows for accurate recognition and faster note repetition. The keytops are synthetic Ivory & Ebony, so you can expect a reliable grip and ideal moisture absorption.
We’re quite fond of the PX160BK’s sound, as it’s equipped with the Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source which does a brilliant job of delivering a superb natural sound that’s sampled from a concert grand piano that spans 9-foot. The 16W speaker system is also quite impressive.
The Privia PX160BK is equipped with 5 different piano tones and 13 other instrument sounds. In the $500 price point, finding a piano that offers better sounds than the PX160BK’s is difficult. We especially love how the strings, organs, and electric piano tones sound on this piano.
The PX160BK is one of the few and far between budget pianos that are equipped with a 2-track MIDI recorder. It’s also equipped with a range of basic features such as metronome, dual-mode, transpose, duet play. By now, it should be quite obvious why this piano belongs to this list.
The Roland FP10 is the trimmed down version of the FP30, which is one of Roland’s mid-range models. The FP10 isn’t only more affordable than the FP30, but it’s also more compact. Thanks to keeping the FP30’s sound engine and key action, the FP10 feels remarkably realistic.
The Roland FP30 is equipped with the PHA-4 Standard keyboard and synthetic ivory keys. The keyboard features the escapement mechanism, which makes this piano one of the very few that can simulate the escapement sensation of an acoustic piano. But that’s not all!
The FP30 is the second piano on our list to feature a three-sensor detection system, along with the Casio PX160BK. One of the attributes we love about this piano is that you can actually feel its mechanics working underneath the fallboard, which lends it a realistic and authentic feel.
In terms of piano sound, the FP10 utilizes Roland’s SuperNATURAL sound engine. This engine mixes physical modeling and sampling algorithms in order to achieve a natural piano sound that’s detail-rich. The piano can stimulate organic piano elements such as damper and string resonances.
The reason why this piano is our runner-up and not our number-one pick is that it doesn’t boast a whole lot of features. It lacks a MIDI recorder and it doesn’t feature lesson mode, just to name a few. You can connect it to the Piano Partner 2 app via Bluetooth to expand its potential.
Best for Beginners
When it comes to entry-level digital pianos, the Yamaha P-45 is typically at the top of everyone’s list, and deservingly so. This piano belongs to Yamaha’s P series, which is all about portability. It boasts remarkable sturdiness and it’s one of the most compact pianos on this list.
Thanks to its compact construction, the P-45 can be positioned just about anywhere, making it a great choice for pianists who are tight on space. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this piano isn’t accompanied by a piano stand, which can be a deal-breaker for some people.
The keyboard itself isn’t all that astonishing, but it should be satisfactory for the beginner pianist. The matte finish of this paint helps grant the player a good grip, and we all know the importance of a good grip when our fingers start to get sweaty after practicing for quite some time.
The P-45 utilizes Yamaha’s AWM Sampling technology as its sound engine. Granted, it’s not the best that Yamaha has to offer when it comes to sound engines, but taking the price of this piano into consideration, we can’t complain, especially when it’s a high-quality engine nonetheless.
One of the reasons why this piano is ideal for beginner pianists is that it’s not overly packed with voices. It features only 10 built-in voices that beginner pianists should find satisfactory. Finally, it features fully-weighted keys, which grants it the feel of an acoustic piano. Highly recommended!
Best for Budget
While not exactly an eminent brand in the piano market, Alesis is still a formidable manufacturer of quality digital pianos. Why did we include the Alesis Recital to our list? Well, it’s by far one of the most affordable digital pianos on the market. It’s half the price of most pianos on this list.
Just because this piano is the most affordable on our list doesn’t mean that it doesn’t offer much value. It’s equipped with 88 semi-weighted keys that offer adequate resistance to not be labeled as springy. However, don’t expect them to offer the same resistance the P45 has to offer.
The piano features 5 onboard voices, which is notably less than the number of voices equipped in the Recital Pro version, but then again, the Recital costs half of what the Recital Pro costs. In addition, this piano allows you to split or layer the voices simultaneously for convenience.
The great thing about the Alesis Recital is that it shares almost all the features that the Pro unit offers such as the onboard metronome, effects, and lesson mode. The main drawback is that it doesn’t come with an onboard record function like the other model.
The Alesis Recital’s shining feature has to be the built-in 20W speakers, which are also found in the Pro model. The speakers can easily fill a small recital room with excellent piano sound fidelity. The Alesis Recital is the right piano for you if you’re restricted by a tight budget.
Yamaha’s second entry on our list is the PSR-EW300, which is another budget piano for people who are restricted by a tight budget. This piano offers a great deal of value. When you order this piano, you receive the keyboard, an adaptor, and a stand. The whole package is under $300.
In order for this piano to be featured at such an affordable price tag, there were a few sacrifices that needed to be made. The first sacrifice is that it had to let go of 12 keys, meaning that this is a 76-key piano. If this is going to affect your playing, we suggest you look into a different piano.
Another thing that’s worth noting is that the keys aren’t weighted whatsoever. This is imperative to keep in mind since some tutors refuse to take up students that don’t own a piano with 88 fully weighted keys. If you’re at the beginning of your journey, you’ll need an 88-key piano.
If you’re a novice pianist and you’re interested in buying this piano, don’t be discouraged by the above-mentioned information, as this piano comes with a full-fledged lesson program that you’ll find very helpful as a beginner that you probably won’t need to hire a tutor.
The Yamaha PSR-EW300 also features an extensive library that features 500 built-in instrument voices and 165 different styles. Granted, some of the voices aren’t that appealing, but you’ll find the grand piano sounds to be impressive. All in all, this piano offers great bang for the buck,
Best for Portability
Not only is it one of the most affordable pianos on this list, but the GO-88P is arguably the most portable as well, thanks to its lightweight and compact construction. This piano features 88 keys that are touch-sensitive with 3 different levels of sensitivity, in addition to 128-note polyphony.
This piano isn’t packed with a whole lot of voices. It features only 4 voices, namely piano, organ, strings, and electric piano. In our opinion, the voices that this piano has to offer are some of the best on this list, as they’re derived from Roland’s best digital pianos. Truly impressive!
Using this piano, you can access a range of interactive learning content from your smartphone, as it utilizes the Piano Partner 2 app provided by Roland. You can sync it with your phone using Bluetooth or via USB. You can also play music from the piano’s speakers using Bluetooth.
The Roland GO-88P is equipped with a recorder that you can use to capture your performances and ideas as you’re playing. You can also use it to record your practice sessions so that you can revisit them whenever you want. It also includes a few onboard effects that include reverb.
Overall, the GO-88P strikes a nice chord between portability, practicality, and affordability. It may not be the toughest competitor on this list when it comes to authenticity and feel, but in terms of sound, it’s a piano that’s definitely worth considering. Highly recommended for travelers.
Best for Ease of Use
Korg is a highly popular brand in the world of synthesizers and other music-related products. It’s also one of the best manufacturers of digital pianos, and the SP170 is a testament to their great craftsmanship. This is an 88-key fully-weighted piano that offers a ton of neat features.
The Korg SP170 featured Korg’s Natural Weighted Hammer Action, which is quite similar to the Graded Hammer Standard Weighted Action that Yamaha has to offer. Simply put, this piano has a pretty heavy touch in the bass end and a lighter touch at its higher end.
This piano is also equipped with a decent range of sound effects for you to use including reverb, which helps make the sound more spacious. Another effect that we’re quite fond of is the chorus effect, as it helps add a certain degree of warmth to the sound.
The Korg SP170 features 10 different built-in voices, including the pipe organ, harpsichord, and an array of piano sounds. This piano is perfect for private piano lessons, as it features two jacks for headphones. So you and your tutor can use headphones and play a duet at the same time.
The great thing about this piano is that it’s super easy to navigate. You’ll find it easy to get back to default settings after you’ve explored all of its functions since all you need to do is press the ‘piano’ button. This makes it an ideal pick for novice pianists as well as intermediate players.
Tips on Buying a Digital Piano
When it comes to digital pianos, there are a number of factors that contribute to how good your experience with the piano is going to be. To ensure an ideal experience, consider the following.
One of the main differences between acoustic pianos and digital pianos is the feel of the keys. The keys of an acoustic piano offer a resistance that’s resulted from their mechanics. If you’re making the transition from acoustic pianos to digital pianos, the feel becomes crucial.
Digital pianos that feature weighted and semi-weighted actions tend to be the closest to how an acoustic piano feels. Pianos that feature hammer action feel quite similar to how acoustic pianos feel. Fully weighted pianos tend to be the best in the ‘feel’ category.
Another thing that you need to take into consideration is touch or velocity sensitivity. An optimal digital piano is capable of adjusting the attack and volume of each note based on the difference in velocity. A trade-off alternative to this is volume level switches, which we’re not fond of.
The quality of the sound produced by a digital piano has to do with the samples that were used to create that sound. The digital technology implemented to capture and reproduce the samples vary from one digital piano to the next, with the more expensive ones being more superior.
High-end digital pianos tend to have more digital memory than lower-end models, which is why they’re capable of reproducing high-resolution sounds that sound very similar to the sounds of acoustic pianos. The quality of the speakers used in the piano is also a factor to consider.
When shopping for a digital piano, don’t be tempted to buy the model that features hundreds of instrument voices, as most of them will probably sound very poor. Instead, you want to go for a model that features the basic piano voices in respectable quality.
This is especially true if you’re a beginner pianist, as having too many voices to experiment with can turn into a distraction that will hinder your piano learning journey. The same thing applies to effects. Choose the piano that offers basic effects such as reverb and chorus.
Polyphony is a term used to describe the number of individual notes that the piano can produce together at the same time. When shopping for an electronic piano, the bare minimum is 32-note polyphony. The highest quality digital pianos tend to have 128-note or 264-note polyphony.
If you’re a novice pianist, it’s vital that you buy a piano that features learning tools and lessons that can help you transition from the beginner stages to more advanced stages. Such features include a built-in metronome, lighting schemes, chord display, and split function.
While the above-mentioned pianos might not be able to compete with more expensive models, they still offer a great deal of value that will help you transition from a beginner pianist to a more advanced player. Feel free to let us know if you have any questions regarding today’s topic.