Buyers guide for digital pianos



Visiting A Piano Shop

With so many digital pianos on the market today, deciding which one to buy can seem a bit daunting. Most people start with online research to get an idea of models, prices etc. Having done your initial research, you should visit your local a store and try a few models. This is the only real way to learn how a piano will perform in your home once you buy it.

This short video will show you how to test a piano in-store and explore some of the questions that you should ask.

Questions to ask yourself before buying

Who is it for?

Before you test-drive a piano, decide who the piano is for. Is the piano for you? Is it for your children or could it be for the whole family?

If so, will someone in the family will use the piano many years to come. This could mean you buy an instrument higher in the product range which has features you can grow into rather than a lower model which you may potentially grow out of.

As a general rule, the more money you spend, the better the touch, tone and available features.

Tone

When you get to a store, the first thing to listen to is the tone and the best way of doing this is to select the three or four main sounds you think you’ll use most and make these the benchmark sounds for comparison between Pianos.

You should try at least two instruments in your price range to determine which one you prefer. If you plan to use headphones at home, be sure to try out the pianos using the same pair of headphones. For the best comparison, you can take your headphones or ask the shop for a good quality pair to use.

Speakers

Most people don’t use headphones the entire time as most home Pianos (as opposed to stage or gigging portable pianos) have built-in speakers. Entry level digital pianos will normally have two speakers with a small amplifier. The models higher in the range are fitted with four or more speakers and higher powered amplifiers which give them a better sound.

If you are a beginner, you can ask the salesman to play for you to hear the quality of sound, but make sure you sit at the piano, even if it is to listen to a built-in demo song. That way you hear the sound in the same way for each model.

Evaluating Touch

After the tone, the next equally important element in your choice is the way the piano feels (the action). A good action that feels right for you is the key to your piano technique. Feel is, of course, subjective; a bit like comparing the steering feel between two cars. You can drive them both equally well,  but one will feel better to you than the other.

The touch of the keys themselves is less subjective – entry level pianos often have a shiny plastic surface whereas the more upmarket pianos will use a synthetic ivory surface which looks more natural and offers better grip. So try to see and feel both finishes.

The overall touch and feel of the piano is still not the whole picture. You have to make sure that when you play the piano the touch allows you to play expressively. A piano may have a great tone, but if the action doesn’t live up to the tone won’t allow you to play expressively. So check how wide the dynamic range (sound highs & lows) is and how easy it is to control the way these are delivered. You should be able to press a key down slowly and not hear anything at all. Equally, you should be able to get a very bright sound when playing fortissimo (loudly). Compare the way this dynamic range is delivered by different pianos – the wider, the better. Crucially, all of the shades in between should be easy to control which you can check by repeatedly playing the same note from a soft, gentle whisper to a bright fortissimo.

Ease of Use

All of the amazing capabilities of the modern digital piano are of little value if you can’t figure out how to use them. So think about the location, spacing, grouping, and labeling of the controls.

Also look at where the other connections are placed. These can be audio outputs, other digital connections. If you frequently switch between speakers and headphones, make sure the headphone jack is easy to locate by sight or feel, and that the cord will be out of your way when plugged in. If you are using a USB memory device to transfer files between your piano and a computer, make sure the USB port is easy to and not on the rear panel which is inconvenient if the piano is against a wall.

Finally, you should check the warranty period. Today’s digital pianos are very reliable, but things do go wrong just as they do on an acoustic piano. The standard warranty is 12 months, but you will find that many digital pianos come with 3 or in some cases 10 years warranty.


If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at 01279 465155 / sales@derosamusic.co.uk(.) Otherwise, pop in at De Rosa Music, West Wing, The Water House, Water Lane, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 2JZ.

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