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What is The Howard Score?

The Howard Score is the rating system for digital pianos.

Every digital piano is evaluated for authenticity on the 13 aspects of key touch and 15 aspects of sound. Each aspect is calculated and multiplied by an importance factor, ending up with an accurate overall authenticity score out of 100.

To receive a free copy of the Howard Score just fill in your first name,
email address and the piano or pianos you're interested in (if you know that):

Why the Howard Score is useful, and what you can use it for…

If you're deliberating between similar pianos from different makes then you no longer need to spend hours traipsing round different shops to try them out, then trying to remember how each one sounded or how the key touch felt… all you need to do is refer to the Howard Score.

Most piano shops stock only one or two leading piano brands. So it's virtually impossible to find somewhere that displays lots of different pianos to try out and compare.

You don't have to go to a piano shop to compare pianos anymore…

Up until now, the only way to compare piano brands and models was to visit 2 or 3 different piano shops. Even if you had the time and patience to do that you'd still have to take notes, or remember how each one felt and sounded

Now all you need to do is check the Howard Score for each piano!

The Howard Score gives all digital pianos a score for:

1) Key touch
2) Sound
3) Howard Score (Total Score)

To receive a free copy of the Howard Score just fill in your first name,
email address and the piano or pianos you're interested in (if you know that):

Here is a list of points analysed:

Key Touch (in order of importance – most important first)

1) Key weight (Light-weighted, semi-weighted, weighted, medium-weighted, fully-weighted, heavy-weighted)

2) Touch sensitivity (also known as 'dynamic levels') (i) Number of levels: 1,2,3,4 or 5? (ii) Responsiveness of each sensitivity level (Applied force for each sensitivity level to achieve the correct dynamic) (iii) Smoothness when changing between sensitivity levels

3) Resistance on key descent (i) How closely it replicates a real piano on the various stages of descent (ii) Smoothness (Any obstruction or unevenness/unnatural heaviness to the key at any point of descent?)

4) Force and speed replication on key ascent (How close it replicates a real piano)

5) Weight of individual keys compared to adjacent ones

6) Repetition (How easy to play the same note quickly?)

7) Key noise at bottom of keystroke (Volume/pitch of thud) (i) volume mid-way (ii) volume off (The 'next room test')

8) Key noise when key returns (Click, thud or plop) (i) volume mid-way (ii) volume off (The 'next room test')

9) Sideways play (How much movement? Any clicking apparent from touching adjacent black or white keys?)

10) Feel of key tops under fingers (Smooth? Even? Plasticky? Slippery? Sticky?)

11) Bouncing keys (Do keys bounce at bottom when playing quietly?)

12) Graded hammer action (Yes/no: how accurate is it?)

13) Set-off (Yes/no: how weak or strong?)

Sound (in order of importance – most important first)

1) Tonal quality (Authenticity – how natural it sounds): weak/strong, boomy/clear, muddy/rich, false/pure, harsh/warm, dull/crisp, flat/bright and clarity for the following areas of the keyboard: (i) Bass (ii) Low bass (iii) Low treble (iv) Centre (v) Mid treble (vi) High treble (vii) Top octave

2) Note decay (i) Length of note decay at p, mf, ff – test bass, centre, treble and top (ii) How natural is note decay? – Rate sound natural or synthetic on a sliding scale at p, mf, ff – test bass, centre, treble and top (iii) How good is the looping disguised?

3) Tuning (i) Equal temperament: test accuracy of centre octave, bass and treble (ii) Octave stretching

4) Tonal balance (i) Evenness of tone throughout the keyboard (ii) Smoothness between individual notes and octaves

5) Tone quality and volume level on each sensitivity level

6) Speed of sound response after striking key (Immediate or delay?)

7) Piano sound from the audience's point of view (i) Listening from a short distance away from the piano (ii) Listening from a nearby room

8) Tonal quality with headphones (The original sound source): weak/strong, boomy/clear, muddy/rich, false/pure, harsh/warm, dull/crisp, flat/bright and clarity for the following areas of the keyboard: (i) Bass (ii) Low bass (iii) Low treble (iv) Centre (v) Mid treble (vi) High treble (vii) Top octave 

9) Speaker sound (What type and volume of sound/distortion is coming from the speakers: Hissing? Humming? Crackling?) (i) Whilst playing (ii) With ears close to the speakers

10) Tone quality and crispness level on repetition

11) Distortion test on maximum volume level

12) Harmonics (Are the harmonics clear and correct through each register? Test each sensitivity level)

13) Tone quality when using pedals (i) Sustain pedal (ii) Soft pedal (una corda)

14) Volume (Is it too loud or too quiet on maximum? Is it the same as a real piano on mid setting? Is it still audible on a low setting?)

15) Reverb (i) Reverb turned off (Measurement of natural reverb and string resonance) (ii) Different reverb settings

To receive a free copy of the Howard Score just fill in your first name,
email address and the piano or pianos you're interested in (if you know that):


All contents Copyright © 2016 Graham Howard. All rights reserved.

The Howard Score list by rank, Howard Score list by brand, Howard Score list by category, and all content on this page is registered with the UK Copyright Service, registration number 284660139.

This information may be freely distributed in its entirety provided that this copyright notice is not removed. But, no part of it may be published on the internet, or offline, nor copied, reproduced, or altered, without the prior written permission of Graham Howard.

You can contact Graham Howard here:

Comments on the Howard Score

"The Howard Score enabled me to find the best instrument for a price I could afford"

Needed help to decipher which digital piano would best suit my needs. Used the Howard Score, kindly sent by Graham Howard of UK pianos, which enabled me to find the best instrument for a price I could afford. It is concise and informative. His website is full of useful information and reviews which I found most helpful.

Helen Steele

"I don't need to spend hours in the showroom trying pianos!"

Your chart gives me the opportunity to evaluate the sound quality.
And this is well worth while. I don't need to spend hours in the showroom trying pianos!


"Thank you for all the information you have painstakingly put together"

As a complete novice I really appreciate it.


"I don’t know how you keep up with all the different models"

Dear Graham,

Many thanks – this is really good stuff, although I don’t know how you keep up with all the different models ( and how does the Yamaha CGP 1000 fit in?)

One problem with Yamaha in particular is trying to compare the CLP and CVP and hybrid ranges, and you have addressed this quite well.

Many thanks for your efforts in informing us all, and I must come over and visit your shop.



"Howard Score is a priceless thing for everyone looking for a digital piano"

I am about to choose a digital piano for myself as have got all necessary information from Howard Score an Piano Bible. Read them carefully. Probably you will never and nowhere find anything similar to it for free and what is more important – in clear and understandable way.
Thank you for the great job.


"Ukpianos is perfect site for everybody who can not run around piano shops and try every piano available"

Hi Graham. This is what I intended to write:
Ukpianos is perfect site for everybody who can not run around piano shops and try every piano available for a given budget.
It helped me a lot to understand basic parameters and specifications of electronic pianos, to thing about what is important for me and what is not. It helped me to narrow the choice so that finally I had to personally  test about 3 models only.
The site will not choose for you. You must always make final decision. Sometimes it is even different from UKpianos recommendations. Choosing piano is very personal.
However, at least you make your decision very well informed.
I can fully recommend this site.


Thanks for your scoring of pianos. I am sure some will be upset that their favourite piano is not listed or poorly rated, and I hasten to add that I am not in that camp.


"The Howard Score made the whole process of choosing a piano at a distance without a showroom possible"

Coupled with the price, the Howard Score helped me whittle down my choices to a manageable number.
I then checked the sound of each instrument on Youtube.

The Howard Score made the whole process of choosing a piano at a distance without a showroom possible.
A useful tool in choosing a piano online.

Thank you Howard for spending the time and effort to put this list together.

Review by Louise Langhorn (16/06/2014)

I have been searching for a good second hand Clavinova for around 6 months but not being a player myself (piano is for my 3 kids) I was totally bamboozled by all of the technical jargon I kept coming across. I found Howard Piano Score on line whilst searching for advice.  A couple of clicks and e-mails after I first found the site I found myself reading a buyer’s guide which has helped me so much to better understand exactly what I want and need.  Saved myself from buying what would have been a really poor choice of piano because I had been taken in by the seller’s jargon.  Highly recommended reading for anyone looking to invest in a piano (and not wanting to pay a fortune for something which doesn’t meet your needs).

Steve Nally

"Graham's website provides masses of helpful information to guide you through the minefield of choosing a digital piano.  
I had nearly made my mind up, and then his HowardScore confirmed the choice. Many thanks for the help"

Sara Davies

Hello Graham,

thank you very much for the score.

I asked for it more out of interest, since I bought last Christmas the CVP 501. Choices here in Brasil are a little bit limited, but thanks a lot for your Piano guide. It helped a lot at that time!!!

Personally I played roughly 12 years piano on a traditional piano (Schimmel) but due to business issues I stopped for several years and returned playing this year on the digital.

I am quite happy with the instrument, though the speakers could be a little bit better. With my headphones, even though in no way High End, I get a much better sound.

Once again thank you very much for the guide and the score.

Best regards


Hi Graham,

I received the score and found it very useful, thank you very much.


Dear Graham,
I hate facebook so I'd like to tell you I am impressed with your commitment to your business and your excellent Howard score. I do intend to make the time to come to Enfield and try out a piano even though its a long trip from Somerset, (M25-ugh!)


Dear Mr Howard,

Thank you for sending me your score. It is indeed very useful in helping me in understanding different levels of quality in digital pianos. Your score, together with available info about piano prices, have really given a useful info in deciding my choice so that for a certain range of price I can get the best digital piano.

Many thanks and regards,


The Howard Score is invaluable when trying to make a decision about which digital piano is the best one for your circumstances. All the hard work has been done, and it allows you to pick two or three candidate pianos based on price, touch, etc., which you can then test out (and you do have to test them out, so that you are comfortable with the choices you have made).

For my price-range and general requirements, I used the Howard Score to short-list two pianos, a Roland and a Yamaha, and I finally ended up buying the Yamaha, mainly because the two were so closely alike that it finally came down to price, and the Yamaha was about £400 cheaper. Graham Howard is to be commended for all the work he has done with the Score, along with his Digital Piano Bible, which are both regularly updated.

Hope this is useful

Dale Samson

Short of time I only used your ranking list to get an understanding of the value of the incredibly many models I came across when searching the Internet and learned a lot only by that! Thanks a lot! I meant to read it all, but time just passes too quickly. But I got a piano and use some of my time playing on it. It is mainly for my daughter who started taking lessons 2 years ago, and she enjoys it a lot too! Plays much more often now. Found a very old model, CVP 92, by chance and bought it without reallly understanding how bad or good it would be. For being so old (and low priced), I must say I am very content. The only disturbance is the somewhat loud noise of the keys. But as a starter´s piano, it is great. Now I can afford a really good piano chair too 😉
Thanks again for your awesome impressing job with the guide!

thanks a lot for your amazing rating and guide it is so user friendly and allows to make a well balanced decision.


Hi Graham,

Thank you for the Howard Score information which has been really valuable when considering a digital piano. The ebook has been brilliant too in helping to get to grips with the various features and jargon used by the various manufacturers.


Your opinion in one sentence
Very good. A lot of information in ONE place!

As I'm going to buy a digital piano, I found all the information very useful.  The rating system is fast to read and easy to understand.



Thanks for the "score" but i not saw in the list the Roland HP 307, and i´d like to compare it with my Clavinova CLP 440.

Reply/ Hi Alexandre

The Roland HP307 has been replaced by the HP507.

You can see this here:

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Thanks a lot for the guide, it was really useful. And you were so right about NU1 vs CS9.

Greetings Howard:
Thank you for providing the comparative list of digital pianos to begin with, never mind radically updating it with transient information. It is better to look up prices at the time. If you put them into the document, they will be be obsolete in six months anyway. And it really does not matter if they are separated by brand. That would defeat the purpose of the comparison. If they were separate, the mind would have to judge the comparison by numbers alone, and we jelly brains (as opposed to the rock brains of computers) are not so good at that. The list is fine as it is.

I do wish the Kawai MP8 and MP8 II were there. Does the list only include pianos currently being manufactured? It think that is too restrictive, considering I bought mine as a store demo, and many are being traded second hand. I await your scoring of the MP6 and MP10.
Thanks for all your effort. Cheers,

Hey Graham,
I can tell you've and your team have put a lot of effort into this system, and I would like to say that it's a really big help to anyone considering getting a new keyboard. Great work!

I was being inquisitive in your scoring for the digital pianoes
and was pleased to see my cvp 509 scored quite highly.
Once again thank you


I found the Howard score on choosing a digital keyboard piano very helpful indeed.  Thanks to the way he has set out the different models available, I got  the keyboard that suited my playing and budget the best.


Hi Graham
Thanks for this very useful information.
What might be good is to put the list price of each piano against it. I checked the Yamaha N3 and at over £13k I'm not surprised it top scores, and I'm sure that adding the price would show that in the main you get what you pay for.
I have a CLP430 and am happy with it although I have become aware of its (and my!!) limitations, but then I'm not prepared to pay the extra money to change it for something better.

Reply/ Hi Peter

Thanks for your feedback.

I didn’t put the price because this is always changing.
And I wanted the Howard Score to be up-to-date.

The score will never change for those particular models.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Thanks very much, dear Graham for all your useful information and attachments. I've received the Howard Score

Rafael from Spain

howard score reviews

Hi Graham

This is sooooooo sad.  The piano stood on the pavement, all alone – having given pleasure for many, many years and still doing so to all the passers-by who had a curious wee tinkle on its ivories – knowing that its fate was imminent and it was coming to the end of its life.  Waiting, and waiting, until the hatchet men arrived and brutally tore it apart, destroying all its memories of giving so much pleasure – wiped out with a few brutal blows.  The accompanying music was very descriptive of the images.

So, in answer to your question, yes – it is possible to feel sorry for a piano!!

'Only just thought of possibly buying a digital piano, so clueless to start with.Therefore, the Howard Score is hugely helpful. It makes me aware of the big range of pianos out there and focuses on the two issues I felt most important, touch and quality of sound. Also it helps decide a price range and shows that more expensive doesn't always mean the best.
I'm now starting to look at digital pianos in the flesh and the Howard Score is very helpful in narrowing the field to make a decision on what's best for me.

Thanks Howard Score: I'm happy to say 5 out of 5 for a piece of very helpful, and free, advice.
Graham D. Fisher.

Howard's Score changes pre-conceived ideas
Howard's Scores revealed an unexpected "Best Buy", that made me investigate a brand further, check it out at the Enfield shop, and make a purchase that I think was much better informed.

Mark Harrison

Outstanding Advice
Graham Howard of UK Pianos is an outstanding fellow who puts in a lot of work just so that you can choose the right piano and not get burned. Without his advice I'd be playing on a regret right now. I am so thankful for his work and dedication and it is my hope that even though I am in the USA that I would purchase a DP from UK Pianos if they would ship it to me. I am choosing a DP based on Graham Howard's "Howard Score". It has been the most useful and helpful reference guide for comparison.
Joshua La Russa