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Digital Piano Buyer's Guide

 Free Digital Piano Buyer's Guide:

"7 Things You MUST Know Before Buying A    Digital Piano", by Graham Howard

 Click here to claim your free copy!


You get all this:

1) How to understand confusing terminology (Polyphony, graded hammer, etc.)
2) Common digital piano questions
3) The disadvantages of buying second hand versus new
4) 6 simple tests you can do in a piano store
5) The best digital piano brands: 1st) ? 2nd) ? 3rd) ?…

6) Top ten piano models: (a) under £500 (b) £500 to £1,000 (c) over £1000
7) Should you buy online or in a physical store?

Click here to claim your free copy!  














"Could you please tell me where are yamaha clp430/440 made from?"

Regards, Ann

Reply/ Hi Ann

The Yamaha CLP430 and CLP440 are made in Indonesia.

"Yamaha YDP161 not approved by the ABRSM?"

Hi Graham
We are  considering buying a digital piano for our 14yr old daughter. She is currently learning  the saxophone and would like to play the piano “for fun” and  isn’t interested in doing more  exams.  After doing some research and reading your excellent guide “7 things you must know before buying a digital piano”  we had decided on a Yamaha YDP161. The only question was what colour?  My wife and I visited our local music store to try and get see the various colours “in the flesh”.  However on talking to the salesman about our intentions he strongly advised against the YDP161 saying that that range was not approved by the ABRSM to learn piano on as the keyboard action was not close enough to that of an acoustic piano.  Instead he recommended a Roland FR110 or soon to be released FR120.  As neither my wife nor I play the piano we don’t know if we are being told the truth and that we would be wasting our money buying the YDP161 if at some time in the future our daughter decided to study for piano exams.
We went into the shop sure of the model we wanted – apart from the colour and came out totally confused.  Can you help?

Reply/ Hi Tom

It appears the shop is putting their profits
before the wants and needs of their customers…

The Yamaha YDP161 is in no way inferior to
the Roland F110 or F120.

The YDP161 would be ideal for your daughter
to learn and progress on (and have fun, of course).

I recommend it.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Resources: Read Reviews |  Which digital piano to buy

"Are all Yamaha CLP pianos made in Indonesia?"

Dear Graham,

Thank  you  very much for your digital piano book, it helped me a lot to find my way around in the world of digital pianos. I was thinking of buying CLP440 when
I came across a good deal on the old series model CLP370. There are just two things that bother me.

First, this model is made in Indonesia. Do you know whether all the CLP models are made there nowadays or it is possible to find japaneese-assembled ones?
And  second,  the  piano  sound  seems  a  bit  cold  to  me, not very expressive  which  surprises  me  after all the good reviews I've read about  it. 
Is it a general fault of digital pianos as compared to acoustic ones or I should check out some other models?

Thanks for your help,

Reply/ Hi Daria

All Yamaha Clavinova models (CLP and CVP)
are made in Indonesia.
But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The CLP370 has a superior sound to the
CLP440. It is the next model up in
Yamaha's Clavinova range.

If you can get a deal on the CLP370
then I confidently recommend you go
for it.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"Should I wait for the new Yamaha 400 series pianos?"

Dear Graham, I'm about to buy my first digital piano.

Having read Graham's book "7 thing …" I'd like to aim for quality and buy a
CLP-340 or 370 or even a 380. But I learned that the 300 series is now discontinued
and will be replaced by the 400 series.

In your opinion should I wait for the newer series ?

Thanks and regards,

Reply/ Hi Antoine

I would say "no"… the 400 series doesn't
offer any major improvements that are worth
waiting for….

And, the new series will be at least 10%
higher in price.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"I have budgeted around £1000 but was wondering which digital piano I should go for"

I have two daughters 6 and 10 and both have been learning the piano for a short time. I
want a DP for life and have also decided on Yamaha, however now I'm stuck and want to
know whether you would say the Yamaha YDP series or your top choice the CLP. I have
budgeted around £1.000 but was wondering which one I should go for. I think I'm choosing
between the below and would appreciate your view. I don't want to unnecessarily waste
money but want something that will do them until they leave home! IS GH3 lots better than
it's predecessor?

CLP 330, CLP320, or is it really worth stretching to the CLP 340 which gets better reviews
YDP 181, YDP 161

You guide was incredibly informative, thank you and as you say that you don't mind the
contact I've taken you up on your offer.

Kind Regards

Reply/ Hi Jane

If, as you say, you want a digital piano for
your daughters to learn and progress on, and
you don't want to have to upgrade it later,
then the choice would lie between the Yamaha
CLP pianos.

The YDP range doesn't have a heavy enough
key touch, a sensitive enough keyboard, or
a nice enough sound for the higher piano grades.

The Yamaha CLP320 is 'OK'. It has a good sound,
and a firm key touch. But the key weight is
a little on the light side.

The CLP330 would be better.

It's not really necessary to get the CLP340.
Although you do get an improvement in key
touch and sound, it's not a huge difference
to warrant spending the extra money.

My recommendation is to go for the CLP330.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"I need a budget piano for my kids"

Hi Graham

I am looking to buy a piano for my kids (Boy aged 9 and Girl aged 5) to
start learning on. They are both starting lessons at school and need
something at home to practice on. My budget is c £500 to £750 and I don’t
want to rent. I have done lots of research and spoken to several amateur
pianists and teachers. I am considering 3 options:

1.     A second hand upright acoustic piano. I have spoken to a local tuner
who also deals in and maintains these. My concern is that I will pay £700 or
so now (if I am lucky) and then probably £150 per year for a couple of
tunings. So over several years this will cost a fair bit of money. Also I
will need to pay to get it delivered and then I am limited as to where in
the house it can go (i.e. the front room downstairs)

2.     A Yamaha Arius YDP 140 – Chappell are doing an end of line one for c
£500. This looks good and ticks the boxes as far as the piano teacher is
concerned – as it has fully weighted keys and proper pedals. It is also
light enough for me to put upstairs in the kids playroom.

3.     A Yamaha DGX 640 with the attached pedal kit – Chappell are doing for
about £675 all in. This looks to have the same basic functions as the YDP
140 (inc fully weighted keys), but also has lots of other cool stuff
(different sounds, recording stuff, USB out etc)

I have pretty much ruled out option 1 now, due to the on-going cost, lack of
flexibility and worry of ownership.

I have considered getting a second hand electric piano, but looking on ebay,
there aren’t too many bargains around and I am worried that anything over 3
years old will have old technology (e.g. 32 polyphony) – and less
options/features. I work in IT and as a general rule I avoid buying anything
with a computer second hand.

I am probably leaning towards option 3, since it is more likely to keep the
kids interested and allow them to play and enjoy music more. But I have 2
concerns and would like your advice…

a.     At what stage/grade will the DGX 640 become a limiting factor in the
kids musical development?

b.    Will all the extra features/sounds add fun and enable creativity – or
are they more likely to be a distraction and encourage poor technique?

I would be very interested in your opinion.



Reply/ Hi Chris

If you're intending to keep the cost down as much
as possible, then the YDP140 would be a good option.

The Yamaha DGX640 is classed as a keyboard, not
a digital piano. Although it has the same touch
as the YDP140, it's loaded with gadgets. And, as
you've pointed out, will certainly distract your
children from learning. Its sound is also inferior
to the YDP140.

Your pianistically

Graham Howard

"Do you have a clear guide to the various Yamaha ranges as well as the models within each range?"

Hello Graham

I am inclined towards a Yamaha model, but am a bit confused about all their various model ranges: I can understand that within a range there is a steady progression to higher quality (some of which is superfluous), but what are the distinguishing characteristics of each range; what particular user is each range aiming to satisfy.

So, if you have a clear guide to the various Yamaha ranges as well as the models within each range, that would be helpful. Including your views on quality.

Kind regards,


Reply/ Hi Kevan

The closest to an acoustic piano in terms of
sound and feel is the Yamaha CLP range.

That's CLP320, CLP330, CLP340, CLP370, CLP380,
CLP-S406, and CLP-S408.

The CVP range offers hundreds of instrumental
sound, rhythms and effects. But the piano sound
and feel of the keys is less realistic than
the CLP range. The exceptions to the this
are the top two models (CVP509 and CVP505).

Another range is the portable pianos. These
are much less realistic both in sound and
touch authenticity.

Then you have the DGX range. Theses are
multi-functional, but have small speakers.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"Can a 5 year old boy feel the difference between digital and acoustic?"

Hello Graham,

Very appreciate this follow-up email. I am reading your book, very
informative and thougtful. Many thanks for your efforts.

I am still struggling to compare the acoustic piano with Yamaha CLP 340. I
tried myself, I couldn't distinguish the difference.  I have a 5 year old
boy. He is very keen into music and playing piano. Lots of comments on the
internet seems vote against digital piano. I guess I need to compare Yamaha
U1 and CLP340 said by said to make a final decision. I am just wondering
whether a 5 year old boy can feel the difference, if not now, when we need
to invest to buy a acoustic one, whether he will have difficult to transfer
from a digital piano to a acoustic one after, let's say, 5 years.

Thanks again for your amazing work and looking forward to your insight.



Reply/ Hi Zhao

The Yamaha CLP340 is a fine piano. One of the
best you can buy. But the sound is not as good
as a real piano.

Digital pianos can never offer the same, vibrant,
sound as a real, acoustic piano.

If you're buying a piano for your 5 year old son
then I recommend going for something a bit simpler,
and cheaper, than the CLP340.

A beginner wouldn't notice much difference between
a top of the range digital piano and basic one.
So spending less initially could save you a lot
of money if he doesn't continue with piano lessons.

For your son to progress well you would need to
get him a piano that has a fully-weighted touch,
88 touch sensitive keys, and a good sound. These
are the two most important things.

Have a look at the following pianos:

Classenti CDP1
Kawai CN23
Yamaha CLP330

Yours pianistically

Graham Howard

"The Yamaha YDP181 didn't make your 'top eleven' list"

Hello Graham,

I'd like to start off by thanking you for providing the public with a digital piano buying guide that attempts to objectively advise potential consumers. It's helpful and refreshing. I'm also very appreciative to your open offer of giving personal advice to anyone that contacts you.That said, I am a former piano student of 10 years. I stopped playing after going to University, but have decided to start up again now that I've graduated. For several reasons, I've decided to purchase a digital piano over an acoustic one.

I've read over your article "7 Things You MUST Know Before You Buy A Digital Piano" and have narrowed my choices down to a flexible three:
Yamaha YDP 141, Yamaha YDP 181, Yamaha YDP 161, Yamaha CLP 320.

I see you recommend the CLP 320 over the others, the 161 over the 141, and the 181 didn't even make your "top eleven" list. Please, could you give me some more detailed rationale for your placing them in the order that you have? I'd like to get a better idea of which one I should purchase. Also, is the CLP 320 really worth the extra money? I've called a local place and they quote retail at around $2200 (but say they'll sell if for less, though it's unclear how much less). By contrast, the 161 is only $1350 and the 181 only $1600.

Again, I'm very thankful for your time

Reply/ Hi Fritz

My 'top eleven' list for pianos priced between
£500 and £1,000 takes the following points into

Touch, sound, design, build quality, reliability
and value for money gets to be top of that list.

The Yamaha CLP320 scores the best overall mark.
So it's listed 1st.

The YDP181 doesn't make the list because it has
a low 'value for money' score compared to others
on the list.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

"Does the YDP141 have extra voices?"

I am looking for digital piano in the under £750 price range
and am pretty much sold on Yamaha for its reputation and quality.

The YDP141 catches my eye but I would like an instrument that
includes other voices, such as organs, strings, vibes etc.

Does the YDP 141 do this, and if not, what would you recommend? 

Thanks JH.

Reply/ Hi

The Yamaha YDP141 is a very basic piano…

Its key touch is not heavy enough to resemble
the feel of an upright or grand piano.

The speakers on the YDP141 are also very small
(only 2 x 6 watts). This results in a thin,
tinny sound.

Something from the Yamaha Clavinova range –
(CLP320, CLP330, CLP340) would get you a piano
that has a heavier weighted, and more realistic
piano touch. The Clavinovas also have a much
fuller, more vibrant piano sound.

If your budget doesn't stretch to a Yamaha
Clavinova then the next best thing is the
Classenti CDP1

With the CDP1 you get a clean, resonant piano
sound. This is because of the superior sound
sampling, the large speakers (2 x 15 watts),
and the position of these speakers.

But the most important aspect of the Classenti
CDP1 is the heavy-weighted touch…

It feels very close to playing a real piano.
And the 4 levels of touch sensitivity allow
you to play over a wide range of dynamics.

The YDP141, CLP320, and CDP1 all have the
organ, strings and vibes voices.

To summarize: The Yamaha CLP320 would be
the best piano for you, with the Classenti CDP1
coming a close second.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard


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