I wanted to tell you how helpful your digital piano guide has been!
I am a piano teacher endlessly frustrated by having to teach children who have keyboards and cheap digitals, or even worse, I have to teach on a digital! Thanks to your info I can now put into words why it feels so different, and why my peoples ‘magically’ change when they FINALLY get a real piano or a decent digital (although really bright, heavy yamahas dont seem great for kids either). Im very much a ‘feeling’ pianist, more so than sound even, and I am always amazed how many teachers are happy to work with digitals that just dont really do the job!
I am running adult piano courses in London now, and whilst I have gone down the dreaded keyboard/digital route to get started, I cant wait to have a room full of good digital pianos – and thanks to your info I’ll know where to start!
Liz Ingate, Piano Teacher in London
The guide to the digital piano really helped me in my choice through the jungle of
web informations and forum, being myself completely ignorant about digital pianos.
I found the score system brilliant especially when updated with the piano prices.
If I lived in the UK I would have definitely bought my piano at UK piano shop.
Thanks for forwarding another copy of your publication. More than fifty years ago I stopped having piano lessons and haven’t really played since. Although I play guitar, the piano has always been my favourite instrument and, now I am moving house, I intend to buy a digital piano ( and take lessons again ). Your bible is so useful. And so comprehensive ! Although I have only skimmed it, I know it will inform my choice of instrument. Many thanks, Andrew Craig
Graham Howard’s free booklet on digital pianos was extremely helpful when I was looking to buy a new digital piano. Thanks for all your help!
Your guide to buying pianos was very good – it all made sense at last!
I have just ready your fantastic book on electric pianos, thank you! There is so much jargon, and it is really helpful to have some impartial advice on this!
I used your guide and found a used Clavinova CVP 103 for 200 pounds. Your guide was instrumental for helping us choosing the piano. We used your 6-step guide to make sure the instrument was right for us.
We have not played the piano since middle school and we are hoping this would be a starter piano for us to “regain” some of our earlier skills. The following the light feature would be useful for us to quickly learn some new tunes, hence we picked a CVP. We plan to upgrade to a better piano in a few years.
Best, Lin Wu
Questions and Comments
I have found your book very helpful and have a few questions. My situation is that I bought a Technics digital piano about 15 years ago with the aim of resurrecting my piano technique that had been neglected for some years. That has worked well and I am pleased with my improvement. I feel that the technology has moved on, though, and that it is time to look for a better piano sound. I have a budget of up to about £2000.
I have tried out instruments by Yamaha, Roland and Kawai and am waiting for Chappell’s to get the CLP 430, 440 and 470 into the showroom so that I can compare them. On experience so far I am tending towards Yamaha.
My first question is about whether it is possible to find an instrument that gives good quality piano sound without all the extra “stops”. All I want is the piano quality, nothing else. In the section of your book about the negatives of buying an expensive instrument you note that cost can be driven by the extras. Not unexpectedly, sales staff in shops say that the better piano quality comes with the instruments that have the extras. Do you know of any models that have the piano quality (touch and sound) of, eg, CLP 470 without the extras?
My second question is about your ranking of the Yamaha instruments. In your top 10 list starting on page 47, you put the CLP 430, 440 and 470 in descending order at the top. In your top 20 over £1000 (page 56), though, you rank the 470 above the 440 at 5th and 6th places respectively, with the 430 coming lower down in 14th place, behind some Kawais, a Roland and a Classenti. Can you explain this difference, please?
Reply/ Hi Chris
The top ten list on page 47 takes into consideration resale value,
popularity and value for money.
The other list is a result purely on performance.
There aren’t any pianos that are as good as the CLP470 that
have less features.
At a time being I subscribed to your digital piano guide in order to get more thorough info, as I plan to purchase one for my son. And, it was an invaluable tour for which I sincerely thank you so much.
Besides that, the offers at UK Pianos are sometimes very attractive, but, unfortunately, I dont live even close to England, and shipping costs will always overcame any savings.
Anyway, I use this opportunity to send you my full respect and support for your nice and enthusiastic work, and send you my best regards from Belgrade (Serbia).
Yours sincerely, Srdjan
I found your book very helpful and informative.
My wife and I have already popped into the local music shop to have a look at some models there.
Having read your guide, it was interesting to see that after demonstrating a Yamaha YDP model, the salesman then moved quickly on to some Kawai models and then quite heavily pushed them.
We intend to go back and ask to try out some of the other makes. A piano playing friend has a Clavinova, so I think I might have a leaning towards the CLP series.
Anyway, excuse my waffle and thanks again for your book
In your model comparison you rate the Yamaha YDP-141 higher than the YDP-161. I find that somewhat odd since the 141 only has 2×6 Watts output power. In to the guide you state that this is too low, which I also found when trying it in a store.
Reply/ Hi Niclas
The YDP161 is a better piano, but the
YDP141 is better value for money.
The YDP141 also has a better resale
value and is more popular.
These are the reasons it rates higher.
Many thanks for the Digital Piano guide, I found it very helpful, and well laid out, especially the list of top ones in each price bracket.
My only comment might be that your preference tends to be towards Yamaha, and when I tried these in a local shop I found the keys just a little too springy, however when I tried the Kawai it just felt much better (to me anyway)
I’ve been going through your book and I find it very helpful. Thank your for putting in the effort. A couple of remarks:
1) You mention KAWAI being agressively marketed by salespeople out of self-interest. Why is that? Does KAWAI pay (higher) Kickbacks on Sales? Generally I feel you give Kawai a bit of a hard time (a bit!). The MP-10 for example is by any account one of the best dpianos out there at the moment and while it doesn’t cost more than many other higher-end products, it’s highly customizable to use a midi controller. That’s a big issue for me when I’m spending that kind of money (see (3) below).
2) I find the “Brand Ranking” not very useful, since some brands cover a wide range of products. It’s unfair to put e.g. Roland, which in the DP realm has only mid- to high-end products, up next to Casio, which covers the full range. The “Product Ranking” is fair enough, but the ‘scoreboard’ is only as good as the facts behind it. I find a short writeup would be more useful than just listing that piano x has a . Especially since much of the list consists of Yamaha pianos, it’s not entirely clear how ‘separate’ these products are. E.g. they all use the same sound engine and sometimes the same keybed, it’s hardly worth putting them on separate positions. Similarly, rating resell value on the same scale as, say, touch, completely misses the point. Good touch IMO is crucial, resell value is not. But in your scale it bears the same weight (a piano with bad touch but high resell value is an over-hyped product to avoid, but it will score the same as what would be an insider’s gem with reversed values).
3) Finally, while I realize that it’s geared towards strict piano purchases, I would have liked to read more about ‘expandability’, e.g. using the piano as a midi controller. For example, while I too like certain Yamaha Pianos a lot as pianos, I find them very weak on the midi side. If I want to use them as a midi controller too, they are very limited. Many manufacturers don’t even offer the full suite of piano pedals, much less allow assigning them to other midi funtions. This may not be a bog deal for a hardcore classivcal pianist, but a large number of potential buyers want to know, how much of the best of both worlds they can have.
Maybe an intro that explains the crossroads of “do I want a strict piano or do I want to be able to do other things with it too?” would be helpful. In the “I want to be able to do other things too”-realm, there is not nearly as much selection, IMO. It pretty much boils down to Kawai and Roland, but that flexibility, to me, as I mentioned, is a huge selling point, and I know I’m not alone. There meanwhile also are enough products out there that one no longer must accept that it simply can’t be done and you should get a synth workstation if you need a synth workstation.
Anyway, just a few thoughts…
“I suggust each one who is looking for a digital piano MUST read this book!”
I have never any ideas about digital piano until i read ‘7things you must know about digital piano’ written by Graham! Which helps me amazingly! I suggust each one who is looking for a digital piano MUST read this book!
Graham tells me that choosing a digital piano is a very serious step, if we are young kid who are just about to take the beginners class, a good digital piano which will be easily transfer to an anoustic one (that is our final purpose, isn’t it!) is more than important if the digital piano’s key is too light, when we transfer to an anoustic one, we will never get acostomed to the touching feel, and if the digital piano has not a sentitive danamic changes of the volumne of each key, the music will never have mood, which a pianist should care most about Graham tells me everything about how to choose a digital piano with his book and his advice emails for me.
send him email and ask him all the questions about piano before you choose one!! it is a really really serious decision to buy a digital piano!
Thanks very much Graham
Yasong Cong, Canada
“I was pleased the chosen model came well up on your list!”
I read your “book” between ordering the piano and getting delivery and I
agreed with all I read. I was pleased the chosen model came well up on
your list! I would add to your list of things to test: play some of the
demo pieces. They are better than my standard and I can stand back,
giving quite a different sound.
“I read your book and am glad I did. I nearly rushed
into an ‘opportunity’ which you have helped me resist”
Thank you for your most useful guide. After a lifetime playing guitar I am now learning to play piano, primarily on a Yamaha PSR E403, which you will doubtless know has only 5 octaves. I also have a piano, but don’t use it too often to save my wife from the torment of my practicing (I use headphones with the Yamaha). I got your guide because a Kawai slim digital piano was advertised locally, and as my playing is improving (very slowly!) I felt it was worth having a look. Before I rang, though, I read your book and am glad I did.
I asked the vendor for the model number – L1 – and she said it was about 6 years old. Failed on your criteria of age. I told her I would research the model on the internet and get back to her. I found a comment from you on one of the sites essentially saying “don’t bother”, and having seen the spec and with the knowledge from your book, I rang her back and said no thanks. I think she will be very lucky to get the £600 she is asking!
Thanks again. I’m not rushing into buying yet, (though I’m sure your advice would be to get something with proper weighted keys) it was just an opportunity which you have helped me resist.
“The top notes on the Yamaha were without any tonal sound”
I have read your “7 Things you must do……etc……..” but one thing I could not find any reference to was “note power” on the top half- dozen notes. yesterday, I tried a Clavinova CLP 470 at a local large piano dealer in Bolton. The top notes were without any tonal sound, – more like striking wood with another piece of wood. Have I missed a reference to this in your guide? If so, where is it mentioned? I also tried their CLP 480 and that was the same.
As I wish to purchase a piano with all the notes as they are on an accoustic piano, could you give me some guidance as to which make and model does have a full complement of notes (88). I only play for my own amusement, and am way past “grade 8” playing many pieces that need the “top C”. I have played the piano since the age of 5, all my life, and am now retired. I wish to be able to “play in silence”, but it is no good if some of the notes are “missing”.
Any help you could offer would be welcome,
Thanks in advance,
Reply/ Hi Geoffrey
Yes, this is a problem with all digital pianos.
The problem stems from the sampling of the notes
on an acoustic piano.
The last few notes on an acoustic piano are never pure.
This is because the strings are so short. Short strings
create a lot of falseness. It isn’t as noticeable in an
acoustic piano as it is in a digital.
If I were producing a digital piano then lengthening
the decay and increasing the volume of the last few
notes would help reduce this problem.
“Your explanations were easily understood”
Hi Graham, good morning from Madrid,
Just a few lines to let you know how much my children and I enjoy our new Arius 161. You were right in so many ways, your guide book on how to buy a digital piano is a must for all world buyers.
Your explanations were easily understood, you make things easier. AND know with this Learn to Read Music I must say the same. Thank you, thank you once again.
Have a great pianistically day!
P.S. I’m forwarding your emails to my office, they’re my reading “paper” for my lunch time.
“It’s great you put so much effort into helping people avoid making mistakes”
Thanks Graham for this follow up note. I’m working my way through your text and trying out a few things in shops as you have suggested. The truth is I’m still working on my “project” purchasing a piano and I’m finding your experience very helpful.
I think it’s great you are prepared to put so much effort into helping people avoid making mistakes.
“Overall, a superb article and definitely worthwhile downloading”
Thank you for “7 Things you MUST know Before Buying a Digital Piano”. I found it immensely helpful. Interestingly, I was already thinking of a Yamaha CLP430 or Roland HP503, before reading your article. The article confirmed my choices. I had done quite a lot of research on various websites and these two seemed likely to give me what I wanted, together with a degree of quality sound, for the amount I wished to spend.
My four criteria (apart from obvious requirements) were: transposition, organ, USB port and headphones jack.
A store in Sydney (I live in Australia) had Roland pianos but not the HP503. My local store, Macron Music, at Tuggerah, had a Yamaha CLP430 on the floor and I was happy with it when I played it. It was even in the finish I wanted. I also got a good deal so I decided to buy that one.
I am very pleased with it so far (only had it about three weeks), except I am a little disappointed in the ‘strings’ sound. Also, the ‘organ’ seems to lose the bass sound somewhat. However, maybe I need to fiddle with settings some more, as I haven’t had a lot of time to play (no pun intended!) around with it.
The spec. says Preset Number of Voices 14 (Voice Demo), 50 (Piano). I took this to mean a large range of voices. However, the CLP430 only seems to have the 14, so obviously I misunderstood – I still don’t know what that meant!
Your article also clarified the terminology and the breakdown of which models have which features was most welcome. The six tests to do in store was good to know as well. The only other thing I can suggest is that maybe you consider including a side by side comparison of features in similar models between brands. Even though playing various instruments can help make the final decision, easy comparisons can assist with elimination.
Overall, a superb article and definitely worthwhile downloading. Thank you so much, Graham, for the trouble you’ve taken to compile it and keep it up to date.
“Without your comments I could spend a year for the proper choice”
Mr Howard, I truly feel sad for that piano and can not figure out how one can do this. It was obvious that one would take it…
By the way, I’m indebted for your valuable advices and comments.
I live in Istanbul, and purchased my piano from a local dialer. I can safely say that, without your comments I could spend a year
for the proper choice. Your sincerely…
A fine resource.piano bought and happy with it!
..thanks for sharing
I have been following and reading your reviews and online books and tips constantly. You most certainly have given me a great morale boost about which pianos to choose from, which to discard immediately and what to look for. Thank you!
I’ve just finished reading your book and have found it very comprehensive and a pleasure to read.
Among all the advices, discussion, forums, personal opinions, professional advices etc. I found the most comprehensive and useful information and advice is the one from Mr. Howard. It was interesting to purchase my digital piano finally following the advices from Mr. Howard, after spending almost a year to understand that what a piano really is. Mr. Howard absolutely saves your time, thanks to him…
Many thanks for the download of your digital piano bible. A masterpiece of research by a true authority on the subject.
I have been following and reading your reviews and online books and tips constantly. You most certainly have given me a great morale boost about which pianos to choose from, which to discard immediately and what to look for. Thank you!
With many thanks for your expertise; your book has been an extraordinary help to me.
Very best regards
Many thanks for all the advice in your booklet – very kind that it’s free.
The facility via UKPianos to get a reasonably objective assessment of these instruments is very useful. Graham Howard has clearly gone to considerable effort to produce his general analysis and is also willing to comment on specific machines. Clearly the purchaser still has to make up their own mind since they will have their own additional ideas on what is important to them (in my case eg portability was a critical factor). Also the impression I get is that Graham is assessing the instruments as a pianist as opposed to a keyboard player and this will no doubt have an effect of his views.
I found your book to be very helpful. Thank you.
The digital piano guide is very comprehensive and is most useful, just the type of advice I needed. I would recommend it to any one who intends purchasing a digital piano.
With my sincere regards,
Thank you so much for your guide.
The things are explained so well
Ian Cottofan (04/09/2014)
Thank you very much for your help! Your work is really of great value to anyone who considers buying a piano, no matter a digital or an acoustic one. I have learned a lot from you. Thank you!
Thank you very much for allowing me to have a copy of your book. it was very enlightening and provived me with useful information.
It was extremely helpful. I live in USA and we just used your bible to make a purchase.
Thank you very much.
The information contained in your guide is IMPRESSIVE. I first read the sections I thought were more relevant to me, but then I realised the entire guide was a must for any beginner. So much I liked it than it was the first thing I recommend to a friend in same situation.
VERY WELL DONE TO YOU.
Brilliant, no-nonsense invaluable advice.
Text: I was almost at the stage of abandoning the idea of getting a digital piano because I was bamboozled by the choice and didn’t feel confident to ask the right questions or know what to look for. I now do, thanks to Graham. It’s not a small purchase, though, and I think it’s like choosing a life partner (!), so unfortunately other pressing family commitments mean I haven’t got one yet … but I know when I do go for it, I will make the right choice for me and my circumstances. This is Graham’s strongest advantage, perhaps, ie that he gives you all the info and you can choose according to our own needs and preferences. First class so far….
Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your amazing work of compiling the Digital Piano Guide! I am a complete novice in the world of digital pianos so the guide was really helpful and explained in simple language the necessary criteria.
Thank you for all info, Howard. Outstanding!
We live in Dubai and will have to look for a Claviano down here, as the shipping cost from your shop will probably be quite high.
Hi Graham and many thanks for all your research and helpful comments.
I found your guide particularly useful in giving me a vocabulary with which I could articulate what I knew I was looking for in a digital piano and have recommended your guide to others. I ended up not needing to use it descriptively (but kept your checklist in mind) as I was able to go and see/play a second hand one, very little used and in excellent condition.
I’m extremely happy with the Yamaha Clavinova CVP 301 I purchased.
With thanks and best wishes
Digital Bible Review
I have been playing stage pianos in bands for the best part of 10 years and I was confident that my understanding of the piano was comprehensive enough to ensure that when I moved into my new home, I would have the bases covered in purchasing a digital piano to reside in the larger space available. I decided to visit UK Pianos website to research my purchase further….
It is no underestimation to say that upon downloading Graham’s Digital Bible I was rendered awestruck by the incredibly detailed information and just how many numerous gaps in my knowledge there were! It was a delight to learn in such a precise way from Graham’s guide about the relevance of factors I hadn’t considered, such as dynamic levels, graded hammer systems and escapement actions. In equal measure I was made aware of beneficial technical enhancements to aid my playing whilst also having the satisfaction of other superfluous technical jargon, dispelled as myths with such aplomb!
I purchased a Roland HP508 and I am thrilled with it! Downloading this guide has saved me a whole lot of time and money. Thank you UK Pianos!
Your digital piano bible is an invaluable document, which would have taken me hours if not days trawling the internet for all the information included. Thanks!
Thanks for the free guide! It was very helpful, and might just have saved me from wasting hundreds of pounds on an ancient dud on Ebay.
Thanks for the piano bible and for the music course. I found them very useful and and helpful.
Thanks for doing a great job!
thank you for putting the time into writing it also your web page is very informative
with a wealth of items all set to tempt anyone wishing to buy a piano.
Although I could not use your service due to my loacation in Vietnam I highly appreciate your digital piano knowledge sharing. Thanks to your ebook I chose a good piano.
I eventuallly purchased a piano in January (Casio PX-350), thank you for your emails & also your piano buying advice which I
downloaded & perused for many months prior to making my decision to purchase.
Your Guides were most interesting & were of assistance.
Thank you again.
The digital piano bible has been extremely enlightening. I’m a novice when it comes to these pianos so it has really given me ‘food for thought’. It’s not often nowadays someone is so willing to give their time and expertise for free.
Good Morning Graham.
Thank you for the digital piano bible which I found to be very useful and should be read by all contemplating a digital piano purchase.
I have found your Digital Piano Bible comprehensive, reader friendly and immensely helpful. It has also raised some recommendations which will advise me when purchasing the instrument. Thank you for making your insight and expertise readily available.
thanks for your digital piano guide. it took me a long to time decide whether to buy acoustic or digital piano and once i decided on digital i then had the mammoth task of deciding WHICH digital piano would be best for me! your guide was a God-send and i thank you very much. i have purchased the Yamaha Clavinova and i love it! thanks!
what you are doing for people who want buy a piano is fantastic. I didn’t find so many practical information nowhere and written in very easy way. Thank you for all. If my kids will want to play piano in the future, with all certainty I will look for advice at UKPIANOS.
I wish i could buy from you, but I live in Iran.
You’ve helped me so much and I appreciate it.
Thank you very much.
About your book, It is fantastic and unique, I found it very useful. It helps me to learn a lot of things about digital piano.
Very helpful, thanks; it saves a lot of time in collecting and comparing data, also keeping up with advances in technology in the capabilities of digital pianos.
Thanks so much for the email and digital piano guide.
From my first brief glance of the guide, it has everything I could hope or wish for.
Thanks for your pianistic passion and for pulling this all together in one place – simply amazing !
I found your digital piano bible very helpful indeed. I particularly liked the point you made about the minimum levels of dynamics that you would recommend. This was really useful advise. The areas I did not quite agree was the escapement and touch sensitivity.
Escapement may not be useful if you only play on digital pianos. In grade exams or concerts, however, you are likely to play on a grand piano. There you will encounter escapement which may really throw you if you are not used to it. So it can be beneficial if some digital pianos have this feature.
Similarly the touch sensitivity. One of the most difficult things to overcome in my piano exams was the different sensitivity of the keys on the exam instrument. If we were lucky we could get one or two lessons on the exam piano but not more. So if you can set your digital piano to approximately match the touch sensitivity of the exam piano that’s a great bonus.
It looks to me that music students who are preparing for grade exams or study the classical piano are better of with digital pianos that have these features.
In my case, I have a traditional piano but would like to be able to practice using a headset so that I don’t get on my neighbours (and my husbands) nerves. While I was first looking at a Casio piano I’m now more inclined to go for Yamaha. The next step is to try a few.
Dear Graham Howard
Thank you for your “Digital Piano Bible”. It’s truly a great buyer’s guide for people like me (Absolute beginner!) wanting to buy a digital piano and yet not knowing what to look out for and which one to buy. And the more I look up the Internet for tips on buying a digital piano, the more confused and frustrated I become. But not until I came across your invaluable guide by chance! It’s as if I finally saw light at the end of the tunnel of jargon (used by pianists and salespersons). Now I can confidently walk into a piano store or roadshow and at least know what to look out and/or ask relevant questions. Best of all, I would imagine the salesperson will take me more seriously!
Thank you again for your wonderful guide, and your amazing grace in providing it all for free!