a first piano for the home

Posted by: amyha

a first piano for the home - 12/07/04 03:22 PM

I'm a (pianoless) mother of a 2+ year old, wondering what kind of piano to rent/buy for our home (a second-floor walk-up apartment). I remember being my daughter's age and waiting with anticipation to the time when I could reach the keys of our old upright acoustic. I feel it's important to expose her to the instrument and to my modest playing. I like what I hear about digital pianos 1) staying in tune and 2) being portable (we live in a rental and may some day buy a place). Can you recommend a brand/make of digital piano, and do you recommend renting one? What are the must-have accessories for me, and for her?
Posted by: Lilla

Re: a first piano for the home - 12/09/04 11:50 AM

Thank you for your interest in exploring the acquisition of a keyboard. It's an important step and you deserve due credit for giving it careful consideration.

If at all possible, purchase. When you rent, you are usually renting an instrument set aside by the store manager to be used exclusively for rentals. It may or may not be in as good of condition as you would desire. If renting with option to buy, you are basically purchasing a used instrument without due consideration as to your needs, quality of the instrument, or personal likes or dislikes.

There are many fine pianists who own and play on digitals. They fit certain needs and will be satisfactory in many cases however, just for the record; an acoustic piano is a piano. A digital "piano" is a keyboard. It can come close to looking like a piano, sounding like a piano, and feeling like a piano. But, it is not a piano. There are definite differences in touch, feel, and sound.

If the decision has been made that a digital piano is for you, you will want to find a good quality instrument, most closely resembling a piano touch. A digital does have some advantages over an acoustic piano. It does not require tuning. It can be operated in conjunction with a computer. It can be amplified. Better quality recordings can be produced from a digital. You can experiment with optional electronic sounds. It is easier to transport. You can play with headphones to avoid bothering others.

When shopping for a digital piano, keep in mind that you pretty much get what you pay for. A decent starter keyboard will cost anywhere from $500 to $2000+. (You can pick up a good used acoustic for the same price, just for the record.)

You will need to consider the following items to complete your keyboard: a stand, speakers (internal/external), headphones, a bench or seat, computer connections, pedals, covers, etc. These items sometimes are included, sometimes are purchased as extras, and sometimes have to be added separately (along with the connecting cords). Shop around. Ask lots of questions and be sure you discuss your current and future needs with the sales personnel

Particularly take a look at Yamaha, Roland, Casio, or Kawai, which are the most often recommended choices. You will find much discussion as to preferences and experience with digital pianos. For example, most people believe Yamaha has better sound and action than Casio. However, Casio is good choice if you’re looking for something inexpensive and temporary. You can find the specifications and general information for all these keyboards online. You will need to explore the different voicing and sounds of the various digital keyboards, along with all the options, to determine your own preferences. To get you started, the following would be good choices for comparison:

Yamaha P120 is a great digital piano for the money. Also, Yamaha P60 or P90. You could also look at Yamaha PF500 if you’re willing to spend a bit more.
Roland FP-5 is a good starter choice, as are FP2 and FP3.
Casio PX100, Casio Privia PX400, or Casio AP31 are good inexpensive choices.
Kawai ES3 or ES5 will also work.
A Clavichord might be an option for you as well. Be sure to check it out before making your final decision.

Of course, the possible recommendations are endless. You can also consider Korg, Kurzweil, and others. Good luck, and let us know what your final choice is. Happy playing!

Lilla Carlisle

[ 12-15-2004: Message edited by: Lilla ]