If you've been looking into learning the piano, you'll undoubtedly come across this question; is a digital piano good for beginners? While there are certainly compelling arguments on both sides, we fully believe that going digital is a perfectly valid way to go - in fact, it may be your best option.
Don't get us wrong, we adore acoustic pianos here at MusicRadar. These handcrafted instruments tend to take pride of place in whatever room they're in and deliver a feel and sound that's second to none. That said, we're living in modern times, with digital technology never being so advanced. The truth of the matter is these contemporary instruments simply bring more to the table for the budding pianist.
Today we're going to break down all the benefits of buying a beginner digital piano over that of the acoustic variety, as well as give you a few of our top choices to consider.
The first and most obvious reason to opt for a digital piano is the price. The market is awash with affordable instruments nowadays - as you can see from our guide to the best digital pianos under $1,000/£1,000 - meaning you can get a quality piano for far less than you might expect.
All the top brands, from Yamaha and Roland to Casio and Kawai, offer budget, beginner-friendly pianos that won't break the bank - making them a brilliant option for newbies who may not wish to invest a lot of money upfront.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that digital pianos are often smaller in size and take up way less room than traditional acoustic pianos - meaning they're a great option for beginners who have limited space in their homes.
Since these contemporary digital pianos don't need to enclose the bulky mechanisms that allow a conventional piano to produce a sound, they can be shrunken down to a fraction of the size, all while retaining the standard 88 keys.
Digital pianos come in various shapes and sizes with something to fit all styles and spaces. You can find digital alternatives for grand and upright pianos, as well as slimline options and stage pianos, which may look like keyboards but perform like a traditional piano.
As you can imagine, acoustic pianos are rather heavy creatures. Therefore, they aren't exactly portable - unless you're up for hiring a team of movers every time you have a lesson or you want to jam with friends.
On the other hand, digital pianos, and more specifically stage pianos, are specially designed to be as lightweight and mobile as possible. This makes them easy to move from room to room, take to lessons or school, or carry to gigs when you're ready for the big stage.
4. No maintenance
One of the biggest drawbacks of the acoustic piano is the ongoing maintenance costs. These pianos require regular tuning and servicing to ensure they always sound their best.
Luckily, a digital piano doesn't need any upkeep at all - well, you could give it a dust every once in a while. This means it's a far easier instrument to look after, with no hidden costs to think about.
If you've ever played a conventional piano, you'll know how loud they can be - and unfortunately, you can't exactly turn down the volume!
That's why we'd always recommend a digital piano for home practice. Not only do these instruments have a designated volume control, but they also have a headphone jack, allowing the user to practice in silence. This means you'll save your housemates, family and neighbours from hearing you fumble your way through Für Elise yet again.
6. More sounds
If you purchase an acoustic piano you get one sound - acoustic piano. Most of the time that's exactly what you need, but sometimes you'll want to experiment and play with different tones - and even different instruments.
Fortunately, digital pianos come loaded with an array of sounds and voices, such as various pianos, organs, strings, and even synthesizers. This is a great opportunity for players old and new to explore fresh tones and genres - ultimately making the piano more fun and engaging.
7. Extra features
We can't discuss the topic of digital pianos and not mention the wealth of features they give new players access to. Whether it's the ability to record and playback performances - a great way to track progress - or a built-in metronome, digital pianos are tooled up to aid beginners in developing everything from their chord shapes to timing, rhythm skills and beyond.
Better yet, many digital pianos on the market come with Bluetooth capabilities, meaning they can link up to apps for use with the best online piano lessons or even for streaming audio to play along with your favourite songs.
Our digital piano recommendations
If we could only recommend one digital piano, it would have to be the unit that tops our list of the best digital pianos - the Yamaha CLP-775. This magnificent piano by the Japanese instrument giant more than delivers on all fronts. It has the look, feel and sound we love, and better yet, it's incredibly well-built. You can't go wrong with this piano.
If the bulky nature of the Yamaha CLP-775 isn't for you, then Yamaha's Arius YDP-145 may be the next best option. Despite being considerably less expensive than the Clavinova, it still oozes Yamaha class with great playability, tone and style.
If the high price tag of a Yamaha pushes them well out of budget, the Casio AP-270 is a brilliant budget alternative. This entry-level digital piano certainly punches above its weight, and in our tests, we found that it offered outstanding sound quality for its wallet-friendly price.
If you are looking for a space-saving, portable option, then again, we'd stick to Casio. The stellar Casio PX-S1100 has an innovative design, ultra-slim profile and superb sound - what more do you need?