It seems like the piano has seen quite the resurgence in recent years, with more and more people gravitating towards its rich, complex, bell-like tone and grand level of expression. In days gone by, the piano was seen by many as the boring option for classically trained musicians and came with the preconceived notion that it was difficult to get into. Well, with vast improvements in technology - both in pianos and piano lessons - the instrument has a new identity; it's now fun, exciting, and more accessible than ever before. Below we've listed what we believe are the best pianos out there right now, in a wide range of categories.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance option that sounds and plays exactly like an acoustic piano - just without the fuss - then skip straight to our pick of digital upright pianos. Worried about a lack of space? Then we have you covered with a selection of slimline options. On the move? Well, look no further than this superb collection of stage pianos. Finally, we have a selection of acoustic pianos that we believe are the best around for the traditionalist among you.
Our comprehensive buying advice will give you all the information you need to make an informed decision on what style of instrument is right for you, as well as cover whether you should buy online and even what to expect when your piano arrives.
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Best pianos: Our top picks
The best piano for you really depends on what you're after, what playing level you're at, and how you're looking to use it.
For those seeking a digital upright, we have to recommend the Yamaha Clavinova CLP-775. This stunning piano is simply one of the best-sounding, best-playing instruments on the market right now. If space is an issue, then it's worth checking out the slimline digital pianos on this list, and our go-to has to be the Casio Privia PX-770. For a portable option, then you can't go wrong with the Yamaha P-45.
Younger players may get on better with the small size and soft key action on the Yamaha NP-12. Although this is really a keyboard - not a piano - it's a great gateway instrument into the piano world.
Our top choice for an acoustic piano is the Kawai K-800. Although its high price may place it beyond the reach of many, it's a beautifully crafted instrument with a stunning sound. More than just a great instrument, it would make a fabulous centrepiece in your home
Best pianos: Slimline digital pianos
We all know pianos aren't exactly small, and the sheer size of the instrument can be a stumbling block for many new players. However, if you find yourself longing to play the piano, but don't have space for a full-sized upright, then the YPD range is for you.
In our opinion, the Yamaha Arius YDP-144 offers the most bang for your buck in the Arius range. Designed to fit in almost any home, this stylish instrument offers the full piano experience in a far more compact size. Boasting all 88 notes, weighted keys, and three pedals, there is no need to compromise functionality.
The Arius may not come with as many sounds as the larger pianos on this list, but the ten sounds it does have, are all very usable. There isn't a sound on board that feels like it's just been added to make up the numbers. So if you’re looking for a good-looking piano with a great sound and satisfying touch-sensitive key action, then the Yamaha YDP-144 is for you.
Roland describes the RP501R as "your ideal first piano", but frankly, we think it's more than that. While it's true that this piano is perfect for beginners and offers a range of fun features to keep you entertained while starting out on your musical journey, with the SuperNatural sound engine and ivory feel keys, it will also feel very similar to the more advanced player.
Like its much bigger brother, the HP704, the RP501R shares the same access to the popular Roland Piano Partner II app. As well as unlocking a wide range of extra voices, this handy app allows you access to a selection of rhythms that you can jam along with. This is extremely fun - prepare to lose hours of your life!
So if the HP series is simply too large for your home or just out of reach in terms of budget, then it's worth checking out the RP501R.
The Casio Privia PX770 may be the most affordable slimline pianos in this guide, but trust us, it can certainly hang with the big boys. If you're a beginner looking to dip your toe into the water of piano, then this is easily one of the best pianos on the market for you. With its relatively affordable price point, it won't break the bank, while its small stature isn't too imposing in a small bedroom.
Featuring the Casio Tri-Sensor II Hammer Action, the PX-770 does a pretty good job at replicating the feel of an authentic piano. The simulated ebony and ivory keys really help sell the idea that you’re playing the real deal.
It may not have as many voices as the Roland, but the Multi-dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source is designed to reproduce the dynamics of an acoustic piano, therefore the six core piano sounds are of exceptionally high quality, and let's face it, all you really need. So if you’re in the market for a beginner piano that sits comfortably under the £/$1,000 mark, then the Casio Privia PX770 is our top choice.
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The Korg C-1 Air proves that a small format piano doesn't need to compromise on style. Featuring a small, well-crafted frame, it would not look out of place in the most swanky of apartments. In addition, the RH3 weighted action undeniably impresses with its smooth feel and responsiveness.
The C-1 Air manages to mimic the heavier touch you expect on the lower notes of a piano and the lighter touch you would find on the upper register. This, coupled with the five sensitivity levels (light, normal, heavy, stable, fixed), makes for a very satisfying playing experience.
The Bluetooth audio means playing along with your favourite songs is a breeze, while the 30 first-rate voices and studio-quality effects mean you'll never get bored while practising.
So, if you’re looking for a stylish piano that does not compromise on playability, then the Korg C-1 Air might be the piano for you.
Best pianos: Upright Digital pianos
The term Clavinova is synonymous with digital pianos, to the point where some people use it as a blanket term to describe all digital pianos. Well, in fact, it's a series of Yamaha instruments. It is still one of their most popular lines of digital pianos since it debuted in 1983 - although the technology has changed significantly since then!
The new 700 series might just be the most technologically advanced, best sounding, and best playing pianos Yamaha has ever put out, and that's why it tops our list. The Yamaha GrandTouch key action with Linear Graded Hammer emulation - modelled after the CFX grand piano - offers a truly authentic feel and a gratifying playing experience.
Yamaha has also made marked improvements to the audio quality as well as the keys. Now sporting a redesigned speaker system, for added resonance, it comes loaded with newly re-recorded samples of the CFX grand, resulting in, frankly, the best sounding digital piano Yamaha has ever released, and easily one of the best pianos on the market.
The SuperNatural sound engine is the ace up the sleeve of the Roland HP-704. As the name suggests, it gives the piano a very realistic and natural tone, which is streets ahead of the rest at this price point.
Housed inside the elegant cabinet is the four-speaker Acoustic Projection System. Grouped in pairs, these clever speakers are designed to reproduce the complex dynamic range associated with an acoustic piano - and we must say they do a great job, especially when you consider the price of the Roland compared to others on the market.
The in-built Bluetooth really unlocks the piano's full potential. With the ability to listen to music, stream piano learning apps, or even create your own sounds via the Roland Piano Partner app, this is more than just a good-sounding piano. This is definitely a piano for the tech lover and worth a look if you enjoy digging a little deeper into the sounds of your new instrument.
The name Casio conjures up images of calculator watches and beginner keyboards for most people, but that would certainly change if they played the Casio GP-310 Grand Hybrid. This groundbreaking piano really does offer the best of both worlds. It manages to combine the functionality of a digital piano with the real hammers of an acoustic upright.
They say size doesn't matter, but Casio would beg to differ. This is the only digital piano on this list that includes 88 full-sized piano keys made in conjunction with C. Bechstein and even built using the same materials!
Top all of this off with the new six-speaker Grand Acoustic 2 system, and you have the most authentic piano for sound and playability that Casio has produced to date. This is definitely the best piano if you’re unsure about going digital.
With Kawai having 90 years of experience building first-rate acoustic pianos, it's safe to assume they know a thing or two about what should be replicated in the digital realm. The popular CN series certainly proves this with an authentic feeling touch, warm, rich tone, and a range of modern features.
The main piano sounds of the CN39 are beautiful. It's warm, rich, and full of depth. That shouldn’t be that much of a surprise considering it's modelled after the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX concert grand piano - and if you fancied one of them in your living room, it would cost you over $180,000! The speaker system developed by Onkyo does a great job at giving a sense of space to this piano, and at 40W, it's more than powerful enough for home use.
The Responsive Hammer III keyboard action feels responsive and very comfortable and would suit everyone from beginner to pro. This piano most definitely looks the part, sounds incredible, and certainly gives Yamaha a run for their money.
Best pianos: Stage pianos
When it comes to an affordable, lightweight, and dependable stage piano, the Yamaha P-45 has to be one of the best pianos out there. Popular among beginners looking for an unobtrusive, cost-effective option. The P-45 delivers ten highly usable voices, and the two in-built speakers do a reasonable job at reproducing them.
As you'd expect from Yamaha, the 88 note Graded Hammer Standard key action feels robust and comfortable - albeit a little lighter in feel, compared to the Clavinova range. This should suit the majority of beginners while also feeling familiar to the established player.
One of the clever aspects of the Yamaha P-45 is the ability to turn it into a slimline digital piano with the addition of the L-85 stand. This stand is specifically designed to make the P45 look more like its big brother, the P-125. Now, one thing to remember is that this doesn't come with the three pedals. If you need these, you will have to upgrade to the full piano. Although it does come with a single sustain pedal.
The Casio CDP S-100 is designed to be the ultimate portable 88-note stage piano for the beginner pianist. Its sleek, user-friendly layout is a nice departure from the crowded button-laden home keyboards, while the fully weighted keys mean you can learn to play on something that feels similar to the real thing.
While the key action on the Casio can't compete with the Yamaha P-45, the S-100 does have an ace up its sleeve - the ability to be powered by six AA batteries and only weighs 10.5kg. This makes the Casio the best piano for portability, whether that's taking it to lessons, to gigs, or busking. Casio says you can expect 13 hours of playing time on batteries, but that really depends on your volume setting, what effects you have on, and which sound you’re using. So to be safe, have a spare set with you.
All ten sounds in the Casio CDP S-100 certainly impress, thanks to the new Dynamic Stereo Sound Engine, which has four times the resolution of the previous CDP series - resulting in a broader range of expression.
At around half the price of the flagship RD-2000, the Roland RD-88 is a compact, lightweight stage piano, bristling with features that, frankly, is terrific value for money.
This stellar stage piano combines Roland's acclaimed PHA-4 hammer action keyboard and Ivory Feel keys with their exceptional-sounding SuperNatural Piano and E.Piano sound engines. Giving you every sound you'd ever need for almost any gig. So whether you’re accompanying a singer, playing in a function band, or just practicing at home, you'll never run out of sounds with this instrument.
Throw in an easy-to-use interface optimised for performance and a powerful, room-filling set of onboard speakers, and you have the perfect solution for both stage and home use. And with its super-slim profile weighing in at only 13 kilos, it won't require a team of roadies to help you move it around!
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This crimson piano has been seen on stages around the globe and has - rightfully- earned the status as the professionals choice when it comes to a reliable stage piano.
The Nord Piano 4 comes with a wide range of solid, tried and tested acoustic and electric pianos on board, the sound of which are in a different league compared to the other stage pianos on this list - mind you, the price is significantly higher as well. Nevertheless, the nicely-balanced, grand weighted action is playable for pianos and synth sounds alike. In addition, there are some excellent vintage-style effects onboard, including phasers/flanger/chorus, reverb, delay, EQ and amp emulation.
There's sample memory for user samples, pedal noise and string resonance. Unfortunately, there are no pitch or modulation wheels onboard, limiting the expressiveness when using the synth sounds or user samples (and limiting the Nord Piano 4's potential as a MIDI controller).
A solitary pair of audio outputs means you can't route the synth section to its own outputs for independent processing. These are minor grievances, considering this is one of the best sounding and playing stage pianos on the market.
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Okay, we admit this isn't exactly a stage piano - it's not even a full-sized keyboard. That said, the NP-12's lifelike AWM Stereo Sampled piano sound and compact footprint make it the best piano for very young kids to learn on or for more mature pianists who have downsized and no longer have room for a full-size piano.
Despite having a lightweight, synth-action keyboard, the 61-key NP-12 really looks the part thanks to its classic styling, red trim and full-size, waterfall-fronted keys. With a selection of 10 sounds, 2 of which are acoustic pianos and 4 basic reverbs, if all you want is simply something with an excellent pedigree that sounds like a piano to just sit down at, switch on and play, you need to look no further.
The NP-12 has the option to be powered by the included mains adapter or by 6 x AA batteries, meaning it's great on the move when you want a keyboard to throw in the back of the car and play on your travels. If you're after an even more piano-like experience, the NP-12 has a bigger, 76-note sibling in the shape of the NP-32.
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Best pianos: Acoustic pianos
It's no surprise that acoustic pianos are expensive. A lot of hard work goes into making one of these beautiful instruments - not to mention a lot of time! Unfortunately, this can see prices exceed the $/£10,000 mark, and frankly, this is just too much for many. Well, luckily, Yamaha has you covered with the b series.
The Yamaha b1 comes in under £3,000 - depending on the finish option - and might just be the best piano if you’re looking for a reliable, well built acoustic upright that you won't have to re-mortgage the house to purchase. This stellar instrument is made in Yamaha's Indonesia factory, from a scale design developed in Japan. This means Yamaha can bring the same quality they are known for, but at a more affordable price.
The b Series features a few pianos in the range, each with its own characteristics. However, we recommend the b1 or b2 models for smaller spaces, as these have a slimmer cabinet compared to the larger b3.
Now, we don't all have space at home for a baby grand piano - or the budget, for that matter - but with the Kawai K-800, we can at least get close to the tone in a more manageable size.
This Japanese built piano stands a little taller than most upright pianos at 53", resulting in a truly massive sound. This is helped along by the duplex scaling on the entire upper notes of the instrument. As a result, this upright sounds and behaves like a grand piano, with profound low-end and articulate highs.
It's got to be said that this piano not only sounds good, but it's loud! In addition, the protection on this instrument is intense and would make for a great studio piano, small clubs or piano bars. So if you’re in the market for an outstanding upright, or don't have space for a baby grand, then the Kawai might just be the best piano for you.
This genuinely professional upright piano looks, feels and sounds the part for the home or as a recording instrument while also holding its value particularly well. The U1 is built like a tank and available in several finishes. It comes with a 10-year warranty, three pedals (soft, mute and damper), and is great for learning or serious performance.
The Yamaha U1 offers a warm, smooth tone that begs to be played. The incredibly high-quality materials and master craftsmanship mean this piano will literally last a lifetime - of course, you'll have to look after it.
On the downside, high quality comes at a price, which puts it out of reach for many. What's more, it's acoustic, so it only has one sound; piano! As it weighs in at a massive 228 kilos - almost a quarter of a tonne! So if this is the piano for you, you'll need professional help getting it in the house. Although this is something, you can arrange with the retailer.
Best pianos: Buying advice
Price is often a deciding factor for many when trying to select the best piano for their needs, but it's not the only consideration you need to take into account.
Once you've set your budget - remembering you may also need to cover the cost of additional accessories, such as a piano stool or a pair of headphones, at the same time - you need to establish where the piano is mostly going to be used, and whether you want a real acoustic upright piano or a digital piano.
Acoustic pianos: what you need to know
It sounds pretty obvious to state that a piano is heavy, but it is a genuine concern and something you need to consider if you’re thinking of purchasing an acoustic upright piano. Although most retailers will offer some kind of delivery service, this can be very expensive, so remember to factor it into the cost of the piano. Also, this really does need to be carried out by professional piano movers, so please don't attempt this yourself. Not only can you hurt yourself, but you’re likely to damage the piano as well.
Next, you need to bear in mind the cost of regular tuning - and the availability of such a service in your area - and whether or not the atmosphere in your home might adversely affect the tuning. Moisture and damp or rapid changes in temperature can negatively affect your piano's strings and other components. You can have the best piano in the world, but if it isn't maintained and housed correctly, it won't perform to its full potential. Finally, once your piano is in, the lack of a headphone socket means that you'll need a tolerant audience/neighbours for all those hours of playing and practice you have planned!
These concerns aside, if you can afford it and have space, there really is no substitute for a good-quality acoustic upright or grand piano, either sonically or feel-wise.
Digital pianos: what you need to know
Thanks to advances and refinements in sampling and software emulation technology, digital pianos generally sound and feel fantastic these days and come in different shapes and sizes:
The digital upright is for the player seeking the feel, sound and looks of an acoustic piano without the drawbacks of weight and regular tuning. We are currently living in the golden age of digital pianos. The products on offer right now are the best they have ever been, and there are digital pianos out there that behave exactly like the real deal.
Slimline digital pianos
Most manufacturers offer a slimline option. These are perfect if space is an issue, but they typically have a lighter key action and are also ideal for beginners.
As the name suggests, these are generally designed for the performing professional pianist. Most professional-grade stage pianos don't offer built-in speakers, as they're designed to be connected to PA speakers or mixing desks. While the likes of the Nord Piano 4 and Roland RD-88 are aimed squarely at that market, the likes of the Yamaha P-45 or Casio CDP S-100, with their built-in speakers and low cost, are more geared toward the beginner student on the go.
Should I buy a piano online?
Buying something this expensive online can feel a little daunting, but really it's not that different from purchasing anything else.
Like we said before, a piano can be expensive to deliver. Like other big purchases - such as a sofa, bed, or other furniture - it typically takes a group of trained professionals to bring your new purchase into your home safely. Remember to let the retailer know if you require the piano upstairs, as there may be an extra cost.
With digital pianos, you will most likely get the option to have it delivered and assembled for an extra charge or delivered boxed for you to build yourself. The thought of building a piano can send some people into a mild panic attack, but don't worry, it's really not that difficult.
Digital pianos typically arrive in one box - usually, these take two people to lift. Now, the only part you actually need to put together is the stand for the piano section to sit on, and if you have ever put together flat-packed furniture, you'll be fine with this. However, we recommend having a second person help you, as lifting the top onto the stand can be awkward.
Most music retailers are aware of how customers’ spending habits have changed over the years and that most like to shop online. So if you have any questions, contact the retailer directly, and they will be happy to help you.
Digital piano basics
To help you choose the best piano for you, our useful Digital Piano Basics series could help. Here we cover everything from explaining what a digital piano is, to key features and sounds, to setting up your new piano and connecting it to a computer. We also look at useful accessories any budding pianist should consider, such as headphones, a piano stool, foot pedals and more.