Choosing a piano can be challenging. From beautifully-crafted acoustic pianos, to versatile digital emulations for the stage and home, there’s a plethora of options, and it’s often hard to know where to start.
We frequently get asked to recommend pianos for people, so with that in mind, it’s time to give you a comprehensive list of pianos that can help anyone that;s in the market for one, whether that be for the home, stage or studio.
Once you’ve set your budget, you need to establish where the piano is to be used and whether you want a real acoustic upright or a digital emulator. If you go for an acoustic, then there are several important factors to take into account, including the cost of regular tuning and the atmosphere in your home (moisture and damp/cold can affect the components/tuning). Plus, you need to make sure that you have good access for delivery and that, if the piano is to go up or downstairs, you have strong enough floors (and strong enough help; pro piano movers are a must)! These concerns aside, if you can afford it, there’s no substitute for a good-quality acoustic upright or grand, either sonically or feel-wise.
Digital pianos generally sound and feel great these days, but there’s still lots to consider. Firstly, for the home, you want something that fits in with its surroundings, isn’t too heavy (if you want to move it around), sounds authentic and projects its sound nicely, and doesn't have too heavy an action, (particularly if kids are going to be playing/learning on it). You also need to decide whether you want just sounds, or sounds with effects, MIDI and auto-backings for practising/playing along with too. Here are a few options to help you decide!
1. Yamaha U1 acoustic upright
An acoustic piano that will last
Price: From $11,399/£8,994 | Piano type: Acoustic | Dimensions: W 1524mm, H 1219.2mm, D 609.6mm
This is a truly professional upright piano that looks, feels and sounds the part for the home or as a recording instrument. It also holds its value particularly well. The U1 is built like a tank and available in a number of finishes. It comes with a 10-year warranty, three pedals (soft, mute and damper), and is great for learning or serious performance. On the downside, high quality comes at a price, and this puts it out of reach of many. What’s more, it’s an acoustic so only has one sound; piano! As it weighs 500 lbs (a quarter of a tonne!) it’s impossible to move without professional help, and that also can be very costly! Get it in your home, though, and you’ll never want to take it out.
Find out more: Yamaha U1
2. Cavendish Contemporary acoustic upright
A high-quality piano that's made in the UK
Price: £6,995 | Piano type: Acoustic | Keys: 88 hammer-action | Sounds: Piano only | Effects: No | Dimensions: W 1530mm, H 1210mm, D 610mm | Weight: 150kg | Connectivity: N/A
Buying one of these beautiful pianos helps keep UK piano manufacturing alive; Cavendish is the UK’s only acoustic piano manufacturer. The pianos are hand-built to a very high standard, are priced very fairly, and come in several different styles (including various uprights and grands). Once again, (although it’s obvious to say!), you only get one sound! Piano! Rest assured, though, that nothing comes close to the real deal. These are heavy pianos, so make sure you have strong floors and strong help (and you'll also need to factor in the cost of regular tuning).
Find out more: Cavendish Contemporary
3. Roland RD-2000
A comprehensive stage piano for gigging players
Price: $2,499/£2,030 | Piano type: Stage | Keys: 88 hammer-action | Sounds: 1,100 tones, 300 programs | Effects: Yes | Dimensions: W 1412mm, H 367mm, D 140mm | Weight: 21.7kg | Connectivity: Main out (L/Mono, R) jacks, 1/4-inch main out (L, R) jacks, XLR type Sub Out (L, R), stereo minijack input, Pedal (Damper, FC1, FC2, Ext), MIDI (In/Out/Thru/Out2), USB, headphones | Power: Mains
The RD-2000 combines Roland’s flagship V-Piano technology with its tried and tested (and great-sounding) SuperNatural engine, PCM waves and Virtual Tone Wheel emulation. Lots of power, then. There are flexible effects, full polyphony when using the V-Piano engine, 128-note polyphony for the other engines, 16-part multitimbrality and a very hands-on interface with LED rotaries. Beta in mind that the weighted keyed feels fairly heavy so is not especially well-suited for playing sounds that demand a lighter touch, such as organ, synths and Clavinet. Also, while not a downside as such, there are a lot of features available which can initially feel overwhelming. In the long-run, though, it’s great to have them at your disposal.
Find out more: Roland RD-2000
4. Nord Piano 4
A stage piano that's trusted by the pros
Price: $2,999/£2,332 | Piano type: Stage | Keys: 88 hammer-action | Sounds: 400 locations | Effects: Yes | Dimensions: W 1287mm, H 121mm, D 340mm | Weight: 18.5kg | Connectivity: Audio outputs (L/R), monitor input, headphones output, piano pedal input, volume pedal input, MIDI In/Out, USB for transferring sounds and USB-MIDI **Power:** Mains
The Nord Piano 4 comes with a wide range of solid and tried and tested acoustic and electric pianos onboard. The nicely-balanced weighted action is playable for pianos and synth sounds, and theree are great-sounding vintage-styled effects onboard, including phasers/flanger/chorus, reverb, delay, EQ and amp emulation. There’s sample memory for user samples, pedal noise and string resonance. There are no pitch or modulation wheels onboard, which limits the expressiveness when using the synth sounds or user samples (and also limits the Nord Piano 4’s potential as a MIDI controller). There are only two outputs so you can’t route the synth section to its own outputs for independent processing. The red case is certainly a statement, but it’s one that we like.
Find out more: Nord Piano 4
5. Korg GrandStage 88
Price: £1,913/$2,200 | Piano type: Stage | Keys: 88 hammer-action | Sounds: 500 | Effects: Yes | Dimensions: W 1311mm, H 140mm, D 359mm | Weight: 20kg | Connectivity: L/R main, L/R balanced outputs, Phones, damper, switch, pedal, MIDI In/Out, USB MIDI and USB for storage media | Power: Mains
A classy sounding (and looking) stage piano offering sounds from Korg’s flagship Kronos, with intuitive operation and solid build. The GrandStage can cover a wide range of uses including acoustic/electric pianos and synth sounds too. It looks great at home as well as on stage. The RH-3 weighted action keybed works great for pianos/EPs but not so well for the more synthy-type sounds or clavinet/organ. Ultimately, though, the GrandStage is a winner. The synth sounds are warm and present; the pianos lush and realistic; the electric pianos authentic and characterful; the FX musical and complementary; and the range of sounds on offer will cover just about everything you could want in a stage piano/synth. If you’re after a versatile stage piano, then the Grandstage is a class act!
Read full review: Korg GrandStage 88
6. Yamaha NU1X Avantgrand Hybrid
A hybrid piano that could give you the best of both worlds
Price: £3,999 | Piano type: Hybrid | Keys: 88 hammer-action | Sounds: 15 | Effects: Yes | Dimensions: W 1501mm, H 1024mm, D 463mm | Weight: 111kg | Connectivity: Aux Out, Aux In, Midi In/Out, phones, USB to host, USB to device, Bluetooth | Power: Mains
If you want the look and feel of a real acoustic piano but the convenience of digital, the NU1X could be for you. It has a Yamaha upright piano action and premium samples, so you get an authentic acoustic piano feel when playing the onboard sounds. It also includes cabinet resonance modelling. It looks great at home or on stage - though you’ll need roadies! - and can be used as a MIDI controller. There’s a full acoustic action onboard that contributes to the overall weight, so you'll need proper piano movers to get this beauty into/out of your house! The price is as much as many acoustic upright pianos and the weight isn’t much less; however, you’ll never have to pay for a piano tuner as the sounds are all sample-based.
Find out more: Yamaha NU1X Avantgrand Hybrid
7. Dexibell Vivo S7
A solid workhorse stage piano
Price: $1,999/£1,499 | Piano type: Stage | Keys: 88 hammer-action | Sounds: 80 | Effects: Yes | Dimensions: W 1330mm, H 135mm, D 372mm | Weight: 17.5kg | Connectivity: Unbalanced L/R, Aux In, Foot Pedal 1, 2, 3, Phones, Midi In/Out/Thru, USB host, USB device, Bluetooth | Power: Mains
Nicely portable for an 88-note stage piano, the Vivo S7 has a great-feeling weighted keyboard that works well for both piano and synth/organ sounds. Speaking of which, there’s a broad range of sounds onboard to cover most styles and situations. You'll find acoustic and electric pianos, organs, strings, bread and butter synth sounds and more. The S7 looks a little quirky and dated, and its electric pianos perhaps aren’t the strongest when compared to the competition. There is some menu diving involved for tweaking effects and other deeper parameters, so it’s not quite as hands on/intuitive as some other stage pianos. However, The S7 is priced right, it’s pretty portable and well-built, sounds great for the all-important acoustic pianos and has decent effects and connectivity.
Read full review: Dexibell Vivo S7
8. Studiologic Numa Concert
A straightforward but capable stage piano
Price: £1,189 | Piano type: Stage | Keys: 88 hammer-action | Sounds: 12 | Effects: Yes | Dimensions: W 1300mm, H 130mm, D 310mm | Weight: 20kg | Connectivity: L/R audio out, audio input, phones output x 2, USB, Midi In/Out/Thru, 2 x pedal inputs | Power: Mains
Nicely priced, and more compact than much of the competition, the Numa Concert boasts a Fatar hammer-action wood/weighted keyboard that feels great for piano and other onboard sounds. It has pitchbend and mod/assignable wheels for realtime sound performance, and a very simple and intuitive interface with knobs for effect amounts and output EQ. There’s a fairly limited range of sounds onboard, so don’t expect it to cover every sonic base you need, especially when it comes to synth stuff. The Numa Concert Looks pretty unexciting and perhaps doesn’t have the kudos of more well-known models. Don’t let that put you off, though, as this is a stage piano that has plenty to recommend about it.
Find out more: Studiologic Numa Concert
9. Yamaha Reface CP
Great electric piano sounds in a tiny package
Price: $399/£249 | Piano type: Stage/home | Keys: 37 mini keys | Sounds: 6 | Effects: Yes | Dimensions: W 530mm, H 60mm, D 175mm | Weight: 1.9kg | Connectivity: Phones, Aux In, L/R outputs, USB to host, Midi In/Out, sustain pedal input | Power: Mains/batteries
The Reface CP is the perfect machine for the travelling/international/gigging musician. It fits easily into overhead lockers on planes and can be paired with a hired weighted controller if you need to perform live. There are some very authentic modelled/sampled electric pianos and Clavinet sounds, plus great vintage-style effects. Make sure you find the hidden acoustic piano sound, too! The Reface CP really needs to be paired with a weighted MIDI controller to get the most from it, due to the unweighted and short-scale mini-key keyboard. It doesn’t contain any synth sounds, so it’s limited to piano sounds only. The built-in speakers are a bonus, but they do have limited output. We like the Reface CP: it probably won’t be your only piano, but its sounds are certainly bigger than its looks might lead you to believe.
Read full review: Yamaha Reface CP
10. Casio Privia PX-760
Price: £499 | Piano type: Home | Keys: 88 hammer-action | Sounds: 18 | Effects: Yes | Dimensions: W 1357mm, H 833mm, D 299mm | Weight: 31.5kg | Connectivity: Phones, USB | Power: Mains
A bit of a bargain, this one. The Privia PX-760 features a triple-sensor graduated hammer-action which gives nuanced control over the onboard sounds. The PX-760 features hammer and damper resonance and has three foot pedals like an acoustic piano: damper, soft and sustain. It also features half damper pedalling, and the piano sounds and feels surprisingly good considering the low price. The number of onboard sounds is quite limited (no synth leads), and the distinctive looks won’t appeal to everyone. There are no audio outputs (only two headphones ports), and no standard MIDI outputs for connecting to other keyboards/modules (although MIDI can be sent and received via a computer over USB). At this price, though, these are minor quibbles.
For more info: Casio Privia PX-760