Tips for Choosing a Digital Piano
Part 2 :Touch
This is a continuous post from “Digital Piano Recommendation for Lessons 1 : Touch”
Importance of Touch Sensitivity
Since I am a classical pianist, I care about the touch a lot. (And I am pretty sure that jazz performers would agree, too.) Touch sensitive system has been introduced by many brands nowadays. Although I have to confess that I am not a heavy digital piano user, I have played on a handful of keyboards through my piano teaching career. Each brand has their strength ( just like car industries), and somehow I have always liked Yamaha, followed by Casio. As a matter of fact, my first serious digital piano was Yamaha P-80 other than my acoustic piano to be able to practice at night with my headphone on. I was pretty satisfied with its touch. Very unfortunately, Yamaha p-80 is not manufactured anymore. The good news is there are quite a few models that are similar to p-80.
Yamaha Graded Hammer Standard V.S. Graded Hammer Action
To make it simple, those functions imitate the actual felt-covered wooden hammers inside of acoustic pianos. It makes many differences how fingers pressed upon each key; stronger, faster, shallower etc. From a source, Graded Hammer Standard seems to be for more entry-level players, while Graded Hammer Action is constructed even closer to the real pianos. I have played with both functions, and I agree. Graded Hammer Standard is great enough to make the dynamics (velocity) changes, but it gives you a shallower feel.
Casio Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action
Casio seems to have only one action type: Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action. I regularly play on Casio Privia PX860, and it is a pretty good digital piano for a beginner student. It seems almost the same with Graded Hammer Standard that YAMAHA has. PX 860’s next generation is PX 870. But I really doubt it is much different from each other. Casio PX160 seems fine and looks more reasonable and lighter, but I would strongly recommend to get a sturdy base so that the body won’t get flipped over. When your child play forte and becomes excited, light weight stand can easily flip the digital piano. Crossed stands are usually very flimsy so make sure to get the heavy duty one)
What I call extra features is something like demo performance, change of voices ( such as chorus, orchestra, and rock piano/jazz piano sound), and recording ability. For the lessons, I rarely use these. So I don’t think the student needs to have it particularly. However, I have seen many kids enjoying listening to the sample recording and experimenting their assigned music with different voices. More features may add up to your budget, but it may enhance and motivate the students to learn more songs. Again, I do not use this feature frequently during the lessons, so these are just an extra.
My Spotlight Recommendation for the beginner-level digital piano?
Since I am an owner of Yamaha P-80 user and pretty satisfied with it, I recommend Yamaha products, such as p45, p115, and YDP 143(this is inclined to the high-end level, but not as much as Clavinova. But it is just my personal preference. Unless you decide to purchase an high-end piano that costs more than $1000, the end results of the different brand products will most likely be similar to each other.
AND Please make sure to get a stand with the body! I have seen a few people who only have the body of the digital piano and put it onto a dining table. Somehow the height of the piano and the chair did not match, so it seemed quite unnatural for the student posture.