6 Best Beginner Pianos Under $499 USD
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Getting the right instrument is critical in ensuring that you have the best possible music learning experience. However these days, every brand insists their own digital pianos are the best and music shops are inherently biased towards the piano brands they carry. I know that it is tempting to buy a really cheap piano or a keyboard to start off with, but more often than not, it will result in you being penny wise but pound foolish.
Having said that, I am here to recommend you my personal 6 best, affordable beginner digital pianos in early 2020 for you to consider purchasing. I will sharing the pros and cons of each piano for you to review and determine which piano best suits your needs. Prices do change pretty frequently so do spend a few minutes to check out the links provided in this article for the latest prices.
Beginner Digital Piano #1
The Alesis Recital Digital Piano is the cheapest on this list at just $250 USD. It comes with a decent piano sound, and you can layer dual voices and split voices across the keyboard. It also provides all the usual connectivity options such as headphones, sustain pedal and the USB MIDI. It is also lightweight for portability and it can be powered by using both a DC power, or by using batteries. When you buy an Alesis Recital Digital Piano, Alesis also throws in 3 months of lessons with the SKOOVE app, and 2 months of live video lessons.
However, the Alesis Recital Digital Piano does only have semi-weighted keys which is the sacrifice for the cheap price and its light weight. It also only has 5 number of voices which is usually fine, but would be limiting if you want to explore more musical possibilities. It also boasts 20W speaker amplification which is OK for playing in a bedroom, but nothing more than that. It also still uses the RCA connectors which is a serious flaw if you intend to use it to gig by connecting it to external amplification. In addition, a sustain pedal is not included in the package and thus, you would have to factor in the cost of getting an external sustain pedal. Last but not least, there is also a low to non-existent resale value on the Alesis Recital Digital Piano, meaning you pretty much have to use it for as long as you can to make your money worth.
To sum up this piano:
Beginner Digital Piano #2
The Roland Go:Piano 88 boasts a very decent piano sound from the Roland sound library and it also provides the basic headphones, sustain pedal and USB MIDI connectivity. The keys are also touch-sensitive but they do feel a little bit too light that would explain its lightest weight amongst all these pianos on the list. It hence, makes it very portable for a 88 keys piano. Roland has also included bluetooth audio and MIDI wireless connectivity so that you can connect the piano to external devices without cumbersome wires all over. The piano can be powered by DC power, or by using batteries. Just a note, the Roland Piano Partner 2 App is also definitely one of the better designed app on the IOS and Android Platform, superseding the Yamaha and Korg apps.
However, these are the deal breakers of the Roland for me. The Roland Go:Piano 88 has only 4 number of voices, which is drastically limiting for this price. Roland has so many legacy voices and yet, it is not included in this Roland Go:Piano 88. Moreover, the 20W speaker amplification also clearly lacks a punch. There is also no online lessons bundled together with purchasing the Roland Go:Piano 88 unlike the other pianos on the list. If it was targeted at beginner piano players, I believe they should have tied it in with their online app.
To sum up this piano:
Beginner Digital Piano #3
The Korg B2N is the semi-weighted keys version of the full-sized Korg B2 and is hence, lightweight, portable and more affordable without sacrificing its sound quality. It boasts 12 quality voices from the Korg B2 and its Italian and German piano samples sounds way better than those found on the previous 2 pianos in the list. It also provides the usual headphones, USB MIDI and sustain pedal input, including a sustain pedal packed within the package. The USB also don't only support the MIDI, and it is good because it also transmits and receives audio. The Korg B2N also supports half pedaling like a real acoustic piano, but you would definitely need to purchase an additional higher-end damper pedal for it to work. The biggest advantage of the Korg B2N is that is comes bundled with a generous amount of quality Korg software and apps, including the Korg Module LE (which comes with lots of additional high-quality industry standard sounds), and the Korg Gadget LE which is a mobile DAW. For those who are not in the know, A DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation, which allows you to produce multitrack music recordings. Korg has also generously bundled a 3 months free subscription to the SKOOVE App with the purchase. One of the benefits with getting a Korg is that Korg products tend to retain their value pretty well compared to other brands. This is a clear advantage if you are planning to upgrade your piano in the future.
However, as good as it sounds, there are a few cons to the Korg B2N. Firstly, it does not allow any form of voice layering or splitting voices across the keyboard. It also utilises a proprietary sustain pedal connection which does not feel the most secure. Korg also does not allow you to use sustain pedals other than the one available from Korg (which is usually more expensive than most sustain pedals). But, as I mentioned earlier, it does include the sustain pedal with the purchase. Due to its lightweight, the Korg B2N also only has 9W speaker amplification, which is definitely not the most impressive. In addition, as excellent value for money and great benefit the bundled app provides, the app is only sadly available on IOS devices, which is a big disadvantage to Android users. Lastly, you can only power the Korg B2N via an included DC adapter, which is a shame considering that it was meant to be carried around.
Overall, the pros and cons are as follows:
WHICH OF THESE THREE SHOULD I GO FOR?
All three semi weighted digital pianos I got for you in this list, the Alesis Recital, the Roland Go:Piano 88 and as well as the KORG B2N are ideal for beginners. If sound quality is more important to you, I would really recommend that you spend a little bit more for the KORG B2N over the Alesis Recital as well as the Roland Go:Piano 88.
The next three digital pianos on my list have fully weighted keys and because of the full weighted keys, these digital pianos will always almost be heavier than those that are semi-weighted and will also cost more as well.
Beginner Digital Piano #4
Due to the massive number of digital pianos that Amazon sells, Casio and Amazon has tied up and created the Casio CDP-240, which is an Amazon exclusive product. It is one of the cheapest, fully weighted, graded hammer action, 88 touch-sensitive keys digital pianos with a large LCD screen at just $448 USD. It is definitely above average quality for its price. The Casio CDP-240 also doubles as an auto-accompaniment arranger piano boasting of 700 tones that you are given full ability to layer, and also 200 rhythms for you to play around with. With so many tones and rhythms to adjust your sound with, you can also save your data into a memory card for easy recall and playback. As usual, the Casio CDP-240 provides the headphones, sustain pedal, USB MIDI and also, an auxiliary-in port. It also carries a multitrack recorder which is impressive for this price. The Casio CDP-240 is also the only piano on this list to come with an arpeggiator function if you would like to dabble in some contemporary EDM music.
However, the Casio CDP-240 does have a few shortcomings that might make or break your purchase decision. Firstly, it only has 64 notes of polyphony which is considerably less than the usual 128 notes found in other pianos at this price range. This would hinder your ability to play more challenging classical pieces. With the CDP-240, Casio has also targeted quantity over quality with their tones, meaning that the piano tones sound less rich and lush than other pianos at this price range. To keep in mind though, you do have a whopping 700 tones to play around with and although they might not sound the best, they are still decent enough to play with. In addition, Casio keyboards also don't tend to retain their value as well as the other brands in this list. So if you are looking to buy a temporary, beginning keyboard, this keyboard might not be for you.
At a glance, these are the pros and cons of this piano:
Beginner Digital Piano #5
Don't get confused, the Yamaha P-45 and the P--71, are actually 100% identical digital pianos with fully-weighted 88 keys, but the P71 is 10% cheaper as it is an Amazon exclusive piano (So, it is quite a no-brainer that you should just get the P-71). With its Yamaha's sound quality, it is definitely one of the better sounding keyboards out there due to Yamaha's renowned AWM sampling technology and also because it is Yamaha, the P-45/P-71 also tends to hold its resale value pretty well. The touch response on this keyboard is also pretty close to a real acoustic piano. Moreover, it also boasts a GHS key bed that is identical to those found on the significantly more expensive Yamaha P-125.
However, just like the CDP-240, the P-45/P-71 only comes with 64 notes of polyphony instead of 128 notes found in most respectable digital pianos. In addition, at this price, Yamaha could have done better than the 10 voices that are included. But, despite its small number of 10, these voices are of high quality. There is also no built-in song recorder and no app integration as it was launched earlier before the whole wave of the mobile apps craze. Furthermore, the keyboard is also not able to split the voices across the keyboard which is disappointing as quite a number of cheaper keyboards have this function already. Nonetheless, the Yamaha P-45/P-71 is still a very balanced and competent beginner piano at this price point.
To sum up this piano:
Beginner Digital Piano #6
Last but not the least, the last beginner digital piano on this list is the Roland FP-10. For a price of $499 USD, you are getting the exact same PHA-4 key action and keyboard as the Roland FP-30 which costs 200% more at $1,500 USD. It also has the closest feel to an actual acoustic piano due to its simulated ivory feel key tops on the white keys and the escapement action of an acoustic piano. In addition, it also comes with 5 levels of touch sensitivity compared to the usual 3 found on other models. It is also lightweight and thus, you have to be careful when moving it around for gigs. As for connectivity, the FP-10 provides the standard headphone support, a built-in metronome, and as well as a USB connectivity. The Roland FP-10 also do support half pedaling to bring up the lush nuance of Roland's supernatural sound engine found on this digital piano. This piano also boasts features of an acoustic piano like string resonance, damper resonance, and as well as key-off resonance which cannot be found on other digital pianos at this price range. Not only that, it also comes with 15 high-quality, bread-and-butter voices to play around with. Also uniquely at this price range, the Roland FP-10 also supports bluetooth audio as well as bluetooth MIDI which means that it allows wireless connection to mobile apps and computers for more advance music production. As mentioned before, the Roland's Piano Partner App is also one of the most polished and advanced app among the competition.
However, there is no perfect digital piano. The Roland FP-10's construction is made primarily of hard plastics and there are quite a number of visibly exposed screws on the bottom and on the rear of the chassis. At its price, I would have expected a better constructed damper pedal to be included with its purchase, but the one that comes with it is pretty cheap-looking and it does not instil confidence that it can last a long time. It also does not have a 1/4" stereo output which limits its ability to hook up to an external PA ststem. Moreover, the built-in speakers also don't do justice to the rich voices found on the FP-10. For the best sound experience on this piano, I would suggest you to use headphones over using the speakers.
Overall, the pros and cons of this piano are as follows:
As a closing, I hope you found my unbiased and independent recommendation and review on these pianos to be useful in making a decision to start your music learning journey. Do be sure to check out more of my articles to find the best instrument that is most suited to your needs.