Since the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been a big influx of people wanting to learn an instrument., with none more popular than the Piano. We’ve seen a lot of people come into the store and ask our advice about the best option to go for. There are a lot of beginner stage pianos out there and it can be quite the minefield to navigate, so today I’m going to present you a list of the top 5 selections that we usually recommend. Everyone looking to buy a stage piano has a different budget and specific needs, so I’m going to try my best and cover the most common wants.
Just for clarification, I’m only going to include stage pianos instead of furniture based pianos (you’ll have to wait for that blog post!). Stage pianos are portable and do not usually come with a stand, so remember and include a stand in your budget when shopping for one.
Starting the list off with the Yamaha P-45 feels like an obvious choice. The P45 is perhaps the most famous and well-loved entry level stage piano out there. This is for a few different reasons. Yamaha have been making pianos for years, so they know their way around the block. I was once told that the Yamaha P-45 was the most googled stage piano, but I can’t seem to back that up with any statistical evidence, so an interesting suggestion it remains!
Yamaha have implemented their Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) keyboard on the P-45 to best replicate the key action of an acoustic. On an acoustic piano, the bass keys are heavier than the mid and treble keys and the Graded Hammer Standard keyboard replicates this on the P-45. The P-45 is extremely light, weighing 11.5kg; perfect if you want to start playing in a band or with a music group. The durability of this piano is also a great selling point and it will take a few knocks without disintegrating into a crumbling heap.
The P-45, like every piano on my list, comes with inbuilt speakers, so no lugging around a PA system or heavy keyboard amp. The pianos simplicity is perfect for a beginner who perhaps doesn’t need anything too complex and it is a great instrument for encouraging someone to play it. There are 10 in-built sounds that you can cycle through from grand piano to harpsichord. You get two 6-watt 12cm speakers in the P-45 which are more than suitable for practicing at home.
One of the only drawbacks of the P-45 is that you can’t upgrade to a 3 pedal system, you are stuck with with just one pedal. There is also no dedicated output so you have to come out of the headphone socket if you want to amplify. This shuts off the internal speakers on the piano. This could be problematic if you are playing in a venue where the PA is far away.
The Yamaha P-125 is a great choice for the person who wants to expand on the solid base that the P-45 provides. The P-125 has 24 different voices on offer, in comparison to 10 on the P-45 so there is a wider range of sounds you can choose. Like the P-45, the P-125 has a 88 Graded Hammer Standard keyboard. So there is no deviation there.
There are also better speakers in the P-125; incorporated is a two-way speaker system. This means that the sound moves in an upward and a downwards direction, resulting in a richer sound. The two-way speaker system better replicates sitting in front of an acoustic piano for the player. That coupled with the improved Pure CF Sound engine results in a very true-sounding digital piano. There is also a sound boost function on the P-125, perfect if you need that extra little bit of oomph whilst playing with a choir or in a band situation. This has been quite popular with schools and churches as the sound boost really helps you cut through in a loud room.
The P-125 also has a straightforward user interface, much like the P-45. Cycling through the different sounds requires the player to simultaneously press the function button and the key which triggers the different voices. This is where the Smart Pianist App comes into play. You can connect the P-125 to the Smart Pianist App on an IOS device which immediately opens up a very interactive digital interface. Yamaha are yet to expand this to Android devices, but they do have plans to do so.
The P-125 is a little taller and has a bit more depth than the P-45 but it is still very light and portable, weighing in at only 11.8kg. You also have the option to upgrade to a 3 pedal unit with the P-125, so it is a bit more future proof in that regard.
The Casio CDP-S110 is Casio’s first entry on my list. The CDP-S110 has been a really popular stage piano for those who aren’t wanting to spend as much money. It’s the most affordable on my list, but that doesn’t mean it’s the worst. The Casio CDP has been a very popular entry-level piano range for a good few years now. Chances are if you’re looking for one you will have heard of the CDP range. THE CDP-S110 is Casio’s attempt to improve on their very successful S100.
There are weighted keys on this model and Casio have used the Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard, which is a fully weighted 88 keyboard. Although weighted, the touch on this model is a little lighter than the Yamaha Graded Hammer Standard Keyboards. On the keyboard, there’s a slightly textured surface which will help your fingers from slipping off the keys. There are 10 sounds that the player can choose between, which was the same as the previous CDP S100. What you can now do, though, is layer 2 different sounds which will play 2 of the inbuilt piano sounds at the same time. This can be really nice if layering e.g. piano and strings.
You have two 8-watt speakers in this piano, which provide volumes more than loud enough for bedroom practice. If you’re not wanting to annoy your flatmates at 3 in the morning, there is also a headphone input on the back of the piano. Next to the headphone input, there is also an Aux input so you can play along with your favourite tunes, which is a nice touch for an entry-level piano. You can also connect the CDP-S110 to a laptop or tablet as there is a USB Type B connection point on the back. This will allow you to use the Chordana Play for Piano app and control the CDP-S110 from the app by changing tones, touch response and metronome. If you are a home recorder, the piano will also work as a midi controller if you were to plug it into a Digital Audio Workstation. There is a lot to love about this piano!
The CDP-S110 is slimline and very portable. Weighing in at 10.5kg, it is the lightest piano on my list. You do get a sewing machine sustain pedal with the CDP-S110 but like the Yamaha P-45, you do not have the option to upgrade to a 3 pedal system.
Roland’s FP-30x has been a very popular stage piano at Kenny’s Music. The FP-30X has replaced Roland’s FP-30 model. “What is the difference, Ross?”, I hear you ask. Well: polyphony. The FP-30X has a polyphony count of 256 notes. This essentially means that when you are playing with the sustain pedal and layered voices, your previous notes will not cut out. On a piano with lower polyphony, that is likely to happen. With a high polyphony like 256 notes, this is a lot less likely to happen.
The sound engine in this model is Roland’s SuperNATURAL Sound Engine and it sounds excellent. There is a nice even sound across the whole keyboard with rich bass and very sparkly high ends. The FP-30X has the same PHA-4 Standard Keyboard as Roland’s premium FP-60X replicates an acoustic piano very accurately, according to Roland. In my opinion, the keyboard on the FP-30X is somewhere in between the light touch of the Casio Scaled Hammer Action II and the stiffer touch of the Yamaha GHS.
There are dedicated stereo outputs on the FP-30X, so you can connect to external amplification and PA, whilst not cutting the external speakers off. Also handy if you have an audio interface and record at home. You are able to use 56 different instrument sounds whilst playing, so there’s a whole host of different sounds you can achieve.
There is an external stand option and you can also upgrade to the 3 pedal system, so you can upgrade further down the line if you so wish. You get plenty of connectivity options on this model. You can either connect through Bluetooth Audio or Bluetooth MIDI. The Bluetooth Audio will allow you to play music through the piano’s speaker to play along with different songs (or even just use it as a hi-fi!). Bluetooth MIDI is also useful for connecting to Digital Audio Interfaces like GarageBand or Reaper.
You get two 11-watt speakers with the FP-30X, which produces a loud sound when practising at home, there is plenty of volume to play with. Weighing in at 14.8kg, the FP-30x is slightly heavier than the previously mentioned pianos, but it is still light enough weight for easy portability.
I’m finishing the list with the Casio PX-S1100, which Casio claim is the world’s slimmest digital piano! It is only 232mm in depth, so it does slot in a lot of spaces. Perfect if – like me – you live in a small flat where space is at a premium. So the PX-S1100 is an upgraded version of Casio’s PX-S1000 which was released back in 2019. Let me take you through some of the new features that have been implemented.
The first upgrade to the new PX model is the speakers. There is a better sound quality than its predecessor due to the new 8-watt speaker system that is in the PX-S1100. It can get quite surprisingly loud, and the 8W speakers do well to handle loud volumes without distorting. Like the previously mentioned Roland FP-30X, there are improved connectivity options on the PX-S1100. You can connect Bluetooth Audio and Midi by using the WU-BT10 USB adapter, which comes free with the piano.
There are dedicated outputs on the PX-S1100 so you can also amplify with an external speaker if you want to do so. Other expected features like a headphone input are also to be found. You can expand and purchase the 3 pedal unit if you desire to do so as the PX-S1100 allows you to connect one.
Similar features to the previous model, the PXS1000, include the same keyboard. The PX-S1100 comes equipped with the 88 key Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard and like other Casio models, there is quite a light touch to it. There is also a graded weighting on the keyboard, which beginners may not immediately notice, but I promise it’s there! The keys themselves have a slightly rougher feeling which Casio call a simulated ebony and ivory texture.
Pop in and see us.
If there has been any stage piano on my list that has interested you, pop down to your local Kenny’s Music! We have people in all of our stores who would be more than happy to answer any questions you have. You can also check the stock locator section on our website and see if we have stock of your desired piano at your local store.