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#1987493 - 11/16/12 02:16 PM Inexpensive digital keyboard?
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1314
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
I have an acoustic piano and a decent DP and know all about the advantages and disadvantages.

However, I am going to buy my 7 and 9 year old Grand Daughters a keyboard for Christmas and get them started with piano lessons. They have both expressed interest. Acoustic is not an option at this point for several reasons.

I would like to spend between $500 and $1,000. I know people here are using various Casio models. What models seem to be most satisfying, there are a dizzying amount of models and I don't really get the differences. How about Yamaha? Do they have decent keyboards in this price range? How about any other popular brands?

I thought about asking in the Digital Piano forum but they seem most interested in highly technical issues and higher level keyboards.

Any experiences would be appreciated.
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#1987501 - 11/16/12 02:34 PM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
tangleweeds Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 11 2012

Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 1275
Loc: Portland, OR
I have a Casio PX-330, and one thought that crosses my mind is that kids that age might really enjoy improvising and playing around with all the different sounds and accompaniment patterns that the PX-330 or PX-350 offers.

One suggestion I'd have, if considering a Casio keyboard, is to order from someplace like Sweetwater which has excellent return/replacement and extended warranty options. I've really liked my two Casio keyboards, but they've both ended up having quality-control issues -- which were no problem at all for me since I got one from Costco, and the other from Sweetwater. If I'd gotten them from Guitar Center or Musican's Friend, I would have paid less, but also been left to cope with Casio's warranty program, which is reputed to be a quite slow, and generally a huge PITA.

Edited by tangleweeds (11/16/12 02:36 PM)
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#1987537 - 11/16/12 04:17 PM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014

Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1393
Loc: Cameron Park, California
You should also post your question in the Digital Piano Forums here: http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...20&%20.html

While they often are preoccupied with discussing technical aspects of middle-to-higher-end models, most, if not all, there are nice and don't mind helping with the occasional new purchase question or two.

I currently practice on a Yamaha P-155 which set me back a little under $1000 (what I think it still currently sells for), though depending on where you shop, you can often find coupons for up to 12-15% off for stores (guitar center) that apply to such purchases, saving you a bit more. I got it because I was/am serious about learning and it was supposed to have the best key action for the price - I've been satisfied.
"[The trick to life isn't] just about living forever. The trick is still living with yourself forever."

#1987596 - 11/16/12 07:49 PM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
griffin2417 Offline

Silver Supporter until Dec 29 2012

Registered: 12/12/10
Posts: 2612
Loc: Minneapolis, MN
I bought my Yamaha P155 from Guitar Centers with a discount coupon 2 years ago. I've been happy with this choice, and have had no problems.

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#1987632 - 11/16/12 09:37 PM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
lizzie3 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/16/12
Posts: 7
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I have a yamaha p85 which was about $500 2 years ago. The one thing I really dislike about it is that it really doesnt feel like the keys are weighted. Technically they are but I can always feel a strong difference when I play on my teacher's acoustic. Actually I also dont like that I can hear this "thud" when the keys hit the bottom. Im not sure if that is because it is a digital or if its because its a lower end model. Oh and I dont like that if i hit it a key too lightly or on a wierd angle that no sound whatsoever comes out.

If i can get to a grade 2 rcm level I will upgrade but for now I make it work. I dont regret buying it because it fit my budget at the time but I dont recommend it, especially if you are able to buy a better one.

Edited by lizzie3 (11/16/12 09:52 PM)
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#1987641 - 11/16/12 10:26 PM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
gahdzila Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/11
Posts: 175
Casio Privia PX130 is their current budget model. Mine is the 120 (slightly older model), and I'm quite pleased. Nothing fancy, but it has weighted keys with a good feel...which is the most important aspect, IMO. I'm no expert, but subjectively, the feel of the keys is really great, they're the perfect weight to my fingers, I like it a lot. Sound with the speakers is rather wimpy, but it's not terrible....sound is MUCH better with headphones. You should be able to get the board, stand, and bench and still be well within your budget (online prices, that is...MSRP is a bit higher, of course). The PX330 has more features for more money, if you're interested in more bells and whistles.

I get the "thud" with my Casio like Lizzie gets on her Yamaha as well. Since I always practice with headphones, I don't hear it at all, so it doesn't bother me one bit. I do notice it when I practice without headphones, but I adjust quickly and it's not really a big deal.

#1987647 - 11/16/12 11:04 PM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
I went looking for a cheap keyboard with weighted keys. I paid 500 Canadians dollar and it will be much cheaper in the USA. The salesman said there was a Casio for less money but I didn't care because I don't know who or where to get it fixed if it breaks down. So the 500 one was a Yamaha and is fine and there is almost a Yamaha store everywhere like a McDonalds. I also have an old Yamaha Clavinova which I bought 10 or 20 years ago - has big speakers and, of course, weighted keys on both - but the Clavinova weighed keys are more like a piano, sort of solid and a heavier touch and the sound is more like a piano and the cheaper Yamaha keyboard is just fine but it has a lighter touch but the touch is just less piano-like. But to be fair, the
Clavinova cost quite a bit of money. I thought it was 3,000. maybe it was less. The Yamaha keyboard, of course, has tiny speakers compared to the Clavinova which are a foot or a foot and a half tall.

Something you should remember is that people who are starting to play piano claim they don't do well at lessons
if they - the student has an electronic keyboard and the teacher has an acoustical piano - touch is vastly different. I usually play the piano because of its sound and being a piano it has a piano touch. When I play on the keyboard, because it is the lightest touch of them all, I have to make an effort to play harder when I go back to the piano. It would be worse for a student/young student. Teachers say the students have to get used to a different touch and different pianos and that is the reality but as young students, almost anything can throw a student off.

As far as recommending a cheaper keyboard, if it means no keyboard then I would give the keyboard to the person else they don't play. But let me put it this way. I was lucky to get a piano and love the piano beyond belief. But if circumstances happened that I could only keep or have the cheap keyboard and nothing else, I would take it and love it death and play it night and day.

I used to arrange for people to go to a cabin and ski for the weekend. People would phone up and ask me what the beds were like. I would always tell everyone that the beds were terrible, worse thqn you could imagine. If people said they didn't care about the beds, they were a go. If they were unsure because of the beds, I told them they definitely should not go. My rationale was that people were there to ski and beds were unimportant. I always slep on the floor in the kitchen in a sleepbag.

So if your daughter really, really, wants to play the piano, she will make whatever adjustments she needs to play the piano at all costs to do her lesson well for the teacher. You know your daughter - is she a complainer or is she more like me, I do whatever I have to do to accomplish the tasks at hand.

I should tell you that I had medical problem and I was weak and could not sit more than about 10 minutes at the piano and then I would tire, so I bought the cheap keyboard so I could put the keyboard on two cinder blocks/concrete blocks stacked at either end then slid my body under the keyboard and tilted the keyboard so I could play the piano/keyboard on my back on the floor - because I could play the piano/keyboard on my back on the floor for a long time. I had to use clothespegs to fasten the music to the musicstand else the music would fall over because of gravity. So you see how determined I was to play the piano. My strength is better now so I can sit at the piano longer.


I hope your daughter gets any kind of keyboard.

#1987668 - 11/17/12 12:16 AM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
jazzwee Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7203
Loc: So. California
Those Casio PX-3 and PX-350 models sound like really good deals. I just tried a PX-350 for the first time today and that's certainly a good keyboard. It's much improved from the early Casios. I had a CDP 100 before. Under $1K. Not bad at all and super light. I'd use this for gigging too if I didn't have one already.
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#1987723 - 11/17/12 07:52 AM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1314
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
Thanks a lot folks. I'm fully aware that a 'good' acoustic is certainly the best solution. I got my digital for easy recording, portability for trips and playing where there is a terrible acoustic etc.. I had a couple terrible experiences with random acoustic pianos in public. It's not an option right now.

I'm going to visit Sweetwater and a couple other stores this weekend and try some of these options.

Thanks again.

Edited by Roger Ransom (11/17/12 08:00 AM)
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#1987771 - 11/17/12 11:12 AM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
malkin Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 4163
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I have both a Yamaha Piaggero and a Casio that I use at work, and I find the Yamaha sound to be quite a lot nicer.
Having power is not nearly as important as what you choose to do with it.
– Roald Dahl

#1990885 - 11/26/12 12:21 AM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: tangleweeds]
Michael H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/05
Posts: 128
Loc: Long Island, NY
Originally Posted By: tangleweeds

One suggestion I'd have, if considering a Casio keyboard, is to order from someplace like Sweetwater which has excellent return/replacement and extended warranty options. I've really liked my two Casio keyboards, but they've both ended up having quality-control issues -- which were no problem at all for me since I got one from Costco, and the other from Sweetwater. If I'd gotten them from Guitar Center or Musican's Friend, I would have paid less, but also been left to cope with Casio's warranty program, which is reputed to be a quite slow, and generally a huge PITA.

In my case it took five weeks to get back my repaired PX330 so, yes, repairs can be slow.
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#1990918 - 11/26/12 03:01 AM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
mr_super-hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4289
Roger, if I were in your situation I would consider buying a digital (for all the reasons you mentioned), but a very good one that has depreciated in value since digitals seem to do that very quickly.

Just because a digital piano may depreciate in value fairly quickly, it doesn't mean that the quality does.

For example, my digital piano (Roland KR-7) cost around $5000 new just a few years ago. It was rated as one of the best digitals made and is still one of the most used by piano teachers due to its weighted keys and natural escapement. I've seen this same digital on Craigslist as cheap as $1500 recently.

All I'm saying is that there is a LOT of value in gently used higher end digitals that are affordabley priced due soley to depreciation. You can use the high depreciation of a top end unit in your favor by just buying a unit a few years old. Heck, even my own digital that is several years old now has very little time on it and is in perfect condition.

Just a side note. I bought a 2 year old VW Jetta TDI wagon for $18k instead of the new sticker price of nearly $30k. The car now has over 100k miles and is in perfect condition is every way. When I bought the car, it looked perfect and these things go for half a million miles anyway so why not save the cash?

Why spend good money and get an okay piano when you can spend the same amount,(or similar) and get something much, much better?

The best 'value' is usually going to be in something that you pay less for than what it is really worth. This is what depreciation does to stuff.

My vote is for a gently used, depreciated higher end unit that will cost you the same but give you so much more.

#1990988 - 11/26/12 09:33 AM Re: Inexpensive digital keyboard? [Re: Roger Ransom]
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4462
Loc: Jersey Shore
A discounted Roland would be a great way to go as Super mentioned...


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