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Digital Pianos?

(16 Posts)
RedKite5004 Mon 22-Jun-15 12:45:02

I wonder if I could just ask advice from those in the know as to whether a digital piano would be suitable for a beginner to learn on? My DS is currently begging for piano lessons (he already plays cello) and the biggest problem I have with this is that I would struggle to fit a standard acoustic piano into my house! The only place I really have space to set one up is in my conservatory and I'm under no illusions as to the negative effect that would have on a standard piano! I also don't have a huge budget (I'm thinking around £500 second hand) for such a thing and whilst it seems possible to pick up some real bargains with acoustic pianos on auction sites I strongly suspect that by the time I got one home and re-tuned (assuming that was all it needed!) it could well work out quite expensive, so a digital piano might well be a better option from that point of view too.
If my DS does take up piano his lessons will be at school on a very lovely acoustic instrument and I'm not sure how much of a difficulty (if any?) it would be to then practice on a digital piano at home?
I've tried doing a bit of background reading but having no experience of playing any sort of instrument I do feel like I could very easily make an expensive mistake with this if I'm not careful!
I would be looking at full size keys and keyboard and weighted keys of course but other than Clavinovas I know nothing about good and not so good manufacturers and even within the Clavinova range there is a very broad spectrum to chose from.
Sorry I have waffled somewhat but if I could just ask those in the know firstly whether digital pianos are suitable for use as the sole practice instrument for a beginner pianist and secondly if there are any specifics I should make sure I look for or models that might be most suited in terms of sensible second hand prices and suitability for a beginner I'd be most grateful.

Fleurdelise Mon 22-Jun-15 13:52:53

A lot of teachers may say that they want an acoustic piano to be available for your DS to practice but I find that a bit too much to ask initially as he may decide he doesn't enjoy it and you are left with a huge piece of (nice) furniture in the middle of your living room.

I was fortunate enough not to meet such request from my DD's teacher and got a digital (a no name to take her to the level where if we see enough passion we can get an acoustic).

We did a rent to buy scheme from a music shop somewhere in London where you rent the piano for 6 months and at the end of the 6 months you have the option to buy it in which case you only pay the balance (no interest charged) and the 6 months rent is considered part of the payment.

In terms of progress DD did very well, she passed her grade 1 exam after 1 year and a half with a very high score and now she is moving to take grade 3 probably around December so she'll be grade 3 after about 2 years and 3 months after starting the lessons (if all goes to plan and progress doesn't slow down).

We are buying an acoustic after the summer holidays as she has now shown enough dedication to be worth the investment.

I hope it helps.

Fleurdelise Mon 22-Jun-15 13:59:07

Also if you feel a real acoustic piano will never find its lace in your house I would look at getting a really good digital that would last him for a long time.

A friend of mine got this one and apparently all the Yamaha's digital pianos are great.

3legsgood Mon 22-Jun-15 14:09:35

Some teachers don't mind this for the first grade or 2.
At the cheaper end, this has a good reputation:
Casio CDP-120 Digital Piano
But you can get a decent second hand piano very cheap or free to good home, just find someone who will transport it for you.

SomewhereIBelong Mon 22-Jun-15 14:50:37

We have an electric piano - like the Yamaha Auris (equivalent to that which was around when we bought ) as above - DD is doing G5 later this year. She has managed just fine - she gets practise on a real piano at school

the electric is great - headphones can be used, it is in her bedroom etc and the sound is of great quality. She can also easily record what she plays and listen back.

Her piano teacher is delighted to teach on an electric piano as he says kids who have one tend to practise more than those who have a real piano tucked away in the dining room.

Mistigri Mon 22-Jun-15 15:53:38

We only have a digital piano (the basic yamaha one that retails around £500 new). I think as long as it has weighted keys it's not that much of an issue. DD happily switches between acoustic and digital - they do have a different feel, but then two acoustic pianos and even two digital ones can also feel very different.

We don't have room for an acoustic piano and have no intention of buying one. Dd is playing around grade 6/7 standard now but she is never going to be a concert pianist.

FastLoris Mon 22-Jun-15 16:20:02

I'm a piano teacher and I'd prefer students have a decent digital piano to a crappy acoustic one.

£500 will get you a good digital model that will be easily sufficient for the first few years, and probably to at least grade 5. Just get something with a proper weighted action and good piano sound, and avoid anything with lots of different sounds, bells and whistles etc. Look at Yamaha P- range. Current models I think are P-35 and P-105.

For the same money you could possibly get a decent acoustic piano, but once transport and tuning are accounted for you'd need to be lucky or in the know to do so.

HeadDreamer Mon 22-Jun-15 16:29:05

It won't be just retuning you need. I found I couldn't keep up with the maintenance of an upright when I left home. I sold my real piano and bought a Yamaha stage piano with weighted hammer action keys. The ones where the lower keys are heavier. I found it sounded better than my under maintained acoustic. I felt the weighted keys are very good. And I can't play unweighted keyboards as they feel funny.

Get a good digital piano, not a keyboard and you will be fine. And if the teacher complained, well an upright is nothing like a grand.

In NZ when I grew up, most families have a mini grand. A lot of teachers were snobbish with uprights. Saying how uprights don't prepare you playing concert grands. So there you go.

HeadDreamer Mon 22-Jun-15 16:32:34

Just looked and I have a Yamaha p120. I bought it brand new (trading in my upright). More than 10 years later it's still going strong, and totally maintenance free. And it travelled to UK with me from NZ. Can't recommend enough. I only got to grade 6 so can't say anything about advance student.

I'm glad a piano teacher here agrees it's enough for most students for leisure play.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Mon 22-Jun-15 16:33:58

I have a Roland digital piano. It's lovely. It goes in the garage when I need the space. Plus it can be packed off for gigs etc.

Ferguson Mon 22-Jun-15 20:27:03

OP - a look at some of my previous replies on these topics, as I have replied many times. Search my name and piano, keyboard, music etc.

I'll come back sometime, to see how you are getting on.

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 23-Jun-15 00:05:16

Digitals are fine. I suggest a minimum of the yamaha p-35 for total beginners, up to maybe grade 5 at a push. I hoping to get a good clavinova clp series when I move house - I got to diploma standard on a cheap upright. The CLP series have fully graded hammer action and feel better than my acoustic.

I teach, otoh, on an acoustic, so all my students use it at least once a week. You get used to the difference (I also play organ).

RedKite5004 Tue 23-Jun-15 08:59:03

Thank you everyone for the really helpful responses! I'll go and spend some time now having a look at the models that you've all suggested. Ferguson, thank you, I'll have a look at your previous posts too. I should have thought to look up old posts to see if there was anything on the subject before I posted! If space and money were no object I'd have a white baby grand as I think they look beautiful. I have this vision in my head of one day having a room like the one in the video for John Lennon's Imagine, if anyone remembers that, complete with billowing curtains and nothing else in the room bar the grand piano but as I live in a very small ex farm workers cottage that's not likely to ever become a reality! smile

MissyMew123 Tue 23-Jun-15 12:04:45

We have an Yamaha YDP-162 digital piano. Our daughter has been playing for 6 months now and its been really good so far. At school for lessons she uses accoustic pianos. She says they all have a different feel but seems to cope fine changing from one to the other. Weighted keys and dynamics are a must.

JulieMichelleRobinson Tue 23-Jun-15 13:05:13

I prefer the Yamahas to the Casios or Rolands (though Roland have the distinction of building a digital harpsichord which I covet). The YDP-Arius series are suitable for beginning to late intermediate students, as are the P-series portables. The Clavinovas (CLP-CVP) are better but correspondingly more expensive. The Arius models, except the top range, are more or less the same as the older Clavinova models, with the Clavinova having received massive upgrading in the last 15 years. It's a bit personal, though.

I am thrilled when my students get a digital piano, because many of them start with nothing at all or maybe a rubbish kiddies' keyboard (nothing against decent keyboards but they ain't pianos and these aren't decent).

Ferguson Wed 24-Jun-15 23:37:31

Hi again - as others have said, Yamaha probably offer the best value and range. If you buy via a shop, rather than on-line, don't be afraid to haggle, and try to get a stool, headphones, MIDI cables or other extras included; shops want your custom, and may be flexible on price.

If you have a good computer and a good sound system, and are 'into' a bit of tech, you can do a lot in the way of recording, multi tracking, and obtaining additional sounds via MIDI, but you do need to be 'tech savy' as well as musical.

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