Digital pianos are often the best choice for pianists due to the fact that they can be played quietly (monitored via headphones, for example) and because they are so portable compared to standard acoustic pianos.
With modern technology, a digital piano can be designed to feel and sound just like its acoustic counterpart. It should come as no surprise, then, that a good number of manufacturers/brands have brought digital pianos to the market.
Finding the best digital piano for your playing is largely dependent on budget, feel, functionality, size, and overall sound. Though the brand is far from the most important factor, it's worth considering. With so many brands out there, we'll focus our attention in this article on what I believe to be the top 9 best digital piano brands on the market.
Though obviously subjective and prone to biases, I’ve done my best to list out these brands based on the following metrics (in no particular order):
- Company reputation
- Variety of digital pianos
- Performance of the digital pianos
- Currently in operation
With all that being said, let’s list out the brands.
The Top 9 Best Digital Piano Brands Are:
Let’s get into each of these brands in greater detail and explain why they belong in the top 9 best digital piano brands. I’ll share their country of origin, a bit of history, an example of a notable piano model, and a link to their official website.
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Casio is one of those brands that requires no introduction. Many homes in the 1980s and 1990s had at least one affordable, intuitive, and good-sounding Casio electric organ.
Indeed, many people in that time learned to play piano on an inexpensive Casio (wearing a calculator wristwatch by the same brand, obviously).
This huge Japanese corporation set out to create the best, most reliable pianos and organs at a price that most people could afford. The result was a true revolution that continues to this day; their Privia line of electric pianos can be spotted in stages and homes around the world.
While they may not compare with the high-end pianos from other names on this list, like Yamaha, they also cost a fraction of the price. The superb price-to-performance ratio, however, makes Casio one of the number-one choices for students and casual players in the world.
Notable digital piano: Casio Privia Pro PX-560
For piano players who want to go a little further without stepping too far into synthesizer territory, this Privia attempts to create a perfect balance of both worlds.
To begin with, the central touch screen with a 5.3” full-colour display is intuitive and allows you to navigate instruments at ease with one touch. In the same vein, Casio’s Hex Layer technology transforms it into a full-fledged stage synthesizer. You can even add a backing band to your creations at any time.
Finally, the tri-sensor scaled hammer action is Casio’s technology to reproduce the weight and touch of a grand piano key. Furthermore, keys get heavier as you reach the lower register.
For avid learners, professional musicians, and occasional players, this is a serious choice.
Straight from Japan, Korg is not just another competitor for Casio but a colossal name in electric pianos on its own. Although it was founded in the same country as Casio only 20 years later, the two companies have very different profiles.
While Casio is the number one entry-level keyboard brand globally, Korg is the quintessential synthesizer brand. Indeed, they are the name behind timeless classics like the K1M, for example.
But what can Korg offer the world of electric pianos? Well, the years of leverage as a keyboard manufacturer make every Korg electric piano you put your hands on a fine instrument. Furthermore, they employ a mixture of modern and classic features, trying to push the boundaries of what we know an electric piano can do.
For the player who likes going a little beyond the margins of classic performance, Korg could offer a great canvas to paint on.
Notable digital piano: Korg Grandstage 88
Speaking of a great canvas to paint your imagination on, the Korg Grandstage 88 is one of the most complete colour palettes you can buy. Moreover, this is Korg’s flagship electric piano, which means that they put extra effort into making it a timeless classic.
The Grandstage 88 is designed with ultimate precision and attention to detail. Although this shines on the perfectly laid out user interface, the true power is under the hood, where seven different sound engines coexist to offer limitless sound options.
These sounds are easy to tamper with since delay and reverb have their own knobs for on-the-fly adjustments, and you can divide the keys to play base with one sound and lead with another.
Speaking of keys, they are equipped with the RH3 engine, allowing the nuances of your playing to shine through.
Another brand founded in Japan just ten years after Korg in the early 70s, Roland has a history of making music-bending synthesizers.
What sets them apart? Well, it is a synonym for high-end audio throughout its catalogue. If we were to make a comparison with Korg, Roland is a tad more expensive and seen, among many players, a step up from them.
Moreover, Roland managed to revolutionize almost every piece of electronic music equipment out there. For example, the iconic TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines shaped an entire Hip-Hop generation, while the Juno-106 and the TB-303 bass synthesizers did the same with electronic music.
Arguably, Roland helped outline the music we listen to today, but they’re not over yet. Indeed, the company still employs over 2,500 people and has offices in at least three different continents.
Those who can afford it will never go wrong buying a Roland product.
Notable digital piano: Roland FP-90X
This flagship digital piano by Roland boasts the company’s best effort to create a timeless piece. Thus, the most advanced sound-applied technology beats under the hood of this great-looking music-making machine.
To begin with, the piano modeling technology, including a piano designer, will have you playing your favourite acoustic piano sounds and will also allow you to create a custom template from real, sampled piano sounds.
Furthermore, you can dive inside the nuances of every model and hear the differences through the four-speaker system installed right on the unit.
Playing-wise, the feel of the wooden-sided piano keys with a mechanic weight mechanism will convince even the most traditional of players.
Finally, to make the past meet the future, you can connect to the piano through USB or Bluetooth and play the night away over your favourite classics.
The FP-90X can be the perfect piano for the demanding player. If you are after quality and can afford the price tag, this might be the ideal option.
The Yamaha Corporation is not only the world’s largest piano manufacturer; it is also one of the best.
Indeed, it is not uncommon to find a Yamaha Grand Concert acoustic piano right next to Steinway & Sons or Fazioli in the most demanding stages on the planet.
Like their world-class acoustic pianos, Yamaha digital pianos maintain their reputation as some of the best musical instruments in the world.
This is no surprise once you learn that the company has been manufacturing pianos since 1887. It took almost a century and a half to perfect its craft to a point where it can only compete with the best in the world. This quality in craftsmanship cascades into their electronic piano department, making them quality instruments, to say the least.
Yamaha is a superb choice for those who are serious about music playing and want to invest good money in a state-of-the-art electric piano.
Moreover, if you don’t want any modern features and want to concentrate your investment on the best acoustic piano simulator in the market, perhaps Yamaha is the brand for you.
Notable digital piano: Yamaha P-125
Unlike previous models, the Yamaha P-125 is an entry-level piano from their acclaimed P-series. Although you will not find either Korg’s flexibility or Roland’s limitless options, this minimalist approach to piano playing might be the best to practice with no distractions.
Indeed, with only a few effects and piano models in a sober user interface, you can concentrate on that complex suite you’re trying to play perfectly.
Speaking of which, playing this electric piano is a pleasure for those who love acoustic vertical and grand pianos. This is because Yamaha ensures every unit, from the cheapest digital to the most expensive grand piano, bears their distinctive ease of playing and high-quality keys.
Finally, functions like the built-in metronome, preset songs to play along with, 20 rhythm patterns, and the ability to record up to a song make this an excellent choice for any student who is serious about learning the piano on a great instrument.
Nord is, perhaps, the newest addition to the Parthenon of the greatest keyboard brands in the world. Righteously so, their products can compete against and, to many ears, defeat the flagship pianos of the best brands in the world.
Although it started as the keyboard line from its parent company, Clavia, Nord didn’t take long to shake the world.
Its distinguishing red colour finds itself on stages around the world with models like the Nord Lead, the Nord Electro, and the Nord Modular, which have become increasingly common since the late 90s.
Nowadays, owning a Nord keyboard is a symbol of “making it” for players and professional musicians.
In the same line, if we could make a comparison with the brands we’ve seen so far, you could get started with a Korg, then move to Roland, but you’ll feel you’re in the big leagues when you finally get to Nord.
Not only do they sound impressive, but they are also constructed thinking of the highest performance standards in the market. If you can afford it, a Nord keyboard is always a great idea.
Notable digital piano: Nord Grand
Borrowing Kawai’s amazing hammer action, few instruments can come this close to the natural feel of a vertical piano without all the hassle.
Indeed, sitting at the Nord Grand, you get the same epic feel as you would from a Wurlitzer or Rhodes, but with a twist. You’ll feel you’re laying hands on a new classic in the making.
Let’s begin by speaking about the key bed. It is equipped with triple sensors that can capture even the slightest key movement.
Adding to that, the seamless transitions when changing programs make it an excellent tool for expression. These programs can also be applied to half the keys so you can have one hand on the base and play lead with the other.
For piano lovers, Nord’s proprietary included triple pedal can take care of the three classic pedals in a breeze.
Furthermore, to help you shape the sound even further, the unit comes equipped with high-quality stereo effects, a three-mode reverb unit, and a dedicated sample synth section with dynamic controls.
If you are a serious player, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Italy is a country famous for the engineering of fast cars and ultra-chic, high-couture clothing design. This brand has managed to mix both spirits in the creation of a great line of pianos.
Let’s begin by saying that when buying a Dexibell, you’ll be investing in state-of-the-art equipment that can perform even at the most demanding stages.
Furthermore, since it is not such a well-known brand as Nord, for example, you’ll very likely bring a different timbre to the mix.
That being said, don’t let the lack of attention Dexibell receives confuse you. This company produces digital pianos that compete against the best and outdo them in many aspects.
Furthermore, the attention to detail and superior craftsmanship that sets many Italian brands apart is also present in each musical creation by this company.
If you want the best of the Italian leverage creating beautiful pieces of extraordinary quality, and can afford the price, a Dexibell will never leave you wanting for more.
Notable digital piano: Dexibell VIVO S9
With a very similar price tag to the Nord’s Grand Piano, the Dexibell Vivo S9 has nothing to envy of Nord’s flagship keyboard. The hybrid (wood & plastic) structure used for the keys is gentle to the touch and provides a similar feeling to playing a high-end straight piano.
Plus, the weight changes as you approach the bass side, making it closer to the real deal.
On the other hand, the technology applied to the unit’s brain allows you to play with virtually any sound you can conceive.
From the True 2 Life technology applied to the original piano sounds to the sampling and modeling technology that allows you to fully reconfigure the instrument using sounds from the Dexibell online library, there’s very little this piano can’t do for you.
Finally, the unlimited polyphony, 24-bit resolution, and the 1.5GB memory bank that can process any “Sound Font” file make this the perfect companion for the home, the road, and the studio. See it in action in this video.
Founded almost a century ago in Japan, Koichi Kawai learned the craft of a piano luthier from his neighbour, Torakasu Yamaha. Yes, the same man who founded the Yamaha Corporation.
Under his apprenticeship, Koichi learned a lot and founded Kawai in 1927. The Kawai Company is still under family control and continues to design, manufacture, and distribute grand, upright, and digital pianos in over 80 countries worldwide.
Throughout the century, the company has been active. They’ve designed and built countless acoustic pianos and synthesizers, drum machines (prevalent in the 80s), organs, and hybrid pianos (Novus series).
Although by the 60s and 70s, Kawai’s Grand Pianos were sought-after by institutions and venues due to their outstanding quality and relatively affordable price, the brand’s big break came in the 80s. During this decade, their breakthrough electronic equipment became part of the sonic revolution of the time.
Kawai buyers will find that the company’s long tradition of building pianos is present in every key of their entire product line.
Notable digital piano: Kawai MP11SE
Part of Kawai’s line of stage pianos, what the company tried to do with this unit was to create a musical instrument that would answer stage demands but wouldn’t feel strange to a real pianist’s hands.
First of all, the acoustic piano sounds and the overall craftsmanship of the instrument are clearly on the positive side. After all, Kawai has been making keyboards for over a hundred years.
Secondly, the ability to recreate the classics (Wurlitzer, Rhodes) and add on top 100 different effects make this a very versatile instrument.
For those who like to go on an adventure playing solo, the “subsidiary sounds” included by Kawai, offering strings, pads, basses, and more, could very well be the perfect accompaniment for an entire afternoon of fun.
Finally, a stereo output made of XLR jacks makes this the perfect stage piano for going straight into the PA system without any sound loss.
With a lower price tag than Nord and Dexibell but boasting a plethora of options, this is a serious candidate that deserves attention before purchasing a new digital piano.
Ray Kurzweil’s first client was Stevie Wonder. But it wasn’t a musical instrument that the musician bought from Kurzweil, but the first print-to-speech reading machine in the world. The year was 1976, and soon after, the company and the musician forged a lifelong friendship.
Stevie suggested to the people from Kurzweil they should make him some instruments. That was the moment the spark was first lit.
Consequently, Kurzweil Music Systems was born in 1982, and Stevie Wonder became their technical advisor and guru.
The same spirit of innovation and Stevie Wonder’s fearless approach turned Kurzweil into a favourite for musicians in need of a broad colour palette besides the grand piano sounds. Soon after, musicians the size of Sir Paul McCartney, The Who, and Earth, Wind and Fire started using Kurzweil keyboards both live and in the studio.
Today, Kurzweil continues down the path of applying the most advanced technology achievements to sound shaping with outstanding results.
Notable digital piano: Kurzweil Forte
The Kurzweil Forte is the company’s flagship piano for the most demanding players in the world. Indeed, if you take a look at the specs and the price tag of this unit, you’ll come to realize that it is a great option when compared to top-tier brands such as Dexibell and Nord.
What sets Forte apart from the competition? Well, the company has decided to invest predominantly in the “Workstation” part of the instrument.
For the pianists out there, the combination of German and Japanese classic models makes this a true workhorse that can perform in any style.
Moreover, the V.A.S.T. technology, along with the 88-note Italian-action keyboard, can make this the perfect template to play the music you want, editing each aspect of the sound from the front panel.
If you are a serious player and want an instrument with virtually infinite sonic options to choose from, this might be your best bet.
Although Alesis is a relatively new player in the game, they have created an impeccable reputation. Fun fact: a lot of that attention began with a now-outdated piece of equipment that set the benchmark for making records in the 80s/90s: the Alesis ADAT.
Since that moment, the brand has created audio mixers, recorders, audio processors, amplifiers, drum machines, and digital pianos and synthesizers. The company currently holds offices in the United States, where all design takes place, but manufactures its products entirely in China.
By April 2001, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and was consequently acquired by Jack O’Donnell (of inMusic Brands), who chose to enlarge the scope to musical instruments. Thus, Alesis became an option for recording equipment as well as for playing live.
Nowadays, their keyboard and synthesizer lines feature options for the studio, the stage, and for aspiring musicians to learn the craft. Each of the lines still carries the innovational spirit that once gave birth to the brand.
Notable digital piano: Alesis Recital Pro
Intended for the piano student rather than the stage professional, this is an excellent option for those who want to learn to play a comprehensive, easy-to-use, killer-sounding electric piano.
With that in mind, the purchase of a Recital Pro will grant access to two very powerful learning tools:
- Skoove Premium: get three months of free access to this premium piano-learning platform. Utilizing Skoove, you can learn to master the piano while playing your favourite songs from the extensive database.
- Takelessons Live: this platform for piano-playing video lessons is America’s largest lessons company. You can choose to participate in any class for the lapse of two months free.
Considering what’s included in the bundle, it is not hard to understand what the instrument profile Alesis is going for with the Recital Pro. But it doesn’t end there since the company also included 12 customizable sounds ranging from classic piano to fingered bass.
Finally, you also have some on-board sound-shaping capabilities such as modulation effects and reverb. If you want to learn to play the piano with a superb instrument at an affordable price, this might be a great choice.