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Is your piano or keyboard suitable?

If you have a piano or keyboard, it is probably suitable for learning with Easy Piano Teacher.
But make sure you check for these features:

 

Pianos

Tuning

Your piano should be in tune at concert pitch, so that the tutorial match the notes from your piano. 

A piano tuner can check for you, or anyone with an understanding of tuning and a good ear. There are tuning videos on YouTube that might help. Alternatively, use the Upload your video page to send me a video of some of the middle piano keys being played, and I\’ll let you know if it\’s at concert pitch (or near enough).

Working keys

Play all the white and black keys and make sure they produce a note without jamming or sticking. If there are faulty keys at the outer edges that\’s okay, but (dividing the keyboard roughly into quarters) the middle two quarters of the keys need to work correctly.

Keyboards

Key size

Your keyboard should have full-size keys. To check this, measure the width of 7 white keys: it should be greater than 6 inches or 15cm.

Key range

Your keyboard should have a range of at least 5 octaves. Count all the white and black keys and make sure you have at least 61.

Touch/velocity sensitivity

The keys should be touch sensitive (\”velocity sensitive\”). To check, turn your keyboard off and on again. Before touching any other buttons or controls, play any key very gently, and then play the same key again with a much greater force. When you play with greater force, the note should be louder. If so, it\’s touch sensitive. This feature is very important and less-expensive keyboards sometimes don\’t have it – you need it.

What if my piano or keyboard isn\’t suitable?

If you need to upgrade, there\’s no need to spend a fortune. Here are some tips for buying a new or secondhand instrument:

 

Pianos – new

New acoustic pianos

If you\’re buying a new piano, as a beginner, just about any recognisable brand will do. But do consider a digital piano instead, because they have more features, never need retuning and can be used with headphones.

New digital pianos

Digital pianos range in quality from poor to excellent, so take care when choosing. Yamaha have a good  range of  reasonably-priced pianos with weighted keys. I suggest:

Low budget: the Yamaha P45 is a more portable piano that sits on a folding stand.
US: Yamaha P45 on amazon.com
UK: Yamaha P45 on amazon co.uk

Medium budget: the Yamaha Arius S52 is a more permanent console-style piano.
US: Yamaha Arius S52 on amazon.com 
UK: Yamaha Arius S52 on amazon.co.uk

Higher budget: if you really want to treat yourself, leave Yamaha behind and take a look at the Kawai Concert Artist CA48. I\’ve had a previous model (the CA-15) for a few years now and I\’m delighted with it!

WARNING: I have come across one or two very poor digital pianos in the $250-$450 range. They are often from brands you\’ve never heard of, and they\’re best avoided!

Pianos – secondhand

Secondhand acoustic pianos

This is where things become a little tricky. There are plenty of \’cheap\’ pianos around but if you\’re not careful, you\’ll end up giving a home to a large, heavy but basically useless piece of furniture! Follow the piano suitability guidelines at the top of this page and buy carefully! Consider buying a secondhand digital piano instead.

Secondhand digital pianos 

If you\’re buying secondhand, digital pianos are a little safer, but you still need to check everything is working properly. Again, follow the suitability guidelines at the top of the page. And if your budget is limited, a new keyboard might have a similar price tag to a secondhand digital piano?

Keyboards – new

Brand

If you\’re buying from new, I always recommend Yamaha. They are the leading brand and their keyboards have lots of useful features and an excellent sound. They are also very well-built and reliable; I have used Yamaha keyboards for many years with almost no need for repairs or maintenance.

I recommend…

Low budget: the Yamaha PSR-E363 has a good piano voice and plenty of features.
 US: Yamaha PSR-E363 on Amazon.com
 UK: Yamaha PSR-E363 on Amazon.co.uk

Medium budget: the Yamaha PSR-EW300 is similar but with 76 keys: closer to a full piano range.
  US: PSR-EW300 on amazon.com
  UK: PSR-EW300 on amazon.co.uk

Higher budget: the Yamaha DGX-660 has excellent keyboard features and a full piano range of weighted keys (88.)
  US: DGX-660 on amazon.com
  UK: DGX-660 on amazon.co.uk

Other good brands include Roland, Korg and Casio. Whichever keyboard you choose, make sure it has all the required features listed at the top of this page.

There are also some budget keyboard brands which are often of poor quality. As a general rule, if you\’ve never heard of it, avoid it!

Keyboards – secondhand

Brand

If you\’re buying secondhand, Yamaha is still the best option, but there are plenty of good keyboards available from Casio, Korg, Roland and many other brands. 

What to look for

Check for the keyboard features above. If you have the opportunity to try-before-you-buy (and you should!) make sure the touch-sensitivity is working on all the keys. Play each key gently and then more forcefully to make sure they can all play loudly and quietly. Select the piano sound (usually it\’s the default setting anyway) and make sure you like it.