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Weighted keys make a huge difference to the feel of a digital piano. They’re designed to resemble genuine piano keys and provide the right amount of resistance needed to play with expression and dynamic control.
Digital pianos have come a long way in recent years. Finding an affordable option that has weighted keys was a rarity for musicians, but now many of the top manufacturers offer highly playable instruments at fair prices.
We’ve searched for the best budget digital pianos with weighted keys, and gathered our findings in this guide.
- In a Rush Roundup
- How We Tested
- Best Cheap Digital Keyboard With Weighted Keys Reviews
- Best Cheap Digital Pianos with Weighted Keys Buyer's Guide
- Things To Consider When Buying
- How to Choose an Affordable Digital Piano
- Are All Weighted Keys the Same?
- Presets and Sounds
- Cheap Digital Pianos with Weighted Keys FAQs
In a Rush Roundup
How We Tested
To accurately test these budget digital pianos, we focused on playability, sound, and versatility. Firstly, we compared the feel of their weighted keys, and how comfortable they were to play in a variety of styles.
We then took note of the number of onboard presets and effects that the cheap weighted keyboards have, and tested how realistic the sounds were. Finally, we looked at the additional features of the digital pianos, including recording functions and connectivity.
Best Cheap Digital Keyboard With Weighted Keys Reviews
Alesis Recital Pro 88-key Hammer-action Digital Piano
Alesis Recital Pro 88-key Hammer-action Digital Piano Review
With exceptionally responsive, hammer-action keys, the Recital Pro is a brilliant electric piano keyboard. It allows you to choose from 12 high-quality voice presets, including acoustic pianos, synths, strings, and bass sounds.
If you’re looking for a keyboard to improve your skills on, this instrument may be the perfect option, It is equipped with a unique lesson mode, which splits the 88 keys into separate sections so that you can learn alongside a tutor.
The onboard speakers have 20 watts of total power so this keyboard can be used without external amplification. The sound is well-rounded, with clarity across the frequency range.
You can also capture your keyboard playing by using the record mode. This is a useful feature for composers or songwriters who like to save their new ideas to work on at a later date.
A built-in metronome allows you to work on your timing, and you can connect a set of headphones to the Recital Pro to rehearse your pieces without annoying other people.
Finally, this keyboard can be powered either using batteries or AC, facilitating all kinds of live performances.
- 12 onboard voices
- 88 weighted, hammer-action keys
- Record feature
- High-quality sound presets
- Smooth-sounding reverb
- Useful sustain pedal input
- Only has 3 onboard effects
Yamaha P-45 88-key Digital Piano with Speakers
Yamaha P-45 88-key Digital Piano with Speakers Review
Keyboardists who play as part of a live band, or perform their songs solo, require a certain level of mobility from their instrument. The Yamaha P-45 is highly portable, making it well suited to the touring musician.
With 88 graded-hammer weighted keys, playing the P-45 feels remarkably close to a genuine acoustic piano. The keys are extremely responsive to every slight nuance of your playing.
Using sophisticated AWM sampling, Yamaha has managed to recreate the natural sound of 10 acoustic instruments digitally. Each preset is different from the last, and you can then color the tone using the quartet of reverbs built into the instrument.
MIDI USB connectivity allows you to connect the P-45 to your computer or laptop and use it as a controller in your DAW. Alternatively, you can take a line out of the instrument and capture the sounds it produces.
Yamaha generously includes a sustain pedal with this digital piano, so that musicians can make their playing even more expressive.
Finally, you can choose from a range of high-quality sounds such as grand pianos, organs, and vibraphones when playing the P-45.
- 88 graded hammer standard keys
- 4 reverb settings
- USB connectivity
- Responsive, realistic keys
- Minimalist control layout
- Roadworthy design
- Lacks other effects except for reverb
Kawai ES110 88-key Digital Piano with Speakers
Kawai ES110 88-key Digital Piano with Speakers Review
Kawai’s ES110 has 88 touch-sensitive keys, with a hammer compact action. Playing chords and melodies on this instrument is a highly enjoyable experience.
Thanks to the innovative imaging technology used by the manufacturer, this digital piano delivers impressive polyphony of 192 notes, which is significantly more than most instruments in its price range.
Affordable weighted keyboards sometimes lack the sound quality offered by higher-end models, but Kawai has installed 19 pristine-sounding voices in the ES110.
The most impressive sound, in my opinion, is the grand piano voice. Sampled from a Kawai concert piano, this voice sounds incredibly close to the real thing. Also, you get access to a variety of electric piano, organ, and vocal-based presets.
The stereo speakers reach a fairly high volume and are suitable for practicing your skills or intimate performances. To adjust the sounds, you can use the speaker EQ controls and apply the onboard effects.
Another area in which this ES110 excels is its connectivity. Boasting both MIDI and Bluetooth compatibility, it is easy to use the keyboard for recording purposes or to integrate backing tracks into your playing.
- 88 grade-weighted hammer-action keys
- 19 voices
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Great for jamming along to backing tracks
- Varying sensitivity settings
- High quality reverbs
- No percussion sounds
Alesis Concert 88-key Digital Piano
Alesis Concert 88-key Digital Piano Review
With 88 semi-weighted keys, the Alesis Concert provides pianists and keyboardists with all of the required qualities for practicing, recording, and performing live. It’s also one of the cheapest weighted keyboards in its category.
Along with the semi-weighted key design, the sensitivity can be set to any one of four touch response settings. This means that if you are playing a piece that requires more or less resistance, you can adjust the setting accordingly.
This digital piano houses 10 voices, which range from authentic-sounding acoustic pianos to bass presets. It’s also possible to group two of the voices by using the layer mode, and in the process create unique sounds.
The pair of 20-watt inbuilt speakers sound surprisingly good for such an affordable keyboard, and you can easily hook up your headphones to practice quietly.
Once you’ve selected the sounds you’d like to use, it’s then possible to customize them further by adding a lush sounding chorus or spacey reverb to the output. Split mode allows you to use different voice presets in the left and right hands.
The Concert also provides flexible connectivity. USB MIDI makes DAW control possible, and the keyboard also comes with a sustain pedal.
- 88 semi-weighted keys
- 10 onboard effects
- USB MIDI connectivity
- Can be powered by batteries
- Lightweight, mobile design
- Ideal for practicing or recording piano parts
- Keys are not fully weighted
Casio CDP-S350 Compact Digital Piano
Casio CDP-S350 Compact Digital Piano Review
Casio is considered a legend in the world of keyboard manufacturing. Their instruments have been used by some of the most prominent artists over the past few decades, and with the CDP-S350 the brand proves it’s still at the top of its game.
This keyboard is likely to inspire new creative ideas. Rather than simply being an instrument to play or practice on, it is loaded with features to aid you in your songwriting and composing.
It includes a huge selection of over 700 sounds – significantly more than most affordable digital pianos. Each sound is different from the last, and you can gain access to everything from acoustic instruments to heavily processed synths.
The 88 responsive keys are of the scaled, hammer action variety. This is considered one of the most realistic varieties of keys, so if you like the feel of a real piano, you’ll love the comfort this keyboard provides.
The CDP-S350 also comes with an LCD, a pitch-bend wheel, and a range of onboard effects. There are 100 arpeggio patterns to choose from, 10 types of reverbs, 4 types of chorus, and 200 predetermined rhythm tracks.
- 88 scaled hammer-action keys
- 10 onboard reverbs
- 6-track recordings
- Great tool for songwriting and composing
- Clear, visible LCD
- Huge selection of rhythms and presets
- Some of the controls are a little complex
Korg B2SP Digital Piano Package
Korg B2SP Digital Piano Package Review
If you’re used to playing a keyboard on a desk, or resting on your knees, switching to a real piano can be challenging. It’s similar to a guitarist who has only ever played sitting down then tries to play standing up.
The B2SP by Korg comes with a sturdy stand which makes it feel like a genuine acoustic piano. The weighted hammer action keys also enhance the authenticity of the instrument.
There are four separate settings for the touch sensitivity of the 88 keys so that you can experiment to find the perfect balance for your playing style.
Included in the memory bank of the Korg B2SP are 12 high-quality sounds. Korg is a highly respected instrument manufacturer, and they never fail to impress when it comes to the presets and voices that their keyboards produce.
The standout instrument voice is the grand pianos. Combined with the highly realistic feel of the keys, these sounds could easily be mistaken for a Steinway grand – they sound that good!
Korg has installed several inputs and outputs to maximize the functionality of this digital piano. This includes an auxiliary input for playing along to other songs or backing tracks and a USB port for MIDI connectivity.
- 88 natural weighted hammer-action keys
- 12 piano and organ presets
- Onboard metronome
- Comfortable stand
- Looks and feels like a real piano
- Three pedals for variations
- Larger than most electric keyboards
Best Cheap Digital Pianos with Weighted Keys Buyer's Guide
Digital pianos with weighted keys don’t have to cost a small fortune – as you can see by the many affordable options we’ve listed in this guide.
These instruments are ideal for musicians who want to improve their piano playing skills, access a range of different sounds, and for playing live shows or recordings.
Weighted keys make a huge difference to the playability of a digital piano. Still, there are many other aspects that also need to be looked at to ensure that you choose the right instrument for your specific needs.
Here are some of the things that we feel you should think about before you decide which cheap digital piano is the best choice.
Things To Consider When Buying
Consider the type of weighted keys
Electric pianos come with varying levels of weighted keys. There are hammer-action keys, which feel very close to a real piano. Then there are semi-weighted keyboards which are generally more affordable.
Think about MIDI connectivity
Do you intend to use your cheap digital piano mainly for practicing your skills, or is it likely to be used as a tool for music production? If you fall into the latter category, make sure you look out for USB MIDI connectivity so you can hook the instrument up to your DAW.
Consider the onboard speakers
To get the best sound from a digital piano, it’s recommended that you connect the instrument to an amplifier or monitors. Nevertheless, most of them come with inbuilt speakers that provide a decent level of volume.
Identify the sounds you need
Digital pianos have a selection of presets for you to choose from. These include a range of grand piano sounds, in addition to Wurlitzers, organs, and more. If there’s a specific sound you’d like to use, make sure you check that the keyboard houses it.
How to Choose an Affordable Digital Piano
Cheap digital pianos may lack more advanced features that manufacturers install on their high-end models, but they can still perform to a high standard.
These instruments are generally more focused on one specific area of digital piano playing rather than the additional features and capabilities that can overcomplicate them.
When you’re trying to decide which cheap digital piano is best for you, the first thing you need to do is think about which of the main aspects you care about the most. If playability is the most important thing, then you need some high-quality weighted keys.
If, on the other hand, you’d like a digital piano that can be used as a capable MIDI controller, then you should look for one that includes several assignable controls and faders. This will give you more options when using the keyboard with a DAW.
Then there are the all-rounders, which don’t specialize in comfort or controls, but rather provide a good level of every necessary quality that is essential for a digital piano with weighted keys.
Are All Weighted Keys the Same?
Although there’s less variety on affordable digital pianos, you’ll find different types of weighted keys installed on these instruments. Understanding how these types impact your playing is important.
Manufacturers may use different terms to describe the feel of their weighted keys. However, they fall into four categories – semi-weighted, fully-weighted, hammer action, and graded keys.
Due to the price range we’re discussing with the digital pianos featured in this guide, you’re much more likely to encounter semi-weighted and fully-weighted keys than hammer action or graded keys.
A digital piano with no weighted keys whatsoever will feel unresponsive, and it is very hard to express any dynamic variations while playing these keys.
Semi-weighted keys make a huge difference compared to unweighted keys. They provide some resistance that allows you to control the velocity of each note more deliberately.
If we compare semi-weighted keys to fully-weighted ones, you’ll notice that the latter are significantly more realistic feeling. They still don’t feel exactly like an acoustic piano, but they come close.
Hammer-action and graded keys are almost identical in feel to a real piano, but the digital pianos that have them installed are most likely outside of the price range that we’re discussing here.
Presets and Sounds
One of the advantages of using a digital piano over an acoustic one is that you can access a range of different sounds.
This can make your practice sessions more interesting as you explore the sounds of electric pianos, Wurlitzers, strings, and even in some cases, synthesizer sounds.
You can then use these sounds in your live performances or record them into your preferred software and use them for composing.
Cheap Digital Pianos with Weighted Keys FAQs
What is the Difference Between a Digital Piano and a MIDI Keyboard?
Although some digital pianos also have built-in MIDI connectivity, the main difference is that they are designed predominantly for practicing and performing rather than inputting MIDI information into a computer.
MIDI controllers have more assignable controls and parameters that can be used to operate various aspects of plugins and VST instruments. Digital pianos don’t need to be plugged into a computer to work effectively, as they have built-in sounds and effects.
Can You Use Effects Pedals with Digital Pianos?
Effects pedals can be used with digital pianos in the same way they are used with electric guitar or bass. However, you’ll need to connect the piano to an external amp or speaker so the pedals can be used.
The effects pedals should be placed between the keyboard and the speakers in the signal chain. Then, when they are turned on, the effects will alter the sound of the keyboard.
Is a Digital Piano Good to Learn On?
Digital pianos are great tools for those who want to learn how to play. Indeed, they may not provide the same experience as playing an acoustic piano. Still, you can certainly improve your skills on a digital piano by learning the basics and developing through consistent practice.