9 Best Upright Piano Brands (for Beginners, Professionals, etc.)
Are you in the market for the best upright piano? Are you curious to learn about the best brands and products? Do you wonder if you should purchase a digital or acoustic upright piano? Are you interested in learning about the importance of the number, weight, and texture of the keys, and any built-in features that make some upright pianos better than others? If so, then check out this review of the 8 best upright pianos!
Top Picks: 9 Best Upright Pianos Reviews
Casio has been at the forefront of digital piano technology for close to 4 decades. They pioneered the realm of affordable digital keyboards. Because of this, Casio is occasionally relegated to an undesirable position. Sometimes their instruments are viewed more as kitschy toys and less as true, creative instruments. One example to prove all the critics wrong is the Casio Privia PX-870, our best overall upright piano.
The Casio Privia PX-870 is one of Casio’s higher-end instruments and the results are truly remarkable. The Privia PX-870 features a full 88 keys with Casio’s Tri-Sensor II Scaled Hammer Action weight system. This proprietary hammer-action system is precisely scaled across the length of the keyboard to accurately reflect the changes in action from the low end of an acoustic piano to the higher end. The keys are also designed with a simulated ebony and ivory texture to provide an authentic and comfortable playing experience.
The Casio Privia PX-870 is a digital piano and features 19 tones modeled using Casio’s award-winning AiR Sound Source technology. This technology includes a number of interesting features, including key action sounds, key off simulation, adjustable hammer response, and a lid simulator with four positions. The PX-870 also includes string resonance, which exposes the sympathetic harmonic relationships between vibrating strings. These distinct details combine to reproduce extremely accurate and precise versions of acoustic piano sounds.
Overall, the Casio Privia PX-870 is a great choice for the beginner or professional pianist. Casio is a well established brand in the digital upright piano realm and the Privia PX-870 is the flagship model of their Privia line. The combination of attention to detail and powerful and accurate modeling technology makes for a piano that sounds great for beginning lessons or professional practice or performance.
Lagrima is a producer of inexpensive instruments of many varieties including pianos, guitars, drum sets, and band and orchestra instruments. They are based in China and mostly sell from online vendors. The Lagrima LG8830 is an accessible and affordable instrument for a beginning instrumentalist and is our budget pick for an upright piano.
The Lagrima LG8830 includes a full 88 keys like a traditional acoustic upright piano. Like the Casio Privia, the Lagrima LG8830 also features a hammer weighted feel which is designed to closely resemble the feel of an acoustic piano. Also like the Casio, the Lagrima’s keys feel heavier in the lower register and lighter in the higher register. This gives the piano an authentic feel which will increase the player’s enjoyment of the instrument.
The Lagrima is also a digital instrument and features 960 unique tones inside the piano’s sound bank. This is an incredible number of tones, the largest amount of any piano on this list, and a sure gateway to a fun and creative playing experience. To top it all off, the LG8300 features a 3 pedal system (sustain pedal, soft pedal, and practice pedal) just like a traditional acoustic piano and also a built-in stereo speaker system so you can rock out at a comfortable volume anywhere in your house!
Overall, the Lagrima LG8300 is the best upright piano for the money and a solid choice if you are on a tight budget. The LG8300 includes many desirable features like fully-weighted keys, a built-in speaker system and 960 built-in tones for creative exploration. If you are looking for a decent quality upright piano without ruining your bank account, then check out the Lagrima LG8300 today!
The ONE Smart Piano is an innovative upright piano and our best choice for beginners. The ONE Smart Piano fuses digital technology and music learning games into a convenient and accessible instrument perfect for all ages. The ONE Smart Piano is the world’s only Apple MFI-certified upright digital piano (1). The company has also won a number of prestigious awards in instrumental technology and music education categories.
The ONE Smart Piano features a full-length 88-key keyboard. The key’s are weighted with a graded-hammer action designed to accurately simulate the feel of an acoustic piano. These are standard features for an upright piano and it is great to see that a piano designed for beginners includes these appointments. In addition, the Smart Piano includes 128 sampled tones and a handful of drum beats to get your creativity flowing.
The most impressive feature of the Smart Piano is its ability to pair with technology. The Smart Piano can be linked with any smart device such as an iOS system, iPad, iPhone, and Android. The paired app includes over 100 video lessons, free games, and 4000+ pages of sheet music. The ONE Smart Piano also includes LED lights inside the keys to help guide you through the lessons in the app. This is an amazing benefit for the beginner and will allow you to jump right in to learning the piano without needing a teacher immediately.
Overall, the ONE Smart Piano is an excellent learning tool for the beginning pianist. While the price is a little bit higher than the average upright piano on this list, the Smart Piano includes many awesome features that the other pianos do not. Plus, if you include the cost of piano lessons into the equation, the ONE Smart Piano will save you in the long run.
If you are looking for a no-frills, basic level upright piano, then check out the Artesia DP-3 Plus Digital Home Upright Piano. Artesia is a manufacturer of mobile keyboards, digital home upright pianos, MIDI controllers, monitor speakers, and more. The DP-3 Plus is their highest-end model digital upright piano and includes many of the desirable features in an upright piano.
Like all the other upright pianos on this list, the Artesia DP-3 Plus features a full 88 keys with full scale hammer action for a realistic feel. Additionally, the keys on the DP-3 are velocity sensitive, meaning the speed in which you push the keys affects the volume of the tone. With 5 adjustable velocity settings, this further increases the DP-3’s accuracy and authenticity.
The Artesia DP-3 only includes 8 tones. Compared to the other pianos on this list, the DP-3 is lacking in this area. However, the DP-3 uses Artesia’s Supra Sound sampling technology. Each of the 8 tones is composed of a 3 layer sample of a real-life instrument. The 8 tones include: Grand Piano, E-Piano, Harpsichord, Vibes, Nylon Guitar, Organ, Strings and Bass. The Artesia DP-3 also includes built-in speakers and MIDI, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity for enhanced practice abilities.
Overall, the Artesia DP-3 is a great digital upright piano if you are looking for a basic, functional piano with nothing you don’t need. The DP-3 does not include 100 tones you will never use. Instead, the focus is on simplicity and quality and the Artesia DP-3 covers this territory adequately.
The Donner DDP-100 Digital Piano is a basic and affordable upright piano perfect for the practicing beginner. Donner is a relatively new brand, debuting their mini-effect pedals in 2012. Their instruments are designed for beginners and are affordable and accessible.
The Donner DDP-100 features 88 keys. The keys are weighted with Donner’s heavy-hammer weighted system. According to the Donner website, this weighting system (2):
truly restores the real feel of the original piano, cultivates your interest in the piano, helps you train a good performance posture, and makes progress in the fastest time.
Having a piano with proper weighted keys is beneficial if you want to make the most consistent progress and have the most realistic experience with a digital upright piano. The Donner DDP-100 also features only a single, digital piano tone. Compared to many of the other pianos on this list, the Donner DDP-100 is lacking in tones. However, the DDP-100 uses Donner’s AWM sampling technology to accurately model the sound of a true, acoustic grand piano.
Overall, the Donner DDP-100 is a fine upright digital piano for a beginner student. The DDP-100 does not feature anything particularly amazing. If you are interested in a simple, affordable, and decent piano for your practice with weighted keys and an acceptable grand piano sound, then the DP-100 is a solid choice.
The Yamaha YDP103 Arius Series is Yamaha’s most affordable digital upright piano (3). The Arius Series is designed for the beginner to intermediate pianist and makes a stylish addition to just about any living space in your house. High quality features and attention to details and authenticity make this a great upright piano to own.
The YDP103 features 88 keys with Yamaha’s Graded Hammer Standard weighted key action. Like the other high end upright pianos on this list, the YDP103 features heavier action in the lower registers and lighter action in the higher registers, similar to a traditional acoustic grand piano. The YDP103 also features synthetic ebony and ivory keys to further enhance the authenticity and playability of the piano.
The Yamaha YDP103 comes equipped with 10 built-in tones modeled using Yamaha’s Advanced Wave Memory stereo sampling. The Arius Series goes a step further and includes Yamaha’s Virtual Resonance Modeling system to accurately recreate the resonance of the soundboard, rim and frame of an acoustic grand piano. The YDP103 also includes USB connectivity so that you can connect the instrument to any smart device to access Yamaha’s piano learning apps.
Overall, the Yamaha YDP103 is a well-built digital upright piano perfect for a beginner, intermediate, or advanced pianist. Yamaha has a long-established reputation for quality instruments and the Arius Series is a clear example of their skill and craftsmanship. The combination of Yamaha’s excellent modeling technology and synthetic keys makes for a solid piano for an affordable price.
The Casio CGP-700BK is a meticulously crafted upright digital piano that successfully blends analog and digital technologies into a seamless package. The CGP-700BK includes many of the award-winning features of the Casio Privia PX-870, the best overall upright piano on this list.
The CGP-700BK features a full 88 keys with Casio’s Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard system for a true and authentic piano feeling. The CGP-700BK also features textured keys to further enhance the realistic nature of the instrument. Like many of the other keyboards on this list, the CGP-700BK’s keyboard feels heavier in the lower registers and lighter in the higher registers.
While the CGP-700BK features over 550 different tones, the CGP-700BK’s grand piano is modeled after a 9 foot concert grand piano and was recorded with over 2 dozen microphones in a world-class studio to deliver an amazing tone full of rich detail. And, like the Yamaha Arius Series, the CGP-700BK includes resonance modeling to further enhance the quality of the tone.
Overall, the Casio CGP-700BK is a great choice for a pianist interested in an instrument with an authentic feel and a large bank of tones. Additionally, the CGP-700BK’s 6-speaker built-in sound system is top quality. The CGP-700BK includes many of the same features as the Privia PX-870, the Yamaha YDP103, and the Artesia DP-3 for a comparable price.
More frequently known for their acoustic upright pianos, the Kawai CA49 is the introductory model to their Concert Artist series of digital upright pianos. The CA49 is comparable to all of the upright pianos on this list but for twice the price of the most expensive other models.
The Kawai CA49 features 88 keys with a grade-weight hammer made from wood with a synthetic ivory coating. The keys also feature a let-off simulation, triple sensor key detection, and bass region counterweights. All of these features combine for an authentic and high-quality piano experience informed by Kawai’s generations of acoustic piano craftsmanship.
The Kawai CA49 also features an incredible number of high-end adjustments. The 17 featured adjustments include Touch Curve, Voicing, Damper Resonance, String Resonance, Fall-back Noise and Minimum Touch. These high-end adjustments allow for a greater deal of variability in tone and feeling than any of the other pianos and partially explain the higher price point of the CA49.
Overall, the Kawai CA49 is the highest-end and most expensive keyboard on this list. Although it only includes 8 tones, it also includes the highest degree of variability in each tone. With over 17 adjustments possible, the Kawai CA49 provides the truest and most authentic piano sound of any piano on the list. If you have the budget and want to spend it on a digital upright piano in this price range, then the CA49 would be a good choice for you.
Zhruns is a relatively unknown and obscure brand that deals in a wide selection of budget instruments. They primarily sell steel drums, music instrument cases, and digital pianos and synthesizers. Their Zhruns M-901 Digital Piano is a fine digital upright piano at an affordable price point. It is comparable to the Lagrima LG8830 or Donner DDP-100.
Like all the other digital upright pianos on this list, the Zhruns M-901 Digital Piano features 88 keys. The keys are weighted with a heavy hammer system and include adjustments for touch sensitivity and rebound for a more realistic playing experience. As far as we can tell, the keys do not feature any sort of texture like some of the other pianos on this list, nor do they follow a graded weight system of heavier action in the lower register and lighter action in the higher register.
The M-901 included 8 tones modeled using advanced stereo sampling and Zhrun’s French Dream Source technology. This proprietary sound source technology produces a realistic sound quality with smooth and delicate treble and strong and rich bass. The M-901 can also be connected via USB to any Android or Apple device to pair with a downloadable educational software app for online intelligent teaching demonstrations, learning piano and playing, and accompaniment functions. This is a useful feature for student pianists and is a comparable feature to other pianos on this list.
Overall, the Zhrun’s M-901 Digital Piano is a fine piano for a beginner pianist. All the components are there. The piano has 88 keys with weighted action, 8 built-in tones using a fancy modeling technology, built-in speakers and headphone jacks, and the ability to pair with educational apps on smart devices. Sounds like a winning combination for an affordable price! The only thing it lacks is brand identification.
Things to Consider When Purchasing an Upright Piano
The Number of Keys, Their Weight, and Texture
It is important to consider the number of keys when purchasing an upright piano. All of the keyboards on this list include a full 88 keys, like an acoustic piano does. This is generally the best option for an upright piano, as you have access to the full range of pitches. If, for example, you purchased an upright piano with only 44 or 66 keys you would lose access to the full range of the piano and possibly not be able to perform some pieces of music that include notes in the lower register. That would be unfortunate after spending hundreds of dollars on an instrument.
Additionally, it is important to consider the weight of the keys when purchasing an upright piano.
Fortunately, all of the pianos on this list also feature some form of weighted keys.
The action on traditional acoustic pianos varies widely. Some acoustic upright pianos are incredibly light to the touch and feel almost like waterfall keys while others are heavier and more difficult to play. The action on a grand piano is generally heavier than the action on an acoustic upright piano.
For a digital upright piano, some form of graded-weight hammer action is desirable. Many of the pianos on this list have a weight system that is heavier in the lower registers of the piano and lighter in the higher registers. This accurately reflects the differences in weight on an acoustic piano and will make for more productive and enjoyable progress. Additionally, a digital upright piano with some sort of velocity-sensitivity like the Kawai CA49 or Artesia DP-3 will further enhance the feeling of authenticity.
It is also important to consider the texture of the keys when purchasing an upright piano. A century ago, piano keys were made from ivory and ebony. However, due to environmental and animal welfare regulations, these materials are either illegal to use or extremely difficult to obtain (4). In response, piano manufacturers have been forced to adapt. Piano keys are now made from either wood or plastic and higher end keyboards have some form of synthetic ivory and ebony coating to provide a more realistic feeling. Keyboards on this list that feature a synthetic texture include the Kawai CA49, the Casio CGP-700BK, and the Yamaha YDP103 Arius Series.
Acoustic or Digital?
It is important to consider whether you want an acoustic or digital piano when purchasing an upright piano. All of the pianos on this list are digital pianos.
Digital pianos have many advantages.
Digital pianos are less expensive than acoustic pianos. The digital upright pianos on this list range from a few hundred to just over one thousand dollars, with one exception over $2,000. Compare this with new acoustic pianos, which generally start around the $1000 mark.
Digital upright pianos are more space efficient than acoustic pianos. Digital pianos can be quickly disassembled and shipped or moved. To move an acoustic piano, you often need to hire a piano moving company which can cost hundreds of dollars and potentially cause damage to your already expensive instrument. Digital pianos are generally smaller than upright acoustic pianos as well. Digital pianos also do not need to be tuned in the same way as acoustic pianos.
Digital pianos include volume controls so you can practice any time, day or night, and not disturb anyone else around you. Acoustic pianos occasionally include a practice pedal, which diminishes the overall volume of the instrument.
However, nothing beats the resonance and feeling of a traditional acoustic piano. The way a well-built acoustic piano fills a room is a truly wonderful sound. The feeling of a hammer striking a string inside of a piano soundboard is something that just cannot be truly replicated, no matter how great the attempt. Many manufacturers like Yamaha, Kawai, and Casio come close to replicating this feeling, but do not quite beat it.
The Importance of Built-in Features like Speakers and Tones
Finally, it is useful to consider the importance of built-in features when purchasing an upright piano. What will be the primary use for your piano? Are you a beginning student and want a piano that includes some learning aids? Are you interested in an instrument with hundreds of tones or will a few, quality sounds suit your purposes? How important are built-in speakers?
If you are a beginning pianist, it might be helpful for you to have a piano with some built-in learning aids so you can get playing right away. The best upright piano for beginners is the ONE Smart Piano. The ONE Smart Piano is able to connect to any smart device to access the Smart Piano’s learning app. The learning app includes hundreds of videos, pages of sheet music, and games to get you rocking from the start. According to PSFK (5):
The Next Mozart Will Learn Music Through Mobile-Connected Instrument.
The ONE Smart Piano also features LED light-up keys to guide your pathway. Many other pianos on this list include some degree of connectivity and some sort of paired learning application. For example, the Yamaha YDP103 includes USB connectivity so that you can connect the instrument to any smart device to access Yamaha’s piano learning apps.
If you are interested in an instrument with hundreds of tones, the Casio CGP-700BK, Lagrima LG8830 or ONE Smart Piano are your best bets. The CGP-700BK features 550 tones, including a grand piano modeled with over 2 dozen microphones. The LG8830 features over 900 tones, which is an insane amount for a digital upright piano. Finally, the ONE Smart Piano features over 100 tones, a perfect amount that is not overwhelming. If you are interested in an instrument with a select number of high-quality tones, check out the Kawai CA-49, the Yamaha YDP103, or the Casio Privia PX-870. These instruments feature high-end modeling technology with the focus on quality over quantity.
Finally, do you need an instrument with built-in speakers? Fortunately, all the instruments on this list include built-in speakers. This is a standard feature on most every digital upright piano. Having a digital instrument with a built-in speaker system saves you money you would otherwise use to buy an amplifier, allows you to control the volume of the instrument precisely, and ensures that you are prepared for a performance at any time!
Yes, old pianos are sometimes worth buying. Several factors need to be considered such as the price, the location of the instrument, its condition, and if it would need any repairs. I would not recommend buying an old piano without first inspecting and playing it in person. Buying an old piano can be a great experience or a total waste of money.
Acoustic upright pianos can last anywhere from 75-100+ years if they are well-maintained. Likewise, digital upright pianos can last between 30-50+ years if they are well-cared for. Like all instruments, the lifespan of an upright piano is directly tied to how well it is maintained.
Yes, you should cover or close the lid on the keys of your piano when it is not in use. Covering or closing the lid of your piano saves the keys from dirt, dust, or any spills that might occur. In the case of a digital piano, closing the lid on the keys will help keep dust out of the circuit board, which over time, can cause your instrument to malfunction.
- About Us. Retrieved from: https://www.smartpiano.com/pages/about-us
- Donner DDP-100. Retrieved from: https://www.donnerdeal.com/collections/digital-piano-0919/products/donner-ddp-100-digital-piano-weighted-key-with-furniture-stand-power-adapter-3-pedals-and-instruction-black
- Yamaha YDP-103. Retrieved from: https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical_instruments/pianos/arius/ydp-103/features.html#product-tabs
- Do Ivory Piano Keys Have Value? Retrieved from: https://gravespianos.com/do-ivory-piano-keys-have-value/
- In The News. Retrieved from: https://www.smartpiano.com/pages/press2