Roland RD-2000 Premium Stage Piano
Nord Stage 3 Portable Digital Keyboard
Yamaha P125 88-Key Digital Piano
Table of Contents
There’s nothing like the sound of a full concert piano but, unless you have a team of movers, a full-size piano isn’t practical for most gigs.
That’s where a stage piano comes in handy. It provides the tone and feel of a vintage piano in a more versatile and portable package.
The Roland RD-2000 is our pick for best stage piano. Not only does it offer a dynamic piano emulation with unlimited polyphony, it has a ton of effect sounds to maximize creativity.
It’s certainly not the only choice out there if you’re seeking a quality stage piano, however. There are plenty of fantastic pianos on the market boasting a variety of different styles and features. Intrigued? Read on to find the best model for you.
The 8 Best Stage Pianos:
|Image||Stage Piano||Summary||Check Price|
|Roland RD-2000 Premium 88-Key Digital Stage Piano|
Best Choice: Outstanding Roland sound bank, unlimited polyphony and natural feel make this the best digital piano around
|Yamaha P125 88-Key Digital Piano|
Best Value: Yamaha CF sound engine and graded hammer action keyboard makes this the best piano on a budget
|Nord Stage 3 Portable Digital Keyboard|
Premium Pick: Top pick for pianists who need a stage-ready instrument with unlimited sounds and dynamic feel
|Yamaha CP88 Digital Stage Piano|
Intuitive User Interface: Streamlined layout and beautiful acoustic feel make this Yamaha’s flagship digital piano
|Casio Privia PX-560 Digital Stage Piano|
Solid Mid-Range Performer: Casio build quality and realistic action in a package that won’t empty your wallet
|Nord Piano 4 88-Key Digital Piano|
Professional Build Quality: Piano-focused Nord model that’s dynamic on stage and in the studio
|Korg SV2-73 73-Key Portable Digital Stage Piano|
Beautiful Vintage Styling: Best portable stage piano with the looks and the sounds to turn heads
|Yamaha P-121 Portable Digital Piano|
Fantastic Value: Yamaha sound engine and smooth graded action give the P-121 the best value anywhere
Roland RD-2000 Premium 88-Key Digital Stage Piano
Roland RD stage pianos have been around for 45 years and have been used by greats like Elton John. The company’s stage piano has changed a lot over the years as evidenced by the Roland RD-2000, its latest model.
With two onboard sound engines, more than 1,000 voices and effects and a rugged yet immersive layout, the Roland RD-2000 is one of the best stage pianos on the market anywhere.
The Roland V-Piano sound engine and the SuperNatural engine power the main tones for the Roland. The V-Piano engine operates entirely with synthesis, which gives it a more natural, organic feel; the SuperNatural engine combines synthesis with samples for some extra texture and classic style.
When playing with the Roland V-Piano engine, you also get unlimited polyphony and simulated damper resonance. This is the best tool for playing long, complex legato piano passages.
The keyboard uses Roland scaled hammer action, with molded keys that mimic the ivory feel of a real piano.
For home recording, you can use the onboard musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) inputs and outputs. These let you install top MIDI keyboards from your computer or sync your keys with other MIDI controllers on stage.
Yamaha P125 88-Key Digital Piano
With dynamic action and a solid library of sounds, the Yamaha P125 provides the tone and feel of top stage pianos in a much more affordable package. If you’re an aspiring player looking for a Yamaha piano that won’t break the bank, this is the model for you.
This Yamaha offers 24 different sounds, ranging from Yamaha concert grand and upright piano voicings to electric piano, organ, brass and string sounds. The heart of the P125 is the Yamaha CF sound engine, which provides a meticulous recreation of the Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand piano.
The P125 also provides a graded hammer action keyboard, with weighted keys that progressively increase in resistance as you move down the register. The piano keys offer a realistic feel that’s touch sensitive and bouncy. It’s one of the best keyboards for trills and accents.
Thanks to the onboard two-way speakers, the output is immersive and detailed just like an acoustic piano. The stand also includes a sustain pedal with a compact frame that takes up less space than an upright piano.
Nord Stage 3 Portable Digital Keyboard
The Nord Stage 3 takes the best traits of Nord’s classic Stage piano lineup with a set of thoughtful modern upgrades.
The keyboard generates synth, organ and piano sounds via three separate engines. Each section offers dozens of preset sounds including voices like grand pianos, electric pianos, harpsichords, brass and modern synths. You also get access to the Nord sound library, which lets you switch any onboard voicing for a new one for free.
The Nord Stage 3 provides onboard slots for reverb, delay and compression along with additional spaces where you can select from dozens of different studio effects. The keys are fully weighted, with Nord’s graded hammer action keyboard for a touch-sensitive feel.
For gigging pros, the Nord Stage 3 includes a detailed song mode, which lets you create preset songs and stack up to five programs for each one. It’s one of the best tools for switching between tracks in a live performance; just scroll to the next tune and your keyboard will automatically adjust to the best pre-made settings.
Yamaha CP88 Digital Stage Piano
The CP88 is the best 88-key stage piano Yamaha offers. With its brilliant interface and rich, luscious sound, it holds its own against the best stage piano models from Korg, Roland and Casio.
This Yamaha stage piano provides 57 different voicings ranging from acoustic grand and upright pianos to electric pianos, synths and samples. At the core, you’ll find a trio of concert grand piano emulations: two Yamaha grands and the Bosendorfer Imperial 290. Together, the three voices give you enough depth, articulation and power to play any passage.
You’ll find all of the voices and effects organized into three handy banks, with dial wheels to switch between sounds on the fly. The CP88 also offers USB and MIDI ports, so you can plug into audio interfaces for recording or use the portable keyboard as a MIDI controller.
Compared to other digital keyboards, the Yamaha offers one of the best approximations of an acoustic piano on the market. It’s built with natural wood graded hammer weighted action that uses genuine wooden hammers like those found in acoustic pianos. The keys themselves provide simulated ebony and ivory textures for a realistic piano feel.
Casio Privia PX-560 Digital Stage Piano
Casio PX digital pianos offer some of the best quality and durability for intermediate players. While the PX-560 stage piano might not be as well known as Roland, Yamaha or Korg models, it’s best for players who want a mid-range option that provides the finesse and depth of the best digital pianos.
The PX-560 comes with Casio’s Tri-Sensor scaled hammer II keyboard, the top keyboard in the Casio PX line. It’s weighted to grand piano specifications, with heavier weighted keys in the bass and lighter keys towards the treble range.
Sonically, this keyboard offers the Casio Privia PX AiR sound source, which provides lifelike samples from a nine-foot concert grand piano.
They come complete with damper and string resonance and realistic note decay. It’s a faithful recreation of real piano sounds that stands up well against premium competitors.
Along with the acoustic piano samples, this keyboard offers an onboard synth with 550 tones and 256-note polyphony. You also get a 5.3-inch color touchscreen, which is intuitive and easy to use. It’s best for navigating between voicings, effects and instruments on a dark stage.
Nord Piano 4 88-Key Digital Piano
While Nord’s Stage 3 might be the brand’s most popular 88-key stage piano, Nord also makes some of the best digital pianos in other lines as well. The Nord Piano 4 offers a streamlined, refined experience for any player who wants pure piano sounds and unlimited effects for gigging and recording.
The keyboard uses Nord’s virtual hammer action technology, incorporating multiple sensors across the keybed for superior control and sensitivity to your touch.
It’s weighted for a grand piano feel and, while this is a bit heavier than other stage pianos, it offers more dynamic control and exceptional flexibility for note repetitions and flourishes.
Like all of the brand’s stage pianos, the Piano 4 offers access to the Nord piano and synth libraries. These let you update your keyboard with new acoustic sounds as they come out, or swap old voices for new sounds without paying extra.
Korg SV2-73 73-Key Portable Digital Stage Piano
If you want the best portable stage piano that doesn’t sacrifice sounds, feel, or style, the Korg SV2-73 is for you. This 73-key piano is the latest evolution of the Korg SV line. It turns heads with its vintage styling as well as its luscious sounds.
This Korg features 64 different voices, with grand pianos from Italy, Germany, Japan and Austria and a set of upright pianos too. You can also access classic electric pianos and organs, with brass, strings, mallets, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass and Korg synth sounds to boot.
The effects station offers multiple types of reverb, modulation and delay sounds. For a more organic tone, the Korg provides several amp models and cab simulations through a genuine valve reactor circuit.
This infuses your tone with the electric saturation of a 12AX7 vacuum tube, without the hassle of a separate 50-pound amp.
No matter what you choose to play, Korg’s RH3 graded hammer keyboard will bring out all of your dynamics and accents. Plus, the tactile interface and MIDI input and output make it easy to adjust on stage.
Yamaha P-121 Portable Digital Piano
Rounding out our list is the Yamaha P-121. It’s an affordably cheap keyboard piano that offers graded action and a lifelike acoustic voice. It’s best for players who want a keyboard that can double for live gigs and home practice.
The P-121 samples a Yamaha CFIIIS concert grand offering a silky character with lots of depth and projection. The Piano Room software lets you adjust the ambiance for a more realistic tone, allowing you to alter everything from the room type to the lid position.
The keyboard is one of the best on an affordable stage piano; it’s graded for accuracy and has weighted keys offering a true concert piano feel.
Unlike many other digital pianos, this Yamaha also includes a full stereo speaker system on board. If you need a portable keyboard that can produce its own piano sound at home as well as on stage, the P-121 is one of the best easy-to-use options around.
What to Look for When Choosing a Digital Stage Piano
With so many factors going into a stage piano, it’s hard to settle on one model. That’s why we’ve compiled all the key features so you can compare the top designs where they matter. Read ahead to find out everything you should look for in your search.
Stage Piano vs. Digital Keyboard
Before picking the best piano for you, it’s important to understand what separates stage pianos from digital keyboards.
A stage piano is a specific type of digital piano designed for use in live performances. That means it’s built to provide a lot of different sounds and a realistic acoustic piano look and feel, while being light enough to carry to and from gigs.
It’s common to find premium features like weighted hammer action and multiple sound engines on a stage piano. The hammer action mimics the hammers used in an acoustic piano, while the sound engine selects the samples of each note you play. This gives you more realistic, natural sounds each time you strike a key.
Along with a classic piano sound, you’ll usually get voicings for an upright piano, electric pianos, organs, brass, strings and more. Most stage pianos also include top studio effects to tweak your voicing, laid out on the broad upper panel of the instrument.
But while all stage pianos are digital keyboards, not all digital keyboards are built for live use. These keyboards tend to have large, semi-permanent wooden stands that mimic the look and feel of an acoustic piano in your home.
The sleek, refined look also eliminates most of the knobs, wheels and buttons that characterize the top of a stage piano. If you want the most effects and voicings that you can find in a digital piano, a stage piano will be your top choice.
Home keyboards also tend to include an onboard speaker system, which makes them bulkier and tougher to transport to live performances. While these keyboards are best if you don’t want to spend extra money on an amplifier, you’ll need a keyboard amp or PA if you use your piano on stage.
Build Quality and Materials
It’s particularly important to consider the build quality and materials with an instrument that you’ll use for gigs. Most stage pianos use a combination of metal and plastic for the outer shell, with more complex materials for the piano keyboard and interior electronics.
Metal is the best shell material for a digital piano, because it protects the top well from damage on stage. It’s also one of the best materials in terms of durability, since it doesn’t crack or warp as easily as plastic.
However, the most delicate aspect of any digital piano is the top interface. These buttons, knobs and screens can easily break if you’re not careful. Look for a keyboard from a well-known manufacturer like Yamaha, Roland or Casio. The Roland RD-2000 uses the best materials for a layout that’s tactile yet durable.
To get the best build quality in a digital piano, you should also look at the materials used for the keys. A mediocre keyboard might feel tacky and artificial, with poor grip and a plastic feel. The best stage pianos offer genuine wooden weights, with keyboard textures that simulate ebony and ivory.
Both the weight and the dimensions of a stage piano can affect its portability. While a lighter instrument is always helpful, saving 10 pounds is less useful if the piano takes up a lot more space.
In general, 73-key stage pianos tend to be the best portable pianos around. If you don’t need the extra bass range, a short-scale piano will provide top quality in a package that’s easier to carry.
You should also consider how to amplify your piano when on stage. Most stage pianos don’t include speakers onboard, meaning you must either bring your own speaker or plug directly into a console and go through the PA system.
The best digital pianos are designed for use in live performances, rather than studio or home practice. However, many stage pianos offer enough functionality for any situation.
To get a more versatile stage piano, look for a model with lots of voices across multiple instrument types. Connectivity is also important; pianos with MIDI inputs and USB ports are particularly useful.
MIDI functionality allows your piano to sync voices, tracks and full songs from a computer or audio interface. It’s great for adding backing tracks or effects to a stage performance, or for laying down the best recordings in the studio.
Which Digital Keyboard is Most Like a Piano?
If you want a digital keyboard that’s most like a piano, it’s important to look for weighted keys with scaled hammer action. These features are designed to mimic the feel of acoustic pianos, so you can get the same experience under your fingers whether you’re playing concert grand pianos or a portable stage piano.
The best digital pianos also include adjustable resistance, so you can tweak the action to your liking. If you want lighter action to mimic an upright piano or electric piano, adjustable resistance is the best tool for you.
Almost every stage piano offers outstanding samples of a concert grand piano. If you’re worried about the tone of your piano, avoid keyboards for beginners and look for a high-end model from Yamaha, Roland, Casio or Korg. With features like damper and string resonance and meticulous samples, the best stage piano models give any acoustic piano a run for its money.
At the end of the day, we chose the Roland RD-2000 as our top pick. It had some of the best sound banks on the market, with amazing action and unlimited polyphony.
Which genres do you play on your stage piano? Do you prefer a stage piano or a traditional digital keyboard? Let us know in the comments below.