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I really want to learn to play the piano, but an actual piano is too expensive for me, plus I don't have enough space for one.

What is the best replacement for a piano? I mean, what other instrument can I get that is similar enough to a piano, but not as big and costly? A keyboard?

Thanks a lot.

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Perhaps a stage piano? –  nonpop Jun 1 '13 at 9:06
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If you don't need to move it around, a standard electric piano should be an option. They're not bigger than a full keyboard. –  Matthew Read Jun 1 '13 at 16:08
    
You should definitely buy a stage piano if you have the money, but I'd also recommend trying to find a place to practice that already has a piano, if possible. There might be a college willing to let you rent a key to one of their practice rooms or something. (It's probably a stretch, but worth a shot.) –  Kyle Strand Jun 1 '13 at 21:15
    
I don't think stage pianos are compatible with "tight budget", in general. Ruggedness and high quality sounds add to the cost. –  slim Jun 3 '13 at 14:37
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Please edit to add more details. You mention space and money constraints, actual numbers would help. I like the answers and I want the question to be better. –  luser droog Jun 4 '13 at 4:43

3 Answers 3

Electric piano should do the trick. Make sure it has "weighted" or "Hammer Action" keyboard so it feels mechanically similar to a real piano. Other nice features would be

  1. Decent pair of build in speakers so you don't need an external amplifier (for home)
  2. Headphone jack so you can practice at night with driving the family nuts
  3. Drum machine and/or sequence build in so you can play along "in-time" and have a build in metronome
  4. Reasonable light weight so you can take it along and play with other people (unless you want "piece of furniture")

Yamaha, Kawai, Kurzweil, etc. are all good choices (no endorsement intended, just some pointers)

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I'd like to suggest Roland. While Yamaha still works with tone sampling, Roland uses algorithms to simulate what a real piano would sound like. Good answer though. –  11684 Jun 2 '13 at 14:43
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Do you know what an "electric piano" is? It has actual strings inside and pickups. Google for "Fender Rhodes" for instance. Synthesizers often have an "Electric Piano" patch (perhaps more than one) since it's one of the sounds sought after by keyboard players (or needed to reproduce the keyboard sound heard in some classic tune). –  Kaz Jun 4 '13 at 16:44

I'm going to assume you're on a really tight budget, and that you're a complete beginner.

Get on eBay, Craigslist, your local small ads paper, etc. and look for a second hand electronic keyboard.

Don't worry about high quality piano sounds. Don't worry about weighted keys.

Do make sure the keys aren't stupidly small. Do make sure there are at least 60 keys. Do make sure it's "velocity sensitive" (that is, hitting a key harder makes a louder sound).

You should be able to find something for under US$50, and probably much less. There are 20-year-old keyboards that will be good enough for your immediate needs, as long as they're not broken.

A "keyboard controller" may be a good compromise for you, but be aware what you're getting into. These do not make a sound themselves - they send signals to a computer or a midi device. However, that means they can be cheaper, if you already have a computer that you're happy to use for the purpose. One downside of this is that there can be preparation time (plugging the keyboard in, booting the computer, loading the music software), that gets in the way of spur-of-the-moment practice.

This instrument would not be a good substitute for a piano in the long run, but it will let you get started on learning the basics. You should borrow time on other people's real pianos (school/church/teacher/friends/etc.), so you know the differences between your "toy" practice instrument and a real piano.

While you're practising and learning with your electronic keyboard, save up some money towards a "serious" instrument.

Alternatively, you may find you can make the music you want using an electronic instrument, and there's nothing wrong with that.

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An electric or digital piano is a good choice. Here are some key points you need to know:

  1. Go for the largest number of keys (88 keys is the standard).
  2. A hammer-action/weighted feature is very important since most training, such as the Hannon exercises, are traditional and include proper hand gestures, positions, etc. Here for more info.
  3. A built-in metronome is also very important. But no worries, almost all e-pianos today have metronome installed on it.
  4. Velocity sensitivity - the harder you press, the louder it sounds.

NOTE: BEWARE OF CONTROLLER KEYBOARDS Unless you are familiar with them and know how to use them, then avoid controller keyboards. But learning how to use them has a lot of technicalities that you should know --they are not your typical "Plug-and-Play" keyboards.

http://madsenstudios.com/info/a-guide-to-buying-an-digital-piano/

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