I've been practicing on a real piano.

I won't have access to a real piano and will have to downgrade to a keyboard.

What should I look for if I want something that has exactly the same feel (weight of keys and action) as a real piano?

I'm less concerned about sound and more concerned about feel so I can quickly transition onto a real piano.

  • People sometimes demand a level of perfection from a keyboard that they never actually had on their "real" piano! Look for 88 notes, a weighted action, and don't fuss. You'll adjust OK.
    – Laurence
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 19:36

7 Answers 7


We've had a few questions on this before; see What to look for when buying a digital piano for a beginner?, What are the practical advantages of keyboards with non-weighted keys vs. weighted hammer action?, and most recently Acoustic piano vs digital piano: is there any solid evidence for one being better than the other?.

In the latter discussion, there are a lot of comments about the Kawai brand. Some of their pianos apparently actually have a reduced piano action built into the keyboard in the hopes of mimicking the feel of the keyboard.

But beware that they can be a little on the expensive side. If it's a money issue moving you from piano the keyboard, consider looking up some ads to see if anyone around you is selling a piano. Oftentimes you can get a pretty good deal on a used piano if you look a little.


I'll refer to a particular model of the Kawai digital pianos.

I had nearly the same dilemma a while back... I had been playing piano for 3 years, but strangely practised only on a keyboard. I rarely had access to a piano in school, and soon realised that I would need a proper keyboard (not an acoustic piano, because portability is a major factor for me) and also needed fully graded hammer action keys.

My answer will only apply to you if you're looking for something under $1000, but the Kawai ES100 digital piano is SPECTACULAR. It is one of the most cost-effective pianos available out there, is portable, very sleek and can easily be accommodated in a small space, and has great hammer action and sound.

They took individual samples from each of the keys, unlike other companies which simply sample an octave and adjust it across the board. Even if sound is not a factor for you, you should go for this one because it comes as close as possible to the real thing at this price, and has been cited by many to be at par with several more expensive pianos by other companies...

  • Ill look into this for sure. That sounds more like my price range. I have a chance to take a baldwin upright with me but I'm worried about portability Commented Aug 12, 2016 at 19:21
  • Just ordered this piano. I'll keep an update on how I like it. :) Appreciate the direct reference to a model of piano you like Commented Oct 12, 2016 at 22:31
  • I got it yesterday. Real high quality for only being like $700. All the other ones I tried at the shop didn't feel great (except for the $1600 Yamaha) so I took a shot in the dark and ordered the kawai es100 and i love it. Thanks for the good recommendation, I am quite satisfied. Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 18:50
  • @KolobCanyon Gee, coming back to this thread three years later! Glad you enjoyed your keys :) Commented Jun 12, 2019 at 20:28

Now-a-days most keyboards are almost like your playing on a normal upright piano... if your willing to pay $1000+ price tag. Cheaper keyboards(I mean really cheap) will, most likely, not be 88 keys, nor weighted, and the keys will be plastic. Plus they will be filled with hundreds of different sounds. Those keyboards are targeted for toddlers and such. As for a serious learner they should require a full 88-weighted keys. The brand doesn't matter, I think it's a more of a matter of opinion. Casio, Kawai, Yamaha are all good. So, in conclusion it will depend entirely on your price range. As you go up you will find more keys, better weighted keys, less sounds(narrowing down on an authentic grand piano sound), and the keys will no longer be plastic but something that feels of polished wood, or ivory. Go to your local music store and try out the keyboards yourself. Keep in mind the brand(to get your opinon on the brand), feel, and price.

  • Hammer-action 88-key digital pianos can be had for $500 new (see Yamaha P-45 or Casio PX-160 as examples), with many more options under $1000. And there are also lots of high-end keyboards that combine piano-like actions with workstation and arranger features. Commented Sep 6, 2016 at 20:29
  • I donno, after going to the local guitar center and trying out a bunch, I would have to disagree that most keyboards are like playing upright piano. Some of the ones, (even some expensive ones) had really awkward cheap feeling action, and I would say this matters a lot if you are trying to get better at dynamics Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 18:55

Casio PX-160 at $500 is just one example of an 88 key fully weighted that is supposed to feel and sound like a real piano, and I think it does. You also need a good pedal (that looks like a real piano pedal) and they cost $20-$30.


I recently went thru this. I quit daily practice over ten years ago when I moved away from a real upright piano. I played off and on on a digital. Last December I got serious and started playing everyday again. Playing on a digital with weighted keys, all 88 of them. As long as you do not get use to the other stuff on a digital and start depending on it you will be fine. You will still be playing piano and can one day with a small amount of practice get right back on an upright.


Not sure about the word keyboard, you have mentioned. If you need something which will simulate upright piano, I think either upright digital piano are the good options. I would definitely look for a middle or a premium class Roland or Kawai DP. Roland's new key action PHA50 is very good but assembled in its new series HP-603, HP-605, LX-7, and LX-17. All pianos deffer by cabinet size and no. of speakers. Kawai's key actions in CA-67 and CA-97 are also of high quality, not 100% certain but I think the main difference is in no. of speakers as well. A good forum to ask is Piano World Forum.


I have a Casio PX-330 that I bought 7 years ago and it still sounds good, no need tuneups. Amazingly it survives a water flood from a busting waterhose from above floor. New model PX-350 or PX-760 may sound better. I also found at local GC a used PX-130 for $249.

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