My daughter (early teens) would like to learn piano, and we are on a very limited budget with only a car to move things. I want her to start with 88 keys and an authentic feel, just in case she wants to stick with it.

I am looking at a couple of different options:

First, I can get an older used Roland 400 for about $200 to $250 locally.

Secondly, I can afford an Alesis Recital 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano from Amazon. The cost with taxes, etc will be $350.

Much more than that will be outside of our budget.

Can someone please give me some advice?


  • Used kawai es-100 - best purchase i ever made... you may find one used for $400 if you're lucky May 14, 2017 at 3:31

2 Answers 2


Do you mean Roland rp 400? if yes then 200 bucks is a seriously good deal as it retails for over 1.5k.

Regardless, Roland's probably a better product. It's the stronger brand and you're saying you can get it cheaper. So yeah, I'd go with the used. A beginner should always go for the cheapest option just to see if they even like the aspect of playing a piano.

Also, if I may add. Try to find instructors that will teach your daughter pop music, music theory, how to play by ear and use chord progressions.

I find that in piano there's generally two types of teachers: those that teach how to read classical music from sheet music, and those that teach rock music, pop music, scales, chords / music theory, etc. Go for the latter. In my childhood I spent 4 years learning how to read classical music from an old lady down the street who went to Julliard. it was the biggest pain in the ass I ever went through. Not to mention completely unhelpful. I didnt learn a single thing about music throughout that period just a few Chopin pieces that I could care less about. Granted, some people commit their entire lives to the classical route but ask your daughter if she wants to play classical or everything else (aka what she hears on the radio).

Now that I've revisited piano I just play by ear and improvise with music theory. That's alot funner. I dont even attempt to read music anymore. Everything can be figured out by ear. just don't get a teacher that just emphasizes learning how to read classical sheet music. they suck the life out of music and turn you into a drone. my former teenage self is begging you.

  • That's extremely helpful. Thanks so much. I will look into the Roland. Right now, my daughter is downloading sheet music for popular songs and plunking them out on the piano at school, I will look for an instructor who can help her to do that properly. Thanks for the advice.
    – Dawn
    May 14, 2017 at 5:01
  • Wait - I just looked at this. It is a much, much older Roland. It's the HP-400. Is that still the better choice here?
    – Dawn
    May 14, 2017 at 5:22
  • hmm yeah, hp-400 is a dinosaur. I think it's from the 1980s. I'd be a bit iffy on that. The new Alesis would probably be better. That said, maybe there's a way for you to check out the two and compare how their keys feel? At the end of the day, as long as it just works then it'll serve its purpose as a beginner's instrument. You'll be buying another one anyway within a few years esp if you really like it. Also tell your daughter to check out videos by Karen Ramirez on youtube, especially everything she has to say about playing by ear. Sheet music is soooo boring.
    – user34288
    May 14, 2017 at 5:41
  • also if I were you I'd go to guitarcenter (if you live in the US) and just talk to sales associates just to get more info on digital pianos, like what to look for when buying one, etc. I do think you're doing good by leaning towards weighted keys though. synthesizer keys feel so cheap compared to pianos/digital pianos.
    – user34288
    May 14, 2017 at 5:43
  • also the Alesis supports USB/Midi which I doubt that old Roland does. this might be important since your daughter might want to connect the piano to her laptop in order to record digital music.
    – user34288
    May 14, 2017 at 6:02

The HP 400 has the old 5-pin MIDI jacks. You'll need a MIDI-USB box to use it with a computer. The Alesis Recital has a 'semi-weighted' keyboard. Not quite piano feel. But then, nothing except a real piano ever does. And many real pianos have a quite unpleasant action, particularly if old or poorly maintained.

The Alesis doesn't seem to come with a sustain pedal (strange, for something sold as a piano), so add that to the price. Sampling technology has come on quite a bit since 1983, so the Alexis will sound more like a piano that the Roland.

Is there an 'Alesis Recital Beginner' model that's different to the 'Alesis Recital' ? I can't find mention of it.

On the whole, get the Alesis.

  • Well, if you go to the Alesis web site, the spec certainly looks like a "beginner instrument". Only one piano sound patch, only 4 alternatives with incredibly vague names like "organ!!!", no sostenuto/una corda pedals, (even the sustain pedal is an optional extra,) etc, etc... But at least you know what you are getting if you buy new. With an ancient second hand instrument, you have no idea what condition the mechanical parts are in (i.e. the keyboard itself), and you probably can't even find any reviews or specifications without a lot of digging.
    – user19146
    May 14, 2017 at 17:07
  • My Bechstein upright must be a 'beginner' model then. Just one piano sound.
    – Laurence
    May 15, 2017 at 14:33

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