There’s nothing quite like the sound of a full concert piano, but unless you’ve a team of movers, a full-size piano isn’t the most practical option for gigs or live performances.
Enter the best stage pianos.
See, if you gig regularly, then regardless of the instrument you play, you’ll end lugging some heavy gear around-something you back won’t thank you for.
Guitarists have amps to carry, and drummers arguably, have the hardest time moving their instruments. Key players aren’t far behind, either.
While acoustic pianos or console-style digital pianos are great for practicing in your living room, church, or studio they fall short in portability.
Their sheer size is also a great limitation, and their length usually means you need an estate car to move them. If you’ve a saloon car, you can pretty much forget transporting these pianos.
Fortunately, manufacturers have harked to the needs of the on-the go artists, and today, we’ve an array of gig-friendly digital pianos.
Also known as stage pianos, these instruments offer a great piano experience, but more importantly, they weigh much less, take up less space, and are infinitely portable.
Of course, the compact design means they sacrifice some important elements and may not compete with the premium full concert pianos.
But some, as we shall see, give the concert pianos a run for their money, as they’re so responsive and produce fantastic sounds that you could mistake them for a grand piano.
Now, if you’re interested in our stage pianos for the best sounds, then read on. We’ve also included a comprehensive best stage piano buying guide to help you with the selection.
Table of Contents
The Best Stage Pianos For The Money
#1 Roland RD 2000 - EDITOR'S CHOICE
Roland has been a major icon in the world of stage pianos for decades.
Numerous world stars, including Michael Jackson, Dr. Dre, and Taylor Swift, have all at one time recorded their hits using Roland products.
And today, we take a dig at one of the most popular Roland’s lines of pianos, the RD series, and in particular, their latest addition, the Roland 2000.
It’s the brand’s latest effort and now Roland’s flagship piano.
As Roland’s most powerful stage piano to date, it promises to deliver truly advanced performance.
It’s capable of just about anything you could dream up and is probably among the best digital pianos available today.
Features and Benefits
Design- Designed for the Stage
Roland’s instruments always feature excellent build quality, and the Roland RD manages that nicely.
I’m particularly impressed with the keyboard’s dimensions.
At only 55.5″ x 14.4″ x 5.5″, it’s compact for packing, though I feel the 48 pounds is a bit heavier than I’d like. But it certainly is not a deal-breaker.
The construction is quality, too, and this digital piano easily survives the traveling woes of gigging musicians while offering an effortless way to move from one event to the other.
Easy to Use
The front panel is where things are truly impressive.
While this digital piano isn’t a workstation keyboard, the layout of the controls takes inspiration from the modern-day workstation and its sound-shaping capabilities.
The knobs, buttons, and faders are well laid across the front panel, giving users direct control over menu parameters without the need for menu diving.
The buttons feel excellent and offer amazing tactile feedback, while the knobs are equally well done with a good amount of resistance to allow the making of precise changes.
Overall, this digital piano is designed and made for use on stage. The eight knobs and nine sliders make the Roland 2000’s easier than ever before and will assist you in creating the music you want.
The Roland RD 2000 utilizes Roland’s PHA-50 Progressive Hammer Action, one of the best of Roland’s key actions.
But what makes the keys stand out is their hybrid construction.
The keys utilize a wooden core and plastic outer shell, which gives the players a true acoustic piano key while retaining stability.
Most players say the RD 2000 gives the best of both worlds, and I agree.
The action’s vibrations feel realistic, something many digital pianos can’t match.
While the keys are slightly lighter than those on the upright digital pianos, resemble the grand piano action.
This is a plus, especially considering the large library of piano sounds on this digital piano.
The other design feature we loved on the keys was the textured surface, what Roland calls “ivory feel.” I love the feel as it gives the keys a natural grip, prevents slipping when playing.
Sound Output- Two Piano Sound Engines
Sounds have always been one of RD- series’ strong suits, and the Roland RD 2000 doesn’t disappoint either.
First, this digital piano comes loaded with 1,100 different sounds. With such an extensive sound library, it’s impossible to get bored.
But that’s not!
Roland RD 2000 is beginner-friendly, perfect even for users not conversant with sound design-they simply pick from the readily available sounds.
But my favorite feature is how the RD 2000 utilizes a double piano engine system.
While most digital pianos tend to employ one source sound for their audio samples, RD 2000 takes this step further than its predecessors. This is because it makes use of two sound engines: the V-Piano Technology and SuperNatural Sound Engine.
Without going too much into the jargon of the terms, RD 2000 has a wide breadth of parameters that will help you modify the piano and help you get the piano sounding as you want.
For example, if you prefer sample pianos, the RD 2000 has many options, from the Upright Piano to SuperNatural Concert and lots more.
In short, this stage piano has everything you could want to generate the perfect sound.
#2 Casio Privia PX-S 1000 - Slimmest Option
Casio is among the reputable brands in the music industry.
Traditionally, the brand had a bad reputation for producing cheap, plastic, and flimsy instruments, but those days are far behind.
If the quality of their latest digital pianos is to go by, Casio has pushed the envelope and proven they can give the established brands a run for their money.
One such line of Casio products reflecting the commitment to quality is the Privia Series.
The series has been around for about 15 years and has an array of fantastic products.
And in our review today, we look at one of the popular models in the series, the Casio Privia PX-S 1000.
There’re numerous preceding acoustic pianos to the Casio Privia PX-S 1000, including the PX 770, PX 160, and the PX 550 and it’s easy to think the PX 1000 is simply a revamp or rehash of the previous pianos. But the folks at Casio have affirmed that this piano is entirely fresh.
True to this, PX 1000 has a new chassis, a new sound engine, new key action, and more polyphony count.
But how does the new build fare on the live performances and what sounds does it generate?
Features and Benefits
In the most basic description, PX-S1000 is the thinnest hammer-action electric piano with built-in speakers.
The ‘S,’ in its name PX-S, stands for slim.
And indeed, the Form Factor is impressively minimalistic and compact.
The slim form factor means it’s easy to move it around while on stage or even during transit.
But the description falls flat considering what it packs and what it can do on the small enclosure.
Let’s start with the quality.
Many pianos under the $1,00 aren’t the sturdiest digital pianos, a majority of them featuring matte plastic exteriors.
However, this digital piano sports a glossy plastic surface, which doesn’t look cheap and flimsy but rather modern and sleek.
For a long time now, Casio has been using the Tri-Sensor Hammer Action on their pianos. The key action has proven to be reliable.
My only concern with this key action is it has lots of bounciness and noise.
But that is all gone with the PX-S1000.
The manufacturer has opted to go with what they call the Smart Scaled Hammer Action that easily fits the slimmer keyboard piano profile.
It’s not a triple sensor action key, but a two-sensor action instead.
Now, you might think it’s a downgrade, but it’s far from it.
First, the key action is “smart,” and it’s not for nothing. Without going much into details about this “smartness,” I found out the two-action key is as good, if not better, than the triple-sensor action.
My favorite feature, though, is the silent mechanism. It’s a primary improvement, which makes it among the quietest in its category.
Other key improvements include reduced bounciness, subtle grip, and a redesigned texture for better playability and an effective key press.
As you would expect, the sounds on the S 1000 is top-notch.
See, I’ve used premium speakers from brands such as Yamaha and Korg, and I’m happy to report that it is a solid contender for sound quality and design.
The nuts and bolts of the S1000’s musical chops are fantastic, and the sound delivery is exactly what you would want from a stage piano at this range.
Overall, this S 1000 won’t leave you wanting anything in terms of sound quality or playback modes.
I was even surprised to learn that it has some useful options for the price point, including modulation, allowing me to emulate concert hall acoustics.
It also has a broad range of touch sensitivity for a digital piano and robust speakers for sound projections.
#3 Nord Stage 3 - Best for Playability
Clavia isn’t well known in the music instruments industry, but their products easily match Yamaha and Korg.
One such Clavia keyboard that has made waves on the market is the Nord Stage 3.
Since its release in 2017, it has proven to be a fantastic stage piano that many musicians covet.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come cheap. It’s a big investment, and I know most of you wonder whether the fancy features justify the price tag.
Let’s find out.
Features and Benefits
As with all Nord pianos, Nord 3 shares a distinct look, sporting a striking, bright red color-Clavia’s signature.
It shares similar design ethos and cues from Clavia products, so it’s easy to recognize it from afar.
Away from looks, the board also has plenty of admirable design traits.
One of my favorites is the design.
The all-around smooth metal construction feels premium, and more importantly, it can handle the gigging woes.
My acquaintance’s Nord Stage 3 has survived multiple falls and collisions throughout and still functions like new.
I love the Nord because all of their controls are super accessible.
Stage 3 is not any different.
Everything control element has front panels with plenty of knobs and buttons.
I find this liberating because I like improvising with my tone a lot. Stage 3 helps with that as I need to change on a button or dial in the front; no need to repeatedly navigate menus and click buttons.
Overall, everything feels great on this keyboard, and it’s simplified compared to what you’d find on a workstation or dedicated VST instrument.
While it can be limiting for some pianists, it also means players will spend more time on the joyful part of the sound design than fiddling with details.
Stage keyboards aren’t the most realistic keys from a pianist’s perspective, but they’re certainly playable and sufficient for stage performance.
I particularly love the natural heft to the keypresses that mimic the real concert grands. The keys are also smooth, making it easier to swift glide.
Additionally, the keys aren’t heavy and will easily accommodate organ and synth sounds playing.
Of course, there’re digital pianos with more realistic hammer action keys, but Stage 3 has a decent performance.
Stage 3 has excellent organ and electric piano sounds.
The smooth transition from sound to sound is amazing, and I find this handy for the live players as they can move from sound to sound without interruption.
Plus, there’s still a vast sonic world possible with this stage piano.
For instance, I can layer and split multiple engines and effects. I can also map different parameters to the wheel mod and control pedal, allowing for some deep sound possibilities.
#4 Casio Privia PX 770 - Best Console Instrument
Casio is back once again with a new and affordable digital piano.
The Casio Privia 770 is a furniture-style cabinet, replacing the PX-760 model.
It’s an inexpensive option, yet it promises a lot in terms of performance, sound, and overall quality.
Features and Benefits
The first thing you’ll notice with this digital piano is the modern and elegant design.
Indeed, it looks sleeker and more refined than its predecessor, the PX-760, due to the redesigned cabinet.
The new redesigned cabinet has fewer seams and looks more minimalistic. I love the wooden texture, too; that feels and looks nice.
The other improvement pianist will love the built-in sliding cover that protects it from dust.
Assembling this Privia 770 is easy, and all you need is a helping hand and a screwdriver.
And as with all the pianos on our review list, it’s also lightweight and compact.
Players will find it easy to fit it into small spaces.
Ease of Use
Another improvement we like on this keyboard is how the control elements have been relocated to the left side.
It’s a beneficial feature as it leaves the instrument less cluttered, more cleaner, and easy to use.
Privia PX 770 utilizes a Tri-Sensor Hammer Action Keys.
Here, pianists benefit from weighted keys with real hammers instead of springs. It generates mechanical movements with a similar feel to the acoustic piano.
The keyboard system simulated the characteristics of an acoustic keyboard.
From a pianist’s perspective, the textured keys are comfortable to play and offer a realistic feel for speed and precision.
And that’s not all!
The keys are touch-sensitive, allowing players to change the volume by simply pressing the keys hard or soft.
PX-770 looks beautiful, and most importantly, sounds wonderful, just like a grand piano, with no mod wheels.
According to Casio, the sound performance is a result of the proprietary Morphing AiR Sound Source.
The technology increases the keyboard’s memory capacity, allowing for better quality sound samples and accurate sounds.
While I’m fairly an advanced pianist, I still feel this piano is good enough for my everyday playing for fun.
However, I would best recommend it to beginners who aren’t ready to invest in an acoustic piano.
#5 Yamaha P45 - Best for Beginners/Students
Our final digital piano pick, the Yamaha P45, is an entry-skill level and affordable digital piano.
It’s portable, too, and pundits say the model was Yamaha’s response to the hugely popular budget digital pianos from Casio Privia’s line. We feel it’s a direct competitor to the Casio PX 160.
Yamaha P45 has become popular among beginners, students, and intermediate players for its simplicity and attractive price. This is not to mention the fantastic sounds and quality associated with Yamaha products.
Yamaha P45 replaces the P35, and it comes with an array of improvements, including increased breadth of sounds, greater piano samples, and more connection points.
But is it the right instrument for stage performances?
Features and Benefits
The “P” on the Yamaha P45 name is not for nothing.
It stands for portability, and indeed, it’s one of the things I like about this digital piano.
With a modest dimension of 52.2 by 11.6 by 6 inches, Yamaha P45 will easily fit into smaller spaces with ease and may even be a nice addition to your home interior décor.
Yamaha P45 is also lightweight, and at 25 pounds, it’s a great choice for on-the-go musicians and anyone who values mobility.
I love that I can fit the piano in most cars and take it with me when I need to go to gigs.
For the size, I imagine you think Yamaha P45 sacrifices quality and performance.
Far from it.
First, the build quality is awesome, and I love that the instrument can stand up to gigging abuses without fail.
Secondly, despite the size, this piano is still a full-sized, 88-key instrument and has all the benefits of a traditional 88-key piano.
Ease of Use
Another thing beginners will appreciate about this Yamaha is the ease of use.
Yamaha P45’s control is simple and straightforward as there’re only two buttons and volume control.
The power buttons turn the P45 on and off, while the function button lets you access all other sounds and features on this Yamaha keyboard.
Yamaha P45 may be an inexpensive option but doesn’t cut corners when it comes to the key.
For starters, the feel and action of this Yamaha piano resemble those of an acoustic piano.
The weighted action keys are great, and I can’t tell any difference from a real piano.
And that’s not even the best part.
The hammer action keys replicate the feel of hammers inside an acoustic instrument, which is necessary for generating a more authentic feel and sound output.
Additionally, the GHS action has heavier touch in the low end and lighter touch in the high end, similar to an acoustic piano.
If you’re looking for a keyboard that feels and sounds close to an acoustic piano, you can’t go wrong with this option.
While it’s not a great pick for musicians who need different sounds and effects, it has what matters most to pianists.
The piano comes with two grand piano programs, electric pianos, two pipe organs, and two harpsichord programs.
Best Stage Pianos Buying Guide
I’ve been reviewing pianos my whole life, and if there’s one thing that has always given me a migraine is selecting the best keyboard pianos.
Assuming you’ve not figured it out already, digital pianos are undoubtedly one of the most frustrating musical instruments to shop for.
And for many different reasons…
First, the best digital pianos are probably the most “feature-rich” instruments you’ll ever encounter.
Two, the keyboards are available in a huge range of price points, some as low as $100, while others as high as several thousand.
There’re also different categories for the keyboard pianos, each designed for its purpose.
Yet, despite all the above differences, the best stage pianos of all kinds look the same when comparing them online.
This is particularly true considering there’s a surprising lack of information online.
Fortunately, you don’t worry about selecting the best stage piano.
Here, we’ll help you understand exactly what you should be looking for in a stage piano. We shall point out the critical features for the best digital pianos and expound more on how they affect your gigging performance.
But first up. Let’s understand what a stage piano is.
What is Stage Piano?
As its name suggests, a stage piano is a keyboard piano designed for use on “stage” or rather in live music performances, in the live studio for production and the recording of music genres like Jazz.
Stage pianos come with specific features, separating them apart from traditional keyboards, making them suitable for stage use.
First off, the stage piano generates smaller sounds, and this ensures there’s a perfect balance between different instruments and the pianist.
Their greatest feature, however, is they’re quite portable. Most of the stage keyboards are detachable, which is critical for moving around.
Some of the common stage pianos are acoustic pianos, electric pianos, and the Hammond organ.
Differences Between Normal Digital Pianos and Stage Pianos
Before we continue assessing the best stage piano, we must understand the main differences between a normal digital piano and a stage piano.
Stage Piano Vs. Digital Keyboard
Here are the main elements separating stage pianos for digital keyboards.
The first difference between these two comes down to portability.
Generally, a conventional digital piano is predominantly used at studio, church, or home recording; a stage digital piano is designed for use for the road, for the gigging player.
As such, the digital keyboard is quite bulky, most of them weighing anywhere between 25 to 60 pounds.
On the other hand, the stage piano is lightweight for easy greater portability.
However, the compact size sacrifices some important elements.
For instance, digital keyboards have more keyboards than stage pianos (61, 76, or even 88). On the other hand, stage pianos don’t have as many keyboards and may only come with 49 or 61 keys.
The second difference comes to the importance of sound output.
If you’re looking to purchase the best digital pianos for home use, the piano sound output should not be a big issue.
Provided the speakers can generate a clear keyboard sound, you shouldn’t have an issue with the sound output at the level at which it does. This is particularly true if you prefer playing your keyboard through headphones or are conscious of the noise.
This is certainly not the case with a stage piano.
In fact, it’s one of the critical elements to consider before purchasing a stage keyboard.
The stage pianos are specifically used in live performances, meaning they’re built to provide many different sounds and a realistic acoustic feel.
Secondly, these keyboards need to output sound at high volumes without distorting the sound. They also need to have options in terms of outputting sound to an external speaker or device so you can plug them into amps, PA systems, or monitors.
For this reason, it’s common to find premium features on the stage pianos such as weighted hammer action and multiple sound engines.
Along with the classic piano sound, stage keyboards will also give you an output of other instruments such as electric pianos, strings, organs, bass, and more. It also gives different resonances, including damper resonance and string resonance.
Touch and Feel
While the touch and feel of a digital piano are crucial, the weighting and number of keys aren’t paramount, depending on your needs.
However, I always recommend choosing a piano with the least weighted keys, but if you prefer a lighter touch while playing, you don’t have to.
With the stage keyboard pianos, the intricacies of the keys don’t require much analysis, provided the piano translates into accurate live performance.
All stage pianos are digital keyboards, but not all digital keyboards are designed for live use.
Most digital pianos are built for reproducing the experience of the real sound from a piano.
On the other hand, stage pianos resemble a truly transportable musical instrument for creating a piano tone.
Essential Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best Stage Piano
Now that we know the difference between a digital piano and a stage piano let’s look at the critical factors to consider when selecting the best stage piano.
Build Quality and Material
I can’t overemphasize the importance of the build quality and choice of materials on your keyboard for gigging.
See, gigging involves a lot; there’s a high chance your keyboard may get damaged during transit or even during the live performances.
Generally, most stage pianos utilize a combo of metal and plastic for the outer shell, with more complex materials for the piano keyboard and interior.
I find metal a great shell option because of how sturdy it is and how it protects the keyboard from damage on stage. It’s also durable, and unlike plastic, it doesn’t crack.
However, the most delicate element of any instrument is the top interface. The knobs, buttons, and screens are likely to break if you’re not careful.
It’s for this reason we recommend choosing an option with the reliable build quality. Avoid those with artificial and tacky, plasticky feel.
The biggest contributors to the weight of a stage piano are the weight and dimension.
While lighter keyboards are helpful, saving 10 pounds doesn’t make sense in the keyboard takes a lot of your space.
So, it’s always a good idea to go for a balanced keyboard between the two.
Generally, the 73- key stage pianos tend to offer a sweet spot for weight and size.
The best digital pianos are designed for use in live performance instead of home practice, church, or studio.
However, there’re versatile keyboards, offering enough functionality for any situation.
Multi-functional stage keyboards have lots of voices across multiple instrument types.
They also come with different connectivity options, and keyboards with MIDI outputs and USB audio ports are particularly useful.
Polyphony refers to the capability of a piano to produce individual tones or notes at once.
The minimum you should be looking at in a stage keyboard piano is a 32-note polyphony.
Beginners should stick to the 32-note polyphony because it’s simple and easy to learn.
There’s also a 62-note polyphony that produces complex piano sounds, and I find it better for intermediate players.
Most digital pianos come with piano lessons helpful for beginners.
For instance, a digital piano with a built-in metronome helps beginners stay in rhythm, while others are equipped with displays showing what key is being played, so you always press the right key.
Another important factor to consider when selecting the best stage piano is the budget.
Stage keyboards may cost as low as $300, and others may cost anywhere above $1,000.
But generally, you get what you pay for.
The expensive digital pianos have plenty of features and specs.
To make an informed purchase, figure out what you want from a digital piano, and set a limit.
We encourage beginners to pick keyboards that help them grow.
Which Digital Keyboard is Most Like a Piano?
If you need a digital keyboard with the most resemblance to a piano, it’s essential to look for weighted keys with scaled hammer action.
The hammer is designed to mimic the feel of acoustic pianos, allowing you to achieve a similar experience, whether you’re playing a concert grand piano or stage piano.
Secondly, the best digital pianos have adjustable resistance, allowing you to tweak the keyboard action as they like.
For instance, if you need a lighter keyboard action to mimic pianos or electric pianos, adjustable resistance is the best tool for you.
While every stage piano has outstanding sound samples of the concert grand pianos, you should avoid the beginner pianos if you’re worried about the tone.
Go with high-end pianos from Yamaha, King, or Korg.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
It wasn’t hard coming up with our winner.
Roland RD 2000 is the best piano for stage performance and several good reasons.
First, this digital piano is compact and lightweight, essential features for gigging pianos.
The build quality is also awesome, and it’ll stand up to the gigging woes.
We also love that Roland 2000 has superior piano sound quality. The fact that it employs a double piano engine system tells us more about Roland’s dedication to pushing the limits of sound output to new levels.