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7 Best Upright Pianos of 2021 – Upright Piano Brands for Beginners

Not all pianos are equal. Some sound deep and resonant. Others produce tinny synthetic melodies. Upright pianos have a vertical chamber so they generally have better acoustics than a portable keyboard. This applies whether the upright piano is acoustic or digital.

But once you’ve decided you have the space and temperament for an upright piano, you still have to find the best one. But how can you tell which brand has the best offering on the market? Let’s start by looking at these seven popular piano models to see what you might like…

Quick Glance: the Best Upright Piano on the Market

 

The Best Upright Piano on the Market 2021

1. Yamaha Arius YDP-184R Digital Console Upright Piano (Our Top Pick)

best upright piano

Pianos have undergone lots of changes over the years. But it’s still seen as a sign of wealth and prestige if you have one in your living room. But with modern life keeping us in such close quarters, owning a piano can be tricky. You don’t want someone calling the cops (or the HoA) as you practice your scales at 3.00 a.m. Arius resolves this problem via two control boxes.

The main control box lies to the left of the keyboard. It’s topped by an LCD screen with dotted lettering and numbering. It’s a tiny screen and it helps you navigate your digital piano controls. These include a metronome for pacing and additional buttons for tempo and rhythm. There are also buttons for recording and a ‘voice’ button when you want to play a clav, harp, or organ.

These ‘voices’ are included as samples and they facilitate wider instrumental options. This is one of the main advantages of digital pianos over acoustic ones – the ability to switch your instrumental voice. The secondary control box has ports for headphones, aux cables, and USB. Arius is available in three colors and four styles, with or without a solid back panel.

Traditional pianos have ivory keys that have a distinctive look, sound, and feel as you play. Arius mimics these features with synthetic tactile ivory. This faux-ivory has a non-slip surface and it absorbs any sweat, oils, or moisture from your fingers, ensuring seamless, uninterrupted piano play. This feature is useful for trills, arpeggios, scales, and quick pieces with fancy fingering.

Although this is a digital upright piano, it’s sampled off Yamaha’s CFX so you get the physique of an upright piano but the sound of a grand. This combination has some people labeling it the best upright piano. If you’re unsure of what to play first, you can use the included songbook for inspiration. The piano also has 128 polyphonic tones and VRM to spice up your playing.

Arius looks like a console and sounds like a grand. Its GH3 (grand hammer three) action keys simulate the weighty effect of acoustic piano keys. And you can link it to your phone or laptop.

Pros:

  • It comes with a piano stand, bench, and sheet book.
  • 128 polyphonic tones are pre-loaded into the control box.
  • The Arius ‘silencer’ lets you play with dual headphones.

Con:

  • It’s a heavy, bulky piano – 180 pounds and close to 60 inches by 20 inches by 36 inches so be prepared to do some heavy lifting.

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2. Ernst Kaps of Dresden S-119 Acoustic Upright Piano

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Piano manufacturers often design a series of closely related instruments. This can be puzzling for buyers as they try to parse minor differences between brands. This piano – for example – is sometimes labeled as M-119 Studio Class and other times marked as S-119 (it’s 119 cm wide).

Either way, it’s an 88-key acoustic piano with an optional ‘silencer’. This MIDI system allows for soundless play. You can quieten the keys by holding back the hammer springs or by redirecting sound to your headphones. This means you can noiselessly practice your fingering and technique.

This German piano has such confidence in its quality that it’s tagged with a 20-year warranty and a comfy piano bench. It’s an acoustic piano, so it weighs a hefty 550 pounds and measures 62.2 inches by 39.37 inches by 46.06 inches. You can buy it with a mirrored black finish or a brown veneer cover in rosewood or walnut. The treble and tenor strings are coated too.

If you’ve watched old-timey slapstick (think Three Stooges), you’ve seen a grand piano crashing onto the street … or maybe an upright piano lid slamming shut on someone’s fingers. Ouch! To avoid the latter mishap, this piano has a hydraulic soft-closing lid. The piano keys are carved and fitted using All Weald Action that’s patented to Ernst Kaps. The piano has three pedals.

These include a soft sostenuto celeste pedal. If you buy a version that’s fitted with a silencer, you’ll need lithium batteries to power the quietening control box. This digital control box is compatible with piano discs, flash drives, and varied recording tools. The piano is all wood, with a Sitka-spruce backboard and solid wood for the rest of the piano. The strings are coated steel.

This acoustic piano is well made with no aluminum or plastic parts. The piano keys are Swiss pine while the outer piano casing is a carbon composite. The piano is 117 cm wide.

Pros:

  • The pianos are crafted by hand to ensure premium quality.
  • It comes with a piano bench and a 20-year warranty.
  • Its soft-close lid is hydraulic.

Con:

  • The silencer is optional so you might forget to order it or make room for it in your budget. This could lead to some uncomfortable conversations with FedEx or UPS …

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3. The One Smart Piano Digital Upright Piano

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Learning to play the piano can be tedious and boring. So people often take shortcuts. But to fully master the piano, it helps if you can maintain tempo, learn the right posture, hold your fingers the right way, and read sheet music. The One Smart digital piano helps you accomplish all this with or without the guidance of a music teacher. And it’s suitable for learners of all ages.

The piano is linked to apps that give you access to over 4,000 pieces of sheet music and over 100 video demos. These apps also have lots of musical games you can use to relax and unwind as you learn.  The sheet music comes with pre-recorded previews so you can listen to what the song sounds like when it’s properly played. As you listen, follow along on the keyboard.

As each recorded note plays, a blue LED lights up over the relevant piano key, showing you where to press. You can pause the piece at any time and resume. You can also record and share your practice sessions so you can review them later to spot and correct your errors. You can also play fingering games. Think Piano Tiles or Magic Tiles but on your keyboard, not your phone.

Technology aside, this 88-key piano is made of wood, is fitted with three pedals, and emits true surround sound. And because the LED guiding lights are above the key (as opposed to lighting up the whole key), you won’t feel childish or patronized while you learn. You can find The One Piano apps both in the Google Play Store and the Apple Store, either via Android or iOs.

This upright piano has a built-in MIDI system that lets you seamlessly connect it to your smartphone, laptop, and other smart devices. This gives you access to a library of 128 instrument ‘voices’. Both beginners and pros can enjoy this piano, and it’s especially popular with music teachers and self-directed learners who prefer unsupervised pacing.

This digital piano really is The One. It makes learning easy and fun by gamifying the process. You do need a compatible smartphone or tablet to get the most out of its features though.

Pros:

  • The piano comes in matte black or classic white.
  • Its LED lights are great learning prompts.
  • It’s linked to apps that provide games, videos, and sheet music.

Con:

  • You can’t link your piano to older devices. You need at least iOs 10, Android 5, USB MIDI, or USB OTG.

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4. Kawai KDP-110 Console Digital Upright Piano

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Digital control panels are helpful, but only if you can use them intuitively. This Kawai console has a control panel positioned on the left side of the keyboard. It has buttons for metronome, recording, concert play, and lesson mode. The lesson button opens built-in Alfred Piano classes. Piano keys feel acoustic thanks to responsive hammer compact action and harmonic imaging.

The piano’s responsive hammer technology has 3 sensors to make it hyper-reactive when you play. This heightened response makes piano play faster, smoother, and more enjoyable. As your skills improve, you can activate ‘dual hands’ or ‘four hands’ modes to facilitate advanced play.

This piano is pleasantly lightweight at 85.8 pounds. It measures 53.54 inches by 15.94 inches by 33.46 inches. And the piano comes in separate pieces so you do have to assemble it. But you can link it to your smartphone or computer using MIDI, USB, or Bluetooth. Kawai KDP-110 has 192 polyphonic sounds, including samples from Shigeru Kawai Grand Piano SK-EX.

When you’re learning, you may want to practice duets with your teacher before you master two-handed techniques. The Kawai has two headphone ports so you can both play discreetly. It’s comforting because you won’t have to worry about everyone hearing your mistakes. The sliding cover is a nice touch too. It prevents moisture or dirt from damaging your piano keys.

The Kawai KDP-110 is an upright console piano based on a grand piano. Each of its three pedals is weighted individually to create grand piano levels of sostenuto, una corda, and damping.

Pros:

  • The piano has 192 polyphonic tones and 15 voices built-in.
  • It uses harmonic imaging to recreate authentic piano play.
  • The keys are weighted through responsive hammer action technology.

Con:

  • Many digital piano users like the realistic sound of acoustic piano keys, include that tell-tale tap as you press the key down. But some buyers are put off by the authentic reproduction of that ‘rebound’ key-sound so if you are, get a less weighted keyboard.

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5. Suzuki CTP-88 Hybrid Upright Piano

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Suzuki doesn’t make cars. They have a division called the Suzuki Musical Instrument Corporation, the brand behind this acoustic piano. The CTP-88 has a gorgeous acoustic-looking exterior in rich woody brown. But even with the convincing acoustic imitation, it’s still a digital piano so you do have to set it up and put it together. The shipping box has all the tools you need.

The assembly instructions are tough to follow through, so look for a demo video. Even if you can’t find one in this exact model, it will make the process easier for you. This piano has a close link to tech. Above the keyboard, a wide digital control panel covers almost the entire width of the piano. You can connect this control panel to your smartphone, iPad, or computer by USB.

You can also connect them via Bluetooth. The piano can play three backing tracks simultaneously so you have lots of versatility for your musical arrangements and compositions. You can further spice up your tracks using the 128 polyphonic tones and 100 rhythmic cues. But if you’re a beginner or you just want to get some practice in, you can engage the 55 pre-set songs.

These recordings are replicated in the included songbook so you can polish both your sight-reading and your finger technique. And while the control panel already offers myriad options, adding external input (through your smart device) lets you do so much more. The piano has built-in ‘voices’ but you can use the MIDI jacks to feed directly from other instruments.

Suzuki’s CTP-88 looks, sounds, and feels acoustic. You can easily tie it to your smart devices and access hundreds of additional features. Look for video demos to help you assemble the piano.

Pros:

  • The piano has both USB and Bluetooth.
  • It’s pre-loaded with 55 teaching tunes, 100 rhythmic riffs, and 128 polyphonic tones.
  • The music sequencer can hold 3 tracks simultaneously.

Con:

  • The control panel is above (or in front of) the keyboard, which isn’t as intuitive as locating it to the left of your piano keys.

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6. Casio Privia PX-770 Digital Upright Piano

best upright piano for beginners

Privia is a popular series of Casio digital pianos. This particular model – the PX-770 – has a slim, streamlined silhouette that purrs modernity. Playing this piano feels like working with an acoustic. The faux ebony and faux ivory keys are weighted using triple sensor scaled hammer action. The keys are textured to avoid slipping and absorb moisture in case you’re nervous.

This is a useful feature because it lets you play smoother and faster. It’s a true comfort for perfectionist pianists, whether you’re sweating from the lights and nerves of a live performance or fearing a reprimand from your instructor. The console is vertical but the sampled sounds and the weighted keys feel authentically grand. You can play in 19 instrumental ‘voices’.

These ‘voices’ include single instruments like the grand piano, duets like piano + strings, and genre combos like 60s EP or modern rock. And when you’re in the early stages of learning a piece (or when you’re playing a customized duet) you can split the keyboard into identically pitched halves. The piano’s control panel is placed to the left of the keyboard.

However, the labels (e.g. for the voices) are written above the keyboard so you can read it more easily. To create a surround sound effect, the piano is fitted with 16W speakers in stereo. You can also mix, arrange, and compose right on the keyboard via USB. Functionality includes a built-in metronome and recording equipment. You can use Chordana App for added features.

The Casio Privia PX-770 offers satisfying play and comprehensive features for learning, teaching, mixing, and recording. You’ll have to order headphones separately though.

Pros:

  • It has an AiR engine to emit persuasive grand piano tones.
  • The piano has 19 ‘voices’ including modern jazz and piped organ.
  • The slim styling matches most contemporary design themes.

Con:

  • It takes about an hour to assemble this piano so set aside enough time … and patience.

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7. Schiller Upright Special Edition Acoustic Upright Piano

best upright piano for beginners

Pretty? Yes. Practical? Mostly. This special edition Schiller comes in white with a matching bench. The gold detail adds to the elegance and luxury of this acoustic keyboard. Looks aside, this piano has some exciting features. For example, we often dwell on the height and weight of a piano. Especially if it’s acoustic, and more so if you have to drag it up the stairs.

But width matters too. Why? Because while most pianos have the standard 88 keys, the width of your piano affects how the keys are laid out. It could mean individual key sizes are shrunk to fit the available space. Width also affects the solid surfaces on either side of the keyboard. On digital pianos, these side-spots might host a control panel or a silencer. But for an acoustic piano, the wider your piano, the easier it is to play because it leaves more elbow room.

This applies whether you’re sitting with your teacher or staging a duet. The keys are finished with BASF for long life and heavy play. Its soundboard is Sitka-spruce from Siberia and inside the auditory chamber, VGF felt and a gravity rim improves the piano’s acoustics, pun intended.

While its name sounds Aryan and its engineering is German, this piano manufacturer is fully American and has a heritage that dates back to 1890. So yes, you can trust the warranty.

Pros:

  • The piano and bench are painted a soothing shade of white with gold trim.
  • It comes with a 10-year warranty.
  • The piano has 88 keys and extended width of 46 inches.

Con:

  • It’s a limited edition piano so it’s tough getting it in white. You may have to opt for a brown or black Schiller that has the same specs.

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Buying Guide

Many people opt for portable keyboards because they don’t have a lot of room. They want something compact that they can put away when it’s not in use. Or maybe they do a lot of gigs so they want a piano they can easily lug around. But if your musical needs are more stationary, here are some factors to consider as you shop for the best upright piano. And if you don’t want to invest too much, the second-hand upright piano is also a great idea!

Digital vs Acoustic

These piano types often have the same size, shape, and footprint. Some digital console pianos are so realistic you can barely tell the difference. In such cases, it comes down to your preference. Do you prefer the organic resonance of live strings or a pre-recorded sound patch with true sympathetic resonance? Do you want to digitally mix your piano with other effects?

Does your budget allow for an acoustic or are you better off with a half-priced acoustic? Are your walls sufficiently soundproofed or do you live in close quarters that require headphones for your practice sessions? Are you more interested in jazz, classical, pop, or electronica? Do you have reliable electricity? All these factors feed into your choice of digital or acoustic upright pianos.

Size of Piano

Upright pianos have vertically aligned strings – as opposed to the horizontal ones in grand pianos. Upright pianos also have hammer springs while grand pianos rely more on gravity. This means pressing the keys on a vertical piano feels different from pressing them on a grand piano. This applies to both acoustic and digital upright pianos. The resulting sound is different too.

If you’re buying a digital upright, check that the keys are weighted the way you like. Height comes into it as well. A ‘true upright’ parlor piano stands 50 to 60 inches tall. Studio pianos peak at 48 inches while console pianos are 43 inches or so. The smallest vertical piano is the spinet At 38 inches. Spinets can be wide though, measuring up to 58 inches across. They all have 88 keys.

Material and Maintenance

Acoustic pianos are mostly made of wood. Digital pianos might be made of wood, composite, or plastic. Naturally, wood needs a lot of maintenance. You have to keep it dry to avoid cracking or warping. You also have to tune the piano at least once a year. Some pianos are tuned up to four times a year, depending on how new they are, how frequently they’re played, and by who.

Heavy rotation pianos (e.g. at a music school) require more attention than home pianos or even church pianos that might only be used during services. Digital pianos don’t need tuning, and unless they’re wooden, they’re fine with the occasional dusting. But you do need to check the batteries for leeching. And it may help to fit a fuse in case of power surges or blackouts.

Get the Right Key Tones!

Based on our reviews, we recommend the Yamaha as the best upright piano. Here’s why:

  • The piano comes in black, dark rosewood, or black walnut.
  • The digital control panel lies on the left side of the keyboard for easy access.
  • It also has a ‘silencer’ control box under the keyboard below the main control box.
  • Arius uses samples from Yamaha’s acoustic CFX grand concert piano.
  • Its keys are made of tactile synthetic ivory.
  • The piano uses VRM (virtual resonance modeling) to enrich sound and expression.

What upright piano do you use right now? Share your piano photo in the comments!

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