After doing a lot of research, the Yamaha DGX-640 was my digital piano of choice. Mainly because it’s kind of a ‘jack of all trades’ piano. It has a one-touch basic setting for a grand piano, which is my favorite mode. But it also has a nearly incomprehensible variety of voices, rhythms, and play styles. If you wanted to, you could make it sound like an entire band.
There were certain things on my ‘must have’ list. 88 full-sized keys. A piano feel. Quality piano sound. A headphone jack. My goal was to be able to practice freely, any time, without bothering anybody. An electronic keyboard wouldn’t do because they play completely differently. My style is very organic, and electronic keyboards require a very precise approach.
The digital piano I chose needed to be capable of entirely replacing a piano… but maintain a skillset that easily transfers back to a real piano. The DGX-640 has that ability. Most of my time is spent playing on it now. But when I sit down at a real piano, there’s no re-learning curve. There are differences. The sound isn’t exactly like a regular piano. It’s very good, but if you’re listening for it you can hear the difference. The higher notes don’t ring out so clearly as on my standard piano. That’s not an issue for me, the difference is only apparent when I’m specifically trying to hear it. For a practice piano, it’s fabulous. Some of that is due to the speakers. The 640 has two external speakers. 6 Watts each. They’re not bad. But they’re not great. When listening through the headphones, the tone is gorgeous, rich, vibrant. Much better than the external speakers. I’ve found some recommendations for better speakers, but that’s another $100, it can wait.
A more important difference to me, is the quantitative weight of the keys. The dgx-640 has a pleasing balance while playing. It feels good. If you limit your playing strictly to the 640, it feels perfect. But when you go back to a standard piano, it’s obviously ‘lighter’ to the touch than most pianos. I have a standard Baldwin studio piano, and the touch is very close. But the heavier feel of the keys means I play MUCH LOUDER than I mean to, until my hands re-adjust to the weight. (Takes a quick song or two.)
This will vary between different pianos. Been to churches with baby grands (and one with a full size grand) and the key weight was phenomenally heavy. Felt like a real workout just to press them down. On the other hand, the first piano I ever played (and my parents still have) is a Whitney studio piano. It actually has a lighter touch than the Yamaha dgx-640.
Last weekend, I played a Baby Grand at my home church. It was a special service to honor my Uncle Friel, possibly the best Southern Gospel Pianist that ever lived. Anyway, Mom requested I play Amazing Grace. You know how “Mom requests” can be. It might be safe to decline most of them, but every now and then, she makes a request… with a certain look in her eyes that says “This isn’t a request- I’m just being polite!” (It’s a southern thing.) I sat down to that piano, nervous, everybody watching. Rather than the heavy bricks I was dreading, those keys had a very pleasant touch. Only a tiny bit heavier than the DGX-640. Warm, wonderful tones. Good life in the notes. Probably the nicest baby grand I’ve ever touched. I practiced (a lot) on the DGX. That practice transferred perfectly to the church piano. That was when I was certain the 640 was going to work out.
There are a number of excellent digital pianos available. Several less expensive, and several more expensive, that would have done the job. Some even sounded or played better (according to other reviews). Choosing the 640 was a balancing act. Price was a big factor. Don’t have an unlimited cashflow. Why didn’t I just pick the cheapest one I could find? Quality, variety, and long-lasting satisfaction. I can’t afford to ‘upgrade’ later. The piano I choose is going to be “it”. No changing my mind after a year or two. No regrets for the piano I ‘really’ wanted. So I was willing to look at a price range that was above my budget… but still had to be realistic.
Second, a reputation for quality. I could have gotten nearly as many bells and whistles from cheaper pianos, but without the solid history of quality. Yamaha is certainly not the only quality brand available. But it’s one of the best, and the price spread between brands put Yamaha in a very good position.
Third… the bells and whistles. While I mainly wanted the piano, sometimes it’s just fun to play with all the extra features. Over time, I’ll get to know those features in detail. For now, I just wanted to acknowledge them as part of the considerations involved.
What it boiled down to was the Yamaha DGX-640. The price was higher than I wanted to spend for a digital piano, but I knew I could be happy with it for years to come.
Decision made, I settled in to dream about my ‘perfect piano’ for the long haul. Didn’t think it would be within budget for a long long time. Then Amazon had a deal too good to pass up. Discussed it with Monique, and suddenly I’m the proud owner of my dream piano!
As a means of tracking my progress and continuing to learn and practice, I decided to blog and post videos. I’ll be posting features, sounds, and songs along the way. Don’t expect a pro. I’m learning this as I go. And having lots of fun! :^)