Piano 101

So you need to pick a piano...

Cheapo - under $300

Unweighted keys (organ/synth style) are cheap but terrible. Don't get keys that light up. They really don't help. With lite keys, you're sort of "holding your fingers up" which will wear out your hands in the long run. You also get a lot of "oops BANG"s - when your finger accidentally hits a key LOUD. These keyboards are great when you get into sound synthesis, though. Lots of sliders and wheels for tweaking sounds live. If you insist on one... - no less than 61 keys - something that will fit as a 2nd tier synth keyboard. - lots of sliders, pitchbend wheel, mod wheel, aftertouch, and pedal jacks Maybe a Novation LaunchKey61 or an M-Audio.

Beginner - above $300

Weighted keys are important for playing softly. Anybody can play loud. They also let your hands relax. Playing piano incorrectly can destroy the tendons in your wrist. Make sure you play using the least possible amount of effort. the Casio Privia line... or Yamaha YPG,DGX lines... Great starter pianos. Inexpensive. 88 weighted keys. But they're clacky. (Keys bang on keybed and on key return)

Serious - $900 or more

I recommend the Yamaha CP-33 or something similar. I'd recommend something Yamaha, Kawaii, Roland or Nord.

Acoustic - WAY over $4000

I'm no expert on those. If you can afford one, you can afford a digital to go with. Be ready to move it, tune it quarterly, and deal with your annoyed family. They are magic.

Do research

at pianoworld.com's digital piano forum and especially pianoworld.com's digital piano forum - prices paid thread A digital piano is actually TWO things: - a keyboard controller (keyboard hardware makes midi messages) - a sound module (synthesizer turns midi messages into audio)

Hit a local piano/band store

- Don't buy till you feel it. Keyboard actions are almost all different and can't ever change. Ever. Feel is the most important quality of a keyboard. - Bring headphones. Their speakers may be lame. - Sounds are kind of important for playing live. But PianoCheetah (PC based software synths) can add missing sounds. Next up, what makes a good midi controller.