What are the 6 best keyboards for under $1000?

$1000 is a reasonably healthy budget for a digital piano. There are some real bargains out there and if you're a selective (rather than an impulsive) shopper, then you can get a LOT of keyboard for your money.

If you're looking for features, it's always worth comparing models and choosing exactly the right fit for your requirements. For $1000 you can expect 88 full-sized keys, with hammer-action weighting; an excellent, dynamically responsive keyboard; active touch-sensitivity; realistic piano sounds; and at least one headphone jack for practicing.

A budget of $1000 is actually a pretty sufficient budget for a stage-piano, although there are some decent digital uprights available as well.

A digital upright piano has a furniture-style stand unit, which usually includes at least two foot-pedals. A stage piano is just the keyboard and built-in speaker unit, without legs or fixed foot-pedals, which are designed to be taken on the road for gigging musicians. Most stage pianos, however, do have accessory stands that act as a permanent housing unit for the instrument.

I think that these are the 6 best digital pianos for under $1000  

Roland FP140R

Sound quality - 10/10

Features - 10/10

Ease of use - 9/10

Price-quality ratio - 8/10

Who is the Roland FP140R for?

This brilliant keyboard has tons of amazing features, perfect for the seasoned piano player, as well as loads of fun features for the less serious amongst us. I’d say that this is a pretty universally appealing instrument, suitable for learners, students and home musicians.

Features

One of the first things you notice about this brilliant digital piano is the superb keyboard action. The keys have an amazingly responsive reaction to your dynamic play; coupled with the brilliant Roland SuperNATURAL sound engine, this is a really hard digital piano to beat.

The grand piano sounds are lovely - full of warmth, but with a great top-end that doesn’t exhaust the ears. There are 316 instrumental voices in total, including some beautiful, warm and grimy electric pianos, jazz and church organs, a handful of passable string sounds, and 72 intelligent rhythms that follow exactly what you play.

The intelligent rhythm section is a really clever feature - it follows the chord sequence that you’re playing in real time, and creates a band accompaniment - featuring drums, bass, guitars, strings and horns. It’s huge amounts of fun to play with.

The F140R is a compact unit, with a built-in sliding lid that’s designed to have a smaller footprint than other digital uprights. The instrument is marketed towards a student demographic, who might need a digital piano in their university halls of residence or frat house.

However, I would really say that this keyboard has a much wider appeal than just the student market, and I would gladly spend many hours playing this at home. It has a fantastically realistic keyboard action, accompanied by a variety of realistic reverbs and digital effects that make this instrument a total joy to play.

The F140R does go slightly over budget, but if you shop around you’ll find this model for under $1000. I believe that the F140R is an excellent investment which will pay off with years of playing enjoyment. 

PROs

  • 316 instrumental voices, all powered from Roland’s superlative SuperNATURAL sound engine Sliding keyboard cover
  • Compact unit, with 3 foot-pedals, for soft, sostenuto and damper
  • Intelligent accompaniment feature puts you in control of a full band

CONs

  • You’ll lose many hours at this keyboard!
  • It’s at the very top end of the $1000 budget - it breaks the budget slightly, but for features, the F140R offers an excellent price-quality ratio. Shop around because you’ll find one for less than $1000.

Kawai ES110


Sound quality - 9/10

Features - 8/10

Ease of use - 6/10

Price-quality ratio - 9/10

Who is the Kawai ES110 for?

This is a stage piano, designed for the touring musician. It’s super-light to transport - it’s probably the most lightweight stage piano on the market. However, for a great price, you get a wonderful digital piano made from one of the world’s most respected piano manufacturers.

Although this model is principally aimed at the gigging musician, it is great for the learner, who wants to practice on an instrument that feels really authentic.

In terms of price, the ES110 offers a really excellent, responsive keyboard and great piano sampling. It provides an excellent price-quality ratio, making this one of the most genuinely affordable models featured in this article, with the high-end keyboard build and piano sampling that you’d expect for a much more expensive model.

Features

At first sight, the Kawai ES110 looks a little plasticky and cheap. I had zero expectations when I first laid eyes on the ES110 - I set myself up for disappointment.

However, the rather cheap looking exterior belies the amazing keyboard action and build quality that Kawai are so famous for. The keyboard has a beautiful key-off bounce that you’d expect to see in much higher-end keyboards, and the graded weighting of the keys really do feel pretty close to a genuine acoustic piano.

The grand piano sounds are simply excellent - the instrument delivers great clarity through the upward facing speakers, providing a really beautifully spacious piano sound that transports you to the concert hall.

The user-interface is pretty clunky, however - the attention to detail has been afforded towards the  build rather than the interface. To select one of the 19 non-default sounds, you have to repeatedly press a button; so to get a specific sound you might need to press the button 6 times. There’s no digital display to confirm which sound or feature you’ve selected, so I think that this is a pretty clunky way to find your way around the instrument.

The instrument comes with Bluetooth MIDI which allows you to control iPad music apps, wirelessly, which is a really funky feature.

PROs

A super-light, super-portable stage piano

Graded hammer-action keyboard, with a great key-off bounce provides an excellent keyboard response

19 instrumental sounds

Perfect for the gigging musician

CONs

The basic unit has no stand. However, a dedicated accessory stand can be purchased (and you’ll still get change out of $1000!

The user interface is clunky - it’s difficult to navigate, and a little annoying!