Once you’ve decided on a digital piano, there are a few other things you’ll need to get the most out of it.
First and foremost is the stool. The most important thing about a piano stool is that it should enable you to sit comfortably at the correct height to play with good posture. When sitting at the piano your arms should be parallel to the floor, with your wrists slightly above the keyboard. If you are sitting at the wrong height it can cause bad playing habits as well as back or shoulder ache.
There are two types of stools – a box stool and an adjustable stool. A box stool will always be cheaper but it is worth paying the extra money for a quality adjustable stool as it will enable you to find the optimum height for you – plus you can change the height if other members of the family play. Either type has the option of built in storage – ideal for your sheet music.
If you have decided to purchase a portable piano i.e. a piano that does not come with its own integral stand, you will need to purchase a stand to put it on. A dedicated stand is very important as it will be adjustable for height enabling you to maintain the correct posture when playing.
There are various types, the most popular and least expensive being an X frame, so called because it is in the shape of an X. These are easy to adjust for height and can be collapsed for easy storage. A double braced X stand is good for heavier keyboards. If it is really heavy, you could consider a Z stand which is designed to hold large stage pianos weighing up to 500 pounds. Some digital piano manufacturers also offer their own stands particularly for their stage pianos which tend to be a bit more stylish.
The ability to play using headphones without disturbing others is one the main attractions of a digital piano. There are two main types of headphones – closed back where the outer part of the headphone cups have a hard enclosure, or open back which leaves the back of the headphone cup open. Which is best – well that depends.
In general terms, closed-back headphones are designed to isolate you from the outside world. It’s just you and your music. The downside is the music is a lot more “in your head” sounding. In contrast, Open back earphones have an airy and live sound to them. Unfortunately, they don’t restrict the sound from leaking out. This means people around you may be able to listen to what you are listening to in your earphones. Open backed headphones also allow air flow which means they will be more comfortable when used for long periods. And on that note, make sure you try out the headphones for fit and comfort before you buy them.
If you have purchased a portable piano, you will also need a sustain pedal which will connect to the piano via the ¼ socket on the back. If you want to be able to gradually apply sustain to the sound – what we call half damper – you will need a sustain pedal that looks like this.
This has the same mechanism as the pedals you find built into upright digital pianos plus it has a non-slip rubber plate – essential when playing on a hard surface such as a wooden floor. Other alternatives are simple on / off switches which while cheaper, won’t give you the same degree of control. Beware, some manufacturers pedals only work with their pianos so check first before you buy.
USB / MIDI
Finally, if you want to connect your digital piano to your computer, you will you need a standard USB cable that goes from your piano to your computer.
Read more posts from our beginner piano series
- Choosing between an acoustic or digital piano
- What types of piano are available?
- What do I need to know when I’m in a piano shop?
- The variety of sounds on digital pianos
- Learn faster on a digital piano
- Setting up your digital piano in your home
- Digital piano action explained
- Connecting a digital piano to a computer
- Useful features on a digital piano