Teacher Hub

Why would I want a stage piano?

Written by William Thompson24/08/23

As we already know, keyboard instruments come in all shapes, sizes and colours. There are acoustic pianos, with actuals strings that vibrate when hit with hammers that are moved my pressing the keys on the keyboard.

There are also classroom keyboards, synthesisers, organs, harpsichords... the list seems endless. Yet one of the most useful types of keyboard instrument is the Stage Piano.

What is a Stage Piano? Well, it might seem too obvious to say that it's a piano intended for use on a stage. How, then, does it differ from a Steinway concert grand, I hear you ask? That's also used on a stage...

Really, the reason for calling it a 'stage' piano is that it is designed to be portable, unlike other digital pianos (sometimes all of which are erroneously but understandably described as 'Clavinovas'. 'Clavinova' is a trade mark used exclusively by Yamaha).

Stage pianos normally have a full 88-note keyboard, and usually include a sampled piano sound. Of course there are exceptions to this, with 76-note versions also being available, and many having additional sounds as well as piano.

When buying a stage piano, the following should be considered:

  1. If you need to move it around a lot, what weight can you manage to carry? (Most stage pianos have a good hammer action, which can make them pretty weighty)
  2. Will you need it to have its own speakers built in, or do you plan to connect it to a sound system or portable amplifier? (Those with built-in speakers and amplifiers will be a bit heavier again)
  3. If you will need to depend upon any built-in speakers, will they be loud enough to fill the space in which you intend using it?
  4. Do I need lots of different sounds, or will a simpler set suffice, comprising, for example, piano, organ, strings, harpsichord?
  5. What sort of stand will it need, given the extra heavy nature of stage pianos? (Some models are available with their own, dedicated stands that can be disconnected easily from the piano when moving it)
  6. Do you have a preference for the piano sound from any of the main manufacturers? (They all have their own unique approach to what they think a good piano should sound like)

The main models available come from Yamaha, Roland, Casio and Kawai. It's always sensible to try out the different models if you can (we have them on display in our showroom), but failing that if you are happy with the sound of one of those manufacturer's digital piano, say in a classroom, it might be wise to stick with the same brand. We're also more than happy to give you advice on what will be best for your situation and your budget.

Two of our favourite stage pianos are the Yamaha P515 and the Kawai ES920. However, cheaper - and dearer - models are also available.

They are incredibly useful and versatile instruments, and every school music department will benefit from having one - whether for accompanying the school choir down at the local shopping centre, providing a harpsichord continuo part during a school concert, or as part of an impromptu jazz combo in the school foyer on open day!