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Best Upright Piano: Our Top Digital & Acoustic Picks 

 March 19, 2021

By  Zen Chung

Getting a new piano is always an exciting venture for beginners, intermediate, and even accomplished players. The piano is an exceptionally rewarding instrument; very few things rival the satisfaction and fulfillment of embarking on a musical journey with a sublime piano. The right option responds to your touch gracefully and is always be a dream to play. After all, music is always going to be food for the soul.

But where do you start? There are plenty of piano options available at your disposal. An upright piano or uprights-as they are commonly known as-is always considered a solid investment in the piano world. Some models, such as C Bechstein Concert 8 or the Steinway Model S, are of such top quality that they rival some standard grand pianos out there.

Why an Upright Piano?

Size! Typically, most people will have their piano in the living room. Due to its smaller profile, an upright piano occupies less floor space than a baby grand or a grand piano would. The main difference between an upright and a grand piano is that the strings are vertical in an upright and horizontal in a grand; hence the former's fuller sounds. But at the end of the day, uprights give you the best of everything.

You get an instrument that sounds wonderful-solid tones, wide dynamic ranges, and remarkable leverage in the keys and action. An upright piano will also look quite stunning in your home without taking up too much.

One of the first decisions you'll have to make when buying an upright piano is deciding between a digital and an acoustic piano. There's no straightforward answer to which would be better for you, as requirements and preferences vary from one person to the other. As such, we'll look at the merits of each to give you a better understanding:

Acoustic Upright Piano

acoustic upright piano

  • Acoustic pianos hold their value over several years, especially if they are maintained appropriately. Unlike a digital piano, once you get a top-level acoustic, you'll never need to upgrade.
  • The sound of an acoustic piano is unmatched; just listen to the C Bechstein Elegance. Most pianists are after the strike of the hammer on a string, further amplified by the soundboard. Digital pianos have massively improved through technology to replicate acoustic sounds as realistically as possible, but they certainly cannot rival a good acoustic piano's responsiveness and timbre.
  • At the hands of an accomplished piano tuner, an acoustic piano is fairly easier to repair due to its mechanical construction.

Digital Upright Piano

digital upright piano

  • They are cheaper since they don't have all the mechanical components of an acoustic piano, such as strings and hammers.
  • The lack of mechanical components means you don't have to worry about humidity and temperature loosening and tightening the piano's strings. These elements can change the pitch and ruin your instrument's tuning.
  • At that, you'll never need to tune a digital piano, which can sometimes be a costly expenditure since the number of tuning sessions increases as the piano ages.
  • Digital pianos are not as heavy as acoustic ones.
  • You can play a digital piano through headphones. Furthermore, you can turn its volume up or down, depending on the circumstance.
  • You also get various onboard effects and instruments to pick from.

Best Upright Piano

Finding the best upright piano is no mean feat. Therefore, we have mustered a list of some of the best uprights on the market to help pin down your choice.

1. Yamaha YDP143B Arius

Yamaha YDP143B Arius Series Console Digital Piano with Bench, Black Walnut
  • The Pure CF Sound Engine faithfully reproduces the tone of a meticulously...
  • GHS weighted action is heavier in the low keys and lighter in the high keys,...
  • 50 classic piano songs are provided in the built-in song memory as well as in a...
  • The Controller App for iOS devices adds a rich graphical user interface,...
  • The 2-track song recorder allows players to practice one hand at a time, or...

If you are looking for superb polyphony, the YDP143B Arius comes with a whopping 192-note polyphony! This is sufficient to play the most advanced musical pieces without dropping a single note.

This piano produces excellent tones, full and nice to the ear. It also has graded hammer action, making it very pleasant to play. It can also be connected to an app, giving you access to several piano features, included pre-loaded classical pieces for beginners to learn from.

It comes in two stylish colours, black walnut and rosewood. You can rest assured either of these materials will look great and stylish in your living room.

Pros

  • Sleek design.
  • Wide range of voices.
  • USB.
  • Complementary app.

Cons

  • Some of the plastic parts are flimsy.

2. Korg BISP 88

Korg B1SP 88 key Digital Piano Package with Natural Weighted Hammer Action...
  • Korg B1SP 88 key Digital Piano s Advanced sampling technologies were used to...
  • The Korg B1SP digital piano employs Motional Feedback technology to give you...
  • The Concert Series is a new lineup of KORG digital pianos. The B1, an entry...
  • Motional Feedback technology compensates for any sound coloration caused by the...
  • Korg B1SP digital piano was built from the ground up to deliver realistic piano...

If you want a piano that gets the job down without too much pomp, this is the option for you. With 88 weighted keys with hammer action, plus exceptional piano samples, the Korg BISP 88 is ideal for a piano player who just wants an instrument that works well.

The piano also supports dual-mode, making it ideal for piano lessons. It also supports the use of headphones, so you never have to worry about annoying the rest of the family. It comes with three pedals, plus a piano bench, making this a pretty good deal overall.

The Korg BISP 88 is available in both black and white, including a 5-year warranty.

Pros

  • Hammer action weighted keys.
  • Fairly easy to use.
  • Includes a piano bench.
  • 5-year warranty.

Cons

  • Some of the plastic parts are flimsy.

3. Casio Privia PX-160

Casio Privia PX-160 Digital Piano - Black Bundle with CS-67 Stand, SP-33...
  • Bundle includes Casio CS-67 furniture stand, Casio SP-33 triple-pedal system,...
  • Casio's best-selling digital piano; new version of Casio PX-150
  • Elegant look with redesigned speaker system
  • String ensemble and electric piano tones
  • Two headphone outputs on front; 1/4" left and right line outputs

This is a good high-quality choice for people who just want an upright piano without all the bells and whistles. The Privia PX-160 is a basic option and quite lightweight, hence very easy to move around. It makes for a great stage piano.

It has 18 different sounds for the user to experiment with their music, further enhanced by the quality soundboard speaker system. If you are into recording and composing music, this piano can connect to a tablet or computer via MIDI USB. It's available in both black and champagne, the latter giving off a very fancy gold-like feel. It comes with a sustain pedal and a music rest, plus a 3-year warranty from Casio.

Pros

  • 18 sounds.
  • USB MIDI.
  • 3-year warranty from the manufacturer.
  • Slim and lightweight.

Cons

  • The piano stand is sold separately.
  • Requires heavy assembly.

4. The ONE Smart Piano

The ONE Smart Piano, Weighted 88-Key Digital Piano, Grand Graded...
  • Guided by LED Lights to start playing in minutes
  • 4000+ sheet music, 100+ videos, and games in the free apps
  • Supporting both iOS and Android, phone and tablet
  • MIDI output and recording (please refer to the user manual for setting guidance)
  • High Grade Piano: 88 weighted keys, professional stereo sound, 3 piano pedals...

The ONE Smart is certainly an excellent choice for entry-level pianos. It can connect to a tablet or smartphone via USB, giving you access to a complementary app that takes learning to play the piano to a whole new level.

The piano itself is made of wood, producing an appealing finish, in both black and white colour options. It also comes with 128 instrument sounds, with weighted keys, to match the heaviness of an acoustic piano's keys. The ONE Smart also offers different learning modes and games from the app to help you learn at your own pace. This includes a nifty LED lights feature that guides you on the key to play next.

You have access to over 4000 different songs from the app, including sheet music; some free, others paid for. You also get over 100 videos and tutorials that guide you all the way from a beginner to intermediate, meaning you get to learn to play the piano at a much lower price.

Pros

  • Ideal for beginners; 100+ lessons and tutorials.
  • 4000+ songs, plus their sheet music.
  • 128+ voices.

Cons

  • Lacks a record button.

5. Schiller Special Edition

This is undoubtedly meant for those looking for an upright piano with a bit of pizzazz. Not only is this an outstanding acoustic piano but also a spectacular piece of interior decor in your home.

The Special Edition is suitable for all kinds of players, from beginner to advanced, as well as any playing style. The sound quality on this piano is unmatched, thanks to the concert-level strings. One of the biggest draws is perhaps the all-white finish with gold accents, giving it a luxurious feel. Not to mention that it also comes with a matching bench.

You also get a 10-year warranty, a testament to Schiller's confidence in its products.

Pros

  • Amazing build quality.
  • Great sound quality.
  • Luxurious white and gold finish.
  • White stool included.
  • 10-year warranty.
  • Suitable for all playing levels.

Cons

  • Heavy and big.
  • Expensive.

How To Choose the Best Upright Piano

Several factors must be considered when you are looking for your ideal upright piano. As you would expect, these aspects vary between acoustic and digital uprights. Here's what you should keep in mind:

Acoustic Upright Piano

1. Sound

Typically, most piano players want a round and full sound. However, this is ultimately subjective since some might lean towards bright tones and others towards mellow tones. As such, it would be best to play the piano before buying to determine whether you like its sound or not. Are the sound quality and key volume consistent? Play all the notes on the piano to find this out. It would be best if you also sought out professional opinion to supplement your own.

2. Keys

All the keys should have smooth surfaces without any cracks or damages. Each key should also have sufficient resistance when pressed. Furthermore, when the keys are struck, there ought to be adequate cushioning to minimize the shock carried on to your finger joints.

3. Location

Before you set out to buy an acoustic upright, you need to know the exact amount of space available at home. This will definitely have a huge influence on your viable options. Additionally, acoustic pianos are vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity. Therefore, you must find a suitable spot in your living room away from direct sunlight and radiators. The ideal conditions should be a consistent 20˚C to room temperature, with 45%-75% relative humidity.

4. Brand

Currently, there are several brands in the acoustic piano business. Among these are some who have made and earned their name for their excellent products. These include:

  • Steinway & Sons
  • Yamaha
  • Bösendorfer 
  • Kawai
  • Baldwin

5. Warranty

You'll definitely dig slightly deeper into your pockets for an acoustic piano. As such, you must get a reasonable warranty, say at least 5 years, in case you need repairs in the future. It is worth noting that some brands don't offer warranties for pianos bought from unauthorised private sellers.

Digital Upright Piano

1. Sound

Basically, digital pianos produce their sound by playing sounds that have been pre-recorded on acoustic pianos. Therefore, sound quality heavily relies on the method and equipment used in the recording. A decent digital upright should mimic acoustic sounds as realistically as possible to deliver warm and less digital (more natural) tones. Furthermore, it would be best to consider the sounds' articulation and decay, where a good digital upright gives you more control over these elements. That said, sound quality is ultimately subjective; go for a piano that sounds nice to you.

2. Number of Keys

Full-sized pianos consist of 88 keys, although you'll also find 61-key (or fewer) variants. If you are really keen on learning the piano or are already an advanced piano player, then a full-sized piano is exactly what you should go for.

3. Polyphony

This refers to the maximum number of sounds a piano can produce simultaneously. For context, a piano with 64-note polyphony means that it can produce 64 notes at once. Polyphony mainly hinges on your level of playing; the higher your skill level, the more notes you might desire when playing the piano. Using sustain pedals can also help to produce more notes at the same time.

4. Touch Response

There are two aspects to consider for touch response:

  • Touch sensitivity - Refers to the piano's responsiveness when you play a key with varying amounts of strength. This sensitivity gives you enhanced control over your music's dynamics. The keyboard's ability to sense the velocity at which you play the key, hence deliver the corresponding volume, allows you to play your music more expressively.
  • Weighted keys -These are meant to mimic the natural heaviness of the acoustic piano keys. You can choose between fully-weighted or semi-weighted keys, the former being the better option. Whatever the case may be, it's always advisable to have weighted keys on your digital upright than not.

5. Additional Features

Some digital pianos come with extra features to enhance the playing experience. Some might have sounds from other instruments, which allows you to explore and play around with your musical ideas. Others also come with learning tools, especially for beginners, to help them move faster on the learning curve. These additions include:

  • Built-in metronome.
  • Lighted keys to follow as you play.
  • Dual-mode, which divides the piano into two sections so that you can play in the same octave as your teacher or partner.

6. Brand

Normally, the brand behind a piano will give you a good idea of its sound quality and reliability. Some of the creditable names include:

  • Yamaha
  • Roland
  • Korg
  • Casio.

Frequently Asked Questions about Upright Pianos

1. How big are upright pianos?

This certainly varies from one model to the other. However, professional upright pianos are on average:

  • 110cm-150cm high.
  • 150cm-155cm wide.
  • 40cm-60cm deep.

2. How do you move an upright piano?

Strictly speaking, you should never try to move the piano yourself. Instead, get professionals to do it for you, just like grand pianos, even if this comes at a fee. Any mishaps when moving the piano on your own can end costlier than simply outsourcing the service. 

Zen Chung


I'm Zen Chung, a piano and violin teacher based out of Plano, Texas. I started this blog because my students (and their parents) kept asking about the best musical instruments to buy online. Look no further I'm here to save the day! 

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