[Abstract] Over the years a number of person who do not have a traditional piano and are looking for recommendations as to what digital piano I would recommend for them to purchase. To be honest I’ve always had my go to list, which is obviously updated as time progresses and technology advances in the electronic instrument world, but unfortunately the Yamaha 88-Key Hammer Digital Piano DGX-650 (“b” means black) has never made that list. Not because of any sort of dislike towards the instrument, but simply due to the fact that up until recently I had never encountered the instrument in real life and did not know a whole lot about it. Needless to say this is now one of my absolute favorite instruments on the market. If you’re familiar with my site I always look for negatives to highlight in my reviews because I feel like as a consumer you should be informed of both the positive and negatives aspects of your purchase, but when doing this review I encountered a first for myself… I could not find anything to nitpick at with this piano, it is the best digital piano. Continue reading to find out why.
First off, this piano has an easily accessible usb port right on the front of the piano which allows you to plug in an external usb hard drive and record high quality .WAV files directly to the device. I find that a lot of students like to use this feature to record not only themselves, but also me as their instructor playing through the song they are trying to learn so they have something to listen back to as a comparison. In most pianos at this price point or below this price I tend to find that when listening back to the recording on the USB drive the quality is just alright. For most digital piano makers I think the idea of recording the music to an external device via a built-in USB port is more of an after thought rather than a priority. However, Yamaha did not overlook the feature and delivers and really high quality recording. In a lot of ways it just seems easier to me to record directly to the USB as opposed to trying to hookup to Logic, Garageband, or whatever computer software you may have. Plus USB drives are ridiculously cheap these days.
If you don’t have a need to record to an external USB drive you always have the option of recording directly into the piano. This gives you some cool abilities to layer sounds and make a full one-man production with just the simple push of a button. Another added feature along with the recording technology is that everything you record on the piano is automatically transposed into sheet music on the screen in front of you.
Rich Built-in Lessons
The piano also features a large built-in monitor screen. This comes in very handy when trying to switch between the various internal sounds or when using the instructional software that is built-in to the piano. Which leads to talk about how Yamaha has really brought their built-in instructional lessons to another level. When I was a little kid the first song I ever learned on the piano was on a cheap electric keyboard my parents bought me for Christmas. Back then you had to stare at this tiny little screen and try to figure out what each note was. The Yamaha 88-Key Hammer Digital Piano DGX-650 features over five hundred songs in the already installed song bank and the piano gives you various options to make the process of learning a new song much easier. For example one of my favorite features is the ability separate each hand so you can learn each part individually before trying to put it together. I think that breaking it down like this is a great idea especially for absolute beginners or those trying to tackle songs that are a little more advanced.
Smart Chord, Easy to Play
The piano also has what they call Smart Chords, which allows you to play the left hand with just one finger and the piano will automatically figure out what your intended chord is and play the remaining keys. This allows the aspiring pianist to get off the ground much quicker because they only have to worry about learning the right hand and the base note in the left hand. I am a big believer in playing “fun” songs as soon as possible because learning the piano needs to be a fun activity and if you are seeing progress and you are able to play something quickly, you are going to be more inclined to continue down the path of actually learning how to play the piano.
In addition to the Smart Chord feature the DGX-650 also comes preloaded with just under two hundred rhythm sounds. You can find smooth jazz beats, or more funky electronic four on the floor bass hits to play on with, which adds an exciting element to your production.
Effective and Attractive Price
This review cannot go without mentioning that the Yamaha DGX-650 is one of the only pianos at this price point that samples a concert grand piano. The makers of this piano have gone through the extremely tedious process of sampling one of the world’s finest concert pianos and bring those sampled sounds to this digital piano. In addition to the high quality sounds this piano has a top-notch full sized 88-key hammer action weighted keyboard. This means that the keys are slightly heavier down at the lower notes and lighter has you work your way up the keyboard simulating the feel of a traditional piano. The piano also has the ability to tweak each specific keyboard sample with options of having a sweeter or cooler sound.
Some comments from the buyers
“I am a professional musician. I studied piano for 10+ years, had a 30-year career as a professional opera singer, and have played piano ALL my life. I have used my piano skills to accompany myself, learning roles, etc. and also as a private voice teacher. This is all by way of saying: I know pianos, and, I am most accustomed to a traditional acoustic piano. I recently moved back to CA from NYC, and was not in a position to buy a “regular” piano. After a great deal of research and reading NUMEROUS reviews, I settled upon purchase of this Yamaha Digital Piano. As someone who dearly misses the upright grand I played all my life, let me just say: I am THRILLED with this purchase.”
“This Yamaha is a great “compromise”. It looks really nice, feels solid, and the keys are really great, with hammer-action, and simulated difference in pressing lower keys vs higher keys. It is possible to buy an add-on to get the more traditional 3-pedal setup, but for now, the one pedal they included will suffice.
Sound Quality is really excellent. The built-in speakers are good quality, and the piano-sound (the main sound in this instrument , accessible with its own key), while personally I am not a musician,it is certainly a night-and-day difference to her previous keyboard, and to my ears, it sounds very realistic. This is supposedly in part to using a good chunk of memory to store multiple samples PER NOTE of one of their flagship acoustic grand pianos.”