Picking A Great Digital Stage Piano For My Worship Band

Have you come to the point where you need to upgrade your Digital Stage Piano? I have spent 10 years on the road and 30 years playing in churches and I’ve tried almost everything along the way. I’m especially fond of Roland, Yamaha and Nord products.

Stage pianos

In my quest to get the best-bang-for-the-buck I’m going to compare my 3 favorite stage digital pianos in the $2000-3000 range. These keyboards all have 88 weighted keys and have hundreds of different sounds. I’m especially looking for great acoustic and electric piano sounds, B-3 with Leslie effects, pad and string sounds. I also want ease-of-use, great layering capabilities and the ability to easily change sounds on the fly. So here are my 3 top picks.. Tell me what you think?

They are all great keyboards, it really boils down to what sounds and what keyboard feels the best for you. I’ll give you my personal choice at the end.

1. Roland RD-800 Stage Piano ($2499)

2. Nord Piano 2 HA88 ($2999)

3.  Yamaha CP4 Stage Piano ($2299)

As I said, they are all great keyboards but my vote goes to the Roland RD-800. It has some of my favorite sounds but it is also extremely easy to use. You can blend and change sounds quickly and intuitively. When you are in a live church situation with multiple keyboard players and teams, great sounds and ease-of-use are extremely important.

Question: Which of these keyboards is your favorite? Do you have another recommendation beside these three?

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Comments from Facebook:

David Straley: They’re all excellent keyboards. You really can’t go wrong with any of them. And since your church is paying for it, the price difference probably isn’t that important to you. (It might be if that weren’t the case.)

From my experience, Yamaha and Roland’s weakest point is their organs. But Nord is apparently well-respected for theirs. I heard a gal play Nord’s organ (and she was a real organ play) and it was fantastic.

But for those who do have to pay for their own keyboards, may I suggest that you get an older one? You can get a 10-year-old keyboards (or older) which still sounds terrific. I mean, like really good.

And for those who are on the road a lot, may I suggest that you go a whole other route. That’s this: consider getting rack-mount synthesizer modules and drive them with a low-cost controller keyboard. This is more work for setting up, but it has a powerful side-benefit: when your keyboard breaks (not if) you can replace it with a new, low-cost controller, but still keep all your sounds and your painstakingly crafted configurations. You can buy older MIDI modules at a low price and they still sound terrific, too.

And of course, you can also go with Software synths + a controller, if you’re into that. Also a lot cheaper than a new Nord, etc.

Tom Keller: Go into the Roland in detail. You have complete control over every aspect of their sounds. They model a lot of their organ sounds from Hammond B3. Nord is an amazing piano. It has awesome electric pianos and organs, but that’s pretty much the only place where it shines. Rack mount synths are good, but you don’t have control on the fly. That’s why I like work stations such as the FA-08 or the Korg Kronos. I’d play all of them and get a feel for them all before dropping a giant load of cash on one. Take your time and look at as many as you can!

Dusty Sturk: The Nords also do great synths (fully controllable) and vintage effects. One other selling point for Nord is that you can download and swap out sounds whenever you want with their editing software. I have found that aspect quite useful when looking for specific sounds for certain songs. It is a pretty invaluable feature. The Korg allows downloaded sounds, but they charge quite a pretty penny for them, as opposed to Nord, which is all free.

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