A sleek and streamlined multipurpose piano

For as long as we have been married, I’ve told my husband I want a piano. We haven’t purchased one because pianos take up a lot of space, and when you live a relatively minimalist lifestyle, space is limited. Pianos also require professional movers to transport, have to be tuned annually (or more often, based on the model), upset your neighbors when you practice if you share a wall/floor/ceiling, and they don’t fit through all doorways. Even though I regularly said I wanted a piano, I didn’t really want one — at least not a traditional piano.

Then came along our tenth wedding anniversary and my amazing husband found the perfect gift for a minimalist who constantly said she wanted a piano.

This is the Roland DP-990. It is a digital piano with 88 full-size, weighted keys that folds up to be a narrow (less than 14″ deep) side table.

These pictures do not properly illustrate how inconspicuous this piano is. It isn’t obvious it is a piano when it is closed up and used as a side table. In addition to its powers of transformation, it doesn’t require professional movers to relocate. My husband and I easily carried it into the house and assembled it. Since it is digital, it doesn’t have to be tuned. You can turn down the volume or plug headphones into its jack so that no one else can hear you while you practice. It even comes with clips on the back of the unit that hide the two cables so it’s not obvious it is a digital piano. It’s sleek, practical, beautiful, and so much more convenient than a regular piano.

My husband purchased an adjustable piano bench that folds flat for storing in our coat closet when we want the piano to be used as a table. This makes the piano even more small-space friendly (and kid friendly, since my son and I are significantly different heights). The lid that covers the keys also has a slow-drop mechanism, perfect for not squashing a toddler’s fingers.

If you’ve been looking for a piano to work with your streamlined and/or uncluttered lifestyle, I recommend considering a piano like the Roland DP-990. I really like the way it sounds and the way it fits into our home and lifestyle. I’m also thankful to my husband for being such a conscientious anniversary gift giver and finding exactly the right gift for this Unclutterer. (He also got it on sale through one of our local piano stores because there is a newer model than this one now available — the DP-990F — so be sure to check for discounts and special offers.)

All of the images are from Roland. The ones I took in our house didn’t come out well at all.

37 Comments for “A sleek and streamlined multipurpose piano”

  1. posted by CM on

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve always wanted a piano too! Is the sound similar to a real non-digital piano?

  2. posted by CM on

    Oh, I just saw the price. If we can find room, I will probably stick to my original plan of getting one for free and hiring piano movers.

  3. posted by Erin Doland on

    @CM — My husband got it for more than HALF off. Like I said in the post, it’s not the newest model, so they don’t sell for full price any longer. And, it does play like a real piano. Sounds like one, too.

  4. posted by Marjoryt on

    You are most definitely correct about the moving. We have a studio upright (bigger, heavier, louder than a home spinet) – think music teacher’s piano. We could have bought a baby grand for less money; house movers see it and think, “that’s no big deal” and then learn very different! For anyone getting a “strings enabled” piano, I recommend getting a piano dehumidifier installed. It truly helps with the tuning and prevents expensive repairs. Ours is in the piano and we plug into the outlet. We never hear or do anything extra, but we only need tune 1 time every 1/2/3 years instead of 2/3 times a year.

    We also have a portable Roland with separate stand – it works but is in no way elegant! Happy music making.

  5. posted by Dani on

    This is great. My mom has always wanted a piano but never had the space. This model is definitely going on my wish list for her Christmas or birthday present. Thanks!

  6. posted by Steven on

    FYI, another great digital piano which is similar is the Casio Privia PX-830 (black polish). It’s about half the price of the Roland DP-990… $1,300 vs. $2,500. Check it out http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/PX830BP/ (p.s. I have no affiliation w/ Sweetwater)

    Rolands are great digital pianos, and are known for both great sound quality as well as weighted keys that feel very close to a real piano’s. For me, as a pianist, realistic keyboard action is probably more important than sound. I have to say, the Casio Privia PX-830 does a pretty darn good job at both sound and keyboard touch.

  7. posted by Diane O on

    Bookmarking this. I’ve had such bad luck with two traditional used pianos recently that I’m finally considering going digital. Will watch for the discounts. Thanks!

  8. posted by Nicole J on

    We have a similar Roland model and we love it. It does feel very much like playing a real piano. My husband and I are both pretty serious pianists and we’ve had a couple of digital pianos in the past that we were pretty unhappy with – but this one is good enough that we’re tempted to forgo getting a real piano for a very long time.

    And now that I have a toddler who wants to play, I love the volume control. And she loves pretending to play to the demo songs.

  9. posted by Nana on

    Oh, this makes me feel happy (for you) and old (me)! In 1936, for their first anniversary, my dad bought my mom a baby grand (complete with an affixed plaque commemorating the deed). My sister now has it … and remarked that she had it tuned and re-felted and various other things, instead of sending her kid to college!

  10. posted by Wendy on

    A few years ago I bought my daughter a Yamaha digital piano, it plays and sounds like a real piano.
    I bought it through ebay, so didn’t end up paying full price.

  11. posted by Mike on

    It’s not such a bad thing when a musical instrument is a unitasker. Finding one that isn’t is just icing on the cake.

  12. posted by chacha1 on

    This is very similar to the Yamaha Clavinova digital piano I had for a while – but the Roland looks smaller and more streamlined. It took two hefty men to move that Yamaha.

    A good source for used instruments – analog or digital – is a local university music department. We got our Clavinova through UCLA, which turns over instruments every few years, at about half retail.

  13. posted by Letgoodtimesroll on

    You obviously have a wonderful husband. A friend gave me a similar digital piano (her dad no longer wanted it), but it’s stuck away in our over-stuffed back room. One of my goals is to get it out and start using it. A regular piano doesn’t work for me because I’m in a wheelchair, but a keyboard on top of a table type stand works great. Congrats and may you enjoy many years of music.

  14. posted by Kathy on

    Erin, you totally made my day! For so long I wanted to return to my piano playing, but the noise & logistics was too much! Now I feel like its something I can realistically aim for now. You are,lucky to have such a thoughtful husband!

  15. posted by Astreja on

    Oh, that’s one cute digital piano!

    I have an older Roland that a friend will be taking off my hands because I’m headed back to the hammers-and-strings variety. Need to practice on the real deal to prepare for music exams; otherwise I’d just continue with the digital, which sounds great.

    Your piano looks a lot more cat-proof than mine, too (curses self for not buying the “lid” option way back when).

  16. posted by Tune on

    We’ve had a digital piano since the 1990s. We talked about getting a real piano, but I resist because of the hassles of moving and maintenance. Our old electronic has pretty good “touch,” though not the same as a true piano. I’d imagine they’ve gotten much better over the years. That said, there’s something about a real piano; the sound just fills a room! Great sound vs. 500 pounds!

  17. posted by bookmum on

    We’ve had a digital Yamaha Clavinova for 11 years this Christmas and it was the best thing we ever bought. All our kids learned to play and now I’m learning. The beauty of it is we can practice any time we want, we just plug in headphones and all anyone else hears is the soft thump of soundless keys. It isn’t light, but it can be moved with relative ease by two people and it NEVER needs tuning. We move it, plug it in and we’re good to go. The sound is not quite as dynamic as a “live” piano, but it is very acceptable.

  18. posted by Shelby on

    Clearly you have an awesome husband. Congratulations on your piano, and your mate. Well done you!

  19. posted by Natalie in West Oz on

    We have an 88 key fully weighted digital piano. Its much better for learning on than a keyboard as the keys are weighted and come back up slowly like a real piano (as opposed to the string back up straight away function of a keyboard). In the 7 years we’ve had it, it has needed repairing twice – once for a cord that got yanked out while I was vaccuuming and once for a blown amp courtesy of my 7 yr old turning the volume WAY up and then hitting the keys hard. Neither repair cost more than $200. Thats pretty good for a $1200 investment 7 years ago!

    The best part is, I can put it in any room regardless of whether its a hot room, cold room, in line with the aircon or in full sun and it wont affect its tuning. Makes it very user friendly for someone who likes to rearrange the house : ) i am coveting that lid though!

  20. posted by Natalie in West Oz on

    ps: I have silly fingers and a dodgy keyboard. That sentence should say “SPRING back up”.

  21. posted by Jackie Pettus on

    Hi, Erin:
    That’s a great looking “piano.” Now that the kids have moved out, my husband and I will be selling the family home and moving to a condominium. We’ll need to get rid of 40 years worth of “stuff.” I sing with a jazz group, and our baby grand piano is a big (pun intended) part of our lives. I think there’s a Roland DP-990 in our future!

  22. posted by Christina Rodriguez | The Diva's Home on

    That’s great! I love the small size of it. I have a traditional upright piano that belongs to my mom and it takes up a lot of room in my house. Thinking maybe I could get one of the digital pianos and give hers back!

  23. posted by [email protected] on

    Our friends have something similar and we are looking at purchasing one. I wouldn’t even consider an old style piano after seeing one in action – they are fantastic!

  24. posted by JC on

    I’m so happy for you. I wish you many years of enjoyment. We saved up for several years to purchase a piano when we were first married (used of course, couldn’t afford a new one). DH suggested a digital, but creating music is such a personal thing and part of that for me is the physical movement keys, the dynamics available, and the vibrations of the strings and soundboard. DH was so patient as I must have tried hundreds of pianos before I found one with just the right sound and feel that resonated with me. We were lucky and ended up with a fifteen year old piano that had only one previous owner, had been well cared for, but hardly any wear. It’s been through a lot in the last 15+ years with us, two moves, two children and one mouse. It’s acquired some surface scars, but still sounds lovely and brings joy into our home.

  25. posted by Nikki on

    My husband bought me my piano as our wedding present. I’ve had it 11 years, we’ve moved it ourselves 5 times, I’ve never had it tuned, and while it does need tuning now, it’s not so bad that I don’t play it. I’m glad you’ve found the piano you want. For me – a digital piano could never replace the real thing. A real piano feels alive when I play it, a digital feels dead.

  26. posted by Jose on

    This seems like an expensive alternative to a better idea: buy a good quality roll up piano (88 key) and a simple side table. The table will weigh very little and the piano can be rolled up and put away when not in use.

    This combination in my mind would not make a good product: people would invariably want something, even a single vase or decoration on top of the table, which would cause the accumulation of more table top items. In the end what I would see happening is this would become a piano that everyone uses as just a table top, or as a piano that no one ever closes to use as the table.

  27. posted by DawnW on

    Lucky,your husband is awesome. 🙂

  28. posted by Kristine on

    @ Jose – It’s hard to tell, but you may not understand why a roll-up keyboard wouldn’t be acceptable. If you play piano, and are considering a move to digital, the “action” of the keys is very important – at least it is for many people. A roll-up keyboard wouldn’t give the same feel, and therefore be as useless as the vase or decoration you mentioned!

  29. posted by J on

    I love this unitasker!

    We have a similar piano (a Kawaii with fully weighted keys). I’m a music teacher and I love the fact that it is always in tune, and I can play at all hours of the day without disturbing my family or neighbors.

    HOWEVER, be warned: Our daughter was recently turned away from what we thought might be a good music lessons program, without anyone ever meeting us or hearing her play. Why? I found out during the registration process that the school has a policy of requiring all of their piano students, no matter how young or how new to the instrument, to have an acoustic piano in the home: http://necmusic.edu/prep

    I know parents who have lied in order to get around this requirement, but I wasn’t willing to do that. When I contacted the director and described our instrument, she encouraged me to “just go get a second piano and you’ll be fine.” We found a piano teacher elsewhere.

  30. posted by J on

    This is what we have. Kawaii calls it a “hybrid” model because it’s built with the same action as an acoustic piano, just without the strings:


  31. posted by Anita on

    Congrats on your anniversary, Erin, and on your new piano as well! Digital pianos are indeed fantastic these days. Boyfriend has a Yamaha Clavinova (also 88 full-size, weighted keys) which is, as you say, remarkably compact, doesn’t need tuning, is more resilient than an acoustic piano and the adjustable volume makes it ideal for an apartment or a small house.

    All that being said, I’d be weary of a piano that does *too* good of a job disguising itself as a table. I’ve seen enough house guests spill drinks on tables that I wouldn’t want that near a piano; the fact that my boyfriend’s Clavinova still looks like a piano protects it from that kind of accidental damage, since people seem to be a lot more careful around something they know is valuable and special.

  32. posted by Lane on

    Erin, would you mind saying exactly where your husband found this piano? If they have a second one left at the store, I am headed there this weekend to pick it up. My old Roland stage piano has seen its last days, and this seems like the perfect replacement.

  33. posted by suzjazz on

    As a professional pianist, I have this to say:
    Roland has always made good digital keyboards. If I’m forced to play a keyboard instead of a real piano, I have to have one with decent action. I have Kurzweil electronic keyboard for gigs without pianos. And, as a piano teacher, I urge the parents of my students to be sure to get a keyboard with touch sensitive action.

    I am sympathetic to the amount of space a piano hogs (my grand piano takes up most of a small room) I’m not sure, though, that I like the idea of a piano doubling as a side table. Even if it is really just a keyboard, and presumably will not be damaged when it is in furniture mode.
    The greater good is served by you owning a keyboard for you and your child to play and enjoy.

  34. posted by Greg Chabala on

    I was with you most of the way on this purchase, until I realized it’s just a piano. If you’re going to get a digital keyboard, why have one that can only make piano sounds? For the same footprint you could have a keyboard with piano, pipe organ, and electric organ voices, and probably 20 more different instruments.

  35. posted by Lane on

    @Greg: This particular piano actually does have a nice collection of voices. 337 different synthesized voices (including eight drum kits). But if you’re a piano player, all you really will care about is how good the piano sound is. I think this one sounds pretty good – I actually just bought one today after getting the idea from this blog post.

  36. posted by clothespin on

    We recently minimized our piano… and instead of replacing it, I think that we’re going to go another route – banjo. Much smaller, portable (so can practice outside), and did I mention smaller? I took piano for years but it was really hard to find a piano to play during Peace Corps. A banjo would have been much more functional! But, that’s me and my only real interest is in my child learning to play some sort of instrument, not particular as to which one.

  37. posted by Ellie on

    I second the recommendation for an electric piano. My dad, an avid and talented pianist and organist, bought an electric piano a while back and now my sister has one in our house. It’s fairly small and unobtrusive, it sounds better than an old-fashioned upright, and being able to turn it down or plug in a pair of headphones means we can play for hours without disturbing anyone.

    At university, a friend of mine had gone a step further and bought a tabletop digital piano. This is as small as a keyboard, so it can be put away just about anywhere. The keys are still proper piano keys, and the pedals are like sewing machine pedals, on a wire that extends down from the back, behind the table or stand, to the floor.

    It’s just nice to be able to play music again – I can while away hours playing around with something, and it’s so relaxing I’m practically in a stupor by the end!

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