Japanese manufacturer Casio is well known for making all sorts of electronics. While it’s most famous product is likely the notorious calculator watch, their musical instrument division has grown substantially since the 80s. Developing affordable instruments being its forte, it’s no surprise to see the brand in many homes, schools, and rehearsal studios. Today we are looking at Casio’s CDP-S350: a compact, 88-key digital piano packed with features. This model is also available as the CDP-S350CS, which includes the otherwise optional CS-46 stand. Keep reading to know why this might be the ideal keyboard for you if you are looking for a great all-around keyboard that’s easy to move around.
I filmed a video documenting the features and my overall impressions of the instrument, as well as audio samples.
Plenty of features to keep you busy
As far as the general specifications of the keyboard, the CDP-S350 presents a full 88-key range. This is what you’d find on a regular acoustic piano. The keys themselves are weighted, so you will get that authentic feel, and your hands will get used to playing with the weight. For beginners, this is ideal as your technique will develop accordingly, and your use of dynamics will come through whether you play on a digital or acoustic piano. A lot of teachers insist on this type of option. Also, these keys are finished with a simulated ivory and ebony surface, which noticeably enhances the feel.
In terms of sound, the Casio CDP-S350 digital piano is full-featured thanks to its 700 different tones. These sounds range from multiple piano samples to drum kits and electric pianos, and synthesizers to strings and guitars. Most common tones are included in this model. You can hear them through the built-in speakers or through the headphone output—perfect for a crowded house or late night practice sessions when you don’t want to wake the neighbours.
Additional features include 200 rhythms and two effects. The rhythm tracks provide a nice accompaniment in many different styles. This is a lot more fun to play with compared to a metronome. Adjust its playback speed to work on difficult passages or simply dial in the exact tempo your piece needs. Also, the keyboard provides a choice of 10 different reverb algorithms and 4 choruses. While not an absolute necessity, it’s enjoyable to provide some ambiance and modulation, especially when using the headphones.
Plenty of useful accessories are available
The Casio CDP-S350 digital piano ships with a sustain pedal, music stand, and AC adapter. The pedal, the SP-3, is a simple but usable accessory that will enable you to add sustain to your playing without having to buy an additional peripheral. The addition of the music stand is quite handy and will securely support your sheet music or iPad. Although the power supply will most likely be the main source of current for your keyboard, it is possible to use the CDP-350 with 6 AA batteries. This feature is very welcome in this compact product and will make your life easier when heading out to the cottage for the weekend.
Additional accessories include the SP-20, a higher quality, full sized single pedal. You could also opt for the SP-34, which is a triple pedal unit featuring the regular foot controls found on a piano: Sustain, Soft, and Sostenuto. There are also two different gig bags to choose from: the SC-800 and the SC-650. The former is a traditional keyboard gig bag featuring a shoulder strap. The latter is an inventive backpack-like case which will make transporting the CDP-S350 a breeze!
Great keyboard for beginners, or as an upgrade
As soon as I plugged in the keyboard, I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of the keys. While the simulated finish isn’t exactly like the real thing, the sensation is more pleasant than the usual glossy keys we get on models in this price range or lower. The slightly coarse character creates a better response and grip, more suited to my tastes. Also, the weighted keys are a nice addition and definitely do not feel cheap. While this might not be the ideal feel for, let’s say, synthesizer and string sounds, if you’re getting this as a beginner or to mainly play with piano tones, this feature is great.
It’s easy to navigate through the Casio CDP-S350’s many options. A central large LCD screen tells you which parameter you are navigating. The backlight does a very good job at producing an intelligible contrast that makes everything easy to see. A scroll wheel accelerates the sound selection, although it’s still quite long considering there are 700 different tones to choose from.
Speaking of tones, there are a lot of them! Everything that is played with a keyboard is here: pianos, electric pianos, organs, harpsichords, and synths. You also get numerous samples of guitars, basses, drum kits, sound effects and wind, brass, ethnic, and world instruments. All of these samples, while not the most stunning representations of the real thing, sound good through the built-in speakers or headphones.
Build entire arrangements on the fly
The accompaniment section is great to work on your chops or to entertain people. You can either be accompanied by drums, or, in true arranger fashion, have a whole band behind you. The CDP-S350 also has various modes of interpreting your harmony that enable even beginners to create whole songs on the fly!
There are so many different styles included in this package that if you were to practice every one of them diligently, you’d be a very versatile keyboard player indeed! Apart from the most popular styles likes pop and rock, you can find various Latin and jazz beats to really hone in on your rhythm chops and be ready for the next jam session.
It’s hard not to recommend the Casio CDP-S350 Digital Piano to anyone in the market for a new digital piano. It has plenty of features, is easy to use, and, especially considering the price, feels great and more expensive than it is. Whether you are buying your first keyboard or upgrading for something that has weighted keys, this is definitely a model you should consider.