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Digital Pianos vs. Acoustic Pianos

Today's blog comes from guest contributor Chris Senner of KeyboardKraze.com. KeyboardKraze is a blog that reviews all things keyboards and music industry related. On his website, you will find in-depth reviews on the latest MIDI controllers, digital pianos, and keytars and insight into the music industry.


With the ever-growing world of technology, we have seen a gigantic step forward in digital pianos over the years. From portability, all the way to key-action and the overall sound of the samples.

I have been lucky enough to have spent the last 5 years touring the country playing keyboards in an alternative rock band. In this time, I spent countless hours analyzing and playing digital and acoustic pianos.

My current keyboards include:

  • Dave Smith Prophet X Synthesizer
  • Roland FA 08
  • Novation MK3 37 key
  • Micro Korg XL
  • Yamaha P45

One of the main questions I would get from fans on tour was, "do you recommend a digital piano or an acoustic piano?" I found that the answer always varied depending on a few different criteria. By the end of this article, you are going to have a great understanding of digital pianos and everything they can do, as well as acoustic pianos and which you should ultimately purchase.

So, what are some of the main differences between digital pianos and acoustic pianos?

Digital Pianos Vs Acoustic Pianos

While this subject is often talked about, I feel like it isn't always explained in the best way it should be. Here's a table that breaks down the two instruments in a simple manner.

Instrument

Portable

Can Use For Online Lessons

Requires Power

Increase Home Value

Weighted Keys

Digital Piano

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Acoustic Piano

No

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

 

Digital Pianos

Roland RP-102 Digital Piano - Black | Amro Music

A digital piano's sole purpose is to mimic the sound and feel of an acoustic piano. For the longest time, acoustic pianos were looked at as the complete superior to digital pianos. Over time, digital pianos have narrowed the gap tremendously due to technology and the change of the way that human beings view certain things.

In the last few years, online piano lessons have made it possible for beginner pianists to use their digital pianos to directly connect with their tablets or PCs for informative lessons. The progress is actually recorded through MIDI and you can instantly be graded during multiple courses such as Flowkey or Skoove. It is important to note that you can use an acoustic piano for some of these online courses, however, I believe using a digital piano makes everything a little bit easier.

Here is a list of a few digital pianos I personally recommend:

Digital Pianos Can Give You Versatility That Acoustic Pianos Cannot

One of the main reasons that digital pianos appeal to buyers is that they appeal to not just beginners.

I feel like over the years, I've seen more pianists actually really loving digital pianos. Part of this is due to being able to do things such as online piano lessons, or my personal favorite, using them as MIDI controllers. Essentially, what this allows you to do is to access an unlimited number of sounds in a few clicks of your mouse.

Another thing to mention with digital pianos is that the key-action has greatly improved on most digital pianos over the years. If you have good key-action with your digital piano, you will allow yourself to improve with important dynamics.

Pros Of Digital Pianos

  • Usually more affordable than acoustic pianos
  • Great Sounds
  • Good for kids and adults
  • Long life span
  • Can use them as MIDI controllers
  • Can use for online piano lessons
  • Much lighter than acoustic pianos
  • Easier to maintain than acoustic pianos
  • Don't require tuning
  • Most have built-in metronomes

Why You Should Choose a Digital Piano

Let's take at my top reasons for when you should choose a digital piano.

1) If You Live In An Apartment

Digital pianos are absolutely perfect for apartments and or even smaller homes. This is because they provide excellent portability, similar to a portable keyboard.

The thought of moving pianos up and down apartment stairs is still something that I remember doing when I moved several times. Each time, we wished we had hired movers, and it was very dangerous.

Those who live in apartments may have to keep the noise down turning certain parts of the days. This is far easier to do on a digital piano and it can also be done much better. You can also choose to wear a pair of headphones while practicing, something that doesn't help the situation with a piano.

2) Age

If your kids are within a few years of going to college, they can greatly benefit from a digital piano. A lot of newer digital pianos are portable and can fit easily in a dorm room. A big plus here is that you can also use headphones with your digital pianos to really keep the noise to a minimum.

If you have a younger child in the ages of 3-7, I would recommend a budget digital piano. Something like the Casio CDP-S150 would be fantastic. This has weighted keys and will allow your child to grow.

3) Desire to Play In A Band Or Become A Music Producer

Digital pianos allow musicians to experiment with a lot more sounds than an acoustic piano. They can also be lugged around to practice, play shows, or even record in the studio easier than pianos.

If you are going to want to produce music, digital pianos are great as you can run them as MIDI controllers to access thousands of VSTs.

I still have my very first digital piano as I have built a connection with it when it comes to writing music.

4) First Instrument

This is always the big question I am asked. I almost always recommend digital pianos for beginners over acoustic pianos. Purchasing and maintaining digital pianos inexpensive compared to acoustic pianos.

Piano instructors may still recommend an acoustic piano, but digital pianos have come extremely far in their overall sound and ability.

5) If You Plan On Using Online Piano Lessons

Online piano lessons are a rather new concept that have been recently becoming popular. They are extremely convenient and they allow for a "go at your own pace" type of environment. Most of the online programs prefer you to own a digital piano as you can use them to capture MIDI. This allows online programs to grade your performances instantly.

Acoustic Pianos

Boston Grand Piano (up close shot of piano keys)

I still remember the feeling when I purchased my first piano. It was after about 7 years of practicing on a digital piano. This was an incredible feeling as I almost viewed it as a stepping point to the next level. While owning a piano doesn't make you better, it definitely gives you a sense of accomplishment if you've been playing for years on a digital piano. While digital pianos have gotten much better in their key-action, they still are not going to play entirely like an acoustic piano.

With this being said, an acoustic piano still needs to be maintained well or it won't matter. Proper maintenance will also include piano tuning. I personally recommend getting your piano tuned yearly to keep it sounding its best.

Just like digital pianos, acoustic pianos vary significantly in price. You can spend anywhere from a few hundred for a used upright, to well over $200,000 on a new grand piano.

Acoustic Pianos I recommend

Pros Of Acoustic Pianos

  • Most realistic key-action
  • Superior sound
  • Can increase property value

Here are some reasons that you would want to purchase an acoustic piano.

Why You Should Get an Acoustic Piano

There are a number of reasons to why you should get an acoustic piano. Here are a few of them. 

1) If You Have Space

Having adequate space for your piano is incredibly important. Pianos are often large and loud, and you will want to be aware of your surroundings. Pianos can also increase the value of your home depending on which type you end up purchasing.

2) Experience

If you have been playing the piano for years and it's one of your true passions, I would say to purchase one when you can afford it. It is an amazing feeling to "upgrade" from a digital piano to an acoustic piano. Often something that most pianists will remember for the rest of their lives.

3) Budget

If you have the budget and space and you are wondering if you should go with an acoustic piano, I would say, definitely. Digital pianos are great, but acoustic pianos also to your overall aesthetic and are life-long pleasures.

Wrapping Up

Purchasing a piano is one of the most exciting things you can do. I hope this guide gave you a better understanding of which is best for you. In conclusion, I would recommend going the digital route for beginners, and I would recommend going the piano route if your budget is there and you have a ton of passion for playing the piano.

Posted by Amro Music at 10:21 AM
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