Keyboard vs Piano: which should you choose?

2024-07-04

Trying to figure out whether an acoustic piano, a digital piano, or a keyboard is right for you? Each has its own vibe, from the authentic echo of an acoustic piano, the tech-savvy charms of a digital one, to the cool versatility of a keyboard. Whether you're dreaming of classical concerts or bedroom jams, there’s a perfect match for your space, budget, and musical ambition. Let's find out which one strikes the right chord with you!

JUMP TO SECTION
  • Acoustic Piano: The Classic Choice
  • Digital Piano: The Modern Alternative
  • Keyboard: The Versatile Virtuoso
  • Making the Right Choice
  • Which is better for beginners, a keyboard or a piano?
  • Digital Piano Vs Keyboard
  • What's the best digital piano for beginners?
  • Want to learn the piano?

Acoustic Piano: The Classic Choice

DSC04177.webpAcoustic pianos are loved for their rich, authentic sound. When you press a key, you can actually feel the physical hammers striking the strings. This action creates a sound that resonates through the piano's wooden body, producing a deep, warm tone that's hard to replicate. It's this unique tactile experience and the dynamic range of sound that draw many musicians to acoustic pianos.

Of course, an acoustic piano isn't for everyone. They require a significant investment in terms of money and space, need regular tuning and maintenance, and are heavy and difficult to move. If you need something portable or lower-maintenance, an acoustic might not be the best choice.

PROS:

CONS:

  • Unparalleled sound quality and richness

  • Touch sensitivity for expressive playing

  • Potential to increase in value over time

  • Higher purchase and maintenance costs

  • Requires significant space and regular tuning

  • Less portable and flexible than digital options

Digital Piano: The Modern Alternative

_DSC3240 (1).webpDigital pianos aim to capture the acoustic piano experience while adding modern tech features. They typically have 88 weighted keys that mimic the feel of an acoustic piano by using hammer action mechanisms. These mechanisms simulate the resistance and movement of hammers in an acoustic piano, giving you a similar tactile experience. Additionally, digital pianos use high-quality sampled sounds from real acoustic pianos to closely replicate their tone. This makes them a great choice for those who want a piano-like feel without the high maintenance.

However, digital pianos aren't perfect. While they come close, their sound and touch might not fully match an acoustic piano. On the plus side, they’re usually more affordable, require no tuning, and offer perks like headphone jacks for silent practice, various sound options, and recording capabilities. If you’re looking for convenience with a touch of tradition, a digital piano might be your best bet.

PROS:

CONS:

  • More affordable and requires less maintenance than acoustic pianos

  • Headphone connectivity for silent practice

  • Built-in features such as metronomes, sound variety, and recording capabilities

  • Sound and feel may not fully match an acoustic piano

  • Quality varies widely across different models and price points

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Keyboard: The Versatile Virtuoso

AdobeStock_372919274.webpKeyboards pack a ton of sounds and features into a compact, portable form. They typically have fewer keys than a piano and often use unweighted keys, making them easy to play. With features like built-in rhythms, various instrument sounds, recording capabilities, and learning tools, keyboards let you explore a wide range of musical genres beyond just piano music.

But if you're looking for an authentic piano feel, a keyboard might not be the best choice. The touch and sound can be quite different from an acoustic or digital piano. However, if you need something affordable, portable, and versatile, a keyboard could be just what you’re looking for.

PROS:

CONS:

  • Most cost-effective and portable option

  • Offers a variety of sounds and features, supporting a wide range of musical styles

  • Ideal for beginners and those exploring multiple genres

  • Lack of weighted keys may not provide the best practice experience for traditional piano learning

  • Sound quality and feel may not satisfy those seeking an authentic piano experience

Making the Right Choice

When you're trying to decide between an acoustic piano, a digital piano, or a keyboard, think about your musical goals, the space you have, your budget, and how much you like the sound and feel of each option. Each one has its own perks, so it's all about finding the best fit for you:

  • Acoustic pianos are ideal for those committed to the classical repertoire and seeking the authentic piano experience.

  • Digital pianos offer a practical alternative for students, hobbyists, and professionals looking for a balance between traditional feel and modern convenience.

  • Keyboards serve well those who prioritize versatility, portability, and exploring a variety of musical genres.

Which is better for beginners, a keyboard or a piano?

This is a common question and really depends on your goals.

  • For serious classical training: If the goal is to pursue classical piano seriously, starting on a digital piano with weighted keys or directly on an acoustic piano might be best. This ensures that you develop the correct technique and finger strength from the beginning.

  • For general music appreciation or contemporary music: A keyboard or an entry-level digital piano might be more suitable. These options allow exploring a wide range of sounds and genres without a significant initial investment.

ARTMASTER TIP: Did you know that a recent study found that one instrument in particular — the piano — appeared to have the most benefits. Find out more about how learning music benefits the brain and body.

Digital Piano Vs Keyboard

For most, an acoustic piano just isn’t practical, especially in terms of size, cost, and maintenance, so lets take a look at the key features of a digital piano vs a keyboard.

Digital Piano

Keyboard

Purpose & Design

Emulates acoustic piano

Versatile for multiple styles

Key Action & Feel

Weighted keys for real feel

Unweighted keys, easier to press

Sound Quality

High-quality piano sounds

Variety of sounds for multiple genres

Features & Connectivity

Metronomes, USB/MIDI, some auto-accompaniment

More features like sequencers, auto-accompaniment

Portability & Price

Larger, heavier, more expensive

More portable, lightweight, wider price range

If you end up going for a digital piano, we’ve put together a list of some of the best options out there for beginners.

What's the best digital piano for beginners?

If you’ve decided that going for a digital piano is best, what are the options out there?

Top Digital Pianos for Beginners:

  • Yamaha P-45: Affordable, 88 weighted keys, realistic piano sound.

  • Yamaha P-125: Enhanced sound, built-in rhythms, better speakers.

  • Casio Privia PX-160: Tri-Sensor Scaled Hammer Action II keyboard, affordable.

  • Casio Privia PX-S1000: Slim design, Smart Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard.

  • Roland FP-10: Standard keyboard, compact, responsive play.

  • Roland FP-30X: Upgraded sounds, powerful speakers, Bluetooth connectivity.

  • Kawai ES110: Responsive Hammer Compact action, natural piano sound.

Key Considerations:

  • Key Action: Preferably fully weighted for an acoustic piano feel.

  • Sound Quality: Look for high-quality piano sounds.

  • Polyphony: Minimum 64-note polyphony recommended.

  • Connectivity: USB/MIDI for educational apps.

  • Features: Metronome, headphone jack, recording functions.

No matter which you choose, each step towards mastering the piano is a move towards fulfilling your potential, offering endless opportunities for growth, creativity, and fun.

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