Some considerations to make before taking the plunge
There’s nothing quite like a beautiful Grand Piano in a luxurious living room to make a statement. There’s a kind of sophistication that comes with a real piano. Many luxury homeowners have them even if nobody in the family plays, simply because it’s such a stately piece of furniture.
Pianists can be very snobbish about pianos and many would not even consider using a digital piano under any circumstances.
But what if you don’t have the budget or the room for an instrument this size? Or what if you’re just starting out on the piano and you want to make a small investment until you see how you get on?
The future is bright…
Fortunately, digital piano manufacturers have made leaps and bounds in recent years and are putting out some fantastic instruments for incredibly reasonable prices. They are getting closer and closer to creating instruments that sound as good as an acoustic. And not only that, but they are also getting much closer to the feel of an acoustic, which is even harder to achieve.
This means that you don’t have to compromise all that much if you can’t get an acoustic piano. There are several solid arguments for choosing a digital piano over an acoustic. Let’s have a look at them.
Checklist for potential pianists
There is a huge number of keyboards on the market ranging from 61 keys and up. It’s really worth investing in an 88-note digital piano though as you’ll probably find quite quickly that there are notes you need that you don’t have. Compared to an acoustic piano, these are very compact, easy to move pianos. Just to compare, the average acoustic upright measures 1524 X 1219 X 607 mm and weighs around 227kg. The Yamaha P-125 digital piano with weighted keys measures 1326 X 295 X 166 mm and weighs around 12 kg.
The Yamaha P-125 mentioned above weighs in at a mere 12 lbs. Compared to the Yamaha acoustic which is a whopping 227kg. Any acoustic piano takes at least two strong people to move it and most acoustics get upset about being moved and go out of tune.
The benefit is being able to move your digital piano into another room at a moment’s notice or pop it into a travel case and take it on the road with you, which you certainly can’t do with an acoustic! Be aware though that some fully weighted pianos are best moved with two people for safety, but it’s not hard to do.
Acoustic pianos run an enormous spectrum of prices – from free – if you’re lucky enough to know someone giving one away – to $100,000+ for a concert-size Steinway. But to get a high-quality, beautiful new piano, the price tag is going to be at least a few thousand. Meanwhile, a high quality, brand new digital piano such as the Yamaha P-125 mentioned above can be bought for less than £500. When you consider that along with all the other benefits of a digital piano, it’s going to make you stop and think.
4. Recording capability
Most digital pianos have recording capability, and this can be incredibly useful. You can record yourself playing with the press of a button, and then listen back to your recording with the press of another button. This helps improve your playing as you hear far more this way than when you listen in real-time. And if you like to write your own music, you can quickly and easily press record to capture improvisations or fragments of tunes that come to you.
Some have multi-track recording capability, which enable you to create an entire piece of music with multiple instruments. You can’t do that on an acoustic piano. Although, of course, you can record what you play on an acoustic by using an external recording device, but it’s not quite so instant.
5. Built-in Metronome
This isn’t such a big deal because it’s so easy to get a metronome app on a phone or pad but having it right there at your fingertips is really convenient for when you want to do some serious practice, or record, making sure you play in time.
6. Variable sounds
An acoustic piano has but one sound – that of an acoustic piano. And while it’s a glorious sound, sometimes we want a change! Digital pianos often have a selection of different piano sounds as well as organ, harpsichord, bass and sometimes even violins and trumpets. Some of them also have the ability to split the piano between two sounds, so that you can put a bass sound in the low notes and a piano in the upper notes and sound like a jazz duo all by yourself. What’s not to love? So, in a way, you’re getting far more than one instrument.
Many digital pianos now offer Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to connect to your smart devices wirelessly. This gives you access to music online to play along with, sheet music to read from, and save recordings onto your devises straight away.
8. Never have to book the tuner!
One of the most annoying things about an acoustic piano is that it will gradually go out of tune over the course of around six months, or a year if you’re lucky. There are around 12,000 moving parts on a piano and 230 strings. Maintenance is really important so you need to book the tuner once or twice a year to come and tune all those strings and make sure all the moving parts are doing what they should.
A digital piano never needs tuning. Of course, they can get problems – a stuck note or a dead button – but in my experience it’s quite rare, and they are fixable.
9. Turn the sound up, down or off
Yet more things you can’t do on an acoustic. Although there is a type of acoustic called a “silent piano” which can switch to an electronic so you can use headphones, it still needs tuning and has the weight of an acoustic. It also has the price of both an acoustic and electronic combined because you’re really buying two instruments at once.
Virtually all digital pianos have volume control and headphone sockets, so if it’s late at night and you feel like playing, you can either turn down the volume or pop your headphones on and not bother anyone else in the house – or your neighbours.
So, you see, there are some really good arguments to choose a digital piano over an acoustic without having to compromise too much, and with some really compelling benefits to consider. Though it might seem like we’re weighted heavily toward digital vs acoustic piano we love them both. However, we just want to open your minds to the potential that digital pianos have to offer.
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As an avid piano dreamer, Lucas has immersed himself in all things keyboards and music for more than 12 years. Lucas collaborated first-hand with many accomplished musicians and participated in numerous musical projects of note. From teaching to performance, consultation to making music, he’s been turning his piano dreams into reality for more than a decade, which inspired him to share his knowledge via his blog,Piano Dreamers.