Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano

Written By: Amy Nutt

The piano has come a long way since it's invention 500 years ago. The original version has now been replicated and improved countless times, resulting in a large number of different piano styles and with the latest technology, digital pianos have cropped up and become a popular alternative. But which one is right for you? That depends greatly on what you intend to do with your piano playing and what your budget is. However, there are many pros and cons for both sides.

Acoustic Piano

The acoustic piano is a complicated structure. Touching the keys results in a hammer hitting a string, which then vibrates and the sound produced is amplified by the piano`s soundboard. This provides a rich, true piano sound, which is quite valued at concerts and recitals. However, an acoustic piano requires a lot of space, upkeep and money.

Things to Consider When Choosing an Acoustic Piano

  • Acoustic pianos need regular tuning, particularly if there are changes in the weather or if the piano is moved.
  • Nothing compares to the full-bodied sound provided by an acoustic piano.
  • These pianos allow the artist to play softly or loudly, depending on the mood of the piece . . . the piano responds to the touch of the pianist.
  • Acoustic pianos are large, weighing between 450 and 1,000 pounds and take up a large part of a room.
  • Affordable acoustic pianos are usually wrought with flaws and not worth buying . . . but for many, a true, good quality one is simply beyond their budget.

Digital Piano

A digital piano is one that is a replica of an acoustic piano. Rather than contain the strings and mechanisms to produce the sound, digital pianos just use recorded notes from a real piano. There are definite advantages to using one of these instruments and they are often used by bands who need an easily portable instrument, but there are definite down sides, as well.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Digital Piano

  • Digital pianos are considerably cheaper than acoustic.
  • There is very little sensitivity in the digital key, meaning that true interpretation of many piano pieces is simply not possible.
  • Some piano teachers will not teach students who only have access to a digital piano.
  • These instruments are quite light and portable, some even come in their own carry bag.
  • A high end digital piano offers a wide range of styles and features, including drum tracks and recorded notes from a variety of other instruments and types of pianos.
  • Digital pianos don't need to be tuned, making them very useful in humid areas or where the weather changes drastically.

The debate of traditional acoustic pianos vs. digital ones has been around as long as digital pianos. Classical piano students insist that an acoustic piano is the best and to be honest, the digital piano is only an imitation, albeit a very good one these days. Even with the best technology, digital pianos are simply not able to live up to the original acoustic.

However, this doesn't rule out digital pianos completely. They are still extremely useful for the piano student on a budget or for anyone who has little space in their home for a large acoustic piano. Bands also find the more portable version to be easier to use, since it doesn't require tuning and can easily be packed up and moved to the next gig. In the end, it depends on your intent, as well as a few other factors, such as budget and space, as to whether or not you will go with an acoustic or a digital piano.

About the Author: Merriam Music School is one of the most respected music lessons Toronto locations. They offer drum lessons, singing lessons, guitar lessons and piano lessons Toronto to students of any age.

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