Difference between Keyboard, Digital piano & Piano. Tips on which to buy?

Last Revised: Thursday, October 18, 2012


Planning to get a keyboard instrument this Christmas for your child?
Looking for a piano for beginners and still cant decide on which one to buy?
Should you buy a piano, electronic keyboard or digital piano ?
No, I am not doing any product review here but I will be comparing the difference between these 3 babies and sharing with you what are the things to look out for.
Yes, you'll need to know the difference between each of them in order to make the right decision.
So.. let me help you out.

Few steps and questions to consider when getting a new instrument.
I will only be talking about keyboard related instruments here. But these steps can be use for other musical tools as well when you decide to invest in a musical instrument.

Below are the 6 useful tips:
  1. Are you getting the keyboard for yourself or someone else
    Is always good to have the person playing the instrument around when you make the purchase. Since he/she will be playing on it for a long time, is better to get an instrument they are comfortable with.

  2. You need to know what are the differences between acoustic piano, keyboard and digital piano How they function and how they work.This is very important! 
    I'll go through each of them carefully.

    • Acoustic Piano:There are two types of acoustic piano vertical/upright and grand. Vertical piano are normally for home use whereas grand are mainly for concert due to their size. A normal standard piano should have 88 keys 52 white 36 black. Striking a key on the piano causes the the hammering action. When the brass stings are hammered, sound are being produced. The amount of pressure in depressing the key will determine how loud the key will sound. Due to this hammering mechanism piano keys have this "weighted feeling". Moving on to the pedals of a piano. Modern piano have 3 foot pedals. The Right is a sustaining pedal, when pressed all the dampers are removed from the the strings allowing them to vibrate freely when struck. The function of middle pedal varies, common ones would be the activation of "silent piano" which is use for practice purposes, another one is sostenuto, how this pedal works is that it will only sustain those notes when this pedal is engaged without affect the others. Left pedal is a soft pedal, when depressed the sound produced by the piano will be of a softer as the hammer are being shifted nearer to the strings.
    • Keyboard: There are lots of keyboards out there and each of them have different permutations of weird functions & instruments. I won't be taking so much on the functions here as there are too much of it to be covered on. I will highlight some of the more important features.
      First for keyboard they usually have less than 88 keys, take note the lesser keys you have the lesser notes you can work around with. I personally prefer to have 88 keys. Next you must know that keyboard doesn't have weighted keys. For a piano player electronic keyboard is normally not a good choice for them, the keys are too "plasticky" and it is not really helpful for their piano practices. Do note that some keyboard do not have touch response function which means how hard or how soft your depression is the loudness is going to be the same. Also cheap keyboard normally does not have Midi port that allows you to connect your pc.

    • Digital Piano: When compared to an electronic keyboard, digital piano has far lesser functions and instruments. However they usually comes with Midi interface which means you can connect them to your computers or other electronic devices. The main feature of a digital piano is to provide a similar touch to that of a real piano. All the keys are weighted carefully to mimic how a piano should "feel". Best is that the volume output can be adjusted. You dont have to worry about disturbing your neighbours when you do your practices at odd hours. It's definitely smaller and much more portable compared to a piano but if you want portability keyboard is still the best to go for.

  3. What purpose are you buying for
    Now that you know their differences you can start to review your purpose. Lets say you will only be playing piano pieces, you only like the organic sound of a piano and you got a large space. Definitely you should get an acoustic piano. If not, I would strongly suggest you not to get an acoustic piano. Why? I will talk about it more in the maintenance section. If you like to compose or do recording get either a keyboard or a digital piano they are much more suitable for the job.

  4. The maintenance that these instruments require
    Keyboard and digital piano require little to no maintenance, you just need to dust it occasionally. For acoustic is really high maintenance, it requires proper tuning and regulation. And if you do not take care of your piano properly, especially when you are living in a humid country, you'll probably end up with sticky keys like me.

  5. Your budget
    Since building an acoustic piano requires lots of delicate work and manpower it is very expansive. We must also consider the maintenance cost. Whereas for digital piano and keyboard they have a wide price range. Basically the more willing you are to pay, the more functions you'll get and the quality of sampled sounds are better.

  6. Other alternatives
    Instead of buying a new instruments why not consider renting one. Renting is the best options if you really cant afford to buy one. Or you can contact any piano dealer and check with them if they have any second-hand piano for sale. 
Durian Opened by Simon Ooh

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