Should I buy an accoustic piano or digital piano? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

My husband and I would like our boys to start piano lessons. We are currently looking at pianos and would like to hear from people who prefer accoustic or digital pianos to help guide us in the right direction. Also can anyone offer any insight on Kohler and Campell pianos verses Pearl River. Does anyone have a Korg digital and if so how do you like it? Thank you so much for your help! Jill

-- Jill A. Acocella (, May 19, 2003


Acoustic. No matter what the sales people tell you, there IS a difference both in how they sound and how they feel. That is crucial in beginning piano study, I think. You are laying the foundation for what is to come. If you can afford it, buy a good upright (Yamaha is my favorite). They are sturdy and good sounding. Remember, you're not just buying it for the cabinet. Have the childrens' teacher or a piano technician help you.

Speaking of teacher, if you haven't found one yet. . .find the best teacher possible to get your children started well. The first teacher can make or break the experience. Don't just settle for the one closest to your house or the one who has an opening right now. It's better to drive or wait a little. And just because someone plays well doesn't mean they can teach well.

Word of mouth, your local music store, a college or university music dept. or music teachers association are all valuable resources for referal.

-- Arlene Steffen (, May 20, 2003.

By a *good* used accoustic. Yamaha or Kawai is a good bet if you know next to nothing about piano. If, and our teachers here will tell you that it's not a big if at all, the children ever want to quit you can resell and recoup most, or all, of your cost. On the other hand, if they advance to a decent level, you may need to upgrade the piano. Either way, you will not loose your money by buying used. Along this line of thinking, you might want to rent a good one at first. After six months you can buy a real one. (No, don't fall to the trap of rent-to-own. Just rent. Negotiate the payment, however).

If you plan to spend more than 3K and/or have time, check out the "Piano Book" by Larry Fine.

-- Kim D (, May 20, 2003.

Although an acoustic piano would be my first choice, in my opinion it depends completely on the brand. Yamaha and Kawai are excellent choices, but you have to be willing to spend a few thousand. If you can't spend that much, I'd look into the Yamaha digitals (clavinovas), or the Rolands. I think they are a much better choice than many spinet pianos on the market. Personally, I'd stay away from Kimball, Wurlitzer, Baldwin. And I'm not fond of Kohler and Campbell either. And yes, get the advice of a piano technician before making your purchase (especially if you're buying a used piano).

Good Lu

-- alexandra (, May 21, 2003.

Jill: I have to agree with juat about everything said. I would suggest that you purchase an acoustic piano. THe feel is so much better. Also, and again, I agree that you should plan to spend several thousand dollars on a good piano. Your investment will be well worth it assuming you will be serious about your kids playing piano. Buy all the piano you can possibly afford. Again, I also like the Kawai and Yamaha pianos if you are going to buy an upright.

My personal story...

I personally followed this advice and bought a very very expensive and very very good piano. I paid much more that I orginally thought I would. Anyway, I bought the piano for my wife to play and continue her education in music. But I loved the sound of the instrument so much I began to play myself and love it! NOw the piano is played all day long. My wife plays in the morning and afternoon, I play at night when I come home from work.

Hope this is of help.

-- freddie (, May 27, 2003.

I believe what hasn't been said yet about acoustic pianos is about tone colours. Yes, they make digital pianos that feel almost like acoustics, they even can have a very good grand piano tone....but just that one tone.

You see, piano playing is much like orchestral conducting. On an acoustic instrument you have the capability of experimenting and experiencing different tone colours....a really skilled pianist can manipulate the tone so well that it can be remeniscent of a flute, a clarinet, french horns, etc. Yes, this is true. It takes a fine, skilled teacher who is aware of and can produce them to teach it.

This is the MAJOR point of playing an acoustic. Tone colour. You cannot, no matter what any sales person tells you, get that in a digital. It has NO capapbility, no mechanism to do that. A piano has several moving parts that are highly responsive to the way your body moves over it. You would never play a plastic violin. You would never teach the flute by way of a kazoo. Maybe that sounds a bit extreme, but it is the truth.

I'm hoping we've all convinced you. Good luck (Oh, and yes, Kawai...all the way Kawai for uprights. A good tall upright if you cannot get a grand just yet....and there are even more reasons for having a grand piano over an upright...perhaps a discussion for another day.)

Grace Ferguson

-- Grace Ferguson (, May 28, 2003.

My wife and I discussed this when we went to get a new piano. Acoustic or digital? What did we want the kids to do with it? So I think you need to ask yourself these questions. Do you want them to practice more? Are you looking for them to be concert pianist's or just know and appreciate music? Is the piano in a room that is separate or are there other people in the room? I have owned both. I have 6 children and so have heard them practice and play both. If I were you in your position I would purchase a medium to high-end digital piano. My reasons

1) The children practice more and longer if they can change the sound to bells or organ or horns or whatever their choice is for the day. (We still make them practice in piano mode for the first part of the time, and then they can be creative.)

2) Headphones. You can talk on the phone or if one parent wants to listen in the piano has two headphone jacks.

3) Moveable. It is much lighter and easy to move compared to an upright

4) Less maintenance - No cracked or dried out soundboard, never out of tune

We ended up with a Baldwin Pianovelle 2500 and I think it has worked out well. Our 14-year-old plays 2-3 hours a day, Our 12-year-old is giving up Piano and thinks he wants to play guitar, our 10 year old is playing and struggles to practice the 8 year old is just beginning. It gives us what we want which is everyone together. One child practices the piano, while the other watch movies or does something else in the same room. I would put the sound of this digital piano up against most acoustic pianos and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

-- Robert L. Schulz (, May 30, 2003.

Would also add that a digital is not just moveable, it is portable-- fits in your car, you can play inside or outside.

If your children decide to provide music for say, someone's wedding, they are not dependent upon using a strange piano that may or may not be in tune.

It also does not take up the major space in a room that an acoustic piano does.

I think that digitals are somewhat limited, but you can always buy a more expensive piano later on, and it also depends too on what system you're learning. If you're doing chord method only (like for pop music), a digital will probably be more fun to work with since you can change sounds whenever you like. If you're learning classical method, an accoustic piano is probably a better choice if you can get a decent one used, but you do have maintenance to perform on it (tuning, etc.).

-- GT (, June 02, 2003.

I would say get a used acoustic until you know the boys will stick with It, and even though digital pianos do have all those diff. things you can do with It, It doesn't compare to a real piano. It does have a totally different feel.

I just started taking lessons.. I'm 16 so I've only had like 3 months.. ok. I progressed pretty fast especially since I had previous music experience being In band for 4 yrs with the clarinet. I had a keyboard to practice on and that messed me up. I had a recital like.. a month and a half after I started lessons, and upon being nervous I messed up because the only time I played on a real piano was during lessons. I could feel the difference. I have tried the good digital pianos and Its better than my little keyboard that I had but theres still a difference. I just got me a Baldwin. Its unbelieveable I know, for someone who just started lessons to get a $14,000 6ft grand but thats what I did. Watch out for one thing If you decide on an acoustic piano, you don't want It to be made out of partical board, thats just no good. Part of why my piano was so much Is because Its solid wood, 103 yrs. old. It has a rare german action, everythings good. I really really think nothing beats an acoustic piano. Sometimes Its tempting to want a grand of some size and the temptation got me, but you can get uprights .. tall uprights that have the same sound as my baby grand, for less. Even though digital pianos sound a lot like pianos, the sound of an acoustic piano is just different, Its just the sound of the hammers hitting the strings, you can't hear the in a digital. Good luck!!

-- Jennifer (, July 03, 2003.

acoustic pianos are the best, in my opinion. I agree with what was said about the tone - you can manipulate the tone much better on an acoustic than on a digital. I find that dynamics are harder to shape on digital pianos. Also, take into account that piano exams are played on acoustic pianos. I think acoustic pianos are arguably the better choice.

-- cian johnston (cian, October 27, 2004.

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