Acoustic vs Digital pianos : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I am looking into purchasing a piano. Could you tell me the pros and cons of a digital vs an acoustic piano?

-- Esmeralda Straka (, August 24, 2003


An acoustic piano is a piano. A digital "piano" is a keyboard. It can come close to looking like a piano, sounding like a piano, and feeling like a piano. But, alas, it is not a piano.

To answer your question, a digital has the advantage of not requiring tuning and being able to hook it to a computer via Midi, or an amplifier. It is easier to record from a digital piano. You can also get other sounds like vibraphone or harpsichord. It is often easier to stick in a van if you travel with it. You can plug headphones into it and play without disturbing family members. If you spill your drink on the digital's side, you can wipe it clean with no wood damage.

Some disadvantages are it is useless if there's a power failure. You can't usually stick the family heirlooms on top of it. You'll never be able to chat about Chopin with a piano tuner over drinks. In my opinion, having sold both types of instruments, you will never feel the sheer physical joy of playing a mechanical instrument, or feel it vibrate or hear the direct production of sound from a vibrating string. Overtones you will miss, and your variety in tone production will be reduced. You will miss out on the whole tradition of being connected to composers and performers from the 18th century until now. You will also take an enormous cut in money if you attempt to sell it, unlike pianos which appreciate in value.

You will be happiest with a piano.

-- Anita (, August 25, 2003.

There is also no maintenance (tuning, for example) with a digital. And there is a great range in the price of them, so there will be something for anyone's budget. And, as far as power outages, well, you can use batteries, and I'm sure resourceful people could even power them with solar or wind power, as you could with other appliances. You can get different sounds without purchasing a whole bunch of different instruments.

An acoustic piano, properly maintained is great if you can afford it.

I think a lot has to to with how much and what kind of playing you do. If you are a serious classical student, I'd get an acoustic piano. If you play mostly pop music for your own enjoyment, a digital will serve you well.

-- GT (, August 25, 2003.

OK, I'm sorry. I just can't let this one go. I have a very strong opinion of this one. Digital pianos are just bad. Bad, Bad, Bad. I was playing one the other day. Granted, it was a poor one, but was supposed to have a "velocity" sensitive keyboard. That is, you are supposed to be able to control the volume of the sound by pressing faster or slower on the key. YA RIGHT!?!?!?! What a bad experience.

But, I AM SPOILED. I PLAY ON THE BEST PIANO IN THE WORLD. I PLAY ON A STEINWAY. I would never play on a digital piano, even a lower end upright acoustic would be a better choice for me.

Just my thoughts.

-- freddie (, September 11, 2003.

Hello, Why are you purchasing a piano? This is the first quesiton to be answered. Is a child going to take lessons? Is an accomplished pianist going to use it? Has the person for whom it is purchased studied? A digital piano is a fancy keyboard. An acoustic piano is a piano. I do not accept any student unless there is an acoustic piano that is well maintained in the home. To what standard of study are you making this purchase?

-- Mary Ann Templeton (, September 12, 2003.

I study piano and own a Kawai grand. I ALSO have a good digital keyboard. I wouldn't just have a keyboard and didn't actually acquire one until a year ago. This keyboard has been a godsend. I enjoy practicing in the morning when my wife is sleeping. I couldn't do this until I got the keyboard, since now I can use my headphones and play in silence. My work schedule doesn't allow me much practice time in the evening, so now I'm able to practice much more regularly. No, it's not quite the same as an acoustic piano. But a good keyboard is a good substitute for me under the circumstances I've mentioned above. They really aren't the beasts the "purists" make them out to be! :)

-- Jim Woodside (, January 01, 2004.

I take offense to Freddie's comment that digital pianos are just "plain bad, bad, bad." Have you ever played on the Yamaha Clavinova CLP-170 (that's what I own)? For about $3000 U.S., you get an outstanding keyboard action with dual velocity sensors on EACH key and very realistic sound sampling on the grand piano voice (recorded on a Yamaha 9' concert grand) including replication string resonance? There are so many ways to vary the grand piano voice (tone, resonance, reverb, etc) that I cannot be more pleased with my piano.,6384,CTID% 253D203500%2526CNTYP%253DPRODUCT,00.html

I am not a concert pianist and do not play one on TV. I am not a purist. I sincerely appreciate a good quality ($25,000 or more +regular tuning) acoustic piano - I love to play them when they are in good repair. Nothing beats th sound quality as it resonates throughout the room. However, I would never "cut down the competition" because they each have their own advantages. For example, I'd like to see you record a MIDI file on your Steinway and email it to your friends. My piano teacher (a concert pianist) recently played a CLP-170 in a musical [the only instrument at the time that was available] and she came back and complimented me on my decision as it was close enough to real piano action to allow the seemless transition between my digital and her grand piano during lessons.

So let's not cut each other down - maybe you have not played on the modern digitals? Yes they do not have strings or sound boards, but they are getting better each year, especially the models that focus on quality and not "karoke".

Jeff Sumeracki Charlotte, NC, USA

-- Jeff Sumeracki (, November 10, 2004.

Wow, I have been trying to figure out how to spend the $800 that my childrens great grandmother has given them to buy a piano. I have three girls, just beginnig piano. The great grandmother would like to see an acoustic. I have been told that $800 would buy something that might look ok in my living room but would ruin my children musically....intonation,, tone...pressure on the keys...etc. Could someone give me Real Advise?? I am not looking for elitism, purism or snobbery...just the best for my young children...musically. Thank You

-- mary (, December 06, 2004.

Have you considered using the $800 as a downpayment on a good upright?

-- Arlene Steffen (, December 07, 2004.

I agree with using the money as a downpayment on an upright, new or in good used condition. However, there are some good digital options out there. Yamaha has the DGX, or portable grand series. It is touch sensitive with 88 lightly weighted keys, and comes with its own bench and stand. It runs about $600. I've seen them in Sam's. It will never need tuning, and the sounds you are playing are actual acoustic grand pianos that have been sampled. Your friends may be right about what a piano for $800 would sound and play like. I bought an old upright grand for 600 and paid $200 to have it moved. It sounds okay, but now I never use it, it needs constant tuning and dusting and sweeping behind. My keyboard sounds much better. I always practice on my digital, and perform on a digital about half the time. I have A Yamaha P120 with fully weighted keys.

-- Chris (, December 09, 2004.

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