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Guide: Why I Bought a Keyboard Instead of a Traditional Piano

Today, I am going to tell you 15 reasons why for the same amount of money, a digital piano is significantly better than a traditional acoustic piano.


If you are thinking about learning to play the piano, You can check out my beginner piano app. As well as some beginner video courses and course materials available for you. Also, you check out this free 25 Piano lesson as well.


Sound Quality

A traditional acoustic piano requires a lot of high-quality wood and cast iron which are expensive. Cheap acoustic pianos do not use these high-quality raw materials and produce poor sound quality. These days even cheap digital pianos that cost just a few hundred dollars can reproduce the sound recorded from world-renowned Italian, German, and Japanese concert grand pianos that cost more than a house.


For example, the Yamaha DGX-670, which I reviewed in an earlier video, costs just a few hundred dollars but contains the sound from a 9-foot CFX concert grand piano that costs a whopping quarter million dollars.


You can find links to my recommended digital pianos with great sound here


Sound Variety

With an acoustic piano, you are stuck with just one sound. You better make sure you will continue to love the one and only sound from your acoustic piano for decades to come before you cough out up to $10,000 for a new decent sounding acoustic piano.


Cheap digital pianos that cost just a few hundred dollars contain as many as 600 sounds including more than a dozen piano samples.

From an Austrian Bosendorfer to an American Steinway or an Italian Fazioli, you can easily switch to whichever concert grand piano fits your repertoire. With a massive variety of electric pianos, organs, strings, woodwinds, synths, and drum kits, you are limited only by your imagination.


My favorite affordable digital pianos containing hundreds of sounds can be found here


Reverb & Effects

You are stuck with the acoustics of a room where you place your traditional piano. There is no easy way to adjust the character or tonality of your acoustic piano sound after it is delivered to you.


Digital pianos come with advanced digital signal processors, such as reverb, allowing you to tweak your piano tone to your exact preference.

With a touch of a button, you can simulate the grand space of a massive cathedral, the ambiance of a live stage, or the intimacy of a small bar. If that is not enough, you can even adjust the lid position of a grand piano and the amount of string and damper resonance.


I recommend a digital piano that’s easy to use with a huge color graphical interface and you can find it here


Velocity curves

Whatever your playing style or skill level, you are stuck with the key action of your traditional acoustic piano. A young child or an absolute beginner will have difficulty controlling their finger strength when pressing the keys. An advanced pianist almost always prefers a wider dynamic range from the key action. A digital piano comes with multiple adjustable velocity curves adaptable to any skill level or playing style.


Volume control

An acoustic piano has hammers hitting strings and because of this, there is no way to control the general volume. While some acoustic pianos have a mute feature that dampens the strings for a muffled sound, you end up losing tonal quality. Digital pianos come with a knob or slider allowing you to make infinite adjustments to the volume output to be as loud or as quiet as you need it to be.


Headphones

Becoming a better pianist requires lots of practice and practice means a lot of repetition. Having family members and roommates endure you playing the same song 50 times a day can result in some nasty conflict.


All digital pianos come with at least 1 headphone jack allowing you to practice as much as you want even if it is 3 in the morning.

More digital pianos now come with 2 headphone jacks allowing both the student and teacher to use headphones, simultaneously during lessons.

A traditional acoustic piano has no option for plugging in a pair of headphones, for silent practice.


I have links to digital pianos with 2 headphone jacks as well as a pair of headphones I personally use. I also have recommendations for speakers, microphones, and other connectivity devices which you might be looking for.


Maintenance Cost

Just like a car, a traditional acoustic piano has a few hundred mechanical moving parts that require constant maintenance. Acoustic piano strings need to be tuned once every 6 months and that will set you back up to $100 each time. If your acoustic piano is located in a room that is not temperature and humidity controlled, you will need to have an electrical piano heater turned on 24 hours a day.


Over time, approximately once every 2 years, the felt on the hammers of a traditional piano gets compacted and you’ll need to get a voicing service which will set you back up to another $400. To maintain an even response of the key action on a traditional acoustic piano, you will eventually need to carry out key regulation which can cost up to $1,000.


A digital piano, even one that costs just a few hundred dollars, is always 100% in tune all the time. No tuning, no voicing, no key regulation, and no 24/7 heater is required ever.


Size, Weight & Portability

Traditional acoustic pianos are heavy, bulky, and take up significant space, even more so if you get a grand piano. A Yamaha CFX concert grand weighs more than 1,000 pounds! The cost of moving a traditional acoustic grand piano is enough to buy yourself a decent digital piano.


On the other hand, a digital piano containing the sound from the same Yamaha CFX grand weighs 95% less at just over 40 pounds. There are many lightweight digital pianos that weigh less than 20 pounds that can be carried around for school performances, camping, or to gigs. Most portable digital pianos these days can be powered with regular off-the-shelf batteries giving you the flexibility to practice anywhere.

You can find my recommended lightweight, battery-operated digital piano here


MIDI

Almost every digital piano comes with a USB MIDI connection.

MIDI is the abbreviation for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. With a standard USB cable, you can use MIDI and connect your keyboard to music learning apps or too advanced desktop music production software on your computer, smartphone, or tablet. MIDI also allows you to use your digital piano with thousands of piano samples and sound libraries ensuring you never run out of creative palettes.


I have recommendations for speakers, microphones, headphones, and other connectivity devices which you might be looking for.


Metronome & Rhythm

One of the best ways to play better is to be really tight in your timing. Almost every digital piano comes with a metronome that helps you keep time while playing.

The better digital pianos even come with onboard rhythms so you can get your groove with Latin, jazz, and rock beats. An acoustic piano does not have any of these.


A great digital piano with onboard rhythms here


Transpose & Tuning

There will be times you need to accompany a singer who sings in a different key from the one you learned. Or an instrumentalist who can only play a song in one key but you learned the tune in a different key. What if you want to play authentic Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach using an unequal temperament tuning that was used during their time?


What if you want to play middle-eastern or east Asian pieces tuned with an oriental scale? Modern acoustic pianos are tuned to equal temperament and you cannot possibly get a tuner to retune your piano whenever you want to play a piece of different music from a different era or region.


Most digital pianos have a transpose & tuning function. With a click of a button, you can match the key of any musician or singer as well as use various tunings appropriate for the music you want to play.

I have links to digital pianos with these functions here


Recording

Many of us love to record our playing to share with friends and family. For regular folks, capturing a pristine studio-quality recording of an acoustic piano is impossible. You will end up capturing environmental sounds such as the a/c, dogs barking, planes flying by, or cars zooming past in the background.


Even cheap digital pianos these days come with a digital song recorder allowing you to capture your performance free from any external noise. More advanced digital pianos even allow you to layer multi-track recordings to get a polished studio-quality end result.

You can find my favorite digital pianos with a built-in sequencer here


Amplification

To amplify the sound from an acoustic piano, for a larger venue or a bigger audience, you will need to hook up numerous microphones to capture the acoustic piano sound from various angles.


These microphones have to be connected to a mixer which you then route the stereo outputs to a PA system. With a digital piano, all you need is a pair of $5 cables to connect to any more powerful speakers of your choice.

You can find my recommended digital piano & keyboard amplification system.

I have recommendations for speakers, microphones, headphones, and other connectivity devices which you might be looking for.


Home Entertainment System

Using either wireless Bluetooth or an auxiliary cable, you can easily stream music from your smartphone to the onboard speakers on your digital piano. Many owners I know even connect their TV sound output to the piano speakers. The onboard sound system on digital pianos comes with powerful amplifiers and has a high dynamic range.

Unless you have an audiophile quality system, a digital piano’s onboard speakers will outperform most home entertainment systems.


I have linked one of the most powerful speakers on a digital piano here


Price

A big selling point of digital pianos is the comparatively low price. You only need to spend a few hundred dollars to get a digital piano that contains sampled and modeled sounds from various ¼ million dollar concert grand pianos from around the world. Not forgetting the whole plethora of things a digital piano can do that an acoustic piano cannot.


Check out my review of the best digital pianos under $500 here


Conclusion

Make no mistake. If you have deep pockets, an expensive acoustic piano that costs tens of thousands and is handbuilt with the best materials will give you an unmatched tactile feel and a warm analog sound. For the vast majority of us who are not playing music for a living, a digital piano has enormous costs vs features and benefits.


If you are thinking about learning to play the piano, You can check out my beginner piano app. As well as some beginner video courses and course materials available for you. Also, you check out this free 25 Piano lesson as well.


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