The Piano: Technology vs. Tradition

If you are considering buying a new piano and you’re trying to decide between an acoustic piano and a digital piano, here is your beginner’s guide -- this should help! There are a number of reasons to buy a new acoustic piano, and with the recent advances in sound technology, there are also a number of compelling reasons to consider a digital piano. There are a number of reasons to get a piano -- back up a singer, perhaps write your own songs. Maybe you want to play blues, jazz, pop, or classical music. No matter what your motivation - piano is the right instrument.

Why get a new piano for your home?

A piano is a really great purchase idea for your home. Why? Playing the piano is fun -- even for absolute digital-piano-vs-acoustic-piano-new-keyboard-buyers-guidebeginners. This is because unlike the guitar or violin, for example where you have to learn how to hold the instrument, or the saxophone or trumpet, where you have to have the right air pressure and lip configuration -- the piano is right there at your fingertips. All 88 keys of a full size piano keyboard are logically laid out in front of you from low to high. It’s logical, and it’s simple to get started.  

Whether you played piano years ago and want to start up again, or you’re new to playing an instrument, the piano is very enjoyable for beginners, intermediate players, and professionals. Even if you just want it to plunk out your favorite pop music or broadway songs, play Christmas carols and other holiday tunes, or to learn some great classical pieces from sheet music - a new piano is great to have in your home. It’s also nice for children or grandchildren to either play or hear you play at family gatherings.  

Maybe you're already an accomplished rock, blues, or jazz piano player or classical pianist, or music teacher? If so a piano is a great tool, trusted ‘friend’, and the place where you go to ‘work’ each day. A great piano can help you with all facets of your livelihood and your career. If you’re a music teacher -- on any instrument from winds, brass, voice, or guitar, as well as theory and composition -- the piano is a great educational tool to explain how music works. It’s much easier to understand chords and scales and all aspects of music theory and harmony when you can see it stretched out before you on the keyboard.

Benefits of an acoustic piano

Acoustic PianoCredit: Sound and Touch: A real acoustic piano, whether it’s a spinet, upright piano, baby grand, or full grand piano has many benefits. The first consideration is the authentic sound and responsive. When keys are played on a real piano a hammer strikes piano strings and that resonates over the sound board. If you have a Kawai, Baldwin, Yamaha, Boston, Bosendorfer, or Steinway piano - it works the same way. The larger pianos (grand and concert grands) have such long strings in the lower bass register that their sound and presence is even more spectacular.

Great Craftsmanship: Pianos are also beautiful instruments that often display great craftmanship and a stunning wood finish (usually available in white satin, brown, walnut, chestnut, black, ebony, or other custom colors). If properly maintained, a piano can become a valuable family heirloom, as well as a stunning instrument to play for many, many years. 

You can often find free pianos: Another unexpected benefit of acoustic pianos is that with moving considerations often people will sell them very inexpensively. If you look online, or on eBay or Craigslist you will always find ads and listings for cheap or even free pianos -- sometimes given to anyone willing to arrange professional piano moving. Take it away and it’s yours!

Downside of an acoustic piano

Weight and Space Issues: There are some negatives to a real acoustic piano. The first is the size and wdigital-piano-vs-acoustic-pianoeight. Acoustic pianos can take up a lot of space, especially if you go beyond a spinet or upright piano, and opt for a grand piano or baby grand. Since they are so big, they are also VERY heavy, and should always be moved by professional piano movers. 

Tuning and Maintenance: The maintenance requirements of an acoustic piano are relatively complex. From regular piano tunings and adjustments by a technician, pianos sometimes require finish or polish work on the case -- and in some locations -- de-humidifers to control their environment. Regular piano tuning, even if it’s modest, can be relatively expensive if it’s done all the time, but it’s the best way to care for, and enjoy your instrument.

Benefits of a digital piano

Portability: Digital pianos have a few great benefits, many which are becoming more pronounced now that the sonic quality and music technology is getting better. Digital pianos are great because they are often very portable. This makes it easier to move the instrument and play in different places in your house, or at other locations. Some digital pianos have pedestal mounts for home use -- and then can easily fit on a folding keyboard stand to be played elsewhere. Depending on your needs there are digital pianos that start at about 30 pounds, making transport  -- and live performance on the go -- very simple. Many digital pianos have great sound quality and a superior touch and feel based on years of research emulating an acoustic piano. 

Quiet Practice with Headphones: Digital pianos are also convenient if you need to control the amount of sound your instrument produces. With volume controls and even headphones, it’s possible to play or practice your digital piano at any hour, late at night, or in an apartment building or other situation where you want to keep from bothering anyone else.

Often Have Many Other Sounds and Features: Often digital pianos have a huge array of other sounds other than piano (like electric pianos, strings, brass, and so much more) and additional features like auto accompaniment, built in drum machine or metronome, or even sheet music learning tools and sample repertoire. Add to this they fact that these instruments never need to be tuned, and it’s quite a good deal.

Downside of a digital piano

digital-piano-vs-acoustic-piano-studySonic Quality: The first concern of a digital piano -- whether it’s the latest model from Casio, Korg, Roland, Kurzweil, Yamaha, Kawai, Technics, or others -- is that they try to recreate the sound of piano, and although very close -- they still cannot convince professional pianists. And depending on which model you select, the keyboard touch is often not as responsive as a good acoustic piano. When you think of a digital piano, and realize that you need to have electricity to play it, or without built in speakers, you may need an amplifier to even play it -- an acoustic piano seems very simple... just sit down and play. 

Priced for features you might not use: Some digital pianos are actually quite expensive compared to an upright or a spinet piano, although they may have enough additional features to make the comparison unfair. The issue is just about paying for features you will rarely if ever use. That said, there are a number of good, solid digital pianos that start at $500 USDacoustic-vs-digital-piano and up. You can hardly get anything more than a used upright piano for that much money -- and that’s only if you’re really lucky. (But then you still have to move it!)


After you weigh the pros and cons of a digital piano vs an acoustic piano, you’ll realize that it is such a personal decision to make. This new piano you get should be something you’ll be happy with for a while -- you don’t want to find ‘beginner’s guide to selling a piano’ too soon.