Perhaps you are thinking of buying a digital piano? Or maybe you hadn’t considered digital as an option and are about to purchase a traditional upright or grand piano? Here are some of the main reasons to consider going digital. And if you’re already sold on the idea here are some helpful pieces of information you should be aware of to ensure you make the best buying decision and avoid any sneaky salesperson tactics in your local piano store.
5 Advantages of Digital Over Acoustic:
If you hadn’t considered buying a digital piano before, there are a number reasons that make them worthy of consideration:
1. Size & Portability – digital pianos are lighter and can be taken apart or moved quite easily, especially if they are the stage/portable type of piano. If you don’t have much floor-space for a grand piano or even an upright, this is a very popular reason to go digital.
2. No tuning – the cost of a traditional piano tune will set you back $40 - $60 dollars or more if there are problems and issues. Simply put, a digital piano does not require any tuning - ever!
3. Headphone Socket & Volume Control - for the other members of your household this is another major advantage. You can plug in headphones and practice those same few bars over, and over, and over for hours on end without driving everyone else out of their minds! Alternatively, you can easily adjust the volume to minimise disruption and any annoyance. Clearly this isn’t an option with a traditional acoustic piano.
4. Affordability & Re-sale value – relatively speaking buying digital is by far a much cheaper option. And if you look after it well, there is no reason it cannot be sold if you so wished down the line.
5. Built-in Features – certain models offer a vast number of different voices, instruments, and percussion effects. This could include digital-displays, touch-screens, hard-drives, built-in metronome, record and playback capability etc. This can make learning and playing the piano a richer and more enjoyable experience.
Another reason for opting for digital is the remarkable advances in technology over the last 20 years. Digital pianos now both sound and feel much closer to the real thing. Thanks to modern recording and sampling techniques, an accurate representation can be acheived and you need a trained ear to distinguish acoustic and digital versions apart. For example, Yamaha samples their concert grand pianos for their digital piano range.
The other main improvement in technology relates to touch sensitive keys i.e. the harder you press a key, the louder the sound. Associated switch-mechanisms (equivalent to the string & hammer) can more accurately offer the player the weighted feel of keys that is standard on the traditional acoustic piano. As with many technologies over the years things have moved on, and this area is certainly no exception to that.
Conduct plenty of research to understand your needs and wants from a digital piano. Do you really need 50+ voices, effects and percussion sounds? If not you’d be better avoiding some of the bells and whistles to focus on a more accurate and higher quality sound and feel. By doing research you’ll also familiarise yourself with pricing so you can spot if something genuinely is a good deal or not.
There's some specific terminology you will want to understand. Take for example Polyphony. This relates to how many keys can be played and heard simultaneously. Typically the options are: 64, 96, 128, 192 or 256. As a guide on this, most people will not need to go higher than 128. If you're familiar with some technical language in the Audio/Visual world, this will help. Familiarising yourself with some of the terminology is time well spent.
Please go and try some of the pianos you eventually short-list. Check out different models and check out different piano stores as advice will differ and not everyone stocks all the brands available. Ask them for a good deal.
You should also allow room in your budget for accessories e.g. a seat, a stand if needed, some books, learning material, and don't forget lessons.
Do not be confused with digital keyboards. These are very different and do not have the same sound quality and feel. Typically they do not have the full 88 keys and do not have the weighted feel when playing.
Some popular and well established brands include: Broadway, Yamaha, Roland, Casio, Classenti, Korg, and Kawai. Good luck with your research, and remember that practice makes perfect!