Digital vs Acoustic Piano: What’s the Difference?

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Acoustic Piano vs Digital Piano

What type of musician are you? Are you a beginner and a budding talent or a professional who has tried many genres of music already?

What type of music genre you would like to play in your piano? How much space can you devote to a piano in your apartment?

If these are the questions buzzing in your mind, pertaining to what type of piano should you buy, to pursue your passion for music, we are here to guide you across the task. We help you understand the complete difference between digital and acoustic pianos and help you with your purchase decision so that you do justice for every single penny spent on the piano. 

Types of Pianos

Pianos are generally differentiated into two types, namely digital and acoustic pianos depending on the underlying mechanism that produces sound. Generally, the power of the fingers that presses the keys, are transmitted to strike the strings, to produce sound. 

#1. Acoustic Piano

Acoustic pianos are the large wooden musical instruments that we would have seen our old heroes play in movies. They occupy so much space but their sound clarity and quality are exceptional. This is because they have hammers and steel strings to resonate with the keys. Every time a key is pressed, the hammer strikes the strings and helps them vibrate and produce sound. Gravity brings the keys back to their position after releasing the fingers on the keys.

#2. Digital Piano

The digital piano is a modern version of the grand acoustic pianos. This instrument creates digital sounds electronically. These sets are compact, lightweight and are much cheaper than acoustic pianos. They are also available in many designs and sizes, the modern portable digital pianos can be transported anywhere and have stands to support them upon any surface

#3. Hybrid Piano 

There is again a third option, which is relatively the new member of the piano family and is a blend of the acoustic and digital pianos. These pianos are the best of both worlds as they carry the mechanism of an acoustic piano and call still produce digital sounds upon activation

Comparing Digital and Acoustic Pianos

Let us compare both these pianos based on their distinct attributes so that we get them clear and make a clear distinction on which one to buy for your music practice.

Both these pianos are good and unique in their own ways. It is all a matter of personal preference and what music output you expect from the instrument that matters in the final purchase decision.

Why we say Acoustic pianos are better?

  • Sound Quality

When we have to consider sound quality, acoustic pianos are always the better, as the sound is produced by a hammer that strikes the strings. Mechanical energy gets converted into plausible sound energy and thus the notes are warmer and pleasing to hear. Also, the musician gains better control over the articulation of the keys and is thus able to express the music tones better. 

A digital piano mimics the sound of an acoustic piano, its electronic speakers playback the sound recorded from an acoustic piano when the keys are struck. But the high end, modern-day digital pianos produce quality sounds, close to acoustic pianos.

  • Sensitivity to touch

Both these pianos react differently to touch, owing to the clear difference in the weight of their keys.  You surely have to strike the keys of the acoustic pianos with some strength, whereas a gentle touch is enough for a digital one.

Digital pianos lack the touch sensitivity factor, you will not be able to create different shades of the same sound by touching the same key differently as with acoustic pianos. Also, a digital piano can only create a finite number of tones, marking a set limit to your music expressions. 

  • Pedals

There are three pedals for acoustic piano, whereas digital pianos come either with sustain pedals or no pedals at all. The three pedals, namely soft pedal, sustain pedal and sostenuto pedal helps in creating quality music chords.

Of the three, the sustain pedal is put into use in almost all types of music. The presence of pedals will definitely refrain the quality of music been produced from the instrument.

Why digital pianos are better than acoustic?

  • Recording feature

The digital piano connects with the computer and helps the user to record the audio thus created in a digital file for future reference. This feature comes handy for a musician to alter and manipulate their recordings in the future with the help of software. 

  • Mimicking the sounds of other musical instruments

Do you know that with the help of digital pianos you can create the sound of almost any musical instrument, be it a guitar, a drumbeat or a saxophone?

You can mix and match different types of sounds, and choose the best sound that matches your music ensemble. Such liberations may not be available with an acoustic piano.

  • Volume control and portability

The digital piano comes with a headphone outlet and a volume knob so that you can play and practice music in any surroundings without disturbing others.

Also, digital pianos are available in different sizes and are extremely portable. Thus they are the instrument of choice in music events and performances.

  • Maintenance

It is tough to maintain an acoustic piano. Its steel strings, hammers, and wooden exteriors are pretty delicate and demand keen care. The acoustic piano has to get tuned at least once a year that incurs professional help and additional costs.

Also, it is important to store the instrument in a stable temperature and humidity condition, to prevents its components from getting affected. It should be maintained at about 20-degree Celcius and in a relative humidity ranging between 45% and 70%. (Read:- How to Clean Piano Keys and Keyboards?)

  • Price

Acoustic pianos are far costlier than digital piano, at least five times. The cost of an acoustic piano is about $2000 – $3000, whereas you can buy a digital piano at $200 to $500. But the resale value of the digital piano is less and thus acoustic pianos are viable long term investments.

Wrapping up

We hope you would have got a clear picture between the two types of pianos and should have made your mind on which piano to buy for your music endeavors.

But trust me, the major factor that reflects on your purchase decision is your budget and place constraints. But take your decision wisely and remember that the quality of music produced should be the ultimate factor that reflects on your purchase decision.

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