Choosing Between a Piano or a Digital Keyboard

Choosing Between a Piano or a Digital Keyboard

This table assumes you are choosing between a good piano and a touch-sensitive keyboard that has 88 keys.

Piano Keyboard
Cost/Investment While naturally much more expensive, pianos can last for theoretically 100 years or more, and a very well maintained piano can possibly sell for higher than its original purchase price. Digital keyboards can go obsolete in as quickly as five years; an outdated keyboard may be difficult to sell, and one accidental drop of effectively placed water damage can render the entire device permanently useless.
Maintenance Piano-moving, occasional tuning, various on-demand maintenance (snapped strings, worn hammer felt, key clicks, etc.). More frequent maintenance needed near humid places or places with drastic weather changes Electricity drain during use, various on-demand maintenance (broken keys/springs, etc.)
Portability Not. Very.
Volume/Sound Quality The real thing, but only special uprights have a mute pedal (i.e., so no midnight practicing).
  • Realism depends on keyboard quality, though software synthesizers can upgrade the default sound if the keyboard is hooked up to a computer for sound output. However, no keyboard has ever produced solid overtones; the sound of pedaled playing is particularly no match for a real piano, even on a Yamaha N3 AvantGrand (from my personal experience).
  • Many keyboards have numerous different instrument sounds/sound effects, beat tracks, and some demos.
  • Silent playing via headphones (midnight practice!)
Physical Touch Unbeatable, naturally. Pedals are also solid, unlike many keyboards, whose pedals tend to be detached/separate foot pedals Varies greatly; keyboards whose keys simulate hammers instead of springs are stellar, such as the Casio Privia PX-850, or almost any Yamaha Arius.
Pedals The real thing! Some keyboards are limited in how many tones they can simultaneously output, and many keyboards only come with one pedal, which may be annoying to manage if it is a detached foot pedal. They additionally usually only have two pedal slots, so seeing three pedals (common on acoustics) simultaneously functioning on a single keyboard is very rare. Many keyboards also have unrealistic pedaling sequences.
Features No electricity drain during usage. Potentially: MIDI capability, recording, a built-in metronome, hundreds of instrument sounds/sound effects, and software-synthesizing with a computer for further capabilities.

It’s up to you! ☺

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