January 16, 2024

About the Author: Stefan Joubert

Stefan Joubert manages the London Piano Institute, a premier destination for adult piano learners seeking individualised instruction and progress towards their musical goals. He believes anyone can learn to play regardless of age or ability!

The piano is a beautiful and versatile instrument.

If you are looking into buying a new piano for yourself, a family/friend or even a company, and are overwhelmed by all the options – it is important to know which one would fulfil the requirements of your current situation.

Digital, or acoustic- which one is better?

Let’s find out!

Luxury interior of sitting room with vintage furniture and grand piano

The History of the Piano

The first piano ever made dates back to the 1700’s where a man named Bartolomeo Cristofori took the harpsichord and made it “better”. He disliked the fact that musicians could not control the level of volume on a harpsichord.

Thus, during the Baroque Period (1600- 1750), there was a lack of dynamics to be found in compositions and other musical pieces that contained a harpsichord.

Cristofori replaced the plucking mechanism, which was used inside this instrument, with a hammer – creating the famous piano we know of today. The hammer allows one to softly strike a piano key, making the hammer travel at a slow speed until it hits the string – resulting in a soft sound.

This gave musicians much more control over dynamics and made it easier for them to really feel and express themselves in the music.

There are many claims as to who created the first digital piano. The first electronic piano was created in the 1950’s and worked almost identical to analog synthesisers.

Generating tones through oscillators. Then, the first electronic grand piano was created in 1979. It contained a working pedal as well as a full-touch-sensitive keyboard.

Although this was a big hit, when the digital piano was introduced to society, the electric pianos lost its fame and shine quite a bit.

Yamaha claims to have created the first ever digital piano, where they incorporated advanced features and gave it a realistic sound.

Since then the market for digital pianos has grown tremendously – and it is not a surprise. They are popular for usually being smaller, costing and weighing much less than an acoustic piano.

Digital pianos also made travelling and moving with them a lot easier. But how hasn’t digital pianos completely replaced acoustic pianos?

A man at a piano shop with a saleslady

Comparing the Two

Pianos are considered the most sold instrument in the world. This popular instrument has changed the game in the music industry and continues to do so. Yet, now that you might be looking for one, should you buy an acoustic or digital piano? Let’s compare these instruments to each other.

Sound Quality

Acoustic pianos win this aspect without a doubt. It is no secret that digital pianos often lack the elegant sound that acoustic pianos naturally have. Although technology can only become better, the sound in digital pianos are not quite there yet.

Versatility

When looking at versatileness, it is important to take all aspects into account. Although there are countless options to choose from, the acoustic piano only has one option.

What you buy is what you get. The norm is that the sound stays the same and cannot change.

Meanwhile most digital pianos have a wide range and variety of options for different types of instruments. It does not limit you to only one sound.

Thus the digital piano wins in versatileness due to the infinite possibilities of sound. Digital pianos are becoming more and more advanced that they could even look like normal acoustic pianos!

Both of these instruments can come in different forms, such as grand pianos, upright pianos, etc. Even though they might be twins, the difference is in the play.

Mobility

An acoustic piano is quite heavy and it can damage the instrument if not moved with care.

Thus making it ever the hassle to transport. On the other hand, most digital pianos are light and weigh much less than acoustic ones.

It makes it easier to transport and move without the fear of damaging the hammers or strings as it is all electronic.

Digital pianos make mobility easier since it isn’t one structure, depending on the type,

Most digital pianos have a stand, a loose pedal and the keyboard piece that can be taken apart. It also helps with limited space, another thing an acoustic piano cannot do.

No more needing to struggle when you can simply take apart the pieces and just put them back together again when needed.

Overall Quality

If we take a look at the quality and feeling while playing these pianos, the acoustic type wins.

No digital piano can beat the impression an acoustic one makes.

The keys on acoustic pianos play a lot more seemingly, equally and smoothly and it is easy to differentiate between louder and softer dynamics.

Yet on a digital piano, most struggle to have the same effect while playing, making it harder to use various dynamics effectively.

Cost

Digital pianos cost significantly less than acoustic pianos.

Mostly because the whole process of making an acoustic piano costs a lot of money. From the costly material to the labour and craftsmanship, it makes sense that they cost more than digital pianos.

It also costs a lot when it comes to maintaining an acoustic piano. Needing to service it from time to time, or even needing to tune it to the correct pitch.

Pianos at a piano store

Conclusion

With the statistics against acoustic pianos, should you still perhaps consider it? Yes.

Most professional pianists use acoustic pianos every day.

If you are meaning to take this instrument seriously, it might be better to get an acoustic piano.

The sound is rich, natural and elegant accompanied with an authentic playing experience. Yet nothing is wrong with purchasing a digital piano as well.

Perfect for those who travel with their instruments frequently.

Most street performing musicians use digital instruments. In the end, it comes down to what you want and need most.

Depending on what your needs are, you can decide what fits that description the best.

Digital vs Acoustic pianos, which one is better?

At the end of the day, it’s all about you and what you believe.

In my opinion, no one does it better than the original.

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