Digital or Electronic Pianos

Digital Pianos are essentially computers that that attempt to imitate the sound and touch of the acoustic or "regular" piano. While many do not, except for those costing $1,000's, the digital piano has several advantages over the acoustic piano.

The Advantages

1. They do not require tuning.
2. They are relatively inexpensive.
3. They are smaller and weigh less.
4. They have more than one sound - some hundreds more.
5. They include MIDI (musical instrument digital interface).
6. Many if not all now have a USB connection to interface with your computer
7. They have a volume control for quieter use in situations such as apartments.
8. They have headphone outlets for total private use.
9. Most have recording features.
10. Most have a metronome feature included.
11. Most have a transposition feature.

The Disadvantages

1. The sound of a digital does not sound as good as an acoustic because there is a lack of depth to the digital sound. This has to do with the difference in harmonics produced digitally and from regular strings.
2. Since the digital piano is essentially a computer there is a new model every year.
3. Parts, including the computer chips used, are not available usually after 7 years. Parts for a regular piano are relatively inexpensive and pianos that are even 100 years old the parts are simple to obtain.
4. A regular piano will last a couple of lifetimes. The digital only until something breaks that you can not replace. At this point in time, the assumption is 20 years at best.
5. The structure of a digital piano is flimsy compared to the structure of a regular piano. While it is easier to move, it is also easier to damage.
6. Over the lifetime of the digital compared to the acoustic, the acoustic may actually cost less.
7. Most digital pianos can not perform well enough for someone that plays at the intermediate level of performance.
8. Depreciation is very high compared to a regular piano.

However, while a fine acoustic piano would be preferred, escalating prices cause many beginning students to consider an electronic alternative. As well, the portability of the digital makes it the desired piano for many living in apartments, or dormatories.

Criteria to Consider in Purchasing a Digital Piano

Should you decide to purchase a digital piano, here are some suggestions. The features will be shown on the webpages you are directed to but look for these items in particular.

#1 Make sure the instrument has 88 full-size standard piano keys.

#2 Make sure it has at least 64 note polyphony. That means the instrument is capable of playing up to 64 notes at a time. Playing chords up and down the keyboard with the sustain (damper) pedal down can easily use up all the resources of the keyboard, causing notes to drop out. Many digital pianos having 32 note polyphony are not good enough to handle what an intermediate pianist can perform. And even with 64 note polyphony a good pianist may use up all the resources.

#3 Make sure it has a weighted piano action or keys that simulate the weight of the keys and action on a regular piano. Keyboards do NOT do that. Learning proper "touch" on a piano is crucial to playing well.

#4 Be careful in accepting reviews from people that claim the digital piano sounds just like their grand piano. Either these people are half deaf or they do not have a trained ear. No digital piano sounds like a grand piano, not even a good upright piano. Sound from a digital piano comes through speakers and unless you have a very sophisticated sound system in your home that you can plug the digital into - it will not sound like the real thing - I doubt it will even then.

#5 Make sure you are receiving what you want. Some offers on the internet include all kinds of extras, some do not. Some include shipping and others do not, and shipping may be only to the curb and not into your home so be aware what is included in the price before you purchase.

#6 If you are in Canada be aware that if you buy a digital piano in the United States the warranty becomes void when you bring it across the border. I have a son in law that I recommended he buy a particular digital piano for their budget. I never thought he would purchase from a dealer in the United States so I hadn't warned him about the warranty issue. Then, by the time it got across the border it was a good two months later (after Christmas had passed) because there were customs problems.

To see the previews of the pianos we recommend, please view our webpage entitled Digital Piano Reviews