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Chapter 1 – How to choose a digital piano or keyboard to start?

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You want to start learning piano but you don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place! The first chapter of this Ultimate Pianist Guide focuses on know how choose your digital piano or keyboard, and that’s not easy! Indeed, there are a lot of keyboards and brands: which one should I choose?

We start this guide with a chapter dedicated to gives you all the knowledge you must have to make your choice according to your needs. If you already have a piano or a keyboard, feel free to skip this first chapter and go the Chapter 2 – The different Piano learning methods.

Let’s start this chapter with a summary of the 3 types of keyboards and pianos:

1 – Digital keyboards: cheapest instrument, very convenient and customizable. But the sounds and the touch aren’t as good as acoustic pianos. But they do the trick when you start learning piano. Digital keyboard can be your musical companion during your first years.

2 – Digital pianos: it’s the middle of the range. Digital pianos are very good to start learning piano and as convenient as Digital keyboards. You can plug them to your devices or transport them quite easily. The sounds can be very good depending on the models and their prices.

3 – Acoustic pianos: more expensive, but more qualitative. The sound and the touch of acoustic pianos are very good. If you play on acoustic pianos, that will be your best musical experience. 

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Digital Keyboards

digital keyboards
A Digital Keyboard for beginners.

Also called “Electric Keyboard” or “Electronic Keyboard”, Digital Keyboard can be very useful and convenient. You can plug it to any device (computer, mobile phone, tablet,…) and use it for musical production with softwares, piano learning with apps, …

It’s also portable and the cheapest option. Depending on models, the features of Digital Keyboards can be very large: manage the sound volume, play with a range of instrument sounds such as organs, violins, drums, …

However, Digital Keyboards could give you a bad first musical experience because of two factors: the number of keys and the touch.

The number of keys

All acoustic pianos have 88 keys. That’s the standard number of keys. So, if you have the space to put that type of keyboard at home, go for it! If you aren’t, you should choose the maximum keys that you could. Indeed, you can quickly be restricted in your piano learning if you choose a Digital Keyboard with 25, 41 or 49 keys. You will not access the higher or lower keys if you want to work on your chords, scales or play your favorite songs on piano. 

So, we recommend to choose a Digital Keyboard with at least 76 keys (6 octaves). With fewer keys, you will soon be embarrassed.

The touch

The touch of a Digital Keyboard is also very important for a good musical experience and practice. A lot of keyboards have difficulty reproducing the touch of an acoustic piano. If you will not find this type of touch with a cheap keyboard, try to choose some with good touch. What is a good touch on piano? It’s a heavy touch that produces a quality sound, without sizzling.

Digital Pianos

digital piano
A Digital Piano with 88 keys.

Digital pianos are a good choice for pianists who want to play in the best conditions. With a Digital Piano, you will recreate the playing experience of an acoustic piano while keeping the flexibility and convenience of a Digital Keyboard. Digital Pianos are generally solid instruments composed by quality materials. And the good new: like Digital Keyboards, they not require any tuning (that’s the main problem of an acoustic piano).

The features are the same as those of a Digital Keyboard: manage the sound volume, play with other instrument sounds (guitar, violin, flute, …). However, Digital Pianos solve both problems saw above: the number of keys and the touch of the keyboards. Indeed, they have for the most part of them 88 keys, and the touch is closer to that of an acoustic piano. In short, it is the perfect intermediary between Digital Keyboards and acoustic pianos. And this is also reflected in the price: they are more expensive than keyboards but much cheaper than acoustic pianos.

Like Keyboards, Digital Pianos almost always have MIDI connection. With this feature, you can plug your piano to any device (mobile phone, tablet, computer, …) and use it with apps or softwares.

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Acoustic pianos

acoustic pianos
Acoustic piano with 88 keys.

Acoustic pianos are the most quality pianos on the market. When you are playing on an acoustic piano, the powerful sound that it makes resonates through your fingers and the space around you. This acoustic sound is created by hammers hitting the strings.

The downside of an acoustic piano is the price. Indeed, it’s much more expensive that Digital Keyboards or pianos. The cheapest are around 1200$.

But the playing experience is wonderful.

You can find two types of acoustic piano:

Grand Piano: most impressive pianos, long, curved. That’s the most iconic pianos, used in concerts, festival or Youtube videos with the greatest pianists.

Upright Piano: most common pianos. They are smaller than grand pianos and can easily be placed in a house. The sound is less powerful than the one of grand pianos, but it is still of an impressive quality.

 

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What type of digital pianos or keyboards should I choose?

Now, you know all the most important differences between Digital Keyboards, Digital Pianos and acoustic pianos. But which one should I choose?

You must first ask yourself the following questions and answer them according to your needs:

– Q: What are my expectations on the quality of the sound, the touch and the dynamism of the keys?

A: If I don’t have any particular expectations, I will choose a digital keyboard. If I have minimum expectations, I will choose a digital piano. If I have high expectations, I will choose an acoustic piano.

– Q: What is my budget for the purchase of a piano?

A: If I have a budget between 80$ and 300$, I will choose a digital keyboard. If I have a budget between $400 and $800, I will choose a digital piano. If my budget is more than 1000$, I will choose an acoustic piano.

– Q: How much space do I have at home to put my piano?

A: If I have very little space, I will choose a digital keyboard. If I have the space to put a small piece of furniture, I will choose a digital piano. If I have a lot of space (in my living room for example), I will choose an acoustic piano.

– Q: Do I want to be able to move my piano outside of my home?

A: If I want to be able to transport my piano easily enough, I will choose a digital keyboard.

– Q: Would I want to connect my keyboard to my device to learn piano on app or make music production?

A: If I want to be able to plug my piano to my computer, mobile phone or tablet, I will choose a digital keyboard or a digital piano.

– Q: Am I in an apartment and will I disturb my neighbors when I will play on piano?

A: If I risk disturbing my neighbors when I play, I will choose a digital keyboard or a digital piano so that I can plug my headphones into it.

 

Now, you know enough to make your choice of piano according to your needs. Once you’ve purchased your piano, it’s time to choose your learning method. Let’s move on to the chapter 2 of this Ultimate Pianist Guide dedicated to piano learning methods.

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