By: E. Chung
Though most piano teachers will direct their serious students toward an acoustic piano, a traditional handmade piano may not be the best decision when purchasing a new instrument. Transportability, cost and a large selection of attractive electronic functions may be a good reason to purchase a digital piano.
Price is probably the most significant consideration in choosing between an acoustic and a digital. The money you might spend on a used, low-end acoustic Yamaha Digital Pianopiano could buy a brand new, high quality digital piano.
And acoustics can have problems. The sound quality of a low-cost acoustic can be quite weak – a problem not necessarily solved by any tuning it might require. The intricate construction of an aging acoustic piano can result in bad strings, sticky keys and a variety of other mechanical troubles. The possible difficulties can be extensive, and it’s possible that the price of your initial purchase will increase with the added costs of additional maintenance.
Another consideration is the size of an acoustic piano. Apartment dwellers, for instance, might find accommodating an acoustic piano extremely difficult, if not impossible. Additionally, moving a piano from room to room or location to location might be important to you. Transporting a half ton instrument from place to place is not possible for most us. If space considerations and portability are important to you, an acoustic would probably not be your best choice.
Moreover, acoustic pianos don’t have the many attractive functions available in today’s digital pianos. If you share space with others, volume control might be a very attractive feature for you. Electronic metronomes, recording capabilities, music mixing and play-along tutorial features can be found in the latest digital models. Using a MIDI connector, you can use the sound card on your computer to compose record or avail yourself of piano teaching software with lesson feedback.
Nevertheless, while the attractions of a digital piano are compelling, none of these electronic marvels have been able to faithfully replicate the sound and feel of a high quality acoustic piano. For most occasional listeners to piano music the sound quality of an acoustic and a digital are very similar. If you listen more closely, however, the variations are significant.
A digital piano is essentially composed of the recordings of an acoustic piano. The keys of the acoustic are struck in varying speeds and tones and, with the aid GOOGLE ADSENSE of state-of-the-art sound equipment, are incorporated into the mechanisms of the digital piano. While the variety of tones and tempos can create an accurate duplication of an acoustic piano, they are fixed in their attributes and more subtle sound variations are not possible.
Playing a chord on a digital piano will result in three notes being played as Acoustic Grand Piano though they were recorded individually. With an acoustic piano, however, the three notes will interact with each other through the soundboard and produce a variety of vibrations, eliciting a more complex and ultimately richer sound. To a trained ear, the sound emitting from the digital speakers can seem dull and limited.
Volume control can also be a problem with a digital. While there is no limit to the loudness or softness of a note played on an acoustic, a digital piano can only play a note at a fixed level. Variations in loudness and softness can only be controlled by adjusting the volume dial – an extremely awkward maneuver, particularly if you are playing before a live audience.
An additional problem has to do with touch sensitivity. A digital has a fixed number of intervals when it comes to key pressure. The more intervals a piano has and the closer they are to each other, the more authentically the piano will respond to your playing. An expensive digital piano might have lots of intervals, but a lower-end digital piano might not have an adequate sensitivity to your touch. While this might not be apparent in the opposite poles of loud and soft, it might be more perceptible in the more subtle variations in a piece of classical music for instance. Again, this can be a problem for serious pianists looking for a highly responsive piano.
Lastly, the discrepancies between an acoustic and a digital are also found in the range of pedaling available. The piano pedals on an acoustic provide for numerous variations. Up and down, on or off, quarter-pedaling, and half-pedaling are just some examples. The pedaling span on digital piano is generally more limited.
When buying a new piano the choice often comes down to price as opposed to sound quality. The differences can be striking for the trained ear, and the desire for a truly genuine experience can be costly. If you are a piano student learning to play classical piano, then you should probably opt for an acoustic piano. Anything less might be detrimental to your technique, especially if you have the goal of performing as a concert pianist. If price is an issue, keep in mind that it’s possible to get financing. Check with your piano dealer.
If you are a relatively new piano student and your needs are less demanding, then a digital piano is probably your best choice. A comparatively low price, portability and an impressive array of electronic functionality are all compelling reasons to choose a digital. An upgrade can come later if you so desire, and your learning experience and musical enjoyment can be just as fulfilling with a digital piano as it would be with an acoustic.