By: Chris Hammond
Choosing a digital piano can be difficult. There are many digital pianos with many different options and you need to know which will be the most comfortable for you.
If you are just beginning piano you might prefer a digital that has the feel of an acoustic piano. This is particularly useful if you play an acoustic at your piano teacher’s home or at a friend’s house. There are a number of inexpensive digital pianos that have the feel of an acoustic piano and have a quality sound as well.
Many digital pianos have weighted keys that replicate the hammer strike of acoustic pianos. And while many piano players want the touch of an acoustic piano, that touch can feel different from one digital piano to another. Consequently, it would be a good idea to shop around and experiment before you make a final purchase.
When experimenting and comparing, don’t forget to try out the pedal. There are some low quality pedals on the market. They tend to be flimsy and move around and they may only have an on or off switch. You want to be sure to get a pedal that is weighted and immobile and will simulate multiple levels of pedaling as in an acoustic piano. If you purchase a digital piano that does not include a pedal, find a manufacturer sells one that is adaptable to your particular instrument.
Typically, the digital piano plays the recordings of sampled sounds and manufacturers use different methods to obtain those samples. All digital pianos sound just a bit different as a consequence. One method of finding the right sounding piano for you is to visit a piano dealer and try a digital piano and then compare it to the sound of an acoustic in the same showroom.
Polyphony is also an important factor in determining which digital piano is right for you. This number of notes that can be played simultaneously on a digital. Most digital pianos have 32 note polyphony, but some can go as high as 128 or more. A 10 note polyphony is probably too low, and you don’t want to lose notes when holding the sustain pedal because your polyphony is too low. The 32 note polyphony is usually just right. If you should surpass that number, your digital keyboard will automatically keep the essential notes accordingly. It is usually sequencers who are adding additional sounds and voices and using advanced techniques that will want a higher polyphony.
Some would say that a digital piano’s greatest benefits are the special electronic functions that can be utilized. The best digital pianos come with at least 10 voices or instrument sounds, and the more advanced pianos come with many more. There is usually an electronic metronome and some manufacturers include some prerecorded songs that you can practice with. On some digital pianos you can record your piano practice for later playback, simulate playing 2 instruments at the same time or divide the keyboard up so that one part of the keyboard produces the sound of one instrument, while the other part emits another. New features are added with every new model and some can be added by downloading them from your manufacturer.
When purchasing a digital piano, use this checklist to determine which piano is right for you:
• If you’re going to be playing your piano with headphones, make sure the sound quality is good.
• If acoustic piano simulation is important to you, test the sound of the digital piano to see if it compares to the sound of an acoustic. If you can’t discern a difference you are on the right track.
• Look for relatively large speakers on your digital piano and the more of them the better.
• Make sure the amplifier is strong and does not have a thin, metallic sound.
• Is your pedal heavy and stable? Does is simulate the pedal action of an acoustic piano?
• If portability is important to you, look for a stage digital piano.
• Make sure the polyphony is suited to your needs.
• Be sure that the buttons on the digital keyboard are logical and accessible.
• Get a digital piano with an LCD display if you want to easily scroll through your piano’s functions and special features. This saves a lot of time and memorization and fumbling through your manual for the instructions.
• Check out the special features that come with every digital piano. Take a careful look at which ones can be useful to you. Don’t overspend by adding bells and whistles that you will rarely use. Keep this checklist handy. Read consumer reviews and visit some online piano dealers to help with your decision, particularly if there aren’t many showrooms in your area. Take your time and do your homework and before long you should find the digital piano that feels just right for you.