Five Things You Need to Know about a Digital Piano Before Getting One

Five Things You Need to Know about a Digital Piano Before Getting One

This is a guest post by Jonathon Antoon! I’m thinking of getting a digital piano soon, so I thought this would be of interest to some of you as well. Jonathon is a reader from the Artiden community.

Squeezing your grandfather’s 800-pound piano into your tiny apartment is not how you should spend your Friday night or your Saturday evening.

Say hello to the instrument that will help you sharpen your Chopin and crush that cover of Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak without setting you back a thousand dollars. With a market dominated by Casio and Yamaha models, finding the right model is like finding the perfect straw in a haystack. This article will be your guide to choosing a digital piano.

If you want to see what models are out there, tab into the best digital pianos under $1000 to find an assortment of items suitable for all piano enthusiasts.

Transition from a Traditional Piano

The first difference between digital and standard pianos is the “feel” that one gets upon physically pressing the keys. A traditional piano has a network of keys that are attached to levers. When a key is pressed, those levers trigger a series of felt-covered hammers to strike the strings inside the piano.

This process is important if you want the keys on your digital piano to provide a similar feel to an acoustic piano. Digital pianos are not powered by the hammer and string system, but manufacturers use an electronic variation of this mechanism. Known as weighted action, it synthesizes the strings and hammer feel when you press down on a key.

Not all digital pianos have this option. Comparable to playing an organ, which some pianists do look for, digital pianos that lack this feature are not the first choice for traditional piano aficionados.

Key Width

Before buying a digital piano, consider this. Are performances on baby grands the dream? Do you love how effortless it is when your fingers find those lovely wide keys? Are you purely focused on producing your own unique style of music while sound-tinkering, and honestly wouldn’t mind if they were just a bit closer together? Are you both?

Your answers may determine whether you are suited to standardized keys, which are about 23 millimetres in width.

Pianos that have narrower keys feel quite toy-like, perfect for those practitioners who are in it for experimentation, wanna compose, but not necessarily for a piano piano. Depending on their features, these are better priced than classically-oriented digital pianos.

Pianos utilizing the standardized key-size aim to reproduce that classical sound, touch, and feel.  If you’re looking to perfect your technique, play with finesse, and master your classical skills, this type of digital is the one for you.

Polyphony

Polyphony describes the number of individual tones that a digital piano is capable of producing at the same time. As obvious as this might seem, many early synthesizers (as well as a good portion of the modern ones) are monophonic, meaning they produce only one note at a time.

For instance, if you were to hold down a ‘’G’’ note and follow it quickly with a ‘’C’’, a monophonic digital piano will fade out the former and prioritize the latter. This might not sound like such a big deal at first, but you will notice the difference once you try to play more complicated stuff–you can’t.

Extra Features are Not Always Useful

Apart from the quality of the build, another thing that determines the price of the digital piano are its extra features. These come in many forms- from useful light displays, prerecorded instrument sounds, or built-in programs that can enhance your usage of them.

For production purposes, a digital piano or keyboard with prerecorded beats, various instrumentation, and sound sampling will save you lots of time and effort.

If you use the instrument as a portable version of a standard acoustic piano however, consider these.

  • Built-in metronomes. Unless seeing the pendulum motion of the metronome helps you keep time, one of these as a preset keyboard option makes it simple to practice and perfect those long pieces.
  • Split-keyboard setting. This one splits your piano in half, so you can choose an instrument for either half. For those that want to play a jazz duet solo, or keep those fingers feisty.

Speakers and Amplification

Last but not least, if you are looking for a good digital piano, sound is key. You’ll want to ensure that your instrument has a built-in amp and speakers. Output should match the quality, speed and intensity that you play at.

Connectivity to external amplifiers, recording consoles, and PA systems is really important if you’re gigging and/or on the go. Digital pianos designed for live performances and studio recording usually have tons of these options. If you’re cozying up to your keyboard in a home or apartment setting, look out for features such as headphone and USB ports, so you can tinker at all hours without torturing your neighbours.

 

All in all, an awesome digital piano can be quickly attuned to your lifestyle.  Whether you want to flex your classical skills or compose a quick beat in a cramped space, the right one doesn’t take long to find.  Like mastering a great piece of music, it’s just a matter of thinking things through.  We hope this guide helps.

 

Do you own a digital piano? If so, what is your favourite feature? Leave a comment below to join the discussion!

2 Comments


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2 Comments

  • Reply Michel October 2, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    This past year, I decided to buy a Roland RD 2000 and have loved it every day since. I bought it for digital recording and it’s amazing action and tonal responsiveness. It has a processor specific to rendering the complexities of piano timbres and it does so beautifully. Downside…..it’s expensive, but the upside is that I’m joyful every time I play it.

    • Reply Grace Lam October 2, 2018 at 7:42 pm

      Hey Michel, as long as it brings you joy, it’s worth it. I’ve been considering purchasing a digital piano to record music as well. I’ll look into the Roland RD 2000–thanks!

    What do you think?

    2 Comments