Should You Buy a Piano or a Keyboard?

Arts & EntertainmentBooks & Music

  • Author Mary Jane
  • Published March 7, 2015
  • Word count 430

Piano or Keyboard: Which Should You Go With?

Although the piano and the keyboard appear to have the same basic features, there is a wide range of differences between the two. These differences become apparent when considering how they are constructed, used, and the type of music each one plays.

History

Over three hundred years ago, an Italian harpsichord maker decided to broaden the range of his instrument. His invention had similar keys to the harpsichord, but when the keys are pressed a felt tipped hammer hits the appropriate string(s) producing a sound that has been found to be impossible to reproduce. Over the years this invention has been changed slightly, but eventually came to be known as the piano.

The keyboard on the other hand, originated from the pipe organ. One of the biggest differences between the two instruments is the fact that a piano is considered an acoustic string instrument, while a keyboard produces music digitally, generally requiring electricity to function.

The Differences

The feel of the two instruments also differs. Some keyboards have small keys and feel like plastic to the touch, while higher end models may feel more like the wooden keys of a piano.

Another key difference is the sound produced by each instrument. Electronic keyboards can create a variety of sounds and effects, while the piano produces a set of the same sounds that vary by tone, generated by the keys and pedals. The hammer system makes a piano touch-sensitive, meaning the sound produced depends on how you press the keys, while a keyboard will sound the same no matter how u press them.

The piano and keyboard also differ in range. A piano has 88 keys (88 notes), but a typical keyboard today has only 61 or 76 keys. Probably the biggest drawback of the electronic keyboard is the quality of the sound. It is almost impossible to replicate the rich tone of a well-made acoustic piano with an electronically produced sound.

Of course the size of the instruments also differs significantly. Keyboards are portable and do not take up as much room space as a piano, and moving a keyboard isn’t nearly as difficult as moving a piano from room to room or location to location. They also don’t have to be tuned, while a piano does. Cost is another factor when evaluating the two instruments. A good acoustic piano can be quite costly, and may not be affordable to many musicians. A keyboard, on the other hand, can range in price from $300 to $1,000, or less if you consider purchasing a used model.

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