Acoustic Piano vs Digital Pianos

 2020-05-29 08:46 PM by
Acoustic Piano vs Digital Pianos

The Big Question Acoustic Piano or Digital Piano

Before the invention of digital and analogue audio, instruments like guitars, violins, and others were acoustic in nature. They required no electricity to operate, and musicians had to work exceptionally hard at mastering their instruments. Then came the analogue era, where we saw the first electric guitars and rudimentary synthesisers. When it comes to pianos, there is much debate around acoustic versus digital. Purists believe that no digital piano can come close to the sound and feel of a real, old-school piano. Those on team digital piano argue that technology has come so far – if you close your eyes you won’t be able to tell the difference. We can’t say which is better, but we can compare the two and let you make up your own mind!


Core differences between acoustic and digital pianos:

  • Acoustic pianos feature physical copper-wound strings and a sound board
  • Digital pianos have acoustic samples that replicate acoustic piano sounds
  • Acoustic pianos can weigh over 500 kilograms
  • Digital pianos can weigh as little as 10 kilograms, up to around 60 kilograms
  • Acoustic pianos do not require an electrical connection
  • Digital pianos have to be plugged into a power source to function
  • Acoustic pianos cannot be played in silence
  • Digital pianos can be used with headphones
  • Acoustic pianos need to be tuned every 3 months (if practiced on every day)
  • Digital pianos do not go out of tune, regardless of how much they are played


What’s an acoustic piano?

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Pianos and guitars have something in common. They both need strings to produce sounds. Like a guitarist hitting the strings to create notes or chords, a pianist hits a key which in turn connects with a copper-wound string (much thicker than a guitar string) which then vibrates and creates a sound.

Acoustic pianos come in two main varieties:

  • Upright acoustic pianos
  • Grand pianos

The image above shows an upright piano, specifically the Yamaha JU109 acoustic piano. An upright piano has a vertical internal wooden soundboard on which all 88 strings (one for each key) are fastened at tension. Grand pianos, like the Yamaha GB1 piano, have horizontal sound boards, which is why they are so long and are much larger than upright acoustic pianos.


What’s a digital piano?

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Digital pianos are powerful electronic instruments designed with musicians in mind. It is important not to confuse digital pianos with digital keyboards, as there are differences between the two.

Digital pianos

  • Designed to stay in one place
  • All come with 88 keys
  • Weighted keys for that ‘real piano’ feel

Digital keyboards

  • Designed to be portable
  • 88, 76, or 61 keys in total
  • Most do not have weighted keys

Then there are hybrids, like the Yamaha CLP701, which are digital pianos with the depth of sound effects common amongst keyboards. Digital pianos feature quality on-board speaker systems, and digital piano audio technology has become so advanced, they sound exactly like acoustic pianos.


Order digital pianos and acoustic pianos online in KwaZulu-Natal

Highway Music Online enjoys a special relationship with Yamaha South Africa, a local branch of the world’s leading manufacturer of professional-grade digital pianos and keyboards. Yamaha also provides sturdy acoustic pianos (both upright and grand) that are built to last. Contact us directly to arrange an order in KwaZulu-Natal, or browse our SHOP page to buy your next piano right now!