A comparison of the distinction between acoustic and electronic pianos..
Regardless of the proficiency of the pianist, purchasing a piano can seem an almost overwhelming task as there are so many brands and styles in the market today. Where do you start?
It is important that when you are in the market- either brand new or second hand – that the most appropriate one is selected. Some people, especially those who are just starting to learn, may not be aware that many are different. I’m not referring to the obvious such as digital versus acoustic, but rather each brand will have a different timbre, touch, feel and “weight” when being played. With this in mind, by selecting a piano which isn’t appropriate could in fact be detrimental to you playing ability and technique, not forgetting the potential to lose money in the purchasing of the piano.
Essentially there are only 2 types in the market to be considered when purchasing; the Acoustic and the Electric (commonly referred to as the Digital Piano).
This is the most common types on the market and they are essentially the oldest and most typical in the standard design. They don’t require any electric current to play them and rely solely on the pianist pressing the relevant key which then strikes the string in the casing of the instrumnet. Arguably, they are considered more complex – certainly good examples of master craftsmanship – as compared to Digital Pianos.
Within the this range there are two other styles – the Grand and the Upright, sometimes also referred to as the Vertical Piano. The Grand has a vast range of size from roughly 4 feet to 9 feet in length, often containing up to 10,000 important parts. Within this range, the description is dependent upon its size. The smallest if often referred to as the Baby Grand, through to the Concert Grand, which is the biggest of all the Grand Pianos. Each style of Grand Piano is prominent with a curved right side and a straight left side and the lid can be raised to help direct the sound out of the piano. Some of the most sought after Grand Pianos include makes by Steinway and Sons, Fazioli, Yamaha, Kawai, to name a few.
The Upright Piano, also known as the Vertical appears a lot smaller than the Grand Piano. The Upright is the most common of all piano styles due to its cost and potential portability. Having less parts than the Grand Piano at no more than 6,000 parts, there is a general belief that the taller the back on the Upright Piano, the better the piano action is inside. However, this is debatable. Although popular with homes, school and village halls, some Upright Pianos are actually better than some Grand Pianos with many of the most reputable Grand Piano makers also manufacturing Upright Pianos as well.
For the past 20 to 25 years, Digital or Electric Pianos have seen a huge increase in popularity. This is probably due to the development of the Digital Pianos in response to the demands of the piano market. The early Digital Pianos can be seen to have been developed from the more traditional electric keyboards or Synthesizers and nowadays, many of the keyboard and synthesizers available today have taken on board many of the specifications found in Digital Pianos. For example, many keyboards have full size keyboards (88 keys), the keys are weighted, have similar responses when played etc. The early Digital Pianos often had either very basic specifications and/or primitive sound like qualities. However, with the development of the Digital Piano market, these have greatly improved. Many of the today’s Digital Pianos have the same specifications such as internal speakers, a variety of sounds, in-built metronomes, demonstration piece’s, headphone sockets, etc. In addition, many have 88 keys and use pre-sampled sounds as their onboard instrument sounds rather than being synthesized sounds. Favoured also for their lighter weight and potential portability, Digital Pianos are gaining strong popularity with homes, schools and even piano teachers. Again, just like the Grand Piano and Upright Piano manufacturers, many are also producing Digital Pianos, apart from Steinway Pianos. Common and popular ones are made by Yamaha, including the Yamaha Clavinova, Kawai, Technics, Roland, Akai, and more.