For those who play the piano as a hobby, resume the piano they had learned before, or have children who take piano lessons, a digital piano may be one of the options. There are many models from each brand, and here are some points to check to find the one that suits you the best.
Advantages and disadvantages of digital pianos
First of all, let’s think if a digital piano is really suitable for you. The advantages and disadvantages of digital pianos are as follows.
● Less expensive/easier to move than acoustic pianos
This is the greatest advantage of digital pianos that acoustic pianos don’t have.
● o worries about annoying your neighbors
Most models allow you to adjust the volume and connect headphones, so you can practice at night, or even if you live in an apartment!
● Selectable tones
The range of performances also expands for the ensemble.
Acoustic pianos need to be tuned regularly, and the cost is not cheap. Since you don’t need to worry that a digital piano will go out of tune, it’s a good deal even considering the maintenance cost.
● Different from acoustic pianos
Not surprisingly, but the touch and sound of digital pianos are not exactly the same as acoustic pianos. If you've been playing the acoustic piano for a long time and haven't played the digital piano much, you may have difficulty getting used to this difference. On the other hand, if your first keyboard is a digital piano, you may feel uncomfortable when you play the acoustic piano.
Acoustic pianos → Produce sound by striking the strings to vibrate Digital pianos → Speakers output pre-recorded sounds of acoustic pianos
here is a fundamental difference above, and the keyboard mechanism and materials are also different, which appears as a difference in playing feel. You should make a good choice if you think that acoustic pianos and digital pianos are different instruments. However, the high-end models are quite close to acoustic pianos in terms of both touch and sound.
● Product life
The acoustic piano can be used for decades if you keep maintaining it. The digital piano does not require maintenance, but the sound and keyboard will malfunction due to the aging of the parts. Also, when your piano is discontinued, it'll be difficult to replace the parts. In other words, the time will come when you can't even try to maintain it. It is said that the period until this happens (the life of the digital piano) is about 10 years. If you think you can update to an advanced digital piano after that period, it may be merit.
I hope you understood the characteristics of digital pianos a little better. Let’s move onto the points to check when choosing a digital piano.
Tips for choosing a digital piano
The essentials of both digital and acoustic pianos are the "sound and keyboard". Please choose without compromise.
■ How to choose a keyboard
Key touch weight, key return speed, key depth, etc., vary widely depending on the brand or model so it's best to touch and examine it. Even if it looks good on the spec sheet, you may often have different impressions when you actually play it. If you play the piano as a hobby, it's best to try it and choose one that you like the best.If you are taking piano lessons, you should choose an acoustic piano, but if you consider a digital piano, we recommend one that has a similar touch feel to the piano you play in a lesson. Avoid going for a light key touch because it's easy to play, as you can't gain finger strength.
If it's difficult to try digital pianos, you can guess to some extent by the characteristics on the spec sheet.
I'm going to show you the features you need to see to eliminate mismatches as much as possible.
■ Materials for keys
● Wooden keys
Many models over 200,000 yen have wooden keyboards, just like acoustic pianos. The key touch tends to be heavy almost like acoustic pianos. If you take piano lessons, choose a wooden keyboard. ROLAND has models with the "hybrid keyboard" made of wood and plastic to achieve both touch feel and durability.
● Plastic keys
Most low-priced models have plastic keyboards. The surface of the keyboard is smooth and tends to have a light key touch.
● Ivory/ebony-like finish
The finest materials are ivory for the white keys, and ebony for the black keys. This is about a surface finish that reproduces the textures of these materials. The rough surface makes your fingers less slippery and feels quite different from the plastic finish.
■ Keyboard action
The internal mechanical action when you press a key also differs greatly depending on the model, which affects the touch feel.
● Key weight difference in the bass and treble
Key weight gets lighter as it goes up to the treble like a grand piano. Since it's often installed in entry models around 30,000 to 40,000 yen, it can be said to be a standard feature of digital pianos.
● Key weight adjustment
This feature allows you to adjust the weight of the keys. It prevents mismatches that the keys were lighter or heavier than expected, and it is also recommended when you share an instrument with someone. Quite a few low-priced models can be adjusted in about 5 steps, so check it out.
● Seesaw type
Some digital piano keyboards have springs, but the "seesaw type" doesn't have springs, but uses the "leverage" like acoustic pianos. You can get the touch unique to the piano, which is the more front you press on the key, the lighter it gets, and the deeper, the heavier.
Please check here for the keyboards of each manufacturer.
→ Keyboard comparison of each manufacturer
■ How to distinguish pedals
The comfort and effectiveness of the pedals are also important, although it's easy to miss. Aside from the very beginning stage, everyone will eventually use the pedals.
Have you ever seen a pedal feature that says "half damper"or "continuous detection"?
This refers to the pedal that detects not only the pedal being pressed down (ON)/not pressed down (OFF), but also the degree of pedal depression (whether the pedal is fully pressed down or partially pressed down). During the actual performance, you can use pedals as follows.
To sustain the sound richly → Full pedal.
To keep the outline of the sound while sustaining it → Half pedal.
If you desire to express the detail, please choose the one with this feature.
There are many other important points to check out, but I have to stop here for today before it gets too long. Next time, I will talk about another element that we shouldn't miss, the "sound."