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Choosing Between a Piano and a Keyboard



While it’s not the oldest musical instrument in the world, the piano has remained a staple for various musical styles for generations. Antique Steinways for sale still remain in wide use today.

The innovation that went into the construction of the piano eventually led to its digital version, the keyboard. The keyboard eventually evolved into the synthesizer, which gained a great deal of footing in the modern music scene.

Beginning musicians may assume that the piano and the keyboard are the same instruments, but they are vastly different. Here are some tips to help you choose between a piano and a keyboard.

Musical Style

Digital pianos are versatile when it comes to the type of music you want to play thanks to the various settings and features available. Most keyboards come with the ability to simulate a wide range of instruments, from pianos to organs to various non-keyed instruments.

The piano is a great choice if you plan on playing more classical pieces, or if you are interested in private piano lessons. Nothing quite beats the natural acoustic sound of a Steinway Model O piano. However, if you plan to play electronic music or require the synthesizer capabilities, a keyboard may be the better option.

Size, Feel, and Range

On the lower end, portable keyboards feature small, thin keys made of plastic. Many later models of the keyboard make an attempt to recreate the feel of real piano keys: full-sized and weighted. If you do choose a keyboard, the latter, heavier keys would be the better choice, especially if you plan on switching to acoustic at some point.

Acoustic piano keys have far more push and weight to them. For the beginner, this extra labor can be off-putting or make playing difficult. However, the extra pressure gives you greater control over your dynamics and playing style.

The average piano has 88 keys, giving you more octaves and a wider note range. Cost-friendly keyboards only have 61 or 76 keys. Granted, many earlier pieces could be played with 61 keys, and if you plan to record or mix music, you can easily manipulate pitch with software.


Even on the lower end, an acoustic piano will set you back at least a couple thousand dollars, while a keyboard costs about a tenth of that. Steinway grand pianos could set you back even more, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Keyboards may be cheaper, but they are purely electronic, which makes repairs and replacements difficult. Pianos are relatively robust and durable. Given regular maintenance, a piano can last generations.

The same goes for sound. A keyboard is cheaper but its sounds are merely simulations of real sound. A piano gives you the real sound of a hammer hitting the strings. Nothing quite replaces the warmth and character of an acoustic piano.