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Piano vs Keyboard: Which One Should I Buy?

Last Updated: August 15, 2016 / by Helen Baker



The existence of the piano can be dated back many years. Invented in about 1700, it didn't always look like this,  but the basic principle of the hammers hitting the strings to produce sound remained the same for the last 300 years.

As technology developed, the keyboard was born, and the battle of which is the best instrument started. So, when thrown into the ring, which one would you ultimately choose? The piano or the keyboard? Here is a comparison to help you make up your mind.

Sound and Technical Aspects

A piano can have over 2000 strings.

Playing an acoustic piano offers a musician the opportunity to develop their skills and a finer control of the sound. A piano has over 200 strings, which vibrates off the soundboard and can’t easily be simulated by a keyboard. This gives the musician a wider range of sound to work and play with on the piano.

Another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is the difference between the keys. The feeling as well as the amount of keys on the keyboard is different and, therefore, limits the range of sound. The piano has 88 weighted keys, whereas a keyboard’s range usually ends at 61 keys. It can also be smaller and feel like plastic. It is possible to get a keyboard with more, or better quality keys, but it can be a very expensive search.

Keyboards make it possible to play a perfect synthesized pitch of the notes without difficulty,  for as long as you press the key on the keyboard. On the piano, you need to time the press of the pedal properly in order to succeed. These differences between the keys make the piano the better choice in improving your technique, sense of timing and hand strength.

In addition to the quality of the sound that a piano produces, the volume can be considered as a disadvantage. With the keyboard, the volume can be turned up or down, and if the musician doesn’t want to disturb family members or neighbors, an earphone jack can be used. However, when it comes down purely to sound and technical aspects, the piano wins this round. 

Got Space?

The difference in the size of these two instruments tips the scale in the favor of the keyboard. Not everyone lives in a gigantic mansion with endless storage possibilities. So, choosing between the piano and the keyboard often comes down to which one will take the least space - and this round definitely goes to the keyboard.

The piano is also heavy and will not work in a small room or apartment, as it cannot easily be moved according to your needs. Making the keyboard a good companion in a smaller space. It also gives you the option to move it around (or store away) when extra space is needed.

Having a Travel Buddy

Being able to carry your instrument around with you is perfect.

Every musician carries their music in their hearts and wants to share this passion with the world. To do this, having their instrument wherever they go completes them as an artist.

When choosing between a piano and a keyboard, you have to consider which would be more appropriate for your situation. 

Many musicians prefer the keyboard because it’s obviously a better travel buddy without the hassle of acoustics and tuning. You just plug it in and you’re ready.

And unless scientists discover a formula to create inflatable wood, a keyboard is the way to go for a traveling musician.

Survivor Skills

Investing in a piano is a great option in the long run.  It can last up to 20 or 30 years if well maintained. Proper maintenance will ensure value for your money, and promises many years of playing countless pages of sheet music. This makes the piano a better option if you’re ready for a long term commitment.

On the other hand, the keyboard is like a free spirit that can’t be tied down easily. A keyboard relies on technology, and as we know, technology is a fast and continuous development. This shortens the lifespan of the keyboard to about 5 years. And because the keyboard can quickly be considered as outdated, it’s seen as more of a short-term investment. With this being said, the keyboard is still more durable because it was created to function as a reliable travel buddy. 

Maintenance

The keyboard is more durable and tougher travel buddy. A piano requires a bit more love and care. The keyboard can be plugged in anywhere, at any time, and it will provide the perfect pitched note. The piano, on the other hand, cannot easily be moved without the quality of the sound being influenced, and should be tuned by a professional about twice a year. 

Counting Your Pennies?

What's going to work best for your budget? Many decisions we make are made according to the size of our pockets. If your budget allows for a good piano, do it! Nothing can compare to a good acoustic piano as it offers a beginner the opportunity to develop a better musicianship from the start.

A good piano may not be the most affordable choice, however. If this is the case, a keyboard will be the better option in pursuing your passion. Keyboards come in many sizes and price ranges. So, choose the best one that suits your current needs, and your pocket.

And The Winner Is…

With all these different factors that need to be taken into consideration, it is possible to say the result of this everlasting battle, is still pending. And it may continue for many years to come. It all comes down to which instrument will help you succeed in your plans and dreams. Which one will make you the winner in your personal path of music-making? The piano or the keyboard?

But Remember!

It’s a big step and investment when you purchase an instrument. Do proper research and see which one will suit your lifestyle the best. At the end, it all comes down to personal preferences. And whether you choose the piano or the keyboard as your music companion, never stop enjoying the journey of making music.


About the Author: Helen Baker

I am a freelance teacher and writer based in Ann Arbor, MI. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, I spent some time teaching English in Paris and, thereafter, returned to Ann Arbor where I was involved both in the media and academics. Currently I am a stay at home mom, working as a freelance writer and teacher. I love all my guitars and I also have an affinity towards old grand pianos. I love singing, traveling, reading, writing, watching films and spending quality time with my husband.


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