I suppose the first thing you really need to decide is whether you want to go for an acoustic or digital piano. It’s clearly a personal decision but here are some of the factors you might like to think about:
– It’s the real thing!
– There are nuances that a digital instrument simply can’t emulate
– The experience of playing an acoustic instrument (the harmonics, vibrations, the touch and aesthetic appeal) are hard to match on a digital piano
– An acoustic piano, if properly tuned and maintain can serve many generations
– If you’re aspirations are to play classical piano, digital may be fine as a beginner but as you advance, the digital piano may only serve you as a warm-up instrument
– Sales of digital pianos outnumber acoustic sales two to one
– Digital pianos are cheaper than acoustic instruments (making them considerably more accessible)
– There are no maintenance costs for tuning
– Digital pianos often have a repertoire of many different sounds, acoustic instruments only have one
– You can attach digital pianos to a computer for recording purposes
– You can play digital pianos silently with headphones
– Digital pianos tend to take up less space
– Digital pianos offer fantastic portability
Buying a digital piano
There are over 180 models of digital piano on the market at the moment: choosing one requires an understanding of your needs and wants.
As a beginner, you’re actually faced with quite a daunting cost issue: do I buy cheaply just in case I give up or do I invest to give me (and quite often my family) the most motivational chance of success? Whilst the answer is unique to every family or individual, there are certain key things that probably need consideration.
If you’re buying for a family, you probably want to buy to meet the needs of the most advanced player: it’s likely that one family member or another will use for a considerable number of years to come. In doing so, the needs of the most advanced player will be met whilst the functions that aren’t ordinarily used by a beginner will perhaps be a motivation to explore more.
When it comes to things to look for in a new digital piano, there are probably a few key things to bear in mind.
In performance or practice, it’s likely that you’re only ever going to use one or two of the voices on the piano. Hence, you want to be sure that those voices sound best to you. Whilst many instruments offer a wonderland of other voices (from instruments of the orchestra right through to special effects), we’d encourage you to focus on those few voices that are important for you.
88 weighted keys
In terms of the touch response you get from playing a digital piano, you want it to be as ‘real’ as possible: this goes for the beginner as much as it applies for the more advanced player. The vast majority of ‘real’ pianos have 88-keys so we’d advise looking for a digital piano that’s similar. We’d also recommend avoiding ‘semi-weighted’ keys (see terminology section) and go for fully-weighted or heavy-weighted keys: medium-weighted keys are a next-best alternative.
Ease of use and portability
When choosing a suitable instrument, have a think about the ease of use and portability that it affords. If you’re a player that will be constantly changing voices (unlikely by a beginner) you might want something that lets you do this easily. If you’re likely to be transporting it from room to room or place to place, you might like to go for a more light-weight model. Similarly, if you’re performing regularly and using the digital piano through an amplifier, you may want to sacrifice speakers for increased portability. It’s all down to what you’re using it for so have a think before you buy!
For further information and a wonderfully detailed (and well established) guide to purchasing a piano, check out: http://www.pianobuyer.com. Piano world also provide great insight to help guide you in purchasing your perfect instrument: http://www.pianoworld.com/Buying_A_Piano/buying_a_digital_piano.html.