Keyboard vs. Piano: What’s the Primary Differences?

Since prehistoric and ancient times, music is present in people’s lives, and it has evolved along with the development of instruments. First playing on the piano started in the 18th century, and from then on, it is one of the most popular musical instruments.

With the invention of electrical music instruments, the music itself and the playing have changed. If you want to learn how to play, but have doubts and are not sure which instrument to purchase, here are some primary differences between the keyboard vs. piano to make your decision easier.

Keyboard vs. Piano

Type

The piano is an acoustic instrument with a set of strings and hammers and a massive soundbox behind. In the very beginning, the new device was a combination of clavichord and harpsichord. Further development led to the occurrence of the fortepiano and grand piano. Modern upright and square pianos came to the stage eventually.

Once you press the key on a piano, a wooden hammer hits the string and creates resonance. That sound is rich and depends on piano construction. You can find several models on the market, including the most popular upright and grand pianos, which you can see in the concerts.

On the other side, a keyboard is a digital instrument with the recorded sound of the piano. As you have probably known, it has many possibilities for creating music on this instrument nowadays. Its advantage is that it can produce the sound of many other instruments, as well.

Keys

The setting of keys is the same in both piano and keyboard. The name for the piano’s keys arrangement is keyboard, hence the name for the electronic instrument. Most contemporary pianos have 88 keys, including 52 white and 36 black ones.

Depending on a model, the digital keyboard can have fewer keys than a piano so that you can find this instrument with 25, 39, 42, 61, 76, or 88 keys. If you want to play the keyboard as a professional, buy the one with 88 keys, as a concert piano has. Kids and beginners may start with fewer keys, and transition to a full 88 keyboard over time.

Keys have two significant features, touch sensitivity and weighted keys that make a difference in the quality of instruments. Touch sensitivity presumes that the sound will be louder when you apply more pressure on the keys. Vice versa, if you are gentle, you will create a subtle sound.

The piano works in this way since this instrument features the weighted keys that are present in the string and hammer system. They will make resistance, and you will be able to feel it while playing. However, the keyboard doesn’t have that option.

Be aware that electronic instruments don’t have this system. Some models have a program that detects how fast you press the key and consequently creates resistance that imitates the feeling you have while playing the piano. Unfortunately, most keyboards don’t have any resistance, especially cheap ones.

Sound

The piano can produce only one worldwide familiar sound. Due to different programming, the keyboard can provide a sound of various instruments, including violin, guitar, or horn, for example. Also, the sound volume of this instrument is adjustable, and you can manage it by pressing the volume button. With the piano, this is not the case.

Portability

The advantage of a keyboard is the possibility to move it whenever needed quickly. On the other hand, the piano requires a lot of attention and effort when you need to move it due to its heaviness and shape. Nowadays, the moving industry has a specific branch that deals with the transport of pianos.

Moving of piano includes a whole team of experienced and physically strong people, and this often comes with a higher price. On average, companies specialized in piano transportation charge about 30% more than those that provide furniture transportation services. So, if you need an instrument that will be easier to move, choose a keyboard.

Maintenance and tuning

Tuning is a process of adjusting the strings’ tension. You need to tune your piano at least two times a year if playing it professionally. The reasons for a piano to fall out of tune can be different, such as humidity and temperature changes. So, the maintenance of a piano will require spending a certain amount of money additionally.

That is not the case with the keyboard, where some of the minor fixing you can do on your own. However, it is better to be cautious and instead leave that job to the professionals if you are not skilled enough.

However, maintaining the keyboard won’t be necessary as often as tuning the piano. No matter what instrument you choose, you should regularly clean it.

Price

There is a significant difference between these two instruments when it comes to price. You can spend a lot of money on a high-quality professional keyboard, but the pianos are undoubtedly more expensive. Whether or not you should make this investment will depend on how you plan to use your instrument.

The keyboard is convenient for a beginner to start playing on an inexpensive but quality instrument and switch to the piano later. If the instrument’s purpose is entertainment, you should pick out a suitable one for less money.

The price range is from several hundred bucks for a keyboard to tens of thousands of dollars for a piano. So, you should choose according to your needs and budget.

You can also find a piano store that rents pianos or buy a used instrument for a start. That will reduce the cost of it, especially if you are not sure that you will be able to commit to playing for a long time.

Additional features

As an electronic instrument, the keyboard offers many other possibilities to play. For example, you can create your music and record it. Many keyboards come with a program that makes learning to play more comfortable and less complicated.

Piano, on the other side, doesn’t offer this feature, but many professional players will tell you that nothing can replace the feeling of playing this instrument. Strings, hammers, weighted keys, and the unique way of resonating are specific only to the piano.

However, many contemporary high-end keyboards almost reach that quality. Unlike the piano, the keyboard comes with a built-in metronome and speakers. Also, it often has a sustained pedal and weighted keys.

Pedals are essential parts of the piano. On the other hand, you can find keyboards with or without pedals. Plus, some lighter options can’t create the same feeling as proper piano pedals.

MIDI

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a feature every keyboard has. It allows connection with a computer or some portable device. That means you will be able to download applications or other programs that can help you play and record your music, which is impossible with the piano.

Music style and noise control

If you prefer classical music, blues, and jazz, you may want to consider having an acoustic piano since the sound will be more authentic. If you like modern and pop melodies, feel free to choose the keyboard. The choice of the instrument can also depend on the place that you live in.

If your playing won’t disturb the neighbors, it doesn’t matter which instrument you choose. However, it will be more comfortable for your neighbors, especially in particularly demanding surroundings, if you decide to play on the keyboard. In such a case, you can plug in the headphones and enjoy your playing by yourself.

Keyboard and Piano Playing

While researching which instrument to buy, you may think that a keyboard is not a proper instrument as piano. However, it would help if you disregarded these prejudices and only consider these two instruments as different.

Since there are not many possibilities to experiment with the piano, you will focus on learning techniques. On the other hand, the keyboard offers a lot of different buttons to experiment with.

With regular practice and inquisitiveness, you will be able to create a sense of having an orchestra playing with you. With the piano, this can’t happen. At the same time, playing on the keyboard probably won’t provide you with enough skill to play the piano like a professional.

So, both of these instruments have their benefits and disadvantages. It will depend on your preferences which one to choose. Keep in mind that both of them require daily practice.

Summary

Whether you are the one who aspires to become a piano or a keyboard player, or your child is a future student, your budget will significantly impact the decision which instrument to buy.

The practice has shown that it is never too late to start learning and that you or your child will always be able to switch from a simple model to a complex one. Choose according to your music style and be a persistent and disciplined student. As a result, you will see the progress in learning no matter which of these two instruments you buy.

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