Digital vs Acoustic Piano: The Best Way to Choose Between the Two

Digital vs Acoustic Piano
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Some pianists prefer the look and feel of the classic acoustic piano while others appreciate the advances and ease of using a digital piano. However, if you still don’t have a preferred type of piano, knowing how to differentiate digital vs acoustic piano not just in terms of their looks, but also with regards to how they perform is essential.

Digital vs Acoustic Piano: The Differentiating Factors

Each of these piano types has many advantages, and you’re sure to find reasons that you love using each at different times. So, let’s highlight the main differences between these two types of pianos in a few important categories. By understanding these differences, you’ll be able to decide which type is perfect for your personal needs.

1. Tone

When it comes to digital and acoustic piano options, one of the most significant differences will be the tone that the piano creates while you are playing.

  • Acoustic pianos

There are actually two main types of acoustic pianos, and they are upright and grand pianos. Both use a string system to create the sound that you hear, and more than 10,000 moving parts create this sound. These parts work together to create the sound that you hear perfectly, and the actual shape and size of the piano create the necessary acoustics for you to hear the sound loudly and clearly.

The tone of acoustic pianos is typically very warm, rich, and full. The noise created by the strings is fuller than that created by a speaker system on a digital piano, and the sound tends to carry better acoustics than a digital piano. You can create sounds with more emotions and craftsmanship on an acoustic piano.

  • Digital pianos

Digital pianos have an internal computer system which registers the keys that you strike, then, translates these commands into sound, and then plays back the sound at the given tone. This means that the sound that you would hear is decided by a computer, not by a string. The sound is, therefore, largely decided by the computer’s processing power, the quality of the speakers, and the location of these speakers in a room.

Depending on how you would use the sound, it will not be as elegant, rich, or resonant as that of an acoustic piano. That being said, the tone of the sound on a digital piano can be changed between many different styles and instrument types with the touch of a button.

  • Verdict

Overall, the acoustic piano is known to have a better sound than digital pianos, but that largely depends on the quality of construction and what types of sound you need to create. A high-end digital piano can sound much better than a cheap acoustic one, and the digital piano may be preferred by those who want to replicate a variety of sounds with one instrument.

2. Touch

Another big factor that differs between digital and acoustic pianos is the touch factor or how it feels when you strike the keys.

  • Acoustic pianos

Grand acoustic pianos have a hammer system that strikes whenever you press the key and automatically resets. Upright acoustic pianos have a slightly different system due to limited space in the cabinet and rely on spring mechanisms to reset the keys, giving the keys a different weight.

  • Digital pianos

Digital pianos often try to replicate this weight, but it’s not often that you can find a digital piano with the same touch sensitivity as a quality acoustic piano. The nuance of weight and different touch variations simply are not translated over digital sound as well as they are in an acoustic piano, and this is one of the biggest reasons that people tend to prefer acoustic pianos.

  • Verdict

From the information given above, it is very clear that acoustic pianos are easier on the fingers and more sensitive to touch, so they are ideal for beginners and children. For experienced individuals, it all comes down to personal preference.

3. Maintenance

There are a few major maintenance differences when it comes to digital vs acoustic piano care.

  • Acoustic pianos

Maintaining an acoustic piano requires tuning 1-2 times a year due to the string mechanisms and a huge number of moving parts which can come out of alignment. Also, they could require more help from experts, which can add to the already high costs of getting an acoustic piano. Additionally, the wood in traditional acoustic pianos can be strongly affected by certain weather and environmental conditions.

  • Digital pianos

Since a computer system runs digital pianos, they never go out of tune, so they do not require any form of regular tuning. Also, digital pianos will not be affected by changes in temperature or humidity, but do make sure that they are not exposed to water as it might affect the whole system.

  • Verdict

While the touch and tone might be much stronger in an acoustic piano, the maintenance requirements are also much more intense. Hence, when it comes to ease of maintenance, digital pianos take home the bacon.

4. Digital Features

Finally, let’s talk about digital features that can help you become a more creative pianist or musician.

  • Acoustic pianos

While there are expensive acoustic pianos which come equipped with some internal microphones that can be hooked up to record the sound, in most cases, you have to buy more equipment to capture and digitize the sounds created by an acoustic piano.

  • Digital pianos

Digital pianos, on the other hand, come equipped with many digital features, from stereo inputs to USB and MIDI outputs, that you can take full advantage of from day one.

  • Verdict

For those pianists and musicians who want the flexibility of being able to alter the sound immediately, record it directly from the piano, or simply to supplement their piano playing with several effects, the digital type of piano can be a huge preference.


As you can see, there are many differences between digital and acoustic pianos, and we didn’t even cover every nuance! To put it simply, many of the differences between these styles will either disappear or be exacerbated by differences in cost.

The main two things that you should consider when choosing between the two is if you want to have easily accessible digital hookups or if you prefer the natural sound and feel of an acoustic piano. Thus, it is recommended that you visit a piano store to play with both styles if you don’t have previous experience with them.

By prioritizing the acoustic feel and sound or the digital advances, you’ll be able to make an easy choice between both styles of piano. Remember that one is not necessarily better than the other; they are simply two different instruments that can be used for different purposes!

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