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Acoustic Or Electronic Piano: Which Is Best?

Is an acoustic or electronic piano the best choice for you? Many people are daunted by purchasing such a large and usually expensive item. One strategy might be to purchase an inexpensive electronic keyboard (under $100) to see if your child has interest. If that is successful, go on to explore purchasing an acoustic piano.

Most Kids Accept A Little Keyboard

But what is the difference to a child? From my experience, beginning piano students usually do not know what they are missing by playing on an electronic keyboard. An electronic keyboard will be adequate until the child needs the pedals, and outgrows music which sounds well on a little keyboard. A keyboard is adequate at first because initially a child is simply learning geography. Kids start by finding where  the landmark keys are, which way is up, where are the black keys, etc. Since these factors are the same on both an acoustic or electronic instrument, the child will learn the basics just as well on an electronic keyboard.

Advanced Kids Need A Real Instrument

But once the child advances a little further, you will want the sound and capabilities of a real instrument. Perhaps the most telling sign that a child has outgrown a keyboard is boredom. I don't know why, but advanced children can tell that the keyboard is just a toy. Eventually they realize that it is just a plastic machine. The main differences between acoustic and electronic instruments are the sound and the feel in your fingers.

Sound

On an acoustic piano, the floor and the entire room become part of the instrument, vibrating and making a much larger sound than an electronic instrument. An electronic instrument may sound sort of like a piano, but the sound is coming from a tiny, tinny speaker, and cannot compete with the strength and richness of sound that an acoustic piano produces.

Feel

Acoustic piano keys are counter weighted, providing a certain sense of resistance in the fingers. Almost all electronic keyboards are unweighted, and the feel in the keys is very light, with no resistance. While this is acceptable at first with an electronic instrument, eventually the child will need to experience and work with the feel of real piano keys.

How To Buy

Acoustic pianos can be purchased from individuals or piano stores. You won't have much of an idea what you're getting, since a piano has 9000 moving parts, none of them familiar to non-musicians. Consult an independent professional, and never rely on the advice of a piano salesman. New acoustic pianos can cost from $1500 to $150,000. You are better off with an inexpensive upright acoustic piano unless the sky is the limit and you want to purchase a fine instrument. A child won't know the difference between a $2500 Chinese knock-off and a Steinway Concert Grand costing $115,000. The Steinway will last longer and have resale value, and the Chinese knock-off will get you 50% at best if you want to sell it.

Buying From A Private Seller

You can also look in the local papers in the spring, because people often move in late spring. At this time, owners are selling their hard-to-move pianos at fire sale prices. Electronic instruments run from $99 to thousands. I urge you to buy the least expensive keyboard that will do the job. All you need is about 48 full size keys (there are different sizes) and a piano sound. Anything more is a waste unless you plan to go into the field of audio production. An electronic keyboard may be better than an old, beat up piano. Old pianos have keys that stick and other defects that kill children's interest.

PIANO BY NUMBER

We've turned notes into numbers for happy beginners at the piano!

PLAY ALONG SONGS ARE FREE!

Our PLAY ALONG SONGS are produced by Grammy Award winner Joe Castellon of Sesame Street. They're such an important element in making the piano fun for kids!

PLAY FUN & GAMES

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