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#2007372 - 01/01/13 09:06 AM Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice?  
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Inca Offline
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Hi, I'm a piano beginner and have been taking lessons for about a month. I have to practice at a keyboard at home but since I know that I will continue playing the piano I thought about getting myself a real instrument.
I may have about 1500 Dollars, maybe a bit more, which I can spend. I know that this is not a lot that's why I thought about buying myself an electric one or an used acoustic one, because a new one I couldn't afford. I've already checked some offers for used acoustic pianos in my neighborhood and there are plenty of offers for about that price. Since I'm not an expert I do not know whether these are good offers or not.

I will have to practice some year on that instrument so the question which one to get is pretty important. That's why I made a list of pros and cons for acoustic and for electric.

Electric:
+Cheaper
+Different tones (This isn't really important to me)
+Headphones
+No tuning necessary
-Not the original instrument
-Other quality of playing

Acoustic:
+The original instrument
+Should be the best way to learn how to play the piano properly
-I would have to buy a used one
-No headphones
-Yearly tuning necessary


Some other questions:
*How much should I spend to get a good electric / acoustic (used) one?
*What should I watch out for buying a used one?
*What are some brands you can recommend me?
*Any models I should check out? (Especially regarding electric pianos)

So what do you think? What would be the best choice for someone like me?

Edit: Maybe I should mention that I want to play mostly classical.

Last edited by Inca; 01/01/13 09:08 AM.
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#2007374 - 01/01/13 09:11 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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Acoustic is better. I have owned a huge number of digital pianos over many years and only recently have I seen the light! I own a couple of digitals because there are tangible benefits such as the ability to play with headphones but my main piano is now a Kawai upright and it is infinitely more rewarding to play than any digital.

That said, your budget is too small to get yourself a decent used Yamaha or Kawai upright so you would be looking at older instruments and/or ones that frankly were less good when they were new. There will be a decent used upright piano out there at your budget but it might take a very dedicated search to find it. Maybe until you have more money digital is the best option for you....if you want particular recommendations on which models to look for then ask a question over on the digital piano forum.

#2007396 - 01/01/13 10:49 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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IMO there is no right or wrong answer to this. I can tell you my own experience though. I always wanted to play piano and when I was fortunate enough to afford to follow this desire,I bought a $1500 good sounding and feeling digital to learn on(Kohler KD26 made by Samick). Because like most beginners I had unrealistic expectations of the work and time involved to get enough experience to call what I played music grin and didn't want to crap out after a year or so after spending big bucks on a an acoustic. I thought it might take me a year to learn to play well ha

After a couple years I knew it would be something I wanted dispite the time/work involved to stick with it and then I shelled out for an Yamaha U1 which, while not a top line grand I am so happy with it. AFA the tuning and maintenance issue; don't you change your oil at regular intervals and maintain the upkeep on the cars you own? Why not bum rides or walk everywhere? laugh To me this is a non issue.

In maybe 5 more years I will move up to a better piano. I have had to adjust my technique somewhat to the touch of the acoustic but it isn't a steep learning curve at all. Playing different ones is valuable to as they all have there own tone and touch. Good luck in your search, get what feels good/right and is affordable HTH. Sorry for the essay response.


Ragdoll

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#2007398 - 01/01/13 10:53 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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... Yearly tuning necessary

I think you should consider more frequent tunings.

Since you have a limited budget, consider renting a piano. You can then move up considerably in quality and you'll have more time to look for other pianos. Just a thought.



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#2007409 - 01/01/13 11:19 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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Digital pianos have come a long way... and, as has been mentioned, there are definite advantages to owning a digital.

However, there is no substitute for a real, acoustic piano. Even though they can be a lot of trouble and expense, and have to be tuned and serviced, the blend of sounds and colors can't be matched by a digital, even when it is slightly out of tune. I call that "having a personality" all it own, of sorts (both good and bad smile ).

Good luck!

Rick



Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#2007419 - 01/01/13 11:49 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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Some things to remember: One important thing to remember, is that if you buy a good quality piano, first of all, you will enjoy it much more because it will sound and play better than a crummy quality piano will.

You will have fewer problems with it too generally speaking, whereas if you buy a crappy new piano or a crappy used piano that was no good to begin with and then was rarely tuned, you can count on having problems with a piano like that from the get go.

As a technician that has tuned thousands and thousands of pianos over the past 40 some years, I can hear and feel the difference the minute I set down and play a digital piano. To me, there is no comparison to an acoustic piano.

That said, I do own a 88 note digital that I've had for many years and I have a lot of fun with it sometimes. But, 95 % of the time I play, I am playing on my Schimmel. I own 2 acoustic pianos too.

So, just a little more food for thought.


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
#2007464 - 01/01/13 02:06 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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I would echo Jerry's comments and add a few of my own:

I am an adult beginning student who started with a good quality digital piano. My plan was to start on the digital and after a year or two of practice start looking for a high quality used baby grand.

Shortly after I began my lessons, I happened across a nice 5'7" Kimball grand that was in decent shape and cost me nothing but the expense to move it. With a reasonable amount invested to have my technician replace the key bushings and regulate it, I will have a good, solid acoustic instrument to play (he is coming tomorrow to remove the action and take it to his shop for the work.)

All I can say is that my digital piano has been collecting dust ever since. Even with sloppy keys and some lost motion that the regulation will clear up, the difference between the two is immeasurable.

With this experience I would encourage anyone who is serious about playing to get an acoustic piano, even if they can't play it 100% of the time.

Good luck!

Dan

#2007465 - 01/01/13 02:09 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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If you want to play acoustic piano, get an acoustic piano. If you want to play a digital piano, get a digital instrument. They are only equivalent for the barest beginner.


Semipro Tech
#2007468 - 01/01/13 02:18 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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Bob Newbie Offline
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Other than a need to play with headphones(silent) I'd go for an acoustic..
I'd keep my digital (p60) and buy a acoustic grand... smile

#2007490 - 01/01/13 03:07 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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Eventually you will want one of each.


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
#2007526 - 01/01/13 04:39 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Dave B]  
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Originally Posted by Dave B
Eventually you will want one of each.


That has never been the case for me. I do not want any of one, nor just one of the other.


Semipro Tech
#2007530 - 01/01/13 04:41 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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I'm probably one of very few people here who play almost exclusively classical music but whose main instrument is a digital, for the very good reason that I can't have an acoustic where I live (in a small apartment surrounded by neighbors), because I'd never be able to play it at normal volumes: I use my DP - which has no speakers - exclusively with headphones. But I did choose my digital carefully, and it's one of very few that can emulate almost all the subtleties of an acoustic, so I've had no problem switching from it to acoustic grands, which I play on occasionally when I'm downtown.

But for a beginner, I'd still recommend that you learn on a good acoustic (or at least have regular access to one). The problem is that even today, very few DPs are good enough to allow the learner pianist to develop fine control of touch, tone, voicing and dynamics, and subtleties of pedaling. Those with weighted keys are OK to develop finger technique (up to a basic level), but for classical music, you need a lot more. It's all too easy to spot those pianists who've learnt exclusively on DPs from those who learnt playing on acoustics, when visiting piano showrooms.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#2007538 - 01/01/13 04:48 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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i bought electric first, and then when i knew that i wasn't going to quit (most people quit after their first year) i purchased an acoustic.


Essex EUP-123S

#2007610 - 01/01/13 07:22 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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Hi Inca,

"So what do you think? What would be the best choice for someone like me?"

There may not be really enough information about you. Are you a high school student about to go off to college or what are your other circumstances besides wanting to learn to play?


David



#2007613 - 01/01/13 07:28 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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To me your post makes it sound like you desire an acoustic instrument. I think that's the direction you should go.

$1,500 can get you a quality used instrument, depending on where you live. In my locale there is currently a Yamaha console piano in superb condition (yes, recently tuned, etc.) and the asking price is $1,400.

I think something like that would be a nice instrument for you.


Pianist and Piano Teacher
#2007619 - 01/01/13 07:49 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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No doubt you want an acoustic piano the way you describe things. Once you find one you like, consider hirining a tech to look over the piano before you buy it. Good luck and please share your piano story with us here!


My piano channel on YouTube: Link
#2007622 - 01/01/13 07:54 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Dave B]  
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Amaruk Offline
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Originally Posted by Dave B
Eventually you will want one of each.


So true!


My piano channel on YouTube: Link
#2007677 - 01/01/13 10:02 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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I think since you already have a keyboard, you can use that for silent practicing. Get an acoustic that you can grow into, and for now used seems to be the best option. Yamahas are great pianos, but you may end up paying more than you'd like. Perhaps consider some lesser-known names with the understanding that this will not be your final piano purchase, and you'll most likely upgrade in a couple of years.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#2007710 - 01/01/13 11:28 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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Inca

Normally I would also recommend you get an acoustic.

With your budget and situation however, I want to recommend that you consider a Kawai MP6 Stage Piano.

The price is right in line with your budget and it might make a lot of sense for you.

One great advantage of a stage piano is portability.

I recently recommended this model to both the orchestra with which I am affiliated and a piano teacher friend of mine. They are both thrilled with it.

Practice hard and enjoy it!

#2007767 - 01/02/13 02:05 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Dave B]  
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Originally Posted by Dave B
Eventually you will want one of each.


I agree with this sentiment. If you are beginning, a DP may suit you well. It has many benefits. The truth is, if you're just beginning to study, you will not recognize the differences immediately. When you feel as if you're ready to upgrade, you will always have the DP. I played my DP for hours on end. Now that I have an acoustic, it is my preference but the DP is unparalleled when I want to play privately with headphones. My daughter also plays so we can practice at the same time. You'd be surprised at how we are each motivated by the other. In other words, when one of us practices, the other wants to too. Of course, she alway takes over the acoustic but at least we can both practice at the same time. So in short, you will definitely want one of each. A DP is a good start.

#2007803 - 01/02/13 05:29 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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If you`ve access to a big piano shop, or there`s a lot of acoustics or digitals for sale privately, see and play as many as you can. Play them all; there are some dreadful acoustics out there. Don`t get stuck with one of them. You don`t need a big name. Baldwin acoustics are great, I think..


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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#2007831 - 01/02/13 08:39 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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Inca Offline
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Thank you all for your answers, I really appreciate them.
I thought about my situation again and I do now think that I will have to get a digital one. The point is that in the near future I will have to have a possibility to train playing the piano silently. In a about two years I will start college and since I can't afford a huge place for my own playing an acoustic piano will be almost impossible.
So I think that I will go with a digital piano, but a pretty good one, and later in life when I have the money and the space for it I can get myself a decent acoustic piano.

#2007845 - 01/02/13 09:41 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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Originally Posted by Inca
Thank you all for your answers, I really appreciate them.
I thought about my situation again and I do now think that I will have to get a digital one. The point is that in the near future I will have to have a possibility to train playing the piano silently. In a about two years I will start college and since I can't afford a huge place for my own playing an acoustic piano will be almost impossible.
So I think that I will go with a digital piano, but a pretty good one, and later in life when I have the money and the space for it I can get myself a decent acoustic piano.


Given the fact that you will be away at college, a digital is the way to go, and I recommend like a previous poster did, that you go for a stage piano. You will have to purchase a stand separately (as well as a bench), but the portability factor is really important. You may also want to consider buying a case for it. I'm not sure what the living conditions will be like at college, but chances are keeping the piano out at all times will not be an option (and might be better protection from random wandering fingers) to be able to put it away when you're done practicing.

I recommend a table stand which IMO is much better than the X ones which can be wobbly. You may be able to get some stage pianos with a nice stand, but you'll want to make sure it can fold up as storing it in a dorm room with already limited space might be an issue. I recommend this stand: table stand .

As for which digital, you will definitely want to go around and play as many as you can. Good ones to check out would be Roland (I like the feel, not as great a piano sound), Yamaha (better sound, not as great a feel IMO), and Casio Privias (a great bargain). You probably will want to bring headphones with you because the on-board speakers on many digitals are pretty poor.


private piano/voice teacher FT

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#2009322 - 01/05/13 08:47 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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I own both digitial and acoustic. I tend to agree with other that nothing sounds like a piano more than an acoustic piano ... that said college does demand a digital ... as an idea you might look for a good digital to practice on. Often your local church or the music department at school have digitals to practice on. At my college they even have a (very well worn) Steinway grand in the student union that has its own practice room for people to come in and play

Good luck, it's a life long journey


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#2009334 - 01/05/13 09:37 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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I'm a beginner, too, who owns just a DP but takes lessons on an acoustic. They are simply different worlds. DPs (in your/my budget) are nothing but decent emulations of real sounds and touch. Their keybed tends to imitate grands instead of uprights, which are (as far as I know) very much difficult to "ride". Cheap uprights are like cheap old cars: good to learn how to drive. DPs are like F1 emulators. If you have a decent ear, you'll never love them.Besides, an acoustic ressonance is felt with the whole body and that's only for the very high end DPs to reach. But they are all what most of us can afford.
Anyway, there aren't two identical accoustic pianos, so by definition there's no such thing as a realistic DP, in a strict sense.
In your situation I'd choose a decent slab to practice and have fun. But don't you expect to learn it all from it, as you'll need to be able to adapt your playing to each different piano you met.

Last edited by mabraman; 01/05/13 09:40 AM.

Learning piano from scratch since September, 2012.
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#2009363 - 01/05/13 10:41 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bennevis
I'm probably one of very few people here who play almost exclusively classical music but whose main instrument is a digital, for the very good reason that I can't have an acoustic where I live (in a small apartment surrounded by neighbors), because I'd never be able to play it at normal volumes: I use my DP - which has no speakers - exclusively with headphones. But I did choose my digital carefully, and it's one of very few that can emulate almost all the subtleties of an acoustic, so I've had no problem switching from it to acoustic grands, which I play on occasionally when I'm downtown.

But for a beginner, I'd still recommend that you learn on a good acoustic (or at least have regular access to one). The problem is that even today, very few DPs are good enough to allow the learner pianist to develop fine control of touch, tone, voicing and dynamics, and subtleties of pedaling. Those with weighted keys are OK to develop finger technique (up to a basic level), but for classical music, you need a lot more. It's all too easy to spot those pianists who've learnt exclusively on DPs from those who learnt playing on acoustics, when visiting piano showrooms.
Could you please tell us which digital you play, I am looking for one and sounds like you have a model I would be interested in. Thank you.

#2009378 - 01/05/13 11:25 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: son]  
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bennevis Online content
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Originally Posted by son
Originally Posted by bennevis
I'm probably one of very few people here who play almost exclusively classical music but whose main instrument is a digital, for the very good reason that I can't have an acoustic where I live (in a small apartment surrounded by neighbors), because I'd never be able to play it at normal volumes: I use my DP - which has no speakers - exclusively with headphones. But I did choose my digital carefully, and it's one of very few that can emulate almost all the subtleties of an acoustic, so I've had no problem switching from it to acoustic grands, which I play on occasionally when I'm downtown.

But for a beginner, I'd still recommend that you learn on a good acoustic (or at least have regular access to one). The problem is that even today, very few DPs are good enough to allow the learner pianist to develop fine control of touch, tone, voicing and dynamics, and subtleties of pedaling. Those with weighted keys are OK to develop finger technique (up to a basic level), but for classical music, you need a lot more. It's all too easy to spot those pianists who've learnt exclusively on DPs from those who learnt playing on acoustics, when visiting piano showrooms.
Could you please tell us which digital you play, I am looking for one and sounds like you have a model I would be interested in. Thank you.


It's the Roland V-Piano, one of only two digitals that are fully modeled (the other one is its big brother, the V-Piano Grand which is the V-Piano plus a few extra presets housed in a grand piano cabinet with dedicated speakers) rather than sampled, i.e. the sound is generated from scratch when the key goes down, rather than from pre-existing recorded samples which are then processed, which is what happens on all other digitals. The modeling gives the V that amazing connection between the way you play and the sound that comes out, which IMO is almost uncanny in its realism: it's the only digital on which I can forget (while I'm playing, that is - its slab appearance doesn't look anything like a real piano: for that you need the Grand version, which costs a lot more) that I'm not playing on a fully mechanical instrument, with all its resonances and its response to touch and articulation etc.

It's exactly what it is: a purely acoustic piano substitute, with no concessions made to those who want some non-piano sounds. All of its 28 preset sounds (30 in the Grand version) are piano sounds, but all are fully customizable by the user - you can alter the tuning, the tone color, the pedal effects, the various resonances, the hammer hardness, the sustain and damping levels etc. to your heart's content. I have several of my own customizations based on all the well-known brands of acoustic pianos (from Steinway and Yamaha to Fazioli and Bösendorfer) stored in its memory - you can store up to 100.

But you really need to play it for yourself to find this out. In my experience, the more used you are to playing on acoustics (I'd been playing on acoustics since I was 10, and never tried digitals until three years ago, when I decided I needed my own piano, and then set off on an extensive search) and the more you're inclined towards classical music (where it's not just the notes but how you play them), the more you appreciate its qualities above those of other (sampled) digitals. I suggest that you don't just use the factory preset sounds when you audition, but increase all the resonances to +40 and the 'decay time' to +70 (which is about concert grand level). If you want a brighter sound (e.g. you prefer the Yamaha sound to a Steinway or Blüthner), just increase the tone color to +1 or +2.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
#2009382 - 01/05/13 11:40 AM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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leemax Offline
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leemax  Offline
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Like Bennevis, I play classical music pretty much exclusively, but the only instrument I have is a digital piano (Casio Celviano AP-620). I have owned or had access to an acoustic upright pretty much all of my life, (50-plus years!) buta couple of years ago, for various reasons, I decided to part with the acoustic and get the Celviano. Overall, I have been very happy with the choice, especially since my poor old acoustic was getting pretty long in the tooth and was going to be needing more and more work done on it. I'm happy with the soundand touch, I don't seem to have any problem switching to an AP when I have the chance to play one, but the main advantage for me is the ability to practice with headphones. Early morning is the best time for me to practice, and with an AP I just couldn't do that. There are, of course, lots of threads on here about the relative merits of DP and AP, but I just thought I would put my two cents in here. Since I think that many of us here play only for our own enjoyment and will never be performing in public we need to only have something that makes us happy when we play it, right? Cheers!


Lee
#2009475 - 01/05/13 03:09 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: Inca]  
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4evrBeginR Offline
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4evrBeginR  Offline
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I agree with others' comments. As acoustic piano substitutes, digital pianos are getting pretty good, but they are not a perfect simulation. I don't know if there is always going to be a need for acoustic pianos, but at the moment, acoustic is still more enjoyable to listen to and practice on.

When evaluating whether to go acoustic or digital, I think one needs to preference an acoustic piano, but if there are requirements that an acoustic piano cannot address, silent practicing, lack of tuning budget, a digital may be better. An entry level Yamaha Clavinova (well within your budget) comes with a 5-year warranty, and they usually last much longer than just 5 years, so for the period of time you would own it, it is maintenance free. With acoustic pianos, you should budget at least $200 a year for tuning and servicing, which give you about 2 tunings; good tuners cost even more. If you buy a used acoustic piano, it's hard to predict how much service you will need initially. Then again you could get lucky.

A digital piano holds its tune better than any acoustic piano. In a discussion with another forum member, I think this static never changing nature of the digital piano eventually seemed fake to him, so ironically, a superior aspect of digital could become undesireable.

Finally an acoustic piano is more difficult to play well compared to a digital one. Personally, I have not yet reconciled whether it matters for me to play an acoustic piano well versus a digital one when I have no desire to perform. Logically, I only need to play MY piano well, but on occasion when I have the chance to play some rather nice acoustics, I'm always glad that I do practice on an acoustic. As I said, I haven't figured that one out yet.

#2009490 - 01/05/13 03:39 PM Re: Electric vs acoustic piano? Whats the best choice? [Re: 4evrBeginR]  
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bennevis Online content
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bennevis  Online Content
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Originally Posted by 4evrBeginR


A digital piano holds its tune better than any acoustic piano. In a discussion with another forum member, I think this static never changing nature of the digital piano eventually seemed fake to him, so ironically, a superior aspect of digital could become undesireable.


Er....a digital never goes out of tune. Unless you deliberately detune it, which you can do with individual (virtual) strings on the V-Piano. And of course, many DPs also allow you to access unequal temperaments like Kirnberger, meantone, Werckmeister etc which can sound out of tune to modern ears.

I do agree with you about the 'static' nature of the sampling sound production in most DPs, which is probably the reason why many people get bored with their new DP within just a few months, and keep looking to 'upgrade', or buy new sound samples to upload on software to change the sound - there're plenty of threads in the Digital Piano forum about this.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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