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Piano vs keyboard
#3037485 10/19/20 05:22 PM
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Is it true that the piano is much more difficult to play than a keyboard, for the following reasons:

1. On the acoustic piano, unless your fingers strike the keys evenly, it does not sound good. The keyboard is much more forgiving because the sound coming from the keyboard is a simulated sound.

2. The piano keys are heavier, thus, requiring the player to have more finger strength.

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Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037509 10/19/20 06:29 PM
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I have a 50-year old Baldwin spinet and a 4 month old Casio PX-S3000.
When I'm playing poorly, I sound crappy on both.
I don't find either one harder to play than the other, and both sound OK to my amateur ears.

The simulated sound is still a very good sound, and doesn't make it any easier to sound good.

The one advantage the electric keyboard has is that I can turn it WAY down or listen with headphones, and then it doesn't sound bad to anyone but me...

Last edited by trooplewis; 10/19/20 06:30 PM.

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Nope, no issues with it at all.
Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037513 10/19/20 06:42 PM
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I don’t think that it’s so much that the piano is harder to play as it is that there is more that you can do with it, more variety of tone that you can produce, which takes more skill to master.

This assumes that by “keyboard” you are referring to cheap keyboards with spring-weighted keys, i.e. not a digital piano.

But if by “keyboard” you mean “anything that is not an acoustic piano” then that’s a whole different story. The best digital pianos approach what an acoustic can do and can cope with as much skill as the pianist can throw at them.


Yamaha U1. Yamaha P-45. Yamaha RD-250 (a long time ago). smile
Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037539 10/19/20 08:08 PM
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I find the opposite. I have a Yamaha C3 grand, and a Yamaha keyboard - I think it is a P45, anyway it has weighted keys.
I find the keyboard much more difficult to control.

The keyboard is too light, and moves when I play.
The black keys are too short - there is a noticeable difference in touch between the black keys and the white keys.
The bass of the keyboard is too loud - real pianos, except for concert grands, don't have booming basses.
I frequently notice software glitches, like a note that is too loud for no reason.

I am not imagining these problems, in case you think that. I am very experienced, and play on the grand 99+% of the time. But when I travel, I take the keyboard to practice on, and notice the problems every time.

Sma

Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037565 10/19/20 09:38 PM
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Don't like to generalize as if all pianos & keyboards are alike. Every time I go to a piano store I'd try different keyboards from Roland, Yamaha, Casio & Decibell. They all feel different and few models are exactly the same. Whether an acoustic is made to feel heavy or light is a matter of preference. I talked to piano technicians who can adjust the weight of the keys regardless of how a piano feels initially. You can't make an acoustic feel like a cheap keyboard with a soft-touch because the keys have a certain weight.

I had a 61 keyboard with soft-touch keys before getting an 88 DP. The keys have a tendency to stay down longer than the required beats since the keys have little weight. Have to make an effort to lift the keys when the phrase is not supposed to sound slurred. A semi-weight keyboard is closer to an acoustic grand piano. The problem is playing chords with B&W keys together. You'd touch adjacent key occasionally. When playing an acoustic with heavier keys touching another key is not enough to make it sound. A keyboard with lighter keys touching another key is enough to cause an echo.

I played on acoustic uprights at a community center. Besides being in tune all the time, the keys are very heavy. I played on a few grand pianos which are lighter and more like the DP I have at home. Once I practiced the first movement of the Bach Italian Concerto in F for 2 1/2 weeks at home. Then went to a Christmas gathering and played the 4m piece on an old acoustic. After a few minutes warm-up, the transition was seamless. Just happened to be playing on an acoustic with lighter keys. The weight of piano keys can be adjusted by a technician if it's your own. Otherwise you have to play with whatever is available.

It's best to stick to 1 instrument you're comfortable playing so some professionals would ship an acoustic grand piano half way across the country like people who would take their guitars & violins to travel. Piano teachers recommend students play on different pianos since each has a different feel.

Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037567 10/19/20 09:48 PM
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One of the things that can make an inexpensive DP actually feel heavier and harder to control than an acoustic is the up-weight.

The DP will be set up to have a key down-weight / touch-weight round about 50 grams, which is what you would expect from an acoustic with the pedal down. But on many DPs, the spring or weight is always pushing back up at you with that same force, even at the end of the keystroke after you've played the note.

Whereas on an acoustic, the key gets disconnected from the hammer at the end of the stroke, and no longer pushes back up with as much force. So the whole action of releasing the key feels very different from pressing it.

I find this lack of change in force very disconcerting on a DP and makes it hard to control and play well compared with an acoustic. Some high end DPs do better in this regard.

Last edited by scirocco; 10/19/20 09:49 PM.

Yamaha U1. Yamaha P-45. Yamaha RD-250 (a long time ago). smile
Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037576 10/19/20 10:39 PM
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A few years ago I worked on a few Christmas songs and played them at a gathering. The practice was on a Yamaha DP and the playing was on a Kawai DP. The transition wasn't too bad. I'm used to playing on DPs more than acoustics.

Electronic keyboards do breakdown. Once I had problem with a key and took it to the Yamaha repair center across town. Found out that the keys are like the ones on a TV remote. Between the plastic top & the mechanism underneath each key is a rubber pad. It gives the touch-sensitive feel and can break over time. The rubber pad isn't expensive but adding on the 1h labor cost to replace the rubber piece I'd be better off buying a new keyboard.

Acoustic pianos do wear down over many years. Keyboards get replaced more frequently since the cost of fixing a small problem is not justified. The middle keys of a piano wear down faster since they are more frequently played. There are pianos in old churches with keys that are chipped at the corner and can cut your fingers easily. And some have 1 or more broken keys but continued to be in use since the other keys are still OK. Depending on how much an acoustic piano is played, the condition can vary. I've seen an old piano sitting in a public library with the front cover and a few keys broken but was in use for at least 2 years before it was replaced. You rarely see DPs in such a poor condition and still in use. Pianos in people's homes tend to be in better condition than ones in public places.

Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037579 10/19/20 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by GHN
1. On the acoustic piano, unless your fingers strike the keys evenly, it does not sound good. The keyboard is much more forgiving because the sound coming from the keyboard is a simulated sound.

learning to strike the keys evenly isn't the biggest issue. The problem is the sound coming from a keyboard can be too forgiving, and lack texture and feeling.


Originally Posted by GHN
2. The piano keys are heavier, thus, requiring the player to have more finger strength.

Different acoustic pianos will feel heavier than others, so it comes down to preference. Incidentally the digital piano industry has been trying for many years to make a digital piano that has the same feel as a good grand piano. I think my own digital piano comes close to it, but of course there can be no substitute for the real thing.


Following Trying to follow the Ling Ling 40 hour method

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Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037581 10/19/20 11:40 PM
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For many of us who live in a building, we don't have a choice but a DP with volume control & headphones. 1 man I met lives in a building with nice neighbors who appreciated his piano playing.

Before the lockdown in March, I used to go to the local conservatory regularly to practice on their acoustic pianos. After that I had to content with my DP at home.

Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037595 10/20/20 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by GHN
Is it true that the piano is much more difficult to play than a keyboard, for the following reasons:

1. On the acoustic piano, unless your fingers strike the keys evenly, it does not sound good. The keyboard is much more forgiving because the sound coming from the keyboard is a simulated sound.

2. The piano keys are heavier, thus, requiring the player to have more finger strength.

I grew up with a baby grand. Quit playing through my adult years, and re-started playing piano around age 50.

I first bought a Korg X5D -- it's an old synth, and doesn't have weighted keys. I found that, because the keys were lightly-sprung, it was hard for me to get good control over dynamics:

... I got a Casio PX-350 (DP, weighted keys) within 6 months.

That fixed the problem.

So I'd take your statement, and using my own experience, reverse it:

Quote
The keyboard (that is, an instrument with touch-sensitive, synth-action (unweighted) keys is harder to play than a piano:

1. On an acoustic piano (or "digital piano" with weighted keys), the weight of the keys allows you to have much better control over dynamics, than you have on a synth-action keyboard.

2. The need for more finger strength on the piano (which you develop naturally as you practice), is the cost of having that dynamic control.

Now, if your keyboard has keys that _aren't_ touch-sensitive -- like an organ, it gives the same volume no matter how hard you strike the key -- it's really easy to play with even loudness.

. . . But it's _very_ hard to play with expression.

That's a trade-off I refuse to make.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037619 10/20/20 04:24 AM
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After reading all the pros & cons of having a piano vs a keyboard, I couldn't see myself having an acoustic. I had a few lessons at age 5 that didn't get anywhere. The family had a Yamaha upright for a month and then it was given away.

When I picked up playing again 3 decades later, I wanted playing to be fun & engaging without any reminder of the past. I tolerated the mediocre piano sound on a keyboard as a compromise. Besides having extra sound effects at my disposal, I needed an instrument that can travel. I belong to a music group and would take the keyboard to places where a piano is not available. A more personal reason is to be able to practice away from home when there is too much stress. Other family members weren't keen to see me practice for hours. The option of using headphones is an advantage but I feel the need to be away somewhere not to be bombarded with negative comments.

In the beginning the keyboard wouldn't be on a stand fixed in 1 spot in a room. When I'm done with practice, it is stored in the back closet out of sight. I do have enough room at home for an acoustic but prefer something that isn't visible to everybody.

Re: Piano vs keyboard
GHN #3037680 10/20/20 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by GHN
Is it true that the piano is much more difficult to play than a keyboard, for the following reasons...
This is wrong fundamentally. The piano is easier to play because the sound is organic and the keys weighted naturally (bigger heavier hammers at the bottom end, smaller lighter hammers at the top). The weighting of the keys is such that control is tactile and gives feedback that leads to control but not so heavy that finger strength is at all an issue. A small child with regular and frequent access to an acoustic piano in the home will quickly develop all the control needed.

The piano with weighted keys will be easier to control but the keyboard without touch sensitive keys will inherently be more even, which is better if the player has no control but worse if the player is trying to learn control or create expression. With a touch sensitive keyboard it is harder to feel what the keys are doing before the sound occurs so control is dreadfully difficult to develop or exercise. Better to play it via a weighted MIDI keyboard or a programmed MIDI sequence. It's easier if the player has already developed technique and control on weighted keys.

The acoustic piano will have a better sound, by default, because its sound is organic and has the sound of a piano. The keyboard sounds like a piano but not the same as a piano. A very well made concert grand will have a wide dynamic range and offer greater levels of control at the extremes of quiet and loud passages but will demand (or train) more skill from the player in order to achieve it. A typical upright piano will have a narrower dynamic range with less control being needed or offered. Playing quietly with control is harder on cheaper acoustics. Enter the high-end digital where the sound is no longer organic but compensates by a offering higher quality keyboard that can control the volume better at lower levels despite a typically smaller dynamic range.


Richard

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