acoustic vs. digital

Posted by: Anonymous

acoustic vs. digital - 12/10/05 04:24 PM

I plan to purchase a piano and would like opinions on digital versus acoustic. I like a lot of things about acoustic, but I like the idea that digitals are always in tune and unaffected by the humidity, etc. Any input would be helpful.
Posted by: Mati

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/10/05 04:34 PM

In theory, digitals are superior to acoustic *in*the*price*range* by all means, including:

- always in tune
- gorgeous sound (or, at least, very good) sampled from acoustic grand piano of the quality you would never be able to buy
- ability to play with low volume or in headphones

and many more. However, it's digital. Even if the feel of the keyboard is really close to this of an acoustic piano, it will never play like acoustic. You will never feel the instrument resonance in hands placed on the keys, the digital will never generate as natural overtones as real strings do.

It's all about what are you going to do with it and play with it. If you are able to get a decent acoustic piano and you don't need to connect it to computer or take to gigs, I'd go with good acoustic.

Posted by: CSG

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/11/05 12:51 AM

I've got both and it depends on what you want. I had two digitals first and convince myself they were sufficient for my playing requirements. They weren't and I bought a grand. Keep in mind, an acoustic is a big commitment regarding ongoing maintenance but if you've got the budget, is ultimately more satisfying. Still, I really enjoy my Kawai with all its features - I can be a one man band.
Posted by: soldbear

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/11/05 01:09 AM

IMHO, if you can afford a good grand, by all means go for it.

But if you're thinking of an upright acoustic, get a digital instead.
Posted by: Gyro

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/11/05 01:36 PM

In my opinion there's not even a debate here,
go digital. Digitals have so many advantages
over acoustics now, that only someone with
a completely out-of-date bias against digitals
would even consider an acoustic today. In fact,
I would go so far as to say that acoustics,
as currently designed and manufactured, are
approaching obsolescence, given
the improvements that have been made
in digitals over the last 10
yrs. (pianists gave up their clavichords
and harpsichords after the pianoforte was
invented, and now its time the acoustic got
the boot, except for places like teachers'
studios, conservatory practice
rooms, piano bars, and concert halls). Check
the Members Recordings Forum--recently
posted recordings of "Walk On By" and
sonatas by Scarlatti are on digitals and
they sound like acoustic grand pianos.

Some of the advantages: key action and
sound that is now equivalent to acoustics, much
lower purchase price (you can get a digital
upright that plays like an acoustic for 700.00
new, and even less for the stage piano type),
no tuning or maintenance of any kind (the
maintenance and repair costs for an acoustic
can run into the thousands), better
technique because playing on a digital is
slightly harder than on a acoustic (a top
concert pianist today could do all his
practicing on a digital, never touch
an acoustic, and then get up on stage
and give a mesmerizing performance on
a concert grand), better durability and
reliability (with reasonable care
there should never be any problem with
a digital), instant record and playback,
computer connectivity, volume control so
you won't disturb your neighbors
(acoustic owners have to invent all
sorts of ways to mute their
instruments--why even bother), lighter weight
(even the upright style digitals can be
moved by one person), sophisticated
features on some models (ability to change
temperments, built-in computer screens,
built-in teaching software, etc.),
if you have to have a grand there are
digitals styled like grands or companies
that can gut an acoustic grand and put
digital innards in it (there's a story
going around about how a cruise ship, for
economic reasons, put digital innards in all of
their acoustic grand pianos and no one
noticed the difference), and
so forth.
Posted by: wolfindmist

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/11/05 02:51 PM

JMO If you have the budget go for having both a nice digital piano and a nice acoustic (grand or at least a nice studio upright).

If you don't plan to do gigs with your instrument but have a sufficient budget for a nicer acoustic , I'd choose a nice acoustic piano first and then later get a digital if the need or desire for a digital arises.

Nice acoustic pianos seem to almost always hold their value better than digital pianos.

But if you have a small budget; and can't get at least a nice studio vertical (or larger console) acoustic piano; digital pianos are a better option than any acoustic spinet hands down.

I was able to find a nice big vintage Henry F. Miller (1907) that was given a new life by a piano dealer's workshop. As I am a working musician; I needed the most bang for my buck and I feel fortunate I was able to find a nice used piano that fits my budget. My piano helds it's own against other fine pianos on the floor. But took a lot of legwork and patient piano hunting to find that special piano for myself.
Be sure to read Larry Fine's "The Piano Book"; it helped me a great deal to avoid the pitfalls unknowing folks can run into while hunting up their piano. And try many, many different pianos (acoustic and digital both).

I wish you well on your journey towards buying your piano. Have fun, and visit many piano dealers. If you decide to buy from a private owner get a tech to check the piano out is a smart idea to avoid buying a money pit piano that will end up disappointing you.
Posted by: Flaresofchaos

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/11/05 02:58 PM

Hi Gyro (and Goldy) ,

I play on digital myself, but I don't agree, there's no way to compare digital to acoustic.

The feeling of playing a real piano (if I haven't in a while, I'll drive to a showroom or something.) gives me a lot extra feeling, even if all else being equal. But it's not equal, a huge showroom about 40km/25miles away from me (in Culemborg) has a huge acoustic piano showroom (I sat there playing a 3 meter/9 foot Bosendorfer grand piano last time I went. \:D ) and many digitals on the top floor, so you can get a good feel for all sorts of piano's. Side by side, there's so much more expression possible on a grand, and the mechanisms of the actions feel different too. Not that the action of digitals will hinder your play, it's just different.

The sound of a real acoustic sounds 1000x better then anything digital to me. Simply because it is real, real strings produce the sound, and it's "alive", with so much more depth and caracter. Striking the first keys on an (any, even a lousy one) acoustic after months of playing digital gives me goosebumps everytime. And the expression that's possible is always amazing to me. When I struggle with dynamics on a digital, I seem to be able to get it spot on the moment I try on an acoustic piano.

Indeed digitals are great for practising, are adequate for almost any pianist, and are also adequate for most casual performing. (like on a cruiseship, as you mentioned. I'm sure casual public indeed doesn't hear/care/know the difference. That's not true for a pianistic audience though.)
However if you have some pashion for piano, there's no way to compare, and for that reason alone digitals (no matter how good they'll become) will never replace acoustic.

Now I got to stop to get some practise in tonight, on my digital. :rolleyes:
Posted by: wolfindmist

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/11/05 03:28 PM

Try out many pianos... both acoustic and digital before deciding. Listen carefully to them as they sing for you and decide what pianos can you live with. And which pianos you would dream about owning. Then go find your happy medium piano if budget is also a concern.

"Flares" is right imo; acoustic pianos usually sound better. I prefer the action of most acoustic pianos to most digitals.And what flares said about the sound and feel I agree with also.
The overtones are often a big part of the live music.

One exception here though, some lousy acoustic pianos are worthless.... I should know this as I have played some pretty "dead pianos" at gigs. Such horrid pianos don't inspire people to play them; and make it harder for the listener/ or audience to enjoy the "music". And some lousy pianos can be risky to play in terms of pianist injuries.

Just try doing a music therapy gig and having a frail 91 year old piano die on you in the middle of the group like what happend to me at the last group of the day last week. Now imagine owning such a dead piano like the one that just died on myself recently, would you really want to practice on something that is not comfortable to play and difficult if not impossible to make sing. You should try to avoid such lousy pianos as they cost you both money and valuable quality learning experiences in the long run; especially the awful pianos for whom it seems the best idea is to haul it out to the dump (hopefully not at your cost).

You want to avoid extremely lousy pianos with barely a sign of life to them. They will most likely let you down in the end; you need an "instrument" that can function well to make music for you for a long period of time.
Or a piano that can at least suffice until you have enough money and desire for "more piano" for your main piano instrument ( "axe" ).

I started out on toy type keyboards like casio's and Yamaha's (and sneaking into the college practice rooms every chance I had); but now I wish I had bought an acoustic piano much sooner than I did. That is my only regret. But it turned out better in the end, as I got a much better piano because of the longer wait and the research I did during the hunt for my piano.
Posted by: SteveY

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/11/05 07:40 PM

In theory, digitals are superior to acoustic *in*the*price*range* by all means, including:
I don't agree.

At $3k, I'd take a digital over an acoustic.
At $5k, it's a tough decision. But I'd still take the digital.
At $10k, even tougher decision. Not sure which one...
at $20k (and above), no question -- I'll take the acoustic.
Posted by: kelsnore

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/12/05 07:54 AM

There is no doubt that a good sounding grand cannot be beat. The touch, the warmth,...I can get lost in one of these! However, do you maybe want to play with tones other than a piano? This also is a great deal of fun. Do you ever plan to move your piano upstairs, outside, to a friends house? Try that with a grand! Do you want a rythym section to play along with? Many digitals have that also. I miss not being able to record, and then play back tunes that I am writing. Some keyboards have this feature also.
So think about your proposed use of the instrument, and use this for the deciding factor on which to base your decision!
Posted by: Mati

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/12/05 12:35 PM

Originally posted by SteveY:
In theory, digitals are superior to acoustic *in*the*price*range* by all means, including:
I don't agree.

At $3k, I'd take a digital over an acoustic.
At $5k, it's a tough decision. But I'd still take the digital.
At $10k, even tougher decision. Not sure which one...
at $20k (and above), no question -- I'll take the acoustic. [/b]
I have just forgot to include the price tag. I thought about <=3$k.

Posted by: JanaMG

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/12/05 01:59 PM

I think the appreciation of piano tone is partially aquired. I have both, and as I transition between them, it always takes me while to get used to the tone and to like it. Digital (my is PX700-Privia) is slightly simplified perfection in piano and acoustic (Chickering upright) has much fuller, resonant tone, but of course it is not the perfection PX700 is mimicking. I think, digitals are more practical and they became very good nowadays.
Posted by: PhilipC

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/12/05 02:13 PM

I bought a digital piano, a Yamaha CVP307, earlier this year and I'm very pleased with it. What is interesting is the way my 15 year old son has used it. He hardly touched our old acoustic piano but now he downloads midi files from the internet and puts them on the piano and plays along with them. He's actually teaching himself (albeit slowly & not the best way) to play.
Posted by: wolfindmist

Re: acoustic vs. digital - 12/12/05 05:52 PM

Digital pianos and acoustic pianos are two different axes jmo. Close to being like comparing apples to oranges.

I have an acoustic piano and love to play and listen to it.

I also have some "toy keyboards" I can plug into a PA and they sound alright (the nice PA and big speakers helps the toy keyboards sing). * I wore out a couple of them toys btw.It is pretty cool to be able to use different voices and auto rhythms on these toy keyboards. I can make the toy keyboard PSR-280 pipe organ sound pretty big on the PA system, and bypassing the cheap toy speakers the toy keyboards neighbors would probably attest to this, as sometimes just for fun I will crank up the PA system and play "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" using the Yamaha PSR-280 for them LOL. At least that toy has touch sensitive keys and I bought a nice sustain pedal for it.

But playing on the toy keyboards is less pleasing usually than playing the acoustic, and the transition form one to another takes a few minutes. And the cheaper keyboards are not as durable imo for gigging.

Plus I am seriously considering finding a keyboard with an action as close to a real acoustic as I can find. The toy keyboards gave me a good start way back then, but it was difficult at first to adjust to the switch from the keyboards to a real piano as the action is so different, and you need more finger strength to play the acoustic..

Hence I will be taking the plunge this year to buy a workhorse digital stage piano for gigs, composing, etc. I am still in the sampling stage trying to decide the best buy for my needs.

Just waiting for the right deal to come along... after the Christmas rush. I like the idea of having both a digital stage piano and an acoustic piano around. It doesn't hurt to have more than one axe to do gigs with. And if you get bored with the sound of the acoustic you just switch to the digital. Plus when friends drop by that also play; you can do some cool ensemble work together using the different voices of the digital alongside the acoustic.

One cool thing about portable stage pianos.... you can easily take them to lessons, gigs, jam sessions, etc.

Just a few more cents.

BTW It is kind of confusing having this thread on two different boards. But why should all things in life be uncomplicated anyway? LOL

Again; Best wishes on your journey to find your new instrument that suits your own needs.