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Joined: Sep 2006
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I originally posted this in the piano forum and received a heavily wieghted "pro acoustic" response. I was advised to give the digital forum an opportunity. Here goes:

First and foremost, thank you for hosting this forum. Having read through some of the previous "digital vs acoustic piano" topics I will start by listing my specifics:

1) my daugther is 9 and has been taking lessons for 2 years and making moderate progress. At home we have a Casio CTK-731 (e.g. "toy"). Her piano teacher has recommended she move up to an acoustic. Her teacher already expressed her reservations with her practicing/developing on a digital.

2) I (her Father) casually play guitar (acoustic and electric)and a little paino/keyboard. I bought the Casio primarily to play Midi files and then play along either on the keyboard or guitar. Not so relevant, but I have an interest here as well.

3) My budget is in the $2000 to $3000 range.

4) Our current expectations are not for our daughter to be a professional musician (although that could happen) but for her to get good enough at playing to really enjoy playing. I do not see anywhere in the near future where she will take a rigid classical approach. She likes a broad range of music.

5) With that, I can hear everyone saying "get a digital"! (or at least all the salespeople I have talked to). My fear is that I set her down the course of never truley connecting with her instrument or getting the most of playing because I made the disasterous decision of not getting an acoustic (or so all the teachers tell me). Most of the advice I hear is that she will never get the proper touch.

6) BTW, we are going to look at a used Yamaha T116 SE for $2300 from a private owner that bought it new a couple years ago for her children to play on. They never showed interest and so she is selling. I know it's a good deal pricewise but if we did decide to go acoustic are there clearly better choices in our budget range.

7) Please Advise.

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My feeling is that an acoustic is preferable if you have the budget, the space, and don't need the portability, or silent-practice capability. We got an inexpensive digital because we have no place even for an upright, and had a small budget.

For under $1k, it seems to me a digital is clearly preferable unless you can get a uncommon bargain on a good acoustic.

With at $2k - $3k budget, you could get a nice used Yamaha or Kawai acoustic upright. For example, I just took a look on the Baltimore, MD craigslist, and saw several good possibilities.

I think many teachers may not be up-to-date on how good the action is on current digitals. Nevertheless, I find the lower-end digitals not as responsive and delicate as a good acoustic. I have not tried high-end Kawai and Yamaha digitals, because at those price points, I would go for the acoustic.

Others may differ in their opinions!

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with your budget, it'd be good to get a best digital you can get rather than a low end accoustic within such price range. check out some home digital pianos, such as Yamaha CLP240 which is a pretty new model with almost the best Yamaha action - GH3 (graded hammer generation 3). if you can spend more, you could even go for a CLP270.

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My major preference to go digital is the fact that:

(1)Headphone can be used during the late hour practicing and not having to wake up the whole neighbourhood. This is especially important if you live in an apartment. Even if you live in a house, it is nice not to aggravate other family member during praticing (we all know how awful it sounds when we first started smile

(2)Cost: It is, in general, much cheaper to get a digital versus acoustic. A beginner, decent quality digital cost around 1-1.5k. You can actally get a pretty good digital in 2-3k range. Check out Yamaha Clavinova CLP series. Go to their showroom and mess around with it. You may be swayed.

(3)Maintenance: No tuning for digital means saving of 100-200 a year. Well, invest that in getting a few CD or even better, get youself a good set of monitor to upgrade your digital's sound system. I use a 2.1 home stereo speaker system (with amplifer) to boost my digital's sound. I'm much happier now.

(4)Midi: Whether you're into sound editing like Cakewalk or not. The option is always there! Plus, you can record your own song. It's a major plus for me.

It is much easier to invest in a good digital in the beginning because there is no proof that we must get an acoustic piano to develop technique. Of course, the sound is always only digital. But I'll stick with it until I can afford a grand smile


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My opinion is pretty simple:

- If you plan to spend $15K+ on a piano, by all means get an acoustic.

- Anything less than that, get a digital.

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In your situation I would give the vote to the Digital also.
Lots of good valid reasons are given above.

With weigted keys there is not going to be much detriment to 'technique developement" w/ the digital . At your price range, a lot of acoustics will depress their keys if you sneeze on them so
you won't get any benefit there either.

And I think if you ever want to --upgrade--it'll be easier selling a good digital vs.a more mediocre acoustic.

(I have both a G.Piano & a Digital, so there's at least a little knowledge base there for my thoughts)

Good luck... (and better luck when she bcomes a teenager)

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I say digital. You can use headphones and practice any time. For $2k-3k you can have a fairly authentic piano keyboard feel, a huge palate of different pianos, organs, harpshichords and other fun sounds to play around with, a built-in sequencer to do a little composing on, record and playback what you play on it as well as pre-recorded songs - and you can put it in the back of the SUV to take to a jam session with friends. Some digital pianos have teaching modes built in too. Very versatile and what do you sacrifice? A tiny bit of realism that is becoming less distinct with each new generation of digital piano. Unless one is a professional pianist, I just don't see the need for an accoustic. Besides, for $2k-3k I'm not really sure you're going to be able to buy a really nice accoustic except perhaps on the used market.


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I have both a Yamaha G7 acoustic and a Kurzweil Mk 10 Digital. I use them both for various reason. They both have advantages and disadvantages and I am not a bigot either way.

I don't buy into the problems with touch unless the digital does not have weighted keys. Acoustic pianos have a very wide range of touch and feel. The acoustic fans give you the impression they are all the same, they're not even close so going back and forth between a digital with weighted keys and an acoustic is no big deal and really no different than going between two very different acoustic pianos.

My sister has a digital with regular touch and I almost can't play it because it's VERY light and I'm constantly accidentally playing some key and it makes my music sound really bizarre. She, however can play it just fine because she's used to it.

I recommended a digital at our school because they would not maintain an acoustic piano. I also recommended it to my neice because she can't afford a really good acoustic. I recommended an acoustic to a friend because she used to play very well and she and her husband can afford a $20,000.00 piano.

In your situation I'd recommend a good digital, it will NOT hurt your daughter, if she shows signs of becoming REALLY good you could justify getting her a very good acoustic later. Maybe she could support you then.:-)

Just my ramblings.


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I agree with everything said so far and wanted to add that for a child being able to use various sounds besides a piano, even being able to combine them is an added fun factor that will make it want to practice more. Also most digitals today come with practice features and lessons on board already, or you can download them from site, so a real teacher might even not to be needed soon.

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Price is pretty much the issue.

I've got an $8000 acoustic and a $2500 (CAN, can't remember the price really) digital. The digital is better. (Full disclaimer: the piano was my first and wasn't really an educated purchase)

But I've played on large concert grands that just cannot be compared to any digital. I will never be able to afford one of these, short of winning a lottery.

For $3000, you're better off with a digital.

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But I've played on large concert grands that just cannot be compared to any digital. I will never be able to afford one of these, short of winning a lottery.

For $3000, you're better off with a digital.

Random..that is about as real as it gets for most pianists..the afford factor..your right about the digital.. Bob Newbie

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accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)
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Just dropping by from the technician's forum, where I mostly hang out. My heavily opinionated view follows:

Digital keyboards (remember, they are not pianos, just as a piano is not an organ, etc) have all those features mentioned above. They are practical in certain aspects. They also have drawbacks. It has been mentioned that the touch and control is not like a real piano.

But this has not been mentioned:
I believe that for someone to really take to music, they need to have a relationship with their instrument. Every guitar or flute player (or whatever) loves their instrument and cares for it. A musical instrument can be a lifelong friend and companion. I have a small collection of instruments (pianos and strings) that are twice as old as I am, and they will easily outlive me.

How can a human being have relationship with a piece of plastic and a circuit board? Keyboards are simply consumer goods - they are fun and interesting when they are new, in five years they are worthless, in seven years they are in the landfill.

Go with a real musical instrument.


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$2000/3000 to buy a real accoustic piano which would last twice as long as one's age and be a life long companion is not just a joke, is it?

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I have both an accoustic grand and several keyboards, synths, workstations and one extremely good (Yamaha CLP-170 Clavinova) digital piano.

My opinions are quite strong in this regard:

If you have the next great classical piano performer on your hands with at least a grade 8 skill level, then by all means go and purchase a top end grand piano (expect to pay $20K+++).

In your price range, there isn't an accoustic worth owning compared to an equivilantly priced digital piano.

The feel of a newer model digital piano will rival a well regulated accoustic, and certainly surpass 99% of the poorly regulated instruments out there.

As well, don't underestimate the value of the features of digital instruments (variety of voices, accompaniment, recording/sequencing, etc.) for keeping young (ond older) minds interested in practice and performance.

Consider models by Yamaha, Roland, and Kawai and you can't go wrong. There are other vendors that produce great digital instruments, but you'll need to do your homework. Lean towards the high end of your price range to get an instrument with the best touch, tone and features.

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Quote
I believe that for someone to really take to music, they need to have a relationship with their instrument. Every guitar or flute player (or whatever) loves their instrument and cares for it. A musical instrument can be a lifelong friend and companion. I have a small collection of instruments (pianos and strings) that are twice as old as I am, and they will easily outlive me.
True. And I think Signa is right as well.

I own a BIG Old (in fact twice my age) Russian upright that is low in cost (and quality). I now am away from it, and really do miss it although my main 'relationship' with it was only frustration and annoyance. Yet, I truly ‘felt’ it and was connected to it much more than I expect to be with any digital that in fact I might enjoy better and be more pleased with.


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Piano teachers tend to be very conservative about pianos. A lot of them aren't familiar with digitals so they recommend what they are familar with.

If digitals are all that bad, why do you see them in university piano classrooms and even at the conservatories? Because they are decent instruments, because they can't afford to buy grand pianos for everyone and because people can play with headphones on and not disturb other people who are practicing.

Buy the best instrument that you can afford. In your price range, it sounds like a digital. I can't think of any reason why somebody can't learn "touch" on a digital. The action isn't the same as on an acoustic, but every different piano that you play on feels different.

And since you say your daughter isn't even that interested in playing classical piano, why not go with digital? Many professional musicians use electronic keyboards these days.
I guess a lot of the piano teachers wouldn't approve, but the musicians aren't losing sleep.

For the record, I learned to play on a crummy old acoustic spinet. A few years back when I wanted to start playing again, I bought a Casio digital piano for $600. (Got a good deal from a NYC mailorder camera store....) The piano lives in my small dining area off my kitchen. When the circuit board finally gives out, I'll probably buy a Yamaha digital---a better piano than what I have got now but still something that I can use on the 5th floor of an apartment building without having space problems or noise issues with my neighbors. Not to mention never having to hire a piano tuner.

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Here's the answer that I just put in another forum:

As a piano teacher, I get this question all the time (should I buy a digital or acoustic?). This is what I tell parents:

To get a really nice acoustic piano you are going to have to spend some serious $$. Grandma's piano that you inherited just isn't going to cut it; neither will anything in the $1000-range that you find in the newspaper. And honestly, some of the acoustic pianos out there are IMO no better than a 'keyboard toy'. A nice Yamaha or Kawai is going to cost more than the $2000. My recommendation would be a Yamaha clavinova. The keys are going to have the weight necessary to develop good technique. You can get a clavinova that has only 12 voices and no other bells and whistles, or you can spend a bit more and get one with all the fun sounds, rhythms, and a floppy disk drive (many piano methods now have floppy disks that go along with each book. Kids can play their simple little song with a wonderful orchestral background - what a motivator!).


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Recently went through this, but for an experienced pianist. We tried everything under $5000, both acoustic and digital. We bought a Kawai CP175 digital. The wood kay action on the Kawai was the deal maker (and we got an exceptional deal on a top of the line digital).

More reasonably priced, our Kawai dealer offered us his Kawai CA5 floor model for just over $2000US. It has the wood keys, same as the CP175 we bought. Not as many voices, but it's still a great instrument.

On the acoustic side we were looking at a Yamaha U1 or Kawai studio upright, but the Kawai digital was just too good of a deal to pass up. Not to mention the $600/yr upkeep we no longer have to pay for tuning and maintenance.


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If you're limit is $3000, I can't imagine why anyone would try and convince you to buy an acoustic. I love acoustic pianos as much as anyone on this forum, but I don't know of any $3000 acoustic pianos I'd want to practice on.

Here are some recordings I did on my Yamaha Clavinova (it's a CLP-175, but there are much less expensive Clavinovas that sound just as good that should fit your budget): http://raktron.com/piano/

Eventually, I hope to purchase an acoustic grand that will sound as good when recorded, but I also expect it to cost at least 5 times more than what I paid for my digital. Good luck with your purchase.

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