Piano or Keyboard?

One important question to ask when looking for a new instrument is; do I want a piano or keyboard? Although the lines between the two can be somewhat blurred with some instruments being more of a hybrid rather than one or the other, there are some general rules on what sets the two apart.

Generally, a keyboard is less than full length, most of the time having 76 or 61 keys and often these keys are spring-action rather than weighted. A keyboard is a rhythm-based instrument, meaning that it will contain a range of styles that can act as backing tracks to the melody and are controlled via the notes played in the bottom section of the instrument. These are often used as accompaniments for a large variety of different instruments and there is often a feature which will match styles and voices together.



A digital piano is often identified as having a full length, 88-key keyboard and weighted keys. They generally will not have built-in styles like a keyboard but often will have a variety of voices. Entry-level digital pianos may have about 10 voices and you can get some with hundreds, depending on the player’s needs. If you are hoping to learn to play piano music and technique and can’t get an acoustic piano, then a digital piano is the instrument for you.

Of course, there is a huge variety when it comes to both keyboards and digital pianos. Entry-level keyboards will generally contain fewer styles, voices and features in general and as you move up in quality, all of these will increase and factors such as instrument sampling and sound, in general, will improve. Entry-level digital pianos will usually include about 10 voices and not many features. They will have a weighted, full-length keyboard but as you move up the ranges, the touch will improve along with the sound and additional features will be included.

Of course, these differences are generalised and may not always apply, but are a good guide when trying to find the differences between a piano and keyboard.

Our Edinburgh store is a stunning Yamaha Boutique, with an impressive range of keyboards, digital and acoustic pianos. Come on down and see us, let us help you make the important decision.

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