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Differences Between Digital Pianos, Keyboards, and Traditional Pianos

Main Differences Between Digital and Other Pianos

This article will quickly compare the main differences between digital pianos and traditional pianos, as well as digital pianos and keyboards.

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Digital Pianos VS Traditional Pianos

There are quite a few differences between a traditional piano and a digital piano. Here is a quick look at some of the main differences:

Digital Pianos

  • Digital pianos run on electricity
  • Electric pianos don’t have to be tuned (one of my favorite features!)
  • Electronic pianos can be adjusted to mimic the sound of other musical instruments, such as the pipe organ or electric guitar
  • You can choose digital pianos with weighted or non-weighted keys (weighted feel more like a traditional piano)
  • Digital pianos are usually smaller, lighter, and much more portable
  • You can use headphones on digital pianos or lower the volume when practicing (my husband’s favorite feature, haha!)
  • Digital pianos can be connected to amplifiers to produce more sound
  • Digital pianos are better equipped for beginners, pop music players, and singer-songwriters
  • If you want a new piano, digital pianos are usually much more affordable
  • Unless you spend thousands, most digital pianos don’t offer the same organic sound quality as acoustic pianos (but beginning players usually won’t hear the difference)

Traditional Pianos

  • Traditional pianos use a series of string cords and hammers to produce sound
  • Traditional pianos need to be manually tuned (a yearly cost)
  • These pianos are non-electric and cannot be used on amplifiers (without an installed adapter)
  • The keys of traditional pianos are always weighted
  • Acoustic or traditional pianos tend to take up more space compared to digital pianos
  • Acoustic pianos are louder compared to a standard digital (without an amplifier)
  • Acoustic pianos are better for classical players
  • Acoustic pianos can be more affordable if you are willing to shop in the used section (but we are going to discuss what you get for your money in another article)
  • Acoustic pianos can be very heavy and are expensive to move

Digital Pianos VS Keyboards

While shopping for electric pianos, you will quickly see a lot of “keyboards” and “digital pianos”. Both of these pianos are electric and look very similar, but there are some huge differences between these two different types of pianos.

Here is a quick look at the main differences between these two pianos:

Digital Pianos

  • These instruments are designed to replicate acoustic pianos in feel, look, and sound
  • There are lots of different types available including upright, grand piano, and cabinet piano
  • Digital pianos offer musicians more authenticity compared to keyboards
  • Digital pianos are more sensitive to pressure thanks to graded hammer key technology (this allows them to produce louder tones the harder you press the keys)
  • Digital pianos have pedals where keyboard pianos do not usually support this feature (some keyboards do have the ability to plug in pedals though)


  • These pianos go where you go; they are designed with portability in mind
  • They are ideal for musicians of various backgrounds
  • The pianos are light in weight
  • They generally have 61 or 76 keys
  • These pianos are played using a specific keyboard style (which is a combination of rhythms and accompaniments)
  • You can pick other musical instruments or rhythms (like drums) to play with your left hand while playing the melody using your right hand
  • Keyboards are programed with hundreds or thousands of tones and they have a lot of customization options so you can tune the sound according to your likes
  • They are typically more affordable
  • The keys of keyboards are usually soft and they don’t have graded key action (they don’t feel like a real piano and the sound does not get louder with more pressure)

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