Do you play the piano and are considering buying your own instrument? Yet you keep running into the same question as you wonder which instrument it should actually be? At first glance, all keyboard instruments look pretty much the same. So, are there only minor differences? And how should these differences impact your choice of instrument? We have compiled a list of the best options with their pros and cons.
This classical keyboard instrument is probably the one that comes to mind first when thinking of piano lessons. However, the classical piano is divided into two main categories – namely, the grand piano and the upright piano. Usually, both instruments feature 88 keys that are divided into 7 octaves, along with 3 more keys below the lower C, a key on the far left of the piano. There are 52 white keys and 36 black keys, and the piano utilizes the hammer mechanism, which also allows you to regulate the volume of the piano.
the grand piano: The distinctive feature of this type of piano is its wing-shaped corpus. The straight end of the grand piano holds the keyboard while the pedals are found at the bottom. The instrument has three legs in total and its rear part is equipped with a lid that can be opened to allow the sound to resonate freely. The strings can also be found in this section of the instrument.
the piano: This instrument has no large corpus, and the sound is produced only by its rectangular sound body. Technically, the piano is actually a pianino, which is basically a small upright piano. Here, the strings are strung vertically along the inside of the frame.
Which type of piano is suitable for beginners?
You don't need to opt for the creme de la creme of pianos. However, you should not make too many compromises, especially with regard to the sound quality, seeing as a bad sound can present a source of frustration, especially at the beginning. Thus, it is recommended to pick a piano that meets your reasonable requirements in terms of sound quality and price, giving you the best value for your money.
How much should I pay for a piano?
There is a wide price range for pianos, depending on the quality of workmanship and the country of manufacture as well as the age of the instrument. Pre-owned pianos are available from 1,000 to 1,500 CHF while a new piano starts at a minimum of 8,000 CHF. However, these prices refer to upright pianos. A grand piano will cost you much more since its starts at about 5,000 CHF. Here, the sky's the limit. A concert grand from well-known manufacturers can easily cost 75,000 CHF.
However, you can also rent an instrument to help you get started, allowing you to try it out for a few months to see if the piano is the right choice for you without having to buy it right away.
The advantages of the piano
The advantage of an acoustic piano is definitely its sound. Moreover, the piano has weighted keys that allow you to immediately acquire a feeling for the touch and dynamics (louder and softer). Weighted keys offer you a slight resistance while playing, which is due to the small, weighted hammers on the keys. Thus, you get an absolutely authentic experience, and the optics are compelling as well. Most of the time, you also have more possibilities to express yourself while playing.
The disadvantages of the piano
One of the major disadvantages of the piano is its volume. This is especially true if you live in a house with several parties and may disturb the neighbors. In addition, the cost factor plays a role, because an acoustic piano is often priced significantly higher than the electronic alternatives. With an acoustic piano, you have to factor in maintenance costs as well, since it can get out of tune. This is why the location is so important. It should have an even room climate, otherwise, the wood will warp, which can also lead to a loss of sound.
The Electric Piano
It’s the electronic variant of the piano, and its appearance usually matches that of the upright piano. Here, we have 88 keys as well, the distribution of which is identical to the acoustic piano. In this case, the sound is produced electronically, and its volume is often adjusted with a slider while most electric pianos have a headphone jack as well as various settings for producing different sounds.
Which type of electric piano is suitable for beginners?
When it comes to electric pianos, Roland, Casio, and Yamaha have made a name for themselves, but there are of course other manufacturers as well. However, these three companies have really good options for beginners. You should not make major sacrifices in terms of sound quality when it comes to electric pianos. Cheap instruments tend to rattle and often produce a metallic sound, which in turn spoils the pleasure of practicing, rendering the savings no longer worthwhile.
How much should I pay for an electric piano?
In contrast to the acoustic alternative, the price of an electric piano, even an advanced model, is significantly lower, seeing that quality instruments are already available at an original price of 1,000 to 2,000 CHF. In principle, grand pianos are also available as electronic versions. These have a smaller corpus (since there are no strings), but the lid can still be opened in order to distribute the sound more evenly. Here, the prices start at about 5,000 CHF.
The advantages of the electric piano
In terms of weight, the electric piano is much lighter than its acoustic relative. The price point is also a huge plus. The fact that you can easily connect the instrument to headphones is especially advantageous if you live for rent and/or in an apartment building, as other residents are not disturbed. The quality is absolutely compelling, especially among the three major manufacturers, and it’s even possible to connect the instrument to a computer and record updates or new sounds. You don’t have to worry about maintenance costs, because the instrument does not get out of tune.
The disadvantages of the electric piano
Some electric pianos don't have a hammer mechanism, meaning you can't practice the proper touch with them. In other words, you learn to play the organ rather than the piano. The sound depends on the recorded audio and the loudspeaker.
For a long time, the keyboard, also known as a synthesizer, was considered to be a poor electronic imitation of the piano. Nowadays, however, this is no longer the case, since there are instruments that have 88 keys, just like the acoustic and electronic pianos. However, there are also instruments with 76 and 61 keys available, determining the overall width of the instrument. In terms of design, the keyboard does not have a sound body at all.
The sound is produced electronically, and the keyboard has no pedals. However, it has a lot of configuration options and, of course, a headphone jack. The keyboard can also often be connected to the computer. Some manufacturers have now made the effort to build touch dynamics into modern keyboards, which provide you with a pretty good feel.
Which type of keyboard is suitable for beginners?
Here, the companies Roland, Casio, and Yamaha are once again at the top of the list. When it comes to pre-owned instruments, you often have to make significant sacrifices, because many instruments have been used for a long time and are usually only given away when the sound is no longer satisfactory, and the owner wishes to buy a more modern instrument. If you buy such an instrument, you run the risk of quickly becoming frustrated because you're working with outdated technology and can't use the many modern features you've probably already heard about.
How much should I pay for a keyboard?
You can buy a keyboard for around 50 CHF, with decent models for beginners costing between 50 and 100 CHF. Models for advanced players cost between 200 and 500 CHF and keyboards for professionals start at 500 CHF. This puts the keyboard well below the acoustic piano and the electric piano in terms of cost.
The advantages of the keyboard
You can set different backing music and create a great performance right away. You can also use different sounds, such as that of an organ, a piano, or even string instruments. This is an advantage that hardly any other keyboard instrument offers. The headphone jack allows you to be flexible to practice at any time you like. The cost and space-saving storage also speak for themselves.
The disadvantages of the keyboard
Your hands don't need a lot of strength to play the keyboard, which is a disadvantage in the long run. In fact, once you get used to the touch of a keyboard, you won't be able to achieve the same results on an acoustic piano or an electric piano. Moreover, there are some pieces you can't play on a keyboard due to its limited range, and the authentic feeling of playing the piano won't develop without weighted keys either. Instead, you'll feel like you're playing the organ.
Should you get a new or a pre-owned instrument?
As a beginner, you probably don't want to spend a small fortune on your own instrument, which is why you might start by looking for a pre-owned instrument on one of the various second-hand platforms. Here you can get lucky and find a real treasure, of course.
It is important that you have the opportunity to get an impression of the instrument on-site. Online stores usually provide good sound samples, and you should be able to get a first-hand impression of pre-owned instruments as well. So, limit your search radius to an area that is still easily reachable for you. Moreover, you need to keep in mind that you should be able to transport the instrument if you decide to buy it.
New instruments have a considerably longer warranty, and you know who you can turn to if problems arise. And of course, your teacher will always be there to help and advise you.
So which instrument should you buy?
We have provided you with an overview of the three major types of instruments in this article. In the end, you need to consider not only your personal situation but also your teacher to determine which instrument you should buy. They can not only help you choose the right option for you, but they can also give you addresses where you can try out the different instruments.