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January 04, 2021 4 min read

One of the most common situations we deal with in our shop is the first time piano buyer. To some it can seem like a complex maze of black and white keys, and can be difficult to work out where to start. There are various types of piano; from the keyboard, to the portable digital piano, to the home digital and finally the timeless classic, the acoustic piano. We've put together this guide that looks at the piano vs the keyboard, providing suggestions and weighing the pro's and con's of each. We hope this helps and if you have any further questions feel free to reach out on Messenger, by Calling Us or via email.

The Differences Between the Keyboard & Piano

Many people arrive to us simply looking for a keyboard, but very often they in fact require a piano. The keyboard has been a common sight in most school music classrooms for many years and is a staple in bands, recordings and home studios. Firstly, the keyboard normally has non weighted keys, meaning unlike a piano, they don't have a weight to them and as such have a "springy" feel. Keyboards are also packed full of different sounds, samples, rhythms and backing tracks. The keyboard is a great entry to piano playing, and also a great way to build full songs. However, for longevity in piano playing it can be somewhat limited.

The keyboard normally has between 61 and 76 notes as opposed to the full 88 notes of piano playing. Because of it's sprung keys it can often make playing an actual piano, as required for music exams or courses, feel somewhat alien. The keyboard keys are light to the touch so your fingers don't build up the strength or dexterity to play a real piano with the same ease you would find playing the keyboard. You also lose some of the octaves needed for more complex and advanced pieces.

I want my instrument to work with an ipad or computer, does this mean I need a keyboard?

In this modern world many people are looking for technological integrations, they want an instrument that can be used with an ipad or recording software. This often means they jump to the keyboard, but this doesn't have to be the case! The keyboard is an excellent instrument for using with Ableton, Pro Tools, Cubase and hundreds of ipad apps out there (providing the keyboard has usb). However, digital pianos have kept up with modern trends. Infact every digital piano we sell from the Yamaha P-45 to the Clavinova CLP785 can integrate with computers and ipad apps like Smart Pianist or Flow Key. This means you can have the best of both worlds: a piano that feels like a real piano, with the full 88 keys, the brilliant Yamaha CFX piano sample and also access to all the latest technology.

What do you recommend then for starting out?

Well, we'll do a quick whistle stop through a few different recommendations for you!

For the complete beginner: The Yamaha PSRE373 Keyboard - An excellent entry level keyboard. It has touch sensitivity which means that the harder you press the notes the louder or quieter the sound. It has several hundred samples, various backing tracks and styles. It also has iPad integration via USB to host.

For any level of player or musician: The Yamaha PSRSX600 Keyboard - Higher in the budget is the newest Keyboard in Yamaha's SX range of keyboards suitable for beginners to advanced players. Featuring a high-quality musical experience with rich, realistic voices including a beautiful grand piano. With Styles, you can play music in a wide variety of music genres from around the world and using SmartChord lets you use these professional backings with just one finger. You can even use a microphone (sold separately) to sing along with your performance through the built-in speaker system.

Hybrid Keyboards
For any level of player: The Yamaha NP Series is a hybrid between the keyboard and the digital piano. The range has 2 different sizes, the NP-12 that has 61 keys and the NP-32 that has 76 notes. It has sprung keys like a keyboard, but the keys are shaped like a piano. This series is great for first time players, or younger players as the keys are nice and light to play. It however doesn't have all the sounds or samples that are in a keyboard, it's stripped back to more simple sounds like Piano, organ and harpsichord. It does have all the technological integrations though, through it's built in usb. 

Portable Digital Pianos
The Yamaha Portable series is a great range of pianos comprising the Yamaha P-45 and the Yamaha P-125 . They are both brilliant options for those with limited space, students or those looking for something that can be stored away when not being played. They feature weighted keys like a real piano, as well as Yamaha's legendary CFX Concert Grand Piano Sample. They also have iPad and computer integration through USB as well. A wooden stand can also be purchased for them to make them more permanent features in any room. 

Entry Level Home Digital Pianos
Yamaha's Arius (YDP) Range is perfect for anyone who wants a digital piano that is a permanent fixture in their home. The 144 and 164 are built with a larger cabinet while the S34 and S54 are the slimline models for the more space conscious pianist. The YDP's have a full 88 weighted keys, Yamaha's CFX piano sample, USB to host and a robust set of speakers that give a great depth and clarity to the piano sound.

3 Months Free Flowkey Premium
With nearly all digital pianos and keyboards that we sell, Yamaha provide you with 3 months of free premium access to flowkey, the tuition app. This is a brilliant app that allows you to learn and flex your piano abilities at your own pace and at home. For more info have a read here.

What about the Clavinova? Stay tuned we'll give you a guide to the Clavinova shortly!

Pete Hutchison
Pete Hutchison