Hitting the right notes: Choosing a Piano

Posted by Brittens Team on

The piano is probably one of the most popular instruments to learn to play. However, many people delay learning because of budget and space constraints.

Today, the different acoustic and digital options available mean you or your child's dream of playing the piano is achievable. However, selecting 'which type of piano' is not always an obvious choice.

Before you choose your instrument, you should consider your budget, space limitations, and performance expectations - how it feels, how it sounds and how it plays. Here we look at the four different types of pianos and keyboards and weigh up some of their basic pros and cons.

Acoustic Grand Pianos

Yamaha C3X Grand Piano

Grand pianos are the largest and (usually) most expensive pianos available, and they can offer the very finest sound quality.

Beyond the prestige, a grand piano also offers important technical advantages over other options. As an example, the ability to play more quickly. 

The 'action' of this type of piano has a 'double escapement' which allows the pianist to play notes faster than on any other piano, which can be an important feature when playing certain pieces.

Grand pianos range in length from just under 5ft (about 1.5 metres) for a 'Baby Grand' up to just under 10ft (just under 3 metres) for a full-size Concert Grand. 

A grand piano has both an audible and a visual presence which is simply inspiring and a playability that other pianos and digital pianos aspire to simulate.

Acoustic Upright Pianos

Choosing an acoustic upright piano

An upright piano is a more budget-friendly acoustic option and takes up a lot less space than a grand piano.

They are usually around 155cm wide and 60cm deep, with heights ranging from 110cm to 135cm.

The height can be an important feature in the sound quality too, the taller the piano, the larger the soundboard and longer the strings, which gives a deeper and richer sound.

Digital Pianos

Digital pianos are a mid-range option. They are designed to imitate the sound and feel of an acoustic piano, with higher-end examples achieving remarkable results. The full set of keys are weighted, which gives a similar experience to pressing the keys of an acoustic piano, important whether learning to play or as an experienced pianist. 

Yamaha Digital Piano YDP 145

Usually cheaper than an acoustic piano, they do not require tuning or other regular maintenance. The sound is sampled, synthesized or synthetic and played through speakers, which gives a different tone and resonance to notes.

Available in different sizes and styles from portable to 'digital grand piano', a digital piano takes up less room than an acoustic one and offers the option to use headphones - a great feature to keep the noise down for neighbours and family members.

Digital Keyboards ('Keyboards')

Yamaha Digital Keyboard

Usually the lowest cost piano option, digital keyboards are a great choice if space is an issue.

Often with additional effects, rhythms and sounds, which can make them a flexible instrument to play, they also have the option to adjust the volume and use headphones, so noise levels can be controlled and even blocked out.

In terms of playability, the keys do not feel the same and the sound is different to an acoustic piano.

Another difference is the number of keys. Most keyboards have around 61 keys, less than the other piano options. That said, this range is enough for most pieces.

Buying Options for Acoustic Pianos

If buying a new acoustic piano is out of your price range, you can opt for a pre-owned one. It's recommended to get it inspected by an expert to make sure it plays as it should. At Brittens Music we offer a range of new and pre-owned pianos at our extensive piano showroom on Grove Hill Road in Tunbridge Wells. We are also Yamaha's main instrument dealer in Kent.

What's more, if you want to try before you commit to buying, we also have a great rental scheme which lets you to rent a keyboard or digital piano first, to see if you are going to love playing!

Ready to tinkle the ivories? Head to one of our showrooms either on Grove Hill Road, Tunbridge Wells or New Haw in Surrey and try out the different options for yourself. Alternatively, visit the 'Pianos' section of our Website to view our range. 

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