What do you want from your digital piano? This is a question every aspiring pianist looking for their first instrument should ask themselves. What do you wish to accomplish with the instrument? If you don’t know the answer to this question, then chances are you still have a fair amount of research to do before you make such a big purchase.
Just like with any other type of musical instrument, it’s important to find one that suits your needs and your budget. While an accomplished pianist may suggest a top-of-the-line model loaded with bells and whistles, a piano teacher might suggest a bare-bones model without anything extra to distract the player.
Do you prefer playing in front of an audience, or would you rather practice in private? Are you looking for a keyboard that can pull double duty as your backup band, or would you rather plug into a keyboard amplifier and jam with your own band? Finding out what you need from your instrument and what you can live without is the first step in making an informed decision.
Musicians Bound to Look Different Feature in Piano
Different types of musicians are bound to look for different features in a digital piano. If you plan on playing out with a band, chances are you’ll do well with a model that includes line level outputs so you can plug into a PA system.
A street performer, on the other hand, might be better off finding a model with a quality built-in speaker system. Any musician who plans on performing away from home should also consider the keyboards form factor – An 88 key digital piano can’t help but be a little on the large side, but some are certainly bigger than others, and wood finishes and other aesthetic features can add additional weight.
If you plan on playing out, bear in mind the fact that, unless you’re lucky enough to be touring with a road crew to deal with your gear, you’ll be lugging that keyboard to and from the gig yourself. A light weight keyboard with a compact form factor should meet the needs of a performing musician.
Comfortable Playing Piano at Home
If you’re more comfortable playing in the comfort of your own home, or if you’re instructing others, chances are you’ll be better off with something a little different from the sort of keyboard a gigging musician might buy.
If you just want a simple piano to display in your living room, you may be interested in one of the many models which feature a furniture style wooden stand. An aesthetically pleasing look and a good pair of speakers should keep a living room musician very happy.
Piano teachers, on the other hand, might be better off looking into a model with features geared towards music education. There are a number of digital pianos which feature resources designed to aid in musical instruction, from built-in score readers to hand position displays.
Another useful feature for instructors to look into would be dual headphone outputs, which would allow two people to practice on the same piano without irritating the neighbors.
Why Musicians Spend More time in Recording Studio
If you’re the type of musician that spends more time in the recording studio, chances are you’ll want something that allows for more in-depth tweaking of the sounds.
Some features for the amateur recording engineer to look for would be line level outputs, USB connectivity, MIDI control, and a variety of built-in sounds. Some models of digital piano come with just a handful of meticulously sampled sounds, while others have hundreds of tones.
Bear in mind that, in some cases, less is more – While it might be nice to have over 500 sounds at your fingertips, digital pianos don’t usually allow for tweaking, so if you only like 100 out of those 500 tones, there’s nothing you can do to make those remaining 400 tones sound any better.
If you’re looking for something that can make a huge variety of tweakable sounds for the studio, then chances are you’d be better off with a workstation than a digital piano. but if you need a high-quality sound source that can make a handful of acoustic sampled sounds with a high degree of realism, than a digital piano might be a great addition to your studio.
When it comes to digital pianos, it’s important to pick one that fits your musical style and your budget. There are an overwhelming number of different options out there, so I hope that this article has helped you narrow your search. The right keyboard can make all the difference.