Pianos & Keyboards - What’s the Difference?

An age ago, you may find piano teachers advocating the purchase of a grand or upright piano, commonly referred to as acoustic pianos, discouraging students from practising on a keyboard. Reasons may range from acoustic pianos being more ‘realistic’ and superior sounding. Since then, with the rapid advancements in music technology and sound production, modern keyboards sing a different song altogether. With high definition sampling, reconstruction of the fingerboard, advancement in the development of motion and trigger sensors, these critical advancements added much nuances to the modern keyboard. With these massive upgrades being available in the market, one might ask, how much better is the acoustic piano? Does the price justify its value? Is getting an acoustic piano still the instrument of choice for private practice? Well, in addition to our previous blog entry, here is some additional information to help you in your learning journey.

What has keys but can’t listen to the beauty it unlocks? A piano. - Jarod Kintz

Piano Sound/ Touch & Feel

Always audition any piano or keyboard before purchasing them, regardless of its strong recommendation from your piano teacher or friend. Ultimately, you will be the one spending most time with the instrument. So enjoying it is key. A few good questions to think about when you are trying out the instrument would be:-

-Do I like this sound?

-Does this sound like a real piano? (For keyboards)

-Does is feel like a real piano?

-Does it come with all the pedals I need? (For keyboards)

-Is it comfortable to my ears with prolonged usage?

These questions are important because they form your ideal piano sound and touch, the main aspects of a piano that should be considered before purchasing any of them.

Longevity (Acoustic Piano)


There are two factors to consider - maintenance and shelf life. Grand pianos and upright pianos require regular tuning and voicing. Tuning is the tensile adjustment of all the strings on the piano to correct its pitch and frequency. A well-maintained piano should be tuned at least 4 times a year depending on the usage and environment the piano is in. A heater should also be installed in the piano to maintain the humidity and temperature inside the piano. Voicing is the adjustment of the various mechanisms in the piano, altering the tone and quality of the sound produced.

Functionality (Keyboard)


Although keyboards do not require as much maintenance as the acoustic piano, we should consider the functions that the keyboard brings to us in future. As we improve on our technique on the keyboard, we shouldn’t be limited by the piano sound to express our creativity. Most keyboards nowadays offer a library of sounds for us to experiment on. Recording has also been made easy with tools like MIDI and GarageBand. Online platforms such as Youtube and SoundCloud has also made music sharing easy. Therefore, if you are an aspiring musician, you may want to consider getting a keyboard for these features.

Despite digital keyboards gaining prominence due to their wide functionality, size and price, the piano is still a viable option as technology has not caught up to the point where a keyboard can totally replace a piano. Thus, it all depends on your piano needs and budget when deciding to purchase a piano or a keyboard.

You can have a look at our in-depth guide to buying the right piano for you to know more about these keyboard instruments.

Play on and Tinkle Away!!