Buying A Digital Piano

How to choose a good digital piano for your home or office.

The first step in buying a piano is to decide what works best for you personally. Why are you in the market for a piano? Has your child expressed an interest in taking piano lessons? Is money an issue? A regular piano is a major financial expense, and what if your child decides he or she doesn't want to continue lessons? A digital piano costs less than an acoustical piano. Perhaps you don't have room in your home for a grand or baby grand, and the smaller size of the digital piano appeals to you. Chances are, if you are looking for a piano, you are trying to decide between acoustic and digital. The acoustic piano is the one we're all most familiar with, and the sound is produced by hammers hitting strings. The digital piano attempts to duplicate the sound of an acoustic piano using digitalized sound samples instead of hammers and strings to create acoustical action.

In the 21st century the digital is the closest thing to a regular piano, and improvements are being made every day. When you start looking for a digital piano for your intended use, it becomes evident that to find the right one, certain factors must be considered. Don't hesitate to try out the piano in the store. It has to feel right. What size keyboard do you prefer? How loudly or softly can it be played? Can you maintain an even dynamic level? Does it sound like a real piano? How many notes can you hear at once? How powerful is the amplifier/speaker system? How will you use the piano--play alone or music sampling? The digital piano never requires tuning so you can expand the way you hear its sounds by using headphones. In fact, it's a good idea to bring them with you to the music store.

Depending on how you plan to use your digital piano, you will want either a 61-key model, a 76-key model, or the 88-key version preferred by professionals. If you are a professional musician, chances are you will want a more complicated electronic instrument, but for purposes of this article, the assumption is that this will be your first piano, and you've chosen digital because it fits best into your life style, interests, and environment. Therefore, if you're looking for portability, the 61-key piano weighs less than 30 pounds. The 76-key model has a wider sound range and still can be moved fairly easily, but, if you want a model closest to the acoustic piano and you don't plan to move it around very much, the 88-key version is the best choice. It is still much easier to move than the Grand Piano of Yesteryear that was kept in the music room and never moved because it was common for families to live in the same house from one generation to the next, and the piano was passed down to each generation.

When you seat yourself at the digital piano, how does it feel? Is the keyboard one that feels comfortable? When you play, are the tones pleasant and does the sound meet your expectation? Every caliber of playing experience is possible in a variety of digital pianos in the marketplace, so don't be too quick to decide on your purchase. It is best to avoid an instrument that offers myriad voices such as brass, string, choral, etc. The grand piano, pop or jazz piano options are far more practical. Go to more than one dealership and try out different pianos.

If you are interested in playing along with your favorite songs, downloading music, composing music, recording music or creating multi-track pieces, you will want to choose the digital piano that has extensive processing capability (128 MB) and the one that offers MIDI controller keyboards and PC and/or Internet direct connections.

The ultimate in piano experience is the digital/acoustic piano, a regular acoustic instrument in which the acoustic action can be disconnected for digital use. These are the newest generation of pianos but, like any new product, are out of the price range of most people. Nevertheless, the digital piano itself has been perfected to a degree that makes it useful for anyone who wants a piano. It is easy to transport, can be connected to a sound system, can be used to record music with computer software, and you have the ability to use headphones not only for privacy but to avoid bothering others with your piano-playing efforts before you"˜re ready to share your talents.

As with a computer purchase, your piano choice will depend on how you want to use it. Ask yourself which special features best fit your interests. The digital pianos can be purchased for between $500 and $2000, but consider the fact that, like computers, the technology will be out of date within a couple of years. Therefore, it is best to look ahead to how you want to use your digital piano over the next few years and try to meet future needs with your initial purchase.

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