Digital Piano vs. Keyboard: Which is best for beginners?

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Which instrument is the most useful for creating relaxing melodies? The first instrument that comes to a listener’s mind is the piano or keyboard. A tune on a keyboard or piano can quickly shake your inner emotions.

Interestingly, the output from these instruments may sound the same, but there are many differences between them. We will try to highlight that in our Digital Piano vs. Keyboard article. We have added some general characteristics of each kind and added some famous brands, renowned music/songs of each type that set one apart from the other. We hope it will help you choose the right instrument.

Digital Piano vs. Keyboard


Digital Piano vs. Keyboard

Digital Piano : A digital piano is a modern music instrument which is designed to serve primarily as a substitute to a traditional piano and provides an accurate simulation of a real piano. There are 88 keys in Digital Piano and 6 octaves, so it is easy to why its performance closely resembles a traditional piano. It facilitates learning by providing the authentic touch and feel of a real piano.  Some digital pianos look like acoustic pianos. When compared to acoustic pianos, digital pianos are generally less expensive.

Keyboard: A musical keyboard is the set of keys on a musical instrument designed to produce a much more comprehensive range of sounds than traditional pianos. It is a set of larger, longer, and shorter keys that repeats an octave interval. Keyboards are usually lighter than digital pianos, and features on a keyboard make them more appropriate for intermediate to advanced level learners. Keyboards include two types of recording options, such as Audio and MIDI recording. Keyboards are compact in designs.


Characteristics Comparison Digital Piano vs. Keyboard:


Digital pianos are more cost-effective than keyboards because digital pianos facilitate learning by providing the authentic touch and feel of a real piano.

If you are a beginner who never played musical instruments before, a digital piano can be a fantastic choice to start with.

If you want a more affordable instrument than a digital piano, the keyboard is the best choice for you. So, price-wise Digital Piano vs. Keyboard, the keyboard is the right choice.

Sound Quality:

For musical programs such as a concert, sound quality is the most significant thing to consider when comparing between piano and keyboard.

Digital pianos are designed for advanced musicians to record their music onto a computer. When recording, the sound quality comes close to the acoustic piano sound.

That doesn’t mean that they are capable of producing a perfect acoustic sound, but it grows better with higher-end digital pianos.

For learning and practice, the keyboard can be a more enjoyable instrument. It can be used for composing music too. The keyboard does not give you the real feeling of an acoustic or a digital piano.

Graded Hammer is an astonishing technology used in digital pianos to capture keys that make it more sensitive to pressure. On the other hand, keyboards usually come with soft keys that don’t have graded hammer key action.


Once you have recorded your performance, you can edit it in several ways. A sequencer is a recorder that helps you to record and playback your performance for self-evaluation. You can simply stock your performances in the piano’s board memory or on a USB key. Some digital pianos have multi-ways sequencers that can record and playback piano performance; you can record a string part on another track, creating the piece to a multi-instrument version.

Most keyboards include two types of recording options namely Audio and MIDI Recording. You may playback and listen to your performance, correct mistakes, speed up or slow down a piece of music

Space and Portability:

When people look to purchase musical instruments, they often analyze the reviews by customers who are already using any musical instruments.

People compare service quality, price, sound, etc. of different musical instruments. If you need musical instruments that take minimum space, and easier to transport then purchasing a digital piano will be an excellent choice.

On the other hand, you can purchase keyboards if you have limited space for storing your instrument.

Digital pianos are great for traveling musicians. This instrument lasts long.


Based on customer reviews, Keyboard is much more popular than digital pianos. Keyboard Instrument is a complete package that allows you to hear the sound of several instruments at the same time. And that’s why most people, from beginners to professionals, put the keyboard first on their list of favorites. Electronic keyboards are easier to play than digital pianos. So, popularity-wise Digital Piano vs. Keyboard, the keyboard is the winner.

Physical Attributes:

Some keyboards work like digital pianos and may look quite similar too.

Digital Pianos are usually installed in wooden bodies. Alternatively, a keyboard is made of plastic.

Number of Keys:

Digital pianos come with the standard 88 keys and 6 octaves. Digital pianos create an authentic piano sound.

On the other hand, the keyboard has 41 to 76 keys with 5 octaves or less. Also, an electronic keyboard will be more compact than its digital counterparts.

Key Size:

The keys on a digital piano are similar in size compared to an acoustic piano. On an electronic keyboard, the keys are slightly smaller.

Beginners find the small key size convenient while learning; in that case, the electronic keyboard is more comfortable than the digital piano.


The electronic piano outputs an authentic sound like that of an acoustic piano, making it a great option if you want to take it to the professional level.

On the other hand, you will need a keyboard if you want to experiment with the sound like a producer or musician does in a studio setting.


In the case of flexibility, Keyboards might have a fantastic lead against digital pianos. The standard keyboards come with unique space-saving designs. Consequently, you can install them anywhere in your home, in passages or living rooms. They are also compact and lightweight. You can easily carry them for open-air concerts and programs.

Digital pianos are a little heavier to carry, so portability is not their best feature.

Presence of Weighted Keys:

The keys weight naturally in acoustic pianos.[AIS6]  Some musicians prefer weighted keys.

A good quality digital piano will have weighted keys. Weighted keys increase Interference and raise playability.

The instrument will raise a high sound if the keys are hard to press.

Digital Piano vs. Keyboard Key Characteristics Difference Chart


Digital Piano



88 keys

49, 61, 73, or 76 keys


6 Octaves

5 Octaves


10-25 high-quality tones

48 notes or less

Built-in Tones

A limited selection of built-in melodies and rhythms

Hundreds of melodies, but usually not a very good quality

Action Types

Hammer action/Fully weighted keys

Non-weighted or Semi-weighted action/Synth type

Sound Realism

Medium sound to Very high

Low sound to Medium


Depends on the design. It’s portable to semi-portable

Highly Portable


Portable: 25lbs to 45lbConsole: 70lbs to 150lbs

7lbs to 20lbs


Portable: 350$ to 2000$

Console: 700$ to 5000$+

50$ to 350$

Range of volume 

Broad, powerful reach from the mildest pianissimo [AIS8] to the most intense fortissimo[AIS9] .

Limited unique range, limited articulation

Digital Piano Types:

First, we will talk about digital piano. Digital pianos containing fully weighted 88 -keys may feature a fully weighted hammer-action keyboard and can imitate the feel of an acoustic piano might be appropriate for a quick refresher. For a beginner choosing the right piano might be a difficult task. That’s why we covered 10 Best Digital Pianos for Beginners to help you out. For example, the Casio Privia Px-160 includes rhythms, 1000+ tunes, and some sound editing functionality. That’s why we covered 10 Best Digital Pianos for Beginners to help you out.

 Portable Digital Piano:

The portable digital pianos are also known as slap pianos because of their shapes. The board-like shape of this type of piano is relatively simple compared to other pianos. Some models of Portable Digital Pianos have been able to attract buyers and are also at the top in terms of sales because of their high value-to-price ratio. A Portable Digital Piano’s most significant advantage is its portability. Moreover, these kinds of pianos are relatively lightweight, and they have complex hammer action mechanisms and speakers. Most importantly, despite a compact enclosure, it doesn’t sacrifice playability.


Here are some notable models of portable digital pianos- Casio Privia PX-160, Kawai ES8, Roland FP-line, etc.

Console Digital Pianos:

Console Digital Piano is another type of piano known to many as a furniture-style digital piano. It differs from the previously discussed piano. Its huge enclosure makes it look like a real piano.

There are several categories of Console Digital Pianos such as Modern Style-versions, Traditional-style digital pianos, and Upright-style digital pianos.

The Console Digital Piano is unique due to some of its features such as the speaker system, larger chassis, and triple pedal setup. Last but not the least, most console digital pianos have a cover that protects it from dust.

Some of the notable models of the Console Digital Pianos are Casio PX-870, Kawai KDP110, Kawai KDP100.

Hybrid Digital Piano:

Hybrid Digital Pianos offer some unique features. It combines sample playback and modeling to recreate the sounds of a real piano. The most crucial feature of hybrid digital pianos is hammer mechanisms.

Some notable hybrid digital piano models are- Novus NV,  AvantGrand series,  Casio’s GP Hybrid series, etc.

Stage Pianos:

 A stage piano is relatively different from other types of pianos. They have some qualitative features like high-quality piano samples, top-of-the-line hammer actions, good malleability, connectivity (5-pin legacy MIDI Connectors), etc.

Some notable models of Stage Pianos are- Nord Piano 4, Roland RD-2000.

 Let’s look at the qualitative similarities and differences between the different types of piano.




Stage Piano


88 (rarely 76 or 73)

88 (rarely 76 or 73)


88, 76 or 73

Action Types

Hammer Action

Hammer Action

Hybrid Hammer Action

Hammer Action

Built-in Tones

~10-30 tones

~10-30 tones

~10-30 tones

10s or 100s of customizable tones

Extra Features

Limited, piano-focused

Limited, piano-focused

Limited, piano-focused

Features targeted at stage performers (sound shaping, hands-on control)


$350 – $2000

$500 – $5000

$5000 – $15000

$1500 – $4500

Form Factors



Semi-Portable / Not Portable


Best Uses

1. Home Practice

2. On the road

3. Classroom environment

1. Home practice


2. Classroom environment

1. Home practice


2.Professional performance

1. Studio

2. Events

3. Gigs


1. Easy to move

2. Affordable

3.  Versatile

4. Not required lots of space

1.No need to buy a stand


2. Substantial and classy

1. The best of digital and acoustic worlds

2. No compromise playing experience

1. Features for stage performance

2. Gig friendly


3. Powerful connectivity


1. Not very acoustic-like appearance

1. Heavy and require more space

2. Not very portable

1. Even heavier and less portable than console DPs


2. Expensive

1. Relatively expensive


2. Not necessarily beginner-friendly

Keyboard Types:

We have had an adequate discussion of digital pianos. Now let’s talk about Keyboards.

Portable Arranger Keyboard:

A portable arranger keyboard is a popular choice among new musicians, thanks enormously to an incredibly moderate cost. Their affordability is due to an easier production process and reusable chipsets.

These keyboards feature heaps of tones and rhythms, flexibility and versatility in the right hands.

Notable models: Yamaha’s PSR-E series and Casio’s CTK & CTX line

Arranger Keyboard:

Few are familiar with these better quality arranger keyboards, which are a bit less common. However, they exist and serve a subset of individuals who want better quality sound output along with the easy playability of standard arranger keyboards.

Often workstations are more adaptable, but they demand further expertise to work with; thus, the arranger keyboard is a better option for beginners to intermediate level learners.

Notable Models: Yamaha’s PSR series includes PSR-SX700 or PSR-SX900, Korg’s Pa-series.


A couple of years back, workstations were a premium approach to make tracks from scratch. Unfortunately, the coming of PC based Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) and the adaptability these offer has pushed this class out of the spotlight.

Many people still love the focused workflow of classic workstation keyboards, so organizations have kept on delivering revisions as the years progressed.

Notable Models: Korg’s Kronos line, Yamaha’s Montage series, Roland’s Fantom line.


Synthesizers have a complicated history that is too befuddling to even think about explaining here. In case you’re not familiar with synths, simply realize that they follow a straightforward concept. You start with a harmonically rich sound source and deduct frequencies to accomplish a more controlled sound. Synthesizers generate sound through methods like subtractive synthesis, additive synthesis, and frequency modulation synthesis. To play one note at a time, classic monophonic subtractive synthesizers may prove more fruitfulness and can make them natural for fat synth basses and searing leads.

There are numerous ways to approach synthesis, for example, essential subtractive, frequency modulation, phase modulation, and more.

Notable Models: Korg’s Prologue and Roland’s JD-XA.


Performance keyboards are not quite the same as the recently referenced classifications. They convey a different active methodology while smoothing out the interface.

The best feature of performance keyboards is the hands-on, simple use approach. Great controls on these instruments permit players to configure sound rapidly with little hassle.

Notable Models: KORG’s Kross and Roland’s FA-series.


Finally, MIDI Keyboard is more affordable since very little additional equipment is required for sound generation.

MIDI keyboards can be an excellent choice for entertainers on a careful spending plan, particularly if you own the sound sources or modules you’ll be utilizing. The essential MIDI regulators highlight catches and handles assigned to any function you see fit.

Notable Models: Nektar Impact LX49+,M-Audio, and AKAI.


A Short History of Digital Piano and Keyboard

If we look at history, we learn that the first digital piano was invented in 1983 by Ronald, which co-developed the MIDI specification[AIS15]  too. The first electronic pianos to incorporate this revolutionary technology were HP-300 and HP-400. These digital pianos allowed their owners to explore an assortment of creative possibilities.

The two-piece cabinet layout, containing the main stand and body, has been just another invention which immediately turned into a conventional fashion. Later came various more fashionable models were rich in features and design.

On the other hand, the history of the keyboard is very ancient and obscure. The first known keyboard tool was the Greek hydraulis and a kind of pipe organ devised in the fifth century BC. The keys were likely balanced and may perform with a light bit. From its creation before the fourteenth century, the organ remained the only keyboard tool. The clavisimbalum, clavichord, along with the harpsichord emerged in the fourteenth century. More recent digital keyboard layouts attempt to emulate a particular model’s noise and help make pianos employing electronic samples and computer models. Every acoustic includes 88 keys; nevertheless, smaller structures possess no less than 61 keys.

Famous Songs-Band-Ost on Digital piano and Keyboard

‘Riders on the Storm’ by the doors is a very famous track. And the keyboard was the lifeblood of this renowned track. It starts with the sound of thunder followed by excellent keyboard composition, till the end.

The original soundtrack of the movie Amelie was composed with piano. It is very famous among the listeners. Music director Yann Tierson has used the piano in many of his works, but Amelie is the most famous and beautiful.

Coldplay is a top-rated band of this generation. Many of their songs such as Scientist, Paradise, Viva la Vida, Clock were composed using keyboards.

Coldplay also has many famous compositions using the Digital piano.  A sky full of stars is a well-known track, which opens as a piano ballad with progressive electronic music that plays out in between rhythms.

Another best band in history is the Beatles. They have both piano and keyboard compositions. Billy Preston was their core keyboard player. Beatles got songs like – And I love her, yesterday, Martha my dear, etc. composed using the keyboard.

Soundtracks of almost all famous movies or animation films were composed using a keyboard or piano. Japanese anime, they use digital piano or keyboard more often. Hans Zimmer uses both digital piano and keyboard for his orchestra group.

Since our article is about Digital Piano vs. Keyboard, we can say both devices have been used a lot in the media world. However, Keyboard usage is now a little ahead compared to the digital piano.

Final Words

Digital pianos and keyboard pianos are both incredible starter instruments. In case you are hoping to accomplish more with your device, an excellent quality digital piano and keyboard will give you many choices to manipulate sound and create music as you would prefer. Different components to consider when choosing between a digital piano vs. keyboard are value, portability, built-in music, and maintenance.

After reading this Digital Piano vs. Keyboard article, we hope you understand the difference between digital pianos and keyboards. You should realize that the two instruments are unique in various characteristics and advantages.

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