Did you know there are two types of pianos? An acoustic piano and a digital keyboard. While there are many differences in the price, sound, and maintenance, being aware of the pros and cons is important to making your final decision. In this post, we compare and contrast these two types.

What is an acoustic piano?

Invented over 300 years ago, an acoustic piano is commonly seen as old school. In the movies, you may have seen a grand piano being played at a recital or concert hall or an upright piano at church a church hall. The material used in the construction of an acoustic guitar is generally wood along with the hammers that hit steel strings. The pianos produce sound after a key is pressed, it triggers the felt-covered hammer to strike the steel-wire strings, making them vibrate. The way the piano sounds can change depending on how the pianist plays, and it allows the player to be expressive in their style.

There are two acoustic pianos: the grand piano and the upright piano. A grand piano has a wide frame and longer body, and its strings are horizontal. After playing the keys, gravity puts them back into their resting position. An upright piano, on the other hand, is more compact and the strings extend vertically. However, after releasing the keys, they are reset using a spring mechanism which can wear down over time. Upright pianos tend to fit better in a house than a grand piano.

Although they give off different impressions of extravagance, one is not superior to the other. Rather, the quality of the piano is determined by the craftsmanship, material, and ultimately, the sound it produces.

What is a digital piano?

The digital piano produces sound, as the name suggests, digitally. Rather than rely on a hammer and strings, the instrument plays audio samples from an acoustic piano. Different manufacturers offer different styles and even different sizes. While an acoustic piano typically has 88 keys, digital pianos can have 76, or even 49 keys depending on the space you have and how mobile you need your instrument to be.

Digital pianos vary in sound quality, key action or movement, and exterior finish. Digital pianos weigh less. Many are most familiar with the keyboard which is a portable piano that is light and uses a foldable stand rather than wooden legs. The keys and exterior casing are made of plastic rather than wood to keep them light.

What’s the difference between an acoustic piano a digital keyboard?


A digital keyboard stores a recording or “sample” from an acoustic piano and plays a note whenever a key is hit. There is more variation with an acoustic piano. An acoustic piano will sound different based on how the pianist touches it. With the latest technology, digital pianos can replicate the sound pretty closely. Even though a digital piano reproduces the sound of an acoustic, it is simply not the same. If you desire a warmer, more authentic sound, the acoustic piano is an excellent choice.


Each part of an acoustic piano requires maintenance to preserve craftsmanship. The wood exterior, the felt covers, and strings all need care and attention. As natural materials, wood and felt are sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity. Ideally, your acoustic piano should be kept in a room at 20˚C or room temperature. Whereas digital can be played anywhere.

In some cases, when buying a particularly old piano, a technician may be needed to restore the piano: this process involves adjusting ranges, turning screws, sanding the wood surface, and other processes.

An acoustic piano will need to be tuned by a professional 1-2 times a year, while a digital piano will never need to be tuned.


Acoustic piano typically costs more than its digital counterparts due to the material and mechanics. Digital pianos may be in the hundreds, while acoustic pianos are usually priced in the thousands (even low to mid-tier ones). With the technology changing quickly, digital pianos depreciate in value much faster, while the resale value of the acoustic piano is much higher.

Which should you choose?

It’s up to you! No matter which piano you choose, Heritage Music School will provide the education and tools needed to master the piano. At Heritage Music School, Surrey piano and guitar teachers, students, and families are discovering how both instruments can enrich their lives. Contact us at our Surrey or Langley music schools today with any questions you have about lessons, fees, and schedules, or for a free music assessment.