Learning to play the piano can be enjoyable and not difficult at all with the right instrument. As there are so many of them to choose from out there, finding the one that would best suit your purpose and needs is quite essential. As a beginner, you have to be aware of your options so you can make a smart decision.
Acoustic Piano vs. Digital Piano vs. Keyboard
Know which type of instrument you are interested in learning. The acoustic piano, digital piano, and keyboard are all great musical instruments, but they vary in a lot of things, so find out what makes each one different from another to see which you would prefer.
The acoustic piano is a stringed musical instrument in which the strings are struck with wooden hammers whenever you press a set of depressible keys or levers that correspond to various musical notes. It is the continuous vibrations of the strings and their resonant frequency transmitted across the soundboard through the supporting bridge that produces the sounds that you hear. The loudness or softness of the sounds produced depends on the force applied by the fingers and thumbs on the 88 keys. As the keys are released, the sound stops. The notes are sustained even when the pressure on the keys is lifted using the foot pedals at the base of the piano. The acoustic piano has two types, namely the grand piano and upright piano. Both are capable of producing an excellent acoustic and resonant tone. A grand piano takes up a lot of space, and its sounding mechanism is horizontal, with the hammers falling back to the at rest position naturally on its own. An upright piano has a vertical sounding mechanism, and the hammers rely on springs.
This piano is non-acoustic, and it has a different mechanism in producing sounds as it does not have strings. What it does have is the digital sampling technology that can reproduce the acoustic sounds or as close to it as possible of the traditional piano and other musical instruments. It makes use of an electronic tone generator that is “switched on” as each key is pressed to produce a particular note. With weighted or semi-weighted touch-responsive keys providing resistance and hammer action, it has a similar piano feel, having almost the same dynamics of playing an acoustic piano. It is also usually equipped with built-in speakers and amplifier. It has a MIDI output to connect the piano to the computer for recording and editing. The digital piano is lightweight, making it more portable and requires no tuning.
An electronic keyboard is more compact, much lighter, and smaller than the acoustic or digital piano. It usually has 61 keys (sometimes even less) with four or five octaves with keys smaller and non‑weighted, thus making it easier to press. It offers a wide variety of sounds and tones so you can play with accompaniments and different rhythms and styles. The keyboard has MIDI and USB connection capabilities.
Best Beginner’s Piano Brands
When buying a musical instrument, it is important that you go for trusted brands to ensure that you will get quality for your money. Here are some of the best manufacturers of pianos in the industry:
The Yamaha Corporation had had a long history in making pianos as it started as a manufacturer of one as well as the reed organ when it was still Nikkon Gakki Co. Ltd. that was established in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha. This Japanese multinational corporation with the logo of three tuning forks interlocked founded a music school in 1954. It has become the largest manufacturer of musical instruments, including the piano, guitar, violin, drums, and brass instruments in the world.
C Series grands and U Series uprights were the first pianos they designed, manufactured, and patented with the C Series said to be the most recorded piano in history as world-class artists are known to play this include Paul McCartney, Alicia Keys, John Legend, and Elton John. The company was the first to successfully make a commercial digital synthesizer, Yamaha DX7, in 1983. Their Clavinova YP-40 in 1983 was able to put the quality of performance of a grand piano in an electric keyboard. This premium digital piano was included in TIME’s most influential technologies along with iPhone and color TV. Yamaha offers an extensive range of acoustic pianos, hybrid, and digital pianos.
This Japanese company was established in 1927 by Koichi Kawai, an apprentice of his neighbor, Torakusu Yamaha, and part of the research and development team. When Yamaha died in 1916, and the company expanded and diversified its production line under the new management, Kawai left the company in 1927 and went on to establish Kawai Musical Instrument Research Laboratory. After Koichi died, his son, Shigeru Kawai, became the company president. Then it was passed on to Shigeru’s son, Hirotaka Kawai, and it is now known as the Kawai Musical Instrument Manufacturing Company.
The company’s drive for continuous technological innovations has improved the piano’s durability, the stability of performance, and tone quality. They made use of ABS composite to eliminate the problem with wood shrinkage and swelling because of humidity, thus affecting piano action. Kawai made significant firsts in digital pianos, such as authentic wooden keys for a natural or real acoustic piano movement and one with a wooden soundboard that is inexpensive. The company received multiple awards year after year for product excellence of their digital pianos, digital hybrid, and stage and grand pianos.
Casio Computer Co., Ltd., a Japanese multinational company, was first known as the manufacturer of electric calculators and digital watches. However, in 1980, they started making electronic keyboards, the first being the Casiotone 201, and made them more affordable and more accessible to aspiring piano players. They continue to make improvements throughout the years. They added several features, including one-touch auto-accompaniment, melody guide function with keys lighting up, autoplay, and memory capacity for recording and playback.
Roland Corporation is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments. In 1972, its founder, Ikutaru Kakehashi, who had no musical training, wanted to make simple, small, and affordable instruments for people who wanted to play for fun or as a hobby. They made the first compact synth, SH-1000, in Japan in 1973. Roland made the first electronic piano with touch-sensitive keys in 1974, the first MIDI sequencer in 1983, and the first digital piano based on digital synthesis in 1986. They continue to develop great features for their synths and digital pianos.
The F-120 model is the flagship digital piano from Roland that caters for the beginner piano market.
Korg, Inc. that manufactures electronic musical instruments was founded by Tsutomu Kato and Tadashi Osanai in 1962. Fumio Mieda built a prototype for programmable organ in 1967 for Kato, and it was later sold bearing the name Korg. With this technology, they released their first synth, the MiniKorg, a monophonic analog synth with 2 VCOs, three-ring modulators, and 37 keys in 1973.
The company started producing digital pianos in the early 80s. Their synth was the first to feature effects and use the synthesis plus sample design. Yamaha acquired a majority of the shares of Korg in 1987, and Kato was able to buy them back in 1993. Korg was part of the group consisting of Yamaha, Kawai, Sequential Circuits, and Roland that agreed to have a standard interface and contributed to the creation and development of MIDI.
Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Piano
With all the best brands that offer a wide array of pianos, you might find it useful to have a guideline in choosing which one to get.
The first thing you have to consider is your budget. How much can you afford? Having a limited budget would certainly limit your options, but as a beginner, this shouldn’t worry you. When learning to play the piano, you need not get the most expensive or the one with the most sophisticated features; something simple and basic would do for a start. Space for playing is also a consideration. Where will you play the piano? Keep in mind that they come in various shapes and sizes. It should fit the room or the place where you intend to use it. Are you going to bring it with you when you travel? Do you want something portable and light that you can carry? You should also determine if you’re going to learn to play the acoustic or digital piano. They are both excellent; it is all a matter of preference. Check out the sounds or acoustics, the features and functionalities, and the instrument’s maintenance to help you decide. Lastly, buy them from reputable stores.
Buying a piano for a beginner need not be complicated when you are choosing from what the best brands have to offer. You might already have something in mind for what you want to buy, but do not limit yourself. Know what’s available and see what else they are offering. You might discover something even better than what you thought was the best one for you. Check out their online stores and explore them.