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Thread: Piano vs Keyboard

  1. #1

    Piano vs Keyboard

    Which one is better?

    Actually really ... what is the difference

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Depends on how you will use them. Keyboard is easier to carry to a gig, that is obvious. They are less expensive, smaller, etc.

    An acoustic piano is what the keyboards are engineered to sound like. The more you pay the closer the keyboard will come to sounding like an acoustic piano. An acoustic piano is also a piece of furniture, if you have the space and the money go with the piano, if not look at a keyboard.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 09-25-2009 at 02:29 AM.

  3. #3
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    The quality of keyboard sounds has been rocketing up in recent years. Most keyboards (even of budget price) do a pretty good piano sound, providing you put it through an appropriate amp.

    They are also more versatile because they often have other interesting sounds.

    Really, though, as you pay more and more for a keyboard what you get is better action. Cheap keyboards have keys which don't bounce back in the same way. More expensive keyboards have "weighted keys" which simulate the bounce that a piano has when the hammer returns to place.

    Having a good action is very important to a keyboardist's playing style. Some things can only be played when that "bounce" is there!
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  4. #4
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    keyboards are electronic, pianos are mechanical.

    for me, the decision is simple, keyboard.

    i'd get a keyboard with good action that can be portable and has speakers. the one i want is the yamaha p85.

    what's cool about keyboards is you can record in midi, this means you can map any sounds of any instrument to the keyboard if you get good sample packs for it.

    what else is cool is that you can edit what you played in your midi editor for recording, and fix mistakes you may have made.

    some keyboards have what's called really good action, weighted keys. this means they feel alot like a real piano does. this to me is real important.

    sound wise they're really good now also, but this depends one you buy and/or on the sample packs you use with it.

    but as far as sound and feel goes, real pianos are much better than keyboards, but as all things it also depends on how much you spend, you could find a keyboard that has better feel and sound than a piano does, just like you can find a girl that's better at sports than a guy is. but the olympics are split in sexe department for a reason, because in general men are better at physical activity than women are. same for the pianos. in general pianos are better for feel and sound than keyboards.

    but you can put headphones on for you keyboard, and map drums and cellos and horns to your keyboard, all with great sound, and you can carry it around more easily.

    so for me, i'd get a good keyboard over a piano, but a nothing beats a great real acoustic piano for great piano sound and feel. that's why you could spend a quarter of a million dollars on one.

  5. #5
    I have never found a keyboard that sounds as good or feels as good as a real piano and I have played lots of them. (I used to work at a music store.)

    That said, you are really comparing apples to oranges. Do you mind the weight? Will you need to gig with it? Can you spare the space? Do you have the bucks? Do you mind having it tuned twice a year? What does your wife say, etc, etc.

    Apples to oranges.

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Piano only has one sound, and is not portable.

    So it depends on (a) how much you like that one sound (no keyboard gets really close to it), and (b) whether you need to carry your instrument from place to place (ie for gigs).

    (b) is going to be the deciding factor for many. If you are gigging (and either there is no piano at the venue, or you don't want to risk it being out of tune or unplayable for whatever reason), then you have no option but a digital/electronic version. (Well, unless you have 3 or 4 roadies willing to cart a real piano around for you... and if you're that fussy, you'll be worried about damaging it or putting it out of tune...)
    There are digital/electronic keyboards with very good actions that feel pretty close to a real piano (Yamaha P90 is one of the recognised best).
    It then comes down to the sounds they make, or the sounds you can get from a MIDI module. That's personal taste of course. Few pianists will regard a digital sound as anything but an inferior copy, but for many purposes it will do the job. Eg, for rock gigs, nobody (apart from the pianist) is going to care. (Recorded piano sounds are processed in many artificial ways anyway, and were probably digital to begin with.)
    Also, of course, an electronic set-up means the volume and sound can be more easily controlled. Even a very good acoustic piano is subject to whatever PA system is used - a miked up Steinway may sound worse than a digital keyboard through an amp. Also most digital pianos have more than one sound onboard (none of them quite as good as a real one, but at least there's variety - you'll probably get organ sounds and others too...)

    An additional aspect - (c) - is if you just want to use it at home, but either space is at a premium, or noise is a problem. In that case, a keyboard is preferable because it's smaller, and you can play it through headphones and annoy no-one.

    But it remains the case that no pianist is fully satisfied until they have a real acoustic machine under their hands...

  7. #7
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Piano only has one sound, and is not portable.

    So it depends on (a) how much you like that one sound (no keyboard gets really close to it), and (b) whether you need to carry your instrument from place to place (ie for gigs).

    (b) is going to be the deciding factor for many. If you are gigging (and either there is no piano at the venue, or you don't want to risk it being out of tune or unplayable for whatever reason), then you have no option but a digital/electronic version. (Well, unless you have 3 or 4 roadies willing to cart a real piano around for you... and if you're that fussy, you'll be worried about damaging it or putting it out of tune...)
    There are digital/electronic keyboards with very good actions that feel pretty close to a real piano (Yamaha P90 is one of the recognised best).
    It then comes down to the sounds they make, or the sounds you can get from a MIDI module. That's personal taste of course. Few pianists will regard a digital sound as anything but an inferior copy, but for many purposes it will do the job. Eg, for rock gigs, nobody (apart from the pianist) is going to care. (Recorded piano sounds are processed in many artificial ways anyway, and were probably digital to begin with.)
    Also, of course, an electronic set-up means the volume and sound can be more easily controlled. Even a very good acoustic piano is subject to whatever PA system is used - a miked up Steinway may sound worse than a digital keyboard through an amp. Also most digital pianos have more than one sound onboard (none of them quite as good as a real one, but at least there's variety - you'll probably get organ sounds and others too...)

    An additional aspect - (c) - is if you just want to use it at home, but either space is at a premium, or noise is a problem. In that case, a keyboard is preferable because it's smaller, and you can play it through headphones and annoy no-one.

    But it remains the case that no pianist is fully satisfied until they have a real acoustic machine under their hands...
    There is another advantage to keyboards which everyone is forgetting (or forgetting to mention): synths!!! OK, perhaps synths aren't everyone's bag. But I don't think its fair to compare keyboard only on how well they model existing acoustic instruments. I have yet to see someone use a Steinway to make DX7 sounds. I have already seen someone use a Roland keyboard to play a very plausible "Prelude in C# minor" and the tone (although not as good as a real piano) was believable.

    As a side issue, for my money & the type of music I play, what I enjoy most is when I can jam with a Fender Rhodes through a Fender amp. Delicious!
    Last edited by bluesking; 10-07-2009 at 09:44 AM.
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  8. #8
    Registered User jimc8p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking View Post
    OK, perhaps synths aren't everyone's bag. But I don't think its fair to compare keyboard only on how well they model existing acoustic instruments.
    Besides the fact that this thread was originally spam..keyboard has an amazing amount more potential than acoustic piano. Keyboards can in fact model instruments, for all intents and purposes, to perfection. There's a very rare and old harpsichord (I think) which was recorded to create a sample synth that captured every minute nuance of each key at various velocities. More or less a perfect digital replica. Obviously this kind of thing has a massive amount of potential.

  9. #9
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    Ya you can get great sample packs that have different sounds for the different ntoes, and different velocitices you play. on a recording they're quite copmarable to the real thing. there are many nuances and stuff.

    but the fact of the matter is, live it's another story, for the musician it's another story, because although the sounds correlate correctly with velocities, and your action on your piano is pretty good, you're still not hitting a key that moving a hammer that's bouncing off strings of correct tightness for that sound, and with correct feedback for that velocity, and consequently vibrating the entire body of the piano and filling the whole instrument, and therefore room, with the sound comming off those strings.

    whereas a keyboard the sound is coming out of speakers. but on a recording there's not much difference there, even if you wanted to multi mic your piano, there are ways of faking this digitally.

    but ya i didn't metnion synths specifically, but what i meant was you can map any sound and any instrument to your keyboard via midi. DX7s are a little old and difficult to write nice modern synths though. I like FM8 from native instruments for that.

    but ya a midi keyboard is incredibly versatile, portable, and nowadays have pretty good action. but they still can't replace a real piano all other things being equal i'd always prefer to play a real piano over a keybard, even if the keyboard has better sounds mapped to it.

  10. #10
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fingerpikingood View Post
    but ya i didn't metnion synths specifically, but what i meant was you can map any sound and any instrument to your keyboard via midi. DX7s are a little old and difficult to write nice modern synths though. I like FM8 from native instruments for that.
    DX7s rule. If you want to play funk, disco, hip hop, any of that kind of stuff they are where its at! Pretty hard to get hold of and maintain nowadays of course, and I'll take your word on how hard they are to program. I have never tried programming one.
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  11. #11
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking View Post
    There is another advantage to keyboards which everyone is forgetting (or forgetting to mention): synths!!!
    Well yes of course! But I was assuming because the OP was asking for comparisons with a piano, he/she was interested in a relatively close resemblance...

    After all, you may as well ask "guitar or synth?" Synths can make guitar sounds... sort of... (no less realistic than most of their other sounds...) Much more versatile than a guitar in countless ways. But as a guitarist, would you ever be happy? I doubt it.

  12. #12
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimc8p View Post
    Besides the fact that this thread was originally spam..
    I must have missed that.

  13. #13
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    Well yes of course! But I was assuming because the OP was asking for comparisons with a piano, he/she was interested in a relatively close resemblance...

    After all, you may as well ask "guitar or synth?" Synths can make guitar sounds... sort of... (no less realistic than most of their other sounds...) Much more versatile than a guitar in countless ways. But as a guitarist, would you ever be happy? I doubt it.
    I sort of get your point. But you play a synth using a keyboard interface, same as a piano. Yes, sure there are MIDI guitars, but they are pretty rare (although Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is a big fan of them I think).

    I have a bit of a cold feeling for synths which attempt to sound like another instrument. It is never really satisfactory. But synths have their own value, when they are not trying to impersonate another instrument and this is where I think they belong.
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  14. #14
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking View Post
    I sort of get your point. But you play a synth using a keyboard interface, same as a piano. Yes, sure there are MIDI guitars, but they are pretty rare (although Jeff "Skunk" Baxter is a big fan of them I think).

    I have a bit of a cold feeling for synths which attempt to sound like another instrument. It is never really satisfactory. But synths have their own value, when they are not trying to impersonate another instrument and this is where I think they belong.
    Sure.
    I've always been somewhat surprised that synths haven't yet taken over music-making in a bigger way. Their flexibility of sound manipulation is staggering. (Using them to just copy "natural" acoustic instruments is a bit like the way early movie films were made to look like theatre plays. Pointless and short-sighted.)
    I guess musicians (and audiences too) are just a highly conservative bunch. (and I suppose I include myself in that. But then I'm 60, so I've got an excuse. )

  15. #15
    Registered User jimc8p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    I've always been somewhat surprised that synths haven't yet taken over music-making in a bigger way. Their flexibility of sound manipulation is staggering. (Using them to just copy "natural" acoustic instruments is a bit like the way early movie films were made to look like theatre plays. Pointless and short-sighted.)
    I guess musicians (and audiences too) are just a highly conservative bunch. (and I suppose I include myself in that. But then I'm 60, so I've got an excuse. )
    I think you'd be suprised how much midi is used in music production...I would say it's almost completely taken over in the grand scheme of things. A fully acoustic record is pretty much a rarity..most people don't realise that even today's mainstream rock is using synthesised guitars and drums. And of course the value of emulating orchestral or 'ethnic' music is obvious (basically everything you hear on the TV and in films.)

    Here's a reasonably priced guitar synth just to give an idea of the sound quality attainable with an amateur budget (listen to 'A Tour of the Guitars'). Not the best, but a good example..

    http://www.vir2.com/4DCGI/vir2/produ...ndex.html?1236

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