Piano vs. Keyboard
What Do Beginner Students Need?
Should I Buy a Piano?
Perhaps you are considering starting piano lessons for a beginner student, child, or even yourself. The big question is should you start with a full wooden piano or a plastic, electric keyboard. The good news is there is no wrong answer. There is a common misconception floating around that a beginner students should start lessons on a real wooden, living, breathing piano without exception. While it is not necessary, there is some merit to this ideology. It all comes down to the purpose of the lessons. As a student, if your intention is to take lessons for many years, eventually participate in UIL competitions, and perhaps one day become a concert pianist, then “the real deal” may be for you.
From a long-term investment stand point, a real piano will help you increase your finger strength much faster due to the heavier action of the keys versus thin plastic keys on a keyboard. The greater resistance of the keys will also help the student retain greater finger strength in the long run with regular practice. In addition, most people find real pianos to have a much richer sound and overall tone. One of the biggest deterrents of purchasing a full piano albeit a stand-up or baby grand, is the price. Before making the decision of buying a real piano you need to fully know what you’re getting yourself into.
Pianos are much more expensive than keyboards, especially when purchased brand new. A decent brand new upright piano for example will usually cost into the thousands of dollars.
A used upright piano in decent condition can be purchased online for under $1000.00 depending on brand and condition. In either case, new or used, don’t forget the cost of moving the piano into your home and the regular tuning and maintenance that goes along with owning a real piano. Pianos include delicate moving parts which must be maintained and regulated as the piano settles. Piano tuning technicians generally recommend tuning once every quarter, or four times per year.
The average cost of a basic piano tuning will be around $100 per hour. If the technician is just starting out, that number may be closer to $75.00 per hour on the low end. The bottom line is having a real piano in your home is a long term investment. It is not a coffee table or couch you set and forget. Ongoing maintenance is a must if you want your piano to last and bring joy to your family for years to come.
Should I Buy a Keyboard?
If you are on a budget or unsure if you or your child are going to stick with it for the long haul, you may want to purchase a keyboard. Keyboards are MUCH more affordable than pianos and are portable in most cases. A decent 61-key starter keyboard set will usually start around $129.99 brand new. As with anything, the sky’s the limit. For a little more money, you can have a full 76 or 88-key keyboard with semi-weighted keys. This is not a piano replacement but a semi-weighted keyboard has a much more “real” feel.
Whether you go with the most budget friendly option or the flagship model with all the bells and whistles, starting with a keyboard is a great introduction to the piano without making too much of a commitment upfront. This gives the student a chance to see if piano is the right fit without jumping off the deep end. An obvious advantage to going the keyboard route is there is zero ongoing maintenance required.
An electric keyboard will always be in tune and in many cases will have additional tools at the student’s disposal. If a piano teacher tells you to purchase a real piano before starting lessons, RUN! It is a tragedy when a potential student is kept from learning the joys of piano and playing music when finances won’t allow for a real piano and the teacher will teach on nothing else. The most important thing is to begin!
If you are having trouble finding the right keyboard, we have an updated list of keyboards we recommend in all price ranges at HERE. Included are links each keyboard can be purchased online.
Which is better?
In the end, there is no right answer when it comes to purchasing a piano or a keyboard. It will just depend specific needs and goals of the beginner student. 95% of our students take lessons on a keyboard and purchase a piano, if needed, later on. In the end, the best option is up to you!