digital or upright?

Posted by: joelandre123

digital or upright? - 07/18/04 08:35 PM

what does most people like these days? upright piano or digital? hope to hear your views! Thanks.
Posted by: nan

Re: digital or upright? - 07/18/04 10:05 PM

Well, my two cents worth are you have got to go out and try different pianos and decide for yourself. There are good acoustic pianos with a switch so you can also have the digital advantage of practicing when you want (I saw a Yamaha U1 upright with this feature which was a reaonable price). Some people are very attached to the acoustic which I can understand. It is good to have the real thing. But, you can get an excellent digital for less than what a so-so acoustic will cost. Take your time and try them all out. Good Luck!
Posted by: Bob Muir

Re: digital or upright? - 07/18/04 11:14 PM

Only buy a digital if you simply must have a piano that you can play with headphones. IMHO
Posted by: signa

Re: digital or upright? - 07/19/04 08:46 AM

i played on both and like the both, for different reasons perhaps.
Posted by: jaxkewl

Re: digital or upright? - 07/19/04 09:09 AM

i bought a digital piano, p-120 yamaha and its great the keys feel good, but then i am beginner so i dont know.

pros
adjustable volume
headphone jack
never needs tuning
size
cost
record music
comes with metronome for people like me
comes with 50 preloaded songs
different instruments
sensitivity adjustments.


cons
doesnt sound like the "real thing"
any others? im not biased, i just dont know...
Posted by: teachum

Re: digital or upright? - 07/19/04 10:39 PM

When I got my first piano years back I debated on getting a good digital or acoustic. I went back and forth between the two and finally the purist in me won out. I just couldn't get away from the feel of the "real thing". I was never sorry I bought a "real" piano. Now I am moving to a Grand and can see the use of a really good digital for silent practice, but for me, "the real thing is the only thing". Bells and whistles do nothing for me. They can be fun, but...
Posted by: Neus A.

Re: digital or upright? - 07/20/04 05:32 AM

Before I bought the Pleyel, I considered a digital to play at night. You know, with children, work, ... it is difficult to practice at normal hours. I tried a few digitals but .. finally decided that I would practice less but on a "real" one.
Posted by: mark2048

Re: digital or upright? - 07/20/04 08:25 AM

We inherited a 1950's Mason & Hamlin upright in ok condition. I wanted to have a "real" piano for my kids lessons. Then we bought a Yamaha p250 (their top of the line stage piano) for quiet practice and for fun. I'm just a beginner along with my kids, but I'm picky about sound quality, tuning, and action. After a few weeks I found that I didn't want to play the upright anymore and now I use the digital all the time (about 1-2 hours per day). My brother, who has played piano for 30 years says it well: "I would always prefer to play a good digital over a bad upright".
Posted by: joelandre123

Re: digital or upright? - 07/21/04 01:04 AM

i heard people saying that although yamaha upright is good, they have too light keys which is the cons of it... i am considering a kawai or yamaha 2nd hand upright or a yamaha clavinova or a casio digital piano... are they consider high end digital or low end upright?

given only these comparisons, what will be the choice of yours?
Posted by: Roxane

Re: digital or upright? - 07/21/04 05:18 AM

Joelandre125, you need to give a budget for any meaningful recommendations. And you need to state your goals in playing the piano, whether to play serious advanced classical pieces or fun pop music.

FWIW, I have a Yamaha Grantouch, which is considered the best digital in terms of approximation to a piano action and sound. It allows me to practise at night and transfer to my 6' grand in the day. I feel the Grantouch has an slight edge over my old Yamaha U3X and plays better than many small acoustics. But it does costs more than a new U5. However, it is *still* a digital, which means that many nuances in touch and tone cannot be reproduced. You might not notice this as a beginner, but it will start to limit you later if you wish to develop as a classical pianist.

Your best course would be to bring an advanced pianist with you to shop either for the acoustic upright or the digital. As a beginner, you really cannot judge the *action* on these. While tone is important, a pianist needs a good action in order to develop the appropriate touch and sound of the instrument. If your teacher is willing to help you shop, even better. My teacher often helps her students in shopping for a piano, so yours might do the same.

All this is assuming that you wish to develop as a serious classical pianist. If you are just playing for enjoyment and do not intend to progress beyond the intermediate level, then a good digital with its plethora of sounds and effects might satisfy your requirements better than an upright.
Posted by: nan

Re: digital or upright? - 07/21/04 08:38 AM

Roxane, The digital vs. acoustic info you provide is interesting because I sure do wonder about it. When should someone switch to an acoustic -- when they become advanced? I have been playing for three years and am an intermediate. I just bought a high end Clavinova (CLP 990) with wooden keys. From your last post, it sounds like at some time I'll out grow it. How will I know when to move to an acoustic?
Posted by: Roxane

Re: digital or upright? - 07/21/04 10:43 AM

Nan, by all accounts, the CLP 990 is pretty good, but while in the Yamaha store some months ago, I still have yet to play a Clavinova that feels authentic.

When you outgrow your digital depends on how sensitive you are as a pianist and how good a teacher you have. You might come to a point where you can play the notes and dynamics properly and at the correct speed but when compared to a recording, your playing (on an acoustic, of course) just does not sound as good in terms of tone and colour. Although playing the piano seems to be just about hitting the correct notes hard or lightly, *how* the finger contacts the key and which muscles (finger/hand/arm/body) are applying the force will produce different tones or colour. You might be able to tell such subtleties, but then again, I know many advanced pianists who cannot appreciate, much less produce, the full spectrum of the tonal palette. Merely being able to play difficult pieces correctly at speed with the right dynamics is not enough; this is what separates the mediocre from the good. You can think of this more easily when you compare violinists: the tone produced by a concert violinist is far fuller and rounder and more satisfying tonally than the screeches emitted by a fledgling student. In the piano, the constrast is less dramatic, but it is there if you care to listen.

As I understand it, the sound of a digital is sampled at discreet levels of dynamics (loudness) and everything is interpolated or extrapolated based on these samples. On an acoustic, the same level of loudness can be produced by striking the key in different ways, but the tonal colour can be very different. I very much doubt that manufacturers would produce a robotic arm capable of varying the touch of striking the key and sample a single key in the many possible ways. It is technologically feasible, but the economics of such an undertaking would many times more than what is currently practised. After all, 99.99% of people who buy a digital would be unable to distingush such nuances. Even many pianists who play advanced pieces are lacking in this area.

Therefore, unless you have a well-regulated decent acoustic piano, you would be unable to experiment with your touch and the shifts in tonal colour that are produced. A good teacher should also be able to point out problems with your tone production and teach you how to vary your touch for different tones. However, these may be quite rare; I had the misfortune of spending most of my formative years on the piano with 5 different teachers who never brought up the subject of how weak my tone was. One of these teachers turned out a few international concert artists (don't ask me how) and one of them has a PhD in piano, but none were concerned about tone production. It was frustrating because however well I played the notes, I could never match the sound in recordings, but with my current teacher, I can \:\)

This is why people who are considering a digital need to know their goals in playing the piano, whether as a serious classical pianist or an amateur closet pop player. A good digital is fine for starting out when one is more concerned with reading the notes and finding the keys etc., but why not develop the proper technique for producing beautiful tones right from the outset?
Posted by: signa

Re: digital or upright? - 07/21/04 12:27 PM

i agree with what you said about tone and color, but maybe 90% people who are learning piano or buying one don't have a goal to become a concert pianist or a public piano performer, so that tone and color issue is not that important to them.

btw, only very advanced pianists have the ability to control tone and color on piano.
Posted by: Roxane

Re: digital or upright? - 07/21/04 01:26 PM

Signa, that is why it is important to identify one's goal. But it is equally important to point out to beginners the possibilities that exist in piano playing and the limitations of digitals vs acoustic upright vs grand in allowing the player to explore these. Like nan, one could well start off with a digital (even a bad one) and progress to something better later on. At least, the decision made at any stage would be an informed one.

And it is not true that only advanced pianists can appreciate and reproduce a good tone. I know of children who have been taught various and correct techniques from the start being able to play simple pieces but with a full, rich sound and varied colour. Pique, a regular on these forums, who is an intermediate pianist (with a good ear), recounted recently how she was able to improve her tone simply because she practises on a Grotian grand (one of the best instruments). Here is where the quality of instrument, the ear of the pianist and a good teacher work together.