Do you know the difference between a piano and a keyboard? You may be surprised to learn that there are several key differences between these two instruments.
One major difference between the two instruments is the keys themselves. Pianos have weighted keys. They are heavier and carry the weight of the hammer mechanism, while keyboard keys are usually lighter and many are unweighted. Additionally, pianos always have 88 keynotes, while keyboards can have 61 or 78 keys.
Ready to hear more about piano vs keyboard? Make sure to keep reading as we dive deep into the world of piano vs keyboard!
The Piano and Its History
The grand and upright piano is one of our most beloved musical instruments today, and its ancestry can be traced back to 500 BC when the Greeks developed the dulcimer. This acoustic instrument had strings that were played, and it was the first ancestor of the piano.
Fast forward to the late 1700s, and we find one of the first unusual pianos built by a mate of Mozarts; Johann Schmidt from Salzburg, Austria in 1780.
Other patents followed shortly after, and then came Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731) of Padua. He invented the first true piano almost entirely by himself, and it was a major technological advancement in keyboard-stringed instruments. He was the Godfather of all grand pianos.
Through several centuries of innovation, this beloved instrument has become a staple in many homes for entertainment and learning.
An acoustic piano is technically a stringed musical instrument (!) that produces sound when its strings are struck by wooden hammers.
In 1826, Robert Wornum invented the upright piano in London, England, with diagonal strings and a specific action structure. This invention allowed pianos to become more popular and accessible to people worldwide.
Today, acoustic upright pianos are still a popular choice for musicians and music lovers alike.
Digital pianos are electronic keyboards designed to be an alternative to the traditional acoustic piano. In the past thirty years, digital pianos have evolved to offer great sound.
Digital pianos have onboard, pre-recorded instrument samples that can be played expressively using the keys. These allowed musicians to express their creativity in new ways and opened up new possibilities for songwriting and performance. But a Digital Piano is different to a keyboard…
The Keyboard and Its History
A keyboard instrument is a type of musical instrument that consists of a set of parallel levers hinged or pivoted so that they can be pushed down by the fingers.
These types of instruments have been around since the Ancient Greeks, with the first kind of keyboard instrument being the Pipe Organ in 300 BCE. Since then, keyboard instruments have evolved over time, from the Clavichord to the modern Grand Piano and digital keyboard. The layout of the modern keyboard has its roots in Bartolomeo Cristofori’s invention in 1655-1731
Today, keyboard instruments are used in a variety of genres, from classical music to pop music, and they continue to evolve as technology advances.
The 5 Main Differences between Piano and Keyboard
When it comes to musical instruments, the piano and keyboard can be easily confused. Let’s take a look at the five main differences between the two.
Touch and Feel
Piano keys are heavier and carry the weight of the strings behind them, whereas keyboards are lighter because their sound is electronically produced.
A piano also has a sustain pedal ‘inbuilt’, whereas most keyboards don’t.
Portability and Size
Pianos are usually large and designed to stay in the same place. In contrast, many keyboards are very light and can be transported easily.
The “action” of a keyboard or piano refers to how the keys respond when being pressed down. Pianos, being acoustic instruments, usually have more action and a weighted feel to them when played.
Digital pianos tend to have weighted keys, keyboards sometimes do, but more often then not, don’t.
All pianos have keys of the same width, and most decent keyboards have the same as a standard piano.
The sound from a piano is produced and amplified physically because it’s an acoustic instrument. While keyboards, as they are electronic instruments, produce sound erm, electronically! This means you can play at different volumes using a volume knob. These volume options on a keyboard are often the biggest advantage over a piano; the ability to play at all times of day and night with headphones (so your neighbours don’t get angry) is a massive plus…
Which to Choose: Piano or a Keyboard?
If you are a beginner and trying to decide between a piano or a keyboard, it all comes down to the type of music you want to play and where you plan to play it.
If you’re looking for a more traditional piano experience and have the physical space and money, then an acoustic piano may be the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more modern sound and need the flexibility of playing at various locations (or in silence), then a keyboard may be your best option.
Benefits of Playing the Piano
Playing the piano can be a great way to improve your mental health! Studies show that time spent at the keyboard can reduce feelings of anxiety, loneliness and depression. Playing the piano also offers physical and physiological benefits such as improved fine motor skills, dexterity and math skills.
You’ll also learn perseverance, which is a valuable life lesson. And don’t forget the stress relief and mindfulness of playing beautiful music.
Yamaha B1 Acoustic Upright Piano
COMBINING ART AND TECHNOLOGY
Perfect for: All playing level skills
Designed with smaller spaces in mind, yet still features a full 88-note keyboard.
With responsive key action which produces significant tonal changes on touch
Comes with 30 online piano lessons with unlimited 24/7 access
Tuned & prepared by Yamaha’s Acoustic Piano Technician
Has a superb dynamic range
More expensive than other counterparts
The TedScore: 9/10
Kawai DG30 Digital Piano
A REFINED PLAYING EXPERIENCE
Perfect for: Beginner to advanced level pianists
Stunning compact grand piano cabinet
Enjoy a refined playing experience with details like let-off simulation
Feel incredible sensitivity with counterweights in each key
Experience both the Shigeru Kawai SK-EX and Kawai EX concert grand piano sounds
This piano captures the style perfectly
A great electric piano to start with
With beautiful sound quality and feel to match
The TedScore: 8/10
Benefits of Playing a Keyboard
Playing a keyboard can improve your coordination and dexterity, as it requires precise movements of your hands and fingers. But so does a piano!
Keyboard lessons are an interchangeable term, like a piano teacher.
So aside from the fact you can play a keyboard with headphones, and that they’re cheaper, the benefits are the same!
Casio CT X700 Portable Keyboard
ENDLESS PLAYING POSSIBILITIES
Perfect For: Beginners and advancing players
Easy-to-use functions for beginners and advancing players
Compact and portable design
With built-in piano lesson functions and song bank with over 150 songs
Experiment with Casio’s new AiX sound source
Easily learn to play songs with the Step-Up Lesson system
Price slightly higher than other brands
The TedScore: 8/10
Summary – Difference Between Keyboard and Piano
The piano and keyboard share so many similarities. The concepts you learn and practice on a piano can also be applied when playing on a keyboard, and vice versa.
Now that we’ve looked at and dissected both the piano and keyboard, there are differences between the two instruments that are worth noting, hence this piano vs keyboard article! Some of these include their size, range, sound, portability and cost.
Although the piano and keyboard have the same general purpose and are two different types of the same instrument, you’d still want to make sure to consider their differences when choosing the best one that suits your situation!
So go ahead and get creative – have fun learning the piano or keyboard!
Is it better to learn piano or keyboard?
It doesn’t matter if you learn on an acoustic piano, or an electronic keyboard, they are essentially the same for learning purposes. Digital keyboards do have an advantage in that you can play them with headphones so to not disturb others.
Is it harder to play the keyboard or the piano?
It can be harder to play the piano than electric pianos/electronic keyboards, depending on your experience and the type of instrument you’re using. Keyboards usually have softer keyboard actions, which can make it easier to play music at a beginner level.
Is it OK to learn piano on a keyboard?
It’s perfectly OK to learn piano on a keyboard! Having keyboard lessons and having piano lessons are essentially the same thing. It’s just one involved you playing an electronic instrument, the other you play piano. However, unlike pianos of the acoustic variety, you can plug in headphones into electronic pianos which can be really helpful in learning piano where you might be disturbing others.
Is keyboard easier than piano?
The keys of a keyboard can be much lighter than the piano’s, making them easier for a beginner to play, especially a young child who hasn’t yet developed the necessary strength and coordination. Plus, keyboards are typically more portable and require less maintenance than acoustic pianos. But either way, playing technique, finger movements and learning music theory are all important, regardless of if you end up on a keyboard or a piano.