- Not everyone can afford Acoustic Pianos
- Not everyone wants the hassle of Acoustic Pianos
- Why more and more Classical Pianists also use Digital Pianos
Many classical pianists now use digital pianos as a backup to their main acoustic-only instrument. We all love acoustic pianos and they are great for live performances and recitals in concert halls but they equally have downsides.
Not everyone can afford Acoustic Pianos
First and foremost, a concert grand is very expensive. Something like a Steinway, Bosendorfer, Bechstein, Hoffman, Yamaha, etc. are tens of thousands of dollars just for a fairly reasonable model and the higher-end models can go well over a hundred thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money. Even budget concert models from Hailun, Geyer or Kawai cost many thousands.
So, people used to settle for upright acoustics, but these are still pricey, don’t sound the same as a ‘real’ grand and have some of the same issues as acoustic grand pianos, described below.
Not everyone wants the hassle of Acoustic Pianos
While we all love acoustic pianos, the truth is they are high maintenance and come with a lot of hassles.
The first hassle is their size. Not everyone has the space for a grand or even a baby grand and even an upright is going to have a fairly big footprint.
The second hassle is their weight. Have you ever tried moving one into an apartment or up a flight of stairs? It’s a nightmare.
The third hassle is their delicacy. Despite being big and heavy, acoustic pianos are actually pretty fragile. They go out of tune (especially when moved) and it’s cost and hassle to get them re-tuned. They don’t like heat, cold or moisture either. They are also a tasty snack for various household critters.
So, what is the best digital piano for classical pianists? In order to answer that question sensibly, you first need to break down the different uses cases. So, there are many reasons why classical pianists choose a digital piano. Let’s look at each in turn.
Why more and more Classical Pianists also use Digital Pianos
The first reason classical pianists use digital pianos as well as (not instead of) acoustic, is that not all classical pianists, especially students, can afford to have an acoustic piano at home, especially not a concert grand. So, they are likely to look for a realistic playing and sounding model but they don’t really need portability.
The second reason is living away from home. So a classical music student, living in rented accommodation or a student communal hall isn’t going to be very popular asking to move a baby grand acoustic piano in. They will be even less popular practicing late at night. So a fairly portable digital piano makes a lot of sense in terms of practicality and also cost – as well as keeping their neighbors and landlords happy.
The third reason is to travel. A professional musician out on the road and staying in a series of hotels can’t move an acoustic piano around with them and even if they could, it isn’t going to be very popular with other guests playing it. So, this group of classical pianists need a very portable and lightweight model.
The fourth reason is one-on-one private education and tutoring. Modern digital pianos have some great features both for students and also for tutors. On some models you can split keyboards, allowing tutors and students to play alongside each other. You can capture performances and lessons via MIDI and send them via the Internet. So, this third and fourth group of classical pianists (classical piano tutors and students) need digital pianos with corresponding education-based features.
The fifth reason is where a public school is teaching music to large classes. In this case, cost and robustness will be important, as a school might need a lot of digital pianos, and some of the digital pianos might have a pretty hard life at the hands of pupils and students.
The final reason is performance. Now, we aren’t saying that a digital piano replaces an acoustic concert grand piano for a classical music recital. However, there are use cases where it might be ‘good enough’ or at least more practical and affordable. So, there’s a range of possible small venues where a digital piano can be a good fit compared to an acoustic model. This includes restaurants, hotels, clubs, cruise ships, houses of worship etc. In these kinds of use cases, then a really good sound is important
These are some of the key use cases where a digital piano fits, but of course, there can be others too.
So, there is no one “best digital piano for classical pianists” but rather different kinds will suit different use-cases.
Finally, no one is saying acoustic pianos are going away – but we have seen so many uses cases where they are a great additional instrument for a classical pianist to use, that their popularity is just going to keep growing. Plus each year, digital pianos just get better and better.