Acoustic vs digital, what is the best piano for beginners?

Your fingers twitch whenever you see the keys. You ache with yearning whenever you walk past one. Time stops whenever you hear the notes being played. We see you. Maybe it’s crossed your mind already. Maybe you’re convinced you’ll be the next Mozart. But don’t get ahead of yourself. Before you can start playing those beautiful melodies, you must first choose your piano. With so many choices out there, it can be a little overwhelming. Buying a piano is a life-long investment. And so, to help you, we’ve compiled a guide to finding the perfect piano for beginners that will serve you well as you embark on your musical adventure!

1. Finding out why you want to play it

Ask yourself the right questions 

Before diving into the deep end, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I serious about this instrument or is this just a whim? 
  • What do I want to get out of this? What level do I want to reach?
  • Will I have to transport it myself?
  • Will I practice every evening?
  • What type of music do I want to play?

These questions should enable you to find out your goals as a musician, the type of piano you want to buy and, importantly, what sort of budget you’re willing to invest. 

2. Do you live in a house or an apartment? 

From a practical standpoint, you should consider how much space a piano will take up in your house. Obviously, your playing conditions will depend on how much space you have. The best thing is to visit a show in-person or look up the sizes on a specialist website. This will give you an idea of how much space you’ll need for the instrument.

Let’s say you live in an apartment but you only have time to play in the evenings, you’ll probably get a lot of stick from your neighbours. Don’t panic! There are solutions to this. You might consider, for example, buying an acoustic piano with a silent system, which will allow you to play with headphones without annoying your neighbors. Though this will mean adding another $1000 – $2000 to your budget. If you’ve got a tight budget and you’re really pressed for space, you could consider getting a completely digital piano. Though, before going into too much detail, you should be aware of the differences between an acoustic and a digital piano. 

3. Piano for beginners: acoustic vs digital 

Beginners are often advised to start with an acoustic piano. You don’t get the same experience with a digital piano – the sound and the sensation of playing are different to an acoustic piano. Whether you’re a purist or not, bear in mind that digital and acoustic pianos have completely different characteristics and serve different needs. 

An upright (acoustic) piano pictured left /A digital piano pictured right. 

A digital piano: cheaper and more compact 

A digital piano may be a fixed piece of furniture (arranged like an upright piano) or mobile. It’s cheaper and more flexible than an acoustic piano because it’s easily transported and easier to use. It’s probably best suited for young musicians or anyone planning to start out on their own. On the technical side, the sound produced isn’t as nice as that of an acoustic piano. It sounds more synthetic. This can be an aesthetic choice depending on the music you want to play. 

Digital pianos (whatever their price) range from light touch, semi-weighted, to heavy touch. When choosing your first piano, you need a heavy touch piano for your muscle development. Someone who’s been learning the piano for 2-3 years with a light touch digital piano will probably struggle to link three notes together on an acoustic one. This is the most important thing to consider when buying a digital piano. 

Finally, the digital piano is much more affordable. The starting prices range from $350 for a portable 88-key digital piano to $600 for an in-home model. 

For a beginner, it’s much better value to invest in a high-quality digital piano than a poorly made or worn-down acoustic one. 

The acoustic piano: the more traditional choice

The acoustic piano is considered the ‘real’ piano.’ Its touch is unique and you’ll experience much richer sounds and harmonies than on a digital piano. It also looks more professional and traditional.

The emotion an acoustic piano elicits in its players is unique. You’ll feel the vibrations in every touch, which will create a more intense playing experience. If you play classical music, there’s no question – the acoustic trumps the digital. 

piano à queue dans une salle de répétition

The starting price is $3500 for a high-quality, second-hand model. It’s expensive but keep in mind that it is well worth it in the long run and it will be easy to resell it at a good price at a later date. 




You should now have all the basic information you need to know when choosing your first piano for beginners. Consider visiting a specialised music shop to try out different models and ask the staff for more information before choosing. Ultimately, you have to follow your heart…and your ears. If you have a gut instinct that one’s the right fit, go for it! After all, the most important thing is to have fun!

Article written by Amy Cimpaye in its original version, translated by William  –

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About author
William Ridd is a writer based in London. After a messy divorce from the clarinet, William decided that playing music wasn’t for him, but he continues to appreciate it and likes writing about it.
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