What Piano is Best for Me? Acoustic, Digital, or Both?

Acoustic and digital pianos have many advantages that are sometimes difficult to compare. The tonal richness and artistic possibilities of a grand piano are hard to beat, yet the versatility of digital pianos makes them essential for many people.  

Is there a clear advantage to purchasing an acoustic piano in the digital age? This is a frequent question many people ask us here at Stilwell Pianos, and the answer is a resounding YES for those who want the inherent advantages of an acoustic piano, such as the following: 

  • Natural Sound
  • Absolute Control
  • Harmonic and Tonal Complexity  

Natural Sound:

An acoustic piano is a marvelous invention fitted with 88  keys, 230 strings, and more than 40 action parts for each individual key. The piano is an incredible feat of engineering. As such, it is very sensitive, responsive, and almost life-like in its ability to convey emotion through different types of touch. Timbre in music is described as the quality of a given sound at a specific pitch. For instance, on a well-regulated and voiced acoustic grand piano, it is possible for a pianist to play a note at the same scientifically measurable volume, but with different shades of "color" or sound. This is something even the very best digital pianos strive to do, but simply cannot due to the tonal sophistication of an acoustic piano.

Absolute Control:

Grand pianos feature a device referred to as the whippen or repetition. As the latter name might suggest, this enables the pianist to have absolute control over the hammer strike by facilitating lightning fast repetition--where the pianist can play a note and come up only a few millimeters before striking the same note again. This is resourceful for any genre of music, if the pianist desires to have the best control possible.

Harmonic and Tonal Complexity: 

The grand piano action is fantastic, but worthless without the strings, soundboard, and cabinet necessary to create an organic and enveloping sound. How pliable or firm a hammer head is, the part that strikes the strings, has a profound effect on the feel of the action. A quality grand piano, such as the ones here at Stilwell Pianos, have been voiced for optimal tone. The strings vibrate and produce not just the perceived note, but literally more than 12 harmonic overtones that bring richness and warmth to the sound of playing just one key. With all the dampers raised when using the damper pedal, all 230 plus strings vibrate harmonically and create an incredible sound. This tonal complexity combined with an amazing touch allows the player to have absolute control over their sound. 

In short, acoustic pianos, especially grand pianos, are superior instruments by the nature of their design from an artistic perspective. 

Despite this, digital pianos, especially hybrid pianos, have many benefits, such as the following:

  • No Required Maintenance 
  • Absolute Uniformity 
  • Multiple Sounds
  • Versatility 
  • Affordability

No Required Maintenance:

How many times does an acoustic piano need to be tuned? Well, an average piano kept for thirty years at least will be tuned at least once a year for proper tone. This translates into over 3,000 dollars, assuming the tuning service is 100 dollars each time. Moreover, this does not account for other services, such as regulation, voicing, and repairs to ensure optimal performance. 

A digital piano requires virtually zero maintenance! The only repairs required might be fixing a key after several years of abuse in an institutional setting. This worry-free aspect exclusive to digital pianos is appealing to many people. 

Absolute Uniformity:

All digital pianos are computers at heart. This allows each piano of a given brand and model to be the same!

Multiple Sounds:

All digital pianos comes with multiple acoustic and electric-mechanical voices, in addition to organ, strings, and other sounds. This is great for multiple styles and allows players to become more creative in their music making. 


Unlike acoustic pianos, digital pianos comes in countless forms. Hybrid pianos have a real acoustic piano action for an authentic touch and come in attractive, decorative cabinets. These pianos are ideal for advanced pianists on a budget or apartment dwellers. Our Casio-Bechstein Grand Hybrid pianos are the best on the market today, and player better than many acoustic uprights! Stage pianos do not come with a cabinet but can be put on any stand. This enables the player to gig with the piano and then take the piano home. Community choirs and lower budget ensembles love stage pianos for their easy storage, durability, and affordability. Our Privia PX160 is the best value today for a stage piano, and even comes with stereo speakers inside for home use! Also, all modern digital pianos have MIDI capability, which enables the player to pair the instrument with their computer for unlimited options. 

The versatility of digital pianos make them suitable for not only people on a budget, but for people with acoustic pianos! The benefits of quiet practice through low volume or headphones, in the case of a hybrid piano, is essential with the business of modern family routines. Being able to practice at night time or have multiple children practice at the same time is a must have for many! Digital pianos will never be able to replace acoustic pianos fully, but they can serve many needs extraordinarily well. 


Digital pianos cost a fraction of the cost of a quality, new grand piano. 

Should I Buy a Digital or Acoustic?

It depends on your needs. Do you want the advantages only accessible on a grand piano, or do you want a cheaper upright? A hybrid digital piano would be a better choice than a low-cost used upright. Both the touch and tone will be superior. Do you live in a condominium but practice seven hours a day? Again, you might want a hybrid digital piano. Is the best sound and touch possible essential to you? Only a real grand piano will fit the bill. No matter which piano you choose first, there are many benefits unique to both acoustic and digital pianos, which is why serious pianists often have both. 

Come to Stilwell Pianos and experience a full line of quality acoustic pianos, new and used, as well as the best new digital pianos on the market today! 

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