This is a very common question for those who would like to learn to play the piano. Let’s jump right in and take a look at some of the differences between learning to play on a keyboard vs. learning on a piano. 

1). The Difference Between a Keyboard and a Piano

One of the first things you’ll need to understand is the difference between these two instruments. A piano is an acoustic instrument, where the sound is made without the use of electricity. The piano also has weighted keys. Pressing the piano keys requires more effort and strength. 

On the other hand, a keyboard requires a power source and has unweighted keys, that are lighter than a piano’s. pressing the keys on a keyboard is easier and doesn’t require as much strength as that need for an acoustic piano. 

When it comes to the difference between weighted and unweighted keys, you can definitely feel the difference. The weighted keys of the piano help to build up finger strength, which can improve your playing technique. The unweighted keys of the keyboard are lighter and easier to play. 

Pianos also require tuning on a regular basis, which can be expensive. While keyboards are always in tune and you can change the sound by pushing various buttons or even add instrumental accompaniment when you’d like. 

2). The Style of Music Determines Which Instrument You’ll Need

A keyboard is a versatile instrument that allows you to learn many styles. They’re also a great choice for those who haven’t yet settled on their musical tastes. 

On the other hand, a piano allows you to learn all styles and is especially good for classical, blues and jazz piano pieces. However, the piano isn’t quite as versatile as the keyboard when it comes to adding instruments or changing the sounds, etc. 

3). Size and Feel of the Keys

As noted earlier, pianos and keyboards have a different feel when it comes to the keys. In fact, keyboards often have small keys that are thin and light, with a plastic feel. There are digital pianos available these days that have more realistic full-sized, weighted keys that feel more like a piano. 

If you aren’t able to afford an acoustic piano, but would like to play one in the future, then the best option is a digital piano. Look for one with weighted keys. You may still have some trouble switching from the keyboard to the piano because your hands will have to use more strength than was needed on the digital piano or a keyboard with unweighted keys. 

4). Range Differences Between Piano & Keyboard

A piano has 88 keys that range from A0 to C8. You can find digital pianos with the same range, but most are smaller, with 61 or 76 keys in the more inexpensive models. 

Most piano pieces can be played on digital pianos with 76 keys. And some classical piano pieces from the early days and even harpsichord music can be played on keyboards with 61 keys. 

5). Costs: Purchasing & Maintenance

Buying an acoustic piano, whether buying a used or an old one, will cost at the least about $2,000. This does not, of course, include the cost of repairs and tuning. 

On the other hand, keyboards range anywhere from $100 on up. Digital pianos cost a little more—you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1000. Models that have 76 keys provide a wider range of notes and are more cost-effective to learn to play. You can find digital pianos with 88 keys, but these are very expensive. A keyboard also doesn’t come with the extra cost of tuning; however, it may require repair if damaged. 

6). Transitioning from Piano to Keyboard

You may need to consider switching from an acoustic piano to a keyboard sometime in the future. This could due to changes in living arrangements, not having space for a piano, etc. There even instances when landlords don’t allow you to have an acoustic piano, as it can cause sound issues for other residents. 

It’s much easier to fit a keyboard into a smaller living space and you can still learn how to play the music you enjoy. Also, with a keyboard, you can use headphones that will keep you from disturbing your neighbors. Keep in mind that keyboards are also relatively easy to transport, while pianos are often difficult to move due to their weight and size. 

If you’re making the switch from a piano to a keyboard, you’ll probably find it easier than switching from a keyboard to a piano. This is due to the weighted keys, keyboards may not have a pedal to use, etc. 

7). The Process

When learning the keyboard, you’ll generally be focusing on rhythm, speed, and finger placement. On the piano, you’ll focus on these plus the techniques needed to play on an acoustic instrument. Playing the piano also involves learning to use the foot pedal and properly pressing the keys. 

If you’re serious about learning to play the piano, then an acoustic piano is the way to go. However, if you’re only playing for enjoyment, then a keyboard may be the best option for you. 

You can learn to play a keyboard as well as a piano, it just comes down to your music preferences, where you live, etc. 

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