A digital piano is a modern electronic musical instrument and its chief purpose is to provide an accurate simulation of a traditional acoustic piano. It simply mimics an acoustic piano in terms of its operation and the way it plays and sounds. They are much lighter compared to traditional pianos and are easily portable. Digital pianos also come in grand, upright cabinets and resemble the look of an acoustic piano. Apart from the standard piano tones, digital pianos also offer over 500 additional tones and various other distinctive features not found in any traditional piano. A normal digital piano has 88 keys with more than 6 octaves, standard key weight, sound, touch and pedal levels that are identical to traditional pianos.
A digital piano has better quality speakers that can reproduce an acoustic tone of a piano in its most accurate form. They come with built-in foot pedals just like an acoustic piano. Students who are beginners can safely learn to pedal properly before getting their hands on a truly grand piano. This unique feature provides a student the best possible opportunity to succeed and learn to play the piano correctly and they become the best suitable and practical alternative to real pianos. Digital pianos also offer a larger variation and modification of sound and notes.
A piano keyboard on the other hand, may sound like an acoustic piano but has considerable difference in the way it feels and sounds. Some keyboards operate like digital pianos but may not have the same number of black & white keys. Some keyboards appear identical to digital pianos but the weight of the keys varies drastically. Some keyboards produce sounds which are more similar to an organ and do not qualify as a digital piano in its true traditional way. A piano keyboard contains switches under each key. Pressing a key triggers tone generation because each key in a keyboard is connected through internal circuits. Most piano keyboards use matrix circuits which contain eight rows and eight columns of wires crossing each other and they in turn assist the keyboard controller to scan and determine the particular key pressed.
A piano keyboard on the other hand does not have a built-in pedal like digital pianos but they may be available and sold as separate entities or accessories. The sound output from a keyboard also varies from that of a digital piano. Keyboards contain 4 to 5 octaves because of their fewer keys unlike a digital piano which come with the full traditional key. Apart from the keys not being weighted, they are also hollow and students who wish to practice different scales to acquire strength, dexterity and accuracy would fail to do so, on a keyboard. Standard piano keyboards also come with headphones for private listening and other modern technologies which offer various advantages to the user.
Typically, piano keyboards are just for beginners who’d want to simply learn the basic notes and have some fun while digital pianos are meant for more serious business. Even true professionals, who are masters of traditional acoustic pianos, prefer the digital piano for practice and warm-up.