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Tips for Buying Digital Pianos and Keyboards
by: Ismael D. Tabije
Buying a digital piano could be a very delicate attempt, especially if you have no idea about pianos in the first place. This article is written to help you out how to choose the best digital piano.
For starters, digital piano is different from an "acoustic" piano in many ways. A digital piano is a copy of what the "acoustic or original piano is. However, instead of strings and hammers, it uses "digitally sampled" sounds, amplifiers and speakers. It was made to imitate the real sound of that of the original piano. Many people now prefer digital pianos. It is because of its portability, low-to-almost non-maintenance, volume adjuster and various voices.
What you need to know in buying a digital piano is how closely it resembles the "acoustical piano" in terms of the sound, and its total piano-like feel. Do the keys move under your fingers almost the same as the acoustical piano keys do? Sometimes, most digital pianos have damaged spring action on the keys thus they could affect the tone of the piano. Always see to it, when you are in a hunt for a good digital piano, you should bring a good set of headphones. It is one of the advantages the digital piano has compared to an acoustical piano. When a player wants to play loud but his surroundings are opposed to the noise it could bring, he could only attach the headphones and play as loud as his heart desires without causing another's eardrums to bash but his own. Other than that, the headphones could help distinguish faint defects that the speakers couldn't detect. Do not hesitate to try as many brands as you like to compare and choose which sounds better. It is not in the brand or price range that the piano is considered good. It actually depends on the buyer whether he feels good about the sound of the digital piano he chooses.
Do not forget to check out the range of the tone. Does the tone change when you turn up the volume? And what about when you turn it down? The digital piano should be consistent in its tone no matter how low or high the volume is. Also check out the sound as it ends. Does it linger too long or fades easily? If there is an acoustical piano nearby, do try comparing the sound as you play a note and then a chord. Check out the time lapse of the sound as it ends and sense for repeating patterns or loops.
Check out where the notes come from when you play a scale or chord successively. The trebles should be coming from the right side and the bass should be coming from the left side.
Try holding down the sustain pedal and play the two low C's to check out the polyphony or the harmony of the notes. It is good if you can distinguish the two low C's played simultaneously. Most not-so-good quality digital pianos would cut off one tone while being played. Poor quality digital pianos drop both notes prematurely.
Is the digital piano user-friendly? Check out the design and see if you can understand the lay-out of the model. Check out the buttons and if they are functional. Be sure that the "special-effects" buttons are not that close to the keyboard or you might accidentally hit one and then change the entire settings of your piano while you're playing.
Check the manual for other fine-tuning facilities. Some digital pianos come with other special effects such as alternate tunings, variable harmonics and adjustable decay (fading) lengths. These effects can be very useful when you play with a group. You wouldn't necessarily go to lengthy process in adjusting to the level of the group.
Most digital pianos offer various tones and voices to have diversity in voice effects. Some have whistles, echoes, guitars, and other non-piano voices. If you are used to playing the piano and using pressed-pedal for sustain, it might become a hindrance to you if the digital piano you got has an "on-off" pedaling.
Also, other accessories such as amplifiers and speakers must be compatible with the brand or model you have. The digital piano you purchased may be a good quality but when attached with an incompatible amplifier or bigger sound boxes, the sound projected may not be very good.
Lastly, if you doubt your capability to choose for yourself a good piano, ask a friend who plays piano, or even better yet, a professional to help you determine a sound-quality digital piano. However, you must not rely totally on what they say. It is because what is good for them may not be good for you. Buy a digital piano that you are going to be comfortable playing with.