Digital Piano vs Keyboard: What’s the Difference?

So, you’ve decided to learn a new instrument. A piano or keyboard is a great place to start! You can tune up your fine motor skills, get comfortable reading music, and learn how to carry a melody. 

How do you choose between a digital piano vs keyboard? Well, they have some key differences you should know about before you buy. 

Learning to play the keyboard or digital piano can be a fun and enriching experience. But you need to be sure you have the right tools for your situation. So, let’s break down the differences.

What is a Digital Piano?

Digital pianos most closely resemble classic acoustic pianos. Like acoustic pianos, they have 88 keys. This provides you will the full range of musical notes.

Usually, there you can purchase a digital piano in three different arrangements. These include:

  • On a keyboard stand
  • In a cabinet
  • Upright, like an acoustic piano

If you’re looking for something similar to an acoustic piano, but without the space or cost requirement.

What is a Keyboard Piano?

Keyboard pianos are a great tool for kids especially to learn how to play the piano. They have fewer keys, usually 61 or 78. However, they are lightweight which makes them easy on smaller hands. 

Additionally, keyboards are quite portable. They can also make many more types of sounds than digital or acoustic pianos. 

However, keyboards are quite a bit different than traditional acoustic pianos. They may require a bit more training if your ultimate goal is to play a classic piano.

Digital Piano vs Keyboard Piano: Which Should I Choose?

The difference between a digital piano and a keyboard is actually quite stark. Deciding between them will ultimately depend on a few factors, such as:

  • Space allotment and portability
  • Your budget
  • Your personal goals

Space Allotment and Portability

How much space do you have to store your instrument? Keyboards are great for those with less space, as they can easily fit on just about any stand or table. Keyboards are also relatively lightweight, making them much more portable.

Digital pianos, on the other hand, usually come with their own stand. This built-in stand can make it hard to transport them, as they’re quite heavy. It also takes up a bit more room than a keyboard.

If you have more space, a digital piano is a great choice. It allows you to get as close to a real acoustic piano as possible. However, you won’t need all the specialty space and equipment required by an acoustic piano.

Your Budget

There are many different options for digital pianos and keyboards. These come at various price points, so you can easily find one to fit your budget.

A high-end keyboard can run you just as much as a digital piano. Whether you’re more interested in a keyboard or a digital piano, though, the general rule is: the higher the price, the better it will sound. 

Your Personal Learning Goals

Perhaps the biggest consideration when choosing an instrument, you need to know what your goals are when you start learning.

For example, do you plan to play in a band? Are you learning just as a hobby? Would you like a more classical style?

You should spend time deciding what you ultimately want to get out of your quest for music. Some specs that will matter when deciding what you want include:

Sound Quality

How important is sound quality to you? Are you planning on recording or performing music with your newfound skills? If so, you’ll probably have more luck with a digital piano.

However, if you want more customization of sound, keyboards will be more your speed. They allow you to create a variety of different sounds with just the touch of a button.

Remember, though, that the quality throughout some of these options may be a bit lacking. Ask which is more important to you: quantity or quality?


One major difference between keyboards and digital pianos is the presence of pedals. Traditional acoustics usually have 3 pedals. These include:

  • A sustain pedal
  • A soft pedal
  • A practice, or sostenuto pedal

If you want to learn how to play an instrument that involves these pedals, you should probably start with a digital piano.

Keyboards will sometimes come with a single standalone pedal. The pedal is sometimes purchased separately and attaches to the keyboard via a 1/4″ thick jack. 

Keyboard pedals come in a variety of styles, allowing you to customize your sound much more easily.

The Touch or Feel

Because digital pianos have more weighted keys, they feel more like acoustic pianos. You can also choose to purchase them with semi-weighted keys, which is an especially good option for children or elderly folks.

Weighted keys use a hammer-action. This allows them to shoot up, mimicking the action of acoustic keys. 

Semi-weighted keys instead use a spring-action. This gives the keys a lighter feeling. You can usually adjust these settings on higher-end digital pianos.

Keyboards, on the other hand, have either semi-weighted or unweighted keys. That makes keyboard keys exceptionally easy to play. It also allows for more movement, so you can achieve sounds such as a glissando, or slide effect.

Note, however, that the keys on keyboards generally feel nothing like an acoustic piano. If your ultimate goal is to play acoustics, you may prefer the more traditional feel of digital pianos. 

Learn Piano for Beginners

Now that you know a little more about the difference between a digital piano vs a keyboard, you can better decide which one is best suited to your goals. Ultimately, the best piano for you is one you’ll feel comfortable playing. After all, learning a new instrument should be fun!

Shop our selection of digital pianos and keyboards. We’re certain you’ll find an instrument you love. With quality like this, you’ll be making beautiful music in no time.

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