What Is The Difference Between A Clavinova And An Acoustic Piano?

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Written By Sarah Barlow

Chief Music Officer

A challenging issue faced by musicians is selecting the appropriate instrument to precisely match their interests, hobbies, and profession. It can be difficult for pianists to choose among a wide variety of pianos, such as acoustic pianos, digital pianos, digital keyboards, and synthesizers. 

However, of these piano types, the acoustic and digital pianos are the most similar and are difficult to distinguish from one another. In order to ensure that you get the right piano for you, especially given that these instruments are expensive, I will compare the two in this article.

Mechanism Of Acoustic Pianos And Their Types

The most traditional kind of piano is the acoustic piano, which has steel strings and hammers inside a wooden case. When you hit one of its keys, the hammers attached to the piano trigger the strings to vibrate, thereby producing a sound.

The grand piano and the upright piano are the two primary types of an acoustic pianos, and they differ in terms of how they are built. The frame and strings of a grand piano are horizontally stretched, giving it a bigger and longer body. This means that owners need to look for a spacious area to position them. 

Contrarily, upright pianos are built with the string running vertically, which makes them more portable and compact than grand pianos. Due to their size and convenience, upright pianos are the perfect choice for piano players and enthusiasts who live in smaller, more constrained homes or apartments and are still honing their playing techniques. 

A grand piano’s keys rely on gravity to return them to their resting position after being depressed. While an upright piano uses springs to reset the keys rather than gravity, with the only drawback being a susceptibility to wear and tear.

The degree to which an overtone sounds higher than its fundamental pitch is known as inharmonicity, and this feature is a key distinction between grand and upright pianos. 

Sound accuracy is higher for sounds with less inharmonicity. The grand piano is superior in this category because its longer strings allow it to produce fuller tones with less discordance. In contrast, because upright pianos have shorter strings than grand pianos, their octaves sound less in tune and are therefore more inharmonic. 

Even though a variety of factors, including the quality of the materials used and the craftsmanship of the manufacturer, affect the sound your piano will produce does not, however, imply that upright pianos aren’t a good option at all.

Mechanism Of Digital Pianos And Their Types

In essence, the digital piano is an electric version of the traditional acoustic piano. These pianos create sounds digitally, as the name would imply. High-quality recordings derived from acoustic pianos will be played back whenever the user presses a key down on this piano.

There are three different types of digital pianos: grand pianos, upright pianos, and portable pianos. As you would have predicted, a grand piano has the best quality, produces the best sounds, and has remarkable key action. The main problem is that only a few manufacturers produce them, and they are unquestionably expensive. Upright digital pianos are the same size as their acoustic counterparts, but they are lighter. 

Lastly, the portable piano is the lightest and most portable of them all. It utilizes a stand rather than legs which traveling musicians find beneficial. The only drawback of this piano is that its exterior and keys are made of plastic.

Major Distinction Between A Digital Piano And An Acoustic Piano

Sound

Sound is one of the main considerations for most artists before buying an instrument. The sound produced by an acoustic piano is unquestionably superior to that of a digital piano. 

Acoustic pianos allow artists to produce a genuine, warmer, and more reverberant acoustic sound. Most professional pianists favor the acoustic piano because it gives them control over tonal precision and allows them to add expression to their performances.

Digital pianos, on the other hand, produce sounds similar to those of acoustic pianos using digital recordings. But this is also perceived as a disadvantage for musicians because it doesn’t allow them to add subtlety to their playing. 

The sound of a digital piano can, however, occasionally surpass that of an acoustic piano. But this conclusion is only true when comparing a high-end digital piano with a basic acoustic piano.

Maintenance

Another major distinction between digital and acoustic pianos is their maintenance. Acoustic pianos in this category cost more to maintain. They also require more maintenance to retain their functionality and delicate materials. It is strongly advised to have acoustic pianos tuned once or twice a year in to keep them in tune. 

The majority of pianists hire a piano technician to perform this task for them, which usually entails additional costs. 

The wooden parts, hammers, and steel strings of the piano are some of the important pieces you should regularly inspect with attention to detail. 

Another challenge when maintaining acoustic pianos is that they are very sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, especially their wooden components. Your acoustic piano should be kept at a constant temperature of about 20 degrees Celsius, or room temperature, and should be subjected to relative humidity levels between 45% and 70%. Excessive humidity levels and temperature changes make your piano’s wooden exterior undergo dimensional alterations.

Typically, a piano technician may be needed to maintain an acoustic piano. Regulating your piano’s mechanical components, such as its settling cloth, felt, and turning screws, for any signs of wear and tear ensures that it functions with the finest precision. 

Versatility

Digital pianos outperform acoustic pianos in terms of versatility. They make up for any sound deficiencies with other features. 

The capability of digital pianos to reproduce the sounds of other instruments is a fantastic feature. They allow users to test out various sounds and determine which one best suit their musical style. You may even create a small ensemble using just your piano by playing along with a drum beat track.

Another useful feature included in digital pianos is volume control, which enables artists to adjust the sound loudness of their instruments using built-in volume knobs. 

Additionally, digital pianos allow players to practice while wearing headphones, which is advantageous. They enable you to play anywhere without disturbing people or being disturbed by them, allowing you to concentrate more on your music.

Digital pianos are versatile in part because of their portability. They come in many different forms and varieties, yet they are all still portable. In fact, a digital piano may be easily carried by the average person on their own, which makes them perfect for travel, performances, and gigs.

Touch Sensitivity

The feel and key action of an acoustic and digital piano differ significantly from one another because of their weighted keys. When it comes to key action, acoustic pianos require more force to be applied when pressing the keys to produce sound. 

On the other hand, digital pianos may produce sounds even with only a light touch applied to push the keys. But thanks to technological advancements, many digital pianos now include weighted keys that mimic the weight and feel of an authentic acoustic piano.

Regardless, many pianists still prefer acoustic pianos due to their touch sensitivity. With this function, the user can modify the tone they produce by manipulating the force and movement of their fingers over the keys. It also enables the pianist to create a variety of tones in the same key. 

On the other hand, because their sounds are digitally recorded, digital pianos are capable of producing a wide range of tones. The sound of a key, however, will eventually remain the same no matter how differently you play it. This restricts pianists since it may impair their ability to express themselves musically.

Price

Price further separates acoustic pianos from digital pianos. Naturally, acoustic pianos are more expensive. A typical upright acoustic piano costs between $1,000 and $3,000, while the digital one costs around between $200 and $500. Prices may also vary by brand.

Additionally, digital pianos are less valuable than acoustic pianos when it comes to resale value. Your piano’s brand, model, and condition all affect its resale price. 

Due to the volume and more sophisticated versions that are introduced each year, the value of a digital piano depreciates more quickly than that of an acoustic piano. Because of this, even though acoustic pianos are pricey, they are a superior long-term investment.

Pedals

Another obvious distinction between an acoustic and a digital piano is the pedals. The soft pedal, sostenuto pedal, and sustain pedal are the three pedals that are included with acoustic pianos. 

Compared to the sostenuto and soft pedals, which aren’t really employed, the sustain pedal is widely used in practically every musical genre.

In digital pianos, the sustain pedal is often the only pedal in it. Several digital pianos, primarily portable models, don’t even have any pedals. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t use a sustain pedal with them; it just means that you must buy them separately as an extra. 

The sostenuto and soft pedals aren’t available on digital pianos. This makes it essential to take into account your pedal-playing intentions whenever choosing between an acoustic and digital piano.

Key Takeaway

Overall, accessibility and personal preference are the deciding factors when selecting between an acoustic and a digital piano. Choosing an acoustic piano will completely meet your demands if you are someone who genuinely indulges and seeks authentic piano sound. If you have enough space and don’t mind spending money on maintenance, then an acoustic piano is definitely a better choice. 

On the other hand, if you only play the piano for fun, then you might consider purchasing a digital piano. If space and maintenance are an issue, a digital piano is a better option than an acoustic one.