The touch and feel of an acoustic piano will inspire a love of music and a desire to continue playing, more so than even the best electric pianos. Also, acoustic pianos are a requirement for the intermediate and advanced study of classical piano, so if you expect to (or you have expectations for your child to) continue studying beyond the very beginning stages of piano (note reading, rhythm), you might as well get an acoustic piano now.
For the purchase of acoustic pianos, I have compiled a list of helpful resources in the Student Aids section of this website.
As you may have noticed, however, this is actually a blog entry about how to buy a digital (also known as an electric) piano. While I highly recommend investing in an acoustic piano, I do understand that not everyone has the space or means to buy one. So, what should you look for when buying an electric piano?
1. Your electric piano MUST have fully weighted keys. Without this feature, it will be impossible to learn the important aspects of musicality on a piano, including dynamics (loud, soft, etc) and articulations.
2. Your electric piano must have 88 keys. This is the standard for a full sized acoustic piano, and therefore without 88 keys, some music will be impossible to play.
3. Your electric piano should have a maximum polyphony of at least 128 keys (and no less than 64). A feature of higher quality digital pianos, a higher maximum polyphony is a requirement to play more complicated music without having notes cut off.
Ben Taylor wrote a great article (The Definitive Guide for Buying Digital Pianos) for TIME about buying digital pianos, which talks more in depth about what to look for when buying electric pianos. I find the conclusion of his article to be very relevant:
"In the end, a decent real piano will nearly always beat a digital piano, so think carefully before dropping $1,500 on a keyboard. If you’re passionate about learning to play, have the space, and can find enough change in your couch cushions, consider the real deal.
Buy a digital piano if…
- You don’t have enough space
- You need something portable
- You perform all over and want something consistent
- You like to play late while others are sleeping
Think twice (and buy a real piano) if…
- You’re passionate, but still learning basic techniques
- You’re prepared to buy a $7,000, digital grand piano"
Hopefully this information will assist you in your piano buying search, as well as your debate between purchasing a digital/electric piano vs an acoustic piano. Good luck!