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The Best Electric Pianos

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Buyer's Guide

How to Choose an Electronic Piano

An electric piano is simply a portable musical instrument that makes noises when a player presses on the keys of a standard piano-style key. It can be used for both playing songs and composing your own music. Although it is sometimes confusing or hard to learn to play, electric pianos are very inexpensive and fairly easy to play. They have gained in popularity since they can be used by people of all ages because of their portability and ability to be used for both indoors and outdoors.

There are two types of electric pianos. The first type is the unplugged, or "classically" sounding, electric piano. The second type is known as the plug-in, or semi-pedaled, electric piano. Here is an explanation of each type:

Unplugged electric pianos produce all of the sounds using an earphone plugged into the instrument directly. Digital pianos use a speaker to reproduce the sounds. The only way to change the sounds is to plug the earphone into an amplifier and connect the speakers to the unit. If there is no direct connection between the speaker and the instrument, an adapter or patch cable may need to be used. Plugging the instrument directly into an amplifier changes the signal from analog to digital.

While the above description of each type may seem complicated, it is not. All electric pianos are created the same way and that is why there are so many different brands out there. When you choose an electronic piano or keyboard, you should consider what you will primarily be using it for so that you can choose a model that has a good sound for your specific purposes.

Acoustic Electric Pianos: Acoustic electric pianos produce sound through strings and hammers. The strings of the acoustic pianos vibrate which creates the sound. A Pianist strikes the keys and sends the hammers flying through the air to hit the notes. This type of electronic piano uses electronic circuitry that produces a frequency that the strings strike. A Pianist typically will play only one chord at a time but some advanced Pianists will use two or more at a time in order to get complex and striking effects.

Keyboards and Digital Piano: Both keyboards and digital pianos produce sounds by hitting keys and striking the keys. Digital pianos use digital circuitry to reproduce the piano sounds instead of using strings and hammers. A typical keyboard will contain a number of sampled musical sounds that are digitally sampled from real instruments. A keyboard player hits each key and sends the sampled signal through the amplifier and speakers to create a sound. A digital piano is generally easier to play because all the sounds are located in one place making it simple to navigate.

Acoustic Pianos: Similar to a digital piano, an acoustic piano uses hammers and strings in creating the sound. The main difference between the two instruments is that there is more than one hammock used in an acoustic piano and this allows for a much more diverse range of sound than can be produced using a digital piano. An acoustic piano also contains strings that vibrate which gives the instrument its signature sound. Acoustic pianos are more difficult to master because it requires the pianist to learn how to strike the strings with precision and then practice the same stroke over again in order to achieve a consistent sound. An upright keyboard has frets much higher than most cymbals and pianos, making it harder for the pianist to obtain the kind of consistency needed to play an instrument with consistency.

Keyboards: The key to choosing an instrument is not only its aesthetic beauty, but also its functionality. When looking at an electronic piano, look at how many buttons and knobs are on the instrument. The more buttons and knobs an instrument has, the easier the user will have to control what the instrument can do. Look for an electronic piano that has a great feature that you need such as an adjustable volume knob so you can get the sound you want.