Digital vs Acoustic Piano, and the X Factor

For the pianist, the decision on whether to buy a digital or acoustic piano will come down to a few key factors:

  • Space availabilty
  • Finances
  • Environmental restrictions
  • Maintenance
  • Travel / performance requirements
  • X factor

Space available

If you’re living in even modest surroundings, even a baby grand piano will be out of the question, unless you’re prepared or able to lose a whole room. Even many upright acoustics take more room than their digital counterparts.


Acoustic grand pianos are expensive and unless you are totally committed, the expense may prove too great.

Environmental restrictions

Digital pianos have an advantage over acoustic: you can play them through headphones. When the urge to play Rachmaninov at 2 in the morning strikes, you won’t have angry neighbours (unless they’re so close that they can hear fingers on keys).


Looking after an acoustic piano is generally more expensive that its digital cousin. They need to be tuned, cleaned, and maintained.

Of course, digital pianos can go wrong. They still contain mechanical moving parts as well as intricate electronics that can both fail, but generally repair or replacement is cheaper.

Travel / performance requirements

Do you need to travel frequently with your piano? It’s not hard to guess which is the easiest to transport.

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X factor

When all is said and done, there’s the X factor – the ‘WOW’ factor.

I was surfing the Yamaha website, and drooled at the Clavinovas. Beautifully constructed, sound great, all the advantages of a digital instrument…

Then I looked at the concert grand section. Oh my… that’s the X factor.

If I had the money, the space, no neighbours… I’d get an acoustic grand. I love everything about them.

(If money was no object, I’d probably get both!)

Owning a grand piano is probably just a dream, though…