Digital Piano Guide: Different Looks & Types of Pianos

Digital Piano, Digital Pianos A Digital piano can come in various looks – upright, grand piano or the simple stage piano look, each targeting a different set of piano players, including beginners as well as professional pianists. Here is your complete guide to digital pianos.


If you have been playing the keyboard (61-keys) for some time, eventually you may want to get a nice piano with 88-keys to further your piano learning.

Modern 88-key digital keyboards can come with lots of features, musical styles, sounds, etc. These are also available in varied looks: simple portable looks as well as in designs that look like a real piano (uprights and grands) with weighted, graded hammer action keys.

Digital Pianos usually combine the features of electronic keyboards as well as acoustic pianos, and that is the reason you get so many varieties of “88 keys digital pianos”. Here is an interesting article you may want to read about the practical advantages of buying digital pianos. And there are several options available, from which you can choose an 88-Key Digital Piano!

Types of Pianos

Before we go in the details, here’s a brief note on the various types of pianos, in terms of their sizes.

Please note that the digital versions can come in much compact sizes, as we will see further. But then most of these come with a bundled stand that you’re supposed to assemble, which makes it look like a vertical piano.

However, when it comes to the traditional format, the following are the most common types of pianos that are available even in the acoustic versions. These versions have existed for a long time.

Grand pianos & Baby Grand Pianos

  • The biggest of them all, where the strings are laid horizontally to the ground, for the best sound
  • Baby Grand pianos are smaller than the grand pianos but similar in shape and structure

  • Digital Piano, Digital Pianos

    Upright Pianos (Vertical Pianos)

  • The strings are vertical in position
  • Sound is good but the richness of the sound is not as good as on a grand piano
  • You do get smaller vertical pianos with shorter strings, which do not take a lot of space
  • The tallest are Upright pianos, then the Studio Pianos, then comes the Console Pianos, and the shortest are the Spinet Pianos

  • Digital upright Piano, upright Pianos

    But I’m sure you must have observed that over the years, even with the acoustic pianos, the preference has been more towards a smaller model that people could comfortably keep in their house, and also afford.

    That explains the transition from the grand pianos to the baby grands to the various vertical pianos, and now to the various portable digital pianos, and that too with different number of keys.

    Lots Of Varieties

    You will find piano keyboard models targeted towards beginners, as well as towards professional pianists.

    You will find models which just have the basic piano sounds as well as models which are loaded with amazing sounds and musical styles.

    Further, you will have varieties in looks, colors, sizes, key
    and other features.

    Basically, you will get lot of options to choose from!

    The different digital piano models can generally be categorized as follows:

    Synth Action Pianos

    These Digital Pianos are extension of electronic keyboards; they come with 88 keys and have synth action.

    They are meant for keyboard players who are not accustomed to playing with hard keys but need more than 61 keys.

    These models normally contain numerous musical styles, sounds and effects.

    Should you Buy Piano or Arranger Music Keyboard?

    Stage Pianos

    Looking for a Portable Digital Piano…88 keys with very good Piano action?

    Go in for a Stage Piano – either weighted, hammer or graded hammer action!

    digital Stage Piano

    Some of the models contain the basic piano sounds and a few other sounds like electric piano, organ, and strings.

    You can consider these models if you are a serious Piano learner with a tight budget. Note that these may or may not come with built-in speakers.

    These are even used by a lot of gigging pianists as they tend to be considerably lightweight, so a good option if you intend to gig around.

    Electric Pianos for On-Stage Performances

    Portable Stage Piano for Beginners & Performers

    Upright Digital Pianos

    These are the Digital Pianos with the traditional upright piano look!

    They have a very good piano sound and are visually very appealing. If you like the Piano because of its looks as well then you will surely like some of these models.

    Again, some of the models will have only the basic piano sounds and some additional sounds like the electric piano, organ, and strings.

    You may also hear words like “Digital Ensembles” which are nothing but pianos with built-in musical styles, multiple sounds and effects.

    Most of these models come with the graded weighted or graded hammer action giving it a very authentic feel. The keys tend to be heavier on the bass side and lighter on the right side which is how an acoustic grand piano behaves.

    The samples used, the built-in speakers and the amplifiers are of very superior quality resulting in some truly amazing and authentic piano sounds.

    Note: You may also hear some other words to refer to upright pianos based on their heights, words like studio uprights, consoles and spinets!

    Digital Piano, Digital Pianos

    Digital Grand Pianos

    This is the big daddy among all the 88 key digital pianos.

    Designed to attract professional pianists, music conservatories, five star hotels and people who want nothing but the best, these pianos are the closest match to an acoustic grand piano.

    With polished ebony cabinet, expressive grand piano sound, powerful speakers, and numerous instrument sounds, these digital grand pianos combine the features of acoustic grand pianos with the modern & flexible features available with digital technology.

    Stage Piano or Home Digital Piano: Which is Better?

    Most beginners tend to get confused when it comes to the difference between a stage piano and a home digital piano (which most of them refer to as ‘digital piano’). They also feel that acoustic pianos are much more expensive than digital pianos (which is true, but its not that digital pianos are available for peanuts). And that is why most start exploring digital pianos, so that they can start learning. So what exactly is the difference between a stage and a digital piano?

    A stage piano is usually a performance piano (used by professionals) that is portable.

    stage piano

    So its going to have:

    1. Usually don’t have built-in speakers as they are usually played trough monitors, external amplifiers or PA systems (you can use use headphones though)
    2. Removing the speakers reduces the weight (huge advantage) & the cost (to some extent)
    3. The best sounds possible
    4. Intuitive interface
    5. Lots of knobs & buttons to quickly make the various selections/adjustments
    6. Its going to be built like a tank, very rugged (but lighter than an upright piano)
    7. It may not be elegant but the features are going to be cutting-edge.
    8. You need to buy pedals separately
    9. Its going to be expensive
    10. Pro musicians may also use a workstation keyboard, which in addition to the features of a stage piano, comes with programmable synthesizers, serious audio editing features, multi-track recorders/sequencers, and in some cases audio interfaces as well…basically an all-in-one studio.

    digital home piano

    On the other hand, a (home) digital piano caters to a different audience. Its going to be:

    1. More affordable & serves the purpose of learning (the entry-level pianos)
    2. The more expensive ones are used for practicing
    3. These come with built-in speakers which are good enough for personal use
    4. These usually come with integrated pedals, just like those on a real piano.
    5. The better ones can be a good piece of furniture and complement the looks of your room
    6. It will usually be in an upright or a grand piano design

    So, if your purpose is to have a piano for gigging, then you need a stage piano. For other purposes, the home digital piano (upright or grand) is preferred. Here, you also get portable pianos which can be kept on a nicely-designed stand to make it look more expensive.

    Also Read: Types of digital/electronic keyboards

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