Different Types Of Pianos For Different Needs

The development of different types of pianos came about from the different demands and needs of both professional and amateur musicians alike. The piano is a large instrument, so transportation – and/or availability of a suitable instrument – is a key concern of professionals. Likewise, the space required for a piano can be a concern for musicians looking to enjoy a piano in their own home.

Many musicians don’t need or want an actual, acoustic piano and instead make use of electronic keyboards, electric pianos, or even digital pianos, which today produce sounds virtually indistinguishable from an actual piano.

General Categories Of Pianos

Before getting into specific types of pianos, it’s important to understand some general piano categories:

  • Acoustic Piano – This is the general name for the standard, non-digital, non-electronic piano. Sound is created when keys activate hammers that strike tuned metal “strings” inside a sounding cabinet.
  • Electric Piano – This is not the same as an electronic piano. An electric piano is basically an acoustic piano with “pickups” on the strings that allow the sound to be amplified electrically. It’s actually an electro-mechanical device, combining the action of a traditional piano with electrical amplification.
  • Electronic Piano – This is not the same as an electric piano. An electronic piano simulates piano sounds using analog circuitry, similar to the way electronic synthesizers work.
  • Digital Piano – This type of piano also uses electronic circuitry to produce piano sounds. However, the sounds in a digital piano are usually “samples” – digital representations – of actual piano sounds recorded – or sampled – from actual pianos. They are usually much cheaper, lighter, and smaller than acoustic, and even electric pianos.
  • MIDI Piano – MIDI stands for “Musical Instrument Digital Interface” and therefore seems like it would only be applicable to digital pianos, but any type of piano above can have a MIDI implementation. MIDI allows computers and other instruments to communicate with each other by sending digital “messages” back and forth over various communication channels. These messages include information concerning specific notes played, duration, volume, etc. All that’s needed to implement MIDI is an interface system that can communicate with the instrument. There are even acoustic, player pianos that record songs and can communicate with other instruments via MIDI.

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