Digital Pianos vs Keyboards: Different Instruments for Different Purposes

Digital pianos and keyboards are often thought of as one and the same. But they are two distinct pieces of musical equipment. If you are just beginning to play the piano and want to learn more about the specific differences, I’ll try my best to explain everything to you.

The Keys

One major difference between the two is the number of keys you see when shopping for keyboards and pianos. Typically, digital pianos have 88 keys and 6 octaves. On the other hand, there are between 61 and 76 keys on a keyboard with only 4-5 octaves available.

In addition to the number of keys that are present, the keys on a digital piano are weighted. This means that the sound, volume, and tone that the unit plays depends on the amount of force used when pressing the key down.

This is not a feature that is present on a keyboard. They key plays at the same volume regardless how hard you press it. As a result, it does not feel the same as a traditional piano like a digital piano can.

As far as the size of the keys, those on a keyboard are smaller and shorter than what you would find on a piano. For some, this makes it easier to learn and get the hang of. I am no where near an expert pianist, so I do not have a problem with this, but more experienced musicians will have to get used to this.

Musical synthesizers have very similar keyboard setups.

small childrens keyboard in black and green.
A musical keyboard usually has less keys than a full electric piano.


Both types are portable and can be carried around since they are not extremely large. With that said though, a keyboard is more lightweight. Many traveling musicians opt for these, particularly if they have many other pieces of equipment that need to be carried. It is wise for them to reduce the weight as much as possible.


Personally, I think most keyboards look cheap when compared to digital pianos even though they can be just as expensive. Many keyboards are made with plastic and lots of buttons and are placed on folding stands. Digital pianos however are often mounted onto a wooden frame stand,

There are some models of keyboards that look exactly like digital pianos and vice versa. If you are a home user and you are looking for something that can seamlessly mesh with all of the furnishings in the home, it is more likely you will achieve this goal if you select a digital piano instead of buying a keyboard. You will have more style and color options with a digital piano.


If are serious about learning the piano, you would be smart by choosing a digital piano. Avoid those that are priced too cheap since the quality may leave a lot to be desired. In addition, you should keep in mind that many people get keyboards because they want to casually play around with sound. In fact, some parents buy them for children because this is a way to get them used to playing notes while having fun at the same time.

Personally, I tend to look for modestly priced options that sound and feel like a grand piano, but that is a personal preference. You’ll have to think about all of the points that were mentioned here and determine whether you would be better off buying yourself a digital piano like I did, or making a choice that may meet your needs better.

So, who won the digital piano vs keyboard battle for you? Let me know in the comments below which you chose and why!

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