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Piano Buyer’s Guide

Choosing a piano can feel quite an overwhelming task! This brief guide aims to cover some of the piano options available to you:

Acoustic pianos

‘Acoustic’, ‘traditional’ or ‘real’ pianos, simply means pianos with strings, mechanism and soundboard that produce a live acoustic sound with no electronics. The modern style of ‘overstrung’ upright piano was first developed in the mid-to-late 19th Century and the design remains similar to this day. Modern materials and manufacturing techniques have significantly improved pianos over this period of time. They require regular tuning by a piano tuner and a good quality piano can last  a lifetime.

Digital pianos

Digital pianos are electronic instruments that require plugging in at the mains and reproduce the sound of an acoustic piano through speakers. They seek to replicate the sound and touch of an acoustic piano. They will never quite give the special live sound of an acoustic piano, but have many benefits of their own. They also never need tuning, but will have a much shorter life span than an acoustic piano. Find out more on our Understanding Digital Pianos page.


Electronic keyboards tend to be fairly inexpensive and are often purchased as a starting point to learning the piano. In many situations they are quickly outgrown as they do not have the full 88 note keyboard and the touch sensitivity is very limited.

Hybrid pianos

Some manufacturers use this term differently. ‘Hybrid’ or ‘Silent’ pianos are generally a combination of acoustic and digital… being a regular acoustic piano with a silent system fitted to them (either in the factory or a retro-fit version) gives you the option of playing the piano silently through headphones or playing the acoustic piano as normal. The silent system also gives you all of the benefits of a digital piano, including different sounds and the ability to connect to a computer or laptop.

Digital Conversions

Digital Conversions are a unique product here at Vale Pianos. We recycle an attractive old piano case by stripping out all of the original parts and rebuild a Kawai digital piano into the old piano casework so that it is hard to see that it now has a digital piano inside. Many customers ask us to convert their treasured family piano that can’t be restored. This gives the old piano a new lease of life and allows you to enjoy all the benefits of a digital piano inside a beautiful piece of furniture. See more about our Digital Conversions here.