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Pianos Keyboards and Organs

Keyboard-based instruments are some of the more commonly played musical tools. They are easily accessible, and they don’t present a steep learning curve. Although the words “piano,” “keyboard,” and “organ” are often used interchangeably, there are actually key differentiators to consider.

Are a pianos and keyboards the same?

The piano and the keyboard feature a layout of keys to produce music. However, while a piano is an acoustic and unpowered tool that produces sound by a hammer striking a string when a key is pressed, a keyboard produces sound electronically and requires a power source for you to use it.

On the piano, the keys are weighted, which means that they are heavy to the touch. This helps you in building up finger strength or varying the strength of the note (the harder you hit the key, the louder the produced sound). Also, when you play music on the piano, there’s a vibration that the strings surrounding the played notes make to provide a harmony-rich sound. And you can sustain the sound after your fingers leave the keys by pressing the built-in pedals at the base of the piano.

On the keyboard, you have a wide range of sounds to choose from, and the keys are not weighted. It comes with various ports to connect certain accessories, such as a pair of headphones, MIDI cables to connect to a computer and create musical tracks, or an audio cord. There’s also a port for plugging in a sustain pedal similar to that of the piano. Some keyboard makers include Yamaha, Casio, Korg, and Roland.

Some manufacturers provide what is referred to as a digital piano, which combines the features of both. The digital piano uses the form factor, weighted keys, and built-in music sustainer of the piano as well as the different sound types, electronic production, and wired connectivity of the keyboard. Digital piano examples include the Yamaha Clavinova, P-Series, and Portable Grand lines and the Casio Celviano and Privia Digital Piano families.

How many keys do you need on a keyboard?

The number of keys you need on a keyboard or digital piano depends on your level of experience or comfort with the instrument. It’s common to start with a fewer number of available keys if you are a beginner and go with a larger number of keys as you master the keyboard or digital piano. For instance, Casio provides the SA-76, a 44-key mini keyboard for children. Mid-level digital pianos come with 61 or 76 keys. Manufacturers like Casio and Yamaha offer as many as 88 keys on their higher-end products, which include the Yamaha YPG-535 and the aforementioned Casio Privia digital piano lineup.

What type of instrument is the organ?

Depending on type, the organ can be classified as a woodwind instrument. It is often lumped together with the keyboard and the piano, which are classified as percussion, because they each have a layout of keys. Indeed, some types of organs, such as electronic or digital organs, generate electronically produced sound. This fulfills the definition of the percussion instrument, which produces sound by being struck, scraped, or rubbed by hand or with another object. However, earlier versions of the organ relied on air moving through pipes to produce sound.

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