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A Small Guide to Pianos
Pianos are widely accepted as one of the most beautiful instruments in the world. This is justly so, think of those majestic grand pianos in concert halls or the sleek modern digital pianos. While not immediately obvious, pianos are actually stringed instruments. When you press down on a key you trigger a little hammer that hits a string inside the piano. If you pop the lid you can promptly see what I'm talking about. The reason you can control dynamics so well on a piano is that the hammer is linked directly to the keys, the harder you push the harder it hits and the louder the sound gets.
Shapes and Sizes
We can, as usual, talk about the acoustic range and the electric, or digital range. Acoustic pianos come in two basic shapes. The acoustic grand piano is the great big instrument found on the hall floor. It can be over 10 feet so it's not for everyone's living room, and the cost is somewhere over $8.000 but to get a descent one you really should prepare $20.000 - $40.000. Baldwin, Steinberg & Sons are both very reputable manufacturers but Yamaha also makes very good ones.
The most common home piano, or we could call it the pianus domesticus also called an upright piano can be spotted because instead of being 10 feet long it is only about 2-3 feet. The strings and the whole mechanism is positioned vertically, so it can be pushed up to a wall and takes up less space. It is ideal for a living room, solo piano music is both soothing and fun.
Electric pianos can also be split into two groups. Synthesizers are not strictly speaking pianos, because in the very strict sense they are able to produce any synthesized sound, they just happened to be controlled by a keyboard. If you buy a descent model from Yamaha or Korg and such you will be able to practice and learn because many models have built in teaching software displayed on a sizable screen. Going further up the price range we get balanced and weighed keys that give the feel of a real piano, but also influence the sound accordingly, so it gives you a wider range of dynamics. These aren't that expensive so if you're preparing to buy one, consider the little extra for this great service.
Digital pianos model piano sounds so closely that the difference is only audible to experienced ears. Weighed keys, and other special mechanisms are built in to give you everything a piano does in one tenth of the space. Digital pianos usually don't give you that many options tone-wise, you'll probably have 2-3 different piano tones and maybe an organ, but of course digital pianos are for playing piano, not bagpipes. The market for these instruments tend to be the pro's so you probably won't get any teaching software and built-in help but I have seen exceptions. You can choose to buy a portable model or one that looks like an upright piano, even ones that resemble grand pianos.