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Should I Buy a Hybrid Keyboard?

They combine the best of both worlds! They offer unmatched versatility! They cost a million dollars! Well, not that much, but hybrid acoustic/digital keyboards are expensive. If the idea of a hybrid interests you, there are two ways to go: Buy an acoustic/digital hybrid piano, or have your acoustic piano retrofitted with a digital player system.

Among the growing list of things these hybrid pianos and player piano systems can do are

  • Record, playback, and mute (muting stops the hammers from hitting the strings — but you can hear yourself by plugging in headphones).

  • Connect with other MIDI instruments and MIDI files.

  • Access sound libraries and karaoke libraries, play along with pre-recorded tracks, and play along with MIDI feeds available over the Internet through a USB or wireless connection. These options open the door to a wide range of instructional and entertainment possibilities.

Yamaha Disklavier leads the field of digital and acoustic technology with its hybrid pianos. PianoDisc, QRS, and Bösendorfer also make player piano systems that can be installed on your acoustic piano.

Be careful if you’re thinking about retrofitting your piano with a player piano system. This can involve some significant physical alteration of your piano, and you won’t be able to go back after it’s done! Consult with a piano technician before signing on the dotted line. Ask how your piano would be affected by an installation, including the sound, the feel, and the value of the instrument.

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