Pros and Cons of Digital Keyboards - dummies

By Holly Day, Jerry Kovarksy, Blake Neely, David Pearl, Michael Pilhofer

You can rent some digital keyboards, but not all. Some of the fancier models are mostly for sale only, although you may find a used one in good condition. On the other hand, plenty of stores offer a rental option on larger digital pianos or digital organs. Many online stores will ship a keyboard to you and provide knowledgeable staff available by phone.

Looking for used keyboards online can yield lots of options, but you really need to be able to see and play a keyboard before you buy.


Digital keyboards have the following positive points going for them:

  • Cost: Unless you’re talking about very high-end models, most digital keyboards are more affordable than pianos.

  • Size: No matter where you live, you can find a spot for your digital keyboard. Plus, they are much, much easier to move.

  • Versatility: Most digital keyboards come loaded with different sounds, so you can be a one-person band or make almost any sounds you want.

  • Maintenance: Digital keyboards require no tuning and no tweaking — you just plug and play.

  • Silence: If you have grouchy neighbors, young children, or other housemates who demand quiet, headphones really help. You can turn off the sound to the outside world and still hear yourself practice.


Consider the following before making a purchase:

  • Complexity: Some digital keyboards come with a baffling number of sampled sounds, sequencing tools, effects, levers, and knobs. Figuring out how to utilize these features requires a steep learning curve. Additionally, knobs and levers can break, circuitry can go haywire, and any number of other things can go wrong over the years.

  • Power: You must have electricity, or at least a whole bunch of D-size batteries, in order to play your digital keyboard.

  • Sound quality: Some digital sounds are out-of-this-world fantastic, but others can be unconvincing when mimicking an acoustic instrument.

  • Keyboard action: Many digital keyboards aren’t touch-sensitive, meaning that whether you play the key hard or soft, you hear the same volume. Models with “weighted action” try to give you the feel of an acoustic piano; some succeed, and some fail.

  • Obsolescence: Like most electronic devices and computers, today’s keyboards probably won’t be tomorrow’s desire. Eventually you’ll want to upgrade to the latest and greatest model, and very few digital keyboards retain their value.

  • Addiction: If you buy one, pretty soon you’ll want another, and another, and another. Or you’ll want more sound samples, a better amp, a better speaker, a new stand, or a new case. The common mantra among keyboard players in the digital world is, “I need more gear!”