What's the main difference in feel and operation between a grand piano and a MIDI keyboard?

I have an Intern INT-KB-6101 61 key keyboard. I usually use headphones to play it. But say I utilize a YAMAHA acoustic grand piano (88 keys) for the first time; what should I expect in terms of feel, maintenance and operation for commercial use?

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    Your basic question is answerable, but not yet; we need more info. There are many kinds of "MIDI keyboards," since MIDI is just a code for representing the music. Have you been using headphones or speakers? Which model of keyboard (so we can talk about how the keys move)? Also, there's a lot of variation among "real" pianos. Are you considering a particular brand? Voting to close right now as lacking details, but will retract the close-vote if edited to become clear. Commented May 30 at 13:19
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    Okay, I have understood and hence changed the question to be more detail. I appreciate pointing out my mistakes. Commented May 30 at 17:34
  • Your best options, and I say this from substantial experience, is to go play some Yahama grands. The differences will be immediately clear to you. Just know, that Yamaha's top-end grands are hand made, so there will be variations in sound and feel from one to another. Even with machine-made instruments, it's a good idea to play more than one of a particular model.
    – Aaron
    Commented May 30 at 17:34
  • Of course one difference is 61 vs 88 keys. If you're currently using an octave-shifting button to access extreme ranges, you won't have to anymore. Commented May 30 at 18:31

3 Answers 3


Looking online at the Intern INT-KB-6101 it appears to be a velocity-sensitive but unweighted keyboard. It will feel a LOT different to a real piano!

There are keyboards that attempt to more closely imitate a real piano - more keys, weighted keys that approximate the feel of actually throwing a hammer at a string, advanced sample sets etc. The better ones come pretty close! And we shouldn't kid ourselves that they won't continue to get even closer. They don't need regular tuning. They're a lot more portable. They're a lot cheaper than a Steinway Model D. For many types of music you'd be hard pressed to tell if a recording used a good 'digital piano' or a real one, especially as it's so easy to record a real piano badly!


difference in feel

In my opinion, despite good electronic pianos nice weighted keys, the touch is very different from a real piano. Real pianos often have heavy touch, although that varies greatly from instrument to instrument, but also real pianos feel different through the whole depth of the key going down, and across the keyboard. By comparison, electric piano keyboards just seem very consistent in touch, in a way that feels "unreal" to me.

I've never played an electronic piano that had the same resonance sound as an acoustic piano's harp and case when the damper pedal is used.

I think neither of these things matters to a listener. You need to be either touching the piano or right next to it to notice.

Maybe these differences are less noticeable in high-end priced instruments? I've only played electronic pianos that are in the price range of under $5,000.


You don't need to tune an electronic piano.

You don't need to worry about the room climate as much for an electonic versus acoustic.

You can move an electronic piano fairly easily, certainly not a grand piano.

You can listen with head phones, turn down the volume etc. on an electronic piano, which could matter if you don't want people near by to hear you.


A lot of MIDI keyboards are more like organ keys - they switch notes (or rather the signals from those notes) into MIDI signals. Some will have aftertouch.

A grand piano has a far more sophisticated action, which activates balanced levers before the hammers hit the strings. Over 100 parts per key. There are some expensive MIDI 'boards that get quite close to emulating this action, but they're not there quite yet.

It's because of the lack of sophistication of MIDI 'boards that playing a grand is even more expressive. However, some grands have a firmer action than others, so a direct comparison isn't easy.

The only way you're going to find the differences is to actually play each in turn, for a fair time each. If you're used to playing a MIDI 'board, it will take a few hours to adjust to the feel, which will generally speaking be far more responsive to touch than a MIDI 'board.

The speed of key recovery is faster on a grand than on an upright, but could match that of a MIDI.

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