We can start with some key facts about the piano. Modern acoustic pianos have been around for hundreds of years. Bartolomeo Cristofori invented the first pianoforte in Venice, Italy.

He Created a hammer mechanism that would produce sound by striking the string and causing a vibration of that string and passing the vibration through the bridge to the soundboard.

Many musical instruments produce sound in this manner; the way you cause the strings to vibrate will differ. You might pluck or pick the strings of your guitar. A bow can be used to make the sounds that come from a violin or a cello.

With an acoustic piano, you push down on the keys to cause a hammer to hit and bounce off of the strings. This brings up a little trivia. Most people would say that a piano is a strung instrument however it is actually a percussion instrument. Hammer strikes the string 

This allows the strings to vibrate and allows the pianist to give expression and soul to the music being played. By varying the force, speed, and release, when hitting the keys, the music being played can vary a great deal on an acoustic piano. Not so much on an Electric Piano.

An acoustic piano typically contains from 10,000  to 12,000 parts and come in two basic styles: a grand piano and an upright or vertical piano. Grand pianos range in size from 4 feet 7 inches to over 9 feet in length and are horizontal.

The strings on the grand piano are parallel to the ground. Gravity pulls the hammers back down to their resting points after hitting the string or strings. Upright pianos can also be categorized by size and include the spinet which is 36 inches in height. The console is 40 to 42 inches, and the studio is 45 inches.

The console piano is the most common upright found in homes.

Digital pianos are electronic instruments that reproduce sounds that have been sampled or taken from the sound of different pianos and stored on computer chips inside the piano.

A digital piano has from 61 to 88 keys. They do not have the need for hammers or strings or any of the moving parts you will find in an acoustic piano.

The sound is produced when you tell the digital pianos computer to make a sound by pressing a key. This sound is different depending on the key pressed.

Good quality digital pianos may have a weighted key action feature that tries to imitate the feel of an acoustic piano keyboard. Manufacturers have been trying for years to create the feel of the keyboard so that it will emulate an acoustic piano.

While they have gotten better, I have played many of them and not found one yet that felt like an acoustic piano.  Electronic keyboards and organs I general don’t have weighted key actions.

You can hear the sounds the digital keyboard makes through built-in speakers, external sound systems or headphones. When deciding what type of piano to buy, try out as many good quality instruments as you can. Play instruments in different price ranges, and try both acoustic and digital types.

Play notes in the bass, the middle and the treble. Does the tone sound even? Does it have a good bass section?  How do the high notes sound?  How hard do you have to push to make the sounds?

Some people prefer a light touch than others that prefer a heavy touch. The touch you prefer also depends on the type of music you play. Do the notes stop when you release the keys or do some continue to play? Check the pedals and make sure they all work correctly. Some digital pianos do not even have pedals. When you have done these things then decide on a price range and what style you prefer and you will be ready to choose the right piano for you.