A digital piano is an instrument that creates sounds electronically, using digital technology. Such a piano is programmed to produce a certain sound that the musicians otherwise manually make through an acoustic piano, working their magic on its keyboard.
However, when answering how does a digital piano work, we need to take a lot of factors into account. This is because the working of expensive models is a bit different than that of an affordable one, even if they come from same manufacturer.
To fully understand the working of a digital piano we need to understand its components and how they work towards sound production.
So, let us get into this.
Components of a Digital Piano
A digital piano has a few basic components, including keys, hammers, pedals, pickups, sound modules, amplifier(s), loudspeakers, and auxiliary input/output jacks.
Let us discuss each of these a bit more and how they help in sound production:
1 – Keys
These are the most important part of both simple or upright digital pianos and their mechanism is similar to how it is in the acoustic pianos.
Each key on such a piano consists of two parts, which includes a key sensor and a key hammer. If we take both these key components into consideration as one unit (sensor-hammer), it will be easier to understand what happens when the key is pressed. Here is an outline for this:
- When you press one of the digital piano keys, it pushes down one end of sensor-hammer unit.
- Because of the resultant force, the hammer strikes the respective string at its other end, producing a note and then the key returns to its original place.
In simple words, when you hit a key bellow, a note is produced due to the impact caused by the movement of the hammer hitting an appropriate string.
2 – Hammers
Hammer is placed inside the sensor. It is a small plastic block with felt on its one end. This end strikes on the string when you press a key and this plays an important role in how our digital pianos work.
3 – Pedal
Pedal of a digital piano are basically the same as that of an acoustic piano and are the pivot point in sound production. A pedal is used to sustain the piano sound, regardless of whether you hold down a key or release it. It also prevents the notes from getting lost prematurely by giving them duration (how long do they remain on).
There are three pedals in almost all pianos, whether they are digital, an acoustic grand piano, or any other real piano. There are:
- Soft pedal (una corda)
- Sostenuto pedal
- Sustain pedal.
4 – Pickups
These are small sensors that capture the vibrations and send them to an internal sound module so as to produce sound.
5 – Sound Module
This is where all the sounds come from. It creates tones and various effects by using digital samples of real instruments. The sound module also includes a built-in speaker and this is how the piano produces sound.
6 – Amplifier
Amplifiers are used to adjust the volume of your digital piano. It is placed inside your piano and has different controls, such as master volume, treble, bass and also contains a headphone jack too.
7 – Loudspeakers
They produce sound that is again picked up by pickups and then sent to the sound module. Loudspeakers are of two types: standard and subwoofers.
8 – Auxiliary input/output Jacks
Auxiliary input/output jacks are used for connecting your digital piano with other electronic equipment, such as another digital piano or a computer. You can also use it to connect your piano with an external microphone to sing along.
Working of The Digital Pianos
Now that you know enough about the component inside a digital piano, you can understand it better. Simply stated, this instrument creates sound electronically, by connecting different components together and making sure that they work in sync with each other.
But wait! This is not as simple as it seems.
As already stated, depending on the price bracket of your piano, the components can be a bit different from how they are in pianos of another price range.
This is especially true of Keys, which are different in different piano types. Here is a breakdown of the keys and how work in different pianos:
Entry Level Digital Pianos: Semi Weighted Keys
The keys in the cheaper pianos are made of plastic but are often weighed down. This lets the player feel a more natural sensation of playing a piano key and is great for beginners, since they can get used to different keys without too much hassle.
Intermediate Level Pianos: Weighted Hammer Action Keys
The keys on this kind of piano are not only heavier but also more realistic in terms of sound quality. They feel like the keys of an acoustic piano and is perfect for someone who has played for a bit longer.
Expensive Digital Pianos: Fully Weighted Hammer Action Keys
The keys in a higher end grand piano which are the best digital pianos are completely weighted, which means that pressing down on them will make them come to a complete stop at one end. This is a better way of testing the key stiffness and it gives you full control over how fast or slow you press them down.
How to Ensure Optimal Piano Working?
There are some steps by which you can ensure that your digital piano works well and sustain wear.
Some ways to keep your new instrument in the best of its playing condition are as follows:
1 – Always Use a Dust Cover
This will protect your piano from dirt and debris, especially if it is an acoustic style model. This way, you can also keep your piano from getting scratched.
2 – Use a Humidifier
Using a humidifier will ensure that the air in your home is moist enough for proper piano working, since dryness can damage several parts inside of it including the keyboards, key bed, strings, and lower keys. This also includes damaged to any leather or wooden components and even causing warped keys, among others.
3 – Use a Piano Stool
By using a proper piano stool, you will be able to sit in the correct position and thus improve your playing technique. This is important because sitting in different positions changes how you press down on the keys. If your stool isn’t high enough or doesn’t have adjustments, then it may affect your piano tune and working as well.
4 – Take Care of Your Piano Stand
Your stand or rack should be sturdy and durable as well, since it will make sure that your instrument is not damaged even when you move the piano around.
A digital piano is the perfect instrument for those who are starting to learn how to play or someone who wants to make music, but don’t have enough cash to buy an acoustic one.
The components inside are designed in a way that ensures proper working of your instrument even after heavy use, so you can continue playing it for years without worrying too much!