I used to play golf but gave up after one particularly bad round defined by an unbreakable cycle of rage and resignation. Sometime before this, I had the fortune to play
I witnessed a masterclass of ‘idea over gear’, which pained me greatly but taught me a valuable lesson concerning the weakness of the correlations between performance and equipment, expenditure and result.
The analogy is, I think, that if you’re good enough, you can play well with anything. Contrarily, if you’re a ham-fisted pleb with expensive kit, you just look like a bit of a tit. With the piano, as with golf, there’s a balance to be struck.
I started out with the bottom-of-the-range digital Yamaha (a P45). It was fine until I first played on an acoustic piano, when it became immediately apparent that I had been learning on a cheap, springy imitation of a complex and nuanced instrument. To try and bridge the gap, I bought a slightly better digital piano (Roland FP-30), but its strange fake key weight was still unsatisfactory.
At this point I should point out that I live in a flat and I’m not quite selfish enough to subject my neighbours to the full force of an acoustic piano. And I find practice pedals upsetting, something akin to puttting toilet rolls on a cat’s legs.
My third piano — and the one I still have — is a complex and expensive setup, based around a Kawai VPC. It’s an astounding approximation of a piano which I’m quite sure couldn’t have existed a couple of decades ago; however, it’s still very much not a piano.
It has recently become one of my great joys to happen upon an acoustic piano. In the shopping centre, in my friend’s mum’s house, in a
A good digital piano is — I imagine — like virtual reality porn with a sex doll: still enjoyable but most definitely not the same as the real thing. The good news is that your partner is unlikely to find a digital piano as upsetting to come home to. And you don’t have to hose it down when you’ve finished playing with it.
To conclude: If at all possible, buy an acoustic piano. If you can’t, buy a really good digital and make it a permanent sidequest to seek out acoustic pianos.