What’s the difference between an acoustic and a digital piano?
To clarify terms, an acoustic piano is the traditional piano we usually think of – weighted, mechanical hammers, real strings, and various pedals to control sustain and sound.
A digital piano is a precision electronic instrument that duplicates the sound and feel of a traditional acoustic piano. A digital piano uses digitally sampled sounds, amplifiers and speakers instead of strings and hammers to produce the sounds. The sound for each note has been digitally recorded from high-quality acoustic pianos and other instruments.
For even more realistic feel, Williams digital pianos also have weighted keys to emulate the unique hammer-action of an acoustic piano. Another useful Williams digital piano feature is the selectable touch control. It allows you to customize the keyboard to your playing style. A musician with a lighter touch can dial in the perfect setting for easy playability – great for kids who are just learning. There is also a setting in which playing dynamics have no effect on the sound, like playing the various organ models.
Does a digital piano ever need tuning?
No, a digital piano never needs tuning. With an acoustic piano, you usually have to tune it once a year, if not more often. If you don’t tune an acoustic piano regularly, the sound will deteriorate to the point it becomes unusable as a legitimate musical instrument.
On the other hand, the sounds for a digital piano are recorded and stored within the hardware, so it does not go out of tune. In fact, digital pianos are relatively low maintenance instruments. Keep it dusted, out of direct sunlight and away from spilled liquids, and your digital piano will last many, many years of everyday use.
What are the different parts of a digital piano?
Digital piano systems consist of electronic sensors that detect the velocity of key strikes. When a key is pressed, the sensors detect the key’s velocity, and a microchip produces the note with corresponding loudness (the harder you hit the keys, the louder the sound becomes), just like an acoustic piano.
A digitized sound bank provides all the sounds, an internal amplifier provides the power, speakers provide realistic reproduction and stereo separation, and headphone jacks provide privacy when practicing.
And just like an acoustic piano, digital pianos have sustain pedals (either built-in or as a plug-in option) When the sustain pedal is engaged, all piano keys played will decay gradually after they are released, as if you were holding them down.
What kind of sounds can a digital piano make?
Williams digital pianos also offer various instrument sounds in addition to the standard piano sounds, such as organ and harpsichord. Some digital pianos offer a variety of voices including guitars, brass, winds and strings as well as unique voices such as ethnic instruments, drums, and sound effects.
Additionally, our pianos have the ability to “layer” together two different sounds, for example, a string ensemble with a piano. This Dual or Layer feature allows you to create various textures and add instrumental depth to your playing.
How does a digital piano benefit the practicing player or student musician?
Since all the sounds on a digital piano are stored in electronic form, players can take full advantage of the benefits that come from the marvels of technology. This is especially true for the student. You can listen to a digital piano through headphones, allowing you to play the piano without anyone else hearing it. With a digital piano, you can play any time you want – and no one but you (or you and a friend, since our models have outputs for two sets of headphones) will be able to hear it. If you live in a dorm or an apartment, this silencing ability is very useful. But if you want the world to hear you, Williams digital pianos also have line out jacks, so you can plug the instrument to an external amplifier, or even a stereo.
Another useful feature is the transposition function. It allows players to shift the key of the composition being played up or down in half-step intervals. Transposing the pitch of the instrument keyboard makes it easier to play difficult key signatures, and you can easily match the pitch of the keyboard to the range of a singer or other instrumentalist.
Williams pianos also include a built-in metronome. The player can easily adjust the Tempo, or select from a number of beat patterns to practice to: 1/4, 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 5/4, 6/4, 6/8 or 12/8.
With Williams pianos, you can digitally record one or more tracks using the built-in recorder and then play them back. This sequencer is a great feature for examining your performance, analyzing it from an audience perspective. Or, you can record each hand separately to more closely examine your playing technique.
If you want to have fun, you could record a Piano part, then overdub a Strings track and finally, play an Organ part live while the other two tracks are playing back.
If you want to build more involved orchestrations, some Williams models include an Auto-Accompaniment feature. This offers up to 100 accompaniment rhythm styles to choose from. Each rhythm style includes multiple variation patterns.
In addition to the Drum/rhythm parts, rhythm styles can provide fully orchestrated accompaniment with bass, chords and additional instruments.
Williams pianos come with plenty of pre-recorded practice songs – 50 or more depending on the model – and a practice songbook.
A great benefit to learning is the ability to isolate left or right hand portions of a song. Special buttons on Williams will play either the left or right hand portion of play-a-long songs, allowing the player to practice each hand separately.
How can I create more complex recordings?
In addition to the built-in recorder, you can use the MIDI connections Williams pianos provide to record and edit your performance with an external sequencer (hardware or computer recording software). With the appropriate cables, you can also plug the line output of a Williams piano into any audio recording device.
What is MIDI?
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This is a worldwide standard communications interface that enables electronic musical instruments and computers (of all brands) to communicate with each other so that instructions and other data can pass between them. This exchange of information makes it possible to create a system of MIDI instruments and devices that offer far greater versatility and control than is available with isolated instruments. Whether you interface with computers, sequencers, expanders or other keyboards, your musical horizons will be greatly enhanced.
In short, MIDI allows you to use the keyboard section of your Williams piano to play sounds from another sound generator (hardware expander or software instrument). Not only that, MIDI allows other MIDI-enabled instrument or sequencing software to play the sounds inside your Williams pianos
Who should I contact if there is a problem with my Williams piano?
Go to the Customer Support page for general questions, sales info, or support questions, which include procedures for repairing your Williams piano.