What Is The Difference Between Stage Piano and Keyboard

Male producer, musician, composer making a song in home recording studio.
Male producer, musician, composer making a song in home recording studio.

Stage pianos and keyboards look similar, which can make it a little difficult to figure out what exactly the difference is when you’re in the market for a “portable piano”. Looking through all your options is important, and so is making an educated choice. Let’s go over the differences between the two, so you can make the best musical (and financial) decision for you!

Stage pianos are specifically meant for live stage performances, and generally do not have speakers built in, while keyboards do. They’re meant to be plugged into a speaker in order to use them, while keyboards can be used independently.

Knowing surface level differences is good, but if that’s not enough, we’ve compiled a more direct, detailed comparison between the two to help you figure out which one will best suit your needs!

What is a Stage Piano

A stage piano is a type of piano that is specifically made for live stage performances and recording in sound studios. These are most commonly used in jazz and modern music. One of the things that set stage pianos apart from digital pianos is that they produce a smaller number of sounds, but these sounds tend to be of higher quality than those of digital pianos or synthesizers.

Stage pianos were also designed to make the transportation of them fairly easy, and are typically just set up on a stand. They generally don’t come with speakers built into them, so you’re going to need a sound system in order to use them correctly. This can make them a little bit more of an investment, but if quality is what you’re shooting for, a stage piano might be your best bet. They can also be used as midi controllers as long as they have the correct hookups.

What is a Keyboard

A typical keyboard has a few differences when compared to a stage piano as most keyboards contain a combination of synthesizers, digital pianos, stage pianos, electronic organs, and digital audio workstations. While older keyboards would have their own speakers built into them, newer keyboards may need to be connected to a speaker through bluetooth or an aux cable, and can sometimes even be used with headphones for more private practice sessions.

Keyboards allow for a variety of different sounds, with you being able to change the sound of the instrument with just the touch of a button. You generally have access to a number of drum noises, different choirs, and a variety of random instruments, as well as pre-recorded beats and instrumentals. Keyboards also typically have few keys, ranging anywhere from 61 to 78 instead of the traditional 88 keys.

Stage Piano vs Keyboard

When it comes to the looks, often the two instruments are extremely hard to tell apart. The easiest way to tell the difference from a look is to see how many keys it has. But besides, that, there are plenty of other differences between the two.


Portability is going to be an important fact for those who don’t have a ton of space, and also for those who are going to be traveling a lot with their instrument. Keyboards, because of their fewer keys and generally cheaper build are often lighter and can fit on just about any stand you have available, while stage pianos are going to be heavier, but may have a built-in stand that will make it harder to travel with. So, while a stage piano might look a bit more natural in a room, the keyboard is going to be more portable and easier to store away if you need to.


There is a debate on whether stage pianos or keyboard pianos produce better sound. If you are looking for more traditional piano sounds then the stage piano is going to be much better as it will both play like and sound like your traditional acoustic piano. However, if you are looking for a wider range of sounds and more customization of these sounds, then a keyboard will be the better choice as they are very customizable and can often produce around 100 different sounds from a variety of instruments.

Touch Quality

While this may be a weird thing to focus on, there is a significant difference between the touch quality on a stage piano and a keyboard. With a stage piano, it tries to replicate how you would actually play the piano. This means there is some resistance when you touch the keys and the force you use when playing will affect the sound, more commonly known as “weighted keys”. Meanwhile, with the vast majority of keyboards, you get the same sound no matter how much force you push the key with.


One of the most defining features that separate the keyboard and the stage piano is if they have an auto-accompaniment. The keyboard has plenty of different built-in styles and genres of backing tracks that you can have to accompany you while you play. Typically these accompaniments will be the sound of a bass, drums, or even another keyboard. Meanwhile, stage pianos don’t offer this feature, meaning you will either have to find your own or play without it.

Take a look at our article: Which Is Harder To Learn and Play, Piano Or Keyboard? to help[ you decide which is better for you, a stage piano or a keyboard.

What is the Best Choice For a Beginner

Piano keys in purple light on concert stage. Synthesizer

This is going to depend on what you want. If you want to learn to play the piano but don’t have space for an acoustic piano, or want something that will look nice in your room, then the stage piano will be your best choice. If you want something portable to play with friends, or something that will offer a wider range of sounds, then the keyboard is going to be the better option.

What is the Best Choice For a Budget

Probably the biggest factor in choosing which instrument you are going to get will be how expensive they are. Both have cheaper and more expensive options, with the more expensive options giving higher quality instruments, but generally, keyboards are going to be cheaper than stage pianos. Keyboards (Amazon Affiliate Link)are typically around $100 while stage pianos (Amazon Affiliate Link) are typically around $750.

Raquel Richardson

I am a guitar player and singer and my husband is a piano and keyboard player. I love to play and write music and have put together MyGuitarPiano.com to provide helpful information on guitars and pianos. To find out more about me please visit my About Us page.

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