More than 80% of all pianos sold today plug in. Does that surprise you? It’s true, but it may not mean what you think. Most people think of pianos as either “traditional acoustic” instruments (which generate sound mechanically with hammers striking strings, etc.) or “digital” instruments (which generate sound electronically), but what most folks don’t know is that there are entire categories of pianos in-between. These somewhat mysterious and poorly-defined instruments are called “Hybrid Pianos” and – they might be exactly what you are looking for.

As wonderful as they are (and have been for well over 300 years), acoustic pianos have their flaws. They do not hold up well in harsh climates; they fall out of tune with fluctuations in temperature and humidity; and they don’t offer the musical tools (such as recording, silent practice or learning software integration) that modern musicians desire. Why are they still around? In addition to their physical beauty, traditional pianos offer an extremely unique and satisfying performance experience that continues to inspire musicians of all skill levels


Digital pianos also have their share of problems. Only the very best models play and feel “real” enough to satisfy discerning teachers, players, etc. They don’t hold their value well. …and – thanks to confusing marketing terms like “portable grand” and “soundboard speaker system” – folks are easily fooled into buying inferior instruments. That said, digital pianos offer cutting-edge learning tools and modern features that not only make playing the piano more enjoyable – and more accessible – to more people, they also provide constant feedback that can help players learn better – and faster – than traditional acoustic instruments.

For some, the “Holy Grail” piano would incorporate the performance experience of a traditional acoustic piano and the modern tools of a digital piano into a playing experience all its own. This, in short, is the perfect definition of a “Hybrid Piano.”

James Harding, 2018

Thankfully, this renders the age-old “Acoustic Piano vs. Digital Piano” controversy moot. With Hybrid Pianos, you have more than two choices. In fact, you have several! Here are some of the piano categories that fall under the “Hybrid Pianos” umbrella:

Silent Pianos

Girl Playing Piano with Headphones

If you think of Hybrid Pianos as a bridge between Acoustic Pianos and Digital Pianos, then Silent Pianos would be closest to the Acoustic Piano side. When you merge just a small amount of technology with an acoustic piano, a remarkable transformation takes place. In the case of the “Silent Piano”, the traditional acoustic piano becomes much more versatile. This “play anytime” feature can lengthen practice, increase concentration, record performances to USB, and keep folks in your home office from hearing Chopsticks and Mary Had a Little Lamb a few thousand times. In short, the Silent Piano technology allows you to get twice as much (or more) use out of your traditional acoustic piano.

Add an iPad and Yamaha’s Silent Pianos can connect to learning apps with WIFI, stream music through headphones with Bluetooth and more! Silent Pianos open up a whole new world of learning, recording, and entertainment.

TransAcoustic Pianos

Yamaha TransAcoustic piano

TransAcoustic Pianos are an outstanding combination of technology and traditional piano building. Start with a traditional acoustic piano, add the Silent Piano system and then sprinkle in just a little more technology and you have a piano that will surprise and delight you in any setting. Engage the TransAcoustic system and the piano transforms. The key action moves so the hammers no longer strike the strings (but the piano’s touch remains the same). TransAcoustic technology transforms the entire instrument – strings, soundboard and ALL – into a loudspeaker! Select the Yamaha CFX concert grand piano sound and enjoy the warmth and depth of a concert grand piano – without having to sacrifice the space for one! You can lower the volume below that of a standard piano. You can even perform in large spaces with just a baby grand! From there you can layer (or play two sounds together) such as strings, electric piano, etc. You can even connect your tablet or smart phone and play along with mp3s! When you play with the band, the music you hear will come through the piano’s soundboard – not through a speaker. …and – whenever you want – you can disengage the TransAcoustic system and enjoy your traditional acoustic piano.

Hybrid Pianos

It may seem confusing to call this sub-category of Hybrid Pianos “Hybrid Pianos,” but these half-and-half instruments fit the name perfectly. Start with a REAL (all-wood) acoustic piano key action and replace the soundboard and strings with an amplifier and speakers. The result is an instrument that can perform like an acoustic or digital, but never requires tuning.

Enjoy the warmth and depth of a 9’ Yamaha CFX concert grand piano or play a variety of other common instrument sounds. Record yourself and email it to a friend or make a CD. Play along with “the band” wirelessly thanks to Bluetooth audio. You can even connect to your tablet or smart phone with MIDI and incorporate learning apps into your play. Hybrid Pianos are some of the most versatile instruments made today.

A Hybrid piano may be more appropriate for a small apartment or confined space as they are a bit smaller than the standard acoustic piano, and – if you travel or move frequently – they are much more easily transported.

…but beware. Not everything that calls itself a “Hybrid Piano” is a “Hybrid Piano.” Some manufacturers build digital piano key actions that look more like grand piano actions and call them “Hybrid Pianos.” Some even make special wooden speakers that look like soundboards and call their digital pianos “Hybrid Pianos.” These are not “Hybrid Pianos” as they do not incorporate acoustic piano components into their designs. They are just gimmicky digital pianos and it’s important to know the difference.

James Harding, 2018

Player Pianos

By definition, all player pianos are Hybrid Pianos as they incorporate electronic components into a traditional acoustic piano – adding tremendous versatility and function to the instrument. In particular, Yamaha’s Disklavier Pianos are the ultimate Hybrid Pianos.

Yamaha Disklavier Pianos combine the features of Yamaha Acoustic Pianos and Yamaha Silent Pianos with a cutting-edge player system that not only plays the piano automatically, but incorporates exclusive Yamaha technologies like Smart Key and Remote Live that make it possible to watch live performances from famous pianists in the comfort of your living room, enjoy endless music on an XM Radio-like internet radio station (with 40+ channels!)… and even engage NON players with the Smart Key feature (that tells folks which key to play by simply wiggling it in time with the music). No other piano can bring the joy of making music to as many people as the Yamaha Disklavier Hybrid Piano.

I welcome you to explore the prospects of a Hybrid Piano at Riverton Piano Company. We are thrilled to represent products that open up new markets for the piano and find new ways to spark interest in playing. Come and see how your young budding artist can become a star virtually overnight by posting their original compositions to You Tube. Discover how you can learn to play 60% faster than with traditional methods. Play grand pianos that take up no more space than an upright. …and see how a Disklavier could change your home forever.

Hybrid Pianos are changing The Piano Business in ways I never dreamed and I am thrilled to see it. Come in today and experience these unique instruments. You have more than two choices now. Let us help you make the right one!