What are some of the things you would like to be able to do anytime? These days, we can pretty much do anything at any time of the day. (Regrettably, perhaps!) 

Do you need to place an order for something? Your favorite online store is open. Are you hungry? You can order a pizza (or burgers, or anything that can be “dashed” to your door) just about all day and all night long. 

Can’t sleep at night? You can still watch TV or stream any show or movie you can imagine, until the sun comes up. Banking after hours? Sure! Just get online or call. And if you’re a real go-getter, you can even access your 24-hour gym any time you want. 

In all seriousness, everything seems to be available literally all the time. Why should it be any different for pianos?

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “I couldn’t play the piano at any hour of the day or night; it would bother my neighbors / wake up the kids / send the dog howling.” But I’m here to reply: “Yes, you could!”

Hybrids aren’t just for cars anymore.

A hybrid piano would allow you to do just that: play the piano without bothering the neighbors, waking up the kids, or sending the dog howling. It would also allow your kids to play without bothering, waking, or causing YOU to howl. 

You might say, “That sounds like a keyboard.” But a hybrid piano is an entirely different species of instrument.

A hybrid piano can actually be approached in two ways by a manufacturer. 

One way is to start with a traditional acoustic piano and add electronics. The second way is to start with a digital piano (a high-level keyboard) and add acoustic parts to it. 

Let’s look at the first way. A hybrid acoustic piano starts with the full meaning of a “real” piano and adds digital components. With the touch of a button and a slide of the pedal, a fully acoustic piano becomes fully digital – Haydn’s instrument becomes Herbie Hancock’s. 

Immediately at your fingertips are found a full and almost unimaginable range of sounds, midi capabilities, recording capabilities, and Bluetooth. 

Additionally, “there’s an App for that,” as they say! And of course, the “anytime” part of our example means that your acoustic piano becomes silent with the use of headphones, but doesn’t lose the touch or feel of the acoustic piano that it is.

The second way a hybrid piano is constructed is in the reverse approach. A manufacturer will take one of its high-level keyboard models and incorporate acoustic materials. This means wooden parts. 

The wood on a piano makes the sound resonate, reverberate, “sing,” if you will, and transfers the energy of the keys to the sound of the notes. 

A hybrid digital piano might have components like a wooden soundboard, wooden keys, and wooden hammers, to enrich the tone of the music and the touch of the action. 

The keyboard will, of course, have its inherent ability for a myriad of sounds, recording capabilities, streaming capabilities, and programs. And, of course, headphones for that “anytime” capability.

Hybrids aren’t just automobiles, they’re instruments, too! And while they couldn’t order any late-night pizza for you (yet), they could indeed hook into your TV sound system and stereo broadcast your favorite movie’s soundtrack while you watch a midnight flick. 

Jennifer Herrin is the co-owner of Kawai Piano Gallery by Herrin in Bluffton. jennifer@kpgbyherrin.com or kawaipianogallerybyherrin.com