Understanding Polyphony

Understanding Polyphony

Looking to buy a digital piano? A little confused by all the terms you find associated with a digital piano? 

We understand. It’s a lot to take in. And the last thing you want is to end up with a digital piano that doesn’t meet your needs.   

Let’s talk polyphony. 

Polyphony describes how many notes an electronic keyboard can play at any one time. Why would you need more than ten? You only have ten fingers, right? Don’t forget you also have a sustain pedal and the potential for many notes to sound at the same time. Understanding Polyphony

All digital pianos will display this number somewhere in their specifications. It’s one factor that is very important to consider before selecting your instrument. 

For digital pianos, polyphony is one factor that if it isn’t high enough, it can seriously degrade your playing experience. Meaning you or your child will outgrow your instrument in a short period of time. 

A quick scan of digital pianos online will show you that the various manufacturers show numbers ranging from 32 to 128.On a basic level, it’s easy to understand that one with 128 note range will be far more effective than one with a 32 note range. 

What happens if you hit the maximum number of notes while playing? The instrument stops sounding the notes that have already been played. How it does this depends on how it was manufactured. Some drop the earliest played notes. Others calculate which notes cause the least amount of harmonic disruption. 

Generally, higher polyphony is one factor that will push a digital piano up in price. But it isn’t something to skimp on. Particularly if you are planning on getting into complicated pieces of music. 

Polyphony is easy to hear. So don’t overlook this factor when making your final selection. 


Since 1960, Coltharp Piano World has represented the finest pianos in Memphis, Tennessee, the Midsouth and the world. In addition to quality sales and service we offer moving services, restoration services and master piano tuning. We offer the best new, used and vintage pianos anywhere. And our prices simply cannot be beat. Come and see our newly remodeled showroom and our beautiful new concert hall. We specialize in piano restoration for the southern United States. We welcome your call.

We are located at: 4447 Summer Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38122 Call us at 901.682.1172