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What Piano Is Used In Hip-hop?

The hiphop genre is one that is very unique. I’ve been producing hiphoo records for more than a decade and I’ve never come across a genre with so many rules.

We all know that hiphop does borrow from various other genres but perhaps this is the reason why it’s so unique.

It’s authentic nature is the reason why it’s so unmistakable and why it is still one of the best genres in the world.

This post is in relation to instrumentation that is used in hiphop. The common piano to be specific.

I chose this specific topic because I’ve gotten questions relating to this a lot by a lot of new producers trying to get started in the genre as well as those looking to incorporate hiphop elements in other genres.

with that said, What piano is used in hip-hop?

Hip-hop music is known for the use of real pianos as well as various piano-esque instruments such as synthesizers and electric key boards.

All these instruments serve distinct functions in the creation of music in this genre.

Real pianos

By real pianos I mean the actual string and tension real instrument.

They usually have protective wooden cases surrounding the soundboard and metal strings, which are strung under great tension on a heavy metal frame.

The basic working principle of a piano is that pessing one or more keys on the keyboard causes a wooden or plastic hammer to strike the strings.

The hammer then rebounds from the strings, and they continue to vibrate at their resonant frequency.

These vibrations are transferred through a bridge to a soundboard that amplifies by more efficiently coupling the acoustic energy to the air.

When you release a key, a damper stops the string’s vibration therefore ending the sound.

Real pianos are a part of every genre and hiphop does utilize them well.

Most modern hiphop being produced today has sounds from a real piano.


Synthesizers are piano esque instruments that are used in hiphop.

Hiphop, just like almost all genres has evolved over the years.

Back in the day, hiphop was mainly known for its sampling of genres such as jazz, funk and soul. This was the norm. And some of the known pioneers of the genre were known to be heavy samplers of music.

Even producers that made music from scratch without the use of samples basically created hiphop that sounded like jazz, funk or soul. Because this was the more prominent sound back then.

To this day, some hiphop producers still follow this line of production.

However, most music that has dominated the last decade or so mainly been heavily synth based.

This is because technology has broadly become fast paced. Which means new things are being developed and old things are being quickly phased out.

Synthesizers have been around for a long time and they still are.

Most of the synthesizers from back in the day were analog synths. Which are known for producing warm sounds due to their sophisticated internal circuitry.

Today, analog synths still exist but the most utilized are digital synths that are mostly used within Digital Audio Workstations.

These synths are able to be programmed just like analog synths but they hold a specific advantage.

They are able to create and synthesize much more sophisticated sounds. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why they’re heavily used.

Their ability to mimic almost all real sounds have made them some of the most sought after tools in audio production.

They definitely have made their mark and will continue to do so as technology continously advances.


Electronic Keyboard

Electronic keyboards are also a common piano-esque instrument that is used in hiphop.

An electronic keyboard is sometimes called a portable keyboard, or digital keyboard.

It is an electronic musical instrument, which is mainly an electronic derivative of keyboard instruments.

Electronic keyboards include synthesizers, digital pianos, stage pianos, electronic organs and digital audio workstations.

An electronic keyboard is simply a synthesizer with a low-wattage power amplifier and small loudspeakers.

They are capable of recreating a variety of instrument sounds such as piano, Hammond organ, pipe organ, violin, etc and synthesizer tones that are simple enough and don’t involve complex sound synthesis.

Electronic keyboards are mainly designed for home users, beginners and other non-professional users. But they are still widely used even in professional settings.

Electronic keyboards usually have unweighted keys.

The cheaper models do not have velocity-sensitive keys, but the mid- to high-priced models do.

Keyboards that are more optmized for home usage usually have little, if any, digital sound editing capacity.

Which means the e user has to select from a range of preset “voices” or sounds, which include emulations of many instruments and some electronic synthesizer sounds.

Home keyboards have a much lower cost than traditional professional synthesizers. 

Final Thoughts

Pianos are certainly an important instrument in the creation of music.They’ve evolved digitally, making them even more revolutionised.

Almost every person with a digital audio workstation has access to various piano sounds.

The main type of piano used in hiphop today is the real piano instrument itself, synthesizers and electric or electronic keyboards.

What Piano Is Used In Hip-hop?
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