An electric or electronic instrument that recreates, or at least approximates, the sound of a piano. Prior to about 1970, the most commonly used electric pianos consisted primarily of conventional piano or celeste mechanisms, with the electronics aspect being confined to amplification, some tone control, and perhaps an effects circuit or two. RMI, starting in the late 1960s, introduced electric piano models which were fully electronic; a specialized type of oscillator circuit generated the basic timbre, and an envelope generator and VCA gave it the general dynamic characteristics of a piano. Several other manufacturers went this route in the 1970s, with mixed success, while most players tended to stay with the common Rhodes or Wurlitzer mechanics-based electric pianos.
The Yamaha DX7 revolutionized the electric piano market in the mid-1980s. As the DX7 came from the factory, its default patch on power up was an electric piano patch which became very popular. Many performers regarded the DX7 as being a better electric piano than the dedicated electric pianos were, and quite a few were purchased solely to replace older Rhodes or Wurlitzer pianos, with the performer rarely using any of the other onboard patches. In the 1990s, sample playback reinforced with techniques such as multisampling and velocity switching were used to create synths that specialized in piano sounds. This led to the creation of the digital piano, an electronic instrument that the performer could approach and play as if it were a conventional piano, without regarding the synth technology underneath if the performer so chose. Some of these also contain features for self-guided instruction, composing, and recording and mixing tracks, in the manner of a workstation.