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Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
#1880579 04/16/12 02:39 PM
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Hello, this is my first post so please excuse if any protocol not being followed properly. I have learned so much from this incredible forum! Our daughter, almost 7 y/o, started piano lesson and we need to buy her a piano to practice on. We are looking at the Kawai CA 63; however, I read somewhere about kids will not be able to develop good finger strength if they practice on a DP vs. an AP??? Is it true? Also there are different setting on the "hardness" of the key i.e. how hard one has to strike the key, then how can you tell which setting to set it on? I appreciate any guidance from all of you. Thanks.

Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1880584 04/16/12 02:51 PM
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Digital pianos like the Kawai CA63 have actions that closely resemble acoustic grand piano actions, although they are not identical (typically, grand pianos have a longer "throw" which aids key control across both black and white keys). However, most of the higher end DPs have actions that are weighted in such a way as to mimic the heft of an acoustic action (which can vary quite significantly). The development of finger strength should not be an issue with these boards.

If you can afford, have space for, can maintain a good quality acoustic grand for your daughter, that is the best way to go, IMO. However, if you are limited to purchasing digital, the higher end Kawais, Rolands and Yamahas all have high quality actions and sound engines that should enable your daughter to practice and develop technique quite adequately - at least until she reaches an advanced level.

As to the setting of "hardness," that is merely changing the way the sound responds to a particular key-stroke velocity or force. It does not alter the actual weight of the action. Usually, the default setting is the place to start. Reducing it to "light" will allow the timbre and dynamics to change too easily, i.e. in an unnatural way. The "hard" setting makes it more difficult to achieve the louder, more strident sounds, although that can help to develop finger strength as more force will be required to achieve the desired results. Your daughter's piano teacher may be able to guide you in setting the velocity curve.

Last edited by voxpops; 04/16/12 02:59 PM.

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Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1880587 04/16/12 02:54 PM
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hello there, all depends on digital pianos because there are all kind of variety out there. There are DPs with very good almost like a acoustic piano so don't worry about it. Kawai CA63 has very good action.

Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1880596 04/16/12 03:13 PM
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Very cheap keyboards do not feature fully weighted keys and thus finger strength can be an issue, among other things.

That's not the case for any of the pianos we regularly talk about there. True digital pianos have fully weighted keys with similar responses to acoustics, and are therefore excellent practice and learning instruments. If anything, we more often have complaints that digital actions require more strength to play than their acoustic counterparts, in part because many have their resistance calibrated to match or be near an acoustic without the pedal engaged, which is somewhat higher than that of an acoustic with the pedal down (and dampers lifted).

Anyway, the CA-93 is probably as good as it gets in terms of action among pure digitals. It's an oustanding instrument in every way, for learning and indeed for more advanced play.

Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1880599 04/16/12 03:15 PM
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Quality DP actions like that Kawai CA63 and its similar competitors make good preparation for a beginner up to a point. Likewise, they make great practice instruments for experienced players of varying levels.

It's the intermediate through advanced stage of study where you must have regular access to a quality acoustic piano if you wish to achieve real proficiency. To elaborate, a digital-only student will have greater difficulty transferring an advanced piece to acoustic for performance. A determined student will certainly be able to adapt from a quality DP action. From one (decent) acoustic to another (better) acoustic is a much simpler adjustment for proper technique and expression.


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Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
PianoWorksATL #1880634 04/16/12 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
Quality DP actions like that Kawai CA63 and its similar competitors make good preparation for a beginner up to a point. Likewise, they make great practice instruments for experienced players of varying levels.

It's the intermediate through advanced stage of study where you must have regular access to a quality acoustic piano if you wish to achieve real proficiency. To elaborate, a digital-only student will have greater difficulty transferring an advanced piece to acoustic for performance. A determined student will certainly be able to adapt from a quality DP action. From one (decent) acoustic to another (better) acoustic is a much simpler adjustment for proper technique and expression.


so if I were to buy an AP instead, could I get a good used one for around $2600.00? How old of a piano is too old? I have seen some pianos from the 1950's and 60's that look very nice; however, I heard that older pianos do not hold tuning well thus requiring tuning more often. Is it true?

Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1880642 04/16/12 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Smiles466
[How old of a piano is too old? I have seen some pianos from the 1950's and 60's that look very nice; however, I heard that older pianos do not hold tuning well thus requiring tuning more often. Is it true?


if you bought a car from the fifties or sixties would you think t doesn't require servicing more often then a new one???

Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
piano_shark #1880684 04/16/12 05:11 PM
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If your daughter is 7 years old, you can get the CA 63 now, and then see if she's still playing in 3 or 4 years' time before considering upgrading to an acoustic. In all likelyhood, she'll have stopped playing by then anyway. Only 20 % of piano students make it past 2 years. If she still wants to go on by then, she deserves a good instrument smile

Last edited by torhu; 04/16/12 05:11 PM.

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Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1880700 04/16/12 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Smiles466
so if I were to buy an AP instead, could I get a good used one for around $2600.00? How old of a piano is too old? I have seen some pianos from the 1950's and 60's that look very nice; however, I heard that older pianos do not hold tuning well thus requiring tuning more often. Is it true?


These days, you should be able to get a good used acoustic piano for $2,600 - and newer than 50s/60s. However, my advice would be to engage the services of a very knowledgeable, and totally independent, third party to help you in this. Also, be prepared to spend some considerable time looking.

Grand pianos are definitely more desirable than uprights for their action and acoustics. However, given the choice between a good upright (say a Yamaha "U" series or a Petrof studio model) and a cheap grand from the Far East, I'd be inclined to favor the upright.

Please be aware, though, that there's no headphone option with an acoustic! You'll be obliged to listen to all your daughter's practicing...

Some older pianos hold their tuning OK, others don't. Again you need any potential purchase to be evaluated by an expert. Condition of pins, dampers, hammers/felts, strings, mechanics all need to be assessed.

Last edited by voxpops; 04/16/12 05:32 PM.

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Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1880806 04/16/12 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Smiles466
so if I were to buy an AP instead, could I get a good used one for around $2600.00? How old of a piano is too old? I have seen some pianos from the 1950's and 60's that look very nice; however, I heard that older pianos do not hold tuning well thus requiring tuning more often. Is it true?
I think it's possible to find a fair-to-good upright with your budget, but I don't know that my comments were meant to advocate that path. Most older pianos are fraught with risks to a student's success that a digital piano avoids.

$2600 does not guarantee you a quality acoustic that *might* be better long term than a digital. $2600 pretty much does guarantee you a quality digital that will take you from beginner to intermediate level. Or you can go cheaper (around $1k - $2k) on a DP that will buy you time to really save for that higher quality, new or nearly new acoustic.

Be honest with yourself...are you hoping for proficiency leading to advanced study and willing to take those steps even on a moderate budget? Or are you looking for musical exploration and a more laissez-faire approach?

At 7, your daughter is young enough that all possibilities are still open. The risk of a DP is not that it is poor preparation in the early stages (I find most to be better preparation than most "starter" acoustic pianos) but that she will stall too long when more advanced techniques are eventually presented to her.


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Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1881052 04/17/12 10:11 AM
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Very informative discussion. My daughter is younger and she hasn't start piano lessons although she shows some interests.

We are doing research on APs and DPs. Thank you all for sharing your expertise.

Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1888346 04/29/12 12:06 PM
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My advice would be to buy the CA63 for your daughter.
As many have already pointed out, this is not as good as a *quality* acoustic piano. But the difference is not that dramatic, at least initially.
Furthermore, an acoustic will allow her to practice with headphones, which she might find more comfortable.
Save the tuning/regulation cash for now, and invest it in a quality acoustic further down the road (~5 years) should your daughter still want it.

Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
PianoWorksATL #1888402 04/29/12 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
It's the intermediate through advanced stage of study where you must have regular access to a quality acoustic piano if you wish to achieve real proficiency.

This is a myth perpetuated by those in the acoustic piano sales business (I know, I used to sell acoustic pianos). I can name many world class performers who only use digital keyboards and can run circles around any acoustic player. Unless your child is a prodigy destined for Carnegie Hall, making an investment upwards of $10,000 is absolutely unnecessary. And that's really what you're looking at as a base price for a new, higher-end grand piano.
Sorry, don't mean to rant here, just want you to have all the facts, not just one side of the story.


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Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1888418 04/29/12 02:23 PM
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You can find on youtube a lot of outstanding performances on acoustic instruments (like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HL6xByrMuE), but you will not find one (in terms of music, rather than pressing the buttons) made on a digital


DP: Korg Sp-250,Pianoteq 5.x, TruePianos 1.9x;
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Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1888434 04/29/12 02:56 PM
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Huh? There are more such videos on You Tube than I could watch in a lifetime!

Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1888458 04/29/12 03:51 PM
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Compare http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOLonYSDxeQ
In real life as well ...


DP: Korg Sp-250,Pianoteq 5.x, TruePianos 1.9x;
Grand piano: Blutner, Muhlbach, Yamaha, iRig Pro;
Upright: Kalujanka;
English (with some problems)
Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Yuri Pavlov #1888697 04/30/12 04:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Yuri Pavlov
You can find on youtube a lot of outstanding performances on acoustic instruments (like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HL6xByrMuE), but you will not find one (in terms of music, rather than pressing the buttons) made on a digital


I disagree. A good pianist will sound good also on a digital piano (on a top modern one, of course, not on budget keyboards nor on outdated DPs). I don't think it's fair comparing a great famous concert pianist performance with an amateur performance. In order to equilibrating the balance, I'll post just a few examples of professional and concert pianists playing Dps taken from Youtube:

Haydn and Bach on a Roland RG-7: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHLQXE75ELo

Arthur Pizarro (Portuguese concert pianist) on the Avantgrand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIWsUhU6NGA

Katsaris playing Gottsalk on AvantGrand (minute 5:45): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKktyeuIs1U

Just a few.

Last edited by CarloPiano; 04/30/12 06:35 AM. Reason: I wrote "updated", I meant "outdated"
Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1888701 04/30/12 04:34 AM
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OK.
And compare http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKktyeuIs1U&feature=youtu.be&t=0m58s
and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAvcmWK7jVE
Where are you hear music? And where you hear .. instrument?

See how the piano sing. Digital still far from it -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9NkpNGrtTM

Last edited by Yuri Pavlov; 04/30/12 04:43 AM.

DP: Korg Sp-250,Pianoteq 5.x, TruePianos 1.9x;
Grand piano: Blutner, Muhlbach, Yamaha, iRig Pro;
Upright: Kalujanka;
English (with some problems)
Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1888705 04/30/12 04:51 AM
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I actually think my MP6 makes me work *slightly* harder for a good performance than a good grand piano (in terms of finger strength and precision). Meaning, if I can practice towards a good performance on it, I'm pretty sure that that performance will translate extremely well to a good grand. This is one of the specific reasons why I picked the MP6 - I have a strong feeling that it is going to keep my chops up. I got the impression that the Roland PHA III was a little too easy compared to an acoustic, although it's a great action for just having fun and making music.

Last edited by ryanct; 04/30/12 04:53 AM.
Re: Digital Piano vs. Acoustic Piano - Finger strength
Smiles466 #1888711 04/30/12 05:04 AM
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... how 'bout renting an acoustic ... or even an expensive digital?


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