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If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... #2108450
06/26/13 02:24 PM
06/26/13 02:24 PM
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 2,121
TwoSnowflakes Offline OP
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Caveat: I went to the digital piano forum and I'm utterly confused by way too much information. So I'm hoping I can get some simpler answers here more quickly.

Caveat thus caveat..ed, here's the question. I am in Europe for the summer and obviously did not take my piano with me. I miss it terribly. I found a music school that rents practice rooms, but the piano isn't that great. It'll definitely do for the summer, but...

...we are renting from a gentleman here who, as it turns out, is as his day job a music producer/band manager here. He says that he's not sure of price, but he can definitely rent anything and get it here to the apartment if I think a keyboard would do. I said sure, though I don't know much about them, and he isn't too clear on what models there are, specifically, either. He called his colleague, who said, "just tell me a model!" and then the question was thus bounced back to me.

So...anybody have any suggestions? It would have to be marginally portable (ideally some kind of keyboard and not one of those digital grand pianos that are almost as large and immovable as a regular acoustic piano) but other than that, all I care is that it is as close as possible to a regular acoustic piano action. If it can't be both that and not enormously complicated to obtain, I will just make do with the practice rooms at the music school.

In any event, I'm looking for some kind of input on model that would fit the bill. I'm going to pay for the rental, ultimately, though I'll be paying whatever his price is.

Keep in mind I'm in Europe, though I don't see any difference, really, in piano/music brands here. Yamaha, Roland... It's all here.

Little help?

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Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108483
06/26/13 03:12 PM
06/26/13 03:12 PM
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If it's any help (but I'm no expert on DPs, I just play them; more specifically, mine grin), I think the Roland SuperNatural ones give you the best combination of playability and tone quality, and responsiveness to your touch, because there's a modelling component to their sound generation. As opposed to the pure sampling of Yamahas, Kawais, Casios etc, where the sound is only electronically modified from pre-recorded samples. Maybe something like the Roland FP7-F?
Or the slab RD-700NX (weight=55 lb), which is the flagship model, and is well-regarded among pianists (as opposed to 'keyboardists'). The RD-300NX is more portable at 38 lb.

Mine is actually the top-range 'slab', the V-Piano, though that is stretching the term, as it's not really portable at 84 lb without the stand. And it needs a hefty stand to support it, preferably Roland's dedicated one. But it is truly unique in its pure modelling sound generation, which gives it a response to touch unrivalled by anything else (except its big brother, the V-Piano Grand). It's the only digital that I can truly forget is an electronic instrument when I play it, using headphones (as it has no integral speakers). But you do pay for such innovation - probably around €4000-€5000 to buy. As for rental, I have to say there're not many of them around....


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108487
06/26/13 03:18 PM
06/26/13 03:18 PM
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Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
[...]...we are renting from a gentleman here who, as it turns out, is as his day job a music producer/band manager here. He says that he's not sure of price, but he can definitely rent anything and get it here to the apartment if I think a keyboard would do. I said sure, though I don't know much about them, and he isn't too clear on what models there are, specifically, either. He called his colleague, who said, "just tell me a model!" and then the question was thus bounced back to me.

[...]


And if you "just tell [him] a model" and he says : "Oh, sorry, we don't have that one!" and then you tell him another model : "Oh, sorry, we don't have that one either!" would it not be better to find out what "he" has, try them, and pick the one that best suits your needs and budget.

Otherwise, you might be spinning around in every dizzying circles for some time exchanging model numbers for equipment he does not carry.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108492
06/26/13 03:25 PM
06/26/13 03:25 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
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Westford, MA
the nosy ape Offline
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I have a Casio Privia PX-120 and it seems to fit your requirements. It has 88 weighted keys and it is just the keyboard without a cabinet. It also supports partial pedal. The sound is not great but it is adequate for practice. I think the PX-120 has been discontinued, but I am sure there is a newer model taking its spot.

Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108535
06/26/13 04:29 PM
06/26/13 04:29 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 5,767
Seattle area, WA
gooddog Offline
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If you have not other choice than to play a digital, than do it, but be warned, I went on vacation with my Yamaha P95 and thought my playing sounded pretty good. When I returned home and sat down at my acoustic, I was appalled. It took me a week to repair what I had lost.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108591
06/26/13 05:53 PM
06/26/13 05:53 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,994
Northern VA, U.S.
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When I have the choice, I do all my practicing on my home acoustic piano.

I do travel a lot for work, and when I can drive, I throw my Casio PX-350* in the boot for the trip. It has a good weighted action, and I can get some very useful practicing done on it, though it's not as good as playing on a decent acoustic. (However, I find it BETTER than playing on a bad acoustic piano, which I also sometimes do when traveling.) The Casio, at less than 25 pounds, is as portable an 88-key digital as you'll find with a decent, weighted-key action. (*For someone solely interested in piano, the PX-150 has the same action, but slightly less speaker power and fewer non-piano bells and whistles.)

When I need to do silent practicing at home (usually late at night or early in the morning), I use a Roland RD700NX. I agree with Bennevis that it's a nice instrument. The sound engine is better than the much-less-expensive Casio, and the action is better too (though the Casio's action is plenty good). (I'd probably use a Roland V-Piano for that if I could, and set it up following the extensive and wonderful suggestions Bennevis has posted elsewhere here, but I just couldn't justify the V-Piano's cost for something I'd very seldom play.)

There are good boards of generally the same ilk by Yamaha and Kawai, but I haven't played those much and will defer to those who have.

In general, I think playing a decent digital for a few months in your circumstances will be well worth the trouble. It's not like playing a good acoustic, and as Gooddog says, you'll need some time to adjust when you get back to your acoustic, but practicing on a good digital is MUCH better than not playing at all.

Good luck!


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"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108603
06/26/13 06:04 PM
06/26/13 06:04 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,821
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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Kawai MP-10. Try it first, if you can. It's a stage piano (a slab), rather heavy, but the weight comes from the very good piano action. However, it is not like one of those 'miniature grands' that you mentioned not wanting. Of course, nothing replaces or is really like a real grand, as Deborah said. Still, there's a place and time for these devices. For this one, you would need headphones.

If you are staying in one place for the summer, you might even consider renting one of Kawai's home model cabinet-style DPs. http://kawaius.com/ from a local dealer, or though the rental agent you mentioned. I would not want to be toting such a thing around Europe, or across the Atlantic, but it could be a good chance to 'try before you buy.' This kind of model has amp and speakers built-in to the cabinet; no doubt, you would still want headphones at times.


Clef

Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108604
06/26/13 06:04 PM
06/26/13 06:04 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
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Germany
patH Offline
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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
So...anybody have any suggestions? It would have to be marginally portable (ideally some kind of keyboard and not one of those digital grand pianos that are almost as large and immovable as a regular acoustic piano) but other than that, all I care is that it is as close as possible to a regular acoustic piano action.

Well, that's a problem. Usually, in my opinion, you can't have both.
If they are portable keyboards, the keys are usually just weighted, and the action does not feel at all like a piano action. I know it; I have a Casio Privia PX-100. When my old Yamaha Clavinova had a hanging E4 key I practiced more on the Casio. Bad for my technique.

However, one category of pianos I am not really familiar with is stage pianos. Maybe some have a good action? Others on this forum may know.


My grand piano is a Yamaha C2 SG.
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108605
06/26/13 06:05 PM
06/26/13 06:05 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,746
Vancouver, B.C.
Vid Offline
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If I HAD to (and I do) I would go with the setup you see in my tagline. That is - Kawai VPC1 + Pianoteq software.

The piano action simulates that of a grand piano and the Pianoteq software models the piano sound. Obviously it does not sound that much like a real piano (acoustic has wood and steel, while electronic is always limited by digital medium and speakers) but it provides a sustain and velocity control that is missing from standard digital pianos.

I would go as far to claim that this setup is better than a mediocre acoustic upright piano. This may ruffle the feathers of the purists out there but I really feel what I have now is a real viable practice instrument. I can voice chords, apply half-pedal/partial pedal affects, the sostenuto pedal works, I can make notes ring with bell like clarity etc. etc. I don't get the fatigue and vague feeling of disappointment I used to get when practicing on my old Clavinova. Its never out of tune and I can apply different kinds of tuning if I wish.

I used to have the experience of having to adjust to an acoustic piano after extensive practice on my old digital but no more. I find the transition from the VPC1 to an acoustic grand now is almost seamless.

That said you will probably have a difficult time getting your hands on one because the demand for this model has exceeded supply. Also I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is not technically inclined. Your more standard digital has the advantage that you can simply turn it on and go. My setup is pretty much like that but there is a learning curve in getting the software and keyboard all setup properly.



  • Schimmel Upright
  • Kawai VPC-1 with Pianoteq

Any issues or concerns are piped to /dev/null
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108636
06/26/13 07:08 PM
06/26/13 07:08 PM
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 392
Maryland
Allan W. Offline
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I second the Kawai MP10 / VPC1. I've been playing my MP10 for less than a year but I'm extremely satisfied with the action. Way better than any upright I've played and comparable to the grands I've tried. It has a slightly heavy but smooth touch but that's good for building up your finger strength smile

I use it with Ivory II American Concert D and the sound is pretty great.

If you're just looking to rent one.. most piano stores don't carry these models since they're considered stage pianos instead of digital pianos.


1980 Yamaha C7 from Rick Jones (http://imgur.com/a/duLJb)
Kawai MP-10
Previously: 2012 Young Chang Y175, which was quite impressive for the price
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108641
06/26/13 07:17 PM
06/26/13 07:17 PM
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bennevis Offline
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Something that I bang on fairly frequently over in the Digital Piano forum is that if you want to play your DP like it's a real piano, you have to treat it like a real piano, i.e. set the volume control at a realistic level, whether with its speakers or your own headphones; and never ever move it from that position.

An acoustic hasn't got a volume control - you control the dynamics entirely with your own hands and fingers, and I think that a lot of the deterioration of keyboard skills that people experience when they temporarily use a DP while away from home is due to playing around with the volume setting (assuming that the digital they're using has adequate action and responsiveness). Setting the level too low enables, nay, encourages the pianist to use too much force, thus losing their fine control of tone and voicing etc. You can also see this fault in young pianists who learnt to play entirely on digitals: when they play on real pianos, all they do is bang away, because they never developed the ability to play softly.

Another problem with almost all digitals is that they encourage over-pedalling, because of their poor sustain and lack of resonances. Unless you are using something like the V-Piano (in which you can customize its level of sustain and various resonances to realistic levels - and even beyond, if you so desire - and still remain realistic without unnatural 'looping' etc), you'll just have to unlearn your pedalling when you get back to your acoustic.

I've learnt several new pieces (including most of Ravel's Gaspard) entirely from scratch on my V-Piano since I bought it three years ago, and have absolutely no problems playing them on acoustic grands afterwards - as I did when I visited Steinway Hall last weekend to play on their A, B and D grands.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108643
06/26/13 07:21 PM
06/26/13 07:21 PM
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Gyro Offline
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What I'd suggest is that you completely forget about pianos and enjoy your summer vacation. A three month absence from the piano is nothing--after twenty years away I could still sit right down and play okay, more or less. Piano is sort of like riding a bike or swimming, once you learn you can always do it.

Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: Gyro] #2108665
06/26/13 07:48 PM
06/26/13 07:48 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
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Seattle area, WA
gooddog Offline
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Originally Posted by Gyro
What I'd suggest is that you completely forget about pianos and enjoy your summer vacation. A three month absence from the piano is nothing--after twenty years away I could still sit right down and play okay, more or less. Piano is sort of like riding a bike or swimming, once you learn you can always do it.
Hey Gyro, good to see you again. Actually that's not bad advice but it would probably break my heart and drive me crazy. I've just got to be making music. Right after college, I had no access to a piano for 3 years so I taught myself to play alto and soprano recorder fairly decently. It was not the best substitute but it was better than nothing.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: bennevis] #2108878
06/27/13 04:57 AM
06/27/13 04:57 AM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 55
UK
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Originally Posted by bennevis
An acoustic hasn't got a volume control - you control the dynamics entirely with your own hands and fingers, and I think that a lot of the deterioration of keyboard skills that people experience when they temporarily use a DP while away from home is due to playing around with the volume setting (assuming that the digital they're using has adequate action and responsiveness). Setting the level too low enables, nay, encourages the pianist to use too much force, thus losing their fine control of tone and voicing etc.


Stephen Hough on practising on a digital:

"It would be a mistake for a young person who plans a
pianistic career to learn on one of these, but for amateurs,
for professional musicians who are not pianists, for concert
pianists who want to work late at night and not disturb
neighbours it is ideal. Actually even without neighbour
issues, to turn down the volume very low and work slowly on
tricky passages or learn the notes of new works I almost
prefer it to a real piano. You are forced to listen in a
different more objective way and it makes your practise
calm and concentrated."


Link

Hough says he now prefers to practise on a digital rather than an upright. He works on an AvantGrand N2 in his New York apartment (although he doesn't spend much time there).

Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108881
06/27/13 05:00 AM
06/27/13 05:00 AM
Joined: Dec 2008
Posts: 4,728
not somewhere over the rainbow
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not somewhere over the rainbow
I would just not practice. Good to take a break sometimes anyway.



"The eyes can mislead, the smile can lie, but the shoes always tell the truth."
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108892
06/27/13 05:36 AM
06/27/13 05:36 AM
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 2,121
TwoSnowflakes Offline OP
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Yeah, taking a break is not really the plan of preferred action here. It's also not a vacation, really, so if I'm going to work like I do at home, I'm going to want to get to play, too! Practicing piano has turned into my daily reward for working. The other thing that is derailed by being away is my ballet and I'm taking a break with that. And, arguably, that will lead more immediately to a deterioration in skills due to loss of strength, etc. But piano? Don't wanna.

I passed along the VPC1 and DP10 models to our landlord and let's see what he comes up with.

On the upside, I am in the "opera" area of town, which means I'm surrounded by the symphony hall, the opera hall, the theater... All the street musicians are playing vivaldi and every corner on this maze of cobblestone streets has a luthier or a sheet music store.

Anybody have a similar suggestion in the Roland/Yamaha brands? I ask simply because I see stores carrying Roland and Yamaha all over the place.

The music store above which is the practice room I currently use has a beautiful Bluthner grand sitting in the middle of the store. Unfortunately, it has a sign tent on it that says "don't touch" in eight languages. Then I go upstairs and hit the Pearl River.

Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: Luthrin] #2108906
06/27/13 06:26 AM
06/27/13 06:26 AM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by Luthrin
..... for concert
pianists who want to work late at night and not disturb
neighbours it is ideal. Actually even without neighbour
issues, to turn down the volume very low and work slowly on
tricky passages or learn the notes of new works I almost
prefer it to a real piano. You are forced to listen in a
different more objective way and it makes your practise
calm and concentrated."[/i]

Link

Hough says he now prefers to practise on a digital rather than an upright. He works on an AvantGrand N2 in his New York apartment (although he doesn't spend much time there).


There are a few other well-known pianists who've been given an AvantGrand (and made promotional videos on Youtube...) who use it for the same purposes - to get the notes into the fingers and for working on technical stuff, especially during unsocial hours. (When you're repeating a tricky passage ad nauseam at very slow tempi, you're better off not hearing loudly the same old notes dulling your eardrums and your senses - you just want to ensure you're playing fluently and evenly). It doesn't matter what volume you set the digital at, when you're just drilling notes into your fingers. It works the same way as Rachmaninoff practising his 3rd concerto - on a dummy keyboard - while on his journey to the USA.

But none of them will claim that they use it in this manner for developing their tonal palette, their interpretative nuances, their phrasing, and everything else that go towards making music. What amateur pianists using DPs are frequently doing is to play their pieces (not just doing finger drills) with the volume control set low, so that the keyboard is easier to control, and they don't disturb others while playing.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108915
06/27/13 06:54 AM
06/27/13 06:54 AM
Joined: Feb 2012
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TwoSnowflakes Offline OP
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Ok, this is the response I got:

"It's important to know whether you want a keyboard with sounds (synthesizer) or a piano with counterweighted (this could also mean "counterbalanced" in English, not totally sure whether there's a technical meaning I'm missing here) keys. In either case, a good one would be Kurzwel, Roland RD or similar."

OF course, this isn't directly responsive to the "do you have a Kawai VC1 or DP10?" question.

Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108917
06/27/13 06:59 AM
06/27/13 06:59 AM
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TwoSnowflakes Offline OP
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There are a few other well-known pianists who've been given an AvantGrand (and made promotional videos on Youtube...) who use it for the same purposes - to get the notes into the fingers and for working on technical stuff, especially during unsocial hours. (When you're repeating a tricky passage ad nauseam at very slow tempi, you're better off not hearing loudly the same old notes dulling your eardrums and your senses - you just want to ensure you're playing fluently and evenly). It doesn't matter what volume you set the digital at, when you're just drilling notes into your fingers. It works the same way as Rachmaninoff practising his 3rd concerto while on his journey to USA - on a dummy keyboard.

Bingo. I want to just get a few pieces under my fingers and then work on them technically with my teacher later. I want to start working on an English Suite, and frankly, it would be a great thing simply to get one of the preludes memorized and fluid. Also, I can just work on jumps and arpeggios and generally work on evenness, accuracy and speed. I'm figuring as long as the keyboard mimics the weight and feel of a Real Piano, and gives me a sound that's in the ballpark accurate (i.e. it's not teaching me to play too lightly or heavily so that I can't adjust quickly back to acoustic) then I've got plenty I can work on with it and I'm probably prefer it to going to the practice room as I'll have access to it at all times, especially when I can't sleep at night because DAMN a major city capital is noisy at night!

Re: If you had to practice on a digital piano/keyboard... [Re: TwoSnowflakes] #2108918
06/27/13 07:02 AM
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They are not mutually exclusive.. wink

I presume that they're talking about weighted keys. You definitely want weighted keys, otherwise it's just an electronic keyboard with springs for key return. And the other reference is to a digital with speakers. The VPC1 is just a keyboard controller for software sounds.

I wouldn't go for a Kurzweil, BTW.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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