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Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel #2227218
02/06/14 11:48 PM
02/06/14 11:48 PM
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AlexKelleher Offline OP
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Hi all, I've been researching this for sometime, and I'm fully searched-out. I know this product doesn't exist, and I also know there's demand. The idea isn't new:

- Fully portable keyboard for practice
- Portable = fits in overhead cabin luggage, light
- Weighted keys, say 51
- High quality piano sound
- Good enough for practice on travel
- Reasonably priced

I know having read other threads, people have even cut down Yamaha keyboards, the Vax 77 used to exist (too expensive/heavy?) and so on. Clearly we all want similar things

I'm proposing a group of us get together, start a Kickstarter project and get this done. I've started some companies before, so I have a few clues on that, but really (although this could develop into a company), I'm more into it to actually GET the product! I don't want to stop practicing when I travel...

Who's with me?

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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2227241
02/07/14 12:40 AM
02/07/14 12:40 AM
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Lockheart Offline
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You want something with weighted keys and high quality sound that will fit into a carry on bag? It doesn't sound incredibly likely or practical.

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: Lockheart] #2227311
02/07/14 05:37 AM
02/07/14 05:37 AM
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Marko in Boston Offline
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This seems to come very close to your requirements. maybe?

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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: Marko in Boston] #2227325
02/07/14 07:51 AM
02/07/14 07:51 AM
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Digitalguy Offline
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Originally Posted by Marko in Boston
This seems to come very close to your requirements. maybe?

[Linked Image]


This is far from fitting in overhead cabin luggage....
Anything beyond 49 keys would be too long for a normal suitcase...


Roland FP-4F, Korg Kross 61, iRig Keys Pro, HD598, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH240A, RME Babyface, M-Track Plus, Roland DuoCapture, Presonus Eris E5, iLoud micro monitors, iPad Pro, MS Surface pro 3, Ivory II ACD, Korg Module for iPad, Vienna Imperial, Galaxy Vintage D, Ravenscroft, Kawai-Ex Pro
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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2227327
02/07/14 08:16 AM
02/07/14 08:16 AM
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ClsscLib Offline

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I'm in.

The best approach might be to explore feasibility of cutting down a current Yamaha or Casio slab.

Speakers would probably have to go, but for this purpose that wouldn't bother me.


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

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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: Digitalguy] #2227328
02/07/14 08:18 AM
02/07/14 08:18 AM
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ando Offline
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Originally Posted by Digitalguy


This is far from fitting in overhead cabin luggage....
Anything beyond 49 keys would be too long for a normal suitcase...


49 keys is also a very poor substitute for a piano. Whenever I play on a keyboard that short, I end up frustrated and not wanting to play. Also, I can't see any manufacturer putting resources into a 49 key, weighted piano. They are just toys at that size (or synths).

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: ando] #2227330
02/07/14 08:26 AM
02/07/14 08:26 AM
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I even tried roll-up keyboards! Don't waste your time and money, useless for serious practice and will hurt your hands.

There seems to be quite a lot of practice rooms for hire in cities. It might be an idea to see if these are available in your destination and normally they have long opening hours.

Also I recently spent quite a lot of time playing in a music room after clearly saying that I wasn't buying anything but was away from my instrument. No hurt in asking, they might like people playing to attract beginners or completely understand your need to practice.



Serious since Dec 2013. March 2014, Kawai CA95!

Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted

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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2227331
02/07/14 08:31 AM
02/07/14 08:31 AM
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Wouter D'hoye Offline
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Hi,

I too like the idea of a higly portable instrument. But what compromises is one willing to make? 49 keys does sound rather limited. What about a foldable instrument. An istrument that folds in two. The biggest issue is lenght of the piano much more than the thickness. So with a foldable instrument one could reduce the lenght of say a 76 key instrument in half. Off course one needs to see that the instrument when assembled is still rigid enough to take "passionate" playing.

Kind regards,

Wouter.

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2227332
02/07/14 08:33 AM
02/07/14 08:33 AM
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heck.; what I propose seems to exist already.. there goes my fortune to make.. LOL

http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2007/10/26/vax-77-folding-music.html

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: Wouter D'hoye] #2227340
02/07/14 09:00 AM
02/07/14 09:00 AM
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Digitalguy Offline
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Originally Posted by Wouter D'hoye
heck.; what I propose seems to exist already.. there goes my fortune to make.. LOL

http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2007/10/26/vax-77-folding-music.html


No longer produced and anyway very expensive...


Roland FP-4F, Korg Kross 61, iRig Keys Pro, HD598, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH240A, RME Babyface, M-Track Plus, Roland DuoCapture, Presonus Eris E5, iLoud micro monitors, iPad Pro, MS Surface pro 3, Ivory II ACD, Korg Module for iPad, Vienna Imperial, Galaxy Vintage D, Ravenscroft, Kawai-Ex Pro
Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: Digitalguy] #2227343
02/07/14 09:08 AM
02/07/14 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Digitalguy
Originally Posted by Wouter D'hoye
heck.; what I propose seems to exist already.. there goes my fortune to make.. LOL

http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2007/10/26/vax-77-folding-music.html


No longer produced and anyway very expensive...


Which is probably what yours would be, very expensive. It probably had to cost a lot to cover production costs. Maybe you could find a used one on ebay?


private piano/voice teacher FT

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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: Digitalguy] #2227420
02/07/14 01:06 PM
02/07/14 01:06 PM
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Northern VA, U.S.
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Originally Posted by Digitalguy
Originally Posted by Wouter D'hoye
heck.; what I propose seems to exist already.. there goes my fortune to make.. LOL

http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2007/10/26/vax-77-folding-music.html


No longer produced and anyway very expensive...


...Also has spring-loaded rather than weighted keys and very expensive.


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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: Wouter D'hoye] #2227497
02/07/14 03:54 PM
02/07/14 03:54 PM
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It hinges the wrong way. It should fold bottom out rather than keys out for better protection of the keys.


-- J.S.

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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2227571
02/07/14 06:37 PM
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AlexKelleher Offline OP
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Hi all, great responses! To try and respond to everyone so far

- Agree needs to be at least 61 keys
- Needs to proper, weighted keys, completely
- I think the VAX FOLDING keyboard failed because a) was still hefty, and b) was in the thousands of dollars
- I think this needs to come in at $500ish?
- Have often thought of and tried to find practice rooms - but practically speaking very difficult, and don't always have time. usually i'm in the hotel room, wishing i could practice...

Clearly we need an engineer, but I think the first thing might be to collaborate on a Kickstarter style project and get a design, some funding, and then make it happen!

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2227587
02/07/14 07:17 PM
02/07/14 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by AlexKelleher
I'm more into it to actually GET the product!


Check this thread:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/692966

Nice pictures there of a modified Yamaha. Doing something like that isn't cheap, but is cheaper than starting your own manufacturing company. ;-)

If you really want it to be carry-on size, you'll need to keep it to 49 keys. (Unless you attempt some kind of folding thing.)

If a Casio PX-150 could be adapted, at 25 lbs for 88 keys to start, it has the potential to be pretty light.

Last edited by anotherscott; 02/07/14 09:45 PM. Reason: link correctd
Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2227654
02/07/14 09:27 PM
02/07/14 09:27 PM
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ClsscLib Offline

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Anotherscott, is that the link you really intended? It seems to be off topic.

I agree, though, that establishing a template for "sawing off" a Casio or Yamaha, and maybe finding a tinkerer willing to do it for a number of traveling pianists, is the likeliest way to get something without having to spend a larger amount than we could ever raise for this project.


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

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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2227657
02/07/14 09:32 PM
02/07/14 09:32 PM
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Maybe propose this to Yamaha, Kawai, Casio, etc? I know Kawai has a guy who watches this board.


-- J.S.

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Yamaha CP33
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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: ClsscLib] #2227663
02/07/14 09:46 PM
02/07/14 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Anotherscott, is that the link you really intended? It seems to be off topic.

Thanks for the heads-up, I don't know how that happened! Fixed.

Correct link is:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/692966

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: anotherscott] #2227790
02/08/14 06:53 AM
02/08/14 06:53 AM
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ClsscLib Offline

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Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Anotherscott, is that the link you really intended? It seems to be off topic.

Thanks for the heads-up, I don't know how that happened! Fixed.

Correct link is:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/692966


So, Alex and Anotherscott -- an obvious first line of inquiry is whether the firm and person who did this job for Peter Moll is still around and might be interested in doing something like it again, but for a number of people, right?


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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2227804
02/08/14 08:05 AM
02/08/14 08:05 AM
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How about a "pull apart" implementation instead of folding to get the length down ?
With a little mechanical ingenuity they could snap back together "keys to keys" for protection during transport.

Some small number of keys, say 64, perhaps an optional mid section octave to expand to 76, or 88 with two of them.

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: ClsscLib] #2227996
02/08/14 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Anotherscott, is that the link you really intended? It seems to be off topic.

Thanks for the heads-up, I don't know how that happened! Fixed.

Correct link is:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/692966


So, Alex and Anotherscott -- an obvious first line of inquiry is whether the firm and person who did this job for Peter Moll is still around and might be interested in doing something like it again, but for a number of people, right?


I think this is one approach - but the issue is, the base keyboard that's being modified already costs a lot, and then reducing it/cutting back will be an additional cost. Overall, unlikely to get to a reasonable cost even with lots of orders.

The question is, could demand be high enough to create something "from scratch" at a reasonable price? I wonder how that could be calculated. There must be millions of piano players worldwide?

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: R_B] #2227998
02/08/14 06:39 PM
02/08/14 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by R_B
How about a "pull apart" implementation instead of folding to get the length down ?
With a little mechanical ingenuity they could snap back together "keys to keys" for protection during transport.

Some small number of keys, say 64, perhaps an optional mid section octave to expand to 76, or 88 with two of them.


I like this line of thinking alot - I think this is what it will take to make this happen! A clever engineering job.

We should probably take this project offline (or into a private chat) when we have gathered a few interested people...

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2228009
02/08/14 06:59 PM
02/08/14 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by AlexKelleher
Originally Posted by R_B
How about a "pull apart" implementation instead of folding to get the length down ?
With a little mechanical ingenuity they could snap back together "keys to keys" for protection during transport.

Some small number of keys, say 64, perhaps an optional mid section octave to expand to 76, or 88 with two of them.


I like this line of thinking alot - I think this is what it will take to make this happen! A clever engineering job.

We should probably take this project offline (or into a private chat) when we have gathered a few interested people...


My patent attorney and I are ready,
I copy him on EVERYTHING, just in case.

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2228068
02/08/14 08:53 PM
02/08/14 08:53 PM
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ClsscLib Offline

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Originally Posted by AlexKelleher
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by ClsscLib
Anotherscott, is that the link you really intended? It seems to be off topic.

Thanks for the heads-up, I don't know how that happened! Fixed.

Correct link is:
http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/692966


So, Alex and Anotherscott -- an obvious first line of inquiry is whether the firm and person who did this job for Peter Moll is still around and might be interested in doing something like it again, but for a number of people, right?


I think this is one approach - but the issue is, the base keyboard that's being modified already costs a lot, and then reducing it/cutting back will be an additional cost. Overall, unlikely to get to a reasonable cost even with lots of orders.

The question is, could demand be high enough to create something "from scratch" at a reasonable price? I wonder how that could be calculated. There must be millions of piano players worldwide?


Of course, if there were a big demand for this sort of thing, Kawai or Yamaha or Casio would already be building it. They aren't. A start-up venture would have enormous front-end costs in having not only to figure out how to shrink a keyboard, but also how to build one, add sounds, tool for production, etc.

A PX-150 or P105 costs $500-600, and is a good enough keyboard for anyone to use for practice for 2 or 3 nights at a hotel. A plan to standardize production of a "sawed-off" version (as in the thread Anotherscott linked) and then do them for the uncertain number of buyers is a lot more viable commercial proposition than all the R&D, etc. involved in getting a totally new product off the ground.

Yes, it would obviously cost more than a standard PX-150 or P105, but so what? Those models don't work for the desired application, and nothing else in the marketplace does either. Expensive compared to what? Something that doesn't exist?

Some of us would gladly pay an appreciable premium to get a weighted-key slab by Yamaha or Casio or Kawai that could easily go on a plane.

Think of it like the market for conversion vans. You start with a tried and true base model that someone is already making -- then you customize it.

That's the idea here. It may work if enough of us are interested.

Last edited by ClsscLib; 02/08/14 08:55 PM.

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Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: ClsscLib] #2228083
02/08/14 09:28 PM
02/08/14 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by AlexKelleher
There must be millions of piano players worldwide?

But how many need one that can fly carry-on?

Originally Posted by ClsscLib
A PX-150 or P105 costs $500-600

or p35, a bit less... which, to tie this in with another thread, has the advantage of having a standard MIDI port, so you could also use it to drive anything you might come across...

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2228713
02/09/14 11:01 PM
02/09/14 11:01 PM
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OK, so there are two options here:

1. Shortened existing keyboard
Pros
- Quicker to get to market
- No investment needed
Cons
- Carry-on means that shortening would only allow 40-ish keys/3 octaves max
- While this might satisfy demand for a few of us, we are unlikely to be able to market it to get to many people. This isn't a business, it's a group-buy at best
- No idea of end-cost. Could be 1000's for each item

2. New travel keyboard
Pros
- Can be designed to fit in cabin luggage (my original aim)
- It is a business - we can get it on kickstarter, market it, make money out of it
- It's not just a one-off buy. The product/business would live on
Cons
- It's a business - not a quick turnaround
- Would need investment in engineering, and someone to take it on as a business

I'm still up for option 1 if it's possible to cut an existing keyboard so it fold up (like VAX 77).

Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: ando] #2247833
03/17/14 10:11 AM
03/17/14 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by Digitalguy


This is far from fitting in overhead cabin luggage....
Anything beyond 49 keys would be too long for a normal suitcase...


49 keys is also a very poor substitute for a piano. Whenever I play on a keyboard that short, I end up frustrated and not wanting to play. Also, I can't see any manufacturer putting resources into a 49 key, weighted piano. They are just toys at that size (or synths).


Toys? I think that is a bit of an overstatement. It is a compromise, of course. Playing such an instrument demands more skill and creativity, but the effort is worth it. As most of you will agree, the 49-key instrument is especially useful when practicing with bands or doing a lot of small gigs. Then, in my experience, less is more and the limited keyboard becomes a powerful instrument.

Last year, I frequently used a Novation Impulse 49 in combination with a Roland Sonic Cell. Like you also experience, the lack of any real piano keys poses a serious problem. I dedicate this to the absence of 'soul of the instrument': the mechanics in a piano which trigger the hammer, which make it 'interact' with you, so that a musical piece becomes a joint effort of you and the piano.

So, when designing a piano-like 49-keys instrument, I would propose to think outside the box and not necessarily stick with the idea of weighted keys and e.g. think more about the experience when playing the piano: how does a piano key feel? What about it's texture? What do I feel when I push it down? How do the keys sound like? (seriously, hollow plastic is not attractive at all) In my opinion, although important, inertia is just one piece of the puzzle.

Short-term idea
I have thought a long time about designing a modular hybrid weighted midi keyboard (and am still planning on doing something like that), but for the short-term: shorten an existing keyboard? Very troublesome in my opinion. It would be better to modify an M-Audio Axiom Pro or Novation Impulse and connecting it to an arbitrary sound module, than doing such a thing. I opened up my Impulse 49 and it is designed modularly; I can even get the keybed out without opening the rest of the case. Also, the keys are hollow, which makes it more easy to add some kind of weight. Although this may seem inferior to e.g. scaling down a Yamaha P-35, in recent years I have managed just perfectly with my old Roland RD-300 from the 90's which has a weight added to the bottom of each key: perfect for practice wink What do you think?


(Roland RD-300 OR Novation Impulse 49) AND ((Roland Sonic Cell, Roland SRX-11 Complete Piano) OR (Cakewalk Sonar 8.5 Producer, Focusrite Saffire LE, TruePianos VSTi)).
Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: Delano] #2247879
03/17/14 12:15 PM
03/17/14 12:15 PM
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 685
Switzerland
D
Digitalguy Offline
500 Post Club Member
Digitalguy  Offline
500 Post Club Member
D
Joined: Feb 2014
Posts: 685
Switzerland
I don't agree, I have been testing several small keyboards over the last month, only to come to realize that I would not go below 49 keys. The difference between 61 and 49 is huge. You cannot gig properly with 49, while you can with 61.

I think the main point here is taking the plane or not. Even 49 is to long for a cabin luggage, so I simply ruled out taking a keyboard on a plane. Once this was ruled out, everything changed and then you can find 61 keys keyboard you can bring in any car, even the smallest ones, on a bike, on a train (without being bothered if you have other luggage), to the park, to a party or just on your desk next to your pc.
Everyone has different needs, for me it was simple I wanted something under 5kg and under 38 inches (if possible even 35,5-36, you cannot have less at 61 keys) and under 12 inches large so it can fit on my desk without taking away my pc, printer etc. So I simply looked for the best one (action, features) within these criteria.


Roland FP-4F, Korg Kross 61, iRig Keys Pro, HD598, Focal Spirit Pro, Shure SRH240A, RME Babyface, M-Track Plus, Roland DuoCapture, Presonus Eris E5, iLoud micro monitors, iPad Pro, MS Surface pro 3, Ivory II ACD, Korg Module for iPad, Vienna Imperial, Galaxy Vintage D, Ravenscroft, Kawai-Ex Pro
Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: AlexKelleher] #2248087
03/17/14 08:22 PM
03/17/14 08:22 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,888
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013
ClsscLib  Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,888
Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted by AlexKelleher
OK, so there are two options here:

1. Shortened existing keyboard
Pros
- Quicker to get to market
- No investment needed
Cons
- Carry-on means that shortening would only allow 40-ish keys/3 octaves max
- While this might satisfy demand for a few of us, we are unlikely to be able to market it to get to many people. This isn't a business, it's a group-buy at best
- No idea of end-cost. Could be 1000's for each item

2. New travel keyboard
Pros
- Can be designed to fit in cabin luggage (my original aim)
- It is a business - we can get it on kickstarter, market it, make money out of it
- It's not just a one-off buy. The product/business would live on
Cons
- It's a business - not a quick turnaround
- Would need investment in engineering, and someone to take it on as a business

I'm still up for option 1 if it's possible to cut an existing keyboard so it fold up (like VAX 77).


Phase 1: Collect Underpants

Phase 2: ????

Phase 3: Profits!

Sorry... couldn't help myself.


[Linked Image][Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

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

-- Florence Foster Jenkins
Re: Truly Portable Piano Keyboard for Travel [Re: Digitalguy] #2248088
03/17/14 08:23 PM
03/17/14 08:23 PM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,888
Northern VA, U.S.
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013
ClsscLib  Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,888
Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted by Digitalguy
I don't agree, I have been testing several small keyboards over the last month, only to come to realize that I would not go below 49 keys. The difference between 61 and 49 is huge. You cannot gig properly with 49, while you can with 61.

I think the main point here is taking the plane or not. Even 49 is to long for a cabin luggage, so I simply ruled out taking a keyboard on a plane. Once this was ruled out, everything changed and then you can find 61 keys keyboard you can bring in any car, even the smallest ones, on a bike, on a train (without being bothered if you have other luggage), to the park, to a party or just on your desk next to your pc.
Everyone has different needs, for me it was simple I wanted something under 5kg and under 38 inches (if possible even 35,5-36, you cannot have less at 61 keys) and under 12 inches large so it can fit on my desk without taking away my pc, printer etc. So I simply looked for the best one (action, features) within these criteria.


And what did you select?


[Linked Image][Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

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

-- Florence Foster Jenkins
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