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Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
#2391939 02/28/15 09:05 AM
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Hi there friends,
I was visiting a local Piano store today and among others they were selling Ritmuller Pianos for about 3000 euros.
The salesman said that even acoustic pianos of 3000 euros have better action and sound than of a digital of the same price range.
I am wondering if such a statement is correct since for the amount of 3000 euros someone could buy here (including delivery) Kawai CA67, Roland HP506, Yamaha CLP 545, and Kawai MP11 (with stand and speakers).
What I had in mind, is that the above digital pianos supposed to have better action than similar priced acoustic pianos, Am I wrong?
P.S I never had the chance to play test any of the digital mentioned above in order to compare.

Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
LarryMan #2391946 02/28/15 09:24 AM
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Well, only you can decide for yourself which you prefer after sitting down and trying each out. There is of course something very nice about real strings resonating inside a wooden box. But the acoustic instrument will require tuning and maintenance. It is true that upright pianos do not have the same actions as grand pianos... but even here, people generally prefer what they are used to. If all you've ever played is an upright your entire life, you might find making the switch to a grand piano's action not to your liking, or you might find it inspiring. Hard to say.

There are very few digitals that have comparable actions to an acoustic grand piano. The Kawai GF action makes a good attempt at replicating that sensation for the player. Now, the samples in a digital instrument may indeed come from a piano you could not possibly afford or have room for, this is true. But the issue is always getting its sound to fill your own room with the same beautiful waves of an acoustic instrument.

When you say high end, the digital instrument that comes closest at the moment to what you are describing is the Yamaha Avant Grand N3 (or to a slightly lesser degree the N2) which have grand piano actions that have been incorporated in a digital instrument and speakers located all around the case in an attempt to get audio to emanate in several directions - similar to how the sound was sampled with several microphones. Other features in crude the Tactile Response System which make the instrument rumble under your fingers in the low end the way an acoustic does.

Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
LarryMan #2392142 02/28/15 08:21 PM
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Really, by definition, the action of a digital is mimicking the action of an acoustic (specifically DPs with weighted designs). So unless the acoustic piano is completely busted, the actual action itself is going to certainly be better. Maybe better is not the best word, but more genuine.

But also consider there is no "standard" re what an acoustic keyboard feels like. There's a lot of variations in the actions of acoustics, so really you need to go with what feels good to you.

There are digital actions that are certainly crappy, but the higher end models, they're very good - enough that your technical skills learned on your digital will transfer over when you play an acoustic. I personally preferred Kawai GF keys > Yamaha GH3 (haven't tried their higher end ones) > Roland PHAIII. (haven't tried IV)

The action isn't the only thing however. The sound needs to be considered, and maintenance and other lifestyle factors such as size, ease of portability, need for silent practice. And I've definitely played on some gross old console/spinets - even when they're in tune - where my CA95 sounded WAY better.


Yamaha C6F
Kawai CA95
Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
LarryMan #2392162 02/28/15 09:20 PM
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If you're looking to play piano - real keys pushing real hammers hitting real strings, resonating all over the place - there's no real substitute for that at this point. Though you can get closer if you don't mind booting up a PC every time you want to noodle around for a minute or inspiration hits. But then you might find yourself on a never ending hunt for "better" samples and keys.

If you want something for silent practice, portability, etc. then you are up against a wall and need a DP.

Lots of perfectly fine pianos out there hitting the junk pile.

Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
LarryMan #2392221 03/01/15 12:46 AM
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I have a Bachmann GRPT 140, which has the action of an acoustic vertical piano. When I got it, I could A/B the action against that of a Yamaha P80. With the Bachmann, I could feel a change in pressure as the hammer went into let off. With the Yamaha, it felt as if I were pressing on the end of a lever. No pressure change.

Some newer DP actions have a faux let off, which is just a click. But I haven't seen posts that say that the feel of the action changes as it nears completing its motion.

All that said, I don't think that there is anything about a good digital action which would prevent you from being able to sit down and play an acoustic. After a couple of minutes, you'll forget about the change in pressure and just play.

I'd be more concerned about your neighbors. Would playing/practicing an acoustic be annoying to them? If so, a good digital and good 'phones would be a better buy. If you can play an acoustic without annoying others, the acoustic's sound will be richer, and you'll like the feel of its action.

One caution about inexpensive verticals. Five or more years ago, there was a thread on the acoustic forum re prepping verticals. Several posts by dealers re going out for coffee. Prep work on inexpensive verticals is likely to consist of a tuning. Try to take someone with you who can tell if the action has been regulated. Regulation yields consistent feel across all the keys.




Last edited by FogVilleLad; 03/01/15 12:49 AM.
Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
ElmerJFudd #2392287 03/01/15 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
Other features in crude the Tactile Response System which make the instrument rumble under your fingers in the low end the way an acoustic does.


Freudian slip?!


C. Bechstein Model B | Roland RD-1000 |
Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
LarryMan #2392327 03/01/15 09:16 AM
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Haha. Sigmund?. More like autocorrect on my phone. I'd turn it off of it wasn't at least occasionally useful. smile

Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
LarryMan #2392395 03/01/15 01:02 PM
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Actually what I had in mind, was at the price range of 3K euros the digital pianos could compete as far as action is concern with acoustic pianos, aside DP obvious advantages (tuning, silent practice, more sounds, portability, etc.) since, 3K euro is the minimum amount for a new acoustic, Ritmuller UP 110 for my example.
It seems that I am wrong and the salesman was right.

Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
LarryMan #2392414 03/01/15 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by LarryMan
The salesman said that even acoustic pianos of 3000 euros have better action and sound than of a digital of the same price range.
I am wondering if such a statement is correct


.......Actually what I had in mind, was at the price range of 3K euros the digital pianos could compete as far as action is concern with acoustic pianos, aside DP obvious advantages (tuning, silent practice, more sounds, portability, etc.) since, 3K euro is the minimum amount for a new acoustic, Ritmuller UP 110 for my example.
It seems that I am wrong and the salesman was right.


Ritmuller is not familiar to me, but I've tried Yamaha uprights in the 4 - 10 thousand euro range in a shop, alongside DPs from Yamaha, Casio, Roland and others. This was, I must admit, a casual, non-scientific test. However, I'd say the DPs in the mid to high range (above €1500, say and actually lower for Casio) have more solid, well defined piano actions than uprights at even over double the price from Yamaha. I know that many people would say the opposite, along with the above mentioned salesman, but just because a thing is 'genuine' in the sense of being manufactured in a traditional way, does not make it better - and to my touch, a good DP is more 'grand'-like than most lower priced uprights.




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Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
FogVilleLad #2395525 03/08/15 07:55 PM
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Originally Posted by FogVilleLad
All that said, I don't think that there is anything about a good digital action which would prevent you from being able to sit down and play an acoustic. After a couple of minutes, you'll forget about the change in pressure and just play.


I think if you are going to be thrown off by the difference between a good current digital and an acoustic, then you will probably also be thrown off by the difference between one acoustic and the next.

Here is my experience: My first digital piano supposedly had weighted keys, but the action was rather light, and when I tried to play something on a real piano I had difficulty. However my second digital -- which I have had for a long time now! -- seems to be "good enough." By this I mean that even though the action is far from perfect, it's good enough that I have no difficulty playing acoustic grands and uprights at least as well as I play my own piano. I'm in the market for my third digital now, which will have a much better action, and frankly I can't imagine that the difference between that action and the action of a real piano will ever make the slightest bit of difference to me.

Keep in mind however that I am not a good pianist, and maybe people with better skills are also more sensitive to actions that are slightly off. I don't know if that is generally true though. I remember that when I bought my second piano I was very impressed with the salesman, who moved easily between acoustic grands, digital pianos, and unweighted keyboards, and played them all with great fluency. I wonder if that's the rule or the exception though?

Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
LarryMan #2395575 03/08/15 10:12 PM
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Whatever you do, if you buy something now (particularly on the digital side) and then take lessons or practice regularly on an acoustic, you're going to have a different opinion 6 months down the road.

All acoustics have a sensation that you are launching the hammer and the hammer becomes decoupled from the key changing the feel of the key. The only digital pianos which do this are hybrids. (Yamaha AvantGrand, etc..)

My digital (Kawai) has a let off simulation but it's almost meaningless unless you were at a super high level. If you start from a pure beginner standpoint I doubt many people are going to get to such a high level without wanting to switch to an acoustic.

Really what you are getting with a digital is lack of maintenance and flexibility to play with headphones at a lower cost. (You can play with headphones with silent acoustics too, but they cost far more.)

The more I play digital pianos the more I want an acoustic. The first time I took piano lessons was about 15 years ago. Digital pianos have gotten a lot better in that time, but they still really don't feel like an acoustic and aren't any more satisfying for me.

Re: Acoustical Piano Actions vs High End Digital Piano Action
JEB NYC #2395639 03/09/15 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by JEB NYC
. . .
Keep in mind however that I am not a good pianist, and maybe people with better skills are also more sensitive to actions that are slightly off. I don't know if that is generally true though. I remember that when I bought my second piano I was very impressed with the salesman, who moved easily between acoustic grands, digital pianos, and unweighted keyboards, and played them all with great fluency. I wonder if that's the rule or the exception though?


A guess:

He was a skilled pianist, surrounded by all kinds of pianos all day. He sold them all. So it makes sense that he made very certain that he could get the best out of every instrument.

Not magic, and probably not even superlative skill. He had skill, opportunity, and motivation.

. Charles


. Charles
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