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DPs with soft bottoming out...
#2407951 04/08/15 11:06 AM
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Looking for some recommendations here..

Background is I have a Kawai CN24. I have had tons of issues with tendonitis playing it. I am starting to figure out how to manage it and it's 90% healed, but I can't play the CN24 like I want to. I am actually talking to Kawai at this point about having a technician look at it just to eliminate the chance something is wrong. It's about a year old now and I don't notice it playing it, but it is starting to exhibit clicking and such in the center of the keyboard. I have been through a lot of different things to try and fix the issue, such as getting an adjustable bench and working a lot on my posture, etc..

I also have an AP on rental right now for about another 2 and a half months. The AP does not cause me tendonitis problems, or at least will not cause problems at the amount of practice time I could possibly put in. I am feeling dramatically better since playing on it instead of the CN24, but as soon as I go back to the CN24 I almost instantly start getting irritation. (As in 10 minutes is enough.) I was hoping when the rental period was up I was going to buy an AP. But we just got hit with a monster tax bill and had to look at the budget carefully and there is now way I'm going to be able to afford an AP in the next few years, and I'm unfortunately going to have to cancel lessons for a while too. There is no doubt the DP is superior for unobtrusive practice too.

I had thought this issue had something to do with the weighting of the CN24.. (It's about 60g down weight and 55g up weight.) But now that I have the AP in the house I don't think it is that. The AP is somewhere around 55g down weight with the pedal up, about 50g down weight with the pedal down, and the upweight is somewhere around 40g with the pedal up and down closer to 25-30g with the pedal down. (Very hard to measure the AP with the pedal up which is why I'm sure no one does it that way.) Anyway I think the higher weight on the CN24 is just more annoying once my arms already hurt.

Now that I have both in the house I think the issue is more to do with the way the key bottoms out, as this is again something pretty noticeably different than the AP. The Kawai action is not supposedly one that is supposed to bottom out hard if I read the posts here. (Mostly about the ES7) That is why I am looking into having my CN24 checked. If I play VERY carefully I can avoid hitting the bottom of the key travel on the CN24 and that might alleviate the irritation I get, but it is very hard to either play fast or forte without hitting the bottom of the key travel in a hard way. If the issue was weighting I think I would be screwed as all DPs seem to have pretty high weights but I think if the issue is the way the key bottoms out I may be able to find something.

But in any case if Kawai either a) Won't look at my CN24 or b) Someone looks at it and says it is fine I think my plan is going to be to try and sell the CN24 and look for another digital that might not cause irritation as that is something that I could afford to try and it might not even cost me much depending on what I could sell the CN24 for and what a cheaper DP might cost.

With all that said what are some cheaper DPs known to have a softer feel when the key bottoms out? It seems like Casio might be what I want to look for here. It's been a while but I was definitely impressed with some of the Casio models last year and would have gotten the PX-350 until I tried the CN24. At the time I bought the CN24 I wanted the higher weight of a console model to keep my son (toddler) from knocking the DP down. A year later that is not a concern as he is past that phase. I owned a Yamaha P-80 years ago with no problem but it sounds like Yamaha is not necessarily known for a soft "bottom out" feel.

I also realize from searching that the Kawai wooden actions might be an answer too as no one seems to complain about them and they mimic an AP more closely, but that is a step in the other direction towards spending lots of money so that is probably out.

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Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2407955 04/08/15 11:19 AM
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Not unusual. I experience the same on some digital keyboards depending on how the action is designed. And I agree, it's the impact when the keys bottom out. Acoustic pianos seem to disperse this energy in a manner that is more forgiving to tendons and joints than some DPs.

It's unfortunate that you have to play one for some time and experience an injury to know if the action will work for you or not. Do you have the velocity curve set to deliver strongest attack with least amount of force?. Helps to an extent.

Younger players tend to be able to deal better since their bodies are more flexible. I never noticed anything like this prior to 42 or so

Take care of your joints and tendons. Make sure your posture is right, your technique is right, the key height and seat height are right and the instrument is right. Takes too long to recover from tendon and joint injuries and that's missed time at the beloved piano bench making music. Also check in with the doc and make sure nothing else is going on.

- Yamaha Avant Grand action does not do this to me. I have not tried it, but maybe some Kawai MP11 users can share how the GF action feels.


Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2407958 04/08/15 11:26 AM
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You should look into Yamahas too. Perhaps in the used market you can find a decent Clavinova if new ones are outside your budget.

Also, don't discount getting an acoustic upright used as well.

That bottoming-out problem can cause a lot of problems, I have that issue if I play too much on my Roland FP-7. It's not bad for short-term, but it can't be my main instrument. I am surprised you're having trouble with a Kawai though. The ones I've played do not have the hard bottoming out issue, but I haven't specifically played a CN24.


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Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2407993 04/08/15 12:53 PM
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I recall there was someone on the Music Player Forum a couple months ago who was having similar problems and ended up with a Yamaha CP40 because that particular GH action seemed to work for him. (He had the CP4 but the GH3 action was hurting his hands.) Best thing would just be to try a lot of different actions, if you can.

Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408037 04/08/15 02:34 PM
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Doesn't sound like there is anything I can do with Kawai service, they recommended going to a store to play a different CN24/25/34/35. I don't think I'd be able to detect any difference other than the clicking on some keys.. now that I have clicking keys I am somewhat amused. Mine sound just like the ones people posted videos here for, but there is no way on earth you can hear that when the piano is on. (Maybe some people had it louder but it sounds the same to me.)

I will see what I can do. I could see maybe being able to trade it in on a Yamaha at the dealer I rented my AP from, but they might only do that if you buy an AP.

I guess I put it up on craigslist and see if I can move it before I turn the rental AP back in. That'd give me a few months to try some DPs out and see if I could find anything I like. I could drive to a guitar center a few days and just pick one particular DP and play it for 20 minutes and see what happens. As long as I didn't play a bunch of them in one sitting I'd probably be able to tell.

Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408072 04/08/15 04:41 PM
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You might not be impressed by Yamaha`s cheapest, the GHS. But it is about the lightest and you can play easily without bottoming hard and still get good dynamics. I always liked the action of the ES7 and CN24 particularly. I don`t think Yamaha make too much stuff with that (GHS) action now. I`ve got arthriticky fingers, but no probs. So far . . .working a computer mouse if harder than playing. Good luck, man!

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Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
David Farley #2408091 04/08/15 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by David Farley
I recall there was someone on the Music Player Forum a couple months ago who was having similar problems and ended up with a Yamaha CP40 because that particular GH action seemed to work for him. (He had the CP4 but the GH3 action was hurting his hands.) Best thing would just be to try a lot of different actions, if you can.
He ended getting rid of CP40 and bought another CP4 and never had the problem again. In the end he said it wasn't the CP4 causing the issues at that time.


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Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408102 04/08/15 05:44 PM
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Quote
. . . If I play VERY carefully I can avoid hitting the bottom of the key travel on the CN24 and that might alleviate the irritation I get, but it is very hard to either play fast or forte without hitting the bottom of the key travel in a hard way. If the issue was weighting I think I would be screwed as all DPs seem to have pretty high weights but I think if the issue is the way the key bottoms out I may be able to find something.


FWIW:

If you play like that -- stopping your finger from "bottoming-out" the key -- you are _guaranteed_ to worsen any stress problems you have. Think about it -- you have to accelerate the finger downward using the tendons in the palm of your hand, and then _decelerate it_ using the tendons on the top of your hand, so it doesn't "bottom-out" the key.

Whereas the person who hits the key normally just uses the tendons in the palm to accelerate -- the deceleration is handled by the felt underneath the key.

A question (sorry if it's been asked and answered):

. . . Do you have the DP set to maximum volume?

If not, _turn it all the way up_, and see if it's easier on your fingers.

. Charles

PS -- I concur that, for a really light action, the Yamaha GHS is a good choice. The high-end Roland's that I've played -- with the "Ivory-Feel-S" action, or the higher-grade PHA IV (not the low-end PHA IV) feel reasonably close to an acoustic piano, and might solve your problem.




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Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408134 04/08/15 07:41 PM
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Hello Ben,

I recall your raising the topic of tendinitis a few months ago, so I'm sorry to read that you are still experiencing issues when playing your CN24.

I don't believe the CN24's keyboard action is considered to have a 'hard bottoming-out' characteristic. The RH action design features cushioning at the main impact points in order to soften the bottoming and reduce noise.

As Kawai America have suggested, it may be worthwhile visiting your local dealer to play-test other CN models with the same/similar action for 10 minutes or so, to see if the tendinitis symptoms flare up. I would also recommend play-testing a selection of other digital pianos from the major manufacturers too.

If you find that the tendinitis reoccurring with other digital pianos, but do not experience any problems playing an acoustic, the best advice I can offer is to rent or purchase a good quality upright as funds allow.

Best of luck.

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James
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Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Charles Cohen #2408308 04/09/15 07:24 AM
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First off thanks for all the help everyone.

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Quote
. . . If I play VERY carefully I can avoid hitting the bottom of the key travel on the CN24 and that might alleviate the irritation I get, but it is very hard to either play fast or forte without hitting the bottom of the key travel in a hard way. If the issue was weighting I think I would be screwed as all DPs seem to have pretty high weights but I think if the issue is the way the key bottoms out I may be able to find something.


FWIW:

If you play like that -- stopping your finger from "bottoming-out" the key -- you are _guaranteed_ to worsen any stress problems you have. Think about it -- you have to accelerate the finger downward using the tendons in the palm of your hand, and then _decelerate it_ using the tendons on the top of your hand, so it doesn't "bottom-out" the key.

Whereas the person who hits the key normally just uses the tendons in the palm to accelerate -- the deceleration is handled by the felt underneath the key.


I don't actually play this way. It was something I tried one night. On top of probably stressing the top of your arm (extensors) it takes a lot of concentration so it's not something worthwhile.

Quote

A question (sorry if it's been asked and answered):

. . . Do you have the DP set to maximum volume?


Yes in general these days. Most of the time I've had it I had it set to about 80-90% volume. At 100% the speakers start to distort a little, or at least not sound as good. Pretty much the same thing when using headphones. In general this does help somewhat.

Quote

PS -- I concur that, for a really light action, the Yamaha GHS is a good choice. The high-end Roland's that I've played -- with the "Ivory-Feel-S" action, or the higher-grade PHA IV (not the low-end PHA IV) feel reasonably close to an acoustic piano, and might solve your problem.


I'm going to go try a few out.. I'm not actually sure light is the answer. I think with the AP with the higher inertia due to the heavier keys I just relax before the key hits the bottom and the mass of the key keeps it moving. With lighter keys the key doesn't have the mass to keep moving so I feel like I have to drive it right into the stop.


Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Kawai James #2408313 04/09/15 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Hello Ben,
I don't believe the CN24's keyboard action is considered to have a 'hard bottoming-out' characteristic. The RH action design features cushioning at the main impact points in order to soften the bottoming and reduce noise.


I can tell it's there but it still feels like a hard hit, I can feel the vibration go right up to my elbow. You're right there is padding there, if you bottom the key and then press down really hard you can feel it give. But it is definitely a harder feeling than the real thing. I'm also wondering if the escapement simulation is causing me to hit the bottom of the travel harder.. although it is really almost impossible to feel the escapement unless you're playing quite softly.

Quote

As Kawai America have suggested, it may be worthwhile visiting your local dealer to play-test other CN models with the same/similar action for 10 minutes or so, to see if the tendinitis symptoms flare up. I would also recommend play-testing a selection of other digital pianos from the major manufacturers too.


There is one Kawai dealer, probably about 90 minutes drive each way. I went and tried the CN25 a few months ago, I doubt the CN24 is on the floor anywhere, it's not like there are that many Kawai dealers around. I could try this again, it's even possible the counterweights in the CN25 might actually help if they raise the inertia of the key (it's hard for me to believe they don't) but going that far to try stuff out is hard. There are Roland/Yamaha/Casio dealers within 30 minutes of where I live/work so that's going to be easier. FWIW I couldn't really feel the counterweights in the CN25 when I tried it anyway, but another try might be interesting as I know more what I'm looking for now.

Quote

If you find that the tendinitis reoccurring with other digital pianos, but do not experience any problems playing an acoustic, the best advice I can offer is to rent or purchase a good quality upright as funds allow.


If I had a bunch of free money I'd be going right out and getting something like a Yamaha U1 or B3 silent or the equivalent Kawai (I played a Kawai silent I really liked a few months ago). But the money is just not going to be there for a few years without sacrificing something more important like retirement savings.

In any case I do have a rental that I prepaid for another few months.

Last edited by Ben Boule; 04/09/15 07:33 AM.
Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408322 04/09/15 08:04 AM
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Ben, do you take lessons? I ask because your teacher should observe you playing on your digital. There may be some technical things you are doing differently when playing the DP that you don't do when playing an acoustic that could be making this an issue for you. I'm not saying there's not a problem necessarily with your DP, I'm just suggesting that it could be because no matter how loud, a digital piano cannot give the same resonance that an acoustic can. You may be seeking this sound out of your digital and overplaying to try and achieve that. It is worth looking into.

Also, there are tons of used acoustics for sale that are decent and won't cost you as much as the top of the line uprights will brand new. You can really get a good deal in the used markets if you are patient and do a little homework.


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Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408379 04/09/15 10:10 AM
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Yes I spent a ton of time with a teacher on this. But I'm going to have to stop taking lessons for a while, we have too much costs between taxes and child care right now for me to justify $200-250/month on lessons. (They are $60/hr where I live)

I'll just have to go try some stuff out. Looking at some videos of the Yamaha internals that seems really promising. Both the GH and GHS actions have tubular wire hammers that are bent into a U-shape. This looks like it must absorb a lot more vibration that the much heavier-duty looking Kawai and Casio hammers that look to be forged/cast/stamped into an I-beam shape. That and the fact I never had a hint of irritation when I owned my P-80 way back when make me want to try the Yamaha actions again.

I'll figure something out, it's just got to be relatively low cost. Lessons are actually pretty expensive on the spectrum of hobby costs.

Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408428 04/09/15 11:36 AM
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I never had a hint of irritation when I owned my P-80 way back when


Indeed, indeed. Way back when probably being a factor here.
Frustrating, I know, all too well. Good luck finding the right match!

Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408446 04/09/15 11:58 AM
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Yes way back when is an unfortunate factor. I was 25 when I got rid of the P-80, I was 36 last year when I got the CN24.

Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408462 04/09/15 12:22 PM
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I'm 43 this year. Two early in my mind to not be as flexible, 36 is too early too. Have to adapt your technique and find a lighter action that doesn't bottom out so hard. Stretch before/after playing. And get checked out. Nothing else going on here? Arthritis? Ever had tendonitis before?. Tennis elbow?.

Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
ElmerJFudd #2408473 04/09/15 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
I'm 43 this year. Two early in my mind to not be as flexible, 36 is too early too. Have to adapt your technique and find a lighter action that doesn't bottom out so hard. Stretch before/after playing. And get checked out. Nothing else going on here? Arthritis? Ever had tendonitis before?. Tennis elbow?.


This particular injury was diagnosed as golfer's elbow.. I went to a hand specialist & then through to physical therapy last fall. I would say since about the end of February I have been totally healed.. but playing the CN24 brings back the muscle symptoms that started the whole thing last summer. At this point I just know if I started playing 30min-1 hour every day on it I would have tendonitis again in a month. My overall flexibility is very good, but I am definitely susceptible to tendonitis. I have had tendonitis in my ankle and knee before, although in no case was it ever as annoying as this piano related injury.

Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408481 04/09/15 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Ben Boule
Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
I'm 43 this year. Two early in my mind to not be as flexible, 36 is too early too. Have to adapt your technique and find a lighter action that doesn't bottom out so hard. Stretch before/after playing. And get checked out. Nothing else going on here? Arthritis? Ever had tendonitis before?. Tennis elbow?.


This particular injury was diagnosed as golfer's elbow.. I went to a hand specialist & then through to physical therapy last fall. I would say since about the end of February I have been totally healed.. but playing the CN24 brings back the muscle symptoms that started the whole thing last summer. At this point I just know if I started playing 30min-1 hour every day on it I would have tendonitis again in a month. My overall flexibility is very good, but I am definitely susceptible to tendonitis. I have had tendonitis in my ankle and knee before, although in no case was it ever as annoying as this piano related injury.

I had severe golfers elbow last year, caused by playing tennis (poor technique topspin forehand) and I had to stop for 3 months which I was really reluctant to do, but the joy had gone. My point is that at no time did I feel it when playing piano, so maybe Morodienne has a point.

I think I may have posted previously on your older thread but IMHO DP actions, none of which have escapement (other than simulated and apart from the AG's and NU1), may cause problems to those prone to joint or tendon injuries, due to not only perhaps the bottoming out, but the jarring of the hammer stopping and its energy reflected back through the key and transferred to the fingers; this does not happen directly with an acoustic action. So, be prepared to stick with an acoustic action. It worked for me but of course YMMV.

Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
Ben Boule #2408498 04/09/15 01:46 PM
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There is truth here, I do not experience these issues on my acoustic, nor on any that I play at my weekly gigs, nor on the Avant Grand N3.

Re: DPs with soft bottoming out...
ElmerJFudd #2408541 04/09/15 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by ElmerJFudd
There is truth here, I do not experience these issues on my acoustic, nor on any that I play at my weekly gigs, nor on the Avant Grand N3.

It may be seen as heretical to say this, but the DP industry could probably use a good class-action lawsuit. Injuring people is no joke. My wife is fine on APs, and keyboards with no hammer action, but gets tends to get injured on DP hammer actions. Like spanishbuddha, it's my belief that the lack of escapement reflects too much of the hammer rebound energy back into the fingers. Outside of the AG and similar, and the VAX kickstarter, no DP hammer action I'm aware of has anything like real escapement, just a simple compound lever for key & hammer.

How keys feel when they "bottoming out" is due to a variety of factors, including key cushioning, hammer cushioning, hammer attitude, hammer lever ratio, whether the hammer has any free play after launch, etc.

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