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High performance digital pianos (GP300 vs N1)
#2619854 03/03/17 03:46 AM
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Hi everyone,

I was thinking about getting a Yamaha Avantgrand N1 to replace my Roland FP-7F, but now that I am reading around here about the newer digital pianos I feel like I have been out of the loop for too long... I apologize if this thread is kind of redundant, but I am hoping for a discussion about what you can buy with a high budget, and comparing stuff like the Casio GP-300 to the Yamaha N1. Everyone seems to say those instruments are great and "just like the real thing", which isn't really helpful.

I have a Phoenix C212 going to my parents' house in the South Bay, but I live and work in SF so I can't always play that piano. I am starting to get annoyed at the limitations of the FP-7F's action, and am considering spending N1 money if that's what it takes to improve, although it is a lot of money so I am very hesitant. Also, the N1 is wood, so regulation could be annoying. The N1 also sounds terrible, but that can be corrected with Pianoteq 5.

There are a lot of discussions around here about how realistic the piano sounds and how fast you can play, but my metric is how close does it feel to a grand piano? I don't care if a digital piano is easier to play, or that you can play repeated notes faster on it; if the key travel is too different from a real grand piano then my playing gets worse and it takes a while to adjust back to a real piano, which is something I want to avoid.

I bought my FP-7F 5 years ago, and played a V-piano, a Kawai MP-10, numerous Clavinovas, and recently have played a few Yamaha N1, N2 and N3s at a store. My impression is that Roland's sound modelling is leagues beyond the competition, and none of them besides the Avantgrand line feel like a grand piano. This is okay if you are playing most pieces, but it comes very short with works like Chopin op.10 no.2, op.25 no.6, La Campanella, and just generally in fast, light passage work.

Now I see that Roland has a new PHA50 action available, of which there are recordings of people playing La Campanella pretty well on, which is a pleasant surprise to me, as rapid repetitions don't feel quite right on my FP-7F. The GP-300 is simplified from a grand piano action and I can't see the hammer geometry that clearly in videos and pictures, but rave reviews plus lower price than the Yamaha N1 is attractive.

So my main question is, how does the GP-300 compare to an N1? Beyond that, can the PHA50 be mentioned in the same breath as the GP-300 or N1? The few stores selling digital pianos are kind of spread out which is not very convenient, so I am curious to hear what people think. AFAIK Kawai has not made a significantly different DP action, but if someone thinks the newer ones are really great, I am all ears.

Last edited by trigalg693; 03/03/17 05:17 AM.
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Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619859 03/03/17 03:58 AM
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IMHO the Casio GBP action feels quite dull compared to the N1/2/3 action. I can't say in terms of comparing repetition speed, but when I was in a store trying it out and there was an N2 next to it, I couldn't help but spend most of the time of the N2.

Originally Posted by trigalg693

Also, the N1 is wood, so regulation could be annoying.

Huh! Compared to an action made of plastic, using grease, pivoting on metal, rubber contact pads, hardly anyone around with experience of fixing it or keeping it in shape. I know which I would prefer.

Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619860 03/03/17 04:05 AM
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No, while nice enough, PHA-50 is not the pinnacle of key actions. Novice here, but Kawai's actions felt more natural than Rolands to me. Discussions I have read since on this forum for users of the GFII it comes down to that distance to the fulcrum, the relative differences of the fulcrum point of the black and white keys - the black's fulcrum offset in the same manner as on grand pianos actions- and that over all feel of the mechanics of the grand feel II action is just much closer to grand pianos.

I agree with spanishbuddha that regulation/maintenance of an Avant Grand action would be within the skillset of any piano technician while the casio action 'maintenance' is more along the lines of replacement only by casio technician, and actual fine tuning the action to suit the taste of a player is likely not within the skillset nor falls under the job description of said casio technicians, or even practically impossible due to the design.

Last edited by Goss; 03/03/17 04:14 AM.

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Re: High performance digital pianos
spanishbuddha #2619861 03/03/17 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by spanishbuddha
IMHO the Casio GBP action feels quite dull compared to the N1/2/3 action. I can't say in terms of comparing repetition speed, but when I was in a store trying it out and there was an N2 next to it, I couldn't help but spend most of the time of the N2.

Originally Posted by trigalg693

Also, the N1 is wood, so regulation could be annoying.

Huh! Compared to an action made of plastic, using grease, pivoting on metal, rubber contact pads, hardly anyone around with experience of fixing it or keeping it in shape. I know which I would prefer.


Thank you for your input. That makes me a little sad to hear frown

The thing with an action made of plastic with grease and metal is that a greased metal on plastic or plastic on plastic bushing probably would show no signs of wear after tens of millions of repetitions, and be immune to humidity changes.

With the repertoire I play + the amount I practice, felt bushings would need to be redone about...once a decade, maybe less. That isn't often, but it's extremely expensive, and feeling the action get sloppier over time sucks. What I can say about my FP-7F is that it plays just as well as it did the day I bought it. That definitely cannot be said for the Kawai KG-3C I have, and I had a good technician adjust it a few times. I only practiced heavily on it for 3 years, and the play got worse.

A full Yamaha action has moving parts with felt bushings in wood, and various regulation screws that also can move with age and temperature/humidity changes. If it were Kawai building it with their Millenium 3 or whatever number they're on action, I would be a little less worried.

If I had unlimited funds I would cannibalize a digital piano for its sensors and electronics, then buy a keyboard fitted with a WNG action, but it is probably way easier to just pay a technician to come adjust a Yamaha N1 once every so often haha.

Last edited by trigalg693; 03/03/17 04:13 AM.
Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619865 03/03/17 04:33 AM
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Sounds to me like you are going to have to try these new actions for yourself. How much variation is there in the action of various acoustic grand pianos? I'm a total beginner, so that was a real question. If they are quite varied then it just comes down to your own personal preference and which digital action feels closest to your personal benchmark.

As for longevity, Roland are giving a 10 year warranty on their digital pianos so I guess they're confident they will be reliable.


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Re: High performance digital pianos
Peakski #2619869 03/03/17 05:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Goss
No, while nice enough, PHA-50 is not the pinnacle of key actions. Novice here, but Kawai's actions felt more natural than Rolands to me. Discussions I have read since on this forum for users of the GFII it comes down to that distance to the fulcrum, the relative differences of the fulcrum point of the black and white keys - the black's fulcrum offset in the same manner as on grand pianos actions- and that over all feel of the mechanics of the grand feel II action is just much closer to grand pianos.


Thanks for the input. When playing Kawais 5 years ago, I felt like the sensor calibration or something was very weird. I want to say it's the mechanical advantage that is "wrong", but the explanation that makes much more sense is that I just really didn't like the sound engine. The Roland's keys are indeed a little short, which sucks, but the sound modelling is amazing, which is why I went for it. Well, I guess I will not be making a trip to the Roland and Kawai dealers.

Originally Posted by Peakski
How much variation is there in the action of various acoustic grand pianos? I'm a total beginner, so that was a real question. If they are quite varied then it just comes down to your own personal preference and which digital action feels closest to your personal benchmark.


Some variation, but brand new actions regulated well feel quite similar. The big differences that matter come from hammer weight and inertia/counterweight. With too much inertia, some things are harder to play. The mechanical advantage vs. key stroke are similar enough that it is quite intuitive to switch from one piano to another.

The big problem I have is when I play double notes like in op.25 no.6, the keys of the Roland bottom out too deep and the "hammer" engages the "string" at the wrong time. Additionally, repetition is possible but it feels weird because the "hammer" weighs much more than the key, so there is much more kickback. It is very hard to adjust back to a grand piano after practicing for a while.

Last edited by trigalg693; 03/03/17 05:07 AM.
Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619871 03/03/17 05:10 AM
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I played Casio GP300, Yamaha CLP575, Kawai CS11, a PHA50-equipped Roland (FP90) very recently. I played Yamaha N1 and NU1 a while back. I'm a previous owner of Avant Grand N3 and loads of other DPs.

The Casio sounded okay and felt pretty good. The action feels fast. The cabinet is dreadful. Like cheap self-assembly furniture; thin and creaky with rather tasteless detailing such as the badges. For all the Bechstein marketing stuff I believe it does not have a real piano action in it at all. It has a pretty good wooden 'thing' in it with plastic hammers in the shape of acoustic piano hammers. At a glance you think, "Wow, this is the real thing" but under closer scrutiny it is nothing like as elaborate as a grand piano action. It's a very good first effort. If they continue down this road the next version may well be excellent. The Casios are a very good price. The GP400 and 500 have all sorts of resonance modelling that make them significantly more realistic than the 300.

The Yamaha CLP action was really nice. Fast and responsive with a very positive 'stop' at the bottom of the key travel. It feels like an extremely well engineered conventional folded DP action. Sound was good through headphones but woeful through its speakers in my opinion. The CLP585 is a step better action-wise insofar as it has counter-weights but it is light years better in terms of onboard sound system. Nice looking pianos.

The Kawai CS11. I bought it.

Roland PHA50. Not my cup of tea. I can see/feel what they've tried to do. It feels over insulated to me with the sensation of soft padding at the bottom of the keystroke. It rises and falls with a very acoustic like bounce and feels fast. A good effort and I would have confidence it its reliability but for my personal taste, no. The previous generation of their action felt better for me.

Yamaha NU1. Loved it. That sense of a real mechanism. Nice sound, nice look. Real upright action. I got very close to buying this but something stopped me crossing the line (this is about 18 months ago). When I went back very recently it was probably with the intention of buying an NU1 but, rather unexpectedly, the Kawai emphatically got in the way of that.

Yamaha N1 (AG series in general): Action-wise the best. Simply because it's real. A tad heavy feeling though. Slightly outdated sound-wise although the 'X' versions are addressing that to a good extent. N1X not yet announced and release date not known. In general, acoustic action regulation issues that seem to be a concern would relate to the action's relationship to the strings in a real piano. But there are no strings. The action's sensors can be calibrated with some button presses. I accept that, eventually, some regulation may be required but not to the extent or with the frequency of an acoustic because that relationship with strings and strike points etc doesn't exist. Yes, key bushings etc, they may need attention after a very long time.

Good luck in your search!


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Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619878 03/03/17 06:08 AM
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Hiya -

I too am in the market for a digital piano, a long-time acoustic player shopping for a DP for the first time. Recently I had an opportunity to play Kawai CA 67, Roland HP 603 and Casio GP 300 side by side in a piano shop.

Of the three, the Kawai's action (Grand Feel 2) was a standout, and I thought it was also significantly better than the actions of other Kawai digital pianos there. It had a genuinely grand-like feel with nice sense of weight and control. You should try it for yourself at a Kawai dealer.

Of the other two, I didn't have a strong preference one way or the other concerning the keyboard - but then I can't play anything as virtuosic as La Campanella. FWIW though: there was another customer in the shop, who remarked that the Casio was making a lot of mechanical noise as I played it with a headphone. She wondered if that wouldn't be more disconcerting to another person in the room, who doesn't want to be disturbed, than the actual sound of the piano itself. (She and I started playing for each other and comparing notes and impressions, which was great.) It made me wonder if Casio's touted hammer action was really meaningful, or merely adding to the mechanical complexity. If you are concerned about longevity of the mechanism, this could be a risk factor.


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Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619885 03/03/17 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693


Some variation, but brand new actions regulated well feel quite similar. The big differences that matter come from hammer weight and inertia/counterweight. With too much inertia, some things are harder to play. The mechanical advantage vs. key stroke are similar enough that it is quite intuitive to switch from one piano to another.



Thanks for that. When I get more experience of playing I will be intrigued to test some real acoustic actions in the shop. For now I just don't have enough experience to really know good from bad. When I see what other people can play on high end DPs I don't worry about the action holding me back! But it seems like you are at a level where you are at one with typical acoustic grand actions and anything different could be a real issue. I was more focused on liking the sound and the Roland sound engine seems very good in that respect (and even better with the custom tunings for each model), although I didn't get to compare different DPs back-to-back.


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Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619888 03/03/17 07:02 AM
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I don't think it's fair to compare actions of DPs that are quite a bit older and who have come out with other models since then that are vastly superior.

Since you are an advanced player, I highly recommend that you do go and test out all of the major brands at the top end - including Kawai and Roland. And I wouldn't worry overmuch about the sounds, since you're willing to spend so much on an N1 and be OK with using Pianoteq. That means you're basically buying for the action - which is the way to go. Software for now still beats out any onboard sound I've heard.

You should check out Kawai CS11, Roland LX-17, Yamaha CLP-585/575 alongside with the Casio and the N1. It's worth it at the very least to see what is available now since the last time you searched.


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Re: High performance digital pianos
Peakski #2619890 03/03/17 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Alohaneko
It made me wonder if Casio's touted hammer action was really meaningful, or merely adding to the mechanical complexity. If you are concerned about longevity of the mechanism, this could be a risk factor.


I mean you can just look at it. The one component that the Casio has that doesn't look very durable is that red knuckle that connects the hammer to the simplified wippen. I can't tell what it's made of, but it has to be either felt or plastic. On a real piano, it is leather sliding against wood, and if the leather wears down the hammer just sits a little lower, no big deal. Over time as the jack wears a deep groove, it needs some adjustment. On the Casio, that thing will develop play as it wears and that will lead to a weird feeling as the hammer knocks around, plus an audible click if it is a solid part. If it is solid plastic with lubrication, it shouldn't be too much of a concern.

Now that said, there is only one part to replace there, and the other bearings are metal pins in plastic bushings, probably lubricated. On a real piano, there are many, many more wear parts. I think the Casio should be less maintenance than a wooden piano action.

Originally Posted by Peakski

I was more focused on liking the sound and the Roland sound engine seems very good in that respect (and even better with the custom tunings for each model), although I didn't get to compare different DPs back-to-back.


Let me put it this way: I used to be impressed by the sound quality of an expensive piano. Then I bought my Roland FP-7F, and got used to hearing that through good headphones. Now, I can play a 150k concert grand and be completely apathetic about how it sounds.

The Roland's tonal quality is that good once the settings are dialed in.

Unfortunately, it does have a serious defect, which is that the sustain is very weak, and the note rapidly dies off a lot sooner than it should. A lot of digital pianos have this trait, probably to simplify the sound engine's work.

Last edited by trigalg693; 03/03/17 07:19 AM.
Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619894 03/03/17 07:30 AM
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Which Roland did you try that you felt the sustain was weak?


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Re: High performance digital pianos
Goss #2619900 03/03/17 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Goss
Which Roland did you try that you felt the sustain was weak?


VPiano, FP-7F, and some of the ones that came with a cabinet. It's more like the sustain is fine for a few seconds, then it dies way too fast.

Last edited by trigalg693; 03/03/17 08:23 AM.
Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619907 03/03/17 08:45 AM
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Odd - granted vpiano is almost 9 years old now but the modelling used is the precursor to todays line up - and my hp605's sustain takes about 40 seconds to disappear below the ambient noise level at a volume setting most other roland users say is much too low so its possibly nearer a minute. Mind you the standard preset tunings are fine on headphones but the special model specific tunings making the most of each model's speaker systems makes a real difference. Roland named the consumer model vpiano engine iteration Roland Supernatural Modelling, and its sample and modelling hybrid is called Supernatural - and with the release of the RD-2000 they're calling its modelling VPiano again - it does get confusing ^^


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Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619908 03/03/17 08:46 AM
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Okay, my "it's simpler to model" hypothesis is probably wrong, because there is indeed some sound for a long time after the note is struck. It's just that after a few seconds, there is a sudden drop in volume compared to a real piano, which is disconcerting.

Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619910 03/03/17 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693


Let me put it this way: I used to be impressed by the sound quality of an expensive piano. Then I bought my Roland FP-7F, and got used to hearing that through good headphones. Now, I can play a 150k concert grand and be completely apathetic about how it sounds.

The Roland's tonal quality is that good once the settings are dialed in.

Unfortunately, it does have a serious defect, which is that the sustain is very weak, and the note rapidly dies off a lot sooner than it should. A lot of digital pianos have this trait, probably to simplify the sound engine's work.


Very interesting. My GP-607 uses Roland's Supernatural modelling engine and with the accompanying Piano Designer App you can tune it to sound pretty much like anything you like. But more usefully there are some preset tunings available from expert tuners to match the various sound systems and emulate various pianos. Those are most impressive and a nice free upgrade from the default piano sounds.


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Re: High performance digital pianos (GP300 vs N1)
trigalg693 #2619914 03/03/17 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693

So my main question is, how does the GP-300 compare to an N1? Beyond that, can the PHA50 be mentioned in the same breath as the GP-300 or N1? The few stores selling digital pianos are kind of spread out which is not very convenient, so I am curious to hear what people think. AFAIK Kawai has not made a significantly different DP action, but if someone thinks the newer ones are really great, I am all ears.


Purely on action alone, the PHA-50 is close to the Grand Feel 1 action in quality. The Grand Feel II action is better, but not substantially. However, the improvement between Grand Feel I and II is noticeable in side by side comparison.

The Grand Feel II action doesn't compare well against the Avant Grand N1 action: no digital compact action I've played (I've not played the GP-300) comes close to the Avant Grand N1/2/3 action.

However, there is more to this choice that action and sound quality: there is also how well action and tone integrate---the dynamic response, the sensitivity etc. For instance, comparing the RD700 to the RD800 stage piano from Roland, they touted an improvement of 100X the sensitivity for increased control. In this regard, modelled piano is king.

I too played the V-piano coupled with 2 very expensive monitors that did it justice. However, having played the LX17, I can say that this is better than the V-piano. If you gave me the choice between an Avant Grand and a Roland LX-17, I would chose the Roland. This is mainly because it's not so easy to get Pianoteq to work with the N1.

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I believe this problem was sorted when the N3X was released. Maybe wait till the N1X is released, or go for the Casio or Roland.

Can't say anything about the Casio action, but I do not like the sampled pianos as much unless you go for the Garritan CFX or something of that ilk..


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Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619915 03/03/17 09:17 AM
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Perhaps the volume is indeed exactly that- volume related.
For us the one that really had a speaker system that started to do things justice was the LX17. 8 speakers, some inside speakerboxes ínside the piano, and some large woofers at play that just about made your pants rustle lol.. That did the whole thing justice. All the other console type models make do with much smaller and less powerful speakers that can't quite make that even balanced sound that the LX17 makes happen so that you don't really need a lot of volume to hear everything evenly.. That and most of the other pianos use undamped speakers - resonances weaken some frequencies and amplify others - does not help.


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Re: High performance digital pianos
trigalg693 #2619920 03/03/17 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by trigalg693
Originally Posted by Goss
Which Roland did you try that you felt the sustain was weak?


VPiano, FP-7F, and some of the ones that came with a cabinet. It's more like the sustain is fine for a few seconds, then it dies way too fast.

The default setting of the sustain level of the V-Piano is indeed no better than that of non-modeled digitals, and requires you to manually tweak its setting ("Decay Time") to push it up to concert grand proportions - and way beyond if you felt like it. All my piano sounds customizations have the Decay Time set to between +30 to +40 (the range is from -100 to +100).

I always thought that was a problem for anyone who doesn't know how to tweak it and just sits down and plays it in the showroom (and I've said it here many times before), but Roland has addressed in its current line-up of modelled digitals. BTW, none of the new Rolands have anything like the V's range of tweakable settings of various resonances to sustain to damping to pedal effects etc.

Last edited by bennevis; 03/03/17 04:10 PM. Reason: error corrected

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Re: High performance digital pianos
bennevis #2620014 03/03/17 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by bennevis

The default setting of the sustain level of the V-Piano is indeed no better than that of non-sampled digitals, and requires you to manually tweak its setting ("Decay Time") to push it up to concert grand proportions - and way beyond if you felt like it. All my piano sounds customizations have the Decay Time set to between +30 to +40 (the range is from -100 to +100).

I always thought that was a problem for anyone who doesn't know how to tweak it and just sits down and plays it in the showroom (and I've said it here many times before), but Roland has addressed in its current line-up of modelled digitals. BTW, none of the new Rolands have anything like the V's range of tweakable settings of various resonances to sustain to damping to pedal effects etc.


Ah, that is nice. My FP-7F does not have that setting. I spent a very long time configuring my FP-7F. The only things I can't get where I like are the decay time (which is not changeable) and the key off resonance. The dampers are a little too powerful and cut out some notes too abruptly.

Originally Posted by Goss
Perhaps the volume is indeed exactly that- volume related.
For us the one that really had a speaker system that started to do things justice was the LX17. 8 speakers, some inside speakerboxes ínside the piano, and some large woofers at play that just about made your pants rustle lol.. That did the whole thing justice.


No it's not. I have hooked up my audio interface straight to the line out, and have tried many tweaks. The note simply decays faster than it should, period. It starts out plenty loud, then after 4 seconds is probably ~5dB weaker than it should be. That proportion cannot be changed on the FP-7F.

Seems like there is a guy selling Casios from his apartment here in SF, I am going to go take a look soon. A closer look at the action would be helpful.

If the N1 is difficult to set up with Pianoteq...:( I may have to wait a few more years. Maybe Casio will have an enhanced action by then too.

Last edited by trigalg693; 03/03/17 03:29 PM.
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