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Keyboard action snobs #2737218
05/16/18 03:17 PM
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Jitin Offline OP
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I have been looking at a lot of digital piano keyboards, for enjoyment and perhaps buying one, but one question that comes to mind, to what extend does keyboards action really matter.

thought i am not expert in piano, I have seen people play difficult things in all range of actions from entry level like yamaha's graded hammer to nicer more expensive ones like kawais grand feel..and yamaha's grand touch

Besides personal preference, is there really a limitation of what can be executed on cheaper keyboard actions ?

TO me only time it comes into play is songs with repetition of the same note at high speed which requires a grand piano actions, but other than that if it is a weighted action , and you can press the key into the keyboard comfortable its all kind of the same no?


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Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737219
05/16/18 03:25 PM
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Kind of the same? Well they have keys that are pressed down and result in a sound, so I guess that's kind of the same. But the feel and responsiveness is quite different.

Is it impossible to execute technically difficult music on a cheap action? No. Is it harder? Yes. Does being harder mean that an *average* player, rather than a top expert, will find it impossible to play certain things properly on one DP but not on another? Yes.

It's like cars - Lewis Hamilton might be able to take a corner flawlessly in both at 90mph, but that doesn't mean they're the same, or that the average driver will be able to do so. For the average driver, it might be easier in one car than another to the extent that it's possible in one but not possible in the other.


Broadwood, Yamaha U1; Kawai CA67; Pianoteq Std (D4, K2, Blüthner, Grotrian), Garritan CFX Full, Galaxy Vintage D, The Grandeur, Ravenscroft 275, Ivory II ACD, TrueKeys Italian, AS C7, Production Grand Compact, AK Studio Grand, AK Upright, Waves Grand Rhapsody; Sennheiser HD-600 and HD-650, O2 amp
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737221
05/16/18 03:37 PM
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Quote
Besides personal preference, is there really a limitation of what can be executed on cheaper keyboard actions ?


Some have only two sensors, some have a shorter pivot point, plastic or wooden keys or more resistance than others. It's up to you which key action you prefer. You can play everything on every piano.


Ordered: Yamaha NU1X
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737222
05/16/18 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Jitin
TO me only time it comes into play is songs with repetition of the same note at high speed which requires a grand piano actions,


Acoustic piano and digital pianos are quite different : on an acoustic piano, the escapment (let off) system prevent a repetition if the key is not released high enough. On a typical digital piano (not a true hybrid), there are 2 sensors which trigger a timer, and the key must be released at the first one in order the make possible a new time measure. If the 2 sensor are positioned at a low enough position of the key, fast repetition is possible. (This explain the 3 sensors action : 2 low sensor + 1 higher which control the damper)


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Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737225
05/16/18 03:51 PM
05/16/18 03:51 PM
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Your question is a good one.

But why limit it to digital piano actions? ... there are acoustic pianos (both grand and upright) falling across a broad spectrum of action-quality, too.

Perhaps your larger question is whether the quality of any piano's action makes much of a difference in one's ability to play it?

And as with most replies to big questions, the honest answer is: "It depends."

If you're going to bang away at full strength (boogie woogie rock on a loud pub stage), then no, it really doesn't matter what the keyboard's action is like, since every note will be pounded at +11. [You don't really need a pianoforte. You just need a forteforte.]

On the other hand, if it's a delicate composition featuring a wide range of dynamic expression - and if the performer is capable of bringing out such nuances of expression from an instrument - then, yes, it matters very much whether the instrument has the ability to be played in such a manner. It's not just about the speed of key repetition, it's about the entire dynamic range.

If you don't play music with much dynamic range, and you don't plan on trying to acquire such artistic skills anytime soon, then it probably doesn't matter what kind of keyboard action you use. Save your money.

Otherwise, join those of us (snobs?) who spend considerable time/effort trying to cajole the most realistic high-end acoustic piano behaviors out of the digital pianos currently available.

Happy hunting - OneWatt

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: OneWatt] #2737227
05/16/18 04:04 PM
05/16/18 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by OneWatt
Your question is a good one.

But why limit it to digital piano actions? ... there are acoustic pianos (both grand and upright) falling across a broad spectrum of action-quality, too.

Perhaps your larger question is whether the quality of any piano's action makes much of a difference in one's ability to play it?

That's a good point that reminds me of a currently ongoing thread over in the acoustic piano subforum, where people are sharing anecdotes about how a better piano helped with becoming a "better pianist" (I put that in quotes because it is not meant totally literally):

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2735950/new-piano-better-pianist.html#Post2735950

Similar insights would, in my opinion, also apply to digital pianos and their differences in quality, including that of their actions.

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737233
05/16/18 04:37 PM
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I guess on another note if actions does matter can anything be played on a digital action that you can on a grand acoustic action ? If so which digital actions are these?


P155
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737244
05/16/18 05:15 PM
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Back in the 1970s it used to be a common place that playing a Fender Rhodes piano felt like playing a real piano but it was like 'wearing a condom'. There was a certain lack of sensitivity. But still, piansts played them and managed to express a great deal of feeling and audiences loved the sound.

Well, move to 2000+ and you have quite crude do actions like Yamaha GHS or Roland G Feel. Whilst I can't do an immediate direct comparison, I'm almost sure these compact, cheaper DP actions are much better than the Fender Rhodes, in terms of piano feel and player connection. When I get my old Fender Rhodes 88 back from the garage it's locked up in, I'll give a more informed opinion (......maybe I'll say the opposite smile )

But I think a medium level DP - Yamaha GH, Roland PHA , Kawai RH and above are better for giving a sensitive, dynamic performance than the average acoustic. They feel more like the responsiveness of a decent grand piano to me. And it does make a big difference, at least in the feel of the performance, and almost certainly in the result too, in the way you can clearly express more levels of 'pianoforte'.

So, yes, I'm a bit of a keyboard action snob in that sense. An action like Roland PHA or Yamaha GH is like a dream come true. But it's only more recently there seems to be an inordinate concentration on the feel of the piano actions - especially with digital piano actions, apparently. It's curious. But I don't think it's snobbery so much as obsession.


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Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737245
05/16/18 05:19 PM
05/16/18 05:19 PM
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"thought [sic] i [sic] am not expert in piano, ... "

I think we may have identified the problem.


website | mp3 files | Yamaha AvantGrand N3 | Roland RD 2000 | Sennheiser HD 598 headphones
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737251
05/16/18 05:47 PM
05/16/18 05:47 PM
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It matters and it also doesn't matter at all.

I wouldn't call anyone here a snob in a negative sense though... I think as a forum dedicated specifically to digital piano hardware there's bound to be people who care more about the minutae of different actions action. As you said, repetitions are one thing. As a beginner who isn't playing anything where I have to worry about repetition, pivot length is more noticeable to me, when playing between the black keys. But it's also not a huge deal.

I mean, when I see someone like Jesus Molina Playing like this on supposedly midrange Fatar actions, it shows me I'm waaaay far from being held back by my keyboard's action:


So I'd say pick the best action you can afford and fits your preferences, but also, don't sweat it too much.

Last edited by napilopez; 05/16/18 05:48 PM.
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: napilopez] #2737254
05/16/18 05:54 PM
05/16/18 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by napilopez
It matters and it also doesn't matter at all.

I wouldn't call anyone here a snob in a negative sense though... I think as a forum dedicated specifically to digital piano hardware there's bound to be people who care more about the minutae of different actions action. As you said, repetitions are one thing. As a beginner who isn't playing anything where I have to worry about repetition, pivot length is more noticeable to me, when playing between the black keys. But it's also not a huge deal.

I mean, when I see someone like Jesus Molina Playing like this on supposedly midrange Fatar actions, it shows me I'm waaaay far from being held back by my keyboard's action:


So I'd say pick the best action you can afford and fits your preferences, but also, don't sweat it too much.


I think it might be more revealing if you were to ask Molina what his personal opinion of the Fatar action was.

It takes thousands of hours to have that kind of control ... and more importantly, more control than is needed for the action in question.

Just because his playing is phenominal does not make the action phenominal, it just means he has more control than needed to play the action in question.

I've never been impressed by a Fatar action, but that's just my personal opinion.


website | mp3 files | Yamaha AvantGrand N3 | Roland RD 2000 | Sennheiser HD 598 headphones
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737308
05/16/18 11:47 PM
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I must say, action does affect player to a certain point, especially those who on intermediate level. Back in the time when I was owned my CN24, the action was considered good, but I find it hard to excecute some trill clearly when practicing on it compared to an acoustic piano (Nocturne 9-2), not impossible, but hard, same with Yamaha GHS and GH. Then when I play my new CA65, with better action, I just can do it properly with ease, just touch and it sounded just as I want it to be. So my advice is just get the best action you can afford, it does help you


In 2 years: Casio AP250 - Kawai CN24 - Kawai CA65 - Kawai CA67
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737312
05/17/18 12:16 AM
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I've long maintained that GHS with a lengthier pivot and other slight refinements would be the best of all . . . . it doesn't have a pivot, but a cantilever which has a slight spring like effect, similar to that used by Yamaha now, on their highest end stuff.
But short pivots are also found in supposedly decent actions, like VPC-1 and NU1. That found in the VPC was Kawai's best not many years ago.
Add to all this things like touch curves, dynamic response and equalisers, and you can pretty well do anything if you know what you're doing.
I've been happy enough with Ivory G on the FP50, having measured it against the rest at that time. But I played my best stuff on GHS though certain aspects of that keyboard were uncomfortable.

Oh, and don't forget your fingers. They have their own preferences as well as the brain and the ego.


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Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737343
05/17/18 03:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jitin
TO me only time it comes into play is songs with repetition of the same note at high speed which requires a grand piano actions,


That in itself is rather a myth, a properly designed/regulated upright should have no problems repeating fast enough for any specific need.

As for actions in general it rather depends on what you want. Many 'worse' actions will be able to physically repeat faster than the 'better' ones as they have less overall mass but similar static weight and therefore return faster.

If a DP is to serve as an instrument on which to practise for the ultimate goal of performing well on an acoustic grand then it makes sense to have an action that emulates this. If the DP is just there to be an instrument in its own right then it's really about personal preference.

But from a purely physical capability perspective, a grand action is not 'perfect' or anywhere close to such. There are numerous physical constraints that make a modern grand action what it is. Acoustic makers have actively tried to reduce the weight difference between bass and treble and eliminate the feel of the let off/escapement, neither of those are 'good' things, they are inevitable outcomes of the physical requirements of producing sound in the way a piano does. Regulation meanwhile is just one big compromise of competing parameters.

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Dave Horne] #2737346
05/17/18 04:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Horne
I've never been impressed by a Fatar action, but that's just my personal opinion.


When's the last time you played one Dave? You often make very brief and quite damning statements about Fatar but I don't know how recently you've encountered one.

I always felt the same as you (and I certainly had some bad previous experiences) but Fatar has moved on. I'm currently using a Fatar action and I really quite like it, and it's an inferior action to their better actions (such as the one on the Nord in the video).

If an action can articulate what the player is doing (as in the video of Jesus Molina) then to my mind by definition it HAS to be capable of anything. That isn't to say that one couldn't or wouldn't prefer something with a more (subjectively) refined feel but if an action can translate what the player puts in into a believable musical performance then I don't see what all the fuss is about. Good enough is good enough.

I've also found that, within sensible parameters, you simply get used to what you're playing and the finer differences between actions cease to be an issue.


Roland RD-1000 | Nord Piano 3 | Dexibell Vivo P7 | Yamaha CLP 645
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: EssBrace] #2737352
05/17/18 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by EssBrace
Originally Posted by Dave Horne
I've never been impressed by a Fatar action, but that's just my personal opinion.


When's the last time you played one Dave? You often make very brief and quite damning statements about Fatar but I don't know how recently you've encountered one.

I always felt the same as you (and I certainly had some bad previous experiences) but Fatar has moved on. I'm currently using a Fatar action and I really quite like it, and it's an inferior action to their better actions (such as the one on the Nord in the video).

If an action can articulate what the player is doing (as in the video of Jesus Molina) then to my mind by definition it HAS to be capable of anything. That isn't to say that one couldn't or wouldn't prefer something with a more (subjectively) refined feel but if an action can translate what the player puts in into a believable musical performance then I don't see what all the fuss is about. Good enough is good enough.

I've also found that, within sensible parameters, you simply get used to what you're playing and the finer differences between actions cease to be an issue.



When I bought my RD 2000 I spent some time playing a Nord. I didn't like the action. If I don't like the action I don't spend more time playing the instrument regardless of the quality of the sound.

You tell me what keyboard uses the best Fatar action and I'll give it a try. If it plays well, I'll report back and publicly apologize.

Give me a few models to try. I'm about 30 minutes away by bicycle from a decent sized store.


website | mp3 files | Yamaha AvantGrand N3 | Roland RD 2000 | Sennheiser HD 598 headphones
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737375
05/17/18 08:09 AM
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I think OneWatt hit this one directly. I recently picked up an RD-2000 after weeks of research. I replaced an ancient RD-150 with either a Fatar or Panasonic action, I can't find any information on it. So the RD-150 served me well and to be honest going back and forth to the various music stores I didn't seem to be feeling much of a difference between the top slab pianos and my RD-150 at home. And surely not a $2000 + difference. Yes I certainly did feel differences between the various keyboards on display. Even just pressing a couple of notes would cause me to move on from some models but since no keyboard had the same action as my ancient RD-150 I had to rely on my memory.

So after reading some of what I affectionately call the "action snob" posts on PW and other boards I gave it some thought and started to carefully explore the dynamics angle and THAT is where the differences became major.

The ability to EASILY play ppp and then pp and moving up to fff, smoothly and controlled was where the better actions shined and showed their superiority.
And it was not subtle, at least not to me. It was very noticeable.

I'm a jazz player with zero classical experience and I have a heavy touch but in this case, my classical brothers in song provided the missing piece to the puzzle.

So of course how the actions feel to the player is the most important thing but there is a case to be made for what the more expensive actions can accomplish under the control of a professional and this is why it is very important to actually try as many different models in your price range. And don't just chalk up the theory (triple sensor, fast key repeats, etc) to the "action snobs" because they may actually have a valid point.

Just like there is no "best piano" there is no "best" action.

Best wishes in your quest.. And like the others have stated, good question!

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737398
05/17/18 09:37 AM
05/17/18 09:37 AM
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Besides the mentioned functional advantages like a better control of dynamics, on several keyboards I feel some sort of tactile or muscular pleasure when I depress a key. The resistance of a key in this case is so smooth, so 'right' and so easily controllable, that it becomes a tactile pleasure to play the instrument. And it's a cool feeling.

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Dave Horne] #2737430
05/17/18 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave Horne

You tell me what keyboard uses the best Fatar action and I'll give it a try. If it plays well, I'll report back and publicly apologize.

Give me a few models to try. I'm about 30 minutes away by bicycle from a decent sized store.


The TP/40 Wood and TP/400 are their best weighted piano actions. Try the Studiologic SL88 Grand controller, Numa Concert, and the Numa Nero if you can find them for the TP/40 Wood. Also the weighted Physis pianos. The Lachnit Mk22/Mk23/Imperial 97 use the Fatar TP/40 Wood, but replaces Fatar's sensors with their own optical sensors.

I think the Studiologic Numa uses the TP400.

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Tom Fort] #2737437
05/17/18 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Fort
Originally Posted by Dave Horne

You tell me what keyboard uses the best Fatar action and I'll give it a try. If it plays well, I'll report back and publicly apologize.

The TP/40 Wood and TP/400 are their best weighted piano actions.
I think the Studiologic Numa uses the TP400.


also the new dexibell vivo s9 uses the tp400 . . .
though not out quite yet . . .


Jeff // Yamaha P515 // Roll Tide
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737443
05/17/18 12:41 PM
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Does anyone know what keyboard the Nord piano 3 uses? I tried one today in a shop and thought it was good. Slightly light if anything, but pleasant and playable.


Roland HP 302 / Samson Graphite 49 / Akai EWI

Reaper / Native Instruments K9 ult / ESQL MOR2 Symph Orchestra & Choirs / Lucato & Parravicini , trumpets & saxes / Garritan CFX lite / Production Voices C7 & Steinway D compact

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Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737444
05/17/18 12:44 PM
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I must say I was a bit put off by the "snob" in the title. I've moved from a cheap digital that I got second hand when I was dirt poor and desperate, to a lower end Yamaha that was about to disappear from the market, to a Kawai hybrid piano. The cheap digital isn't worth talking about. The lower end Yamaha: I saw even when I was in the store how trills needed a lot more "work" to come out, compared to the digitals that were one grade up (and several hundred dollars more than I could afford). I developed a touch where I had to push down to almost the bottom of the keybed each time, and lift up a fair distance in order for the next note to sound. I did a fair amount of relearning after getting the hybrid; one main reason was in fact the action. In the process, I lost a lot of stiffness in my hands. That is, I also had to unlearn what I had been doing, and regain sensitivity of touch that had been lost. "Snob" is not the reason for the change. wink

I listened to Molina's playing. It is superb and nothing that I could do. But the dynamics seem to be about the same throughout, which is what I tend to hear in this kind of genre.

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: toddy] #2737446
05/17/18 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by toddy
Does anyone know what keyboard the Nord piano 3 uses? I tried one today in a shop and thought it was good. Slightly light if anything, but pleasant and playable.

fatar tp40h


Jeff // Yamaha P515 // Roll Tide
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Tom Fort] #2737450
05/17/18 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom Fort
I think the Studiologic Numa uses the TP400.


i checked the studiologic site and the numa concert uses tp40w, while the numa stage uses tp100lr

jeff


Jeff // Yamaha P515 // Roll Tide
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737451
05/17/18 01:09 PM
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I didn't mean it in a bad way to say snob smile
I am a snob , or particular about many things

Last edited by Jitin; 05/17/18 01:14 PM.

P155
Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737471
05/17/18 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Jitin
I didn't mean it in a bad way to say snob smile
I am a snob , or particular about many things


Same here!
I use the term affectionately , with humor and not as an insult.

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737477
05/17/18 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Jitin
Besides personal preference, is there really a limitation of what can be executed on cheaper keyboard actions ?

I'd say minimally so. For a beginner player, pracitically no difference in what they can do on one hammer action vs. another. For a very advanced player, also not much difference in what they can do (but perhaps a big difference in how satisfying it is for them to play). For a player in between, maybe more of a difference, as they try to perhaps start to do more advanced stuff on a more or less accomodating keyboard.

I'd say that being able to execute any particular piece is one thing, but being able to execute it with the exact dynamics you're aiming for is something else. Beginners won't worry about so much about the subtleties, an expert will probably figure out how to get close on just about anything, and in between it might be more of a challenge.

Technically, about the only "impossibility" I can think of is that a 2-sensor action doesn't let you restrike a given key without silencing it first (unless the sustain pdal is down). Whether any piece actually requires that you be able to do such a thing? Probably not.
Originally Posted by Jitin
TO me only time it comes into play is songs with repetition of the same note at high speed which requires a grand piano actions

Even that isn't true. In fact, an unweighted Hammond organ action is about the easiest to do hgh speed same note repetition on. But you can do beter on some weighted actions than others. (Regardless of whether or not they have 3 sensors, btw. The third sensor doesn't necessaily help you repeat a note more quickly, though it does help you quickly repeat a note more quietly.)

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: Jitin] #2737482
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Originally Posted by Jitin
I didn't mean it in a bad way to say snob smile

Had I thought you meant it that way, I wouldn't have bothered writing. I did read the thread before responding. smile

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: anotherscott] #2737485
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
I'd say minimally so. For a beginner player, pracitically no difference in what they can do on one hammer action vs. another.....

I'd like to suggest a different effect on beginners. This is when our senses are heightened and everything is new. I remember when I started violin as an adult, how I felt the difference between the strings in an exaggerated way that I could never feel again: the G string like dragging a box over gravel, the E string like gliding a smooth object over slippery water-covered ice. When I got my first digital piano after not playing for decades, the fact that I needed to push all the way down and up again created a reflex in the hands; and it created a kind of "deadness" because there was no response in the instrument to react to. These things are subliminal and subconscious, but I think they can have an effect.

Re: Keyboard action snobs [Re: jeffscot] #2737491
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Originally Posted by Jefsco
also the new dexibell vivo s9 uses the tp400 . . .

It's supposed to have wooden (white only?) keys, so it's not TP/400.

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