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Joined: May 2019
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I’m in a heated discussion with my wife over whether it’s worth even bothering learning piano if you’ll only ever be able to own an electric (we live in a unit).

My background is acoustic guitar and even playing on a cheap poor quality version is now an awful experience for me. I can’t imagine the feeling of an electric acoustic with no sound hole generating purely electric sound... where’s the feeling?

The idea of spending years learning an ersatz version of an instrument without being able to own the real thing even in the long-term is just depressing in my view. My wife says it’s no big deal, even a toyish keyboard is good enough and it’s better not thinking about it.

Would you still have taken up piano if you were told you’ll never ever have an acoustic piano to play on at home? Would you have chosen an authentic instrument from another family instead?

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If its the quality of the sound that is important and an acoustic piano is not practical then I suggest you do what many have done and buy a weighted keyboard and use Pianoteq software.

https://www.pianoteq.com/pianoteq6

As well as my acoustic I have Pianoteq and I can assure you the sound quality is superb. It does need correct adjustment to get that good sound but there is no programming involved. Check out the demo sounds at the above website and you can also download a demo version.

Look for Pianoteq videos on You Tube.

Ian


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Well, I live in a flat (which I assume is the British version of an Aussie 'unit') surrounded by neighbours, so I can't own an acoustic either. My long-dreamed-of Bösendorfer Imperial will have to wait until I've retired and been bequeathed a fortune by a visionary multi-millionaire (of which there are millions around the world, one of whom who will surely see this post whistle) so that I can buy a mansion in the countryside to house it in.

So, what do I do?

For decades after university, I was moving around with my job, never owning anything resembling a piano or keyboard, playing anything (that resembled one) I could find. Eventually, in 2010, I decided I was too long in the tooth and over the hill to move anymore, so I stayed put where I was, and bought the best digital I could find (after visiting several digital piano showrooms and trying out all likely contenders), that emulated the playing experience and response of an acoustic as closely as possible. It has no speakers, and I play it exclusively with headphones. (I also joined PW then).

What happened? With my own piano for the first time, I eventually regained my former piano-playing skills, now deepened by age & life experiences (angst, life & near-death experiences, requited & unrequited love, etc, etc wink ), and went on to improve on them - for the first time, I could practise 24/7 if I wanted to, and not restricted by the opening hours of the high school/university's practise rooms, and not worry about disturbing anyone - and within a couple of years, had started a monthly recital series, playing on an old six-foot C.Bechstein grand for non-musical audiences in a lecture hall. I soon acquired a regular audience, so I have to continually learn new rep as well as recycle old pieces, and even started a memorising spree because I don't have a page-turner.....which proved invaluable for winning friends and influencing people, especially when I then found myself on a cruise ship (as one does) for two weeks with unlimited access to the grand in the piano bar during the daytime (when the ship's own pianist wasn't playing), and discovered that I could play a two-hour 'recital' of classical pieces from memory for those who wanted to listen. Same rep as in my monthlies, but new appreciative audiences exposed to live classical music for the first time.......and nice newish grand piano, perfectly tuned. Bliss! (not to mention the things one would customarily experience on a cruise too..... grin). I repeated a similar thing last month, only this time, I was also asked by the ship's cruise director to perform formally for an audience of over 300........

And I learn, practise and 'perfect' my interpretations of all the music I play on my nearly decade-old digital, which still plays like new. It even still sounds like new, and has never needed the attention of a technician/tuner wink .

In other words, don't discount a good digital (but get every opportunity you have of playing on acoustics too).

BTW, I still own an acoustic guitar (which I 'learnt' to play from chord books before I started piano lessons), but it sits in its case gathering dust until the next time I get the opportunity to sing pop songs with friends around the campfire......because I cannot play any classical music on it.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
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Get a good quality DP, medium to high level. Add software sound if desired for fun and variation. If the key action needs to be realistic there are hybrid DP”s. Plenty of advice on the digital forum. It should satisfy most. Then, seek out all opportunities to play acoustic wherever you can, colleges, churches, hospitals, train stations (!), practice rooms.

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Originally Posted by Mariner
Would you still have taken up piano if you were told you’ll never ever have an acoustic piano to play on at home? Would you have chosen an authentic instrument from another family instead?

I find the current digital pianos "good enough" (warts and all). As you pointed out, don't go cheap, don't go off-brand and you'll most probably end up with something decent. I'd even say that any digital piano from the top 5 manufacturers that is US$600 on up+++ is going to exceed a beginner's talents for many years to come. Add in software pianos (VSTs) - and there hasn't been a better time to learn on a digital piano.

Note: "Electric" pianos are different animals from "digital" pianos. Electric pianos are electro-mechanical similar to an electric guitar. Digital pianos are driven by software and electronics. Electric pianos each have their own unique sound, while digital pianos try to simulate acoustic pianos.


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Bennevis, wow, that was one of the best posts ever in this forum: informative, on point, downright inspiring!

Ed


http://edsjazzpianopage.blogspot.com/

My fingers are slow, but easily keep pace with my thoughts.

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If you are thinking purely in terms of the instrument, then perhaps you are right. I also played guitar a lot, and after years of playing acoustics started with electric guitars. At first I thought 'nah,' but now prefer them. After all, with an electric guitar one is still playing real strings and it is the amplification of the sound that is different. I use a modelling amplifier that I can get the tones that I like from, and still use mainly the same technique that I used to use with my Spanish guitars - however, I don't play much classical, more 'easy listening,' pop, folk and so on. Btw I don't use 'stomp boxes' and stuff like that - there's no need, the guitars are responsive enough.
A digital piano is different in that, although like a real piano, the playing 'interface' is piano-type keys, there are no strings - so to me it is further removed from the real thing. However, what remains the same is the music that can be played which to me is the most important aspect, and of course for digital pianos the better manufacturers do make a lot of effort to produce the same playing experience (with greater or lesser success). I have to admit also to liking using the various voices - the electronic piano (Bach!) and string tones.
My current acoustic piano is well and truly beyond repair and I'm currently playing on a very old (and low quality) portable digital piano from the 1990s. It is frustrating, but I can still play the music that I want to play (within limits - the keyboard is poor) and it has given a lot of pleasure. Once everything (like where I will be living) is sorted out I will buy a replacement of some kind, but suspect that it will be a digital piano for various reasons. Sad? In a way, but not the end of the world by any means. The technique is similar (acoustics vary a lot too!) and I will be able to enjoy playing the music I love.
But, as they say, YMMV - we are all different!


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Wow Bennevis! What an inspiring story!

And thanks everyone for their contribution.

Last edited by Mariner; 06/15/19 09:46 PM.
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My opinion is that if the keys are falling off or it's desperately out of tune or there's something wrong with the action, maybe not so good to practice on but apart from that, anything should do, be it upright, digital or grand.

I have a story not entirely dissimilar to Ben Nevis (although not the recital bit, give me a few years) - and can testify, one of these decent digital pianos etc. etc. will provide you with everything you need, with its little black-magic key action.

I still maintain there's possibly more difference between the action of your typical upright vs a good quality grand, than there is between a high end digital and a good quality grand.

Virtually all the good pianists I've ever known in person had really ropey acoustic pianos to practice on. Didn't seem to stop them. Also, pros nowadays don't seem averse to doing a fair amount of practice on the road with a high end digital.

Which is all just a long-winded way of saying we recommend you buy a digital with one of those voodoo actions, you won't be sorry.

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The only acceptable 'electric' would be a Fender Rhodes Mk1 + a Fender Twin Reverb.

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When you say “electric” do you mean a digital piano? I’m extremely happy with my Yamaha P-515 digital piano. It has a very nice keyboard action with wooden keys, a good sampled sound of a Yamaha CFX concert grand, and I can play it without annoying the neighbours either by turning the volume down or using headphones. Frankly, I have not the slightest wish to own an acoustic piano.


Chris

Yamaha P-515, Yamaha Reface CP.

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