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Keyboard for a choir #2928244 12/30/19 11:59 AM
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Soojin Offline OP
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I’m an advanced classical pianist who happens to conduct choirs, too. I know a few things about piano but absolutely nothing about keyboards/digital pianos. (Are these the same or two different things?)

I’d love your advice on the range of keyboards I could use to accompany my choir on its biannual concerts.

- I’d need fully weighted keys (88 preferred, 76 minimum), a sustain pedal, and not much other sounds or technical stuff.
- It must have decent speakers to support 20 or so singers without amps in a hall (we usually perform in office lobbies or boardrooms, being a work choir).
- It’d be a bonus if it were somewhat portable (ie not stationary), although it doesn’t need to be ultra light, as it’s only for twice a year.

I borrowed an old Yamaha P-95 from a friend for our last Christmas concert and found the touches/expressions great and sound, sufficient. Is there a lot of difference in sound across the P series? Any other models I should consider?

Also, separately, what is the consensus for buying used keyboards? Is it recommended or not? If recommended, what do I need to look out for? I’ve seen 10-plus year old keyboards on sale for not much cheaper than current pricing in my area (Ottawa, Canada). Maybe the pricing has come down and technology advanced sonfast that it’s not worth considering an instrument older than x years, at more than y % of current pricing?

Thank you very much for your advice. My goal is to have my own instrument for the next, spring concert. :-)

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Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2928255 12/30/19 12:24 PM
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If you liked using the P-95, today’s equivalent is the P-125, for about $650USD.

You could save more money buying the P-45 and using an external PA speaker. P-45 is lighter.

Casio also makes portable digital pianos for less money but you need to decide for yourself if you like it.

Your local music store might have a set of rentable portable pianos you could try out before buying as well.

The used market is hit or miss. Most people think their old digital pianos are like Steinways when in reality they are like Cassette tapes. But sometimes one finds a reasonable one at a reasonable price.

Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: redfish1901] #2928290 12/30/19 02:27 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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Oh, that makes a lot of sense. What would be an equivalent to Yamaha P-125 in CASIO? How would their speakers compare?

Also, what are the characteristics that’d make a used keyboard a good one? For acoustic piano, I’d bring a technician to look at the complicated mechanical wares, sound and touches for myself, age and use, etc. I’d consider anything older than 30 separately from the younger ones, depending on brands, etc. Does an electronic instrument also wear mechanically, or is it mainly electronically? Or does it not age much at all? Thank you!

Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2928297 12/30/19 02:46 PM
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clothearednincompo Offline
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Originally Posted by Soojin
Does an electronic instrument also wear mechanically [...]


Yes, absolutely. It varies of course by brand and model. Mainly the keys may become more noisy.

Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2928341 12/30/19 04:17 PM
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maurus Offline
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For a little more, you might also look into the Kawai ES8 or the Yamaha P515 for your purposes. The weight is a little higher, but both pianistic feel and the speakers are quite a bit better than in the P95/P125.


Shigeru Kawai SK-2, etc.
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2928349 12/30/19 04:39 PM
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Pianofortissimo Offline
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Originally Posted by Soojin
I’m an advanced classical pianist who happens to conduct choirs, too.

This is a very important point. I'm a classical pianist too, so I suppose you often play on grand pianos or at least very good instruments like me. If so, be careful buying too cheap, entry-level pianos, surely you would not be happy with such pianos. The problem is not the choir, the problem is yours! The choir could be the best possible one, but if your feel is not good when you sit at the piano and put your hands on the keys..... well, it would be never the best situation. And you know very well what I'm speaking of. Good luck.

Last edited by Pianofortissimo; 12/30/19 04:41 PM.
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2928357 12/30/19 04:58 PM
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Charles Cohen Offline
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FWIW (there's a lot of personal opinion and bias here) --

Any of the current-generation "slab pianos" from Kawai / Yamaha / Roland / Casio should be OK for you -- models are (if I remember right) KC-110 / P-45 or P125 / FP10 or FP30 / PXS-1000. The CAsio PX-160 is OK, if you can find one.

They're all 88-key, weighted actions. They weigh around 25 pounds, so they're easily carried. (You'll need a light, padded case, with a shoulder strap.) For twice-a-year use, a "double-braced X-stand" will be adequate. (you can spend more money, and get more-rigid "Z-stands" if you want.)

I suggest getting one or two small PA speakers (8" woofers, built-in amplifiers), rather than using the DP's own amps and loudspeakers. The smallest of the Yamaha "Stagepas" systems will be more than adequate. So will one or two Behringer B208D powered PA speakers.

I suggest getting loudspeaker stands. "OnStage" (and others) make lightweight aluminum stands that work fine.

An explanation for how I've spent more than your budget:

All those DP's have reasonable sound generators, and reasonable actions. None of them is adequate for high-level piano performance, but any of them sounds like an acoustic piano. And they'll feel enough like a piano for you to play piano music comfortably, and conduct (assuming you do both jobs).

The weakness of all those DP's is that their amps are too weak, and their speakers are too small. The bass is weak, and they can't reach "acoustic-piano" sound levels.

One or two (for full-audience coverage) 8" PA speakers fix both of those problems. You won't be driving them hard (so they don't distort), and your singers and audience will both hear them just fine. Putting them on stands lets them be heard by the back row of the audience, as well as by the chorus and the front row..

You haven't mentioned a need for a _voice_ PA system. If your audience is small enough, you won't need one. If you do need one, a small mixer ($50 or so) and a dynamic mic (the "industry standard" is a Shure SM58, for about $100) will let you use the same speakers for voice, as for piano.

You could save a significant amount of money by buying the PA gear used. Or by renting it, if you only need it twice per year.


. Charles
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PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / EV ZXA1 speaker
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2928367 12/30/19 05:12 PM
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I think any portable with builtin speakers will be marginal at best to support 20 singers in a lobby or large office space. I'd try to find a portable with a touch you like and forget the sound, and buy a decent pair of speakers. It used to be possible to buy portables with no internal speakers, but the trend seems to be toward speakers in everything, so you're probably stuck with that extra weight. Since you're an experienced player, I'd hit every music shop in town and try every brand to decide what feels best to you. Stick with major brands Yamaha, Kawai, Casio, Roland and you can't go wrong no matter what you pick.

If you're only doing this twice a year, could you rent a setup for those two events and not buy anything? Then you could get some technical advice from the music store and you'd be assured the equipment would work. If you own it yourself, you're stuck fixing it if it breaks.

As far as used, I've always bought used DPs but I know how to fix them. If you're not reasonably handy and able to take the thing apart to at least fix mechanical problems with the keys, I'd stick to new.


Yamaha P90, Kawai GL-10
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2928368 12/30/19 05:13 PM
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The Kawai ES8, Roland FP90, and Yamaha P515 are probably going to be your best choices: more powerful amps/speakers than the entry level stuff, actions that are all 2-3 steps up from the entry level stuff, each company's better/best samples, while still coming in around 22-23 kg in a portable "slab" form factor (just make sure the stand you choose is sturdy).

Going down a rung will net you lighter weight keyboards at a lower cost, sure, but there are noticeable tradeoffs that will probably annoy a higher level pianist. You didn't mention your budget.

I would only consider used digital pianos around 5 years old or newer, with no signs of being gigged or spilled upon, at a significant enough discount that the risk of not having a warranty would make sense.


Pianist, teacher, apprentice technician, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Pianofortissimo] #2928407 12/30/19 06:20 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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Thank you. So, what would be a good keyboard for this purpose, in your view? I used to refuse to play on a keyboard when I was pompous and young, but have since much mellowed. :-) Keyboards are perfectly fine for the purpose of choir accompanying, not for Beethoven’s sonatas. :-)

Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: terminaldegree] #2928408 12/30/19 06:23 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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This is SUPER helpful. Thanks for addressing all my questions!

My budget is...somewhat flexible. I am saving to buy a grand piano, so keyboard cost is almost marginal. That said, I’d rather invest in my main instrument and not in my side gig... Will check these out. Thanks again.

Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: redfish1901] #2928411 12/30/19 06:29 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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Very helpful. Suggestion about rental is a good one, too.

Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Charles Cohen] #2928413 12/30/19 06:36 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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OMG, this is full on consulting for my choir! Thanks. I will seriously consider buying a lesser keyboard (ie Yamaha P-45 or equivalent) and adding the PA items to my tool box. Thanks!

Last edited by Soojin; 12/30/19 06:41 PM.
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: MarkL] #2928415 12/30/19 06:39 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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Excellent view points. Thank you! I’m not handy at all so will stick to new or newer, and will inquire about rental prices for the PA. Thanks.

Last edited by Soojin; 12/30/19 06:41 PM.
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2928428 12/30/19 07:23 PM
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P515 if you can afford it.


Piano sales consultant
Australian Piano Warehouse-Melbourne Australia
30 years and still going
Steinway upright,Yamaha upright,Roland RD800,Korg Kronos
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2928662 12/31/19 11:29 AM
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musicman100 Offline
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Hi I play for a choir and started with a Kawi Es110 but only have a 7W amp and 12 cm speaker. Changed to a dexibell P7 which is 35 W . Which is sometimes all I use.

I play with a choir of about 40 to 50 memebers and with a band of guitar and bass and sometimes drum and often dont need anything else which i do i use an Electro Voice ZXA1 speaker which is really good for the piano sound.

The dexibell is only 14.5 kg so quite easy to carry around. I mainly use the piano sound and you have a good choise they have just released a new one this month.

I have used it on its own in a village hall and a church and not needed anything else.

There are a few videos here of the choir and my playing the dexibell.

Choir and Dexibell

If you have any more questions plase ask.


http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/NigelFletcher

Dexibell P7 Kawai ES110 Yamaha PSR-S770
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Lushey1] #2929186 01/01/20 10:54 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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Thanks. I will have a listen tomorrow.

Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: musicman100] #2929189 01/01/20 10:58 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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Lovely recording - thanks for sharing. Were the voices also amplified?

Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2929265 01/02/20 07:08 AM
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musicman100 Offline
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Originally Posted by Soojin
Lovely recording - thanks for sharing. Were the voices also amplified?



Hi, No the voices were not amplified.


http://www.scoreexchange.com/profiles/NigelFletcher

Dexibell P7 Kawai ES110 Yamaha PSR-S770
Re: Keyboard for a choir [Re: Soojin] #2929575 01/02/20 09:01 PM
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Soojin Offline OP
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Thanks all. I ended up buying a new Yamaha P-125 after visiting two stores and monitoring the used market for over six months, and getting your advice here. Belated Christmas gift to myself!

To my ears and fingers, Yamahas had more responsive touches and brighter sounds than Rolands or Casios.

In terms of sound projection from built in speakers, Yamaha P-125 (speakers on top) projected far better than Roland F-30 (under), while the latter was $100 more expensive.

Yamaha P-125 (CDN$800) had a markedly richer and louder sound than P-45 ($600). P-515 ($2000) was too heavy and expensive for me.

The latest used market poster wanted to sell me his six year old P-151 (a couple generations behind P-125) for $1300 (granted, with a bag and stand), as he had paid that much then. The prices must have come down a lot, so it made sense to buy new.

Oh, and it looks like I can rent the speakers and stands for $25/week, so will consider them for the next concert. Thanks for the idea!

Thank you all again. Hopefully this post will help someone else make a happy decision, too.

Last edited by Soojin; 01/02/20 09:03 PM.
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