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Hi everyone,

First post, what an incredible forum here at PW! I’ve been reading and following for a few weeks now.

I’m a new player (main instrument is guitar 15+ years) and am looking to buy a Kawai digital piano, either the CN39 or the CA58.

I originally considered the KDP-110 but decided to increase my budget in light of the better action on the higher models.

I haven’t had a chance to play any of these yet but am planning to visit a dealer soon.

Here’s my main question:

I know the CA58 (GFC) action is better, more realistic, and recommended over the CN39, but could anyone who has played both provide some more context? How significant is the difference, especially for a new learner? Is it worth paying an extra €600 or so?

More to the point, how good is the RHIII action? Most people seem to say it’s “very good” and “quite realistic” compared to the “great” and “much more realistic” GFC action, but this isn’t super helpful in informing my decision.

I do understand the best thing to do is play both but any experienced opinions would be most welcome. I have also considered the CA48 but am ruling it out based on lack of line in/out jacks which would limit my ability to connect to virtual synths, as well as the inferior sound system compared to the 39 and 58.

Cheers!

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Find a shop that offers both acoustic pianos and the digital piano models you're interested in.
(I'm in luck ... my local Kawai dealer has a full range of Kawai console digitals, and bunch of fine and very fine acoustic grands.)

Try a grand piano. Any grand.
Then try the digital of your choice.
Also try some other digitals.

You don't need any expertise to feel the difference.
Choose what you like best.

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Is there a reason you are only looking at Kawai pianos?

Out of the two the CA58 is what I would choose because of the better speaker system and the wooden keys. But that is me and I have been playing for a long time. Like you playing guitar for a long time, you know what you like. If you a sure you will be sticking to the piano the difference in cost is worth it IMHO smile

I would also check out the Yamaha CLP645 and the Roland HP704 if you can.


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Most middle to upper range DP actions are good, but there are nuances and preferences. You mention in your post ‘realistic’, and that is not the same thing at all. Do you want good, and/or realistic? Realistic is compared to an acoustic action. If you will have lessons on a teachers acoustic or play acoustic you probably want the upper end of realistic, otherwise good or better is enough.

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When you do try these pianos, crank them up loud. They always sound more realistic. Last time I did this, both the CA58 and CLP645 had what it took (agaoist a grand) and surprised me.


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Originally Posted by tka59

I know the CA58 (GFC) action is better, more realistic, and recommended over the CN39, but could anyone who has played both provide some more context? How significant is the difference, especially for a new learner? Is it worth paying an extra €600 or so?

More to the point, how good is the RHIII action? Most people seem to say it’s “very good” and “quite realistic” compared to the “great” and “much more realistic” GFC action, but this isn’t super helpful in informing my decision.


I tried them side by side and I couldn't say the wooden action was better than the RHIII of the CN39, though it surely was different. Can't describe I'm afraid, and I think this is very subjective. Some say the let-off simulation is disturbing...

Both have two sets of speakers but the CA58 has more power. This should be easy to notice when trying to play loud, but you may be able to connect external speakers when needed.

By the specs, the sound engine in the CA58 has longer samples. I wasn't aware of this and didn't notice. The CN39 has much more voices if you care (355 vs 42).

https://www.kawai-global.com/product_comparison/detail.php?n=2731,3367&ct=36

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I'd go for the better action, it will last you longer and you won't need to upgrade anytime soon.

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maybe a look to the inside of the actions may be helpful: https://kawaius.com/technology/wooden-key-actions/

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How do you know this?
Originally Posted by Inrai
I'd go for the better action, it will last you longer and you won't need to upgrade anytime soon.
I've not seen any information about how long an action will last.

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As a recovering forum, reviews and latest-and-greatest addict, I'll chime in, beginning with the 2 most obvious things:

1) GFC is better than RH3. In addition to being more similar to a grand piano, its longer keysticks will make it easier to play well near the fallboard, which may be important as your skill increases (I assume that's what Inrai meant). So if you can afford it easily then by all means buy the 58. This will also protect you from the nagging feeling that the 39 is limiting you and you should have got the 58.

2) Yes, you should try them both. But they're both very good and although you will likely feel differences side-by-side, as an inexperienced player you probably won't know which one is "better" or closer to an acoustic, and you will probably grow accustomed to either one quickly. And as spanishbuddha said, closeness to an acoustic may not be that critical if you never/seldom play an acoustic; remember that acoustics all feel different too and any good digital will enable you to play an acoustic, with a bit of time to get accustomed to it.

Having said that, I'd submit that if you can get over not having GFC, and you're not playing moving between an acoustic and digital frequently (and probably even if you are), the RH3 is absolutely fine for learning to play, and probably will be for a long time.

I also endlessly agonized over and read about and compared pianos and came very close to buying a high-end piano. Then by fluke I was essentially given an older Kawai with the original RH action. I'm now taking lessons with a teacher who focuses a lot on technique and articulation. My RH action is by no means limiting me and I am convinced that the nuances of my RH versus newer or better actions are the least of my concerns. And when I play higher-end pianos at a store or at my lesson, I suck just as much as on my RH, and in the exact same ways.

And don't forget that RH3 is a very decent, modern action used on some very good, highly praised pianos (MP7, ES8) and is probably better than many top actions from not long ago. I recall someone on this forum writing that GFC felt sort of mid-way between GF2 and RH3. Bear in mind the differences are fairly subtle for most of us mortals (both these Kawai actions are fairly light), and you won't be comparing them back-to-back once you take one home. Even people discussing actions on this forum have written things like, "I'm not really sure of x because I tested the pianos at different stores a week (or a day) apart."

And if it's a trade-off, I expect 600 Euros spent on lessons will benefit you much more than the difference between RH3 and GFC, especially as you're just learning the technique and habits that you will spend endless hours practicing.

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I'm learning to play classical piano music from something like 6 months on my CN37 (RH3 action) and although here many say it is a light action, I have to say that I found this action very heavy. As an untrained player you will struggle to make fast trills, octaves, etc., not because you don't press the right key, but because the keys are heavy to press. This forces you to learn to use much more arm force and wrist rotation, to avoid excessive fatigue on your fingers. Recently I tried the action of a Yamaha P125 (low-end slab piano) and I found it was much more forgiving to my fingers.

I read from some users here that the RH3 action of the ES8 (slab piano) feels lighter than the same RH3 action in the CN3x series (cabinet style DPs)... Is it possible that Kawai uses heavier counterweights in the keys of the CN3x series?

Anyway, if the GFC action was even heavier than the RH3 used in my CN37, I don't think this would make me more happy...

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Originally Posted by stillnotfamous
As a recovering forum, reviews and latest-and-greatest addict, I'll chime in, beginning with the 2 most obvious things:

1) GFC is better than RH3. In addition to being more similar to a grand piano, its longer keysticks will make it easier to play well near the fallboard, which may be important as your skill increases (I assume that's what Inrai meant). So if you can afford it easily then by all means buy the 58. This will also protect you from the nagging feeling that the 39 is limiting you and you should have got the 58.



Yes, I guess I didn't word it correctly.


Originally Posted by magicpiano
I'm learning to play classical piano music from something like 6 months on my CN37 (RH3 action) and although here many say it is a light action, I have to say that I found this action very heavy. As an untrained player you will struggle to make fast trills, octaves, etc., not because you don't press the right key, but because the keys are heavy to press. This forces you to learn to use much more arm force and wrist rotation, to avoid excessive fatigue on your fingers. Recently I tried the action of a Yamaha P125 (low-end slab piano) and I found it was much more forgiving to my fingers.

I read from some users here that the RH3 action of the ES8 (slab piano) feels lighter than the same RH3 action in the CN3x series (cabinet style DPs)... Is it possible that Kawai uses heavier counterweights in the keys of the CN3x series?

Anyway, if the GFC action was even heavier than the RH3 used in my CN37, I don't think this would make me more happy...



If you thought the RHIII action was heavy then don't go anywhere near the Yamaha NWX action. wink
I'm interested to know if the GFC is heavier than the RHIII, I found a post on Reddit that had the CA48 as 62-64g down weight at middle c but I've yet to see a measurement of the RHIII

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Originally Posted by Inrai
I found a post on Reddit that had the CA48 as 62-64g down weight at middle c but I've yet to see a measurement of the RHIII


There is a topic on Keyboard Corner forum. One person took some measurements on several actions and built a spreadsheet. There seems to be some issues with the methodology, particularly for pivot point determination but it may be useful.

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I am not sure I am allowed to post a link to the forum and topic but it must be easy to DuckDuckGo. smile


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Yes, please post the link.

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Originally Posted by EVC2017

There is a topic on Keyboard Corner forum. One person took some measurements on several actions and built a spreadsheet. There seems to be some issues with the methodology, particularly for pivot point determination but it may be useful.


Seems like he measured the static weight, which isn't very useful. Dynamic weight is the interesting number for things like fatigue.


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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
Yes, please post the link.


Here you go


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That's an interesting comparison in that link.

I made some weight measurements on my CN37 keyboard (I tried to be as precise as possible and then I rounded to the nearest 0.5g), trying to follow the same methodology explained in that link and the results are surprising, compared with the others:

Code
          	Downweight(g)		Upweight(g)
		low  | mid  | high |	for middle C 
		-----+------+------+------------------
Yamaha CP88	102  |  98  |  90  |	  55
Steinway D Grand 98  |	96  |  71  |	  35
Kawai VPC-1	102  |  90  |  86  |      47
Kawai SK7 Grand	 91  |  90  |  86  |	  44
Kawai CN37	107  |  89  |  79  |	  37.5	    <-- my DP!
Roland FP10	 98  |  86  |  82  |	  43
Yamaha P-515	 94  |  86  |  78  |	  67
Kawai NV10	106  |  78  |  63  |      35
Kawai ES8	 94  |  78  |  74  |      43
Kawai MP7SE	 94  |  78  |  71  |	  47
Roland FP90	 82  |  78  |  78  |	  51
Casio PX-S1000	 74  |  74  |  63  |	  59
Yamaha N1X	 94  |  71  |  63  |	  24
Kawai MP11SE	 82  |  71  |  67  |	  39
Yamaha P-125	 78  |  71  |  67  |	  43
Kawai ES110	 78  |  67  |  59  |	  47
Yamaha NU1X	 63  |  55  |  55  |	  27



As you can see, the keys on my CN37 are heavier to depress than, for example, a Yamaha P515, but the latter push up a depressed middle-C key with much more force compared to mine (I think this affects fast note repetitions). Another surprise is that the ES8 and MP7SE measurements are much different (lighter) from mine, but the action should be the same RHIII. Even the Novus NV10 action is lighter than mine. And I'm not surprised that the P125 (that I tried recently) keys require less force. The NU1X action is even lighter, maybe too much light.

But the MP11SE... It's very light to be a wooden action! It's so different compared with the VPC1 measurements! That's interesting...

Of course these are just static touchweight measurements, but I think that the upweight data could give some little hints for the dynamic behavior. I think bigger the upweight, more fatigue you could feel if you play many held notes. Maybe fast notes could benefit from an heavier upweight, because the key go up faster?

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Originally Posted by magicpiano
Even the Novus NV10 action is lighter than mine. And I'm not surprised that the P125 (that I tried recently) keys require less force. The NU1X action is even lighter, maybe too much light.

The person who assembled that table didn't write if the weights were measured with the sustain pedal pressed or not (which makes a difference for the acoustic pianos and the NV10). I assume that he did not press the sustain pedal, because for most digitals that doesn't make a difference, so why should he? And also, the values that he measured for the acoustics (Steinway, etc.) seem to be quite high (usually you read about down weights in the range 50-55g in the middle C area for acoustics, but that is measured without damper weight, i.e. with pedal pressed), so another indication that he probably measured with damper weights.
Having said that, if you notice that the NV10's action is lighter than yours, consider how it feels with the damper weights removed. wink


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Originally Posted by JoBert
Originally Posted by magicpiano
Even the Novus NV10 action is lighter than mine. And I'm not surprised that the P125 (that I tried recently) keys require less force. The NU1X action is even lighter, maybe too much light.

The person who assembled that table didn't write if the weights were measured with the sustain pedal pressed or not (which makes a difference for the acoustic pianos and the NV10). I assume that he did not press the sustain pedal, because for most digitals that doesn't make a difference, so why should he? And also, the values that he measured for the acoustics (Steinway, etc.) seem to be quite high (usually you read about down weights in the range 50-55g in the middle C area for acoustics, but that is measured without damper weight, i.e. with pedal pressed), so another indication that he probably measured with damper weights.
Having said that, if you notice that the NV10's action is lighter than yours, consider how it feels with the damper weights removed. wink
I don't know if he considered that or not, but in the original link where he found the instructions on how to make measurements it's written that you should measure with the pedal depressed (because it referred to acoustic pianos).
Maybe you can try to make some measurements on your NV10 without pedal depressed to check?

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I may have posted keyweight numbers from my NV-10 in the large hands-on thread. I'll see if I can find my measurements when I have a chance.


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