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To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
#2961707 03/29/20 11:51 PM
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I hope that paraphrase from "Hamlet" doesn't offend any Shakespeare lovers out there! laugh Let me explain. This thread is regarding the escapement or letoff feature found on an acoustic grand.

One of the digital pianos I am considering for purchase is the Casio GP-510 Celviano. It's wooden-key action, designed in collaboration with Bechstein, does not simulate the escapement (i.e. letoff) feature of an acoustic grand piano. I was told that Casio deliberately did not incorporate this feature into the GP series so as not to impede the ability of the action to handle rapid repeated notes. I was also told that, as the escapement simulation on other digital pianos is not very good, it was just as well that this feature was omitted.

I have two questions regarding this feature?
1) Is it true that no digital piano has a decent escapement simulation? If not, what is the brand and model of this piano?
2) Even if there is a digital piano that has decent escapement simulation, does it make any difference? Is escapement that important to playing rapid repetitive passages on a either a digital or an acoustic piano? Also, when I switch from a digital piano to an acoustic grand piano, will the fact that I learned on a piano that didn't have escapement impede my ability to play a piano that does?

Comments and questions are welcome from any quarter.

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Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Almaviva #2961762 03/30/20 05:03 AM
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I think it depends what you want from your digital.

If for you it is an instrument in its own right then no, the escapement simulation has no purpose, and it is better without it.

If you want to switch from digital to acoustic piano then the feel/effect of the escapement mechanism is, along with all the other differences, something that you will need to learn and adjust to when you switch. A 'decent escapement simulation' could mean anything something different from one make/model to another. I think you'll have to try out whatever the action is like on the digital you are interested in and then compare it to some acoustics to make your own judgement on whether you think it is important or even helpful to you, or not.

Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
gwing #2961816 03/30/20 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by gwing
I think it depends what you want from your digital.

If for you it is an instrument in its own right then no, the escapement simulation has no purpose, and it is better without it.

If you want to switch from digital to acoustic piano then the feel/effect of the escapement mechanism is, along with all the other differences, something that you will need to learn and adjust to when you switch. A 'decent escapement simulation' could mean anything something different from one make/model to another. I think you'll have to try out whatever the action is like on the digital you are interested in and then compare it to some acoustics to make your own judgement on whether you think it is important or even helpful to you, or not.


gwing is right again! I almost always agree. If you want to stay with digital the only thing that matters is that the touch and sound makes playing and practice everyday enjoyable and improves your playing experience. If you’re considering being able to switch seemlessly between the two then the digital with the most authentic touch and sound to an acoustic would be your goal.
My solution was to have both a digital and an acoustic but that does take more room and is more expensive. I set my Casio to the heaviest setting to make the digital feel more realistic, but it still doesn’t feel like an acoustic at all. I can switch easily from one to the other.
Both Yamaha and Kawai make “Transacoustic” models that literally switch modes from digital to acoustic and back again. But then those models exceed the price of just buying a new acoustic and a new digital, I tried a GC1 Transacoustic and was quite impressed but again it locks me into 2019/2020 digital technology. Right now I can give away my 2010 digital and buy a brand new Casio digital without breaking the bank. Something to consider. Best Wishes!


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Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Almaviva #2962984 04/02/20 02:38 PM
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Have you tried an N1x? That piano has been chosen by several professionals in my region. Their goal was to get the closest thing to an acoustic grand as possible.

I am not saying that there is no difference between the N1x and an acoustic grand piano. What I am saying is that IMHO, and in the opinion of a large group of pros, it is the closest thing to it. YMMV.

Great to see you here, Almaviva.

Cheers!


Rich Galassini
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Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Rich Galassini #2963053 04/02/20 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Have you tried an N1x? That piano has been chosen by several professionals in my region. Their goal was to get the closest thing to an acoustic grand as possible.

I am not saying that there is no difference between the N1x and an acoustic grand piano. What I am saying is that IMHO, and in the opinion of a large group of pros, it is the closest thing to it. YMMV.

Great to see you here, Almaviva.

Cheers!

You made a nice point Rich. I think the post-pandemic piano market will insist on “on line” musical events. Digital pianos and Spirio sand Disklavier systems were born and designed for connections. Hybrid technology that uploads to cloud service could be just the ticket next NAMM.


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Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Rich Galassini #2963315 04/03/20 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Have you tried an N1x? That piano has been chosen by several professionals in my region. Their goal was to get the closest thing to an acoustic grand as possible.

I am not saying that there is no difference between the N1x and an acoustic grand piano. What I am saying is that IMHO, and in the opinion of a large group of pros, it is the closest thing to it. YMMV.

Great to see you here, Almaviva.

Cheers!

Great point. I owned a N1x and they really are something special!

Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Almaviva #2963631 04/04/20 01:24 PM
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Are you a beginner or intermediate/advanced pianist?

I have actually tried the piano you mentioned when it first came out since I had the Avantgrand N1 at the time and I was curious on how the actions stacked up.

The N1 has the escapement mechanism which feels realistic in comparison to my Yamaha grand piano. The keys also feel really good but I still found the sound to be quite synthetic and one dimensional in tone (not much change in timber, brilliance, etc) when playing at different dynamic levels. But if we are only talking about action, it felt really good.

I didn’t have the pianos side by side but to my recollection the Casio felt light and fast. Perhaps too light for my tastes but I didn’t play it for very long. I remember that fast passages like repeats, arpeggios, scales, ornaments seemed easier to play on the Casio than the N1. The lack of escapement didn’t bother me at all since I hardly notice it on my grand piano anyways.

That being said, if you are a beginner pianist, perhaps these subtle differences may lead to practicing slightly differently, for example using a lighter touch which may not be as even/accurate on an acoustic piano. Especially considering many acoustic pianos have slight nuances such as uneven tone, some keys being slightly different feeling due to regulation, etc. For a beginner this may lead to different results playing on the digital and acoustic since it may be difficult to adjust according to your ear and the piano’S response (this comes with a lot of practice!). However, if you are an intermediate or advanced pianist, I think you will hardly notice a difference since you already have solid technique and will not likely change your playing technique from acoustic with escapement to digital without.

At least for myself, I play on various pianos including my grand at home, and a cheap $400 10 year old digital Roland at my mom (no escapement) and I don’t notice a big difference in technique switching back and forth. I have never noticed the lack of escapement on the Roland either, not found it extra helpful on my acoustic.


Yamaha C3, Yamaha Avant Grand N1 (sold), Steingraeber 170 (family's)
Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Almaviva #2963766 04/04/20 10:37 PM
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I am not a great partisan of employing the feel of the escapement, to guide the way I strike the key. No doubt, I am exhibiting my ignorance of the finer points of technique, but I'll double down: I think this is what we might call making a virtue out of necessity. What feeling it amounts to, is that once the escapement is tripped, the key need not advance back to 'at rest' to trigger it again (and again and again). Do we really not know this place from our intimate familiarity of the keyboard and its behavior?

But, that is me. I would never dream of fussing at Almaviva for her wish to have the advantage that the feel of the real, mechanical double escapement--- a brilliant invention--- can offer her, even if it's a simulation on a DP.

Anyway, the 'digital piano' is a brilliant invention in its own right, and--- truly speaking--- must be approached on its own terms, and employed for what it really is, if one is to have the best of it. It is a computer, in the guise of a piano... or should we say that they are both devices which address the diatonic scale in the range generably audible to humans, using a similar interface which far predates either. And I would add, that both can beat the other. She is smart to open her heart to both. As Josephine Baker used to sing, as she danced in Paris, "Two loves have I."

I don't think Almaviva is going to have such a problem adjusting, as she goes back and forth. It seems to me that I read, regarding professional concert performers, that they are not all that fussy about the pianos available at the concert venue--- perhaps because one can't afford to be, in that calling. "We play the piano in front of us," remarked one. I believe the passage was quoted in Noah Wiley's book, "Piano Lessons," but I cannot seem to lay my hands on it.

Don't worry. Try as many DPs as you can, until you find one that it feels nice to play, and sounds well in your ears. The good makers all have offerings that will serve the purpose, and may even serve purposes which you don't realize, now, that you have.

A hint: it pays to take your own headphones to these auditions, and, if possible, have a look at the manufacturer's website before you go out, to glean such information as you may be able to absorb. There will be far more than anyone could take in, at first sight; at least, you will know where to look. There are also reviews and such, and sometimes there can be useful information available on the web or by phone, from places which sell these devices--- and here!

And one further hint, but you must realize that my partisanship may be showing: Kawai's MP11 has a good reputation as a player's piano. Composers, performers, and home users like it, though performers would like it if it were lighter in weight (that's the price of the nicer action). On the other hand, the Casio you mentioned is pretty well regarded in its range, and is quite a bit less expensive.


Clef

Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Rich Galassini #2964215 04/06/20 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
Have you tried an N1x? That piano has been chosen by several professionals in my region. Their goal was to get the closest thing to an acoustic grand as possible.

I am not saying that there is no difference between the N1x and an acoustic grand piano. What I am saying is that IMHO, and in the opinion of a large group of pros, it is the closest thing to it. YMMV.

Great to see you here, Almaviva.

Cheers!


If you are less fussy about speakers, b/c you will mostly be using headphones, is there a comparable keyboard action to be had?

Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Maestro Lennie #2964218 04/06/20 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie

If you are less fussy about speakers, b/c you will mostly be using headphones, is there a comparable keyboard action to be had?


The N1X is the simplest option with a real grand action.

Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Jeff Clef #2964480 04/07/20 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
I would never dream of fussing at Almaviva for her wish to have the advantage that the feel of the real, mechanical double escapement--- a brilliant invention--- can offer her, even if it's a simulation on a DP.


I totally agree Jeff Clef.

PS - For the record, Almaviva is a "he", as in Count Almaviva (Like the opera and plays, Barber of Seville and Marriage of Figaro).


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
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(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Rich Galassini #2964488 04/07/20 06:22 PM
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LOL Rich. Thanks for setting the record straight. laugh

Last edited by Almaviva; 04/07/20 06:22 PM.
Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
johnstaf #2964557 04/07/20 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie

If you are less fussy about speakers, b/c you will mostly be using headphones, is there a comparable keyboard action to be had?


The N1X is the simplest option with a real grand action.


How does it compare to Kawai’s mp11se?

Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Maestro Lennie #2964619 04/08/20 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
How does it compare to Kawai’s mp11se?


The MP11SE doesn't use a grand piano action.

Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Michiyo-Fir #2964681 04/08/20 12:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Michiyo-Fir
Are you a beginner or intermediate/advanced pianist?

I have actually tried the piano you mentioned when it first came out since I had the Avantgrand N1 at the time and I was curious on how the actions stacked up.

The N1 has the escapement mechanism which feels realistic in comparison to my Yamaha grand piano. The keys also feel really good but I still found the sound to be quite synthetic and one dimensional in tone (not much change in timber, brilliance, etc) when playing at different dynamic levels. But if we are only talking about action, it felt really good.

I didn’t have the pianos side by side but to my recollection the Casio felt light and fast. Perhaps too light for my tastes but I didn’t play it for very long. I remember that fast passages like repeats, arpeggios, scales, ornaments seemed easier to play on the Casio than the N1. The lack of escapement didn’t bother me at all since I hardly notice it on my grand piano anyways.

That being said, if you are a beginner pianist, perhaps these subtle differences may lead to practicing slightly differently, for example using a lighter touch which may not be as even/accurate on an acoustic piano. Especially considering many acoustic pianos have slight nuances such as uneven tone, some keys being slightly different feeling due to regulation, etc. For a beginner this may lead to different results playing on the digital and acoustic since it may be difficult to adjust according to your ear and the piano’S response (this comes with a lot of practice!). However, if you are an intermediate or advanced pianist, I think you will hardly notice a difference since you already have solid technique and will not likely change your playing technique from acoustic with escapement to digital without.

At least for myself, I play on various pianos including my grand at home, and a cheap $400 10 year old digital Roland at my mom (no escapement) and I don’t notice a big difference in technique switching back and forth. I have never noticed the lack of escapement on the Roland either, not found it extra helpful on my acoustic.

This is really good advice. It really depends upon your level as a pianist and what you want to accomplish. In my opinion it also depends upon if the beginner pianist is a child versus and adult . If it is a child say from 5-12 years of age and you had only one choice between an acoustic and a digital go for the acoustic so they develop the right brain connections for the acoustic feel/touch and it get's hardwired. If you have the means the child can have both a digital and an acoustic because his/her brain will be able to differentiate between the two touches much like a child can learn multiple languages and not get confused.

If you are an adult beginner it really doesn't matter if you choose a digital or an acoustic because for either it will be a completely new learning experience for you- like learning a language or sport as adult. Choose the one you expect to play the most often. Doesn't matter if it had an escapement or not because you will adapt to your instrument. Just be aware if you switched suddenly to an acoustic instrument of vice versa it may take some time to get used to the different action.

A key point that Michiyo-Fir brings up is that many of these accomplished pianists who use digital pianos today have technique that was hardwired and perfected on an acoustic at an early age. Using a digital won't hamper their abilities as a performer because their technique is already there. That's why they don't have any difficulties going between acoustics and digitals and in their case digitals make excellent companions in practicing. I think some piano teachers who utilize only digital pianos in their studios for children forget how difficult it was to learn the nuances of technique at a young age and take for granted how difficult it would be to teach these nuances on a digital piano over and acoustic.

I regularly switch back and forth between my digital VPC-1 and my acoustic piano each week. It takes me an hour or two to reestablish the feel for the acoustic to be able to play it at my highest level, but I don't think it is hampering my ability. The VPC-1 has the escapement feature, so I can't tell if it helps my playing or not. I don't know if I could tell the difference if it was there or not, but I'm sure when I'm playing delicate passages I may subconsciously be aware of it. That said, a digital piano is an excellent practicing instrument especially for silent practice.


Last edited by Jethro; 04/08/20 12:33 PM.

Working on:

Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
Chopin: G Minor Ballade
Schumann/Liszt Widmung

Shigeru Kawai SK2
Kawai VPC-1
Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Maestro Lennie #2964686 04/08/20 12:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie

If you are less fussy about speakers, b/c you will mostly be using headphones, is there a comparable keyboard action to be had?


The N1X is the simplest option with a real grand action.


How does it compare to Kawai’s mp11se?

I would choose the N1X over an MP11SE any day of the week. As Johnstaf said it doesn't have a true piano action built in.

The MP series including the 11SE are professional stage "pianos". They are outstanding all in one digital keyboards for the professional keyboardist who performs on stage, at weddings, gigs etc... I've owned many keyboards and synthesizers over the years and the MP11SE would be a dream stage piano for rock, electronic music, the occasional wedding cocktail hour but its action is nothing like an acoustic piano. I auditioned it in California and it's too light and "mushy" to use as an acoustic substitute. In fact it is an excellent transition from those going from a synthesizer and need to play piano parts on stage. It's outstanding as a keyboard controller however for sampled instruments- probably the best in existence today. (Note the pitch and modulation wheel and you get a better sense of who this keyboard is for). I would choose a Kawai VPC-1 over the 11SE if I wanted an action closer to an acoustic and a CA series Kawai or a Yamaha N1X for digital pianos even closer to an acoustic.


Working on:

Bach/Busoni Chaconne in D minor BWV 1004
Chopin: G Minor Ballade
Schumann/Liszt Widmung

Shigeru Kawai SK2
Kawai VPC-1
Re: To escape, or not to escape? That is the question.
Almaviva #2964835 04/08/20 08:56 PM
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Thx!


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