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Originally Posted by KlinkKlonk
You can't voice anything on a digital like you can with an acoustic. Digital pianos usually have three or four different volumes when you play more then one note simultaneously. A very important part of piano playing is how loud the different voices are in comparison to each other.

Good digitals should allow you to voice chords etc to your heart's content......up to their manufacturer's imposed limit on tone and volume, especially on sampled digitals.

I have no problem doing that on mine (which is modelled, not sampled).

Incidentally, the responsiveness and playability (which are related) of digitals need to be taken into consideration when buying. Does the digital 'feel' like an acoustic when you play it? Maybe this is difficult for beginners to determine, but for advanced pianists who also play on acoustics, this is an important factor as to how much you enjoy playing it, and how similar its response is to an acoustic makes the difference to how easy it is to transition what you practice on your digital (especially the nuances and dynamics) to the acoustic.

It goes without saying that if you're serious about playing piano, you should set the volume on your digital (whether through its speakers or your headphones) to simulate that on an acoustic. You wouldn't practice shooting goals using moving goalposts.....


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If you intend to stay with piano, you can probably expect to own both eventually. The question is which one to buy first.

Each acoustic is unique, so if you come across a good used one that you really like, go for it! It's a matter of opportunity. My experience is that a bad acoustic can be really awful. I'd rather play a good digital than an out of tune piano where select hammers don't even move when you press the key, or the pedals squeek. If someone is getting rid of it for dirt cheap, there's a reason. But you can keep your eyes open for that rare good deal.

The digital, once you've decided on the model, they're the same, you can mail order and the price is more predictable. I think you should buy the digital first, because the possible inexpensive upright you are talking about is only an idea right now, you don't have a specific piano for your consideration. But you need a piano now so get a digital but don't get the top of the line. After you move, you might even get a grand, who knows? And you will still use the digital sometimes.

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Some people recommending an acoustic don't seem to have taken into account the OPs budget. Unless one gets very lucky there are not many nice acoustic pianos avai;able for 2K. I think at that price point digitals almost always are superior.

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Most factors have been listed. Ideally I find it practical to have both the acoustic and the digital, but of course it is not always possible. Clearly having an acoustic is great but there are conditions. Here is my couple of comments:

1-Space and neighbours. An acoustic has an incredible volume, so unless you also buy a silent system, you cant play anytime you want. In some cases neighbours are really difficult and depending on the size of your flat/house, it can also be an issue for your family. If you play a lot (probably not your case), the acoustic can also be an issue for your ears, if there is some reverb; again the volume is quite high when in a small room and it is not adjustable.

2-You absolutely need to be able to record yourself. So again that means either you get an acoustic with a fairly elaborate silent system with recording capability or you will need to set up a reasonably good external recording.

3-An acoustic requires tuning regularly (ie cost) and is sensitive (long term) to both temperature and humidity, so you need to have a spot that is not directly under the sun or too close to a heating system.

4-Budget. You can get a reasonably good digital for about 2-3k. For that price you have will have an ok sound and an action that is good enough for several years, at least close enough to a real acoustic to allow you to practice. For that price, unless you are really lucky, you want get any upright with a decent action and sound (and with a silent system). The upright pianos at low price have a lousy action (more difficult to play than on a digital) and a lousy sound (my personal opinion !). I also find that low end upright frankly dont sound that much better than a good digital, though in a completely different way.

So if you have no space limitations, no issues with the volume, and can afford a good upright with a silent system (which BTW may have to be replaced after some years), then you have the choice to take whatever you want. In which case you should spend a lot of time in stores and try different models to make a choice. The action is very important and for a beginner it is actually quite difficult to evaluate if the action is good or not, so the advice of a good pianist and friend (or your teacher) is helpful. With digitals you have less risks once you are at a certain price point.

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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by KlinkKlonk
You can't voice anything on a digital like you can with an acoustic. Digital pianos usually have three or four different volumes when you play more then one note simultaneously. A very important part of piano playing is how loud the different voices are in comparison to each other.

Good digitals should allow you to voice chords etc to your heart's content......up to their manufacturer's imposed limit on tone and volume, especially on sampled digitals.

I have no problem doing that on mine (which is modelled, not sampled).

Incidentally, the responsiveness and playability (which are related) of digitals need to be taken into consideration when buying. Does the digital 'feel' like an acoustic when you play it? Maybe this is difficult for beginners to determine, but for advanced pianists who also play on acoustics, this is an important factor as to how much you enjoy playing it, and how similar its response is to an acoustic makes the difference to how easy it is to transition what you practice on your digital (especially the nuances and dynamics) to the acoustic.

It goes without saying that if you're serious about playing piano, you should set the volume on your digital (whether through its speakers or your headphones) to simulate that on an acoustic. You wouldn't practice shooting goals using moving goalposts.....

Thats not my experience. Maybe Im out to lunch but I also think there's a difference if you "fluke" a note on a digital you won't notice it as you do on an acoustic. As in sinking to the bottom of they key to get a good sound. Guess it has to do with overtones. Me - I'd take a beat up, out of tune acoustic over a digital. Cheers.

Last edited by KlinkKlonk; 06/14/20 05:44 PM.
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Seems to me since you're not experienced; maybe a sound locally sourced acoustic would be to your liking. You'd get it cheap from a private seller, but you'd need somebody to take who is knowledgeable.
You can buy brand new acoustics and they'll still zing uncontrollably almost like an oldie which has seen better days. That is, of course, a desireable characteristic, part of its character! It might destroy anything you may play on it, but . . . .
It'd be real, and, growing to actually like it, like an old steam locomotive, you'll cherish the bl**dy thing, warts and all.
Further, you will enjoy throwing money at it gladly, (piano tuners are a bit thin on the ground) whilst decrying the modern userpers that need switching on, giving a fuss free good-enough rendition of that which you put into it, which can be recorded. And will sound darn nice.
Unless the power goes off. smile
Digitals are a lot better now than they ever were. Have fun deciding!


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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Some people recommending an acoustic don't seem to have taken into account the OPs budget. Unless one gets very lucky there are not many nice acoustic pianos avai;able for 2K. I think at that price point digitals almost always are superior.

If you have experience and know what you are doing I think you could get a good acoustic cheaply, but most people don’t have that, the chances of buying an acoustic that is a money sink or just so ugly in sound that it discourages the learner are too high.

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Originally Posted by Sam S
In the Great ABF Survey of 2020, 78.6% of the respondents preferred an acoustic piano. Just saying...

Sam

I am one of those, I would love to have an acoustic, but first I will need to move house or have a significant extension built on to the current. I also feel I would only want an acoustic if I could have a high range upright or a decent grand.

In the meantime I am greatly enjoying the wide variety of virtual pianos that I can run on my computer while using my keyboard as a midi controller.

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Another consideration is whether the high-end DPs are good enough substitute for an acoustic. First there is Casio Celviano GP-300 & 500 in collaboration with Bechstein piano and the Yamaha Clavinova with a simulation Bösendorfer sound. Some people still feel the sound quality and action of these grand piano imitations are too gimmicky to match up with the real thing.

Sound quality is relative to the pieces you play. When I'm playing church hymns and Christmas tunes, I tend to use the organ sound on a DP since I don't have room for a real organ. The pieces that do require a good quality piano sound I'd go to the local conservatory when they're open. Now the lockdown is in place I have no choice. I'm playing some Jazzy tunes so the high quality piano sound is not an issue.

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Thanks all. As I read your comments, I am leaning more and more towards digital. Looks like I will eventually have to have both (given I anticipate staying with piano). But I think I'll start with a digital given I don't have the expertise to tell a good acoustic piano from a bad one. My 2K budget is not definitive and I can spend more if I find something that gets me excited.

COVID permitting, I'll go to a showroom and try some digital pianos. To those of you who have this experience, what did you pay more attention to when trying digital pianos, deciding which one to buy? Did you pay more attention to the sound? Or the feel of the keys? Are you happy with your decision? Are you happy with your decision?

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Originally Posted by KlinkKlonk
You can't voice anything on a digital like you can with an acoustic. Digital pianos usually have three or four different volumes when you play more then one note simultaneously. A very important part of piano playing is how loud the different voices are in comparison to each other. Because this is very hard to do, the first impression is usually that a digital piano sound better then an acoustic, because it does the job for you.

The sentence in boldface is not true for any DP made in the past 10 years, or more.

Don't confuse the number of _volumes_ per note, with the number of "sampling layers" per note:

. . . DP's are very good at _blending_ samples, to get around 100 different volumes per note.

"MIDI velocity" -- the DP's measure of how hard a key was struck -- varies from 1 to 127, in theory. In practice, many keyboards only generate around 100 different values -- e.g. from "10" to "115". But that's enough.

It's not quite "continuous", but it's a lot smaller increments in volume, than most pianists can reliably generate on an acoustic piano.

If you don't believe me, sit down at a DP, and see how many distinguishable volume levels you can generate. It's going to be a lot more than three or four.

PS -- if you (or anyone) wants to check this, start reading the "DPBSD" thread in the "Digital Pianos" forum. It has objective tests of dozens of DP's, and, in particular, tests of how many volume levels they produce.

Last edited by Charles Cohen; 06/14/20 10:44 PM.

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Originally Posted by qi_
. . . My 2K budget is not definitive and I can spend more if I find something that gets me excited.

COVID permitting, I'll go to a showroom and try some digital pianos. To those of you who have this experience, what did you pay more attention to when trying digital pianos, deciding which one to buy? Did you pay more attention to the sound? Or the feel of the keys? Are you happy with your decision? Are you happy with your decision?

An uncertain "top budget" can get you into real trouble:

. . . In general, the more a DP costs, the better it sounds, and the better it plays.

The difference between an "entry-level" DP (say Yamaha P125 / Roland FP-30) and a top-of-the-line DP (the Yamaha "Avant Grands" and Kawai hybrids) isn't subtle:

. . . the best DP's sound pretty luscious.

I got my PX-350 as a balance between cost, keyboard "feel", and sound quality. That's how most people pick a DP. It was a good instrument to learn on -- I took lessons for several years.

My only disappointment (after 7 years) is that it's developed a problem with its sound generator. The main piano voices don't work any more, and the repair cost is high --

. . . but it still makes a good "MIDI controller" for Pianoteq software.

There's no substitute for sitting down at a keyboard, and trying it out. Some you hate, some you love. If you're lucky, you'll find one that you love, that's within your budget.

As previously said, the Roland FP90 and Yamaha P-515 are reasonably portable, and you could afford either one. Budget for a stand, and a bench, as well as the DP itself.

To get really good sound, you will need either a "cabinet piano" (not so portable), or additional loudspeakers ("powered monitors"). You can add loudspeakers later.



Have fun searching --


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Having a head set option, in many situations is preferable..

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I think the more acoustics you play, the harder it will be to pick a digital without having an idea of when you will finally get your grand. To me, what motivates me to practice on my digital is planning to hear the results of my hard work on my grand (when I'm not disturbing anybody else in the house).

The sound of a grand is so satisfying and filling, it almost plays you.

That being said, it is more motivating to play an acoustic than a digital, but I don't think you'll go wrong getting a digital, if you think of it as an means to an end, and you choose (and budget) accordingly. I hope it's not presumptuous saying you will eventually want a grand, but it's something to look forward to and will help motivate your practicing for sure. I get the fingering down on the digital, but when I play it on the grand, to me it actually becomes music.


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All the advice on here is extremely helpful.
If I were given the choice between acoustic and digital, I would choose acoustic above anything else, but my living space has to govern my decision, so I settled for a digital piano. Yamaha, clp 645, which is great and as has been mentioned, you can wear headphones when practicing. Although an acoustic is superior , I wonder how many times they need a tuner and what it costs to have it tuned, I wouldn't like to chance getting an old one cheap or free as it may have woodworm, or it is not in good working order. Also , it is heavy if you need to move house a few times, although, apparently Beethoven did move homes quite a lot, so it didn't seem to worry him about his piano getting fatigued moving around.




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I have a suspicion that pianists are by nature perfectionists - and as such we'd all secretly love to all have Steinway Concert Grand pianos. Unfortunately ... life gets in the way, and we're forced to consider more practical things such as neighbours, budget, space etc.

For what it's worth, I ended up with a Yamaha P125 digital keyboard; it's far more of a piano than I am a pianist. I suspect that "real" pianos hold a special place in the heart of every pianist, but from what I've read, some of the high-end digitals are producing some very high-quality output.

My encouragement is to not rush - and take the time to find something that feels good to you. I'm reminded of this video from concert pianist Tiffany Poon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW6O8shL_R8

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It sounds like you already decided to go digital.

But just to indicate many arguments for digital are wrong: I'm in a small appartment. I have a acoustic grahd. It makes no sense to buy something that does not speak to you.

I strongly suggest that you play acoustics as well so that you have a point of comparison. Yes, play the expensive ones too.

Sound and feel of keys are converted in your brain into one perception. If they feel separated, there is something wrong with the piano.


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Originally Posted by wouter79
It sounds like you already decided to go digital.

But just to indicate many arguments for digital are wrong: I'm in a small appartment. I have a acoustic grahd. It makes no sense to buy something that does not speak to you.

I strongly suggest that you play acoustics as well so that you have a point of comparison. Yes, play the expensive ones too.

Wholeheartedly agreed. I will definitely try out some acoustic uprights when I visit the piano showroom nearby. I will try some grands too because why not! But as for buying one, I just do not have the space for a grand, unfortunately.


Originally Posted by meaculpa
All the advice on here is extremely helpful.
Yamaha, clp 645, which is great and as has been mentioned, you can wear headphones when practicing. Although an acoustic is superior ,
smile

Yeah I have been eying this one for a while. A bit over my budget but won't mind if I find it that much superior relative to older models.

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Originally Posted by Colin Southern
I have a suspicion that pianists are by nature perfectionists - and as such we'd all secretly love to all have Steinway Concert Grand pianos. Unfortunately ... life gets in the way, and we're forced to consider more practical things such as neighbours, budget, space etc.

For what it's worth, I ended up with a Yamaha P125 digital keyboard; it's far more of a piano than I am a pianist. I suspect that "real" pianos hold a special place in the heart of every pianist, but from what I've read, some of the high-end digitals are producing some very high-quality output.

My encouragement is to not rush - and take the time to find something that feels good to you. I'm reminded of this video from concert pianist Tiffany Poon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW6O8shL_R8
Yes Tiffany Poon had a recent sit down interview with the CEO of Steinway and what they discuss about digital pianos is the same way I feel about them. They discuss digital pianos at the 15 minute mark of this video.



Although I own a fine acoustic grand I also have a digital (VPC-1) out of necessity. I find that no matter the quality of the digital there is always a compromise even those with real actions built in. When I play a piano the experience is as many say more "organic". There is something I expect to feel and hear whenever I play any acoustic- whether it is the swing of the hammer hitting the string, or the vibrations on the key bed after the hammer hits, or the acoustic energy that an acoustic piano creates. It is never fully replicated with any digital piano I have played and I have owned 4 digital pianos in the past 30 years but I have owned or played acoustic pianos for about 40 years.

There is nothing wrong with playing or learning on a digital piano though as I've always said children are better served in my opinion (especially the talented ones) if they learn on the real thing so they get a natural feel for an acoustic and make those brain connections earlier on rather than hardwiring the feel of a digital piano during those critical developmental stages. Again, that is just my opinion but science seems to back this up.

There were periods in my life when a digital was the only option especially during/after college, but I always found myself trying to find an acoustic to play even if it was an old beat up one. Hopefully everyone will get to a point in their piano studies to play on an acoustic.


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OP, when you visit the showroom you might also ask about renting an acoustic. The hammer action in a grand is different from an upright, it's physics. Another thing to consider is that some (older?) Japanese uprights have a practice pedal. When you set it, the piano is not loud.

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