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I have been using a “gift” acoustic piano that is pretty terrible (left in a hot, humid environment for a long time before we got it). I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I recently spent 10 days away with a decent piano and came back to find my fingers/wrists/arms actually hurt from playing the stiff keys on this piano (I assumed it was due to chronic health issues). The piano has other issues as well - can’t be tuned to the correct pitch any longer, pedals at times get misaligned, etc.
I would like to go with a digital piano for portability/space considerations and ease of use (not needing to regularly tune it). I have been watching for a used Yamaha Arius or Clavinova, primarily, but I see other keyboards come up from time to time, and I’m not familiar enough with them to know a good deal when I see it. I’m looking for recommendations for any digital piano that would suit my needs - I just want to continue practicing the Chopin nocturnes I’m learning and playing around with other pieces I’ve already learned. I’ve played the piano for over 20 years, and I taught piano for several years as well, so I’m a little picky about sound/touch. I’m also hoping what we buy will be used when my children are old enough for lessons in a couple of years.
I do see a Yamaha Clavinova CLP-860 for sale for $475. I understand that’s a pretty old digital piano, but it seems as though it was fairly highly rated?
The CLP-860 is from late 90's and it was a mid-range model. So it has Yamaha's "not the best" technology from over 20 years ago.
The $475 is probably better spent on something much newer second hand or with a little more you can get a brand new "entry level" digital piano from e.g. Roland and Kawai whose "entry level pianos" are not 20 year old technology like Yamaha's "entry level" (P-45/YDP-103) is.
Casio is usually considered a "serious manufacturer" of digital pianos too and their Privia and Celviano models are typically considered to be "good value for money". Korg may have some adequate models too.
I wouldn't pay almost $500 for the CLP-860. It's big, it's ancient, it can be hard to get rid of if you someday find it to not be good enough or it breaks down and isn't worth repairing.
As Mac mentioned, a 20-year old piano is pretty much worthless. You're essentially going from one terrible piano to another. Casio Privia is a really great option for its price. If not, you can also take a look at the Yamaha P-125
If you have taught piano and are picky about actions, I don't think you can reasonably be expected to make a purchase decision based on our opinions. This is especially true in budget pianos, where compromises are made and they may not be the compromises you want made. You are going to have to go to some piano stores and try some out. At least get a feel for which brands you like. Often this can be quite a long trip but it's worth it.
Each of the manufacturers has pianos that are under 1000 bucks that many people consider adequate. I picked up a Casio PX 160 for my kids to plink around on so they would keep their grubby hands off my Kawai and I'm surprised how good the Casio is. I paid $400 for it and I would describe both the action and sound as perfectly acceptable. To me it feels as good as a high-end Roland. I never play it, personally, though, because I'm picky about actions as well.
The video above will give you an idea of pretty good pianos from each of the main manufacturers: Kawai, Roland, Yamaha, Casio.
Most digital piano makers only make a few actions, so you might actually get the same action as what you get in a noticeably more expensive piano. What they cheap out on is things like the speakers and cabinetry. If you use headphones or external speakers this may not matter, but I actually find that if you don't have good speakers, it's easy to dislike a piano and actually blame the action.
I would tend to steer clear of a Yamaha as old as the one you point out. If you want a used digital, you can usually pull from the top of the line. In Yamaha, their GH action is, in my opinion, fine but not amazing. On the other hand, a few of their top of the line pianos have NW action and have for many years. Personally I find these very pleasing to play. The wood on them is only aesthetic but the action itself is very good. You can often find high end Rolands and Kawais on the used market as well.
I can share my recent experience, I just bought a Yamaha CP88 after extensive reading and real life testing of anything up to 2K. CP88 has NW-GH action. I am an intermediate player and I found that the best action if all the pianos I tried, and I did try all of 'em, Casio, Kawai, Nord, Roland. To me that action is the best and even better than my acoustic U1.
As for sounds frankly they are all bad. Bad to unbearable IMHO. So I bought Garritan CFX and I think I have the best of both words. CP88 is still portable enough for the occasional gig.
If you have taught piano and are picky about actions, I don't think you can reasonably be expected to make a purchase decision based on our opinions. This is especially true in budget pianos, where compromises are made and they may not be the compromises you want made. You are going to have to go to some piano stores and try some out. At least get a feel for which brands you like. Often this can be quite a long trip but it's worth it. . . .
+1 ! (The rest of the post is good, too.)
You're making a price-vs-quality trade-off. The "cost of information" is spending some time actually playing the DP's that you might buy.
As for the CP88, it's way out-of-budget. So are several other DP's that are closer to acoustic pianos, than anything in the sub-$1000 range. I won't name any, because they're not feasible for you.
Last edited by Charles Cohen; 07/03/2012:58 AM.
. Charles --------------------------- PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq
I always feel digital pianos are essentially electronics, just like computers, cellphones and TVs. Just try to avoid something that's really too old, not only because the technology progressed, but also they're generally not built to last that long. Agree that money should be well spent on some of the current budget models.
I owned the Roland FP-10 and found the PHA-40 action really nice among all the budget models in the price range. You may also take a look at FP-30 for more powerful speakers and some more features.