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My experience with various piano actions
#3009489 Yesterday at 12:40 PM
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I had the opportunity to visit a music store today. They had a few on display which I tried, thought I'd write about my experience with those. This was my first time trying out pianos keeping the actions in mind, thanks to this forum.

A Roland Fp-10 was on display. Usually that is a rare sight. I really liked the PHA-4 action on it. Didn't feel heavy to me. That could have been because it was placed at an angle, but I tried an RP-30 placed below it, and that had a similar weight feel to it (the RP-30 has the older Ivory-G action though, iirc). Volume on the Roland speakers was very low though, and I found the bass to be very weak. Unfortunately, the did not have the pedals connected, so I can't really judge them properly sound wise.

There was a Casio CDP-S150 (also placed at an angle). This felt heavier and more substantial than the Roland, but the pivot is really short! Playing at the back of the keys was nearly impossible. I have a Yamaha keyboard, and even with its unweighted keys, it is impossible to play at the back. The Casio felt similar to that.

There was a naked PHA4 concert action on display. It did have wooden sides, and I felt it was longer too than the PHA-4 standard. I could be wrong, but I don't think it would have fit in the FP-10 chassis. Liked the feel of that as well.

There was a naked NWX action as well. Didn't spend much time with it, but that was good too. It was also the easiest to play at the back of the keys.

Then I tried the GHS on a YDP-144. I've tried this before, and found it pretty similar to others when I tried before, but this time it felt really light, almost like a synth action. And it didn't have any texture on the keys. Felt really plasticky because of that. I was looking at the P-125 earlier, but this really changed my mind.

There was an AP-270 as well. That somehow felt the heaviest of all the actions. Much easier to play at the back than the newer Casio action.

Overall, PHA-4 felt the best. It was enjoyable to play. I was surprised how that felt lighter than the Casio action. Of course, most of these were compared without the sound, and from the perspective of a complete beginner who doesn't play on a weighted action.

In the end, I decided to buy the FP-10 (I was there to buy after all smile ), but as fate would have it, the guy there spent 30 minutes and came back to say it isn't in stock. Maybe I'll try the ES110 now, I've heard that has the sound as well as the action. It's a hard choice though with rumors of an update soon.

Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009506 Yesterday at 01:47 PM
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I would suggest you to wait 1 or 2 months, because it seems that a new Kawai DP (ES920) is about to come out, so if this new model will be a successor of the ES110, the price of the old model will drop. Then you will have 2 choices: take the ES110 with a big discount or take the new model with better features at full price.

Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009509 Yesterday at 01:49 PM
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My guess is two slightly different follower models for the ES8.

And a new ES110 would be ES120.

But who knows!

Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009529 Yesterday at 03:02 PM
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A good test for actions, play fantasie impromptu on it. If it doesn't tire you out, then that's solid.

On the pha4, It felt like the action was sucking energy away from my hands, and it became exhausting quite fast .

Last edited by jeffcat; Yesterday at 03:03 PM.
Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009573 Yesterday at 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by aspirar
I had the opportunity to visit a music store today. They had a few on display which I tried, thought I'd write about my experience with those. This was my first time trying out pianos keeping the actions in mind, thanks to this forum.

A Roland Fp-10 was on display. Usually that is a rare sight. I really liked the PHA-4 action on it. Didn't feel heavy to me. That could have been because it was placed at an angle, but I tried an RP-30 placed below it, and that had a similar weight feel to it (the RP-30 has the older Ivory-G action though, iirc). Volume on the Roland speakers was very low though, and I found the bass to be very weak. Unfortunately, the did not have the pedals connected, so I can't really judge them properly sound wise.

There was a Casio CDP-S150 (also placed at an angle). This felt heavier and more substantial than the Roland, but the pivot is really short! Playing at the back of the keys was nearly impossible. I have a Yamaha keyboard, and even with its unweighted keys, it is impossible to play at the back. The Casio felt similar to that.

There was a naked PHA4 concert action on display. It did have wooden sides, and I felt it was longer too than the PHA-4 standard. I could be wrong, but I don't think it would have fit in the FP-10 chassis. Liked the feel of that as well.

There was a naked NWX action as well. Didn't spend much time with it, but that was good too. It was also the easiest to play at the back of the keys.

Then I tried the GHS on a YDP-144. I've tried this before, and found it pretty similar to others when I tried before, but this time it felt really light, almost like a synth action. And it didn't have any texture on the keys. Felt really plasticky because of that. I was looking at the P-125 earlier, but this really changed my mind.

There was an AP-270 as well. That somehow felt the heaviest of all the actions. Much easier to play at the back than the newer Casio action.

Overall, PHA-4 felt the best. It was enjoyable to play. I was surprised how that felt lighter than the Casio action. Of course, most of these were compared without the sound, and from the perspective of a complete beginner who doesn't play on a weighted action.

In the end, I decided to buy the FP-10 (I was there to buy after all smile ), but as fate would have it, the guy there spent 30 minutes and came back to say it isn't in stock. Maybe I'll try the ES110 now, I've heard that has the sound as well as the action. It's a hard choice though with rumors of an update soon.
I believe you were playing the PHA-5 since the PHA-5 has wooden keys. It is indeed a nice action. GHS does not have any texture on any keys, just plastic. It never has.


Finally bought the P515
Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009591 Yesterday at 06:00 PM
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Fantastic! You did the best you could, trying the actions for yourself. I agree that the PHA-4 is a very good action, the best of all I've tried in the decent-beginner range.

Re: My experience with various piano actions
joemama42O #3009620 Yesterday at 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by joemama42O
I believe you were playing the PHA-5 since the PHA-5 has wooden keys. It is indeed a nice action. GHS does not have any texture on any keys, just plastic. It never has.

PHA-50, right?


Kawai Novus NV10; Yamaha P-515
Re: My experience with various piano actions
joemama42O #3009689 Yesterday at 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by magicpiano
I would suggest you to wait 1 or 2 months, because it seems that a new Kawai DP (ES920) is about to come out, so if this new model will be a successor of the ES110, the price of the old model will drop. Then you will have 2 choices: take the ES110 with a big discount or take the new model with better features at full price.
Yeah, but I am 99% sure, in my country at least, the ES110 isn't getting any cheaper, but I think it is best to wait for now.

Originally Posted by jeffcat
A good test for actions, play fantasie impromptu on it. If it doesn't tire you out, then that's solid.

On the pha4, It felt like the action was sucking energy away from my hands, and it became exhausting quite fast .
If only I could play that piece! I'm at least ten years away from playing it smile What is your best budget recommended action then? Then one on the ES110?

Originally Posted by joemama42O
I believe you were playing the PHA-5 since the PHA-5 has wooden keys. It is indeed a nice action. GHS does not have any texture on any keys, just plastic. It never has.
It was the PHA4 concert. It was a naked action, and it was marked as such. For the GHS, I'm aware it never has had any texture on the keys, but I'd never compared it with others side by side. On my previous experience with it, it was on a different floor, and I wasn't really looking at the action then.

Re: My experience with various piano actions
FPlays #3009696 Yesterday at 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by FPlays
Fantastic! You did the best you could, trying the actions for yourself. I agree that the PHA-4 is a very good action, the best of all I've tried in the decent-beginner range.

I agree pha-4 is in the beginners price range.

But I don't think it's a good action for beginners because of how unnaturally heavy it is.

The issue is, it's heavy throughout its entire force curve. grand pianos which have 60g of weight, will get much lighter as you press down, and feels like it falls off on its own, such that it doesn't tire. The pha-4 is stiffer for much longer duration of the keytravel.

Last edited by jeffcat; Yesterday at 11:48 PM.
Re: My experience with various piano actions
jeffcat #3009704 18 hours ago
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Originally Posted by FPlays
Fantastic! You did the best you could, trying the actions for yourself. I agree that the PHA-4 is a very good action, the best of all I've tried in the decent-beginner range.
The issue is, it's heavy throughout its entire force curve. grand pianos which have 60g of weight, will get much lighter as you press down, and feels like it falls off on its own, such that it doesn't tire. The pha-4 is stiffer for much longer duration of the keytravel.

Yes I agree, as my main workhorse, I’ve gotten to know the FP30/PHA4 standard action very well. In order to play it comfortably over long periods, I’ve had to adjust my technique to use more body weight and also play a little bit below the tops of the keys vs. right on top or above the tops of the keys.

When I play a lighter keyboard, I adjust by moving some weight back into the arms, and I adjust where I play the tops of the keys.

** something to consider if you use VSTs - using different velocity curves in Pianoteq significantly changes how the PHA4 standard responds.


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Re: My experience with various piano actions
jeffcat #3009744 13 hours ago
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
Originally Posted by FPlays
Fantastic! You did the best you could, trying the actions for yourself. I agree that the PHA-4 is a very good action, the best of all I've tried in the decent-beginner range.

I agree pha-4 is in the beginners price range.

But I don't think it's a good action for beginners because of how unnaturally heavy it is.

The issue is, it's heavy throughout its entire force curve. grand pianos which have 60g of weight, will get much lighter as you press down, and feels like it falls off on its own, such that it doesn't tire. The pha-4 is stiffer for much longer duration of the keytravel.

Which action would you recommend for a beginner?

Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009762 10 hours ago
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Originally Posted by aspirar
(question directed to Jeffcat) Which action would you recommend for a beginner?

And why exactly is it a good idea for beginners to have a different action than everyone else? This notion always bugged me from a pedagogical point of view. Developing proper piano tone and technique is a good idea whether you’re a beginner or not, and regardless of age.


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Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009773 9 hours ago
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Does Roland even make any DPs these days with the PHA-4 Concert? I thought the PHA-50 replaced the PHA-4 Premium and Concert, and that they just use the standard version of the PHA-4 now.

On the other subject. I practice mostly on my PHA-50 these days, because it's a better action for me that then PHA-4 as a whole. But when I used to practice on the PHA-4 more, I liked that it was on the heavier side. From there, I felt like I could sit down at any other piano and never feel like the action was too heavy.

Last edited by TheophilusCarter; 9 hours ago.

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Present: Roland DP-603, Roland FP-30, Casio CDP-130
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Etc.: PianoTeq Stage 6 (Bechstein, Bluethner, U4, Vibes, Xylo), Roland KC-80
Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009789 8 hours ago
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Originally Posted by aspirar
Which action would you recommend for a beginner?

There's not really a thing as "an action for beginners" - The one that feels best for you will the the one that's best. For me, I'd definitely choose the PHA-4 action over the GHS (found in the Yamaha P125) or the RH-C (found in the Kawai ES-110) as the PHA-4 is simply the most enjoyable action to play.

Why would you choose an action with which you will struggle? I have no idea. It will certainly not make you a better player but it will definitely frustrate you. There is no objectively "correct" action to compare with and say that one's closer to than another. No, choose the one you like best and enjoy the experience!

Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009937 1 hour ago
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Originally Posted by aspirar
Originally Posted by magicpiano
I would suggest you to wait 1 or 2 months, because it seems that a new Kawai DP (ES920) is about to come out, so if this new model will be a successor of the ES110, the price of the old model will drop. Then you will have 2 choices: take the ES110 with a big discount or take the new model with better features at full price.
Yeah, but I am 99% sure, in my country at least, the ES110 isn't getting any cheaper, but I think it is best to wait for now.

Originally Posted by jeffcat
A good test for actions, play fantasie impromptu on it. If it doesn't tire you out, then that's solid.

On the pha4, It felt like the action was sucking energy away from my hands, and it became exhausting quite fast .
If only I could play that piece! I'm at least ten years away from playing it smile What is your best budget recommended action then? Then one on the ES110?

Originally Posted by joemama42O
I believe you were playing the PHA-5 since the PHA-5 has wooden keys. It is indeed a nice action. GHS does not have any texture on any keys, just plastic. It never has.
It was the PHA4 concert. It was a naked action, and it was marked as such. For the GHS, I'm aware it never has had any texture on the keys, but I'd never compared it with others side by side. On my previous experience with it, it was on a different floor, and I wasn't really looking at the action then.

I'm very surprised you liked one of the cheapest actions compared to NWX etc. As far as I know PHA-4 Concert doesn't actually have wooden keys; i've heard they are just small wood panels.


Finally bought the P515
Re: My experience with various piano actions
joemama42O #3009956 49 minutes ago
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Originally Posted by joemama42O
As far as I know PHA-4 Concert doesn't actually have wooden keys; i've heard they are just small wood panels.

PHA-50 has wooden strips either side of a plastic cored key. PHA-4 Concert has two-colour plastic keys to mimic the appearance of wood.


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Re: My experience with various piano actions
EssBrace #3009962 41 minutes ago
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A few years ago there was a brouhaha here about the fake wood/wood shims on Yamaha's actions ... which turned out to be false. They really were wood with plastic trim, not plastic with wood trim.

So now, it turns out, it's Roland actions that are fake wood?
Originally Posted by EssBrace
Originally Posted by joemama42O
As far as I know PHA-4 Concert doesn't actually have wooden keys; i've heard they are just small wood panels.
PHA-50 has wooden strips either side of a plastic cored key. PHA-4 Concert has two-colour plastic keys to mimic the appearance of wood.

Re: My experience with various piano actions
MacMacMac #3009966 27 minutes ago
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
A few years ago there was a brouhaha here about the fake wood/wood shims on Yamaha's actions ... which turned out to be false. They really were wood with plastic trim, not plastic with wood trim.

So now, it turns out, it's Roland actions that are fake wood?

In a sense, yes. Roland started with the PHA-III action (V-Piano, RD-700GX etc) with a two colour plastic intended to mimic the appearance of wooden key sides.

The upper level PHA-III and PHA-4 actions all featured the same two colour plastic, including the PHA-III 'Deluxe' action as fitted to V-Piano Grand and the PHA-4 'Concert' action (RD-800). They also made the same actions (structurally and functionally identical) in 'Standard' guises for such pianos as FP-7F but that was with one colour (solid white) plastic.

Now what they call PHA-4 Standard is a totally different (inferior) action with shorter pivots etc and is a development of the older entry level 'Ivory Feel G' action (itself a development of a much older design).

I don't think they've ever intended to mislead but their use of nomenclature is just crazy.


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Re: My experience with various piano actions
aspirar #3009971 26 minutes ago
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I believe Roland has always said that the PHA-50 has wood inserts. I don't recall them ever claiming that they were solid wood, through and through. Can we not accuse them of false advertising just yet? ... wink


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Past: Casio PX-830, Casio PX-160
Etc.: PianoTeq Stage 6 (Bechstein, Bluethner, U4, Vibes, Xylo), Roland KC-80

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