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Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
#3030186 09/29/20 08:24 AM
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To put my question into context:
I first learned to play in my early 20s. I went the traditional route of weekly piano lessons, and got my ABRSM grade 5 within a couple of years. I bought an old acoustic upright to play on; however, it had a very light touch, and I found that whenever I played other acoustics, such as my piano tutor's, I found them harder to play as I hadn't developed the necessary finger strength. I also learned a few "show" pieces, such as Maple Leaf Rag. However, that's as far as I went. Life took over: I got married, had kids, and found no time to play piano any more - I always struggled with the sight reading anyway, and I soon forgot the pieces I'd learned by heart. 

Over the years I've had every good intention of picking it back up again: 20 years ago we bought a new acoustic for the family home - I made sure to get one with a much heavier action this time, to ensure I didn't make the same mistake again. However, although my son has learned to play, I still never found the time.

I'm now about to turn 50 and the kids have either left home or are about to, and I have more time to be able to re-learn. I'm starting with the Maple Leaf Rag in order to prove to myself that I can get to where I was 25 years ago, before (hopefully) then moving on to other pieces. It's going well in that I can play half of it so far within a month or so of a few hours' practice per week. However, I think what's really holding me back is that I'm very conscious of the noise. It has a practice pedal, which lowers felt between the hammers and strings to make it quieter; however, it's still fairly loud even then, and it also changes the way it feels - I have to hit the keys much harder. My wife is going to get pretty fed up of me going over the same notes over and over again, and I'm conscious that, although the walls are good, noise does sometimes seep through to our neighbours.

So, although I very much enjoy playing the acoustic, and I like its sound and touch, I feel I need to buy a digital so I can play whenever I want to without being conscious of the noise. I would like it to feel as much like an acoustic as possible, so that I can build finger strength and not be phased if I ever were to play on a different instrument (e.g. friends or family) - and also have a heavier, rather than a lighter touch. 

From my research, it seems that Kawai have the most realistic acoustic-like action. My current favourite choice is the CA59 with the Grand Feel Compact action. However, at £2300 this costs a lot more than the CA49 at £1700 which has exactly the same action. You could argue that if I have an acoustic as well anyway, then why don't I just get the cheaper one? Well, it's likely that we'll eventually get rid of the acoustic altogether due to the size (and volume) of it, and replace it with the digital - therefore, I think the extra features the CA59 offers will become beneficial: better speakers, better samples, higher polyphony, line outs, etc.

An alternative argument could be: if I'm spending £2300 anyway, then why not spend the extra £300 to get the CA79 which has the Grand Feel 3 action, which has longer keys and is apparently even more acoustic-like. Although from what I've read, it has a lighter touch than the Grand Feel Compact, and I really would prefer a heavier touch. I don't particularly aspire to having a "grand" piano anyway - an upright has always been fine for me; I wonder which feels more like an acoustic upright: the GFC or the GF3? 

And then I think to myself: wow, we're talking a lot of money now. Do I really need the GFC or GF3 action at all anyway given the level I'm at (i.e. essentially a beginner), or should I just go with the new ES920 at only £1400, which has the RH3 action? Presumably not as good as the GFC, and plastic instead of wooden keys, but how much difference will I really notice, as a beginner?

The trouble is, there's no chance of me trying these out in the shop as they're not allowing that due to covid, so I can only go with what the reviews say. And in any case, given my inexperienced playing, I trust what far more experienced reviewers have to say over my own opinion.
Which digital piano do you think I should buy? I've tried to use my back story to explain where I've come from. In terms of where I'm going to - I know that at my age I'm never going to be that competent, but I would like to be able to play a mix of pieces and styles, from classical to contemporary, just for my own pleasure. 

Thanks for any advice you can give!

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Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030192 09/29/20 08:53 AM
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Prepare for a wide range of answers, that will boil down to: Go and try it out to find out what you like best.

My parents own two grands that have a VERY differnt action. A C. Bechstein and a Yamaha. I own a Yamaha 675, and not surprisingly the action is rather close to the Yamaha grand, but completely different to the C.Bechstein. So you could say the 675 is very close and very far off to the real thing at the same time.

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030193 09/29/20 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by mats24
Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
Obviously those with a real action from an acoustic piano: Yamaha Avant Grand, Kawai Novus.


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Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
JoeT #3030195 09/29/20 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeT
Originally Posted by mats24
Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
Obviously those with a real action from an acoustic piano: Yamaha Avant Grand, Kawai Novus.

When it comes ro "feel" only i"d say the kawai wins, because it has the real damper pedal action, which is extra realistic. But of course there's much more to it than that aspect.

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030202 09/29/20 09:21 AM
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Why are you aiming for a heavier action when Ur not playing on Ur teachers piano anymore (20 years ago). Ur most likely only going to be playing at home anyway unless you start lessons again. I'd say pay a little more for the gf3. I've played both in the shop and the gf3 is miles ahead of the GFC.

GFC still feels too much like a digital. Gf3 feels a little more like abdigital pretending to be an acoustic ...if that makes any sense

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030203 09/29/20 09:22 AM
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Acouctic piano is, as its name suggest, a musical instrument. Its purpose is to generate some kind of music (sound). The generation process is caused by user interaction with the instrument. So 2 most important aspects are:
1. What kind of sound it produces?
2. How you make the instrument to produce the sound?

For me the 'feel' is the combination of two of the above. Which is more important for you is the matter of preference. If 2., then DPs with real action like Yamaha AG is the answer. If 1., then it's using VST.


Ars non habet osorem nisi ignorantem
Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
U3piano #3030204 09/29/20 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by U3piano
Originally Posted by JoeT
Originally Posted by mats24
Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
Obviously those with a real action from an acoustic piano: Yamaha Avant Grand, Kawai Novus.

When it comes ro "feel" only i"d say the kawai wins, because it has the real damper pedal action, which is extra realistic. But of course there's much more to it than that aspect.

The main aspect is real hammer escapement.


Richwood RD-17C-CE | LaMancha Rubi CM-N | Yamaha P-515
Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030206 09/29/20 09:29 AM
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Whether grand or upright, real actions themselves vary a lot. Feeling like a "real" piano stops being a virtue if it feels like one you don't like. ;-) But as JoeT said, the most real feeling ones should be the ones with real piano actions.

Closer to the price range you're looking at, I'd also check out the Casio Grand Hybrid. They start at £2699.

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
JoeT #3030216 09/29/20 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeT
The main aspect is real hammer escapement.

Agreed, and both kawai and yamaha hybrids have this, as these are real actions, while the casio "hybrid" is not.

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030221 09/29/20 09:57 AM
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I could never translate another person's description of a keyboard action into anything meaningful to me.

Research is not very revealing. I have to try a piano for myself.

IMO, no try = no buy.

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030222 09/29/20 09:59 AM
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Is escapement the "main aspect" when the reference point of the OP is an upright, which doesn't have the same escapement as a grand?

Regardless, even if Yamaha and Kawai are still top of class, based on the models and the price range discussed in the OP, the Casio is likely to get him to a more faithful acoustic-like feeling than what he's looking at, at less of a budget stretch than going to an Avant Gramd or Novus. Though I haven't yet had the opportunity to play one myself.

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030226 09/29/20 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by mats24
To put my question into context:
I first learned to play in my early 20s. I went the traditional route of weekly piano lessons, and got my ABRSM grade 5 within a couple of years. I bought an old acoustic upright to play on; however, it had a very light touch, and I found that whenever I played other acoustics, such as my piano tutor's, I found them harder to play as I hadn't developed the necessary finger strength. I also learned a few "show" pieces, such as Maple Leaf Rag. However, that's as far as I went. Life took over: I got married, had kids, and found no time to play piano any more - I always struggled with the sight reading anyway, and I soon forgot the pieces I'd learned by heart. 

Over the years I've had every good intention of picking it back up again: 20 years ago we bought a new acoustic for the family home - I made sure to get one with a much heavier action this time, to ensure I didn't make the same mistake again. However, although my son has learned to play, I still never found the time.

I'm now about to turn 50 and the kids have either left home or are about to, and I have more time to be able to re-learn. I'm starting with the Maple Leaf Rag in order to prove to myself that I can get to where I was 25 years ago, before (hopefully) then moving on to other pieces. It's going well in that I can play half of it so far within a month or so of a few hours' practice per week. However, I think what's really holding me back is that I'm very conscious of the noise. It has a practice pedal, which lowers felt between the hammers and strings to make it quieter; however, it's still fairly loud even then, and it also changes the way it feels - I have to hit the keys much harder. My wife is going to get pretty fed up of me going over the same notes over and over again, and I'm conscious that, although the walls are good, noise does sometimes seep through to our neighbours.

So, although I very much enjoy playing the acoustic, and I like its sound and touch, I feel I need to buy a digital so I can play whenever I want to without being conscious of the noise. I would like it to feel as much like an acoustic as possible, so that I can build finger strength and not be phased if I ever were to play on a different instrument (e.g. friends or family) - and also have a heavier, rather than a lighter touch. 

From my research, it seems that Kawai have the most realistic acoustic-like action. My current favourite choice is the CA59 with the Grand Feel Compact action. However, at £2300 this costs a lot more than the CA49 at £1700 which has exactly the same action. You could argue that if I have an acoustic as well anyway, then why don't I just get the cheaper one? Well, it's likely that we'll eventually get rid of the acoustic altogether due to the size (and volume) of it, and replace it with the digital - therefore, I think the extra features the CA59 offers will become beneficial: better speakers, better samples, higher polyphony, line outs, etc.

An alternative argument could be: if I'm spending £2300 anyway, then why not spend the extra £300 to get the CA79 which has the Grand Feel 3 action, which has longer keys and is apparently even more acoustic-like. Although from what I've read, it has a lighter touch than the Grand Feel Compact, and I really would prefer a heavier touch. I don't particularly aspire to having a "grand" piano anyway - an upright has always been fine for me; I wonder which feels more like an acoustic upright: the GFC or the GF3? 

And then I think to myself: wow, we're talking a lot of money now. Do I really need the GFC or GF3 action at all anyway given the level I'm at (i.e. essentially a beginner), or should I just go with the new ES920 at only £1400, which has the RH3 action? Presumably not as good as the GFC, and plastic instead of wooden keys, but how much difference will I really notice, as a beginner?

The trouble is, there's no chance of me trying these out in the shop as they're not allowing that due to covid, so I can only go with what the reviews say. And in any case, given my inexperienced playing, I trust what far more experienced reviewers have to say over my own opinion.
Which digital piano do you think I should buy? I've tried to use my back story to explain where I've come from. In terms of where I'm going to - I know that at my age I'm never going to be that competent, but I would like to be able to play a mix of pieces and styles, from classical to contemporary, just for my own pleasure. 

Thanks for any advice you can give!

There are plenty of exactly identical threads on this forum. Have you read them? I don't see a single reason to have one more dedicated thread for this topic.

The big surprise is how older members are eager to participate in topics like this that has no end to it. The best thing to do is to first educate the OP that s/he should learn how to use the forum tools before asking in an inapproprate place.

Threads like these needs to be either deleted or merged.

Last edited by Abdol; 09/29/20 10:10 AM.

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Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030230 09/29/20 10:15 AM
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The discussion keeps the forum 'alive'. Look what happens with forums where 'older members' respond to every new question in a manner like 'it has been already discussed, close the topic'. Those forums usually die.


Ars non habet osorem nisi ignorantem
Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
anotherscott #3030232 09/29/20 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
Is escapement the "main aspect" when the reference point of the OP is an upright, which doesn't have the same escapement as a grand?

I think the difference between the escapement in an upright and a grand isn't that significant, the grand just allows for better repetition.

But, the difference between any of these 2 types of escapement compared to no escapement like on non-hybrid digital actions is significant.

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
Abdol #3030238 09/29/20 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Abdol
There are plenty of exactly identical threads on this forum. Have you read them? .

Thanks for the helpful reply. Would you mind pasting me the links to them, because I did have a good search before but found nothing similar. I guess it may be due to my advanced years.

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
FloRi89 #3030242 09/29/20 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by FloRi89
Prepare for a wide range of answers, that will boil down to: Go and try it out to find out what you like best.

I really do wish I could, it would be so much easier. Alas, with covid...

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
anotherscott #3030243 09/29/20 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
Is escapement the "main aspect" when the reference point of the OP is an upright, which doesn't have the same escapement as a grand?

An upright piano has the same hammer escapement as a grand. Otherwise it wouldn't function properly. Hammer escapement is technically required to prevent strings getting into mechanical contact with the key mechanism, which would mute them after being hit.

The latter is exactly what would happen if you would put felt on the hammers of a digital piano's folded action and let them hit actual strings. So it's not the horizontal or vertical (upright) alignment of the action or being folded above or below the keys what matters.

BTW: There is literally nothing stopping manufacturers from building real escapement into compact folded DP actions. They just decided to advertise "escapement", when there is actually none and they get away with it.


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Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030245 09/29/20 11:06 AM
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They are all pretty good these days, I think auditioning them with an open mind is important. To me all top quality digitals feel accurate. I have keyboards with and without escapement and to be honest, the difference in feel, while it is there, is of no concern to me and certainly would not be a deal breaker.

A few minutes on any acoustic and I am used to it, provided it isn't too light. If it is too light it may take 15 - 30 mins to get used to, no more.

Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030249 09/29/20 11:19 AM
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If you like upright pianos anyway, maybe look at the AG-NU1x. Would that be out of your budget maybe? You will acquire a true upright piano action at the lowest price currently available.

Last edited by ˆTomLCˆ; 09/29/20 11:20 AM.


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Re: Which digital piano feels most like an acoustic?
mats24 #3030256 09/29/20 11:38 AM
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Test the following

Top end:
Yamaha Avant Grand N1X, N3X
Kawai NV10

High end:
Yamaha CLP785
Kawai CA99
Casio GP510

Totally modelled:
Roland V-piano/Roland V-piano grand

Mid range:
Kawai ES8/ES920
Kawai CA59
Yamaha CLP765

Get a good feeling for the best, the high end, the mid range and the low range in a music store.

There is no one right answer, same as if you were shopping for Grand Pianos: what ever one person likes, another prefers something else.


Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7SE; Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
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