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#676229 - 02/25/09 06:26 PM Digital/acoustic hybrid or just acoustic? Cost being a factor.
Mike088 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/09
Posts: 96
Loc: New Westminster, Canada
I am considering purchasing an acoustic piano (probably an upright) for my three children and for my own use as well. My eldest is in Grade 5 Royal Conservatory piano lessons and I myself have been playing for many years.

I am posting this question to this area of the forum because today, with all the choices in various technologies I do not want to rule out purchasing a hybrid acoustic/digital system - but only if it is within the same budget as an acoustic piano.

Our family owns a Roland HP1500 digital piano (its been an excellent piano) but at this point in their advancing level of musical ability it would be better for them to be practicing on a real acoustic piano, however, I am concerned about the volume. Acoustic pianos are much louder and it would be a nice feature to be able to silence the acoustic part of the piano in the later evenings, (switching to digital to turn down the volume). As well there are probably many other useful features of having digital capabilities such as composition and midi.

If it will cost us much more to have digital capabilities, I would rather not take this route and we will suffice with a straight acoustic piano (we'll just become accustom to the louder volume). For me musicality by far supercedes digital convenience. Our goal is to find the highest quality musical instrument within our budget. But if the cost is the same (or close) without sacrificing any acoustic instrumental quality, wouldn't we be best to consider an acoustic/digital hybrid? If so, which is a good entry level place to start looking? Disklavier, QRS Pianomation or Piano disk or another?

Our budget is tight, only about $2000-$4000. Therefore we will have to consider used products also.

And so my question is, is there a way to achieve a digital solution while buying an acoustic piano all for the same cost as an acoustic? Or does one expect to pay an additional cost for digital capability? Knowing this will help me decide what I should be looking for.

For example, is it likely one could find an acoustic piano already retrofitted with a digital sensor, all for the same cost as purchasing a straight acoustic piano? I suppose I would be also be looking in the used market considering my economical budget ($2000-$4000).

Or are such digital/hybrid systems inferior in musical ability than simply purchasing a purely acoustic piano?

I read somewhere that often lesser quality acoustics are used to install some digital retrofits. How true is this? If this is the case, an acoustic piano would be my only choice considering the highest quality musical instrument for our budget is our goal. Ultimately we really only need an acoustic piano.

If digital will cost much more we will then just go with an acoustic solution (upright) (new or used):

Yamaha U1
Knabe, Wm. (Samick)
Young Chang (Professional Artist series)

Thank you kindly for any advice,



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#676230 - 02/26/09 02:29 AM Re: Digital/acoustic hybrid or just acoustic? Cost being a factor.
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7439
Loc: torrance, CA

With your stated budget, you don't have that many choices in a hybrid. The tried and true standard for acoustic / digital hybrids is the Yamaha U1 silent. When sold new it can add about $1500 USD to the cost of a straight U1. On the used market, it adds nothing to the value. So if you find one used that you like, it won't add at all to the cost.

You might be able to find one 15 years old in your price category. If you have a shop locally that imports grey-market Yamahas from Japan or elsewhere in Asia, you could ask them about it. Most of the used ones sold in North America arrive through the grey market. Kawai also has a hybrid system called "Quiet Time" or Anytime". It is a less polished product than the Yamaha and commands a lesser price. I've seen them around $3k USD in the US, again 15 or 20 years old. Almost all of these arrive through the grey market.

Personally, I think with your budget you are better offer shopping an acoustic upright and paying particular attention to how the quiet pedal performs. It's a middle pedal which when engaged and locked places a felt strip in the path of the hammers. It cuts the volume level sufficiently that it's fine for late night practice or sensitive neighbors. The thing is--some of the quiet pedals perform well and others are simply a pain in the neck for a variety of reasons.

The acoustic brands that you listed on your thread on the piano forum are okay. I don't think you can get near a Boston for your budget and many of the others probably won't fit either, for example William Knabe.

Kohler and Campbell would be a good one to look at from the Indonesian pianos. Hailun IMO offers the most for your money among the Chinese brands. Since Steigerman is a Canadian company, you might find some Steigerman PREMIUM pianos around your whereabouts too. They are built by Hailun for Steigerman Music and may be priced competitively.

Your thread on the Piano Forum mentions tonal colour. A used Petrof or Bohemia (ten years old or less) would give you some of that.

Good luck.
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#676231 - 02/26/09 02:55 AM Re: Digital/acoustic hybrid or just acoustic? Cost being a factor.
Mike088 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/23/09
Posts: 96
Loc: New Westminster, Canada
Thank you Turandot,

You give me some very good ideas what steps I should take next. I might begin looking for a silent U1 used. Tonight I actually tried a U1 acoustic with the middle soft pedal - very effective and quiet. I wasn't aware of the price points of some of those acoustics I listed and I thank you for clarifying this for me. Puts the issue more into perspective for me. I still need to make a few decisions - strongly based on trying out some of these pianos.

You advice is much appreciated! Thanks so much!

#676232 - 02/26/09 04:47 AM Re: Digital/acoustic hybrid or just acoustic? Cost being a factor.
Bunneh Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 400
Loc: Berlin
Do you prefer if your children (and yourself!) learn to play musically on their own instrument, or if they learn a bit slower but can handle a variety of instruments with ease (for example for recitals)?

In the latter case, getting the best acoustic you can afford and keeping the digital might not be a bit idea...
aim for the moon - if you miss, at least you'll be among the stars.

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#676233 - 02/26/09 06:27 AM Re: Digital/acoustic hybrid or just acoustic? Cost being a factor.
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3223
Loc: Wales
A product that springs to mind regarding the digital/acoustic hybrid scenario is the Moog Piano Bar. Although I've never tried it, I believe it can be fitted (quickly) to any acoustic piano to convert whatever is being played to midi signals. I think it has built-in sounds as well. Coupled with a "silent" piano, that would be one possible solution. However, I suspect it may have gone out of production and you would need to look to the used market for one. From what I've read, it was not a perfect solution as it was not always able to interpret touch and expression with accurate sensitivity. Certainly an interesting concept, though.
"you don't need to have been a rabbit in order to become a veterinarian"

mabraman, 2015


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