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#683496 - 08/18/07 03:28 AM "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 19
Molpie123 Offline
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Molpie123  Offline
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Colorado
I am a classical pianist who frequently travels, and I am constantly seeking out instruments I can play when I am away from home. No matter where I go, though, the vast majority of the instruments I find (in places like churches, resorts, and even some music stores) are unmaintained, under-maintained, or neglected to the point of being unplayable. It is very sad, and very frustrating for a musician who needs to make music every day. So. I am wondering if you all might have some advice on a digital piano that travels well, and might satisfy a classical pianist like myself. I would prefer an instrument with a light, sensitive touch, a tone that is not overly bright (and that sounds as much like a "real" piano as possible), and the ability to produce a wide dynamic range. It would be nice if it sounded good both with whatever speakers it comes with, and with quality headphones (I do enjoy playing late at night and could see myself using it for this purpose as well as for travel). A damper pedal is essential. I would be using this instrument as a piano only, so I don't really care about extra bells and whistles. Does anyone have any suggestions?

By the way, does anyone happen to know if all digital keyboards are tuned in equal temperament, or if there are any that have other tuning options? That WOULD be an extra feature that would interest me, if such a thing existed. Just curious.

Thank you in advance!

Molly

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#683497 - 08/18/07 03:45 AM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Tony V Offline
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The Yamaha CP300 has graded keys that I consider to be light in touch when I tried it and it has internal speakers too. A bit heavy, but at least you don't have to lug around external speakers.

And most digital pianos come with a damper pedal, so don't worry about that.

#683498 - 08/18/07 09:26 AM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Mike Warren Offline
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Cairns Australia
Quote
Originally posted by Molpie123:
I am wondering if you all might have some advice on a digital piano that travels well, and might satisfy a classical pianist like myself.


That is such a personal thing you really need to try as many as you can and at least narrow it down to a few models to compare in more depth.

Is weight important?

Quote

By the way, does anyone happen to know if all digital keyboards are tuned in equal temperament, or if there are any that have other tuning options?
Most digital pianos offer different tuning. For example, my Roland RD-300SX has equal, just (major), just (minor), pythagorean, kirnberger, mean tone, werckmeister and arabic.


Digital Fake Book
Free Chord/Lyric Display Software for Windows.
http://mike-warren.net/digitalfakebook/
#683499 - 08/18/07 01:43 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Blue80 Offline
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I bought a Roland FP4 a month ago as a learning keyboard but with the hope it will be useful for many years to come. I did a lot of research prior to buying. My daughter plays flute and is keen to learn piano - she has a very good ear.

My key parameters were:
* quality of touch - an unchangeable mechanical property of the keyboard
* sound - quality of which will vary depending on exact piano voice selected
* portablity - size, weight
* built-in speakers optional
* 3 pedal support - soft, sostenuto, damper (I think they all come with one pedal, extra pedals are options)
* styling
* midi
* longevity over price

Short list included:
Roland FP4 (3 touch settings, 15.3kg)
Roland FP7 (more piano features, 99 touch settings,more sound variations - lid settings, bigger speakers, heavier)
Roland RD300SX (not as nice touch as FP4 to me)
Yamaha CP33 (no built in speakers, seems well regarded, brighter sound)
Kawai ES4
Kurzweil SP2 (recently released - didn't get to audition)
in a lower price bracket, perhaps Casio models

Its worth searching forums for user comments on the relevant models and play testing ideally with studio-monitor quality headphones.

Manufacturers make full product manuals available online via their support pages - so you can read all about exact features of each model. I suspect most digital models have adjustable tuning, temperament and touch.

Happy hunting.

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#683500 - 08/18/07 07:10 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Molpie123 Offline
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Colorado
Yes, it is a very personal thing, and I will spend some time checking out various brands, options - play as many as I can. This will involve some time and effort in travel though, so I was hoping (perhaps naively) that you all might be able to point me in a good starting direction. I appreciate any thoughts and suggestions.

And, to answer your question, Mike, weight IS important as a factor in portability, since this would be the major reason for getting this instrument, although it is also important to find an instrument that will satifsy me musically. Is it unrealistic to think I can find both?

Thanks.
Molly

#683501 - 08/18/07 07:23 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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MoodyBluesKeys Offline
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You can actually get VERY close to a true concert grand piano in both sound and feel - if budget is no problem.

Bosendorfer is in final field tests of the CEUSmaster - an instrument designed specifically for the traveling concert artist. It has the actual action of a Bosendorfer Imperial Grand, coupled to a computer with extremely large and high quality sampled sounds.

To the best of my knowledge, they have not yet announced pricing. I have seen estimates in the vicinity of 30 to 40 thousand euro.

You can find more information on this web link: http://www.boesendorfer.com/index.php?menu=275

For something more down to earth price wise, the stage pianos from companies such as Kurzweil, Yamaha, and Roland can be equipped with multiple pedals (my Kurzweil SP88X accepts both sustain and sostenudo and is a weighted 88-key board that weighs about 50 lb). Kurzweil just introduced their new stage piano the SP2, it has a better sounding piano similar to the one on my Kurzweil PC2. You should be able to come up with something satisfactory in the price range of $1000 to $3000, even including a pair of small but high quality monitor speakers. Some boards, like the Yamaha CP300 have speakers built in.

Just as in an acoustic, each manufacturer has a specific voicing and tonal quality which is very individual - so I would recommend checking out some instruments of different companies before deciding on a purchase.

HTH,


Jim Cason
Promised LAN Computing, Inc.
Howard C171 Grand, Kurzweil PC3X, PC3, PC361, PC2X, PC2.
JBL 10&15 EONG2s, EV SxA100+s QSC K10s, HP & ThinkPad DAWs, eMu 1820M & 1616M.
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Formerly in electronic keyboard repair trade - semi-retired
#683502 - 08/18/07 09:39 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Colin Askew Offline
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I have a Yamaha CP300 and very pleased with it I am. However, It is not a "travel piano"; you cannot pick it up, tuck it under your arm and walk away with it. It takes two people to lift it comfortably.
It is transportable between venues quite easily but you do need help.

#683503 - 08/18/07 10:42 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Mike Warren Offline
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Mike Warren  Offline
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Cairns Australia
Quote
Originally posted by Molpie123:
And, to answer your question, Mike, weight IS important as a factor in portability,
To a large extent, the more realistic actions make for heavier instruments so you will probably need to find a trade-off you can live with.

You probably need to have a check list (at least mentally) where you can rate some of the key points that may be important to you such as:

-Weight
-Built in speakers
-Action and how it connects to the sound.
-Quality of sound. This is very personal as IMO no DP I've heard sounds even slightly realistic.
-Pedals. Do you need all 3?
-Half pedalling for the damper. Only some DPs do this

Although I haven't tried it, the Roland FP4 is supposed to have a good action for it's weight. The Kawai MP8 has (to me) a nice action but was way too heavy and I found the sound too unrealistic. The Yamaha range of stage pianos I tried were all too heavy for me and I am not keen on the sound. Others do like Yamaha's samples though. My choice of DP was very much a trade-off.

Quote
Is it unrealistic to think I can find both?
This really depends on just how fussy you are. Some people are really happy with the current range of DPs. For me, I don't find the improvements over the last 10 years or so of much significance.

The sound can be improved by connecting the DP to a computer and running software such as Ivory, Akoustik Piano, Art Vista and others but portability takes a hit.


Digital Fake Book
Free Chord/Lyric Display Software for Windows.
http://mike-warren.net/digitalfakebook/
#683504 - 08/18/07 11:32 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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MarkL Offline
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MarkL  Offline
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A case that will survive the airline baggage handlers weighs a fair bit. If you buy a piano with speakers, the case and piano together weigh a lot, probably 50-75 pounds. You can buy cases with wheels to make this easier, but it's still a lot of weight to move around. You might think of buying a keyboard with no speakers to save some weight, and carry a separate small speaker or just use headphones.


Yamaha P90
#683505 - 08/19/07 06:39 AM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Molpie123 Offline
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Molpie123  Offline
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Colorado
Oh! I didn't even think of half-pedaling being an issue. That's pretty important - thanks, Mike. I am pretty fussy, I have to admit, but if I think of a given digital instrument versus some of the instruments I've tried to play to satisfy my desire to make music... I think that will make the digital more palatable (Apologies to fans of digitals - I don't have enough experience with them to be convinced, yet)
Just the other day I was in a music store - playing on a piano they actually use to give lessons... it was sort of astounding to me - a beat-up spinet with loosey-goosey action, horribly out of tune... Never ceases to amaze me (and sadden me on behalf of those who are actually trying to LEARN to make music on such an instrument). But still the urge to make music is so strong that I played this instrument, nonetheless. And the hotel lobby piano - a grand that was beautifully polished on the outside. Missing an E string in the bass. No resonance in the treble. Out of tune (though not as bad as the music store piano). But playable. So I played. Ended up having pain in my right hand from trying so hard to coax sound out of the dead treble... Sheesh. Sometimes I envy those that can easily bring their instruments wherever they go - which is just about everybody else. But I wouldn't give up the piano for anything.
Anyway. I appreciate all the thoughts. The Bosendorfer sounds intriguing, but would be well outside my price range. I'll check out some of the other suggestions as I can find them... THere is actually someone selling a 2004 Kawai ES3 stage piano locally...not sure if that's worth checking out. And do the Yamaha digitals mimic the sound of their real pianos? I tend not to like their brightness so much...

Thanks for all your thoughts...

Molly

#683506 - 08/19/07 11:49 AM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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theJourney Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by MarkL:
A case that will survive the airline baggage handlers weighs a fair bit. If you buy a piano with speakers, the case and piano together weigh a lot, probably 50-75 pounds. You can buy cases with wheels to make this easier, but it's still a lot of weight to move around. You might think of buying a keyboard with no speakers to save some weight, and carry a separate small speaker or just use headphones.
Lugging around a heavy stage piano in your own bus or SUV is one thing, but flying with an instrument is another thing altogether.

Any digital piano with 88 keys in an airline approved case will, if accepted as luggage at all, be subject to some (un)fairly draconian charges which will likely equal or exceed the cost of your airline ticket.

#683507 - 08/19/07 02:37 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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signa Offline
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Ohio, USA
you may have to get one without internal speakers and much lighter, such as Yamaha P90, so that external speakers can be packed separatedly.

CP300/P250 is way too heavy...

#683508 - 08/19/07 11:43 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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MarkL Offline
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MarkL  Offline
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Chicago Suburban
Quote
Originally posted by theJourney:

Any digital piano with 88 keys in an airline approved case will, if accepted as luggage at all, be subject to some (un)fairly draconian charges which will likely equal or exceed the cost of your airline ticket.
I went to United's site and if I'm reading correctly there is a $50 charge for anything over 50 pounds, plus a $100 charge for anything with total dimension (L+W+H) greater than 62 inches. I think any keyboard in a case would fall into that category, so the total would be $150. Ouch, might be cheaper to ship from hotel to hotel using UPS. That way you wouldn't have to lug it through the airport.


Yamaha P90
#683509 - 08/20/07 05:21 AM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Molpie123 Offline
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Yikes. OK. So I won't be flying with this instrument, if I get one at all. I went and tried a few today. There don't seem to be too many that folks around here stock in the portable variety - I was pretty disappointed in the lack of options I found. Tried a Roland RD700Sx, RD300SX, Korg (can't remember the model - wasn't really worth remembering) Kawai ES4, and Yamaha P140. That was all anyone had for me to try that could be considered portable. I was surprised that the one I liked the best ended up being the Yamaha, even though the action was fairly heavy... But I have to admit that I wasn't thrilled with any of them. (Didn't help that some of the sales folks didn't play piano and didn't seem to understand the need to SIT down at an instrument with music, with pedal, and actually PLAY it.) But Mike, you're right. None of them really felt or sounded like a piano. Not sure where to go from here...
Maybe I am just too fussy for a "lightweight" digital...
M.

#683510 - 08/20/07 12:53 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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MarkL Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Molpie123:
Yikes. OK. So I won't be flying with this instrument, if I get one at all.
M.
I assume you're travelling to fairly large cities. I've found that every music store I've asked has allowed me to practice on something in one of their practice rooms, no one has even charged me. Since you're a professional, they might view you as an advertisement and put you out front on an acoustic grand. They make me play in the basement.


Yamaha P90
#683511 - 08/22/07 01:36 AM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Mark Purney Offline
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Molpie123, I would suggest you try out the Casio Privia PX200. You won't find anything with 88 keys that is smaller or lighter. It's 26 pounds, and the action is surprisingly good. It's what I practice on when I can't make noise, or when I don't want to abuse the real grand if I'm just learning something or repeating a section.
Privia PX200

If you're flying with it, you'll probably need a hard case. If not, then I suggest the keyboard bag made especially for it. This site doesn't say it fits the PX200, but it does. The actual bag looks nicer than the photo (it has the Privia logo, not the Casio logo):

Keyboard Bag

#683512 - 08/24/07 06:05 AM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Molpie123 Offline
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Molpie123  Offline
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Actually, just to clarify - I'm not a professional pianist - at least that is not why I am traveling. I generally travel to smaller towns, actually, where often there simply isn't a music store with pianos. Perhaps I should try connecting up with some piano teachers? I don't know.
Mark, I was advised by several folks (granted, one of them was a salesman - but he actually sold Casios) to avoid Casio because of quality issues. Does anyone know anything about this? I was told the same thing about Kurzweil - that the company had been sold, and that since then their quality and reliability has gone down, and to get replacement parts and such is very difficult. I did go try a used Kurzweil anyway, and the sound wasn't bad (had other issues though)... Anyone have any thoughts on any of this? I'm really sort of at a loss... Anyone know of a good place where I can learn more about various travel/stage piano options? It seems most folks on this forum are mostly in the heavier, "higher end" (is this a fair term?) digital market...
Thanks!
M.

#683513 - 08/24/07 06:47 AM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Tony V Offline
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I've heard from other forums and a couple people outside of the internet suggesting not to get Casio because they tend to die (hardware failure) on you.

Perhaps they have an issue with lifespan... or maybe it could be that other keyboards last longer than Casios?

I've often see people saying, "Don't get Casios. They're just toys", so there COULD be a really strong bias against the brand causing the spread of many generalizations, rumors, and bashing.

#683514 - 08/24/07 12:22 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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dhalbert Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Molpie123:

... I was advised by several folks (granted, one of them was a salesman - but he actually sold Casios) to avoid Casio because of quality issues. Does anyone know anything about this? ...
I've been reading this forum and the Keyboard Magazine forum (see below) for a couple of years and have rarely seen complaints about failures of any digital piano, let alone Casio.

The salesman might very well be saying whatever he needs to say to steer you to something with a higher profit margin.

The Keyboard Magazine forum here http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/ubb/postlist/Board/18 is largely frequented by professional musicians who have to travel with instruments all the time. (Granted, they are usually carrying their stuff in a car or van to the next band gig.)

#683515 - 08/24/07 12:37 PM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Hi,

I have a Casio PX310, and have had it for almost a year now. I have not noticed any problems with it and I probably average over an hour of practice a day, sometimes playing up to four hours on a good Saturday or Sunday.

I think it would be fine for occasional travel, but I'm not sure how it would hold up to constant travel.

I've read that there is a definite bias against Casio, and the reviewer attributed it to the company previously marketing pianos or keyboards designed for home use to professional musicians.

IMO, the Privia line is fantastic for what it is designed for - an entry level or occasional use digital piano.

Rich


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#683516 - 08/25/07 03:59 AM Re: "travel" piano for classical pianist?  
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Molpie123 Offline
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Molpie123  Offline
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Thanks for the additional info, and the link to the other forum. I'll check it out. Perhaps I shouldn't take Casio off the table. Visited another place today - they didn't have any portables, but they did have high end Yamaha clavinovas... I tried a couple. Definitely nicer than the portable variety (which makes the portables less appealing). Then I proceeeded to get sucked into a couple of beautiful grands which kept me captivated for the next two plus hours... Left as the place was closing - tired, happy, and with a request for a concert performance (for a benefit, but still...). Not a bad way to close the evening. (Ahh...) smile

Anyway, I will keep looking at whatever digital options might be out there, and trying various things, and will remain open to any suggestions and advice.
Thanks everyone.
M.


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