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Posted By: qi_ Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/14/20 02:13 AM
Hi Everyone! I'm new to the forum. I was thinking about buying a digital piano (perhaps a Yamaha from the Clavinova series) but a friend told me there are many used upright acoustic pianos available for reasonable prices or even for free. I don't know which one to choose. I don't mind paying a couple grands for a good digital piano and have done my research about their advantages (like the fact that they don't need tuning, the ability to record, etc). But I don't know whether by buying one I would forego the opportunity to have a reasonable upright acoustic one at basically the piano-movers' fee. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

For what it's worth, here is my background: I turned 34 today and have been practicing since one and a half years ago. I also played the keyboard for about a year as a teenager but had a big gap until I decided to learn playing the piano when I was 32. I have been practicing mostly on a Yamaha keyboard (the psr ew300 model) and, whenever I got a chance, on some actual pianos. Now I want to buy one but am totally clueless about the advantages and disadvantages of digital and acoustic pianos.

Thanks!
Posted By: Nip Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/14/20 03:25 AM
#1. living conditions - house or apartment?
In apartment you have to consider neighbours and even your family with lesser space.
Playing on phones on digital fix that.

#2. stationary or moving around a lot
There is a reason there are loads of giveaways for upright pianos.
After move x you might be fed up with that heavy piece of furniture needing so much special treatment.

#3. ability to choose piano you like better - a grand piano, or fooling around with other types of electrical pianos like wurlizer or rhodes, strings and choirs and stuff.
Favour digital.

#4. dynamics and feel playing loud in a room
This might favour acoustic since really hard to give the same presence lika a real acoustic.
You might need 50W or so amp+speakers on digital and you are probably not close anyway.
Look at higher end digitals - $10,000 or more - and you see this is where they put all the effort with maybe dozens of speakers and stuff to really spread in the room.

But not all acoustics are the same - so to really qualify with decent digitals - might take some effort.

#5. technical stuff like tuning - at least on kawai digitals there are loads of features to adjust stretch tunings and many things - done in seconds.

I had 4 Yamaha's, last one CLP-535, and none had what Kawai have in this field.

This you have to talk to piano tech doing tunings on acoustic how you want it - if you have a preference.
I was given two acoustic uprights some years ago when my friends found out I was learning piano. I ended up chopping both into pieces much of which went to the dump.

for the better piano I bought tools and parts in an attempt to refurbish the action, thinking how hard could it be. Turns out to be incredibly difficult even to fix the smallest fault. Eventually I gave up and bought a new acoustic, and later a quality digital (because one piano is never enough) 😎
Posted By: qi_ Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/14/20 04:25 AM
Thanks Nip and earlofmar! Based on what you say, it looks like I'll be better off with a digital one (live in an apartment, may move in a few years, etc). Any suggestion for what brand I should buy? Judging by your signatures, I'd guess you'll both say Kawai over Yamaha! But could you elaborate? I mean I will go to a piano showroom and try things out before I buy. But I wanna go there informed and the comparison-websites I found are not that helpful. So any advice would be appreciated. If what I should buy depends on my skill level, my skill is likely best described as "pre intermediate" if there is such a thing.

Thanks.
gi, I'm very much a novice compared to everyone else here,so I can't speak to a variety of brands and models, but I definitely think it's a good idea you have to check out the pianos in person before purchasing. I went in to a local store having narrowed it down to a couple models, both by Casio and Yamaha, and ended up walking away with a Roland instead when it wasn't even on my radar b/c I preferred the sound and key action to the others.
I would not feel qualified to recommend a piano, but agree with vintagevt on the importance of trying out as many as you can.
Originally Posted by qi_
A friend told me there are many used upright acoustic pianos available for reasonable prices or even for free.

That’s true, but the hard bit is spotting whether they are cheap because they are junk or cheap because someone needs to get rid of what is quite a good piano.

You absolutely do not want to be stuck with a lemon. Acoustic pianos have thousands of moving parts and stuff to go out of adjustment and wear out. A worn out one will be a money pit and a source of frustration. It’s really important to get someone who knows what they’re looking at to give a once-over before you buy a cheapie.

Alternatively buy from a dealer for peace of mind but that will be quite costly.
@qi there is a whole forum dedicated to digital pianos and keyboards, so you are best to ask there for detailed advice. But to summarise what they will say

1. Choose the best you can afford
2. Try before you buy as only you can determine "best" after experiencing them

The three must popular makes are Yamaha, Roland and Kawai and opinion seems split on which is the best. I think in general that Kawai is prefered for the action, Yamaha for the sound, but even that is contentious.

The other aspect you need to consider is between a keyboard which is portable and a digital piano, which a piece of furniture. The first you have to get a stand for (and maybe speakers, or better speakers) the second has the speakers built in.

For your budget that you mentioned look at Yamaha P515, Roland FP90 or Kawai MP7 or ES8 (MP11 is better but slightly more expensive) for portables. Digital Pianos are harder to suggest, Yamaha's Range seems to have a hole at $2000, Arius below and CLP above, Roland seem to have lots of models around that point and Kawai top of CN series (CN39) or bottom of CA series (CA49).
You have so many options, you won't believe it. The option that I went with for practicing was the Kawai VPC1. It's just a keyboard controller, but the action is very nice, it's meant to simulate a grand piano's feel. I connect it to a laptop, and the laptop runs Pianoteq, a piano simulator, i.e. not sampled sound. The sound through the headphone is pretty convincing, and you can pick different simulated piano models, like Steinway D, B, Bechstein, Steingraeber & Sohne, Bluthner, etc. I learned a lot about how acoustic pianos work with this software because there are so many adjustments you can make. It's not for everybody, but if you like to tinker and you want to someday own a grand piano, it'll prepare you well. It's compact, and you probably won't ever want to get rid of it even if you get an acoustic some day. In my opinion, once you get an nice acoustic, it's hard to go back to digital, except for practicing... Also, in my opinion, for an acoustic, consider an upright >50" or a grand >6'. To me, the richness of the sound (in general for a piano of those sizes) really becomes satisfying at that point.
Originally Posted by qi_
. I don't mind paying a couple grands for a good digital piano and have done my research about their advantages (like the fact that they don't need tuning, the ability to record, etc).


I do get the impression that you did not yet do your research.

Did you already test play acoustics and digitals yourself? What matters in a piano is how they feel, respond and how they sound TO YOU. Not how the spec sheet looks like , nor how enthusiastic someone else is about it.

For me, I can not stand the sound of digitals. They sound clunky, wooly, synthetic, dead to me. If you are the same, then opting for digital would kill your enthusiasm for piano playing.
Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by qi_
. I don't mind paying a couple grands for a good digital piano and have done my research about their advantages (like the fact that they don't need tuning, the ability to record, etc).


I do get the impression that you did not yet do your research.

Did you already test play acoustics and digitals yourself? What matters in a piano is how they feel, respond and how they sound TO YOU. Not how the spec sheet looks like , nor how enthusiastic someone else is about it.

For me, I can not stand the sound of digitals. They sound clunky, wooly, synthetic, dead to me. If you are the same, then opting for digital would kill your enthusiasm for piano playing.

I agree, the best piano is the one that speaks to you. The one that you play to try out and do not want to stand up and walkaway from. I have never had that on any cheap digital piano, only on the more expensive ones.
Also, good uprights are expensive. It is difficult to find a used one that is in great condition unless it is refurbished by the master.

Piano sound is not just what strings have produced after they start vibrating - the whole noise in the attack of the keys and hammers contribute to the sound, also acoustic pianos have harmonics that are not there in the digital pianos.

The best wold be to try out everything that is within your budget and make a choice from your heart. Also do not pay attention and compare the functions of different digitals, if your concentration will be piano playing, just look for the best sound and response in piano sound that you can find.
I have both and while I generally prefer the acoustic, there are those evenings when I have my headphones on, not very loud, but isolated from the world and playing some sampled or modelled really mellow piano.
At least for me, after 10-15 min of playing I get lost in playing and forget about the slightly arificial key feel. The piano is only a small part of the experience of playing the piano.
Personally, I am SO SO happy with my digital piano + pianoteq. Especially as a student, digital has so many advantages.

* For instance, it is hard for me to listen at my playing simultaneously as I play. This is just natural, because I need my attention for playing. Pianoteq records everything that I play, and whenever I feel the need, it is so easy to just listen to what I have just played.
* Also, I can see a graph of the loudness of each note. So when I play scales non-legato, I like to watch this graph to see that I play each note equally loudly. It helps a lot.
* Furthermore, I like it so much that I can make beautiful recordings of my playing - of course, limited by my technique, but without any sounds from the room, or my husband sneezing. Not that he sneezes a lot, but still.
* And of course, I can play as loudly as I feel like, I can do the same exercise over and over again, and I can play whenever I feel like it, even in the middle of the night.
Originally Posted by wouter79
I do get the impression that you did not yet do your research.

Did you already test play acoustics and digitals yourself? What matters in a piano is how they feel, respond and how they sound TO YOU. Not how the spec sheet looks like , nor how enthusiastic someone else is about it.

For me, I can not stand the sound of digitals. They sound clunky, wooly, synthetic, dead to me. If you are the same, then opting for digital would kill your enthusiasm for piano playing.

I fully agree with you about the feel of the piano and about digitals. I had a couple of digital pianos but now that I have a grand piano I am fully converted and will never go back to digitals (except for late night practice). Even the high end hybrid ones that have complete mechanics like a real accoustic are still not the same. In a real piano the whole body of the piano vibrates and fills the room with sound. The whole experience of connecting with the instrument cannot be compared to anything digital.

But I understand that some people need to compromise on cost, space, etc. A digital may still be a great option for you but you need to try and see for yourself how it feels. The most important aspects are 1) the feel of the action, and 2) the sound (both through speakers and headphones). Price is a general indicator but not always and there is a lot of room for personal preference. For instance, I chose a slightly cheaper older model of digital piano because the newer action felt unrealisticaly "pushy", for lack of a better term. What I mean by that is that in digital pianos, unless you have one of the top end ones that have the complete hammer mechanism, the keys are usually weighted but the weight keeps pushing the key up with the same force even after you play, which is not what a real accoustic piano does. In a real accoustic action there is more inertia. The point I'm trying to make is that you have to try it for yourself to decide what you find acceptable.
Get both! I was using a hybrid N2 exclusively for a long time. After moving in with my girlfriend, I was able to use an old Kawai upright. It was in near mint condition. My girlfriend bought it years ago, played a few months on it, and then left it sit and covered for over decade.

Anyway, it's not a high end acoustic, but I practice more on this than I do the digital now. I feel/hear a better dynamic range with the acoustic. I'll still use the N2, early in the morning if I want to practice, otherwise I'll use the acoustic during the day and at night.
If your budget is sufficient to afford a decent used upright in good condition, and space or noise is not a limiting factor, I’d always recommend getting an acoustic. As some have said already, a good acoustic is just very satisfying.

I have only played on my digital twice since I got my acoustic. My digital is 7-8 years old now and it was pretty entry level when I bought it, but still decent. But there’s just no comparison with my acoustic.

A caution. Free pianos are pianos people don’t want and can’t sell for money, so they are most often NOT a good option at all.

@bSharp(C)yclist, poor N2... that’s a very good hybrid. frown
Posted By: qi_ Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/14/20 05:13 PM
Thank you all so much! Your comments and tips are very helpful smile

I am certainly going to try out some options before I buy. I am glad I asked the question here and get all this useful info. This board is such a great resource.
In the Great ABF Survey of 2020, 78.6% of the respondents preferred an acoustic piano. Just saying...

Sam
While many of us prefer acoustic over digital, some of us don't have a choice. Living in a building, it's a hassle to move an upright up the elevator.

Many years ago (1970s) the family had an upright because the digital technology was still behind. After a long break, I joined a music group playing violin and then got a keyboard starting with a 61, then 76 and finally 88. Besides practicing at home, the music group would borrow a keyboard from time to time so the portability is justified. With a separate folding stand, all the pieces can be moved easily. When I'm done, the keyboard can go into the closet and not take up space in the room.

While taking lessons at the local conservatory, I have access to practice acoustic pianos including Yamaha, Young Chang & Steinway.

Someone in the family stopped playing for 10 years after moving to an apartment and eventually decided to get a digital. It's impossible to move an acoustic into a small space.
You can't voice anything on a digital like you can with an acoustic. Digital pianos usually have three or four different volumes when you play more then one note simultaneously. A very important part of piano playing is how loud the different voices are in comparison to each other. Because this is very hard to do, the first impression is usually that a digital piano sound better then an acoustic, because it does the job for you.
Originally Posted by KlinkKlonk
You can't voice anything on a digital like you can with an acoustic. Digital pianos usually have three or four different volumes when you play more then one note simultaneously. A very important part of piano playing is how loud the different voices are in comparison to each other.

Good digitals should allow you to voice chords etc to your heart's content......up to their manufacturer's imposed limit on tone and volume, especially on sampled digitals.

I have no problem doing that on mine (which is modelled, not sampled).

Incidentally, the responsiveness and playability (which are related) of digitals need to be taken into consideration when buying. Does the digital 'feel' like an acoustic when you play it? Maybe this is difficult for beginners to determine, but for advanced pianists who also play on acoustics, this is an important factor as to how much you enjoy playing it, and how similar its response is to an acoustic makes the difference to how easy it is to transition what you practice on your digital (especially the nuances and dynamics) to the acoustic.

It goes without saying that if you're serious about playing piano, you should set the volume on your digital (whether through its speakers or your headphones) to simulate that on an acoustic. You wouldn't practice shooting goals using moving goalposts.....
If you intend to stay with piano, you can probably expect to own both eventually. The question is which one to buy first.

Each acoustic is unique, so if you come across a good used one that you really like, go for it! It's a matter of opportunity. My experience is that a bad acoustic can be really awful. I'd rather play a good digital than an out of tune piano where select hammers don't even move when you press the key, or the pedals squeek. If someone is getting rid of it for dirt cheap, there's a reason. But you can keep your eyes open for that rare good deal.

The digital, once you've decided on the model, they're the same, you can mail order and the price is more predictable. I think you should buy the digital first, because the possible inexpensive upright you are talking about is only an idea right now, you don't have a specific piano for your consideration. But you need a piano now so get a digital but don't get the top of the line. After you move, you might even get a grand, who knows? And you will still use the digital sometimes.
Some people recommending an acoustic don't seem to have taken into account the OPs budget. Unless one gets very lucky there are not many nice acoustic pianos avai;able for 2K. I think at that price point digitals almost always are superior.
Most factors have been listed. Ideally I find it practical to have both the acoustic and the digital, but of course it is not always possible. Clearly having an acoustic is great but there are conditions. Here is my couple of comments:

1-Space and neighbours. An acoustic has an incredible volume, so unless you also buy a silent system, you cant play anytime you want. In some cases neighbours are really difficult and depending on the size of your flat/house, it can also be an issue for your family. If you play a lot (probably not your case), the acoustic can also be an issue for your ears, if there is some reverb; again the volume is quite high when in a small room and it is not adjustable.

2-You absolutely need to be able to record yourself. So again that means either you get an acoustic with a fairly elaborate silent system with recording capability or you will need to set up a reasonably good external recording.

3-An acoustic requires tuning regularly (ie cost) and is sensitive (long term) to both temperature and humidity, so you need to have a spot that is not directly under the sun or too close to a heating system.

4-Budget. You can get a reasonably good digital for about 2-3k. For that price you have will have an ok sound and an action that is good enough for several years, at least close enough to a real acoustic to allow you to practice. For that price, unless you are really lucky, you want get any upright with a decent action and sound (and with a silent system). The upright pianos at low price have a lousy action (more difficult to play than on a digital) and a lousy sound (my personal opinion !). I also find that low end upright frankly dont sound that much better than a good digital, though in a completely different way.

So if you have no space limitations, no issues with the volume, and can afford a good upright with a silent system (which BTW may have to be replaced after some years), then you have the choice to take whatever you want. In which case you should spend a lot of time in stores and try different models to make a choice. The action is very important and for a beginner it is actually quite difficult to evaluate if the action is good or not, so the advice of a good pianist and friend (or your teacher) is helpful. With digitals you have less risks once you are at a certain price point.
Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by KlinkKlonk
You can't voice anything on a digital like you can with an acoustic. Digital pianos usually have three or four different volumes when you play more then one note simultaneously. A very important part of piano playing is how loud the different voices are in comparison to each other.

Good digitals should allow you to voice chords etc to your heart's content......up to their manufacturer's imposed limit on tone and volume, especially on sampled digitals.

I have no problem doing that on mine (which is modelled, not sampled).

Incidentally, the responsiveness and playability (which are related) of digitals need to be taken into consideration when buying. Does the digital 'feel' like an acoustic when you play it? Maybe this is difficult for beginners to determine, but for advanced pianists who also play on acoustics, this is an important factor as to how much you enjoy playing it, and how similar its response is to an acoustic makes the difference to how easy it is to transition what you practice on your digital (especially the nuances and dynamics) to the acoustic.

It goes without saying that if you're serious about playing piano, you should set the volume on your digital (whether through its speakers or your headphones) to simulate that on an acoustic. You wouldn't practice shooting goals using moving goalposts.....

Thats not my experience. Maybe Im out to lunch but I also think there's a difference if you "fluke" a note on a digital you won't notice it as you do on an acoustic. As in sinking to the bottom of they key to get a good sound. Guess it has to do with overtones. Me - I'd take a beat up, out of tune acoustic over a digital. Cheers.
Seems to me since you're not experienced; maybe a sound locally sourced acoustic would be to your liking. You'd get it cheap from a private seller, but you'd need somebody to take who is knowledgeable.
You can buy brand new acoustics and they'll still zing uncontrollably almost like an oldie which has seen better days. That is, of course, a desireable characteristic, part of its character! It might destroy anything you may play on it, but . . . .
It'd be real, and, growing to actually like it, like an old steam locomotive, you'll cherish the bl**dy thing, warts and all.
Further, you will enjoy throwing money at it gladly, (piano tuners are a bit thin on the ground) whilst decrying the modern userpers that need switching on, giving a fuss free good-enough rendition of that which you put into it, which can be recorded. And will sound darn nice.
Unless the power goes off. smile
Digitals are a lot better now than they ever were. Have fun deciding!
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Some people recommending an acoustic don't seem to have taken into account the OPs budget. Unless one gets very lucky there are not many nice acoustic pianos avai;able for 2K. I think at that price point digitals almost always are superior.

If you have experience and know what you are doing I think you could get a good acoustic cheaply, but most people don’t have that, the chances of buying an acoustic that is a money sink or just so ugly in sound that it discourages the learner are too high.
Originally Posted by Sam S
In the Great ABF Survey of 2020, 78.6% of the respondents preferred an acoustic piano. Just saying...

Sam

I am one of those, I would love to have an acoustic, but first I will need to move house or have a significant extension built on to the current. I also feel I would only want an acoustic if I could have a high range upright or a decent grand.

In the meantime I am greatly enjoying the wide variety of virtual pianos that I can run on my computer while using my keyboard as a midi controller.
Another consideration is whether the high-end DPs are good enough substitute for an acoustic. First there is Casio Celviano GP-300 & 500 in collaboration with Bechstein piano and the Yamaha Clavinova with a simulation Bösendorfer sound. Some people still feel the sound quality and action of these grand piano imitations are too gimmicky to match up with the real thing.

Sound quality is relative to the pieces you play. When I'm playing church hymns and Christmas tunes, I tend to use the organ sound on a DP since I don't have room for a real organ. The pieces that do require a good quality piano sound I'd go to the local conservatory when they're open. Now the lockdown is in place I have no choice. I'm playing some Jazzy tunes so the high quality piano sound is not an issue.
Posted By: qi_ Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/15/20 02:12 AM
Thanks all. As I read your comments, I am leaning more and more towards digital. Looks like I will eventually have to have both (given I anticipate staying with piano). But I think I'll start with a digital given I don't have the expertise to tell a good acoustic piano from a bad one. My 2K budget is not definitive and I can spend more if I find something that gets me excited.

COVID permitting, I'll go to a showroom and try some digital pianos. To those of you who have this experience, what did you pay more attention to when trying digital pianos, deciding which one to buy? Did you pay more attention to the sound? Or the feel of the keys? Are you happy with your decision? Are you happy with your decision?
Originally Posted by KlinkKlonk
You can't voice anything on a digital like you can with an acoustic. Digital pianos usually have three or four different volumes when you play more then one note simultaneously. A very important part of piano playing is how loud the different voices are in comparison to each other. Because this is very hard to do, the first impression is usually that a digital piano sound better then an acoustic, because it does the job for you.

The sentence in boldface is not true for any DP made in the past 10 years, or more.

Don't confuse the number of _volumes_ per note, with the number of "sampling layers" per note:

. . . DP's are very good at _blending_ samples, to get around 100 different volumes per note.

"MIDI velocity" -- the DP's measure of how hard a key was struck -- varies from 1 to 127, in theory. In practice, many keyboards only generate around 100 different values -- e.g. from "10" to "115". But that's enough.

It's not quite "continuous", but it's a lot smaller increments in volume, than most pianists can reliably generate on an acoustic piano.

If you don't believe me, sit down at a DP, and see how many distinguishable volume levels you can generate. It's going to be a lot more than three or four.

PS -- if you (or anyone) wants to check this, start reading the "DPBSD" thread in the "Digital Pianos" forum. It has objective tests of dozens of DP's, and, in particular, tests of how many volume levels they produce.
Originally Posted by qi_
. . . My 2K budget is not definitive and I can spend more if I find something that gets me excited.

COVID permitting, I'll go to a showroom and try some digital pianos. To those of you who have this experience, what did you pay more attention to when trying digital pianos, deciding which one to buy? Did you pay more attention to the sound? Or the feel of the keys? Are you happy with your decision? Are you happy with your decision?

An uncertain "top budget" can get you into real trouble:

. . . In general, the more a DP costs, the better it sounds, and the better it plays.

The difference between an "entry-level" DP (say Yamaha P125 / Roland FP-30) and a top-of-the-line DP (the Yamaha "Avant Grands" and Kawai hybrids) isn't subtle:

. . . the best DP's sound pretty luscious.

I got my PX-350 as a balance between cost, keyboard "feel", and sound quality. That's how most people pick a DP. It was a good instrument to learn on -- I took lessons for several years.

My only disappointment (after 7 years) is that it's developed a problem with its sound generator. The main piano voices don't work any more, and the repair cost is high --

. . . but it still makes a good "MIDI controller" for Pianoteq software.

There's no substitute for sitting down at a keyboard, and trying it out. Some you hate, some you love. If you're lucky, you'll find one that you love, that's within your budget.

As previously said, the Roland FP90 and Yamaha P-515 are reasonably portable, and you could afford either one. Budget for a stand, and a bench, as well as the DP itself.

To get really good sound, you will need either a "cabinet piano" (not so portable), or additional loudspeakers ("powered monitors"). You can add loudspeakers later.



Have fun searching --
Having a head set option, in many situations is preferable..
I think the more acoustics you play, the harder it will be to pick a digital without having an idea of when you will finally get your grand. To me, what motivates me to practice on my digital is planning to hear the results of my hard work on my grand (when I'm not disturbing anybody else in the house).

The sound of a grand is so satisfying and filling, it almost plays you.

That being said, it is more motivating to play an acoustic than a digital, but I don't think you'll go wrong getting a digital, if you think of it as an means to an end, and you choose (and budget) accordingly. I hope it's not presumptuous saying you will eventually want a grand, but it's something to look forward to and will help motivate your practicing for sure. I get the fingering down on the digital, but when I play it on the grand, to me it actually becomes music.
All the advice on here is extremely helpful.
If I were given the choice between acoustic and digital, I would choose acoustic above anything else, but my living space has to govern my decision, so I settled for a digital piano. Yamaha, clp 645, which is great and as has been mentioned, you can wear headphones when practicing. Although an acoustic is superior , I wonder how many times they need a tuner and what it costs to have it tuned, I wouldn't like to chance getting an old one cheap or free as it may have woodworm, or it is not in good working order. Also , it is heavy if you need to move house a few times, although, apparently Beethoven did move homes quite a lot, so it didn't seem to worry him about his piano getting fatigued moving around.




smile
I have a suspicion that pianists are by nature perfectionists - and as such we'd all secretly love to all have Steinway Concert Grand pianos. Unfortunately ... life gets in the way, and we're forced to consider more practical things such as neighbours, budget, space etc.

For what it's worth, I ended up with a Yamaha P125 digital keyboard; it's far more of a piano than I am a pianist. I suspect that "real" pianos hold a special place in the heart of every pianist, but from what I've read, some of the high-end digitals are producing some very high-quality output.

My encouragement is to not rush - and take the time to find something that feels good to you. I'm reminded of this video from concert pianist Tiffany Poon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW6O8shL_R8
It sounds like you already decided to go digital.

But just to indicate many arguments for digital are wrong: I'm in a small appartment. I have a acoustic grahd. It makes no sense to buy something that does not speak to you.

I strongly suggest that you play acoustics as well so that you have a point of comparison. Yes, play the expensive ones too.

Sound and feel of keys are converted in your brain into one perception. If they feel separated, there is something wrong with the piano.
Posted By: qi_ Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/15/20 01:30 PM
Originally Posted by wouter79
It sounds like you already decided to go digital.

But just to indicate many arguments for digital are wrong: I'm in a small appartment. I have a acoustic grahd. It makes no sense to buy something that does not speak to you.

I strongly suggest that you play acoustics as well so that you have a point of comparison. Yes, play the expensive ones too.

Wholeheartedly agreed. I will definitely try out some acoustic uprights when I visit the piano showroom nearby. I will try some grands too because why not! But as for buying one, I just do not have the space for a grand, unfortunately.


Originally Posted by meaculpa
All the advice on here is extremely helpful.
Yamaha, clp 645, which is great and as has been mentioned, you can wear headphones when practicing. Although an acoustic is superior ,
smile

Yeah I have been eying this one for a while. A bit over my budget but won't mind if I find it that much superior relative to older models.
Originally Posted by Colin Southern
I have a suspicion that pianists are by nature perfectionists - and as such we'd all secretly love to all have Steinway Concert Grand pianos. Unfortunately ... life gets in the way, and we're forced to consider more practical things such as neighbours, budget, space etc.

For what it's worth, I ended up with a Yamaha P125 digital keyboard; it's far more of a piano than I am a pianist. I suspect that "real" pianos hold a special place in the heart of every pianist, but from what I've read, some of the high-end digitals are producing some very high-quality output.

My encouragement is to not rush - and take the time to find something that feels good to you. I'm reminded of this video from concert pianist Tiffany Poon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW6O8shL_R8
Yes Tiffany Poon had a recent sit down interview with the CEO of Steinway and what they discuss about digital pianos is the same way I feel about them. They discuss digital pianos at the 15 minute mark of this video.



Although I own a fine acoustic grand I also have a digital (VPC-1) out of necessity. I find that no matter the quality of the digital there is always a compromise even those with real actions built in. When I play a piano the experience is as many say more "organic". There is something I expect to feel and hear whenever I play any acoustic- whether it is the swing of the hammer hitting the string, or the vibrations on the key bed after the hammer hits, or the acoustic energy that an acoustic piano creates. It is never fully replicated with any digital piano I have played and I have owned 4 digital pianos in the past 30 years but I have owned or played acoustic pianos for about 40 years.

There is nothing wrong with playing or learning on a digital piano though as I've always said children are better served in my opinion (especially the talented ones) if they learn on the real thing so they get a natural feel for an acoustic and make those brain connections earlier on rather than hardwiring the feel of a digital piano during those critical developmental stages. Again, that is just my opinion but science seems to back this up.

There were periods in my life when a digital was the only option especially during/after college, but I always found myself trying to find an acoustic to play even if it was an old beat up one. Hopefully everyone will get to a point in their piano studies to play on an acoustic.
OP, when you visit the showroom you might also ask about renting an acoustic. The hammer action in a grand is different from an upright, it's physics. Another thing to consider is that some (older?) Japanese uprights have a practice pedal. When you set it, the piano is not loud.
wszxbcl writes of the "practice rail" on some uprights that is engaged by the middle pedal, or could be attached aftermarket as a latch (so I've read). It drops a felt down between the hammer and strings. I think it's good for technical exercises, but I prefer the digital over the felt for musical practice. I don't like the sound of it very much and the effect is too inconsistent for enjoyment. The leftmost pedal, the half-blow pedal or soft pedal, is useful on an upright. I actually adjusted mine (tightened the wingnut down where it's attached to the pedal) so that it's always engaged to some extent. It makes playing softly more easy, and makes the repetition much more responsive as well. This may be bad if you're practicing for another piano, but for an amateur like myself, it's a good compromise, that beats the felt and digital.
Oh yeah, Kelwai reminded me to add that, with the practice pedal engaged, it is not supposed to sound good. The sound is muffled, it was never intended to be a low volume version of a good sound. So they call it "practice pedal".
Some folks have said that they prefer the sound of an acoustic and that a digital can never fully replicate that.

While true, you have to ask yourself how much that matters for the type of music you plan on learning. For anything more than about 50 years old, no question, if circumstances allow, get an acoustic.

But for more modern and popular music there’s a good argument that a digital is actually superior to an acoustic. There’s been a lot more electronic sounds than hammers hitting strings in the last 50 years or so.
Originally Posted by scirocco
Some folks have said that they prefer the sound of an acoustic and that a digital can never fully replicate that.

While true, you have to ask yourself how much that matters for the type of music you plan on learning. For anything more than about 50 years old, no question, if circumstances allow, get an acoustic.

But for more modern and popular music there’s a good argument that a digital is actually superior to an acoustic. There’s been a lot more electronic sounds than hammers hitting strings in the last 50 years or so.

I wonder if there have ever been any "blind" comparison tests between high-end digital and acoustics? And if so, if any experts were embarrassed?
Hearing is believing. Here is a video from Germany featuring the Casio Grand Hybrid performing a Mozart piano concerto next to a full-size grand.

Posted By: qi_ Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/16/20 05:47 PM
Originally Posted by Colin Southern
I wonder if there have ever been any "blind" comparison tests between high-end digital and acoustics? And if so, if any experts were embarrassed?

This is an interesting question. Even if most experts can tell them apart and only a few make mistakes, that would be very telling about how much beginners should care about sound differences.
Originally Posted by qi_
Originally Posted by Colin Southern
I wonder if there have ever been any "blind" comparison tests between high-end digital and acoustics? And if so, if any experts were embarrassed?

This is an interesting question. Even if most experts can tell them apart and only a few make mistakes, that would be very telling about how much beginners should care about sound differences.
In fact, that's not really the issue if we're talking about (the art of) piano playing as opposed to listening to recordings.

What matters is whether the piano responds to one's playing like......a piano.

Since the lockdown, I've heard many, many home-made recordings - likely made on their iPhones - by well-known pianists on their own pianos (which have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, in place of them playing live on the studio Steinway B), and it's striking how many of their pianos are not just somewhat out of tune (touring concert pianists are notorious for not maintaining their own practice pianos up to scratch, because they rarely........practice on them), but also have odd tonal irregularities (a twanging string etc) that you won't find on any digital. Yet they are able to make music on them, with all the nuances and musicality the composers expect, because even though their instruments aren't in top condition, they still respond to fine playing with real character, and one realizes what's missing from most digitals (which simply don't have the range of tone, dynamics, articulation, pedal effects.....).
Originally Posted by bennevis
Since the lockdown, I've heard many, many home-made recordings - likely made on their iPhones - by well-known pianists on their own pianos (which have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, in place of them playing live on the studio Steinway B), and it's striking how many of their pianos are not just somewhat out of tune (touring concert pianists are notorious for not maintaining their own practice pianos up to scratch, because they rarely........practice on them), but also have odd tonal irregularities (a twanging string etc) that you won't find on any digital. Yet they are able to make music on them, with all the nuances and musicality the composers expect, because even though their instruments aren't in top condition, they still respond to fine playing with real character, and one realizes what's missing from most digitals (which simply don't have the range of tone, dynamics, articulation, pedal effects.....).

Yeah. Well, some of us are happy to hit the right notes hopefully in the right order. I guess it doesn't matter too much what we play. I've played enough pianos adoustic and digital but can't honestly say any of them have made much difference to my playing.
I prefer the digital; they kick out what I like to hear better particularly when playing them. acoustics are very distracting with their unwanted "nuances" . . .and I'd just as soon not have one!
Originally Posted by peterws
Yeah. Well, some of us are happy to hit the right notes hopefully in the right order. I guess it doesn't matter too much what we play. I've played enough pianos adoustic and digital but can't honestly say any of them have made much difference to my playing.!

It does not matter how good you play. Even a single note sounds nice on a nice piano (or whatever instrument). It invites you to explore further. The piano comes to life, the room is filled with something more than just the sound. The room interacts with the piano and also becomes part of the 'instrument' to be played on.

For me this is an essential part of music. The notes is just a starting point like a blueprint, you have to see the possibility and build it. It's about the overall effect that you can make. It if can be done with less notes, it's even better. The silence, and how the piano reacts to it, the dying out of the note, is just as important.
Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by peterws
Yeah. Well, some of us are happy to hit the right notes hopefully in the right order. I guess it doesn't matter too much what we play. I've played enough pianos adoustic and digital but can't honestly say any of them have made much difference to my playing.!

It does not matter how good you play. Even a single note sounds nice on a nice piano (or whatever instrument). It invites you to explore further. The piano comes to life, the room is filled with something more than just the sound. The room interacts with the piano and also becomes part of the 'instrument' to be played on.

For me this is an essential part of music. The notes is just a starting point like a blueprint, you have to see the possibility and build it. It's about the overall effect that you can make. It if can be done with less notes, it's even better. The silence, and how the piano reacts to it, the dying out of the note, is just as important.

I appreciate your response; I do this all the time on my digital. The sound is so pleasant, just a single or a few notes interracting is a joy to hear and can lead to more as you say. I did the same on the acoustic I used at home, a straight strung upright that had a clear tone.
Regarding the above video of the Casio. What impressed me was the speaker quality. In the video it was said they did not use external amplification. Of course both the digital and the acoustic had to have microphones in a concert hall. But the acoustic grand has all those strings and a big 'ol sound board while the Casio looked so small next to it. Speaker technology has really come a long way.

OP, besides trying out the action on the pianos, you might want to use a good pair of headphones when you shop for digital pianos. Good headphones make a big difference. And use the same headphones so you can compare. The built-in speaker varies but I find they almost never sound very good in music stores probably because of all the ambient noise and clutter in a store.
Everything else being equal a terrific acoustic will sound better than a terrific digital/hybird. BUT the skills of the pianist are far more important than the acoustic vs, digital debate. An excellent pianist on digital will sound better than a not so excellent pianist on an acoustic even if they are both playing the same easy piece.

Here's a recording by a PW member that, I think, illustrates my point:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=22&v=TNV96uj6muM&feature=emb_logo
Yeah another VPC1 and Pianoteq guy here.

The advantage of the VPC kind of speaks for itself, and the advantage of Pianoteq is that it's lightweight resource-wise and cheap. And quite good fun really. Probably not as good sounding as the sample based stuff, but this depends on your taste. I get on with it fine.

I would personally buy this setup and then in a while if you're getting on fine then invest in an acoustic.

Although the VPC1 takes a little grunt to lift it, it's hassle to install an acoustic as it probably weighs at least 5 times the weight of a VPC1. However, the VPC does need setting up with a laptop.

The aim, I would have thought, would be to purchase both eventually, a great combination. Personally I'd go VPC1 first just because it's slightly less intrusive. I find I practice fine on it.

Of course, no need to go VPC1, any of the decent models like that will be good.

Just to add, conversely, that I actually got my upright first, but that was because I bought it back in the eighties laugh
Originally Posted by qi_
.....live in an apartment, may move in a few years, etc...
This answers your question. I much prefer an acoustic over a digital, but if I lived in an apartment and was going to move in few years, I'd get a digital with no hesitation. Get the acoustic after you've settled down and have a better idea of what's important to you in a piano.
I live in a house (semi detached) but i plan to move in a few years. I chose an upright with a silent function so that I can enjoy an upright for a few years. Then, when I move I would use the upgrade option for my piano (I basically will pay the difference and lose the VAT off my current upright piano). Or perhaps, if I were to move in a shorter period of time I may just rent an acoustic. This is perhaps not the wisest but I had 'acoustic piano fever' after playing my teachers piano compared to my own digital piano at the time. But to be honest I only tried mid range digital pianos and not high end ones which may have changed my mind.
This will not go to the OP's question, since there are budget considerations. But I do want to take off on this comment and a few others I read, in a general way.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
BUT the skills of the pianist are far more important than the acoustic vs, digital debate. An excellent pianist on digital will sound better than a not so excellent pianist on an acoustic even if they are both playing the same easy piece.

As a student, how good I end up sounding thanks to my instrument is not my top priority. In other words, if a given digital piano "has a fantastic sound" that is not the most important thing. I want to learn how to play the piano: how to use my body in conjunction with the piano's structure to create the kind of sound I envision.

I ended up with a digital hybrid, a Kawai CA97. First but not only reason was that I can't have an acoustic, because with thin walls, I'd be scared to play it most of the time.

The way the piano keys are constructed and balanced, they mimic the behaviour (motion, resistance, let-off etc.) of a grand piano, which goes "uphill". The three sensors (rather than the two of cheapish digitals) are well placed, to go together with that. On my old digital piano, I had to press almost all the way down before a sound was released. This made me heavy-handed, like a truck driver used to handling a truck. In fact, I had to relearn, because my hands had become so insensitive that they just ploughed through the responsiveness. There is a "let-off", a little notch you can actually feel, like a grand, which is absent in upright pianos, and which allows one to play rapid notes, like in ornaments.

All of this allowed me both to improve my physical playing, and for it to grow. And growth is what I wanted. The pedal on my old piano was dreadful: you had to stomp almost all the way down, and physically I had to fix things because of that, and I also got aches in my back on the right side with the old pedal.

This and various things helped in the goal of learning how to play the piano. I'm hoping that what I'm learning will transfer over to a grand; when I was deciding, I was going back and forth between an acoustic grand and this one.

I had also gone to Yamaha, where they had a rough equivalent. Hands down, the sound was more impressive. The Kawai has some kind of artificial volume cut-off which folks in the digital forum have complained about. However, the responsiveness and behaviour was not up to par with the Kawai. So I chose function over impressive sound.
Originally Posted by keystring
As a student, how good I end up sounding thanks to my instrument is not my top priority. In other words, if a given digital piano "has a fantastic sound" that is not the most important thing. I want to learn how to play the piano: how to use my body in conjunction with the piano's structure to create the kind of sound I envision.

It may not be your priority but you can't deny that it can be a motivating factor. I used to have the same attitude of dismissing sound quality as less important than the key action, but after having had several digital pianos and I can attest that the sound definitely has an influence on how eagerly you get to the piano bench every day.

Originally Posted by keystring
There is a "let-off", a little notch you can actually feel, like a grand, which is absent in upright pianos, and which allows one to play rapid notes, like in ornaments.

Uprights most definitely have a let off, otherwise the action wouldn't be able to function properly (the hammer has to be "let off" to fly freely before hitting the strings). You are confusing this with the repetition mechanism in grands, which allows one to repeat notes without letting the damper go down but is absolutely not required in order to play ornaments. The little notch that you are talking about feels a bit different on uprights than on grands (at least the one I played) but it's definitely there.
Yes, it’s certainly there on an upright. It can be more or less noticeable depending on the precise regulation and amount of wear on the jack tip.

But that isn’t the main difference between the feel of an acoustic and a cheap digital. The “let off” point where the jack slips out from under the hammer butt (so that the hammer just taps the string and is not held against it) only occurs very late in the key-stroke. It’s not the main contributor to the feel.

The thing with an acoustic action is that the hammer can become disconnected from the key at any point in the key stroke, depending on how hard you push it. This is the main “feel” to an acoustic.

It’s like pushing a car. You could give it a really strong shove at the beginning to get it moving, and then just walk along behind it (not pushing) as it rolls. Or you could push it more gently and continuously the whole time, which would feel very different. You are not tied to the car and can choose what to do.

More expensive digital pianos mimic this action, but cheap digitals do not - they are tied to the car.
Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Hearing is believing. Here is a video from Germany featuring the Casio Grand Hybrid performing a Mozart piano concerto next to a full-size grand.


Though the sound of the Casio is pretty good it is still clearly behind the acoustic. These recorded comparisons are usefull but do not reflect what one hear in real situations. Lots of the harmonic content of the acoustic is lost through the recording process so it tends to level out the 2 pianos. I was at some time interested in top hifi systems, but fact is that no current existing recorded music comes close to the real thing in terms of harmonic content and dynamics (some costing way more than a Steinway). So as a consequence, for now no matter how good is the sound system of a digital, it will never be as rich as an acoustic. But the quality is impressive.
Originally Posted by Qazsedcft
It may not be your priority but you can't deny that it can be a motivating factor. I used to have the same attitude of dismissing sound quality as less important than the key action, but after having had several digital pianos and I can attest that the sound definitely has an influence on how eagerly you get to the piano bench every day.
Growth is my motivating factor. Sound is not what influences my eagerness. Different people are different.

Originally Posted by keystring
There is a "let-off" repetition lever, a little notch you can actually feel, like a grand, which is absent in upright pianos, and which allows one to play rapid notes, like in ornaments.

Quote
.... You are confusing this with the repetition mechanism in grands, which allows one to repeat notes without letting the damper go down but is absolutely not required in order to play ornaments.
You are right about the name. I did not have the right name for it; I've now corrected it (repetition lever). I did not say that it was required to play ornaments, but that it helps in playing fast ornaments. If you go back to the simpler digitals I wrote about, these were extremely limited both due to the mechanical balance of the keys themselves, and the sensors - one was considerably slowed down. Speed and responsiveness also play a role in dynamics and control. I realize that this is mixing grands, uprights, and acoustics, but since I wrote of a hybrid that mimicked aspects of a grand that's how the three came in there.

I found this video which explains the difference of mechanics between the two types of piano. (first 90 seconds is pertinent).
Given your circumstances I think a good digital was the wise choice. Nothing precludes you from buying an acoustic in a few years time.

You'll have gained more experience and hopefully be in a better position to evaluate just what it is you want out of a piano too in terms of touch/sound. You can also take your time, which is important in finding the right piano, be it used or new.

Regarding upright vs grand, I think the mechanism being talked about is the "double escapement" which allows grands to play with an increased repetition over most uprights (a few more expensive models I believe have it too). The exact note repetition per second seems hard to find, the best I turned up last time I looked into it was generally 7 vs 14 notes/s. Although more modern actions claim to increase repetition rate slightly.

The count/s is unlikely to be be an issue for the vast majority of pianists with exceptions for those into playing certain advanced repertoire. Although you don't need to be maxing out the repetition count to take advantage of the mechanism. iirc on a grand this will ease playing ppp too?
It's funny how those discussions of digital vs. acoustic remind me of all those fake meat products for vegans. Instead of being "just like the real thing" why can't it be "its own thing"?
I just thought I would add my 2 cents but please excuse me if I repeat things that have already been said (I don't have much time to go through all of it).

Half a year ago I bought Yamaha CLP 625 which is the lowest model of the series I believe. I chose Yamaha for the sound (I grew up playing/fooling around with an old upright Petrof which has a very different sound and I've always wanted the Yamaha sound). As for the mechanics, when I play it I feel just like playing a real (acoustic) piano. I couldn't tell the difference. (Of course, it is probably a matter of mastery as well.)

I only feel a little bothered by the fact that I KNOW it is "only" a digital. From time to time I suspect that maybe I can't produce a certain sound because it is not an acoustic, but I consciously know it is not the case. I mean the psychological effect of the fact that my sound comes out of speakers instead of real physical strings, is what I find a little annoing. I do see it as a surrogate. For this reason I hope someday I will be able to have an actual acoustic - just to dismiss the sneaky doubt. (But I have to buy a house before.)

However, I can't stress enough how comfortable it is to:
1) play a piano that gets never out of tune (lets face it, there are so many things you should do regularly... and you just don't do it. The same happens with having your piano tuned.)
2) you can play WHENEVER and WHATEVER you want and noone is going to complain

I should maybe mention (given that the author of the thread was considering the Clavinova series) that very shortly after I bought my CLP 625 I started having different issues (sticky keys, noisy pedal, strange noise at the beginning of a recording, not being able to play staccato in high notes) but I think if I have it serviced they should be able to fix all of it. I was just a little disillusioned ... However, I still adore the sound.

I think it really comes down to where you live and how much you care about people getting annoyed...
There was one forum poster in the digital section who spent upwards of $50,000 to enhance his digital piano so it sounded like the real thing. He bought high powered amps, processors, and massive speakers. He convinced himself that he had perfectly replicated the acoustic grand experience that when I pointed out that I don't think he did, I think he got so upset that I think he stopped posting. So, I try to be very diplomatic when it comes to these discussions and realized that this is a sensitive topic. But my thoughts on the matter were, if you have the money, space, and the walls to accept such a set-up there is no reason not to just invest in a $50,000 acoustic grand piano. If the argument is what about the tunings and silent playing I would just have to shake my head in disbelief.

I still believe for most the purchase of a quality acoustic piano is a smarter choice than a high end digital of the same price. One of my piano teachers told me in the past to always buy the best acoustic piano I could afford because typically you get a better resale if you were trying to sell later. This turned out true for me because I was able to sell my Kawai RX-2 for only $2000 less than what I bought it for 13 years ago. Try that with $12K plus digital.

When you are looking at the lower end digital in the sub say $3000 range, I could see where they are good buys and somewhat disposable items when they have reached their useful lifespan. But it is those hybrids with real actions built in - while I can see their appeal, I just don't think they make good economic sense. With so many moving wooden parts there will be a need to bring in a piano tech to eventually regulate or fix something in those digital pianos and all that money you would have saved on tunings will be spent paying off long technician visits paying someone to figure out how to open and put back together those things. Look how many people have technical issues with their digital pianos and it's wrong to assume that these instruments are bullet-proof. The high end digital hybrids are relatively new to the market and who really knows how much work they will need in the future. Also, the thought of just one power surge knocking out the motherboard would irk me on a 12K plus digital instrument. But again if the situation only allows for a digital piano then having one is better than having nothing to play. I just wouldn't overspend on such an item.

Acoustic pianos have been around for hundreds of years and the art and know of how to maintain and fix them is down to a science. Every part of the acoustic piano can be replaced and pianos are designed for upkeep and maintenance. Unlike electronic instruments, find acoustical instruments don't take a nose dive in their resale value the minute the leave the showroom and they are built to last lifetime.

Having said that as it has been said a few times before, I also think having access to both is the ideal just be careful not to overspend.
Originally Posted by Eliskas
I just thought I would add my 2 cents but please excuse me if I repeat things that have already been said (I don't have much time to go through all of it).

Half a year ago I bought Yamaha CLP 625 which is the lowest model of the series I believe. I chose Yamaha for the sound (I grew up playing/fooling around with an old upright Petrof which has a very different sound and I've always wanted the Yamaha sound). As for the mechanics, when I play it I feel just like playing a real (acoustic) piano. I couldn't tell the difference. (Of course, it is probably a matter of mastery as well.)

I only feel a little bothered by the fact that I KNOW it is "only" a digital. From time to time I suspect that maybe I can't produce a certain sound because it is not an acoustic, but I consciously know it is not the case. I mean the psychological effect of the fact that my sound comes out of speakers instead of real physical strings, is what I find a little annoing. I do see it as a surrogate. For this reason I hope someday I will be able to have an actual acoustic - just to dismiss the sneaky doubt. (But I have to buy a house before.)

However, I can't stress enough how comfortable it is to:
1) play a piano that gets never out of tune (lets face it, there are so many things you should do regularly... and you just don't do it. The same happens with having your piano tuned.)
2) you can play WHENEVER and WHATEVER you want and noone is going to complain

I should maybe mention (given that the author of the thread was considering the Clavinova series) that very shortly after I bought my CLP 625 I started having different issues (sticky keys, noisy pedal, strange noise at the beginning of a recording, not being able to play staccato in high notes) but I think if I have it serviced they should be able to fix all of it. I was just a little disillusioned ... However, I still adore the sound.

I think it really comes down to where you live and how much you care about people getting annoyed...
Good points.

Enjoy the digital now while you have it and look forward to a new house and a new piano in the future. That's what I did. I never dreamed I would own a nice home let alone a fine piano. But I worked hard and now I have those things. It will happen for you too. Just keep enjoying playing music with whatever instrument you own presently. Isn't it nice to know there will always be other options in the future?
Jethro's advice is excellent, especially his point about the risk of overspending on a digital piano. The inexpensive digitals are a great value, but you should seriously consider an acoustic when spending thousands of dollars on a piano.

Unless you absolutely need to practice silently using headphones, when there is no alternative to a digital instrument.
_____________________________________

You may want to read this long thread on my purchase of an acoustic grand after many multi-hour tests of digital pianos.

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...stic-couldn-t-decide-so.html#Post2845043

As you can see from that thread, I kept my Yamaha digital even after buying the Kawai grand, as each has its advantages.

The complexity of sound from the acoustic is far superior, and control of dynamics through the keys and pedals much easier.

Nevertheless, the digital has its place, with its ability to: play a variety of instruments, switch the lead tracks off on a MIDI recording to play the lead tracks oneself with the orchestral accompaniment, and record performances.

In the year during which I've had both instruments, I have played the acoustic grand 95% of the time and the digital piano just 5%. But I love having both.
_____________________________________

Following Jethro's example, I will sign off thus:

Working on: Mozart: Adagio in B minor, K 540

Pianos: Kawai GM-10, Yamaha DGX-660

Note that both his acoustic and digital pianos are much higher-end instruments than mine, but the principle holds!
Today there is the graded hammer action & weighed keys in digital pianos that are very close to an acoustic. DPs from Yamaha, Kawai, Roland & Korg have similar action to an acoustic. And some models have rough plastic keys like you are playing on the old ivories.

I live in a building for many years and practice music without headphones even late at night. My playing didn't bother the people around. There are pianos you can lock a foot pedal to make the sound quieter for practice. I know people who got into the Suzuki or Yamaha music program got acoustic pianos which was recommended by their teachers. 1 family has an upright in the son's tiny bedroom in an apartment. The living room is much bigger and more suitable for a piano. They probably don't like to showcase the son's piano playing to visitors so the bedroom door is usually closed.

A few years ago I met a retired man who got hold of an old upright from a friend who moved to another city. Living in a small apartment isn't an issue. The neighbors seem to enjoy his music. The piano is still in good condition although it hasn't been tuned for a while. He tried a few hybrid pianos. The action is as good as you can get to an acoustic piano but the sound is still a bit off.

I know people who live in a house with a baby grand. Personally I prefer a high-end upright. While most upright are similar with a box of strings at the back, I've seen 2 that are unlike the rest including a Boston upright with a 6-star rating from the European Manufacturers Assoc. from a Steinway showroom and a vintage Steinway upright ("Victory") piano that was used in the S. Pacific during the War (1940s) but in very good condition. Otherwise, a good DP would be fine for practice.
Originally Posted by Jethro
Look how many people have technical issues with their digital pianos and it's wrong to assume that these instruments are bullet-proof. The high end digital hybrids are relatively new to the market and who really knows how much work they will need in the future. Also, the thought of just one power surge knocking out the motherboard would irk me on a 12K plus digital instrument.

On the subject of Power Surges, Earth is way overdue for a massive Corona Mass Ejection event. Most people's houses will be of 0-shielding value, Many surface electronics will fry. We are more vulnerable than ever before, because our modern electronics use extremely tiny voltages.

Wiki:

A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a significant release of plasma and accompanying magnetic field from the solar corona. They often follow solar flares and are normally present during a solar prominence eruption. The plasma is released into the solar wind, and can be observed in coronagraph imagery.
Originally Posted by Jethro
There was one forum poster in the digital section who spent upwards of $50,000 to enhance his digital piano so it sounded like the real thing. He bought high powered amps, processors, and massive speakers. He convinced himself that he had perfectly replicated the acoustic grand experience that when I pointed out that I don't think he did, I think he got so upset that I think he stopped posting. So, I try to be very diplomatic when it comes to these discussions and realized that this is a sensitive topic.

It certainly is a sensitive topic. But in the world of high end fidelity, 50k is really common. There are speakers who cost more than that and i have listened to set ups that costs several times that amount. And yet, even if the dynamic is close to a real concert, no electronic system is harmonically comparable to real instruments, no matter what the price is. But of course the difference can be appreciated subjectively and some people may be perfectly happy with it.
Quote
. . . Many surface electronics will fry. . . .

I think that running a DP from a UPS (un-interruptable power supply, which uses line power to charge batteries, and gets power for the DP from the batteries) should overcome the effects of a CME. They're not terribly expensive.

There was a CME -- maybe 30 years ago -- that took down the Quebec and Northern Ontario power grid. But home electronics didn't suffer much, if any, damage. See here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_1989_geomagnetic_storm
Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
There was a CME -- maybe 30 years ago -- that took down the Quebec and Northern Ontario power grid. But home electronics didn't suffer much, if any, damage. See here:

Those are just baby CMEs. The big boy's coming. -Assuming covid19 doesn't kill us all first.
I would like to add that even neighbors who don't complain might feel annoyed. I feel annoyed when my neighbor's dog barks and I've never told her. I know people are annoyed about my children's screaming. They don't tell you directly but it strains the atmosphere. I mean, once we did have a neighbor who actually played the piano and I liked it, but we heard it only in the kitchen and not the bedrooms, it wasn't loud at all (good walls) and she played very very well. No scales and any such things. I wonder if she actually had a DP....


Originally Posted by Jethro
Originally Posted by Eliskas
I just thought I would add my 2 cents but please excuse me if I repeat things that have already been said (I don't have much time to go through all of it).

Half a year ago I bought Yamaha CLP 625 which is the lowest model of the series I believe. I chose Yamaha for the sound (I grew up playing/fooling around with an old upright Petrof which has a very different sound and I've always wanted the Yamaha sound). As for the mechanics, when I play it I feel just like playing a real (acoustic) piano. I couldn't tell the difference. (Of course, it is probably a matter of mastery as well.)

I only feel a little bothered by the fact that I KNOW it is "only" a digital. From time to time I suspect that maybe I can't produce a certain sound because it is not an acoustic, but I consciously know it is not the case. I mean the psychological effect of the fact that my sound comes out of speakers instead of real physical strings, is what I find a little annoing. I do see it as a surrogate. For this reason I hope someday I will be able to have an actual acoustic - just to dismiss the sneaky doubt. (But I have to buy a house before.)

However, I can't stress enough how comfortable it is to:
1) play a piano that gets never out of tune (lets face it, there are so many things you should do regularly... and you just don't do it. The same happens with having your piano tuned.)
2) you can play WHENEVER and WHATEVER you want and noone is going to complain

I should maybe mention (given that the author of the thread was considering the Clavinova series) that very shortly after I bought my CLP 625 I started having different issues (sticky keys, noisy pedal, strange noise at the beginning of a recording, not being able to play staccato in high notes) but I think if I have it serviced they should be able to fix all of it. I was just a little disillusioned ... However, I still adore the sound.

I think it really comes down to where you live and how much you care about people getting annoyed...
Good points.

Enjoy the digital now while you have it and look forward to a new house and a new piano in the future. That's what I did. I never dreamed I would own a nice home let alone a fine piano. But I worked hard and now I have those things. It will happen for you too. Just keep enjoying playing music with whatever instrument you own presently. Isn't it nice to know there will always be other options in the future?

Thank you. I totally agree. I used to think that getting back to playing was possible in maybe 20 years, when the kids would be grown up and I would have money to buy it, but then once I checked and found out that decent digitals had become quite affordable and I bought it for myself. So in a way I already made a dream come true. I practice while my children sleep in the other room so an acoustic actually wouldn't serve me better. I like how sometimes things that seem impossible become quite reachable.
I is an interesting question this, and one which I had with myself quite a bit before deciding to shell out some money.

In the end I bought myself a baby grand, which was delivered just before lockdown started, to go alongside my digital (Kawai CA67). Except for my piano lesson, my wife gets annoyed if I play my acoustic grand, so normally I play and practice on my digital with headphones and the acoustic when she is not in the house. Before my grand arrived, the only acoustic I got to play was an upright at my daughters house.

I'll make the following points

* before my grand arrived I thought my CA67 was a good keyboard, replicated the action well. I have always disliked its speakers, but liked the sound through headphones. I was happy with it
* after my grand arrived and I had a few times playing it to get use to it, it is harder to play that the digital. and suddenly the action on the digital felt very bland against the feel of the grand. I made the comment (on here I think - I submitted a piece to the Beethoven recital) that the grand felt like riding a thoroughbred compared to the digital. It has made me less happy about the CA67.
* although my grand has settled in and has gone out of tune as a result, there is still more subtlety in the sound that I can create that I can't create on the digital - its as though the digital is too clinical. I have relearnt Chopin Nocture Op 9 No2 during the lockdown and although i learnt and perfected it mostly on the digital, I can still get more expression from it playing the acoustic.
* I can still effectively practice on the digital to perfect a piece, so its still a great way to practice. I doesn't need one or two short sessions on the acoustic to get the feel of it on their, but then it works.
* Although the GFII action in the Kawai has always been considered the best (before the hybrids emerged), there is a distinct difference between it and the escapement feel on both acoustic pianos I have played.
* I am still glad that I kept my digital
Robert Estrin trying to play Chopin "expressively" on a Casio PX-S1000/3000. Besides a reasonable price, being portable and having a great key action, is the sound sufficient for those who played on an acoustic for years?

It's hard to judge sound based on a video because it's the sound coming out of my computer speakers not that from the piano speakers. That said from what I can hear I think the sound is fine for a digital piano but it's definitely not as rich as an acoustic. The synthetic quality of the digital sound is very audible. I personally don't like Casios much. The best sound I had in a digital was from a Kawai. Roland does a good job too but IMO is not as good. But that is my personal opinion and you can't argue with tastes.
Posted By: qi_ Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/20/20 01:53 AM
Thank you all for your comments. Today I went to a showroom and played around with some pianos. Not surprisingly, the acoustic ones (even the uprights) resonated with me better than the digital ones. However, given my living circumstances I decided to go with a digital. I am particularly considering Yamaha CLP 635 and Yamaha CLP 645. Any advice on this?

The sounds of the two pianos did not feel that different to my ears. But I like the action on the 645 slightly better. Overall, the differences did not seem too large to me. So at this point, I am leaning towards the 635 because it is $800 cheaper. Nevertheless, I wanted to ask those of you who have experience with either of these two models. What has been your experience and what would you recommend? I heard once that piano teachers tend to recommend the 645 model. I don't know why that is. Is it because the action better prepares you for when you eventually buy an acoustic? Or is there a bigger different in the sounds that I somehow missed today?

Thanks all!
The CLP-645 has Yamaha's better NWX action vs the CLP-635's GH3X, so I'm not surprised that you liked it better.

However, unless you are set on a console-style piano, a significantly better value is Yamaha's P-515 slab-style piano. It can be purchased with a stand and three pedals, and looks nice and finished when set up thus. The P-515 has the same action as the CLP-645 plus a complete set of XG voices at half the price.

For more information on the Yamaha P-515, search in the Piano World digital pianos sub-forum.

qi_, in my opinion, the price bracket that includes the Yamaha P-515, Roland FP90 and Kawai ES8 offers the best value in a digital piano for someone at your level. They are not beginner's instruments and yet stay clear of the "overspending on a digital" risk discussed above.
Posted By: Sebs Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/20/20 09:19 PM
Originally Posted by qi_
Thank you all for your comments. Today I went to a showroom and played around with some pianos. Not surprisingly, the acoustic ones (even the uprights) resonated with me better than the digital ones. However, given my living circumstances I decided to go with a digital. I am particularly considering Yamaha CLP 635 and Yamaha CLP 645. Any advice on this?

The sounds of the two pianos did not feel that different to my ears. But I like the action on the 645 slightly better. Overall, the differences did not seem too large to me. So at this point, I am leaning towards the 635 because it is $800 cheaper. Nevertheless, I wanted to ask those of you who have experience with either of these two models. What has been your experience and what would you recommend? I heard once that piano teachers tend to recommend the 645 model. I don't know why that is. Is it because the action better prepares you for when you eventually buy an acoustic? Or is there a bigger different in the sounds that I somehow missed today?

Thanks all!


While I know you're looking at these two Yamahas. Did you look at Nord Grand yet?

I highly recommend Nord Grand. I have owned acoustic upright and a few Nords. I actually prefer digital over acoustic, so I think you're making a great choice. For me, I enjoy having an array of sounds, White Grand, Digital, 80s, Electric, and so on. It's fun to sometimes just use the other instrument sound libraries too. The Nord Grand also has a great wood stand option and monitors. Not to mentions a Kawaii keybed. You can often find demo versions of the Nord grand at places like Sweetwater Music and Kraft Music. Keep in mind no matter what you buy most places like Sweetwater and Kraft can offer you discount when you call a rep.
For learning piano, a Kawai MP11SE is hands down superior to a Nord Grand. And a Kawai MP7SE will be at least as good as a Nord Grand for that purpose, but much cheaper. There is just no reason for a beginning student to pay for a Nord Grand-- it would be paying for a number of features not relevant to learning the piano, and the changes Nord had Kawai make to the action may have detracted from its translation to an acoustic piano in the interest of supporting the range of sounds on a stage piano.

But an acoustic upright in good condition is a better option for learning piano.
I began a couple years ago with a digital piano, a humble Yamaha DGX660, which has the same GHS keybed than the more common P125 and P45. On mid February, just weeks before the COVID-19 epidemic forced a lockdown in my country, I bought a Yamaha U3H upright. During these two years, I have played plenty of different digital pianos, and also some other uprights (I have yet to play a grand, but as it wouldn't fit on my current home setup, it is better not to get tempted by it grin)

My experience so far is that the sound landscape you get from an acoustic, even an upright, has no parallel in the digital world. I have also plenty of piano VSTs, from Pianoteq to UVI, passing by NI, Arturia and such. It is a good approximation but still not the same. I have also a weighted MIDI controller to play the VSTs, but besides the touch, the sound is just not so rich.

Also, properly playing a digital piano does not mean you will able to immediately control the dynamics on an acoustic, which is quite a lot more difficult (bass tends to eat treble shocked )

So I would go for an upright, as sooner or later you will end there. Other option is to have both, as I do now, but if only one, my decision would be that.

Of course, YMMV and just IMHO.

Stay safe!
Posted By: Sebs Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/21/20 03:02 PM
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
For learning piano, a Kawai MP11SE is hands down superior to a Nord Grand. And a Kawai MP7SE will be at least as good as a Nord Grand for that purpose, but much cheaper. There is just no reason for a beginning student to pay for a Nord Grand-- it would be paying for a number of features not relevant to learning the piano, and the changes Nord had Kawai make to the action may have detracted from its translation to an acoustic piano in the interest of supporting the range of sounds on a stage piano.

But an acoustic upright in good condition is a better option for learning piano.

I'd disagree with you this... A kawai MP11SE is not hands down superior. I could just as easily say the Nord Grand is hands down superior because it weighs less, has better sound library, action is more responsive, better control panel, can use Mac or PC to manage the sounds, the overall style and look is much nicer. But I do not consider either 'superior' I think if them as both as amazing units and calling one better than the other is 100% preference.Sounds like you own a Kawai and I have a Nord hahah.

Also the action is still 100% done by Kawai so I doubt Nord would have Kawai "detract" it from an acoustic feel when the whole idea is a grand.

Saying a Nord grand is not for beginner then saying an MP11SE is? They're both high end costly premium keyboards so that doesn't make sense to me. There's no reason a beginner should not have a great keyboard or piano. If they have the means and want a nice piano/keyboard might as well invest into a unit you'll enjoy and love to sit at. I'm certainly not an advance pianist but I sure enjoy my Nord far more than I did of some previous keyboards I owned.
Posted By: Sebs Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/21/20 03:07 PM
Originally Posted by EB5AGV
I began a couple years ago with a digital piano, a humble Yamaha DGX660, which has the same GHS keybed than the more common P125 and P45. On mid February, just weeks before the COVID-19 epidemic forced a lockdown in my country, I bought a Yamaha U3H upright. During these two years, I have played plenty of different digital pianos, and also some other uprights (I have yet to play a grand, but as it wouldn't fit on my current home setup, it is better not to get tempted by it grin)

My experience so far is that the sound landscape you get from an acoustic, even an upright, has no parallel in the digital world. I have also plenty of piano VSTs, from Pianoteq to UVI, passing by NI, Arturia and such. It is a good approximation but still not the same. I have also a weighted MIDI controller to play the VSTs, but besides the touch, the sound is just not so rich.

Also, properly playing a digital piano does not mean you will able to immediately control the dynamics on an acoustic, which is quite a lot more difficult (bass tends to eat treble shocked )

So I would go for an upright, as sooner or later you will end there. Other option is to have both, as I do now, but if only one, my decision would be that.

Of course, YMMV and just IMHO.

Stay safe!

I like your point of having both. If I had the space and money I'd also have both haha. Although for me being in a tiny condo if I had an upright again I'd get one with full silencer as even with a practice pedal the acoustics are so loud and I was too self conscious playing early morning when most are asleep. It's also probably because I'm terrible at piano too. Maybe if I was more advance I wouldn't care as much about playing loudly in a condo.
Quote
I'd disagree with you this... A kawai MP11SE is not hands down superior. I could just as easily say the Nord Grand is hands down superior because it weighs less, has better sound library, action is more responsive, better control panel, can use Mac or PC to manage the sounds, the overall style and look is much nicer.
My comment was regarding features for a beginning piano student. A piano student doesn't need a computer interface or control panel on an MP11SE. You turn it in and play the SK-EX patch out of the box. But the Nord Grand has the action of the MP7SE with some modifications. Every sound in the MP11SE can be found in the MP7SE. The reason people pay $1100 more for the MP11SE is for its superior action, which is significantly closer to an acoustic grand than the RHIII action in the MP7SE or Nord Grand, in no small part because of longer keysticks and a longer pivot point. No modification to the RHIII done by Kawai for Nord lengthened the keysticks or pivot length. The action in an MP11SE is just superior to the the action in a Nord Grand or MP7SE for a piano student. The Nord Grand has many other advantages for the gigging musician, especially one who is not primarily a classical pianist, but there is no need for a beginning piano student to pay for those features.
The sound comparisons of 2 Yamaha DPs: the DGX660 & P125. The sound is acceptable. A company like Casio has been an electronic company and not a serious player in the piano market until the collaboration with Bechstein piano. Yamaha & Kawai are better choices since they started manufacturing acoustic piano many years ago. Even Roland have been making quality digital pianos a lot longer than Casio.

Posted By: Sebs Re: Buy a digital piano or an upright acoustic? - 06/24/20 12:24 AM
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote
I'd disagree with you this... A kawai MP11SE is not hands down superior. I could just as easily say the Nord Grand is hands down superior because it weighs less, has better sound library, action is more responsive, better control panel, can use Mac or PC to manage the sounds, the overall style and look is much nicer.
My comment was regarding features for a beginning piano student. A piano student doesn't need a computer interface or control panel on an MP11SE. You turn it in and play the SK-EX patch out of the box. But the Nord Grand has the action of the MP7SE with some modifications. Every sound in the MP11SE can be found in the MP7SE. The reason people pay $1100 more for the MP11SE is for its superior action, which is significantly closer to an acoustic grand than the RHIII action in the MP7SE or Nord Grand, in no small part because of longer keysticks and a longer pivot point. No modification to the RHIII done by Kawai for Nord lengthened the keysticks or pivot length. The action in an MP11SE is just superior to the the action in a Nord Grand or MP7SE for a piano student. The Nord Grand has many other advantages for the gigging musician, especially one who is not primarily a classical pianist, but there is no need for a beginning piano student to pay for those features.

I get it. I was just saying I wouldn't discard the option and I believe they're a similar price point. I'm also bias having a Nord grand and other Nords many years ago. smile I do agree the Nords have tons of bells and whistles that even I dont use much but when I do on occasion it's sure fun.
Originally Posted by Sebs
Originally Posted by Sweelinck
Quote
I'd disagree with you this... A kawai MP11SE is not hands down superior. I could just as easily say the Nord Grand is hands down superior because it weighs less, has better sound library, action is more responsive, better control panel, can use Mac or PC to manage the sounds, the overall style and look is much nicer.
My comment was regarding features for a beginning piano student. A piano student doesn't need a computer interface or control panel on an MP11SE. You turn it in and play the SK-EX patch out of the box. But the Nord Grand has the action of the MP7SE with some modifications. Every sound in the MP11SE can be found in the MP7SE. The reason people pay $1100 more for the MP11SE is for its superior action, which is significantly closer to an acoustic grand than the RHIII action in the MP7SE or Nord Grand, in no small part because of longer keysticks and a longer pivot point. No modification to the RHIII done by Kawai for Nord lengthened the keysticks or pivot length. The action in an MP11SE is just superior to the the action in a Nord Grand or MP7SE for a piano student. The Nord Grand has many other advantages for the gigging musician, especially one who is not primarily a classical pianist, but there is no need for a beginning piano student to pay for those features.

I get it. I was just saying I wouldn't discard the option and I believe they're a similar price point. I'm also bias having a Nord grand and other Nords many years ago. smile I do agree the Nords have tons of bells and whistles that even I dont use much but when I do on occasion it's sure fun.
I have a Nord C2. I like Nord keyboards. For a beginning piano student, though I would recommend discarding the option in favor of an action that is noticeably closer to an acoustic grand. In the US the MP11SE also is 20% cheaper. My complaint with the MP11SE is that it is quite heavy for a stage keyboard. The Nord Grand is a substantially superior stage keyboard (unless the action being as close as possible to an acoustic grand is your paramount concern).
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