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Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88

Posted By: toddy

Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 06/17/12 12:16 PM

In the 1980s, just when MIDI technology was finding its feet, Yamaha was, arguably, in the ascendant. They had the coolest accessible stuff around: marvellously clear and detailed sounding synthesisers using the exclusively digital FM technology (DX7 etc), and industry standard drum machines that weren't too expensive (RX11 etc).

So it made sense that they would complete their suite of MIDI stuff with a MIDI keyboard trigger - and I had rather high hopes when they came out with the KX88 - a neat but revolutionary idea: high quality keyboard, with substantial (piano-like?) action. It made no sound, but catered to all your MIDI routing and networking needs and you would control your whole studio, or gigging set-up, from this keyboard control device.

I remember trying one, expecting instant miracles (as we did in those days) but being somewhat unimpressed by the action - which was kind of lumpy and unrefined as I remember.

But they did continue in production until about years ago, according to what I've just read - that's a production run of about 30 years. On the other hand, I don't remember seeing many around - probably few people felt like spending a small fortune on an instrument that made no sounds at all.

But can anyone else remember the KX88 action? How does it relate to today's offerings of PHAIII, GH3 and RM? And would a second hand one be a good option for Sir Huddleston Fudd?
Posted By: EssBrace

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 06/17/12 01:59 PM

It is one of the all-time classics. All wooden action, responsive and meaty feeling. You very very rarely see one on the market - probably because if you have one you never ever want to part with it.

Great concept and I don't understand why the big boys (Yamaha, Roland, Korg and Kawai) don't still make a parallel product. The Roland MKB-1000, A80s and A90s were also superb in their day, the 90 being expandable with sounds if you wanted. But for great key feel and to control a module or, more likely, software, the KX-88 would still be hard to beat I should think. I actually think the demand for such a thing would be greater now than ever.
Posted By: JimmyTheSaint

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 06/17/12 02:11 PM

I arranged pre-orders of the KX-88 at two music stores in the summer of 1985. As soon as the first one to get it in stock called me, I went right out and picked it up. The other store called me a few days later, and they couldn't believe another store already had one to sell. I think this qualifies me as one of the first owners of a Yamaha KX-88.
Posted By: EssBrace

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 06/17/12 02:17 PM

Shipping would be a bit pricey to Europe but...

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Yamaha-Mi...DI&hash=item27c81b67aa#ht_897wt_1189
Posted By: toddy

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 06/17/12 02:26 PM

Interesting - you say responsive and meaty; I say lumpy and unrefined. I'd love to try one now to see if I'd change my mind. There was actually one for sale near where I live for about £500 - no idea if this is a good buy or not, really.

It seems there would be a market for keyboard triggers now, though, because virtual pianos work so well and are so well established. If I were a Kawai, Yamaha or Roland guy, I'd market a new line of keyboard trigger hardware/ software piano/multi instrument packages. The selling points would be total and easy compatibility, the highest quality and expandability and a very high prestige brand name.

It would be easy - they have everything in place already in terms of both soft & hard R&D. Just creative packaging.
Posted By: Dr Popper

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 06/18/12 01:23 AM

Probably the best midi Keyboard ever made or that ever will be made ......
Posted By: doremi

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 06/20/12 03:14 AM

Posted By: Dr Popper

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 06/20/12 07:17 AM

Well they did back then when it was first out they had that action in a few boards but sometimes ... new models are NOT better.
It's a bit like the Roland Jupiter the new JP-80 is a wonderful board but it's not a JP-8 ... the FM piano in the CP1 is great but it's not a DX7 ...the list goes on.
What I find interesting is that they still made this board up until about 3 years ago ...why they stopped ...who would know?
Posted By: toddy

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 06/20/12 02:02 PM

The problem is, if Yamaha did seriously re-launch the KX88 along with a high grade, fully expandable software package, its price should be set at about a third of the price - or less - than Roland's and Yamaha's high end niche stuff now - same would go for Kawai and Roland: a PHAIII midi keyboard with superNatural v.2 with V-piano thrown in.

Perhaps they won't do it because it would show their top of the range stuff up as being somewhat of a rip-off.
Posted By: keyboardologist

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 07/02/13 09:47 AM

Hello,
I would like to have a good hammer action for studying jazz piano and recording (midi) at home.
I have found a used KX88 in a good price, 240euro (excluding shipping cost, I think shipping cost could reach 100euros as KX88 including packaging will weight about 30kgs).
Do you think it's a good choice to invest in an old machine?
I'm only interested in a good action, I have other keyboards for studio and live, should I look for a newer action, maybe a 5year old midi controller, or just wait to save more money for a newer (previously tested) used Korg SP250, Yamaha s80 or s90, Kawai MP6, Kurzweil SP4-8, etc?
I have had bad experiences with some Studiologic/Fatar keyboards although I haven't tested SL990 or VMK-188 actions.
I need an action with fast response (on quick repeated hits on the same note) which generates good/real velocities.
Thank you!
Posted By: BaR

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 07/03/13 12:17 AM

John Hobbs still uses a KX88 and he is a premier A-list session player in Nashville and also one of the "Players." In fact here is a video of John playing his KX88 behind Vince Gill... piano comes in at 2:16
http://youtu.be/XcjLvWCOgb0

and another of him triggering a rhodes/wurlitzer type sound...
http://youtu.be/dWcTywHGhJM
Posted By: p.elvis

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 07/03/13 05:08 AM

new KX8 have crappy GHS like PSR action

http://store.musicservice.pl/product_info.php?cPath=19018_19020&products_id=30294

http://store.musicservice.pl/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=24&products_id=30080
Posted By: BaR

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 07/03/13 07:06 PM

KX8 is discontinued. The KX88 is a different animal (also discontinued) and the specs do not say what keybed is used. However, if it was a wooden key, it is absolutely not a GHS keybed.
Posted By: emenelton

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 07/03/13 07:38 PM

It might be good, but it's really old. Prone to problems and so on...

If I had to chose between bringing an old tired beast into my home or a A88, I'd pick the A88.

Just my 3 cents.

It does look nice though in the Vince Gill video.
Posted By: maurus

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 07/03/13 09:23 PM

Kawai should easily be able to put out a VPC1-M, a VPC1 with full MIDI controller functionality added, don't you think? Or even a VPC2-M, with their best (GF) action... wink
Posted By: keyboardologist

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 07/04/13 01:03 PM

Thank you all for your replies.
I'd also preferred new keyboards, but since low price keyboards aren't good enough in their action (KX8 is out), I have to go for a used Korg SP250, Akai MPK88, Rolnad A88 etc. which costs at least 500euros in Greece, also over budget for me now.
I'll investigate more about it, any other thoughts also welcomed!
Posted By: BaR

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 07/05/13 03:59 AM

For what it's worth, I wouldn't want a KX88 anyway - not at 62 lbs!!!
Posted By: Stephen Hazel

Re: Best Keyboard: Yamaha KX88 - 07/05/13 09:52 PM

My Yamaha CP-33 feels pretty dang nice for a digital. 40 lbs, $900 new (i think?).
Has a pretty solid couple piano sounds, too.
It's not gonna be very good for setting up splits and such, but hopefully your software will do take care of that.

A Kawaii MP10 has nearly a full acoustic keyboard i thiiiink (don't quote me on that).
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