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Posted By: Lotus1 New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/25/17 03:27 AM
Hello, everyone! I just became a member of this forum, having recently bought a new Yamaha DGX 660, which I will review in a separate thread. It has been fun returning to playing the piano after 40 years away; I studied music for about 10 years as a child and progressed to an intermediate level.

The piano came with a square plastic sustain foot switch, which even Yamaha deigns to call a foot pedal, it being an on-off switch. I found this intolerable after just a few days and picked up a new Yamaha FC3A sustain foot pedal, compatible with the half-pedaling that the DGX 660 supports. This pedal stays put on the floor, unlike the foot switch, and offers a nice level of resistance upon depressing it.

My question relates to the half-pedaling function of the FC3A. While the pedal offers a good amount of travel, I have noticed that it seems to have no sustain effect for at least half its range, then gradually increasing sustain only over about the bottom half of its travel. While not impossible to modulate, it would have been nicer if the sustain gradually increased over its entire range of travel.

I returned to the store to check how the sustain pedals on consoles with built-in pedals work, and tried the Yamaha YDP 143 and 181 and Roland RP 102, the only ones on display. While I preferred the slightly heavier resistance of my standalone FC3A, it appeared that the sustain pedals on all three consoles started sustaining slightly on initial depression and increased gradually over their entire range.

Meanwhile, Yamaha's DGX 660 user manual says this about half-pedaling (via the add-on the FC3A single pedal or the LP7A three-pedal board): "This function allows you to vary the sustain length depending on how far the pedal is pressed. The farther you press the pedal, the more the sound sustains. For example, if you press the pedal and the notes you play sound a bit murky and loud with too much sustain, you can partially release the pedal to lessen the sustain (murkiness)."

My FC3A certainly does this -- if full sustain makes the sound murky, release it a bit to reduce the murkiness. But it does not gradually increase sustain over its entire range of travel. Is this behavior normal? Would a replacement FC3A work any differently? Should I try a Roland DP-10? Or should I just live with it, being certainly not intolerable, just more difficult to modulate.

Thanks for your help ... and happy holidays!
Posted By: Frédéric L Re: New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/25/17 07:45 AM
On a real piano, the range of modulation is limited by the elasticity of the dampers : you start to modulate when the dampers start to leave the strings, and you stop modulating when the dampers don’t touch the strings anymore.

Then, I would expect a digital piano to behave the same. On high-end piano, the feedback pressure curve is designed to match the 3 phase (strings fully damped, modulation, all strings undamped), with more pressure when all the weight of the dampers are lifted by the pedal.
Posted By: MacMacMac Re: New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/25/17 07:49 AM
The user manual says that this piano has half-pedal function. So expect the "half" effect to appear somewhere in the middle of the pedal motion.

There will be no variation of the effect until you depress the pedal fully, or release it. It's not a graded pedal effect.
Posted By: anotherscott Re: New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/25/17 01:46 PM
Originally Posted by Lotus1
Would a replacement FC3A work any differently? Should I try a Roland DP-10?

While I suppose there's a chance that your FC3A is defective, I suspect that's just how they designed it to work. The Roland DP10 and Yamaha FC3A are not interchangeable.
Posted By: Lotus1 Re: New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/25/17 02:48 PM
Thanks, all, for your kind responses.

Frederic L: Your explanation make sense to me and matches how the FC3A pedal behaves on my DGX 660. Though I find it odd that the built-in sustain pedal on Yamaha's YDP models has a graduated effect across its entire range of travel, unlike their standalone FC3A pedal. The FC3A seems to offer a little more resistance than the built-in YDP pedal and may be designed to more closely replicate the sustain pedal on a real piano.

MacMacMac: My FC3A does have a graded effect, but it is limited to the bottom half of its travel range. So it needs to be modulated carefully within that range -- not extremely difficult, but one has to be careful. The resistance the pedal offers helps in the modulation.

anotherscott: I think you are right in that they designed it to perform in this way. It is certainly much better than the sustain foot switch that comes with the DGX 660, without a sharp cutoff when one slowly releases the pedal. I had understood that the Yamaha FC3A and Roland DP10 have the same polarity, unlike similar Casio and Korg pedals. But perhaps there is some other compatibility issue of which you are aware.

Thanks, again. I expect to keep the pedal after reading your feedback, but thoughts from others are welcome.
Posted By: anotherscott Re: New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/25/17 02:54 PM
Originally Posted by Lotus1
I had understood that the Yamaha FC3A and Roland DP10 have the same polarity, unlike similar Casio and Korg pedals. But perhaps there is some other compatibility issue of which you are aware.

You could be right, my memory might be confused.
Posted By: Frédéric L Re: New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/25/17 06:34 PM
With on-off pedal, we can talk about polarity (normaly closed, normaly open), there are only 2 modes a switch can be made.

With a graded pedal, we have a potentiometer, and 3 wires to connect to the Tip, ring and sleeve of the jack plug. There are so many ways to connect them (6), that you would be lucky to find two compatible pedals from different brands.

(The resistance of the potentiometer may also differ from a brand to an other, but if we just have a voltage divider, it may not be so important).
Posted By: MacMacMac Re: New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/25/17 08:47 PM
I think this is all moot. The Yamaha manual says that this piano has half-pedal response, not full graded pedal. So the OPs description of the pedal behavior is a reflection of the piano's design, not of any fault of the pedal.
Posted By: Gombessa Re: New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/25/17 11:46 PM
Afaik, "half pedaling" and "partial pedaling" don't have anything to do with when the pedaling function catches. Nearly all half-pedals have a pot that delivers graduated resistance throughout the range of travel. Different pianos do different things with the same signal though. Some will apply the pedal effect near the top of the travel, some will start it closer to 50%. Some will have 4 layers of half-pedaling, some will have 8+. A few will have non-linear response.

And some more advanced DPs let you customize the dead spot (so you can rest your foot on the pedal without activating it), the range of travel, and the curve of the effect.

The fc3a is one of the staple half-pedals out there; I've found it is very consistent and reliable to use. But the way the pedal is treated depends almost entirely on the piano it's connected to.
Posted By: Lotus1 Re: New piano -- sustain pedal question - 12/26/17 01:13 AM
Thanks, everyone!

Frederic L's first post on an acoustic piano's sustain pedal's phases reflects exactly how the FC3A works on my DGX 660: a no-sustain period for the initial part of its travel, a period where graduated modulation between no-sustain and full-sustain is possible, and a period of full-sustain when the pedal is almost or fully depressed. His second post explains why continuous pedals might not be interchangeable across brands, even with the same polarity. I note that customers on the thomann.de website have said that the retailer advised them not to use Roland pedals on Yamaha pianos due to compatibility issues, just as anotherscott has cautioned. Gombessa, I appreciate the detail you've added, including your experience with the same model pedal.

I just wanted to make sure my FC3A was not defective and your explanations indicate it is probably fine. It is an elegant pedal with a curved metal tongue and angled sides, a nice weight and toothed rubber grips that help it stay in place, and offers reasonable resistance to help with sustain modulation. A huge improvement in appearance and function over the plastic foot switch that came with the DGX 660.

By the way, I did consider the optional Yamaha LP7A three-pedal unit that bolts onto the piano stand, but the mismatched backing board (colored gray instead of black like the piano), gray plastic pedals, higher position off the floor, and reports of squeaky plastic-on-plastic connections turned me off. I never used the soft pedal in 10 years of study as a child and neither my home nor my teacher's pianos had a sostenuto pedal, so I figured I would not miss the other two pedals.
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