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Hello everyone,

For a while now I have asked myself that question confused : what is the best "upright-sounding" digital piano? Notice that I don't set a price range ("the pricier the better"), because high-end pianos usually emulate concert grands (e.g., think of Roland RD series and V piano). For many like me, it would be convenient to know which digital pianos (stage pianos) out there might sound more like an upright than a grand. I assume that most people own uprights anyhow, before transitioning to a digital piano. A bit ironically, I think I am trying to avoid the concert grand feel . . . . .

I would appreciate your input on that matter. Thanks!

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One way to get an "upright sound":

. . . Buy Pianoteq, and use the "U" (upright) piano.

If you have a MIDI keyboard, and a computer fast enough to run Pianoteq, that's a lot cheaper than buying a Yamaha NU1 digital piano.

The "U" sound is noticeably different from any of the grand piano simulations. The virtual strings are shorter, there's more enharmonicity (if that's a word).

. Charles

PS -- Since Yamaha did a careful sampling job for the NU1, you'd expect that they'd use those samples in the new generation of stage pianos -- CP4, CP40. I don't know if they did, or not.


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The uprights in the Clavia Nord Piano collection are pretty authentic, and come in a few very distinct shapes. You won't go wrong with them.

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Yes, the Nord uprights are excellent.

Honourable mention must go to the Kawai upright in the MP11/MP7 and CA95/CA65 though - it's got a great, meaty character.

https://soundcloud.com/kawaimpseries/mp11-upright-piano
https://soundcloud.com/kawaimpseries/alt03-upright-piano

Cheers,
James
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You can check out the uprights on the RD800 - good offering. Im not a huge fan of but they can be edited to your liking for sure. Not sure it would beat Pianoteq or Nord. The MP11 sounded really good that KJ posted.

RD800 upright list
[Linked Image]




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Why are upright pianos always associated with ragtimes, boogie, stride and other types of predominantly amusement music, with unisons deliberately detuned? Upright pianos can have a beautiful and mellow sound with pure unisons and be used for serious music as well. Just wondering.


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Originally Posted by Marko in Boston
You can check out the uprights on the RD800 - good offering. Im not a huge fan of but they can be edited to your liking for sure. Not sure it would beat Pianoteq or Nord. The MP11 sounded really good that KJ posted.

RD800 upright list
[Linked Image]



Marko, I tried the upright patches on the RD-800 a couple of months ago, however they sounded more like detuned versions of the grands than a separate set of upright samples. Do you know if this is the case?

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James
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Originally Posted by Kawai James
Marko, I tried the upright patches on the RD-800 a couple of months ago, however they sounded more like detuned versions of the grands than a separate set of upright samples.


I agree with you on the Rock Upright and a bit on the Bright Upright. However, #28 Upright is ok. Mellow is probably the most palatable IMO. Keep in mind this at default setting. I have not gone into the piano designer to tweak it.

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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Why are upright pianos always associated with ragtimes, boogie, stride and other types of predominantly amusement music, with unisons deliberately detuned? Upright pianos can have a beautiful and mellow sound with pure unisons and be used for serious music as well. Just wondering.


Good question,
I play sometimes the U4 on Pianoteq and like it a lot.
But at the end I come back to the grand piano models, D4 and K2.
For me the real question is what is the interest in playing an upright sound on your DP instead of a grand piano sound? I don't know but would be interested to have your opinions.

In fact I don't see any advantage to play an upright sound over a grand except some times just for fun...

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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Why are upright pianos always associated with ragtimes, boogie, stride and other types of predominantly amusement music, with unisons deliberately detuned? Upright pianos can have a beautiful and mellow sound with pure unisons and be used for serious music as well. Just wondering.


Among the Uprights in the Nord Piano Library you'll find both types. Try, e.g., the Queen Upright, the Grand Upright and, if you prefer a truly warm and mellow, dynamic sound, the new Mellow Upright.

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Any digital piano or midi controller + Pianoteq U4.

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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Why are upright pianos always associated with ragtimes, boogie, stride and other types of predominantly amusement music, with unisons deliberately detuned? Upright pianos can have a beautiful and mellow sound with pure unisons and be used for serious music as well. Just wondering.


Cybergene,

I think you misunderstand the history. The genre you mention came from saloon bars where piano tuning was few and far between.
These pianos were not deliberately detuned the tuning just deteriorated.

Modern uprights detune but unlike grands they are not as regularly tuned as grands so they (the uprights) are used to emulate the old styles.

You are of course correct that an upright especially a high quality one can be used for 'serious' music if of course it is in good tune and regulation.

Charles is correct about trying Pianoteq U upright.

Ian (Knight K109 upright and Pianoteq 5)

Last edited by Beemer; 01/14/15 08:35 AM.

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I definitely agree that Nord has the best (and most diverse) collection of upright oriented samples. http://www.nordkeyboards.com/sound-libraries/nord-piano-library/upright-piano gives you a list on the left hand side of the page, you can listen to some demos of each model if you click on it. The action on the nord is quite a bit lighter than any upright I've played, so it probably doesn't have the most authentic feeling (though personally I like the action), but the sounds are definitely best in class. If it's in your budget, the nord piano might definitely be worth a look.


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I have to agree with James that the MP7 upright is very good - the best I've experienced outside of Nord.


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Originally Posted by Beemer
I think you misunderstand the history. The genre you mention came from saloon bars where piano tuning was few and far between.
These pianos were not deliberately detuned the tuning just deteriorated


I didn't mean authentic saloon pianos were deliberately detuned. I mean modern digital upright patches deliberately sample mostly detuned pianos and are then demoed with some honky-tonk music, as heard in Kawai demos above.

I like some of the Nord sampled, they are mellow and cleanly tuned so would suit classical, jazz, etc.

Last edited by CyberGene; 01/14/15 10:42 AM.

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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Why are upright pianos always associated with ragtimes, boogie, stride and other types of predominantly amusement music, with unisons deliberately detuned? Upright pianos can have a beautiful and mellow sound with pure unisons and be used for serious music as well. Just wondering.


Chopin was known to prefer an Upright Piano instead of a Grand.


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One advantage of Pianoteq:

There is a 'condition'parameter that lets you specify how much mis-tuning you want.

The U4 will go from 'concert' to 'barroom' to 'junkyard' at the click of a mouse.

.charles


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In my opinion, the best piano sounds come out of the Nord Electro. Whenever I compare it to other "digital pianos" I'm always very impressed.

Uprights are always associated with saloons, ragtime and such because they were easy, portable, affordable, and unobtrusive ways to get a piano into your establishment.

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Originally Posted by CyberGene
Why are upright pianos always associated with ragtimes, boogie, stride and other types of predominantly amusement music, with unisons deliberately detuned? Upright pianos can have a beautiful and mellow sound with pure unisons and be used for serious music as well. Just wondering.


There's a helpful little article on the subject here:
www.perfessorbill.com/help/faq9.htm

Keyboard nerd side note from back when I was working at Kurzweil: When Brian Wilson and his band were working on the SMiLE album around 2002, they asked me about how to approach using keyboards/samples for the live tour. They were asking about sampling Brian's old upright, which really had the tacks in the hammers.

I offered to mock something up in the K2600 using the ROM samples and synthesis before they went through the torture of recording and chopping up samples. Created a separate tack layer (a metal triangle transposed up, run through a shaper and filters) and used a few layers of a "junk piano" keymap that was in the ROM in addition to the standard piano samples. I set up a random detune that could be dialed in/out with the modwheel. Put some strong filters and EQs on the sliders so they could sculpt it to fit into a mix on the fly.

They ended up liking the sound (and the control they had over it) so much that they replaced the real thing on the album with the K26 sound. Years later I made a version of it for the PC3/PC3K... it's preset #12 or 13 I believe, called SMiLE/RkyRaccoon.

Of course these days there are *far* better samples available. Though they worked well for the task at the time, the old Kurz piano samples are tiny and dated. I hope to do an improved version of this one using the much nicer Forte samples sometime soon.

Studio album isn't on youtube, here's a live version. Piano can be heard pretty well at 4:30.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVu7pyjG9AU

I even got a little shout out in SoundonSound's article on the album. http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/Oct04/articles/smile.htm


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That was interesting, thanks for sharing it.


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