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Hello!

I want to learn piano. My budget doesn't allow me to go beyond $2500 USD. I can stretch it to $3000 USD. After a lot of research I like Yamaha Clavinova series, and Roland HP704. I like Kawai sound as well but I hear so many complaints about them and they are super expensive in my country compared to other brands, so I don't want to go for Kawais. I kind of shortlisted Clavinova CLP745 and Roland HP704. My questions -

1. What would you guys recommend me? I might get an acoustic piano later after testing the water?

2. How far can I go with digital pianos learning wise? I don't know if I will have access to an acoustic piano or not while learning as I am planning to learn online initially.

3. How far can I learn if learning exclusively online even from a great teacher and practicing on a digital piano only?

4. What will I lack and miss if learning only on a digital piano?

5. Will I struggle to play on an acoustic and destroy my technique if learning only on a digital piano?

Your valuable inputs will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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Both CLP745 and HP704 are nice.

I haven’t had difficulties playing with an acoustic piano while practicing DP, but I haven’t a technique with all the shade demonstrated here (I guess a DP will have an hard time to render them) :


I had some visioconf lessons (because of a Covid lockdown). It is not as practical than a normal lesson, but the teacher can spot tempo or wrong note issues. It would be harder to verify the fingering, the movements however.

Last edited by Frédéric L; 04/05/21 01:17 PM.

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Originally Posted by WPianoY
4. What will I lack and miss if learning only on a digital piano?

5. Will I struggle to play on an acoustic and destroy my technique if learning only on a digital piano?

Your valuable inputs will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.
4. You will miss being able to hear certain nuances that only acoustic pianos can provide, especially when you start using pedals.

5. Yes, you will definitely struggle on acoustic coming from digital if you've hardly ever had experience on the former. I won't say you'll destroy your technique on a digital piano, although there are some teachers who believe so.


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I don't think you will miss anything learning on a digital piano in that price range. And you will have some advantages over acoustic in that you will be able to practice more, practice privately (headphones or volume way down) and have a greater range of adjustable features that acoustics do not offer. Don't even think twice about it, just start learning and enjoy.

in 4 or 5 years, if you still love it and want to become a classical pianist, then you can experiment with acoustics and see what you think. The first 5 years it's not going to matter much what you play on.

Last edited by trooplewis; 04/05/21 04:45 PM.

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Originally Posted by WPianoY
4. What will I lack and miss if learning only on a digital piano?

Harmonic hearing won't develop, as digital pianos only mix single notes on top of each other instead of producing real harmonics like acoustic instruments. You will lack abilities to tell chords by ear and if an interval is in tune or not. As a result you will get chained to sheet music.

However this can be fixed with any other non-digital instrument, even with a simple and cheap ukulele. Ear training done there transfers over to the digital piano.


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(a)The Roland HP704 has Roland's best action (PHA-50) and a SuperNatural Modelling sound generator, and fairly good loudspeakers and amps:

. . . it is a very good DP, well past "beginner piano" level.

It has a continuous damper pedal, and good string-resonance simulation:

. . . If you do switch to an acoustic, you won't have big adjustments
. . . to make.

For several years, your progress will be limited by your effort, your talent, and your teacher, not by the DP. Certainly, until you get to advanced "intermediate" level, it should work fine.

(b) I have a bias toward "slab-format" DP's:

. . . You might consider the FP-90x, with a good stand, as an alternative.

(c) I suggest that you _don't_ turn the volume down, if you want to practice quietly:

. . . Get a good pair of headphones, _and use them_.

There's a very nice HP704 demo here:



I've never touched the Clavinova's, and can't comment on them.


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Originally Posted by JoeT
Originally Posted by WPianoY
4. What will I lack and miss if learning only on a digital piano?

Harmonic hearing won't develop, as digital pianos only mix single notes on top of each other instead of producing real harmonics like acoustic instruments. You will lack abilities to tell chords by ear and if an interval is in tune or not. As a result you will get chained to sheet music.
I'm guessing that you are not familiar with the Ear Training in online courses like Piano Marvel for digital piano users.
Maybe I have crap for ears, but I can't tell the difference between a chord on my Acrosonic and the same chord on my Casio.


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Originally Posted by JoeT
Originally Posted by WPianoY
4. What will I lack and miss if learning only on a digital piano?

Harmonic hearing won't develop, as digital pianos only mix single notes on top of each other instead of producing real harmonics like acoustic instruments. You will lack abilities to tell chords by ear and if an interval is in tune or not. As a result you will get chained to sheet music.

However this can be fixed with any other non-digital instrument, even with a simple and cheap ukulele. Ear training done there transfers over to the digital piano.

That's a misunderstanding of how DP's work, and how they sound. A simplified explanation:

A DP generates its sounds by using a recorded acoustic piano, and re-playing the recorded sounds. (Yes, I _know_ it's more complicated than that . . . )

Those recorded sounds contain _all the harmonics of the original acoustic tone_. And when two notes are sounded together, on a DP, all the dissonances that you'd hear on an acoustic piano, you'll hear from the DP's loudspeakers.

So "learning intervals", and doing harmony "by ear", is just about the same on a DP, as it is on an acoustic. A dissonance is a dissonance, on both instruments. Anyone who can hear "beats" when listening to an acoustic piano, can hear the same "beats" with a DP.

Where the DP _fails_ to sound like an acoustic piano, there are three common causes:

(a) the DP doesn't properly reproduce the way that an acoustic piano changes _timbre_ (tonal quality) as it moves from soft playing, to loud playing. DP's have been improving, and the good ones (the HP704 is a good one) do a pretty good job of emulating that behavior.

(b) The DP doesn't properly reproduce "string resonance" -- what happens on an acoustic piano, when you hold down one key, and strike another key, and the open strings of the held-down note resonate with the harmonics of the second note struck. Early DP's didn't do that. Good recent DP's have improved tone generators -- they are programmed to emulate that effect. Once again, the good ones emulate it better than the inexpensive ones.

(c) the DP's amps and loudspeakers are unable to reproduce an acoustic piano's range of pitch, and loudness. Solving that, starts with using good headphones for critical listening, and spending money on larger amps and loudspeakers. That process never ends.

The OP is a beginning pianist, and (I think) a beginning musician. IMHO, he'll be able to learn a lot on a DP.


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Originally Posted by trooplewis
I'm guessing that you are not familiar with the Ear Training in online courses like Piano Marvel for digital piano users.

There are "online course" for anything. That doesn't mean they are useful. For piano you need a real teacher.

Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
Those recorded sounds contain _all the harmonics of the original acoustic tone_.

Sorry, that I confused you. I never talked about overtones. I meant harmony.

So let me correct myself: No human starts with the ability to hear harmony (pre-school children usually only recognize melody) and will have a hard time learning that using a digital piano.

Be able to hear harmony and relative pitch are important abilities for any musician.


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Originally Posted by JoeT
So let me correct myself: No human starts with the ability to hear harmony (pre-school children usually only recognize melody) and will have a hard time learning that using a digital piano.

Why is it any different with a digital piano?

Can't you learn to recognise harmony with e.g. sine wave chords?

What about organs? Does it need to be an "acoustic" reed or pipe organ? Is a Hammond tone wheel organ good enough? What about a transistor organ? An FM synthesis based Electone from the 80's? A modern sampled one? Where is the magical line to not cross to still be able to learn to recognise harmony?

Can you learn to recognise harmony on an acoustic harsichord or clavichord?

What about an accordion? Does it need to have actual reeds or is a digital one okay?

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Whether you "need" a teacher or not has been debated to death in various subforums many many times and often ends up with people disagreeing quite loudly. Suffice to say, that there are many views on this and that people have different goals and opportunities.
Personally I got started with iPad based training when I first started out and that was a great way for me to get started with reading sheet music etc. I moved on to the Faber book and got most of the way through that on my own before finding a real teacher.
On this one I think it may be wise for us to agree that there is no one true way.

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Originally Posted by Morten Olsson
Whether you "need" a teacher or not has been debated to death in various subforums many many times and often ends up with people disagreeing quite loudly. Suffice to say, that there are many views on this and that people have different goals and opportunities.
Personally I got started with iPad based training when I first started out and that was a great way for me to get started with reading sheet music etc. I moved on to the Faber book and got most of the way through that on my own before finding a real teacher.
On this one I think it may be wise for us to agree that there is no one true way.

+1

Ultimately the learner is the one who has to play/practice/learn, so it really depends on the learner.


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Past the ‘basics’ you should go at it solo; akin to being pushed-on for your first bike ride, if the ‘teacher’ lets you free you might crash right into the tree (the first time), but after that, you will either ride free like a champion or never stop crashing. If the latter, then I recommend you give up on riding a bike (the bike represents the piano, here).

Many ‘teachers’ are full of it, and will hold you back so they can milk you more. Other teachers are arrogant, and it’s only the Russian way (strengthen like a boxer and beat up the piano to death); yes, they spend years on useless strengthening exercises as if you were training for the fight of your life and talking about subjective matters like how to play the ‘perfect’ trill; something that is at best ornamental, yet here I am debating whether to start on the upper or the lower.

Then they feed you all sorts of garbage about ‘expressing your innermost self’ when playing a ppp (ironically enough, you go from boxer to ballerina) despite the fact that ppp was invented by Liszt to show off how quietly he could play; so much so, that the audience couldn’t hear him (incidentally, he also invented the fff; another redundancy).


“Beat up the piano”; “caress the piano”; “now he sings, now he sobs”; “you’re the best”; “you suck”;....this goes on and on, so yes, I recommend only the ‘initial push’, then go at it Han Solo!


P.S.

For the nerds out there; no, Liszt did not literally invent the ppp/fff, so don’t go crazy ‘looking’ this up; however, he is the king of redundancy, so I used him ‘symbolically’ to make a point! wink


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Originally Posted by clothearednincompo
Originally Posted by JoeT
So let me correct myself: No human starts with the ability to hear harmony (pre-school children usually only recognize melody) and will have a hard time learning that using a digital piano.

Why is it any different with a digital piano?

That's the most interesting question. It might be because a digital piano mixes monophonic samples together, instead of what a real polyphonic instrument does. It doesn't seem to matter if these samples were recorded or created artificially. And it's not about overtones or "string resonance".

Quote
What about organs? Does it need to be an "acoustic" reed or pipe organ? Is a Hammond tone wheel organ good enough? What about a transistor organ? An FM synthesis based Electone from the 80's? A modern sampled one? Where is the magical line to not cross to still be able to learn to recognise harmony?

Technically there is no difference between a digital piano and a digital organ. They work on the exact same principles.

Quote
Can you learn to recognise harmony on an acoustic harsichord or clavichord?

Definitely! A violin works just as well.

Quote
What about an accordion? Does it need to have actual reeds or is a digital one okay?

There is also no technical difference between a digital piano and a digital accordion. They are all the same, just with a different sound font and different MIDI controller. It's all fake.


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Originally Posted by JoeT
It might be because a digital piano mixes monophonic samples together, instead of what a real polyphonic instrument does.

What if it mixes stereophonic or binaural samples together?

Can you then learn to recognise harmonies with it?

Originally Posted by JoeT
It doesn't seem to matter if these samples were recorded or created artificially. And it's not about overtones or "string resonance".

What if you don't know that it's a digital piano?

Can you then learn to recognise harmonies with it?

If you did and only later found out that e.g. an online course you took to learn it used a digital piano, are you then suddenly no longer able to recognise harmonies?

What kind of an acoustic vs. digital harmony learning double blind study have you done or are referring to?

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Yamaha P-45 is a good entry level digital keyboard. It has weighted keys and a reasonable piano sound. The other day went by a piano store. The man showed me a Casio PX-S1000. A while ago somebody talked about the weight of the black & white keys vary a little bid on the Casio. Don't think it is an issue now. The piano sound is quite nice. For a few more bucks the store is going to throw in a 3-pedal unit and the stand. It's the probably the lightest keyboard you can buy that has weighted keys.

Be sure to negotiate with the store to throw in at least a 2-pedal unit and the stand even if you don't need them now. Otherwise most cheap keyboards will include a low-quality sustain pedal. A piano bench is usually not in the package.

A digital sound is not 100% copy of an acoustic and this is a fact. Some like Casio Grand Hybrid with 88 hammers is a collaboration with the Bechstein piano company. And the Yamaha Clavinova DP has a Bosendorfer piano sound. Before the C-19 lockdown, I used to go to music class at a local conservatory. The room has Yamaha Clavinova DPs. The teacher has no problem with them. With weighted keys, you should be able to go from a DP to an acoustic easily. I can borrow an acoustic downstairs in the conservatory for recording an authentic acoustic sound. The sound on most DPs are tolerable.

Once I learned the first movement of the Bach Italian Concerto in F on a DP. Went to a Christmas party a few weeks later and played it on an acoustic upright. No issue.

Over the years I learn as much on my own as with a teacher. After you learn to read, you have a whole library of books you can access. I still buy repertoire books occasionally but download sheet music regularly.

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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
Yamaha P-45 is a good entry level digital keyboard. It has weighted keys and a reasonable piano sound.

Learning on a budget board has its merits. The player gets to form a deeper understanding of piano dynamics before spending the big money. With that knowledge he can make a better choice as to what type of sound and feel is suitable for his development.

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Originally Posted by EinLudov
Learning on a budget board has its merits. The player gets to form a deeper understanding of piano dynamics before spending the big money. With that knowledge he can make a better choice as to what type of sound and feel is suitable for his development.

Eh, at best you learn an understanding of how to produce dynamics on a budget board. There are other good reasons to choose a budget DP but this is the opposite of one of its benefits.


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Originally Posted by clothearednincompoop
. . .
Can't you learn to recognise harmony with e.g. sine wave chords?

The richer the overtone structure of an instrument, the easier it is to recognize "in-tune" vs "out-of-tune" matches between pitches, and the harmonic relationship between two different pitches.

If you're singing, it's a lot easier to use a high-harmonic-content drone (e.g. a reed organ), rather than a sine-wave drone (a synth sine wave, or a flute) to stay on pitch.

Originally Posted by JoeT
. . .
That's the most interesting question. It might be because a digital piano mixes monophonic samples together, instead of what a real polyphonic instrument does. It doesn't seem to matter if these samples were recorded or created artificially. And it's not about overtones or "string resonance".

JoeT maintains that there's some deep difference between the way DP's sound (or the way we hear them), and the way acoustic instruments sound. He can't (to my mind) define what that difference is, or how to measure it. I think I'll let that argument rest.


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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by EinLudov
Learning on a budget board has its merits. The player gets to form a deeper understanding of piano dynamics before spending the big money. With that knowledge he can make a better choice as to what type of sound and feel is suitable for his development.

Eh, at best you learn an understanding of how to produce dynamics on a budget board. There are other good reasons to choose a budget DP but this is the opposite of one of its benefits.

One of the benefits of such a board is having a "piano" (in parenthesis) on a shoestring budget. Means when you're really broke, but have a burning desire to play piano and only piano, then it's better than a paper keyboard.

If you're not really into it, a budget board is the quickest way to wean yourself from the craft. If you're just into making music, there are more affordable and easier to learn stringed options without keys and hammers.

If you have a sensible budget available ($ 1500 up), there is literally no point in buying a budget board as your first and only instrument. That would be a plain waste of money. And if you have a real budget ($ 3500 up), there is no point in going for anything else than a real piano. Given that you want to get into playing the piano.


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