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#3104694 04/10/21 09:41 PM
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mojoe Offline OP
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Let me preface this by saying that I am a beginner. Those more experienced may feel that the keyboard I talk about below is pure garbage, and not suitable, even for practicing. That may be, but for now, my needs are simple, and their are few choices for an 88-key travel keyboard.

I'm in the Merchant Marine, so when I go to work, I'm away from home for months at a time. I wanted a keyboard that I could take with me for practicing when I'm at sea. It had to be something that I could carry on an airplane, as I don't like to check luggage. The keyboard will count as my "personal item", in addition to my carry on bag.

My research found three 88-key keyboards that either folded or split into pieces, priced from $100 to $200. There were a few other such keyboards that cost much more, but they may or may not actually be available (one was a Kickstarter). I didn't consider short keyboards under 61-keys.

After searching online and watching YT videos, I decided to purchase the NikoMaku Portable Piano Keyboard from Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08L7RX2P1/

This is actually a rebadged Bora BX-20. The box is actually labeled "BX-20".

https://borapiano.com/products/bx-20-foldable-piano--travel-piano-115

You can buy one for a bit less on Bangood, if you don't mind waiting weeks to get it from China. I thought that the ability to have it in two days, and to return it easily to Amazon if necessary, was worth a bit more.

Amazon only had the white keyboard. If you want the black one, you'll have to get it from China.

The product video shows that the mating halves use pogo pin connectors. The keyboard I received used a reinforced ribbon cable. While I'm sure the ribbon cable was done as a cost savings, I think that this is the better solution, from a reliability standpoint.

As for instrument sounds, don't even bother using the built-in 2W speakers. Headphones sound much better. No, this is not going to sound like an expensive keyboard, but for practice while travelling, it is adequate.

The keys are velocity sensitive, but feel a bit heavy.

The zippered case is padded, but I added 1/2 inches of dense foam on the top, botton, and folding side (not using the included protective plastic end cover). The case still zippers closed, but it is a tight fit, especially with the music stand included.

Keyboard, music stand, bag = 10 lb, 8 oz. Add 5 oz for pedal and charger. The USB charger looks to be like the very cheap ones that you get in the dollar store. I wouldn't trust it, but since I have several good USB chargers, that's not an issue.

I did not test the USB or Bluetooth MIDI feature. I expect that it works, but I won't be using it.

I could wish for something better, but compared to the other folding keyboards that I was able to find in this price range, I think this one is the best of the bunch.

If anyone knows of a better keyboard that folds, please let me know. If it isn't too expensive, I can still return this one.

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I have no idea how good or bad this one is, but it's one more to consider... https://duopiano.ca/products/duo

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That is really neat !!!!

Please report back, after you've used it for a bit. Thanks --


. Charles
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mojoe Offline OP
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
I have no idea how good or bad this one is, but it's one more to consider... https://duopiano.ca/products/duo

That is the one that got a really bad YT review. Flexes too much and no touch sensitivity. The other keyboard I researched is the $99 one that folds into four pieces. It has keys that are even worse. Clicky, like a computer keyboard.

Like I mentioned, The BX-20 seems to be the best of the lot. I'd love to find something better, that was affordable.

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In theory it's possible to buy any digital piano and cut it in half. you might have to move some boards around, but it's mostly modular internally.

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Originally Posted by mojoe
Originally Posted by anotherscott
I have no idea how good or bad this one is, but it's one more to consider... https://duopiano.ca/products/duo

That is the one that got a really bad YT review. Flexes too much and no touch sensitivity.
I wonder if the reviewer got a defective one. It's definitely supposed to be touch (velocity) sensitive. It's described that way on their site, and demonstrated in their video.

Soundwise, my feeling about any of these is that, if you have an iPhone or iPad, you'll probably get better sound with just as much portability if you use that as your sound source,

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mojoe Offline OP
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Originally Posted by anotherscott
I wonder if the reviewer got a defective one. It's definitely supposed to be touch (velocity) sensitive. It's described that way on their site, and demonstrated in their video.

Soundwise, my feeling about any of these is that, if you have an iPhone or iPad, you'll probably get better sound with just as much portability if you use that as your sound source,

He may have had a bad one. However, the amount of twist and flex was quite a bit, which put me off on that one.

I did think about finding an app for my Android tablet that had better piano sounds, and using the keyboard as a MIDI controller, as you suggest. I may look into that later. For now, the built-in piano sounds aren't so bad, using headphones. And if I get bored, I can select some of the weird sounds, like gunshots :-)

If I don't return this before 30 days are up, I may take the keyboard apart to see if anything can be done to make the action lighter. I suspect that it is using springs, so maybe snipping a few coils off each spring may be enough. I'll know more if and when I open it up.

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I think the Bora looks neat. And any of these choices are not so expensive that you have to be worried about taking them into a salty/corrosive environment. I think you'll be happy - wishing you the best!


A man must love a thing very much if he practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practice it without any hope of doing it well. Such a man must love the toils of the work more than any other man can love the rewards of it.
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I’ve seen a few travel keyboards. There are 3 types in the market: folding (folds in 2 or more places), splicing (separates into 2 or more pieces) & rubber roll-up.

The roll-up is an old technology that has been around for at least 2 decades starting from Yamano of Japan. We’re seeing more brands but no improvement.

Besides the low price, the key action is usually like the buttons on a TV remote and not even close to keyboards with soft-touch keys. A folding piano tends to have lower keys to make it fold into a small size. A splicing type can have taller keys like a real piano. Weighted keys is not easy to get. Don’t expect to be able to plug in a 2 or 3-pedal unit than a basic sustain pedal.

While traveling recently I spotted a keyboard by a music school window with the name BSK (Busking Keyboard). 1 model separates into 2 for easy storage. The other is in 1 piece under the same brand. Tried them both. The splicing keyboard has a similar size and weight as the 1 piece model but the 1 piece model has much better key action. The keys on the splicing model felt too flimsy.

After Christmas I got hold of a Folding Piano 88 from Carry-on (MidiPlus) and did a video demo on it:


Right now I’m away from home and I’m using it to work on a piano arrangement of an orchestral piece. I don’t have access to my full-size 88 so the folding keyboard is it.

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This one is supposed to come out in a few years:


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Originally Posted by mojoe
However, the amount of twist and flex was quite a bit, which put me off on that one.
With anything that joins in the middle, I think you really need to be using it on a flat surface. X-stands and others that support boards from the ends, when the board's weakness is in the middle, is asking for trouble!

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mojoe Offline OP
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Originally Posted by qpalzm
This one is supposed to come out in a few years:


That stardate is more than a few years away. I don't think I can wait that long.

The episode where he gets that flute is one of the best.

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mojoe Offline OP
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
After Christmas I got hold of a Folding Piano 88 from Carry-on (MidiPlus) and did a video demo on it

That's the $99 one that has clicky, on/off keys. It wasn't a consideration for me.

Yes, all of these splitting/folding keyboards are best used on a flat surface. I think that should be obvious. However, I wanted one that was not too flexible. No, I would not play one on an X or Z stand. However, it is sturdy enough that you could play it on a bed. I don't think you could do that with either the Carry-on or a rollup.

Last night, I played the BX-20 keyboard on my lap for two hours with no noticeable flex. Of course, my knees were supporting it more towards the middle vs the ends.

Everyone has different criteria, so buy what meets you needs. I hadn't seen the BX-20 mentioned before, and couldn't even find a YT review, so I thought I'd mention it here. All three of the folding/splitting keyboards have issues. To me, the BX-20 is the best of the lot.

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mojoe Offline OP
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Well, anotherscott got me curious to try using my Android tablet to give me a better piano sound. I tried a few apps, and decided on Mini Piano Lite/Pro. It has a Bosendorfer Piano that sounds much better than the built-in keyboard sounds. Of course, I'm still using headphones, as the speakers on the tablet can't output much volume (besides, when I'm at sea, I don't want to torture my fellow shipmates).

The other instrument sounds in the app don't sound any better than the keyboard. There must be a common set of sounds that everyone uses.

With a USB cable for MIDI, I don't notice any delay. I also tried two apps that do Bluetooth MIDI. One never connected to the keyboard, and the other had a big delay. The USB cable works fine.

Interestingly, I have to plug in the headphones before starting Mini Piano. Otherwise, it outputs to the tablets speakers.

The other thing that is necessary is turning on the setting in the app to play while the screen is off. Even if the screen is on, when you put the app in the background so you can use a tutorial, you get no MIDI sound.

Thanks for the nudge. I'm much happier with the Bosendorfer piano sound.


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