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#1254762 - 08/23/09 07:46 PM First DP for advanced pianist?
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Hi everyone,

I'm looking into buying my first DP, and hoping for some advice. I have 13 years of classical training (on acoustics), but haven't played in a couple of years and am looking to start practicing again. I'm trying to keep the budget as low as possible (read: college student). I've seen recommendations around the forum for DPs under 1k, but those have been largely aimed at beginners, and I'm not sure how applicable they are to my case, since I'll be mainly working on advanced technique.

What is a realistic price range for me to look at? Out of this instrument I need first a realistic action, good enough to make practice at my level productive, as this will be my primary instrument. Secondary are decent sound through headphones and relative portability (needs to be keyboard + stand, box-type units are out). Bells and whistles like accompaniment tracks are irrelevant.

Of course, I'll try them out in person and base my decision on that, but I'd be grateful if you could point me towards some suitable models, and give me an indication of the prices I'll be looking at.

If it's relevant, I'm in Toronto, Canada.

Many thanks,
J.

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#1254766 - 08/23/09 08:12 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
The_Linux_Crew Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 53
Sounds like you want something with at least at GH or GHE action. Something that is portable and can be placed on a desk in a dorm room. You want optional pedal inputs and perhaps the option to add a stand later. You don't want a lot of buttons or bells and whistles. Probably something like the Yamaha P-155. Have you though about buying used? It might get you a much better instrument for an entry level price. Try Craigslist.

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#1254779 - 08/23/09 08:34 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: The_Linux_Crew]
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
I'd try Roland, Yamaha, Casio, Kawai at a music store to see which touch you prefer. All major brands are good, each has their own technology for the mechanics of the keys. For $1000 you can just get into the better keyboard actions in each brand. Once you pick a touch that you like, ask a question again for recommendations on a specific model of that brand. I agree with the previous poster that buying used might be a good route. You can get very good deals right now.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#1254799 - 08/23/09 09:27 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
Geoffk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/08
Posts: 757
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Actually, for a new DP, $1000 doesn't give you so many choices. For Yamaha, the P-140 or (possibly) P-155 (but the P-155 is probably $1200 or more). The Casio Privia line, which is ok, but not the best (PX-130, etc.) Korg, the SP-250 or SP-350. And for Roland and Kawai, not much that's new.

Of these, I'd look at the Korg and P-140 first. But with your budget, a recent used DP might be better.

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#1254808 - 08/23/09 09:38 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Thanks for the advice, guys. Yes, I was looking at the P-155. I will be buying a stand right away, the portability is mainly for ease of transport, by car and plane, which I foresee in the near future. I will also be buying a 3-pedal set if the unit doesn't come with one.

I'm open to buying used. About how much of a price drop should I expect between new and used around the 1k mark?

It sounds from what you've said like each brand's signature touch is roughly consistent even between models with different actions, is this assumption correct?

Edit. 1k is more of a guideline than a limit. I'd like to stay close to that, but if the gains are sufficient, I don't mind spending an extra couple hundred.


Edited by dRummie (08/23/09 09:41 PM)

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#1254810 - 08/23/09 09:42 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: Geoffk]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9326
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
dRummie, is your $1k limit USD or CAD?

I am not terribly familiar with the cost of digital piano instruments in Canada, however assuming the prices are comparable with the US, it may be worth searching online to gain an idea of what is available within your budget.

For example:

http://www.sweetwater.com/c506--Stage_Pianos/low2high

As Geoffk notes, the current models from Yamaha, Roland, KAWAI, and Korg are a little outside of your budget. However, if you are prepared to purchase a second hand instrument, I am confident that a good quality model can be purchased for under $1000.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1254840 - 08/23/09 10:50 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: Kawai James]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Hi James. The 1k is CAD, but like I said, it's more of a guideline. I've tried searching, but all that gives me is model numbers and specs, and I was hoping to get some recommendations here based on personal experience smile I know from buying higher-end headphones that oftentimes a few units stand out in any given price range.

Buying used is looking progressively more attractive. I'm going to try to stop by a music store tomorrow and post back here with a more specific question as MarkL suggested.

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#1254842 - 08/23/09 10:54 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
If you find a decent 3-pedal unit, let me know. I think that will be a challenge.

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#1254868 - 08/23/09 11:55 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
The_Linux_Crew Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: pilgrimjoel
If you find a decent 3-pedal unit, let me know. I think that will be a challenge.


Like I said earlier, finding a used unit might be his best bet considering his budget, in which case it won't be such a challenge.

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#1254906 - 08/24/09 02:39 AM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: dRummie
... the portability is mainly for ease of transport, by car and plane, which I foresee in the near future. ...


Don't get your hopes up on economically being able to transport a full sized 88 key digital piano on an airline. You will not be able to carry it on and will be required to check it either in its original shipping box or in an expensive, heavy IATA approved reinforced gig box. You will be charged extra baggage charges for something that is oversized and overweight that depending on the airline will cost several hundred dollars one way, perhaps exceeding your ticket cost.

Depending on the digital piano you choose, buying a case and taking one return flight might cost as much or more as buying digital piano at your destination and leaving it behind when you go.


Edited by theJourney (08/24/09 02:41 AM)

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#1254996 - 08/24/09 09:25 AM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: theJourney]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Journey - I foresee a move by plane in about a year, not regular travel, so worse comes to worst I'll sell it here and by another one there. Another reason to buy used, I guess. Although I'm guessing these things are even more expensive in Europe...

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#1255112 - 08/24/09 12:37 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
The_Linux_Crew Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 53
Originally Posted By: dRummie
Journey - I foresee a move by plane in about a year, not regular travel, so worse comes to worst I'll sell it here and by another one there. Another reason to buy used, I guess. Although I'm guessing these things are even more expensive in Europe...


Depending on how long you will be in Europe, you might want to consider having it shipped by UPS or someone else. It is probably worth at least checking the shipping price.

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#1255141 - 08/24/09 01:12 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: theJourney]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I had nine yrs. of classical lessons
as a child, on acoustic pianos only.
I quit in high school and didn't
play for 20 yrs.

I'm a serious amateur classical player, and since restarting as an
adult, I've owned 5 pianos:
a top-of-the-line acoustic upright
bought in the early 1980's
for ~$6000 (a similar model today
would be in the ~$20,000 price
range); a Korg C-800 digital
bought in 1989 for $1700; a
Casio AP-24 digital bought
sight-unseen online in 2005 for
$700; a Korg SP-250 digital
bought sight-unseen online in
2006 for $900; and my current
piano, a Williams Overture digital
bought sight-unseen online in
2009 for $600.
So you can see from the above that
with me the trend has been towards
less and less expensive instruments,
even as my playing has gotten
more advanced: ~$20,000(~$6000)
---> $1700 ---> $700 ---> $900
---> $600.

I've worked on the same classical
repertoire on all five pianos,
including the most difficult
pieces like the Chopin op. 14
Concert Rondo. I've found
inexpensive digitals to be
adequate for working on
serious classical repertoire.
All weighted-key digital pianos
have sound taken from a concert
grand and an action patterned
after a concert grand action, and
so even inexpensive ones under
$1000 are okay for playing
even the most difficult classical
repertoire.

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#1255168 - 08/24/09 01:55 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
Originally Posted By: dRummie

I'm open to buying used. About how much of a price drop should I expect between new and used around the 1k mark?


It varies a little by brand and model, but as an example I bought my Yamaha P-90 used about 2 years ago for $350 and it probably sold for $1000 when it came out new in 2003. That was cheap because it was local and the guy wouldn't ship. A more reasonable price would be $500-600. I have a friend who has a P-250 for sale for $750, it probably sold for a few thousand when it was new. So I'd say expect anywhere from 30%-60% discount from the street price depending on how old it is.

Quote:

It sounds from what you've said like each brand's signature touch is roughly consistent even between models with different actions, is this assumption correct?

I'd say it a little differently. The things people like and dislike about a brand are somewhat consistent between models with different actions. So a brand noted for a heavier touch will generally be reported to have a heavier touch across all it's models. But you do get something for your money as you step up the model line. For example in the Yamaha line, I can tell the difference between the entry level touch and the next step up.

Quote:

Edit. 1k is more of a guideline than a limit. I'd like to stay close to that, but if the gains are sufficient, I don't mind spending an extra couple hundred.


Note that getting 3 pedal capability on a portable DP could easily cost you all of that couple hundred. It's not just a matter of buying 3 pedals, you have to buy a special device (or two) that allows you to add that capability. It's possible some of the more expensive portables support 3 pedals out of the box, but I'm not aware of any.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#1255482 - 08/24/09 09:46 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
I'll definitely check out the shipping when the time comes. For now, though, it'll have to travel by car, so I'm still leaning towards a board + stand set-up.

So I stopped by a music store today and tried some pianos. Overall I liked the Korg C-720 best, but it's a console and out of my budget. The SP-250 has the same action, which I really liked. However, I found the sounds lacking, and this was especially apparent after trying the 720. I've realized that I underestimated how important good sound is, so now I'm wondering what can be done to improve the sound out of the 250, since Korg doesn't seem to offer a more senior portable model... I also ran into the problem MarkL mentioned with it being able to support only one pedal.

They also had some Kurzweil, which I didn't try, and a Casio Privia that I wasn't immediately impressed by, but whose model number I don't recall. The Roland FP-4 felt much too light. I'll be going back to give all the pianos a more lengthy audition, and also looking for a Yamaha dealer.

So for now I'm wondering what people's opinions are on the Korg, and whether it's worth investing in that plus some upgrades (pedal, sound). Regarding the sound, I'm interested in the computer-based piano emulator I've seen mentioned around the forum, but how much would such a set-up cost?

Thanks for all the advice so far, you've all been a great help.

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#1255531 - 08/24/09 11:06 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
trolls99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 110
Loc: Germany
If you have a computer there may anothter alternative. You might buy a software piano (200-300$) plus a good master keyboard. That way you will have a great sound and a good keyboard. Problem of course is that you have to turn on the computer to play, that you still need boxes or headphones, and of course pedals. But moneywise this may be the best solution for you.


Edited by trolls99 (08/24/09 11:07 PM)

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#1255822 - 08/25/09 01:10 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
Originally Posted By: dRummie
and also looking for a Yamaha dealer.

I'd try to play the CP33. It has two pedal inputs which means you'd only have to buy a simpler midi device to add the 3d pedal, probably only cost about $100 or so.

Quote:

So for now I'm wondering what people's opinions are on the Korg, and whether it's worth investing in that plus some upgrades (pedal, sound). Regarding the sound, I'm interested in the computer-based piano emulator I've seen mentioned around the forum, but how much would such a set-up cost?

Never played a Korg, can't comment. Sound is easy to change, so I wouldn't pay any attention to what the pianos sound like. Software pianos sound much better than any DP in my opinion. If you have a half way decent computer you can probably use it to run a software piano and send the output through your stereo. There are different kinds of software pianos, some require more disk and cpu than others, but all require a sound card with low latency, and obviously a slot to put the card in. The card isn't expensive, google Audiophile 2496 as an example which is under $100. Software pianos vary a good bit in price, I use Truepianos which cost $180, but you can spend a lot more if you want to. The cables to hook it all up will cost another $50 or so.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#1255851 - 08/25/09 01:42 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
I'm very open to the keyboard + software piano option. I'd need to buy the soundcard, but my laptop should be able to handle the software. I'm a little worried about computer noises disrupting my practice sessions, though.

I'll look into both keyboards and standalone DPs when I can get to a store that carries both. Given that the computer portion will cost me $300-400, can a good master keyboard be had for under 1k CAD new, or would I have to go used with this option, too?

Edit. I should mention that I'm not factoring headphones into this, as I already have two pairs that are decent.


Edited by dRummie (08/25/09 01:45 PM)

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#1255864 - 08/25/09 01:57 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
MarkL Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/07
Posts: 728
Loc: Chicago Suburban
Originally Posted By: dRummie
I'm very open to the keyboard + software piano option. I'd need to buy the soundcard, but my laptop should be able to handle the software. I'm a little worried about computer noises disrupting my practice sessions, though.

But laptop won't accept an audio card. There are external cards that will work with laptops, but that's outside my experience. Not sure what you mean by computer noises.

Quote:

I'll look into both keyboards and standalone DPs when I can get to a store that carries both. Given that the computer portion will cost me $300-400, can a good master keyboard be had for under 1k CAD new, or would I have to go used with this option, too?

Not sure everyone uses jargon the same, I think of a master keyboard as a synthesizer, which doesn't have weighted keys and is not suitable for you. You can use pretty much any DP to do most of what you probably want with midi, given that you're a pianist and not a DJ/rock star.

Quote:

Edit. I should mention that I'm not factoring headphones into this, as I already have two pairs that are decent.

Headphones eliminate the need for speakers or stereo system. Headphones also sound way better than any speaker setup you're likely to be able to afford.
_________________________
Yamaha P90

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#1255884 - 08/25/09 02:34 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
I was thinking of external audio cards for the laptop, since I've seen them mentioned around the forum. I do also have a desktop, but if possible, I'd prefer to use the laptop for portability's sake. By computer noises I meant mainly fans, but also the noise made by accessing the hard drive.

I'm not too sure of the jargon myself. By "keyboard" I guess I meant something where the focus is on action alone, whereas in my mind a "digital piano" is made to have a decent sound system built in. But it's really a moot point, suffice it to say that I'll try anything I can get my hands on smile

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#1255927 - 08/25/09 03:46 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
emenelton Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 492
I own a Kawai ES6 and have tried the Yamaha P155. Software Pianos are real nice also. IMO, if you have the budget get the P155(or the Kawai).
A complete solution such as the ES6 or the P155 that is professional will give you a lot of room to develop your talent. Both pianos have on board speakers, which are nice to have. And both are ~45lbs.
Computers have more stringent hardware requirements to get them to perform well with software pianos, and to rely on them makes your setup a lot more cumbersome.
While the SP250 is nice, if you feel you need to use a computer to get the sound you want, then I think it is not the right solution for you.
Both the P155 and ES6 are professional slabs. The P155 uses a single Pedal only. The ES6 has a 3 pedal option although I only have the single one now.

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#1256017 - 08/25/09 05:28 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: emenelton]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9326
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
emenelton, it is also possible to purchase a dual-pedal unit for the ES6. This would allow you to extend the functionality of the instrument without being required to invest in the stand and three pedal unit.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1256030 - 08/25/09 05:48 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: Kawai James]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
James,
Is this two separate pedals or two together?
-Joel

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#1256047 - 08/25/09 06:12 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: MarkL]
trolls99 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/07
Posts: 110
Loc: Germany
A masterkeyboard is not at all a synthesizer. A list of master keyboards can be found for instance at
http://www.thomann.de/gb/master_keyboards_up_to_88_keys.html.

Fatar and Doepfer are well respected in this area.



Edited by trolls99 (08/25/09 06:13 PM)

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#1256048 - 08/25/09 06:13 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
emenelton Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 492
I am only trying to encourage the original poster to keep it simple. When I play the ES6 in the basement my wife told me she thought I was playing my acoustic upstairs.
I have a question about the two pedal unit James. Does it do 1/2 pedaling.
pilgrimjoel: it is two pedals in one housing

link to video of the es6 live the audio quality of the recording is unfortunately bad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw-XQIxxAgw

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#1256070 - 08/25/09 07:05 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: emenelton]
pilgrimjoel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/27/09
Posts: 158
Loc: Michigan
And is the 2-pedal unit heavy enough not to slide around?

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#1256100 - 08/25/09 08:07 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: pilgrimjoel]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9326
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
pilgrimjoel,

The F-20 is a single unit, with two pedals:



It is reasonably heavy and should not slide too badly, however I suspect this ultimately relies on your playing style, and the floor surface on which the pedal is placed.

emenelton, the F-20 supports half-pedalling on the damper pedal.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#1256118 - 08/25/09 08:48 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: Kawai James]
emenelton Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 492
Thanks, even the Kawai single pedal, because it's base is twice as wide as a normal yamaha or roland, doesn't slide around like those(well hardly). It's a lot more stable on the floor.

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#1256131 - 08/25/09 09:18 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: emenelton]
dRummie Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/23/09
Posts: 39
Originally Posted By: emenelton
I am only trying to encourage the original poster to keep it simple.

A philosophy I wholeheartedly agree with. Unfortunately, it's proving hard to find an "all-in-one" unit in my price range, so rather than compromise on any one aspect, I'm keeping open to more complex alternatives.

It turned out there is a Yamaha gallery nearby, and an interesting thing transpired when I stopped by. First, the GH action didn't feel that great. The GH3 felt significantly better, but I was told it didn't come on any reasonably portable model. However all those options are not ideal since I don't like the sound of Yamaha grands, and by extension, that of their digitals. Now, they also had a Roland somebody had traded in. And that one really surprised me. I did not like the action at first touch - I immediately felt what I've heard mentioned around the forum, that the keys bottom out too hard. But the more I played on it, the more it came to life, and while the keys did not feel any kinder after a few minutes, I did feel compelled to put some effort into getting used to them, that's how musical and responsive the instrument felt! I was even inspired to play the Aria from the Goldberg Variations (one of my test pieces) using the harpsichord track (horrendous, btw), a thing that hadn't even crossed my mind until then, shows just how fun the instrument was. That was the Roland KR5.

Now, looking at the specs, I see it has a "progressive hammer action". If the PHA II of the PF-7 is the newer version, I will definitely want to give that one a try. It seems strange, though, that the PF-4 didn't have a similar effect, even though the quality of the sound (through headphones) could not have been better on the KR5.
I am still concerned about the rather uncomfortable feel of the keys hitting the bottom, but hopefully I'll get a chance to figure out if I can live with it when that first dealer gets the FP-7 back in stock. I've read that the FP-7 has decent sound, so it could turn out to be the all-in-one unit for me.

Edit. But not to narrow my options, if anybody knows of a dealer that carries Kawai in the Toronto area, I'm all ears.


Edited by dRummie (08/25/09 09:19 PM)

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#1256177 - 08/25/09 10:35 PM Re: First DP for advanced pianist? [Re: dRummie]
emenelton Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 08/02/09
Posts: 492
dRummie,

If you are considering an FP-7 then you have a budget to get most of the portable(if not all) digital pianos out there. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

When I tested pianos in Milwaukee the dealer had on display:
P155
EP3Kawai
FP-7
V-Piano
The tone of the V-Piano and the FP-7 were surprisingly similar. I didn't like the FP-7 for two reasons.
1. I didn't want Roland's broad tone.
2. I didn't like the action, if felt shallow and not nice.
I felt the P155 had the best action overall but had only the one sound, which was the bright yamaha sound.

What's good about the Yamaha's sound is this. If your playing piano in any sort of combo, the Yamaha will serve you very well.
The EP3, at first sounded similar brightness wise to the Yamaha, but after a while it started to grow on me. It's a little bit like Pianoteq in that if seems like a real instrument. Kawai has 'modeled components'. What's nice about the ES6 is it has a number of distinctly different piano sounds that are quality: dark(bosendorfer), bright(yamaha), rich(kawai).
While it's not perfect, it's action is not as deep as the P155, I've found it to be a digital piano that is enjoyable to both play and to listen to.

Good luck.

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Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP
by SCD
10/20/14 07:58 PM
Help with my DGX-650 and Synthesia!
by Jtreimer
10/20/14 07:21 PM
Piano tuning career prospects 2014
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10/20/14 06:56 PM
Ack! My piano is diseased!
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10/20/14 06:34 PM
Painting Piano Keys
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10/20/14 06:00 PM
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