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#1319172 - 12/05/09 07:30 PM DP with wooden keys?
Mariusz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/05/09
Posts: 10
Hi all,

I have a big problem.

I used to play (15yrs ago) on very good quality real vertical piano for around 4yrs and then I switched to keyboards for next 4yrs.
The piano is still at my parents house.

Currently, I am thinking about buying the DP because together with my wife I am moving a lot (and I will for at least next 10yrs).
This is also the reason why I do not carry the vertical piano with me.

I went to shop to try few DPs.
The problem came that I feel only good with the wooden keys like in my real piano.
I tried kawaii mp8-II with wooden keys and I loved it.
However the problem is that it costs 2k euros and this is a lot for me.

Is it possible for me to switch to the cheaper plastic keys like m-audio prokeys 88 (500 Euros)?
I tried few of them but currently it was hard - would it come later after some practice?
I am completely confused what to do.

I am beginner and I hardly can play anymore after such long break and buying DP for 2k euros doesn't seems to be reasonably.

I wouldn't mind spending this money if I would knew that this investment would last forever.
That's what my parents did with the vertical piano and now after +15yrs grandchildren are playing on it.
However that's not the case with DPs?

What about other options like buying used DP with wooden keys?
Can someone suggest me what to do?
Should I switch to plastic keys or perhaps buy used wooden ones or go for the mp8-ii?

Thank you, Mariusz.

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#1319185 - 12/05/09 07:58 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Mariusz]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Hi,

Why do you want wooden keys? Personally I don't think there are any differences between wooden and plastic keys, unless you are talking about different keyactions at the same point. I would recommend you to try some pianos by Roland and Kawai, the latter has some cheap ones, perhaps the ES6 is something for you, the CL25 is also an option. If you prefer quality, 500 EUR is too low. For 10000 EUR you can get something good.

Good luck
/Andrée

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#1319188 - 12/05/09 08:09 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Andree]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Mostly you would want a digital with graded weighted hammer action, and the big three, Yamaha, Roland and Korg, all make them.

I grew up playing traditional piano, and I really think digital piano manufacturers have excelled at replicating the acoustic piano action.

Most are designed to replicate the naturally faster action of a grand piano.

Post what models interest you, on this forum, and you will get unbiased informative responses from those using the instruments.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a very nice new digital piano, that will have a warranty.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1319325 - 12/06/09 12:32 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Mariusz]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
The Kawai CE200 has wood kets and cost a little less. But I tried it and like Roland's keys better I think some of the better "plastic" keys are actually easier to play than many acoustic pianos. But those higher end Roland's lke the RD700GX and the FP-7 also cost about $2K (more oor less). If you like Yamaha;s "GE" action than the lowest priced Yamaha GH keyboard is the P155 for about$1K.

Yes you are right DP's are not a lifetime investment. Like computers the keep getting better

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#1319389 - 12/06/09 04:33 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: snazzyplayer]
Huygens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Mostly you would want a digital with graded weighted hammer action, and the big three, Yamaha, Roland and Korg, all make them.


Big three? Hrmf, I would have worded that a little different. Let's talk about the big (at least) five; Yamaha, Kawai, Roland, Casio and Korg. I would also include Kurzweil & one (expensive) DP from (Clavia) Nord.

I also don't think people has ever said on this forum that wooden keys has mattered that much. Wooden keys belong to the expensive lines.

Some people like the fake Ivory tops of the keys, which starts to appear in mid-range priced DPs.

But mostly people look for good key action, meaning good mechanics in the keyboard.

DPs tend to last from 10 - 20 years, sometimes depending on how expensive they are, and due to heavy use. Mechanics wear out and the electronics heat age because of the flow of current through the electrical parts. It's also usual for people to give their DPs in for repair when some of the keys might get worn over time. If you are very lucky, your DP might hold for about 30 years, as some old Rolands seem to have been doing, with minor repairs.

The electronics in DPs seem to last longer than electronics in contemporary computers, probably twice as long and sometimes even longer. You don't have HDs or graphic card that wear down or overheat, as the DP electronics usually has much less power demands.

Usually DPs are more often powered of than ordinary computers, which prolongs life time expectancy.

Buying a used DP of good quality, which is about 5 years old, I would not give more than 1/3 of the original price, as I have no warranty and the DP is heat aged.
_________________________
P-85 cheap plastic imitation; not because of sound, but weight.

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#1319404 - 12/06/09 05:25 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Mariusz]
Mariusz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/05/09
Posts: 10
Thank you for all the responses.

Its much clearer for me now that I should have a look on mechanics behind the keys and not the keys itself. I just went to the shop and the ones which felt good for me had wooden keys.
Probably I can find the same mechanics with the plastic keys for much less money.

Thank you.

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#1319417 - 12/06/09 06:49 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Mariusz]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Hi again,

Sorry, I meant 1000 EUR in my last post, not 10000 EUR. For 10000 EUR you would get a very good DP =)

/Andrée

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#1319431 - 12/06/09 08:12 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Andree]
TheGlassPassenger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/02/09
Posts: 34
Loc: UK
I absolutely agree that wooden keys mostly don't make a difference. I went out last week to try two DPs at my local dealer. A Roland HP207 and a Yamaha CLP380. The Yamaha had wooden white keys, both had ivorite tops, weighted keys and progressive hammer action. The Yammie was 1k more than the Roland and I could afford either, but ended up going with the Roland simply because the sound was great and the keys were closer to an acoustic feel. The Yammie was very light, felt like a toy to me.

So just because a DP has wooden keys doesn't mean it feels closer to an actual piano.

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#1319553 - 12/06/09 12:59 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: TheGlassPassenger]
vitog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 129
Loc: People's Republic of Massachus...
First try Kawai MP8 keyboard before sentencing such kind in general to the same federal prison. Wood indeed does make a difference. Depends only on who and how makes it, unless you believe that Fiat's technology ever had a chance to lift Chrysler out of the dumpster.


Edited by vitog (12/06/09 01:01 PM)
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Kawai MP8
Lots of other stuff

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#1319560 - 12/06/09 01:13 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: vitog]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
vitog, in which way do you mean that wooden keys make difference in comparison to plastic ones? It would be a good point to give an explaination to your assessment, so that we all can make our own judgements

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#1319584 - 12/06/09 02:00 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Andree]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
In my opinion wooden keys don't make a difference, and synthetic ivory keytops aren't all that necessary, unless your hands sweat a lot.

If you are playing a lot of classical and jazz, I would recommend an action that has 3 sensors under each key, as opposed to the more common two (faster repetitions with three).

Casio's very inexpensive PX-330 has this feature, and it may be on a few more of their new models.

But, as far as wood being better...naaah...basicallly marketing hype.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1319645 - 12/06/09 04:17 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: snazzyplayer]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
How many sensors does PHA III have?

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#1319651 - 12/06/09 04:28 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Andree]
Vid_w Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 188
Loc: Slovenia
Or for that matter, the PHAII?

vitog: Well, you can't really compare Kawais wooden action with a non-wooden action, becouse I think it's a completely different design, with not just the wood in the keys being the difference but also the mechanics...

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#1320649 - 12/07/09 09:01 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: vitog]
deburn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Boston area
I know this is a completely non-musical "note" but I couldn't help replying to this comment.

I don't know much about Fiat cars since they aren't (up to now) sold in the US, but I did see a few photographs of their cars in recent months and I have to say, that though I would never consider buying an American car, I would definitely buy a Fiat/Chrysler on style alone

~ deburn

Originally Posted By: vitog
First try Kawai MP8 keyboard before sentencing such kind in general to the same federal prison. Wood indeed does make a difference. Depends only on who and how makes it, unless you believe that Fiat's technology ever had a chance to lift Chrysler out of the dumpster.

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#1320722 - 12/07/09 10:31 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Andree]
vitog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 129
Loc: People's Republic of Massachus...
Andree,
I don't think one can come close enough to putting it into words. While I understand some will not feel the difference (or such a difference would mean no difference to them at all, and that's fine), I am still amazed how many happened to place themselves on that side of the argument. One time I saw a man-made material that was claimed to have an identical density to a specific type of wood, but it never felt in my hand anywhere near as comparable. My point being, I don't believe we're going to see a plastic keyboard that will feel like one made of wood, not in the foreseable future. This is for sure an argument, that is unlikely to see a solution. So to summerize my point: try what's really been made of wood (Kawai's keyboard has all keys in wood, including black ones) vs. the rest. If there is no difference to your touch, you don't have to think about it again.
_________________________
Kawai MP8
Lots of other stuff

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#1320732 - 12/07/09 10:48 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: vitog]
vitog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 129
Loc: People's Republic of Massachus...
Deburn,
Trust me on this one, I live in Europe now and please DO NOT buy a car on looks, especially if Italian is written anywhere on it. All car brands have come a long way mechanically in recent decade or so, even Italian ones, but it will take another 2 decades (if ever) to recover from what they've always been known for: crappy quality in and out. None of the exotic Italian brands have ever made any difference in actual mass production of any Italian car. But I will give you this: they've made a number of really great looking car shells.
_________________________
Kawai MP8
Lots of other stuff

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#1320734 - 12/07/09 10:51 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Vid_w]
vitog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 129
Loc: People's Republic of Massachus...
Originally Posted By: Vid_w
Or for that matter, the PHAII?

vitog: Well, you can't really compare Kawais wooden action with a non-wooden action, becouse I think it's a completely different design, with not just the wood in the keys being the difference but also the mechanics...


Agree, mechanics are also superior to anything out there. It indeed does take not only the "button", but what's beneath it to make it all feel good.
_________________________
Kawai MP8
Lots of other stuff

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#1320800 - 12/08/09 12:59 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: vitog]
bachmaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/06
Posts: 410
Loc: Montreal, CAN
The wooden key issue is far from being a new one! But I have to agree with Vitog, it does make a lot of difference. Who would argue that playing a carbon-fiber violin is undistinguishable from playing a wooden one to the concert violinist?

In an acoustic piano, the hammers are situated at the end of the relatively long levers of the keybed (the keys, white AND black). White spruce is generally used. The 88 levers are ideally cut from a single, carefully chosen plank. Wood responds to the touch and communicates the movement in a way that has never been successfully imitated by any man-made material. Hence the hard-to-imitate touch of an acoustic piano. Some digital piano manufacturers, such as Yamaha for example, are trying to imitate this kind of touch through the subterfuge of a short, intricate contraption of a lever that's folded on itself much like a pretzel, with a metal rod right under it acting as a mock hammer. This is far from convincing to a great many pianists. On the other hand Kawai has been using relatively long, acoustic piano-like spruce levers with a center pivot point in its premium digital piano keybeds (basically the CA series). Add the fact that real hammers flying vertically and then falling back through gravity are attached to the end of these long wooden levers, both the geometry and the feel of the keys are radically changed. These keyboards feel great and natural, as there is no hard-bottoming of the keys, no tendinitis to be developed from extensive playing on them. Wooden keybeds DO make a huge difference... And yes, I AM biased in favor of Kawai when it comes to the way keybeds are engineered, could you tell?

Regards,

Claude
_________________________
K. Kawai KG-2D grand, Kawai MP8 digital, Kawai CA7

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#1320891 - 12/08/09 06:42 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
vitog, I think you misunderstood me. I also think there is a difference between wooden and plastic key, but it is only obvious when you have a more natural keyaction as well. What I meant in my post to the person who started this thread is that he maybe wouldn't feel any difference when playing on both types. For my own part I don't want to play on a plastic DP anymore and that's also why I'm now changing from a PHAII keyboard to a Kawai CA93/63 when it has been launched.


Edited by Andree (12/08/09 06:47 AM)

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#1320895 - 12/08/09 07:08 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Andree]
vitog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/07
Posts: 129
Loc: People's Republic of Massachus...
Andree,
It seems we're on the same page then. In my reply I was only expanding a bit on my line of thought (I did not mean to imply that you felt no difference between the two). Wood is like a woman, it can't be artificially replicated, no matter how hard one tries.
_________________________
Kawai MP8
Lots of other stuff

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#1321040 - 12/08/09 12:08 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Andree]
bobbo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/09
Posts: 118
Wooden keys does make a difference but it depends what you are comparing with.
Not much so comparing the Yamaha CLP 380s and HP207s, the white yamaha wooden keys does feel a bit weightier than say the CLP 270. But its only a small part of the action thats wood, the actual material inside the key.
However try the wooden keys on a Kawai, the action is a wooden lever that extends into the case, and does feel weightier and more realistic.
Also Yamaha Grantouch and the new Avantgrand are wood and although I haven't played an avantgrand, the grantouch felt like the real thing (as it is a genuine wooden piano action).
I have a plastic action on my Roland and I love it, and i wouldn't base a buying decision solely on whether its wood or not.

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#1321087 - 12/08/09 01:17 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bobbo]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Wooden keys or not, for me it's a mental aspect, wood is more realistic in my mind

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#1321094 - 12/08/09 01:33 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Andree]
Vid_w Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 188
Loc: Slovenia
TBH, when I played the cLP 370, 340 and 330 side by side, I couldn't really tell much difference between the 3, except for the fake ivory keytops...
Infact, I was kinda blown away, when I read later that the CLP 370 had wooden keys, becouse I imagined to be much better than the non wood GH3...

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#1321104 - 12/08/09 01:54 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Vid_w]
Mariusz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/05/09
Posts: 10
I just came back from the shop where I tried several different DPs. I came to the conclusion that the wooden keys indeed feel different. For me they are a bit heavier.

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#1321317 - 12/08/09 07:20 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Mariusz]
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9209
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Hello chaps,

I have been following this discussion with interest and would just like to offer a few words, if I may.

I strongly believe that the material of the keyboard greatly influences the feeling that one experiences when pressing a key. Acoustic piano keys are crafted from wood, therefore - as many might expect - I believe digital pianos keys should be crafted from wood also. Of course, it is not always practical nor economically viable to do so, which is why plastic is used as an alternative.

However, while the material used to craft the key is important, it is just one component within the piano action. As others have suggested, the mechanism and movement of the key also play a pivotal role in allowing the player to express emotions through their performance.

Gosh, it's terribly difficult to write about such a topic without giving the impression that I am simply promoting KAWAI. For example, I would like to include pictures to illustrate my points more clearly, however I fear this would only cause others to question the intention of my contributions to this forum.

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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#1321533 - 12/09/09 01:04 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Kawai James]
bachmaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/06
Posts: 410
Loc: Montreal, CAN
Well James,

your intellectual honesty is commendable. But people do need to be told, be it by a professional such as yourself or by a fan like myself, what the plain and true facts are. I strongly believe that using spruce in a keybed in much the same way as it is used on an acoustic piano, that is as long centrally pivoted levers with graded, gravity-resetting hammers at the very end of these levers, is the right way to engineer a digital piano's mechanism if such a piano is really meant to imitate an acoustic one as closely as possible. This is becoming more and more obvious as Kawai isn't the only one anymore to configure keybeds in this way, as Yamaha has started applying the same theory to its latest offerings such as the Avant Grand, I believe...

What must be understood is that cosmetically filling the sides of short GH3 levers (WHITE KEYS ONLY!!!) with wood will NOT provide the pianist with a "natural wood" keyboard in the way that pivoted levers will. If it did make a difference, then the black keys of CLP-level instruments would also be made of wood. The very proof that all this is but a sales gimmick (though an expensive one!) is that no difference can be perceived by the pianist between a CLP's "natural wood" white keys and the same instrument's black ones(!!).


I could not care less whether people on the forum think I am biased towards Kawai: I really am, with good reason when it comes to keyboard mechanisms. I can be much more critical of other aspects of that manufacturer's products, rest assured...

Regards,

Claude
_________________________
K. Kawai KG-2D grand, Kawai MP8 digital, Kawai CA7

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#1321628 - 12/09/09 08:55 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
Andree Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/25/08
Posts: 248
Loc: Sweden
Kawai James, Bachmaniac - I could not have said it better myself

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#1328473 - 12/18/09 04:20 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Mariusz]
pieper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/09
Posts: 129
Loc: Netherlands
Originally Posted By: Mariusz
I just came back from the shop where I tried several different DPs. I came to the conclusion that the wooden keys indeed feel different. For me they are a bit heavier.


Wonder what you were comparing. I think you can only fairly compare Yamahas with GH3 and plastic keys and yamahas with GH3 and wooden keys (the Natural Wood keyboards), to decide that you find the wooden ones heavier. Otherwise, it might just as well be the technique of the action underneath the key which makes one heavier than the other.

I have the CLP370 (wooden white keys), but I found that the CLP320 had heavier action (plastic keys).

cheers.

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#1328627 - 12/18/09 08:10 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: deburn]
appleman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/09
Posts: 188
Originally Posted By: deburn
that though I would never consider buying an American car, I would definitely buy a Fiat/Chrysler on style alone
Cars in the US must take less than $250(maybe $500, I can't remember exactly) dollars in damage a 5mph crash against a wall. Europe doesn't have this standard. This extra requirement causes cars in the US to be a bit more boxy and unstylish compared to European cars. Even the Europe versions of US cars beat the US on style, so it's unfair to directly compare the two.
_________________________
Dr. Appleman, former NASA engineer, Empire of Earth and B.S. of Ninjutsu at MIT.

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#1328634 - 12/18/09 08:27 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Kawai James]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: KAWAI James
.. it's terribly difficult to write about such a topic without giving the impression that I am simply promoting KAWAI. For example, I would like to include pictures to illustrate my points more clearly, ..


Kawai does make wood keys but so do Roland and Yamaha. I don't think promoting wood is to promote Kawai

Yamaha's new CP1 and CP5 stage pianos have wooden keys. The new CP50 has the same GH action we know from the P155, YDP223 and others but it appears the two other new CPs will have wooden keys.

Wood is good at damping vibration. It make a kind of "thud" rather then "click" when it impacts something, it's different.


Edited by ChrisA (12/18/09 08:38 PM)

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#1328848 - 12/19/09 04:48 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: ChrisA]
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9209
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
ChrisA, which Roland models use wooden keys?

Also, have you managed to find any pictures/video of the new 'NW STAGE' action in the new CP1/CP5 models?

Cheers,
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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#1328946 - 12/19/09 10:08 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4345
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
The wooden key issue is far from being a new one! But I have to agree with Vitog, it does make a lot of difference. Who would argue that playing a carbon-fiber violin is undistinguishable from playing a wooden one to the concert violinist?

I thought we were talking keys here, not soundboards.

Wood vs plastic keys is a completely and utterly different subject than wood vs plastic soundboards.
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The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
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#1328954 - 12/19/09 10:19 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: dewster]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4345
Loc: Northern NJ
Obviously, there are differences in feel between DP keys and piano keys. Either one could easily be made of plastic or wood, but they they would still be connected to completely different mechanisms.

If DP manufacturers were given unlimited money, a Manhattan Project if you will, to develop and manufacture a DP key that felt just like a piano key, I'm sure they could come up with something. And if you told them you wanted a mechanism attached to a plastic key that felt just like a wooden piano key I'm convinced they could do that too.

Most of this "key feel" issue comes down to economics. They already have something that feels OK to most players, so they stop major development but continue to tinker around the edges in order to have something to talk about in their sales brochures.
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1328962 - 12/19/09 10:36 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: dewster]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4345
Loc: Northern NJ
And another thing... :-)

I have the same reactions to wood keys on a DP that I do to seeing a tube prominently displayed on modern musical electronics:

1. It's most likely a gimmick
2. I'll end up paying dearly for it if I buy the product for other reasons
3. It probably increases the weight
4. It probably reduces the reliability
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1329310 - 12/19/09 05:06 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: dewster]
bachmaniac Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/01/06
Posts: 410
Loc: Montreal, CAN
dewster,

with all due respect, I believe you missed the point completely when I brought in carbon fiber violins vs wooden ones discussing piano keybeds. I merely meant that some traditionally wooden parts in musical instruments will never be satisfactorily replaceable by man-made materials, be it in soundboards OR mechanisms. And gimmickery or no gimmickery has nothing to do with that whatsoever.

Although this is a bit besides the digital piano forum's concerns, I would like to point out that K.Kawai, in their recent acoustic grands (and more recently some of their high-end uprights) are using a large number of carbon-fiber mechanical parts and links. Their RX series grands, for that reason, are universally acclaimed more and more for their smooth, almost "heavenly" touch, sensitivity, and mechanical stability as compared to comparable offerings from other manufacturers. Of course commercial rivals tore their shirts about it, crying "gimmick" as they insist on preserving tradition at the cost of technological evolution, and that debate will keep on raging for years.

But there is one thing that has not --and will not (ever, in my opinion)-- be done, and that's trading the spruce keybed levers against plastic ones. Nor do I believe they will ever trade the wooden hammers in acoustic pianos for carbon ones, or the leather and felt parts for ersatz (synthetic) stuff. There is a point beyond which it isn't just a matter of tradition anymore, it's the life or death of some very subtle though very real, very intimate connection between the artist and his instrument. THAT cannot ever be synthetized.

1. So when you say that wood in a keybed is most likely a gimmick, you are right only if you are referring to the cosmetic wood used on Yamaha's NW white keys (excluding the black ones, and then saying the wood makes a difference!!!) and basically remain the same folded-pretzel mechanism as the GH3 and as Roland's. I do agree that this is but a sales prank, but surely you cannot mean the long, spruce, centrally-pivoted levers that are found in Yamaha's AG and Kawai's CA digitals!

2. Sure you'll end up paying (though not so dearly) for it, it's clearly worth every penny it costs in terms of "communication" between the pianist and his instrument.

3. It definitely (not probably) increases the weight.

4. It doesn't reduce reliability any more than it does on an acoustic. How and why could it?

I know some people fought the compact disc for years when it appeared, saying vinyl was better, while others swore they could hear a difference if their interconnecting cables were gold-plated. Please don't carry that line of reasoning too far, do not generalize everything. There are rational, explainable and defendable reasons to some traditions. Not to all, but to some. We have to be very careful before we throw everything overboard and start from scratch every time we wish to innovate, if such innovation is going to constitute genuive progress and real, positive evolution.

Regards,

Claude
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#1329316 - 12/19/09 05:13 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
snazzyplayer Offline
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Remember the Teflon Steinways?

Snazzy
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#1329995 - 12/20/09 04:11 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
dewster Offline
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Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
with all due respect, I believe you missed the point completely when I brought in carbon fiber violins vs wooden ones discussing piano keybeds. I merely meant that some traditionally wooden parts in musical instruments will never be satisfactorily replaceable by man-made materials, be it in soundboards OR mechanisms. And gimmickery or no gimmickery has nothing to do with that whatsoever.

Your original statement was:

"Who would argue that playing a carbon-fiber violin is undistinguishable from playing a wooden one to the concert violinist?"

When you're talking carbon-fiber violins, you're talking carbon-fiber soundboards. Quite different than the issue of wood or plastic keys, a non-acoustic mechanism.

Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
3. It definitely (not probably) increases the weight.

OK, right there I'm not interested. I want my DP to be as light as possible for portability reasons.

Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
4. It doesn't reduce reliability any more than it does on an acoustic. How and why could it?

Depends on how it is implemented & manufactured. Wood can warp, mold, etc. and isn't nearly as consistent from a strenghth / density standpoint as something homogeneous like plastic. For those reasons I just don't want it anywhere near my DP.
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#1330244 - 12/20/09 11:02 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
dewster Offline
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Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
I know some people fought the compact disc for years when it appeared, saying vinyl was better, while others swore they could hear a difference if their interconnecting cables were gold-plated. Please don't carry that line of reasoning too far, do not generalize everything. There are rational, explainable and defendable reasons to some traditions. Not to all, but to some. We have to be very careful before we throw everything overboard and start from scratch every time we wish to innovate, if such innovation is going to constitute genuive progress and real, positive evolution.

This is what really bugs me about wooden keys on DPs. It reminds me too much of those golden-eared audiophiles that are always complaining about too much oxygen content in speaker cables ruining the sound. So they buy silver cables at $10 dollars an inch, but then have their turntable driving high distortion speakers via a Single-Ended Triode. I don't even know where to start with the chain of crazy there.

Snake-oil manufacturers encourage pseudo-scientific beliefs in their customer base, so they can cash in by catering to it. This is born a moron consumer faction, and the rest of us have to endure things like vacuum tubes in our new audio gear because everyone agrees that only tubes can achieve that mysterious "warmth" (whatever that is).

I don't care if the keys on my DP are made of pixie dust and rainbows, as long as they work and feel close enough to a piano action (and are reliable and aren't too heavy). Someone telling me that - because the keys are made of wood, an organic material - my playing experience will somehow be a more organic experience, I say it doesn't necessarily follow (i.e. it's crap). These are DPs we're talking about here, the very sound source in them is about as far from organic as you can get. But that's what we want, a reasonable facsimile of a real piano for a reasonable price - damn the construction materials.

I apologize and mean no offense - this topic pushes too many of my buttons.
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#1331139 - 12/22/09 12:13 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: dewster]
Tony Lau Offline
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Registered: 04/16/09
Posts: 65
It is interesting that the keys of acoustic pianos are still made of wood, even though current technology allows plastic of almost any physical property to be made.

For example, Kawai's Millenium III action has certain critical components made of plastic, for its light weight, strength and stability.

Is it just tradition, or is it something else?

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#1331729 - 12/22/09 06:03 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Tony Lau]
dewster Offline
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Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: Tony Lau
Is it just tradition, or is it something else?

My feeling it is largely tradition. People have certain expectations when they interact with a traditional instrument, and I'm afraid wooden keys on pianos is one of them. I would think a foamed plastic of some sort could feel the same mass-wise and strength-wise, with some kind of fake ivory keytop added. Indeed, once you get rid of the variation that wood introduces, a set of plastic keys could easily be more consistent-feeling from key to key.

DP manufacturers only put wooden keyboards on their high-end models, and they probably put more R&D into those models, so it isn't exactly a level playing field when it comes to pitting them against the plastic keys on lower end models.
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#1331779 - 12/22/09 07:04 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Tony Lau]
ChrisA Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
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Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Tony Lau
It is interesting that the keys of acoustic pianos are still made of wood, even though current technology allows plastic of almost any physical property...


Have you ever bought plastic? Plastics of equivalent materioal properties cost maybe three times the price of wood.

Plastic doesn't grow on trees. It's expensive. But then you can make complex shapes quickly and it's less labor intensive to work with.

Even cheap polyester goes for over $20 per gallon at the local hardware store. Raw epoxy is $100. The carbon, kevlar or glass fibers are not cheap and require time and skill to place into molds. This does not count the enginerring time. Wood parts can be cut out on CNC machines very inexpensively.


Edited by ChrisA (12/22/09 07:07 PM)

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#1331944 - 12/22/09 11:16 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: ChrisA]
dewster Offline
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Originally Posted By: ChrisA
Have you ever bought plastic? Plastics of equivalent materioal properties cost maybe three times the price of wood.

Plastic doesn't grow on trees. It's expensive. But then you can make complex shapes quickly and it's less labor intensive to work with.

Even cheap polyester goes for over $20 per gallon at the local hardware store. Raw epoxy is $100. The carbon, kevlar or glass fibers are not cheap and require time and skill to place into molds. This does not count the enginerring time. Wood parts can be cut out on CNC machines very inexpensively.

I was a CNC operator (3-axis vertical mill) for several years, and a CNC programmer after that. I would imagine that the setup and manufacture of wood keys, piece by piece on a CNC, even thought the speeds and feeds could be pretty fast, would lose on an economic basis when compared to injection molded plastic parts, even with relatively small lots, and even though the raw materials cost more. The wood would also need to be rather carefully selected, a QC nightmare compared to plastic resin.

Plastic however is non-renewable, a very good reason not to use it. But that unfortunately is never stopped by the power of capitalist economics.
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#1332185 - 12/23/09 09:55 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: dewster]
bachmaniac Offline
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Isn't it something that Kawai (in my subjective, biased opinion, one of the most innovative and artistically-minded piano manufacturers in the world) has had the guts to introduce the Millenium III action with its revolutionary carbon-fiber components in its best acoustic pianos while it remains adamant about using traditional, spruce keyboard levers on its best digital pianos? That, alone, speaks for itself.

Most famous world-class pianists, particularly classical, consistently shun digital pianos as we know them. Just try and hire a famous, world-class concert pianist to perform publicly on a DP, and find out whether that could ever be possible. Now why is that? Know any famous clarinet player who will perform publicly using and ABS instrument? Any organist who'll play Bach in concert on an electronic organ, even a digital one? I guess high-level musicians are not too keen on trashing everything traditional just because it's traditional...

There must be some middle road between prefering analog recordings to digital ones or finding an audible difference between grades of audio cables, and systematically throwing away anything traditional without first making sure whether some of the traditions might not happen to insure the safeguard of certain measurable, scientific and artistically defendable advantages inherent to "traditional" musical instruments. This is not the same as arguing that vacuum tubes sound warmer and better.

Wooden keyboards address two very different concerns of serious musicians as these try to accept digital pianos as usable, workable alternates to acoustic ones: one is purely psychological and is efficiently addressed by cosmetically simulating wooden keys much like Yamaha does in the NW keyboards; the other stems from a genuine effort to supply the artist with an interface (e.g. long spruce levers) that closely resembles --and feels like!-- the one he's used to on a "real" piano and better supports the sort of "intimate bond" that exists between the advanced pianist and his instrument.

So, Tony Lau, you very appropriately raise the question: is it just tradition, or is it something else? In my humble opinion it is quite definitely something else... and, sorry, some of us will have to agree to disagree.

Regards,

Claude
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#1332200 - 12/23/09 10:11 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
snazzyplayer Offline
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The use of Carbon fiber in wooden actions, brings to mind the Steinway pianos with the Teflon bits that ran from the 60's to the very early 80's.

It wasn't a good time for Steinway or it's customers.

Carbon Fiber may cause similar issues as wood expands and contracts with humidity, while the former does not.

Snazzy
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#1332239 - 12/23/09 10:51 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: snazzyplayer]
MacMacMac Offline
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Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3825
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
The use of Carbon fiber in wooden actions, brings to mind the Steinway pianos with the Teflon bits that ran from the 60's to the very early 80's. It wasn't a good time for Steinway or it's customers. Carbon Fiber may cause similar issues as wood expands and contracts with humidity, while the former does not.
Steinway's teflon problem arose from their use of teflon inserted into wood. The teflon would come loose when the wood expanded.

I don't think that carbon fiber is being used in that way.

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#1332258 - 12/23/09 11:07 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: MacMacMac]
snazzyplayer Offline
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Let's hope they aren't.

Does anyone know where we can see a view of the action?


Snazzy
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#1332262 - 12/23/09 11:12 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
dewster Offline
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Registered: 12/07/09
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Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
Isn't it something that Kawai (in my subjective, biased opinion, one of the most innovative and artistically-minded piano manufacturers in the world) has had the guts to introduce the Millenium III action with its revolutionary carbon-fiber components in its best acoustic pianos while it remains adamant about using traditional, spruce keyboard levers on its best digital pianos? That, alone, speaks for itself.

I think it says that they want to reduce the cost of manufacturing and labor, and also maybe increase the consistency / quality of their pianos. Limiting the use of plastics or composites to items you don't normally see or interact with directly on the piano is undoubtedly the easiest way to not piss off / alienate the traditional players.

Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
Most famous world-class pianists, particularly classical, consistently shun digital pianos as we know them. Just try and hire a famous, world-class concert pianist to perform publicly on a DP, and find out whether that could ever be possible. Now why is that? Know any famous clarinet player who will perform publicly using and ABS instrument? Any organist who'll play Bach in concert on an electronic organ, even a digital one? I guess high-level musicians are not too keen on trashing everything traditional just because it's traditional...

Classical musicians are a tough crowd. Their entire existence is at this point rather artificial, it being tied to long dead composers, violins made 300 years ago, patron-funded symphonies, etc. Their adherence to tradition is fundamental. I do enjoy a lot of classical music, but rather in spite of all the snooty elitism that comes along with it.

Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
There must be some middle road between prefering analog recordings to digital ones

I think it is the intermodulation distortion introduced by the needle movement that some people like. Audiophiles chalk it up to magic or something. Signal processing theory proves that waveforms can be perfectly reconstructed from discrete samples, though many refuse to believe it because it conflicts with their world-view or lifestyle or something.

Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
or finding an audible difference between grades of audio cables,

No, no, that's crazy talk.

Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
and systematically throwing away anything traditional without first making sure whether some of the traditions might not happen to insure the safeguard of certain measurable, scientific and artistically defendable advantages inherent to "traditional" musical instruments. This is not the same as arguing that vacuum tubes sound warmer and better.

I was using the audiophile analogy to demonstrate how markets can become polluted with false believe, pseudo-science, and blind tradition. Consumers in those markets must then contend with products that are to some degree based on those false premises.

I'm all for making a more realistic DP both in sound and in feel. I'm just arguing that that doesn't necessarily require the use of traditional materials to achieve that result.
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#1332368 - 12/23/09 01:28 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: dewster]
ChrisA Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: dewster

I think it says that they want to reduce the cost of manufacturing and labor, and also maybe increase the consistency / quality of their pianos.


Using plastic may or may not reduce the cost. Certainly carbon fiber composites can cost a lot more than wood and require more labor to produce. On the other hand many kinds of platic parts are very inexpensive to make.

Every time I've had the option to buy wood parts or carbon parts for sailboats, arrow shaft, racing canoe paddles, you name it. The carbon part was insanely expensive compared to wood. carbon requires a large investment on expensive tools and equipment and a much more highly trained and skilled work force.


Wood, even very high quality spruce is not expensive. I have some. It is easy to buy the UPS guy drops off a box on the door step and that box costs less than the other parts one might put inside a guitar amp. The wood is cheaper then the aluminum used to make a chassis or the G10 fiberglass used to build circuit boards.


Edited by ChrisA (12/23/09 01:29 PM)

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#1332394 - 12/23/09 02:00 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: ChrisA]
bachmaniac Offline
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Registered: 12/01/06
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Loc: Montreal, CAN
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#1332487 - 12/23/09 03:58 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: dewster]
Tony Lau Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/16/09
Posts: 65
Originally Posted By: dewster
Signal processing theory proves that waveforms can be perfectly reconstructed from discrete samples

Perfect only up to the 1/2 of the sampling frequency, and that's assuming perfect D to A conversion.
Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
or finding an audible difference between grades of audio cables,

No, no, that's crazy talk.

I am sure there are cables bad enough to cause a difference. For example, I thought there was something wrong with my TV until I found out it was the badly shielded video cable.

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#1332491 - 12/23/09 04:01 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
snazzyplayer Offline
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Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: bachmaniac


Thank you kindly, Claude...I will peruse these later on this evening.

Much appreciate your detective work. wink

Snazzy
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#1332525 - 12/23/09 05:01 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: snazzyplayer]
Kawai James Offline
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Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9209
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
snazzy, this YouTube video shows a close-up of the AWA Grand PRO II action in motion:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yxVGDdvkXhs

Cheers,
James
x
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#1332530 - 12/23/09 05:11 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: Kawai James]
snazzyplayer Offline
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Loc: Earth
Thanks James...pretty cool setup.

I remember some of the earlier Yamaha hammer actions had the hammer striking upwards inside the key.

Snazzy
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#1332559 - 12/23/09 05:46 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: snazzyplayer]
bachmaniac Offline
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Registered: 12/01/06
Posts: 410
Loc: Montreal, CAN
Here is one reference that is pivotal, I think...

It does show you that carbon fiber action mechanics are indeed vastly superior to their wooden counterparts, but may I stress that even Kawai remains adamant about using wood for the

1- keys;
2- hammer shanks;
3- hammer heads;
4- and, of course, soundboards!

http://www.georgekolasis.com/piano-action-parts.html

Hope you enjoy this article, it's extremely enlightening.

Regards,

Claude
_________________________
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#1332560 - 12/23/09 05:48 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: snazzyplayer]
cjsm Offline
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Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 134
Loc: Washington, MO
I have a Kawai MP9500 with wood keys, predecesor to the Kawai MP8. Comparing it to my other keyboards with plastic keys, a Yamaha P80, a Kawai MP4, and a Fusion 8HD, I prefer the wood keys on the MP9500. The wood keys are, I think, more shock absorbing than plastic keys. The plastic keys deliver more of a blow to your fingers when bottoming out, while the wood keys absorb some of the blow. Of course, some of this may be the design of the mechanisms. But as a shock absorber, hard plastic is like concrete, transmiting all of the force, while wood expands and contracts to absorb some of the force. Would you rather run in your bare feet on a hard plastic floor, or a wood floor?


Edited by cjsm (12/23/09 05:51 PM)

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#1332578 - 12/23/09 06:17 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: cjsm]
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9209
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
I recently completed a PoP (point of purchase) display for the new RM3 Grand wooden key action (the successor to the AWA Grand PRO II). This piece is mounted to a three key sample action and should clearly highlight the similarities between a grand piano action and the latest KAWAI digital piano equivalent.

Cheers,
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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#1333251 - 12/24/09 05:54 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: cjsm]
dewster Offline
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Registered: 12/07/09
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Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: cjsm
But as a shock absorber, hard plastic is like concrete, transmiting all of the force, while wood expands and contracts to absorb some of the force. Would you rather run in your bare feet on a hard plastic floor, or a wood floor?

Or maybe a soft plastic floor like the one in your bathroom or kitchen made of sheet vinyl? There are billions of kinds of plastics other than the hard variety. You want something hard on top, yes, but I would think a foamed type might work well for the rest of the piano key - similar weight, density, and strength as wood, but with less variation.
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#1333381 - 12/25/09 01:34 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: dewster]
bachmaniac Offline
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Registered: 12/01/06
Posts: 410
Loc: Montreal, CAN
Quote:
I would think a foamed type might work well for the rest of the piano key - similar weight, density, and strength as wood, but with less variation.


advanced, space-age plastics, as proven by Kawai's Millenium III action, add considerably to the cost of production. In complex, small and intricate parts and links, they improve the action considerably and therefore make a lot of sense. In the case of keys, it would only mean trying to imitate what wood has already been doing perfectly for centuries and at a much lower cost. Keyboard levers (the keys) cut from well-seasoned spruce in quality pianos have never been a troublesome part in the whole piano machinery. But tradition must be trashed at any cost, right?

Cheers,

Claude
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#1333534 - 12/25/09 11:47 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
Michael Darnton Offline
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Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 243
Loc: Chicago
This discussion reminds me of the metal vs plastic issues in cameras of a couple of decades ago. People had a natural resistance to plastic, not considering that "plastic" means a whole lot of different things. In cameras, the plastics chosen resulted in less friction, more stability, closer machining tolerances, lower cost, better durability, and allowed for a whole new technology level that had been difficult, expensive, or impossible in metal.

Though there are still hold-outs who view plastic as cheap, the simple fact is that many recent innovations in cameras wouldn't have been possible without it.

It's all in the proper choice of plastic, and the correct use.
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#1333558 - 12/25/09 12:43 PM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
dewster Offline
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Registered: 12/07/09
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Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
In the case of keys, it would only mean trying to imitate what wood has already been doing perfectly for centuries and at a much lower cost. Keyboard levers (the keys) cut from well-seasoned spruce in quality pianos have never been a troublesome part in the whole piano machinery.

You've never seen a sticking piano key?

Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
But tradition must be trashed at any cost, right?

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#1334569 - 12/27/09 09:20 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: dewster]
bachmaniac Offline
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Registered: 12/01/06
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Yes, I have seen stuck keys, thank you. But never on a modern, quality piano (acoustic or digital) with wooden key levers, or at least never because of the key levers themselves --unless the piano had spent the night underwater.

Frankly I don't appreciate being bullied by the suggestion that favoring wooden keys on a piano equals following a "stupid" tradition like supporting corridas only because corridas have always existed. I am sure many of us on the forum find such an assumption quite rude, to say the least.

Some people will follow a tradition just because it's a tradition.
Some people will reject a tradition just because it's a tradition.
Still there are others (and I remain hopeful that it's the majority) who will look and think before they decide.

Claude
_________________________
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#1334606 - 12/27/09 10:36 AM Re: DP with wooden keys? [Re: bachmaniac]
dewster Offline
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Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4345
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
Yes, I have seen stuck keys, thank you. But never on a modern, quality piano (acoustic or digital) with wooden key levers, or at least never because of the key levers themselves --unless the piano had spent the night underwater.

Right now, as I type this, the highest 'B' key on our Young Chang is sitting slightly lower than the other keys. It gets played a lot because my wife teaches on it, but it is very well maintained and not underwater at all.

Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
Frankly I don't appreciate being bullied by the suggestion that favoring wooden keys on a piano equals following a "stupid" tradition like supporting corridas only because corridas have always existed. I am sure many of us on the forum find such an assumption quite rude, to say the least.

Dude, lighten up, I'm not trying to bully you at all. The poster is saying that tradition is sometimes not the smartest thing, not that all tradition is necessarily bad.

Originally Posted By: bachmaniac
Some people will follow a tradition just because it's a tradition.
Some people will reject a tradition just because it's a tradition.
Still there are others (and I remain hopeful that it's the majority) who will look and think before they decide.

Put me down for the third group. I want the keys on my DP to feel as close to real piano keys as possible. But for weight and QC reasons I would prefer they not be made of wood.

I don't want to be calling in a piano technician when one of my wooden DP keys is sticking.
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