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#1324987 - 12/14/09 06:36 AM DP for a child - making the right choice
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Hello,

please help me to make the right decision. I need a DP/SP(portable) for my 7 years old child who studies piano at school. Money are a problem...i hardly could make it up to 1000$ (~700 EUR). As far as I understood good sound and heavy touch are very important for a beginner and should be as closer as possible to an acoustic piano.

My options are of three kinds:

1. cheaper
THOMANN SP-5500
+ cheaper, lots of features,
- doubts about quality of sound and heavy touch
Casio CDP-100
+ cheaper, good touch,
- less features, doubts about the sound

2. expensive for me
KORG SP-250
+ seems that imitates better the acoustic piano(sound and touch)
- less features, problems with speakers ? as read on pianoworld.com

YAMAHA P85
+ better sound, touch(i think...). a good price however
- less features

3. too expensive for me. it worth a bigger effort ?

YAMAHA DGX-630
+ nice features, good touch and sound


Until now my choice would be the THOMANN SP-5500, but I'm so not aware of what a child could lose if he doesn't hear a good sound. As far as I see thomann.de does not provide a sample for "classic" piano for SP-5500. This might be because it is not build to imitate an acoustic piano ? Is THOMANN SP-5500 sound really bad ? Is it's touch heavy enough ? For a beginner child it really matters if he starts playing on THOMANN SP-5500 or on YAMAHA DGX-630 ?
Considering that I can afford only a small amount over the price of a THOMANN SP-5500, it worth to pay for this little difference, or Thomann will do his job good enough ?

What other options should I consider ?

Thank you very much.

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#1324994 - 12/14/09 07:14 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
I'd definitely stick to established brands like Casio or Yamaha. Saving a few bucks by using some Chinese no-name brand isn't really worth it IMHO.

If you need something portable, then e.g. the Yamaha P-85 or Casio PX-130 would fit the bill. The SP-250 and DGX are also portable in principle, but a lot heavier, so you should think about how frequently you need to carry the instrument around. If you want to set it up in different places all the time, you should obviously pick something very light.

As far as the key action goes, both the SP-250 and P-85 would be good choices. If you have an acoustic to compare to, this might help you decide which one is better for you. Acoustic actions can vary a lot in weight between different models (especially uprights vs grand pianos), so it's always a bit difficult to say which weight is best for a DP. But especially for a child, I'd say the action should not be extremely heavy.

You might also consider whether you want the extra DGX-630 (YPG-635 in the US) features, such as notation and fingering display or built-in rhythms. The SP-250, CDP-100, and P-85 are pretty bare-bones, which on the other hand means fewer distractions. Then again, these features can make things much more fun for a beginner...
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1325063 - 12/14/09 09:47 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Sean M. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/16/09
Posts: 97
Another vote for the Casio PX-130. It's within your budget, and for the price the key action and piano sound are very good. If you live in a city with a big music store, they've probably got them on display right now and you could stop and try one out.

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#1325074 - 12/14/09 09:59 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Sean M.]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
I'd recommend the Yamaha P-85.

I use one myself and can vouch for it's quality and great bang for the buck.

With the optional stand and pedals, it also looks terrific. Get the black cabinet finish...it looks very classy

Action is not too light, or too heavy. Perfect for a 7 year old.

The Yamaha name commands respect, and if you ever plan to upgrade at a later date, it will be far easier to sell or trade in.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325084 - 12/14/09 10:11 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
Vid_w Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 188
Loc: Slovenia
I'd vote for the SP-250, as I loved the touch and it has quite good piano sounds. Not the best, but still good. It has several different cool sopunds too, especially the organs and e-pianos.
You also get a pedal and a stand included in the package, so you won't have to worry about those.
http://www.youtube.com/user/MusikSchmidt#p/search
Here's a demo. It's in German, but you'll be able to hear the sounds at least.
Also, I still think it has 3 layer sampling. At least it sounds that way in this video.

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#1325095 - 12/14/09 10:37 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Vid_w]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Thank you!
P-85, Casio PX-130 or SP-250 were the safe choices for me, too. Probably the price and other accessories will make the difference - because the reviews are so confusing sometimes.

So, nobody likes the Thomann sp5500 smile. Is it because none of you experimented it or simply it is not good ? I would like to hear the opinion of an expert that used this piano. It looks good enough over here: http://www.thomann.de/de/thomann_sp5500.htm

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#1325128 - 12/14/09 11:45 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4277
Loc: Northern NJ
The SP-250 has one-layer sampling. It's older technology and I personally think it sounds like crap.

The lowest I'd go is Casio CDP-100, though to not have to upgrade in a couple of years I'd get the Yamaha P-155, which the kid could probably play on until college. In-between choices would be Casio PX-130 and Yamaha P-85.

Get a good set of headphones. AKG K240's are on clearance now for $100, they are incredible.
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1325132 - 12/14/09 11:52 AM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Originally Posted By: dewster
The SP-250 has one-layer sampling. It's older technology and I personally think it sounds like crap.


I was just heading to SP-250...as I had founded one good offer in my home town (a bit less than the price from thomann.de, which was great).

What exactly is this layer sampling and why it is so important ?

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#1325143 - 12/14/09 12:06 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4277
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: mariu
What exactly is this layer sampling and why it is so important ?


Real pianos sound quite different when a note is played harder or softer. One way to deal with this in a sample-playback based instrument like a DP is to sample (record) the note played softly, then medium, then hard, which is a triple-strike sample. Recording 4 velocity layers gives you a 4 strike sample, and so on. At playback, when a note is played on the DP, one of these recordings is selected to make the sound. If the note is played at a velocity in-between two of the samples, the samples may be added (morphed or blended) in some way (this is generally a good thing).

If only a single velocity is sampled (i.e. a single strike sample set), then DP manufacturers scale the volume of the sample with the velocity of the key played. They also generally employ filters or other means to brighten up notes that are played harder and dull down notes that are played softer.

Hearing the same recorded sample of the same note over and over and over leads to listener fatigue, so I would strongly suggest you buy something with a multi-strike sample.

[edit] In general, single layer samples indicate a sample memory that is too small to sound very realistic.

I should also add that the P-85 is a single layer instrument, but generally gets good reviews here, so go figure.

Casio PX-330 has a 4 layer piano sample and is a good choice too. I believe the PX-130 has an identical piano sample as the PX-330.


Edited by dewster (12/14/09 12:14 PM)
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1325159 - 12/14/09 12:18 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Very good explanations! Thank you very much smile.

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#1325169 - 12/14/09 12:29 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: mariu
What exactly is this layer sampling and why it is so important ?



I should also add that the P-85 is a single layer instrument, but generally gets good reviews here, so go figure.



You're right Chris, it does get more than favorable reviews.

Sometimes people let specifications get in the way of how they hear and perceive a digital piano.

When I tried the Yamaha P-85, I was not told it was a single layer based instrument(nor did I ask), and after trying several other pianos, after which I learned had more than one layer, I walked out the door with the P-85.

Go figure. wink

Just goes to show, that sometimes specs don't tell the whole story.

Never had a problem with ear fatigue either; of course, that's because I use my fingers like most piano players. smirk

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325182 - 12/14/09 12:46 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: dewster]
BazC Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/08
Posts: 711
Loc: Cambridgeshire, UK
Originally Posted By: dewster
The SP-250 has one-layer sampling.


So people keep saying but I've yet to see any evidence. The Korg website suggests it is exactly the same as the LP350 which it says has multi layer sampling. Either way I think it sounds pretty good, in fact for the price I think it sounds very good indeed!

You can listen to some samples here
Purgatory Creek
_________________________

Korg SP200, Pianoteq

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#1325208 - 12/14/09 01:22 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer

Never had a problem with ear fatigue either; of course, that's because I use my fingers like most piano players. smirk




And I think the one-layer sample actually causes less ear fatigue, because due to the filtering, there a many possible brightness steps for the sound, not just three or four.

With sample switching, you suddenly have a note e.g. in a scale that sounds completely different from the rest, just because it's using the high-velocity sample. On the other hand with layer interpolation, you try to interpolate between very different waveforms (e.g. mf and f samples) which leads to slightly odd-sounding results, as on the PX-130/330. Using a single sample layer does give the sound a certain self-consistency...
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1325236 - 12/14/09 02:13 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Martin C. Doege]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
What do you think about YAMAHA DGX-530 ? There is a store near my hometown where I can buy it for 530 EUR (780 $ - suspicious low price !?).
Is it much weaker than a DGX-630 ?
Is it comparable with P85 or Casio PX-130 in matter of sound and touch >?

Personally I like it because it has lots of features like: USB, Yamaha Education Suite version 4, lyrics and score display...my boy will like these too, I'm sure. But, I don't want to sacrifice quality of sound and touch for a little more fun...

Thanks again.

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#1325311 - 12/14/09 03:57 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Vid_w Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 188
Loc: Slovenia
Does the DGX 530 even have hammer action?

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#1325322 - 12/14/09 04:15 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Vid_w]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Originally Posted By: Vid_w
Does the DGX 530 even have hammer action?


I guess not. This is from the specs: "Yamaha DGX-530 keyboard - 88x graded soft touch keys with touch response..."

PS: Sorry if i seem to ask stupid questions smile. I am completely new to the piano's world. Moreover, I'm not so good at music, my ears does not help me very much...going to a store to try a piano wouldn't make much difference to me.

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#1325325 - 12/14/09 04:25 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I see nothing wrong with the
Thomann SP 5500. This is
Thomann's in-house brand, and
so they can sell it at a
better price than other brands.
Thomann is the biggest online
retailer of digital pianos in
Europe and they have a reputation
to protect, and so they are not going
to put their name on a bad
digital piano.

I bought my first digital piano in 1989,
and even way back then the digitals
performed like an acoustic piano.
Today, 20 yrs. later, even economy
digitals like the Thomann SP 5500 have
technical specifications far superior
to the best digitals of 1989. So
the SP 5500 will perform like an
acoustic piano.

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#1325339 - 12/14/09 04:38 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: mariu
What do you think about YAMAHA DGX-530 ? .....

Personally I like it because it has lots of features...I don't want to sacrifice quality of sound and touch for a little more fun...


I think the 630 is the same as the 530 except the 630 has weighted keys.

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#1325349 - 12/14/09 04:50 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: ChrisA]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
If you have access to a Yamaha NP-30, the key action is identical to the DGX-530...just fewer keys.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325378 - 12/14/09 05:14 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Martin C. Doege]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Martin C. Doege

With sample switching, you suddenly have a note e.g. in a scale that sounds completely different from the rest, just because it's using the high-velocity sample. On the other hand with layer interpolation, you try to interpolate between very different waveforms (e.g. mf and f samples) which leads to slightly odd-sounding results, as on the PX-130/330. Using a single sample layer does give the sound a certain self-consistency...


There is another option: Roland does not store velocity based samples. They do sample a real piano but then "de-construct" the sound into components. The components get added back together based on key velocity. So if you strike hard, a Yamaha might play back the "ff" sample but a Roland might add in more of the bright overtone sample and then fade it out over time. And then the v-piano and pianoteq are not sample based at all.

Each method has pros and cons. Each has it's own set of sonic defects.

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#1325407 - 12/14/09 05:42 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
Huygens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: mariu
Originally Posted By: dewster
The SP-250 has one-layer sampling. It's older technology and I personally think it sounds like crap.


I was just heading to SP-250...as I had founded one good offer in my home town (a bit less than the price from thomann.de, which was great).

What exactly is this layer sampling and why it is so important ?

I got mail answer today from Korg support. They say that both Korg SP250 and Korg LP350 have 2-level sample.
_________________________
P-85 cheap plastic imitation; not because of sound, but weight.

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#1325421 - 12/14/09 05:51 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Huygens]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Lazily copied from another thread...

Strange, ain't it Huygens. I can't hear "multiple levels" of sample in the SP-250. I suppose if I was told there had been, I might have convinced myself there was, but, I didn't hear anything over the single layer sample of the P-85.

Now, either Yamaha is making their single layer sample awfully good, or Korg is making their "two layer samples" awfully mediocre.

I'm inclined to go with the former idea, since I played both and wasn't told the difference till afterwards.

My sense of how a piano should respond from ppp to fff was clearly pointed towards the Yamaha, and that's about as unbiased a view as you're going to get.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325425 - 12/14/09 05:56 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: ChrisA]
Martin C. Doege Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/09
Posts: 448
Loc: Hamburg, Germany
Originally Posted By: ChrisA


There is another option: Roland does not store velocity based samples. They do sample a real piano but then "de-construct" the sound into components. The components get added back together based on key velocity. So if you strike hard, a Yamaha might play back the "ff" sample but a Roland might add in more of the bright overtone sample and then fade it out over time.



True, I suppose you could get a somewhat similar effect if the filter value e.g. on the P-85 were time-dependent, so that the higher harmonics in a high-velocity note fade out. But I don't know if that's the case or if the Yamaha design just picks a filter setting and keeps it fixed for the whole duration of the note.

Too bad Roland doesn't have anything in the P-85/PX-330/SP-250 price range--that kind of competition might cause Casio and Yamaha to finally wake up and innovate! How about a budget version of the SV-1? Gotta love that tube. wink
_________________________
Yamaha P-85; Pianoteq Pleyel

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#1325441 - 12/14/09 06:11 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
Huygens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
Lazily copied from another thread...

Strange, ain't it Huygens. I can't hear "multiple levels" of sample in the SP-250. I suppose if I was told there had been, I might have convinced myself there was, but, I didn't hear anything over the single layer sample of the P-85.

Now, either Yamaha is making their single layer sample awfully good, or Korg is making their "two layer samples" awfully mediocre.


Did you read my answer (in the other thread)? I think Korg put more emphasis on the keyboard to have something they could use as a ram against the more expensive Yamaha CLPs. The key action of the Korg RH3 keyboard is outperforming the GH3, except for the velocity factor (playing fast notes).

That's probably why the Korg is perceived as having too mellow a sound in some peoples minds. Keyboard quality first, then sound quality came second. At least that's my guess about Korg's technical solution.
_________________________
P-85 cheap plastic imitation; not because of sound, but weight.

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#1325447 - 12/14/09 06:19 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: Huygens]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Yes, I read your answer, I just weren't sure you read mine.

The RH3 has a nice feel, but isn't any better quality than the inexpensive P-85, at least to my fingers.

Korg use the same action on all their pianos, and even on the P-588 arranger piano.

Apparently, it is made by Fatar, as Korg no longer uses Yamaha keybeds.

Fatar is good, but Korg has to depend on them for consistent quality, and can't watch over it in house.

I didn't find the Korg "mellow" overall, but I did find the bottom end kind of tubby sounding, and the upper range a bit thin. The mid-range was very nice and robust.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325459 - 12/14/09 06:32 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
Huygens Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 217
Loc: Sweden
Originally Posted By: snazzyplayer
I didn't find the Korg "mellow" overall, but I did find the bottom end kind of tubby sounding, and the upper range a bit thin.

Well, that could be because of the weak speakers. I would say the P-85 has the same problem, possible with a little broader mid-range compared to the Korg SP250. But the poor key action of the P-85 (GHS after all) can't compete with the Korg. And the Korg has three times the amount of voices, for almost the same price.
_________________________
P-85 cheap plastic imitation; not because of sound, but weight.

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#1325466 - 12/14/09 06:35 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
gerardo1000 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 129
This story about single level samples and multiple level samples should be taken with a grain of salt. Personally, I tested a Yamaha YDP 223 console dp (older model, single level sample) and a Yamaha YDP 160 (newer model, three level samples) and although both have the same amp power (20 w) the YDP 223 sounded better than the 160.
I have nothing against newer technologies and improvements as multiple samples, but I think that your ear should be the ultimate judge. I guess (no offense) that some people suggest some DPs only based on specs, and without having really played them.

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#1325492 - 12/14/09 07:07 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: gerardo1000]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
Originally Posted By: gerardo1000
This story about single level samples and multiple level samples should be taken with a grain of salt. I think that your ear should be the ultimate judge. I guess (no offense) that some people suggest some DPs only based on specs, and without having really played them.


Yep, that's what I say too, Gerardo. thumb

Same thing with key actions. It's how it feels to your fingers, rather than what the specs say.

I like the GHS action.

I like the action in my CP-300, which is slightly different than the P-85.

My little old Avant Grand is a lovely play.

I can't say one is better than the other, but I can say they are different, and the differences do not bother me in the slightest.

I even like the action in my 20 year old Roland HP-1700.

They all have a personality or character in feel as well as sound. I guess, just like people, there will be some personalities that we don't like. Doesn't make them any less legit.

Guitar players play different actions all the time...most own at least three guitars, and none are usually alike.

I go only by what I feel and hear...I look at the specs later.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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#1325523 - 12/14/09 08:17 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: snazzyplayer]
mariu Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/13/09
Posts: 10
Thank you very much everyone!
It really was amazing for me to get such many answers in less than a day.

I'll try to keep in mind all that you have said. The next step, i think, is to visit some stores from my city and try some of these DPs. I did visit before, but didn't really tried them. I have to take with me my son's piano teacher, hopefully he will accept. He's kind of old fashion... he only teaches on acoustic pianos, doesn't have a clue about DP's specs, etc. This would be interesting and I'm sure his ears and experience would be of much help.

However, I'm still counting almost all the options. Including the thomann sp-5500, I'm really curious about teacher's impression about it.

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#1325528 - 12/14/09 08:26 PM Re: DP for a child - making the right choice [Re: mariu]
snazzyplayer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 983
Loc: Earth
I'd be a mite careful if your piano teacher is old fashioned, and you're taking him to help you choose an electronic piano.

You might want to get one of the local experienced keyboard players to help you along...one that actually plays a digital piano in a band or on solo gigs.

Most "old fashioned" piano teachers would want you to get an acoustic piano, unless they actually play on a digital themselves, or at least have one in their studio.

It would be like taking a horseback riding enthusiast with you to buy a motorcycle.

I don't mean to butt in, it's just something to consider.

Snazzy
_________________________
Semper Gumby: Always flexible \:^)

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Today at 02:14 PM
Question for shigeru owners.. what sounded similar ?
by Brother Methias
Today at 01:51 PM
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