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#1502984 - 08/25/10 12:57 PM Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist?
botolo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/23/10
Posts: 6
Dear Friends,

First of all, please allow me to introduce myself. This is my first message on this forum. I am originally from Italy but I moved to the U.S. a couple of years ago, in the Los Angeles area. I am not a pianist but I am helping my wife to buy a piano and I would welcome your feedback on the issue below.

My wife has played piano for many years and she studied at the Conservatorio in Italy for almost ten years. At her family house in Italy, she owns a Stenway Grand Piano and a Yamaha Upright. She would love to continue playing the piano but we really don't know what should be the best choice for her.

We live in an apartment and therefore buying an acoustic piano could create problems with neighbors and I believe that my wife would not feel free to play the piano whenever she wants to do this. In light of this, she was thinking about buying a silent piano, a Yamaha or a Kawai. The problem is that it's very difficult to find such a piano here in Los Angeles. We may have found a couple of them, but they are used and old (but very well maintained) pianos. The acoustic Kawai should be around 3.5k, the Yamaha should be around 5k.

I have tried to convince my wife to buy a digital piano. They are cheaper, they would be brand new and (I believe) they would be easier to sell if we will decide to move (as we are planning to do) in a couple of years and buy an acoustic piano. We tried several models, some Clavinovas, some Kawai and some Roland but my wife keeps on saying that they don't really feel like real pianos. I believe her judgment is in some way superficial and does not consider some things. She will most likely play any piano with the hearphones (she comes back late in the evening) and I think that the sound she can get from a silent piano is the same of the sound she would get from a digital piano. Moreover, one of the dealers we visited (Hollywood Piano) told us that silent pianos are almost impossible to sell back on the market, while digital pianos are very easy to sell. Finally, the price...a used and old silent piano is at least 3.5k, a good digital piano is 1.5k.

What do you think? What should be the best choice?

Thanks a lot for your help!

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#1503004 - 08/25/10 01:28 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: botolo]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3835
Loc: North Carolina
She's right, a digital won't feel quite like an acoustic. And it won't sound like one either. Given her level of experience, she's in the right position to make such judgments.

As for getting a "good digital for 1.5k" ... You can get a decent one at that price. But it sounds as though she's a true pianist, rather than a band-member/keyboard type. With her credentials, she won't be at all satisfied with a low-priced digital.

If you want to keep your spending low, get a high-priced digital ... used, at a low price.

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#1503014 - 08/25/10 01:42 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: MacMacMac]
CruelStrings Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 138
If your wife has owned and played on a Steinway grand piano, you probably won't be able to convince her with the sound and feel (inferior action) of any digital piano out there - her expectations will probably be too high, given that Steinway grand pianos are lovely to play on and by some considered to be one of the best pianos out there.
Given her 10 year conservatory education she will also immediately detect the shortcomings of digital pianos, both soundwise and actionwise.

The advantage of getting a silent piano over a digital is:
-You have a real grand piano action
-You could occassionally play a grand piano
-You can still connect your silent piano to your computer (midi-out)

There are different silent systems on the market, one of the best is Yamahas silent system as well as Korgs. Yamaha used their CFIIIS concert grand piano to sample for the silent piano and I had the chance to testdrive a couple silent pianos with this system.
Let me just say, it is absolutely amazing compared to the low-end silent pianos out there.

It helps to understand that a digital piano and a grand piano are two different instruments and therefor excel in different areas. There will always be circumstances where a digital piano would be by far superior to any piano (production, vst etc.), in this case I would recommend a real piano with silent system though, because your wife has both the technical finesse and pristine hearing to discern the difference between digital piano and grand piano.

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#1503024 - 08/25/10 01:53 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: MacMacMac]
LaRate Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 250
Loc: Germany
Given the circumstances I'd vote for the silent piano. After all a digital is only an approximation of the real thing (if you use it as a substitute), and if your wife is used to accoustic instruments, she will probably not enjoy a digital very much.

I wouldn't see so much of a problem in the resale value - digitals loose their value much more quickly than acoustics. So here the silent piano might actually be in the advantage.

Going for an older silent piano has one big drawback though: the electronic sound generation will probably be leagues behind what is used in recent digitals. So the headphone play could become too big a compromise.

If I were in your wife's situation, I'd maybe go shopping for a nice acoustic upright and accompany this with a decent entry-level (about $500) stage piano - this might actually be easier than finding a decent silent that is affordable. Then again, I can very well live with digitals.

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#1503026 - 08/25/10 01:55 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: CruelStrings]
LaRate Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/11/10
Posts: 250
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: CruelStrings

The advantage of getting a silent piano over a digital is:
-You have a real grand piano action
-You could occassionally play a grand piano

I don't think the OP is talking grand piano here, since $5k won't nearly be enough for that (let alone one with silent system).

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#1503039 - 08/25/10 02:22 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: botolo]
elecmuse3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 304
Loc: Cincinnati
Depending on the situation, she might find that enrolling as a student somewhere would give her access to good acoustic pianos (and of course she'd learn more as well). I'd agree that almost any digital piano will be unsatisfactory for her.
_________________________
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www.theplayerpianoshop.com

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#1503042 - 08/25/10 02:26 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: botolo]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
One of the best home practice pianos is the P155. It's $1,200 and is basically a portable version of a CLP (Clavinova) As a practice instrument it offers the same value as the more expensive CLP as it is machanically the same thing. Guitar center and Sam Ash stock these in all their LA area stores. However if she is used to a Steinway she might prefer a Roland. The RD700GX is a closer match. Yes the RD700 looks as complex an an airplane cockpit but you can ignore all that it's the feel of the keys and the sound that matter. Cheaper Roland DP's are really not as good with key action and sound so just try the RD700. They are easy to find in the big chain GC and SA stores. If she does not like Kawai and Yamaha DPs, give Roland a try as it is different from Kawai and Yamaha (which I think are a bit alike) The RD700 is about $2K and should be tried before giving up entirely on digital pianos

The bottom line is that for performance of classic music you will need an acoustic grand piano. The best you can ever hope for with a digital piano is that it will sound like a good stereo recording of an acoustic grand

The good news is that the key action on a good digital piano can be better than the keys on a used upright. And the sound on a silent upright piano is not go great a digital with headphones can sound better.

For most uses and most people digital pianos have completely replace upright acoustic pianos. But I doubt that will ever replace grands for performances of classical music

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#1503157 - 08/25/10 06:28 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: ChrisA]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5277
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
For about $11,000 or $15,000 you can own a brand new Yamaha N2 or N3 AvantGrand.

The AvantGrand by Yamaha uses a real grand piano action from their C3 (as I've been told) and has an excellent built in sound system.

I own the N3 which looks like a small baby grand. The N2 has the same exact action but in a smaller package and looks like a spinet on steroids.

I practice most of the time with headphones but this weekend was forced two accompany two singers for a rehearsal. At an acoustic level, the same level you would expect a grand piano to sound, it really sounded like a real grand piano.

I've made my living solely from performing and love being able to practice on a real grand piano action but at a much softer sound level. I owned a Yamaha C3 in the past and stuffed many towels in the soundboard to quiet it down.

The new Yamaha AvantGrand has the best of both worlds, a real grand piano action and a perfectly in tune sample from Yamaha's top of the line nine foot grand.

You might also find these YouTube videos informative ...

YouTube link ...

another YouTube link
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#1503189 - 08/25/10 07:27 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: Dave Horne]
Kawai James Online   content
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9332
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Yes, an AvantGrand would be the ideal solution, provided such an instrument is within the original poster's budget.

If not, one of the high-end digital pianos (Roland HP-307, Kawai CA93, Yamaha CLP-370) is perhaps a more realistic option.

Unfortunately, Kawai's 'Anytime' silent acoustic pianos are not typically marketed in the US.

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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#1503204 - 08/25/10 07:51 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: Kawai James]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5277
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Yes, an AvantGrand would be the ideal solution, provided such an instrument is within the original poster's budget.

James, the reason I keep mentioning the AvantGrand, I'm pretty sure most folks are unaware that such technology exists.

I traded in my C3 months after I learned about the GranTouch. I never knew true hybrids existed until then.
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#1503259 - 08/25/10 09:43 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: Dave Horne]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Because of your wife's playing experience, an AvantGrand and a set of studio-quality headphones, such Sennheiser's HD600's, would be a good choice for her - if budget is there.

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#1503473 - 08/26/10 08:31 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: FogVilleLad]
Luthrin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/08
Posts: 53
Loc: UK
I’ll add to the AvantGrand recommendation, if the budget will stretch that far. The OP said that they intended to move in couple of years and buy an acoustic, but it’s possible that if they acquire an AG then they won’t want to sell it in due course (unless transportation is a problem).

I’ve owned an AvantGrand N3 for a few weeks now and I can’t tell you how impressed I am with this instrument. I’ve been using a Roland FP-7 for the past couple of years, and I kept this with the idea of playing it when the room with the AG isn’t available (basically when my son is home from college and is using it). However thus far I’ve not touched the FP-7 once and I can’t see myself ever using it for serious practice again.

(I don’t want to knock the Roland as I think it’s a fine piece of kit for the price and it has served me very well – it’s just that I think there’s a limit to how far I could go with it in terms of improvement.)

Apart from the action, the other major difference I’ve found between the AG and FP-7 is the response of the sustain pedal. I’ve had to make a considerable adjustment to my pedal technique as it can’t be used as unthinkingly on the AG without creating an unsatisfying mush of sound. Pedalling has to be far more nuanced and controlled for best effect (at least in my case), but this in turn gives a much wider range of expressive options.

Even if an AG is out of the OP’s price range, I’d still recommend that his wife audition one for comparative purposes. I had a chat with the owner of the store where I purchased mine (after I’d paid for it, and I believe his comments were genuine, not just sales spiel). He sells both acoustics and digitals, and he said that over the years he’d lost count of the number of times a product had been released which promised to bridge the gap between traditional and digital pianos. They had all been a major disappointment when they finally arrived in the showroom - with the exception of the AvantGrand. His litmus test was an elderly piano teacher who taught classical lessons at the store and had always rubbished any digital she played on. When she sat down and started playing the AG for the first time the owner was expecting the usual caustic dismissal after five minutes, but she just kept playing...and playing...for over half an hour. When she eventually got up the only comment she made to him was “hmm...surprising”, but in his opinion that said it all.

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#1503529 - 08/26/10 10:21 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: Luthrin]
elecmuse3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/05/10
Posts: 304
Loc: Cincinnati
For the past few years I've been wondering when digitals would get within striking distance of acoustic pianos. It seems that, for cheaper pianos at least, you can now have the quality of a reasonably well kept acoustic worth $3,000 to $5,000, for an outlay of $10,000 or so. Of course, the digital upkeep is $0, unless you have a catastrophic failure, or unless the action needs some work in a few years if you play several hours a day. And for some folks the ability to use headphones (get really good ones BTW, >$100) is the deal maker. I would think there would still be some thump transmitted to the floor below.
_________________________
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www.theplayerpianoshop.com

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#1503538 - 08/26/10 10:35 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: elecmuse3]
botolo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/23/10
Posts: 6
I would like to thank all of you for the great help and feedback that you gave us! We read all your messages very carefully and they were inspiring. On one side, my wife kept saying "you see, I am right" when she read messages saying that she should get a silent piano. On the other side I was happy to read messages concerning the AvantGrand and I was saying to her "eheh, you see, digitals will be the future".

The AvantGrand seems to be great but it is far off our budget. Our other problem is the financing. Having come from Italy only a couple of years ago, we don't yet have a credit history sufficient to get financing for expensive pianos and this is another problem which makes the choice problematic.

It seems very difficult to convince her to get a digital piano and our problem is that most likely any used silent piano that we will find will be too expensive for us without a financing. Today we are going to check a used Kawai silent which should be around 3.5k and a Yamaha silent which should be 5.5k. We may have cash to buy the Kawai but we don't have cash to buy the Yamaha. If she doesn't like the Kawai, we will have to decide what to do...

She thinks one alternative could be to rent a good Yamaha acoustic upright for a year and then buy a new silent (at that time our credit history should be solid). But I still think that playing an acoustic piano in an apartment, with neighbors, will become a big big problem.

My suggestion would be to buy an average digital piano now (something around 1.5k/2k) and start thinking that in a year or two she will get the piano of her dreams. Hollywood Piano, for example, will give us full credit for the amount paid for any digital piano for a purchase of an acoustic piano within two years!

What do you think?

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#1503547 - 08/26/10 10:50 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: botolo]
Melodialworks Music Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/19/05
Posts: 1309
Loc: Canada
Don't let her play the AvantGrand, if you don't plan to purchase one. Once she has played on the AG, she won't want to play on a DP action!
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Yamaha C3X
Yamaha CP300 + Omnisphere
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#1503554 - 08/26/10 10:58 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: Melodialworks Music]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5277
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Another solution is for your wife to practice some place where there is a grand piano - a church, community center, high school (after hours), whatever.
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#1503622 - 08/26/10 12:44 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: Dave Horne]
salzdt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 260
Loc: Greenport, New York
Hi,
I think you idea of buying a digital, keeping for a year, and trading it in is the best for your current situation. I had a fairly good digital upright that I bought when getting back to the piano after many years. I liked being able to practice an hour of the day or night. After 18 mo., I traded it in for a used Yamaha Grand, 5'3". I miss the digital, because even though we live in a private house, I like to practice without wondering if I'm the practice is annoying to my husband. Everyone that has praised the acoustic piano is right. However, getting all your money back when you are ready to trade it the digital makes good sense. thumb Good luck to you and your wife.
Dot
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#1503648 - 08/26/10 01:46 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: botolo]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3835
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: botolo
Hollywood Piano, for example, will give us full credit for the amount paid for any digital piano for a purchase of an acoustic piano within two years!What do you think?
Those deals are just a sales tool.

They'll give you "full credit" ... if you buy another piano from them at an inflated price. Don't fall for this trick.

Instead, just negotiate your best price now. Don't worry about a trade-in.

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#1503865 - 08/26/10 08:45 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: botolo]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Originally Posted By: botolo
She thinks one alternative could be to rent a good Yamaha acoustic upright for a year and then buy a new silent (at that time our credit history should be solid). But I still think that playing an acoustic piano in an apartment, with neighbors, will become a big big problem.

My suggestion would be to buy an average digital piano now (something around 1.5k/2k) and start thinking that in a year or two she will get the piano of her dreams. What do you think?
Normally I'd be among those saying get an affordable digital. The problem is that your wife doesn't like the ones which are within budget.

Problems with neighbors are not uncommon. You can reduce radiated sound by placing the piano on a braided rug. That'll keep the floor from functioning as a soundbard. Try to not place the piano so that its sound projects onto a shared wall - or hang a piece of carpet on that wall. Apartment dwellers - of whom I'm one - have to learn to live with the knowledge that there are other people in this world. Sometimes just talking to neighbors about practice times can be helpful.

I've seen posts on the acoustic forum re silent pianos feeling awkward when the silent function is used. Please encourage your wife to audition those pianos extensively.




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#1504030 - 08/27/10 02:45 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: FogVilleLad]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
The Yamaha Silent Grands are done very, very well with almost no perceptible difference in touch compared with a normal Yamaha Grand (such as on the uprights where the change in let off makes it more difficult to play pp). A Yamaha C2 or C3 Silent would give you a real grand to play when it is possible and the same action to play with headphones at any other hour of the day, night or week. Rather than paying for expensive speaker systems, transducers and fancy 4 channel sampling and still winding up with a sooner or later obsoleted digital-only, simulated piano as with an Avant Grand, you are paying for a real acoustic grand with genuine klavier, strings and soundboard but also the ability to play silently in a factory-built way when it is more convenient or even necessary. It is by far the most expensive of the options, but it is definitely a superior solution for a classical pianist who wants to be able to really play all the literature with a real instrument from Alkan to Beethoven and from Cage to Debussy.

Such an instrument would last decades but might be easier to re-sell in Europe upon your potential return if you wanted to buy a Steingraeber or a Fazioli then.


Edited by theJourney (08/27/10 02:50 AM)

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#1504052 - 08/27/10 03:50 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: theJourney]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5277
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Journey, the actions of both a hybrid and a silent piano are in essence the same and would need the same amount of work over time. The silent piano on the other hand would need to be tuned on a regular basis and if kept for decades that cost would keep going up.

When you factor in the cost of all the tunings and the eventual restringing and perhaps a new pin block, a hybrid piano doesn't seem all that bad.

When Yamaha introduces the next generation of hybrids in five years or so, I'll trade in my AvantGrand and get a good price. (I don't have an emotional attachment with my piano, it's simply a tool to get the job done. I got an excellent price for my 12 year old GranTouch when I traded that in.)

I'll never have to pay for to have my piano tuned, restrung, pin block reworked or have the sound board repaired. I will have to have the action worked on but then I would have that same expense on any other acoustic piano.

For practicing purposes a hybrid piano has more advantages.

And don't forget, the vast improvement over the GranTouch by the AvantGrand is just one generation. It will be interesting to see what Yamaha comes up with in five years or so.
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#1504063 - 08/27/10 04:55 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: Dave Horne]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Dave, I agree wholeheartedly that the AvantGrand N3 and the Yamaha C3 share a nearly identical keyboard/action.

I also agree that the AvantGrand is cheaper to buy and own than a genuine grand piano with hammers, strings, soundboard and the infinity of sounds of a real, wooden and steel acoustic piano such as an authentic Yamaha C3 with a built in digital Silent system. Yes, authentic acoustic pianos need to be tuned just like authentic wooden floors need to be waxed and authentic sports cars need to be tuned up and wooden sailboats need to be sanded and varnished. It is part of the whole total ownership package that is part of their charm. Our long term relationship with our tuner is a pleasant bit of social stability amongst the throw-away "busy busy" non-relationships of the prevailing culture.

However, I do take issue with your notion that during the expected useful life of an AvantGrand that an equivalent Yamaha C3 would need a new pin block and re-stringing or a new soundboard. Or, the implication that trading in an acoustic C3 after five years would give any worse of a deal than trading in an Avantgrand.

In fact, I would dare stick my neck out and say that if someone were to buy a C3 and an AvantGrand N3 for the long haul, that after 25 years only the C3 would be worth anything at all other than as a curiosity. However, during those 25 years, only the owner of the C3 would have had the pleasure of playing on an acoustic piano with the infinity of nuances, dynamics, resonances, etc.

If someone is going to always practice with headphones, to my idea both the N3 and the C3S are bad choices. After all, the attractiveness of the four channel sound reproduction and the vibrations of the transducers of the N3 are not felt with headphones, turning the Avantgrand into a very expensive digital piano (with a superior keyboard). And, if one will never let the hammers hit the strings, it doesn't make sense to have a C3 either.

If someone is going to want to play "real piano" when possible and silent perhaps a maximum of 30% of the time, then the C3 is an ideal solution. The Avantgrand is as sexy as all get out, but at the end of the day, it is based on static sampling technology and to really appreciate its sound you also have to crank up the volume and therefore the neighbors issue becomes again current. Playing at a much softer volume may also create more issues with technique than it helps. Additionally, if one has the choice of listening to playback of static, sample recordings of a piano versus actually playing one, it seems preferable to actually play one.

Finally, there is a substantial amount of the literature that simply is impossible or deeply unrewarding to perform on a digital piano, even one as convincing as the Avantgrand.

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#1504084 - 08/27/10 06:18 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: theJourney]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5277
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Journey, the AvantGrand's Tactile Response System can be turned on when using headphones.

Also, I have no intention of keeping my N3 for 25 years. (I didn't keep my C3 for anywhere near 25 years either.) I've heard that you can't take your money with you so I have no problems buying a new piano every so often.

As a professional musician, I look at my practice piano as a tool. You use the word static to describe the sound of the AvantGrand. I would much rather have a so called static sound that is perfectly in tune than what I had with my C3. (As an aside, I lived in a single house when I moved over here and had many towels stuffed in the C3's soundboard as well as a felt strip between the lid and body to quiet it down. Grand pianos are loud, too loud for many hours of daily practicing - I'm referring to my ears, not to my neighbors.)

For practice purposes I really do not see the need to have 230 tunable strings and a cast iron plate under tons of pressure. A pure acoustic piano on stage for performance, of course, but I spend most of my time off stage. I like playing on a real grand piano action and playing on a piano that is always in tune.

You romanticized pure acoustic pianos and their maintenance by mentioning authentic hardwood floors, authentic sports cars and wooden sailboats. You left out the equally romantic coal burning steam locomotive and its billowing black soot. smile
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#1504096 - 08/27/10 07:23 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: Dave Horne]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
I am just jealous of your N3. grin

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#1504109 - 08/27/10 08:06 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: theJourney]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5277
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Do you ever get down this way? We live just outside of Den Bosch.
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#1504244 - 08/27/10 11:50 AM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: Dave Horne]
botolo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/23/10
Posts: 6
Thanks for all the replies. An update. We went to see the new silents which our favorite piano store just received. My wife tried the Kawai Anytime but she did not like the sound when played as an acoustic piano. She also tried the two Yamaha Silent (one U1 from 1996 and another piano from 2004). She liked the action but she did not like the sound (the U1 is priced at 5k, the other one at 4.5k). She started trying all the pianos in the store, including all the Kawai and Roland digital pianos and she ended choosing for a...ugh...used Hyundai Upright from 198something, acoustic, at 1.7k. She loved the bright sound and when I told her "what about our neighbors" she asked the dealer to put two layers of felt in the middle pedal.

She said that she really can't see herself playing a digital piano, she does not like the action. The silent pianos did not capture her heart enough and the Hyundai seemed the perfect choice for her current needs and our current financial status.

Given that we have not confirmed the purchase yet, what do you think of her choice?

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#1504273 - 08/27/10 12:27 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: botolo]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: botolo

Given that we have not confirmed the purchase yet, what do you think of her choice?


If an upright with a felt curtain is acceptable then you can get those for any price you want from "free" on up. Look at Craigslist. She'll likely not want a free piano as most of those are not great but you can find good ones for under $1K. The felt curtain can be applied to any upright.

But I think this is showing an unreasonable bias against digital piano. It is very hard to argue that the sound of an acoustic piano with the felt is better than a digital. Even a cheap digital piano sounds better then a muffled acoustic's dull thumping sound.

You can add felt to a grand piano too. I think you simply open the lid and lay a pad over the strings. If a felt muffled acoustic is acceptable then why not buy a baby grand? Those also go for any price from zero up. You don't need a piano tech to add a felt muffler to a grand. If piano's key action is #1 then it's hard not to prefer a grand over an upright.

The other thing about upright pianos is, have you ever tried to sell one? It's hard to do because so many people are selling cheap on Craigslist. It's a buyer's market.


Edited by ChrisA (08/27/10 01:05 PM)

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#1504293 - 08/27/10 01:03 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: botolo]
spanishbuddha Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2380
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: botolo

Given that we have not confirmed the purchase yet, what do you think of her choice?


For practice purposes I would have thought a good quality DP within your budget would be enough, and as someone else suggested find out where you can supplement that with practice on an acoustic - church, school, store, etc

Otherwise, make contact with your neighbours. Or at least find out when it's acceptable to play or not play. You might have shift workers living close by, or people with a low level of 'noise' tolerance due to work habits, health, anything. Also are there local bye-laws or ones that apply to your apartment block?

As a budding pianist, my practice sessions are more noise than music. Maybe your wife's practice is beautiful music all the time, with no missed notes, repeats, odd tempo, and so on. Listening to others practice, like me, would drive me nuts smile

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#1504352 - 08/27/10 02:57 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: ChrisA]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Originally Posted By: ChrisA
If an upright with a felt curtain is acceptable then you can get those for any price you want from "free" on up. Look at Craigslist. She'll likely not want a free piano as most of those are not great but you can find good ones for under $1K. The felt curtain can be applied to any upright.

The other thing about upright pianos is, have you ever tried to sell one? It's hard to do because so many people are selling cheap on Craigslist. It's a buyer's market.
botolo, if you go for this one at $1.7k, please be prepared to take a significant loss when you sell. That's not necessarily a bad thing. You'll have a piano that the player likes - which is a very good thing - and you won't have to continue to shop, which can also be a very good thing.

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#1504458 - 08/27/10 06:30 PM Re: Digital piano or used silent piano for a pianist? [Re: botolo]
Luthrin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/08
Posts: 53
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: botolo

Given that we have not confirmed the purchase yet, what do you think of her choice?

I think to answer that question properly we need to know more about your residential situation.

In the OP you said that you are planning to move in a couple of years and then buy an acoustic. So we’re talking about roughly 24 months of what is likely to be a fill-in before you get what your wife really wants.

Looking at it purely in relation to technique, I don’t believe an advanced pianist such as your wife is going to undermine her pianistic ability by playing on a digital for a couple of years. She may not get the satisfaction she has always enjoyed from playing a Steinway, but the sound through quality headphones is pretty good in my opinion, and at least she’ll be exercising her fingers and playing freely with whatever dynamics she wants. There are a few other plusses too – being able to record yourself for one, and in particular recording with split keyboard which allows you to play back (say) the left hand in isolation. In very fast passages it’s surprising what such a recording reveals, even though you think you’re playing in even time.

What I believe will damage your wife’s technique (and I speak from experience here) is playing an acoustic piano where you deliberately ‘back off’ on the dynamics in order to lower the volume and not annoy neighbours (sleeping children in my case). What happens is that you start decelerating too early into the keys and before you know it you are losing authority and control. It creates an unconscious hesitancy which can take some time to rectify later.

In short, if you are confident that you can muffle the acoustic or arrange playing times that are satisfactory with neighbours so that your wife can play FF with abandon when she needs to play FF, then go for that option. Otherwise I’d think a bit more about this. At my age two years seems like a blink of an eye, and it won’t be that long before your wife can get the instrument that will do justice to her ability.

Best wishes, whatever choice you make.

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