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#1703731 - 06/28/11 05:46 PM Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice
Marlowe221 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 26
Hi all,

I introduced myself a while back when I was first in the market for a DP. The economy brought a halt to my shopping....

But things are better now thankfully and I find myself looking seriously again!

A little about myself:
I am a 29 year old male in the USA. I have normal size palms but long fingers.

I am an acoustic guitar player of roughly 17 years. I play mostly fingerstyle (read: all ten fingers going, no pick, hands doing different things at the same time) so finger-strength is good. I like playing Tommy Emmanuel tunes if that means anything to anyone here (youtube him - he's amazing!).

I plan to self-teach, despite the dangers of doing so. I am a hobbyist and the only living beings likely to hear me play are myself, a dog, a cat, and my extraordinarily patient girlfriend. So we're talking home-play here, amplification not required. smile

I cannot justify more than about $500 for an untried hobby. I know basically nothing about the piano.

I've done a lot of reading on these forums but the amount of information about different kinds of actions, speakers, and microchips is frankly.... overwhelming for a guy who plays an acoustic instrument. Shoot, I don't even know how many keys I need!

So what's the best use of $500 for a digital piano (only piano, e-piano, organ sounds required) that feels good to play, and won't sound terrible to ears used to fine acoustic guitars?

Thanks!

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#1703751 - 06/28/11 06:33 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
With your uncertainty and cost concerns, I would recommend a 61-key unweighted portable keyboard (it is not uncommon in the US for students to take several yrs. of classical lessons on a 61-key; they have little trouble adapting to the upright or grand in their teacher's studio). There's a whole selection of them on amazon.com for less than $100 (make sure it comes with the factory AC adaptor included in the box, because some don't come with one, and finding an adaptor that fits the keyboard jack after you buy a keyboard can be almost impossible for some models). You don't need e-piano and organ sounds if you're learning piano. And a pedal is not necessary for a novice. You can play all of Bach and most if not all of Mozart on 61 keys, more music than you can play in a lifetime.

The reason I say get an inexpensive 61-key is that I'm thinking that piano may not be for you if you're a longtime acoustic guitar player. These instruments are very different and the physical skills for one will not transfer to the other--the finger strength you developed for guitar won't be applicable to piano, and vice versa. Long fingers, in theory, would be good for piano, but just finger length alone is not going to get you playing like a young Franz Liszt. There's much more to playing this instrument than hand size.

There are no dangers to self-teaching piano. When you teach yourself, you will naturally learn in a way that best suits your individual physical and psychological make up; you won't be forced to play the teacher's way, which is his way of playing, not yours.

Perhaps the main reason for a 61-key is that these are just plain fun to use. They are lightweight and convenient and you can plop them down anywhere and play anytime. With an 88-key digital you'll have to sit down in one place, on a bench, and play, and you'll have to work to get the weighted keys moving under your fingers, which can take a lot of the fun out of playing.

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#1703755 - 06/28/11 06:47 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3197
If your focus is on learning piano, a weighted action is better if possible, and the three that are always suggested in your price range all have the EP and organ sounds you want as well (though they're not necessarily particularly good). Those models are Yamaha P95, Casio PX130, and Korg SP170. At least for piano, I happen to prefer the sound and feel of the Yamaha, but people have different preferences. I haven't compared their organ and EP sounds. If you're going to check them out in a store, go online and download the Korg manual before going to play it... otherwise you'll never figure out how to get the EP and organ sounds out of it.

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#1703768 - 06/28/11 07:11 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4340
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: Marlowe221
So what's the best use of $500 for a digital piano (only piano, e-piano, organ sounds required) that feels good to play, and won't sound terrible to ears used to fine acoustic guitars?

No one makes this product, though IMO it is technically entirely possible to do so at this point.

Maybe a Casio PX-130, Pianoteq Play (assuming you have a PC), and some good headphones?
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1703823 - 06/28/11 08:58 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
ChrisA Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 3841
Loc: Redondo Beach, California
Originally Posted By: Marlowe221

I've done a lot of reading on these forums but the amount of information about different kinds of actions, speakers, and microchips is frankly.... overwhelming


Maybe it is overwhelming but if you have only $500 there are one three digital pianos people are going to point you at.

Casio PX130,
Korg SP170
Yamaha P95

I listed them in the order I prefer them. Others would put them in a different order. I think the qualtyi of the key action matters more than anything and I think the P95 is just to light.

If the PX130 were a guitar I'd say it had decent action and setup for a student-level guitar and "fair" tone. Quality is about lie a $500 acoustic guitar. good but not a pro-quality instrument but not a toy either.


The suggestion to get a low-end 61 key "synth" action keyboard is like telling a beginner to buy a $100 guitar. It will make some noise and allow you to learn the names of the strings and basoc chords. but you'd be moving on real fast to something else

Maybe to clarify, the "piano" is by definition a keyboard the has weighte hammers that move. The keys have inertia or mass. Other keyboard instruments like organs, electronic "synths and the like have non-weighted keys. You can decide which kind of instrument to learn you can even buy a Saxophone. But a 61 key unweighted synth is not a "piano" what's different is dynamic. Those weighted keys can absorb a lot of energy

A lot of people start on a $200 small keyboard then upgrade in 6 months. If yo buy the keyboard on Craigslist for $50 yo can sell it for $50 later, nothing lost.

All that said I bet you end up with one of the three on the above list. Look for deals. If you've bought guitars you know that you never have to pay the asking print. same deal with digital and especially acoustic pianos. 10% off should be easy 15% with effort.

EDIT:
I read Dewster's comment and "nobody makes this" and he is correct. Which your budget you are buying the digital piano equivalent of the "Student Guitar" that you might find at a Sam Ash store for under $400. But for your purpose that is what you need. And as was said you can alwasy connect the piano to a computer and upgrade the sound. That would double your budget (at least) but it's an option for the future. Today the best sounds are in computer software

The other thing about tone in a digital is that the weak link is always the speakers and the amplifier. so computer or not a good external sound system can greatly improve the tone.

Cheaper than speakers are good studio quality headphones. Take a trip to the local music store and try ou t these $500 pianos but bring good headphones.


Edited by ChrisA (06/28/11 09:08 PM)

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#1703850 - 06/28/11 09:50 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
Marlowe221 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 26
Hmmmm... interesting advice from all...

I suppose I don't care very much about weighted keys - since I'm in the "Chopsticks Only" crowd, the difference between weighted and non-weighted keys is somewhat meaningless to me at this point.

Will I come to prefer traditional piano-style keys over synth action? Beats me. Even if I become a die hard amateur pianist it's highly unlikely that I will ever own an acoustic piano. A $2K digital piano isn't totally out the question in the future - after all I've spent that kind of money on acoustic guitars in the past.

What I would like is that if I were to go to someone's house, old folks home, etc. I could play an upright without embarrassing myself too badly. I don't know anyone with a grand or even a baby grand for that matter - so I'm not sure that preparing myself for grand piano-style action is necessary.

I appreciate the model recommendations for DPs in my price range. They are models I've seen mentioned before on the forums here. I kinda figured that $500 was just going to get me into the "decent" range but that's all I need for now - maybe all I ever need for that matter, though this computer thing does sound interesting.

For the sake of argument though, let's say I decide that I prefer synth action. Any models you fellas/ladies might recommend in the same price range?

Thanks again!



Edited by Marlowe221 (06/28/11 11:12 PM)

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#1703916 - 06/28/11 11:35 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4340
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: Marlowe221
I suppose I don't care very much about weighted keys - since I'm in the "Chopsticks Only" crowd, the difference between weighted and non-weighted keys is somewhat meaningless to me at this point.

For piano, most people will tell you that you really want hammer action keys. I'm a guitarist married to a piano teacher and that's what I would recommend you get from what I know. Unweighted organ-type keys don't generally work well for controlling a piano sound.

Originally Posted By: Marlowe221
Will I come to prefer traditional piano-style keys over synth action? Beats me. Even if I become a die hard amateur pianist it's highly unlikely that I will ever own an acoustic piano. A $2K digital piano isn't totally out the question in the future - after all I've spent that kind of money on acoustic guitars in the past.

I own a $100 steel string and a $90 classical. As you undoubtedly know, if you shop around and try a bunch of guitars, $100 or so can get you an acceptable feel and sound plywood steel string. But you need to spend at least $500 or so to get a decent sounding nylon. With digital pianos, the price of entry for decent action and sound is $1500 or so. I don't make the rules, and I don't know quite how we got here, but that's just how it is at this point in time for everyone.
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#1703929 - 06/28/11 11:59 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: dewster]
Marlowe221 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 26
$1500 certainly keeps me on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.

I want to start learning!

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#1703939 - 06/29/11 12:12 AM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
anotherscott Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3197
Originally Posted By: Marlowe221
I suppose I don't care very much about weighted keys
...
What I would like is that if I were to go to someone's house, old folks home, etc. I could play an upright without embarrassing myself too badly. I don't know anyone with a grand or even a baby grand for that matter - so I'm not sure that preparing myself for grand piano-style action is necessary.

Uprights have weighted keys too. If this is your goal, try to stick with weighted keys.

And while it's true that you can find $1500 pianos that are much better, I really quite like the $500 Yamaha P95. I think there are many much more expensive actions that, while maybe different, don't actually feel much better. And the piano sound is quite good too.

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#1704047 - 06/29/11 06:50 AM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
dewster Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4340
Loc: Northern NJ
Sorry, I guess I was interpreting your sound criterion to strictly:

Originally Posted By: Marlowe221
... and won't sound terrible to ears used to fine acoustic guitars?

My ears are used to entry level acoustic guitars, and to me most DPs sound rather terrible in one way or another due to the primitive compression techniques used on the sample set. To hear what I mean, sit at a real piano, press the right-most pedal down, and play some random notes - maybe just the black keys to keep it somewhat harmonic sounding. Try the same thing on most DPs, and even with good headphones you will probably notice a marked lack of richness and detail (caused by decay looping, note stretching, too few velocity layers, poorly modeled sympathetic resonance, etc.). Real pianos have hundreds of strings trying their best not to make too much noise when you don't want them to, DPs tend to be rather dead in comparison.

But if you can put up with that, then one of the standard three listed by anotherscott and ChrisA will probably do fine. And, as ChrisA recommends, bring a good pair of headphones with you to the store when you try them out.
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)

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#1704239 - 06/29/11 12:13 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: dewster]
Marlowe221 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 26
Originally Posted By: dewster
Sorry, I guess I was interpreting your sound criterion to strictly:

Originally Posted By: Marlowe221
... and won't sound terrible to ears used to fine acoustic guitars?

My ears are used to entry level acoustic guitars, and to me most DPs sound rather terrible in one way or another due to the primitive compression techniques used on the sample set. To hear what I mean, sit at a real piano, press the right-most pedal down, and play some random notes - maybe just the black keys to keep it somewhat harmonic sounding. Try the same thing on most DPs, and even with good headphones you will probably notice a marked lack of richness and detail (caused by decay looping, note stretching, too few velocity layers, poorly modeled sympathetic resonance, etc.). Real pianos have hundreds of strings trying their best not to make too much noise when you don't want them to, DPs tend to be rather dead in comparison.

But if you can put up with that, then one of the standard three listed by anotherscott and ChrisA will probably do fine. And, as ChrisA recommends, bring a good pair of headphones with you to the store when you try them out.


Yeah that was an unfortunate turn of phrase on my part. I didn't mean to imply that I have ultra-sensitive super-discerning ears or anything. I just want something that doesn't sound like a toy.

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#1704329 - 06/29/11 02:23 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
Moomintroll Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/24/11
Posts: 13
P95 is a decent piano. By 'decent' I mean the keyboard action is good, the grand piano sound is not quite the best but is doable and does not sound or look like a toy at all. I'd recommend it to a person on a budget.

However, I'd buy the Arius 141 over the P95 any day. If you combine the cost of the P95 together with the special P95 stand and the special P95 pedal unit I'd say, the 141 is the better value for money mainly because of the pleasantly looking cabinet.

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#1704539 - 06/29/11 08:13 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
Marlowe221 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 26
Thanks for all the advice everyone!

I know a couple of stores in my area where they sell the models that have been mentioned in this thread. I'll have to go do some in-person research.

Now I need to sell a guitar...

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#1705061 - 06/30/11 04:20 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
Marlowe221 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 26
Would anyone have any synth-action keyboard recommendations in my price range? I guess I'm not sure whether I want to learn piano per se or "keys" just yet and I thought I might look at some synth-action boards while I'm out experiencing the piano simulators first hand.

While I'm not terribly interested in playing a song while sounding like a helicopter, some of the editing/tweaking features of arrangers/workstations are intriguing.... That being said, I still care more about piano, e-piano, organ, etc. sounds than pads, horns, strings, and so on.

I would really appreciate any synth-action recommendations if there's anything decent in the same financial ballpark.

Thanks!


Edited by Marlowe221 (06/30/11 04:23 PM)

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#1705117 - 06/30/11 05:53 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: Marlowe221]
galaxy4t Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/28/08
Posts: 853
Loc: Lakewood, CA
There is the new WK-7500 from Casio which packs a mean punch for the money. It is the cheapest workstation currently available ($499). MIDI is done over USB there are no MIDI IN/OUT ports to control other epuipment with. If you don't need the drawbars, look at the WK-6500, but note the polyphony drops down to 48 on the 6500($299). You don't get the drawbars and the number of sounds is less but still over 600 sounds.


Edited by galaxy4t (06/30/11 05:55 PM)

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#1705733 - 07/01/11 04:28 PM Re: Best Use of $500 (roughly) For Total Novice [Re: galaxy4t]
Marlowe221 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 26
Originally Posted By: galaxy4t
There is the new WK-7500 from Casio which packs a mean punch for the money. It is the cheapest workstation currently available ($499). MIDI is done over USB there are no MIDI IN/OUT ports to control other epuipment with. If you don't need the drawbars, look at the WK-6500, but note the polyphony drops down to 48 on the 6500($299). You don't get the drawbars and the number of sounds is less but still over 600 sounds.


Thanks for the tip, I'll be sure and look for that model.

The Roland Juno-Di looks interesting as well for only a little more green....

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