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#1893934 - 05/09/12 03:55 AM Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard
Panda Madness Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/08/12
Posts: 2
As the thread name states, I'm looking for a midi controller with realistic feel. For a while I was considering a digital piano, but I realized that most of their price was formed from the fancy furniture casing, built in acoustics and different built in sounds. I use soft samples for the sounds and I have some decent acoustics, so I figure i could save some money.

I'm a classically trained piano player, so I would really like a keyboard with the "feel", that thing that pulls a string in your heart when you play. I don't need any fancy stuff, just a solid realistic hammer action and midi and/or usb capabilities.

My budget is 1k$ tops, preferably I'd like to spend ~600-700 dollars.

Also wanted to note that I've played on the yamaha clp 430 when I was considering a DP (according to its specs it has Graded Hammer 3 (GH3) Keyboard), and very much liked how it felt. If possible I'd like to get something similar to that.

Looking forward to your feedback.

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#1893936 - 05/09/12 04:00 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
bubbamc119 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 49
Look for an older Yamaha P-series stage piano. P80,P90,P120,P250 etc.

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#1893942 - 05/09/12 04:22 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
madAhorn Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/08/12
Posts: 23
I like the Yamaha P95 in that $550.00 price range.

It has surprisingly powerful speakers for it's weight and size for practicing and small venues...

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#1893974 - 05/09/12 06:42 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3344
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
There are no budget priced MIDI controllers that have a decent action.

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#1894006 - 05/09/12 08:46 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3076
Nobody's best actions are in models under $1,000 regardless of whether or not the board has sounds. But I think the Yamaha P155 and CP33 actions (GH) are similar to the GH3 you like except for lacking the third sensor, and they probably are the best actions under $1k by most people's account.

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#1894142 - 05/09/12 12:37 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: anotherscott]
galaxy4t Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/28/08
Posts: 846
Loc: Lakewood, CA
If you like Yahama's GH3 then the P-155 would be a logical choice. You might also look into a used P series Yahama excluding the P-85 and P95 which have GHS Have you tried a Casio PX-3? It has a reasonably good action at $799.

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#1894290 - 05/09/12 04:59 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
ponydroom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/09/12
Posts: 4
Funny: I'm 100% exactly in your situation, Panda Madness. I could have written your post. So thanks for saving me the time to make a thread : )

I see Yamaha gets the majority of the votes in this league so far.
How about the cheaper Rolands, action-wise? Like the RP301 and F120? Anyone with experience?

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#1894315 - 05/09/12 05:51 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
maurus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/11
Posts: 753
Ando and anotherscott have it right.

Unfortunately the CP33/P155 action is Yamaha's GH, not GH3, so in order to get a 3-sensor action of any brand, you have to move up in price. Certain aspects of classical piano technique can't be done unless you move up to a higher price range.

Some of us can live with Yamaha's GH action. It would be terrific if either Yamaha or Kawai or someone elso could do a Midi controller with a top action for classically trained piano players, kind of an Avant Grand N0.

Perhaps consider Yamaha CP5 or Kawai MP10.

Edit: I know both the Yamaha P95 (GHS action) and the P155 (GH) very well. The action of the former does *not*, in my experience, reach the quality of the latter in any way. (Even less, soundwise.)


Edited by maurus (05/09/12 05:57 PM)
_________________________
Shigeru Kawai SK-2, etc.

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#1894381 - 05/09/12 08:09 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: maurus]
ponydroom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/09/12
Posts: 4
Originally Posted By: maurus
. Certain aspects of classical piano technique can't be done unless you move up to a higher price range.


just out of curiosity and interest, is there a specific classical piano technique that comes to mind?
i'm wondering because i got so used to my dinosaur, non-weighted, cheapo midi-keyboard that i manage to play -kind of- well and expressive on that. of course that's subjective and i can't prove it : ) but my point is; are there certain things you feel can absolutely not be done unless you move up a high end keyboard, or can you get used to anything?

cheers

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#1894409 - 05/09/12 09:09 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: ponydroom]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3344
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: ponydroom
Originally Posted By: maurus
. Certain aspects of classical piano technique can't be done unless you move up to a higher price range.


just out of curiosity and interest, is there a specific classical piano technique that comes to mind?
i'm wondering because i got so used to my dinosaur, non-weighted, cheapo midi-keyboard that i manage to play -kind of- well and expressive on that. of course that's subjective and i can't prove it : ) but my point is; are there certain things you feel can absolutely not be done unless you move up a high end keyboard, or can you get used to anything?

cheers


Yes, rapid note repetition. On a standard keyboard you have to let the key pretty much fully return to its resting position. On a keyboard with 3 sensors, you can repeat a note with only a partial key release - which means you can repeat notes on the same key much faster. Same as the difference between a grand piano action and an upright piano action. It's not a deal breaker for everybody. Depends what sort of music you play and what techniques you use. If you are a classical player, you need to be able to repeat rapidly with advanced repertoire. eg, tremolo.

Another thing is a lot of cheaper keyboards only support 1 pedal. (sustain). On a more expensive keyboard you can use a triple pedal which allows you to more completely use the software's capabilities.

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#1894410 - 05/09/12 09:11 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
daviel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/07
Posts: 933
Loc: Waxahachie, Texas
Get a PX-130 - or a cp33.
_________________________
"She loves to limbo, that much is clear. She's got the right dynamic for the New Frontier"
http://roadhouseallstars.com/

David Loving, Waxahachie, Texas

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#1894412 - 05/09/12 09:14 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
Ojustaboo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/18/11
Posts: 155
Loc: Deleted
Deleted


Edited by Ojustaboo (07/29/13 06:04 PM)

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#1894422 - 05/09/12 09:41 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
Dr Popper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/09
Posts: 1706
Loc: Hancock Park LA (not again)
Casio PX-3 decent action lightweight AND has all the controller functions
_________________________
"I'm still an idiot and I'm still in love" - Blue Sofa - The Plugz 1981 (Tito Larriva)
Disclosure : I am professionally supported by but not beholden to various musical instrument manufactures including Yamaha

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#1894486 - 05/09/12 11:49 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: maurus]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3076
Originally Posted By: maurus
Unfortunately the CP33/P155 action is Yamaha's GH, not GH3, so in order to get a 3-sensor action of any brand, you have to move up in price.

The Casio PX-130, PX-330, and PX-3 have 3 sensors. (I don't care for the actions, though.)

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#1894491 - 05/10/12 12:03 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: ando]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3076
Originally Posted By: ando
Yes, rapid note repetition. On a standard keyboard you have to let the key pretty much fully return to its resting position. On a keyboard with 3 sensors, you can repeat a note with only a partial key release - which means you can repeat notes on the same key much faster.

Not quite true. The third sensor does indeed let you trigger the same note without lifting the key as high, but that isn't necessarily needed for fast repetitions. Something like Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man" intro is perfectly playable on a 2-sensor piano (unless perhaps it has a particularly sluggish action). In fact, in order to strike it with sufficient velocity, the key probably needs to return to its top sensor position regardless. Honestly, I think the value of a 3rd sensor in a DP is largely over-rated, though someone did point out a potential advantage in playing quiet, fast trills.

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#1894514 - 05/10/12 12:53 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
Kawai James Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8427
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Another advantage of having a 3rd sensor is the ability to measure key-off velocity, and then adjust the release sound accordingly.

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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#1894550 - 05/10/12 02:49 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: anotherscott]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3344
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: ando
Yes, rapid note repetition. On a standard keyboard you have to let the key pretty much fully return to its resting position. On a keyboard with 3 sensors, you can repeat a note with only a partial key release - which means you can repeat notes on the same key much faster.

Not quite true. The third sensor does indeed let you trigger the same note without lifting the key as high, but that isn't necessarily needed for fast repetitions. Something like Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man" intro is perfectly playable on a 2-sensor piano (unless perhaps it has a particularly sluggish action). In fact, in order to strike it with sufficient velocity, the key probably needs to return to its top sensor position regardless. Honestly, I think the value of a 3rd sensor in a DP is largely over-rated, though someone did point out a potential advantage in playing quiet, fast trills.


I take your point, but I still think the most significant benefit of the 3rd sensor is rapid repetitions - assuming it has been implemented that way (which it should be), and not only in the way James described. If it's important on a grand piano, I think it's important on a DP for some players. Granted a good player can still negotiate a 2 sensor action without any big troubles, but it's a comfort thing. The more an action yields to your touch the more comfortable you feel and the better you tend to play. There's no doubt that the 3rd sensor is a boon for extended tremolo techniques. Much less tiring/more relaxing.

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#1894642 - 05/10/12 08:26 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: ando]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3076
Originally Posted By: ando
If it's important on a grand piano, I think it's important on a DP for some players.

I'm not sure it's important on a grand. ;-) AFAIK, the ability to restrike a key without fully lifting it is not something that was intentionally designed in, so to speak, but rather happens to be a by-product of the design of the mechanism

Originally Posted By: ando
Same as the difference between a grand piano action and an upright piano action.

Funny, I never realized that uprights weren't the same in this respect (the ability to retrigger a note without full release).

Personally, I'd be ecstatic if I had a DP that played as well as a good quality upright. ;-)

At any rate, I think there are so many more important things, I wouldn't really think about this in buying a DP. It gets back to what I always say... ignore the feature lists. Graded action, 3 sensors, amount of polyphony.... all of it is nowhere near as important as how a piano sounds and feels when you play it. For example, the Nord Piano falls below the Casio PX-130 in all of those attributes, but I doubt too many people would choose a PX-130 over a Nord Piano. The things that really matter don't show up on a spec sheet.

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#1894658 - 05/10/12 09:04 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: anotherscott]
ando Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3344
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Originally Posted By: ando
If it's important on a grand piano, I think it's important on a DP for some players.

I'm not sure it's important on a grand. ;-) AFAIK, the ability to restrike a key without fully lifting it is not something that was intentionally designed in, so to speak, but rather happens to be a by-product of the design of the mechanism

No it definitely is something that was intentionally built into the grand action. There is actually a part in there known as the "repetition lever". There are many classical works that are impossible to play without the grand action. Any piece that contains very fast tremolo notes is designed to be played on a grand action. I have an upright Yamaha U3 and it's a great piano, but it's biggest limitation is the rapid repetition. I have to accept that it simply can't do repeats at the same tempo as a grand. When I play on a grand, I'm always amazed at how much easier and faster it is. Of course, I only wish to do this < 1% of the time, so it's not a huge deal for me. I also find that struggling to do this technique on my upright has made me develop a stronger technique in some ways.

Quote:
Originally Posted By: ando
Same as the difference between a grand piano action and an upright piano action.

Funny, I never realized that uprights weren't the same in this respect (the ability to retrigger a note without full release).


Oh yes, it's quite different.

Quote:
Personally, I'd be ecstatic if I had a DP that played as well as a good quality upright. ;-)


Quite true, and for that reason, despite the fact that many DPs can do the rapid repeat thing, I rank my U3 well above any of them for action feel and playing satisfaction, and even sound because of the effect of real strings.

Quote:
At any rate, I think there are so many more important things, I wouldn't really think about this in buying a DP. It gets back to what I always say... ignore the feature lists. Graded action, 3 sensors, amount of polyphony.... all of it is nowhere near as important as how a piano sounds and feels when you play it. For example, the Nord Piano falls below the Casio PX-130 in all of those attributes, but I doubt too many people would choose a PX-130 over a Nord Piano. The things that really matter don't show up on a spec sheet.


Fair enough. I don't really think that DPs are suitable for virtuosic piano practice anyway - except for the AG maybe. I haven't played an AG yet so I don't know how finely calibrated the action is to the sound, nor whether it responds well to rapid note repetition. I'm keen to try one some day though.

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#1898492 - 05/17/12 08:11 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
ponydroom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/09/12
Posts: 4
I thought I'd humbly bump (and hijack) this thread as I've visited some showrooms and played a good amount of digital piano's in the price-range mentioned by the OP.
Of course experiences are hugely subjective and trying the instrument out yourself is crucial.
Since I'm mostly going to be using my computer to generate the sounds of the piano's I have been trying to judge on piano-action for 90% and 10% on sound. I have been especially looking for a 'furniture' model.

First dealer had Yamaha and Roland in almost every price range. First of all I must say, after digging in deep on the subject, posts on this forum, etc., overall I was pleasantly surprised about the action. I was kind of bracing myself to find myself needing to spend $3000 or more, but pretty soon I was convinced there was probably a suitable model for me in the $1500 price range. Again: this must be a personal thing. I'm not a beginner, nor a virtuoso; I will never be able to play Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit but I do fine on most Bach (which is my favorite thing to play anyway). I've played acoustic piano's and some grands all my life (I'm 29), but I'm no piano technician or expert. All in all, pretty average.

Anyway I personally didn't really feel the Yamaha piano's around $1500; not even the more expensive ones. It surprised me a little because in the past I used to get piano lessons on a Yamaha grand. The p70 keyboard, that I read about a lot, felt especially heavy to me and the key-slapback was LOUD; almost to the point where I would see it defeating one of it's purposes of being a 'silent'/headphonable/neighbourfriendly option : ) Then again, the showmodel looked kinda roughed up and I think it had been on hire a few times, so maybe it has seen it's battles and was performed on by a dinosaur in it's days.

The Rolands felt (and sounded, but that's minor) a little better to me. The Rp301 was alright at $1300 and the higher from there, they felt noticably nicer. The wooden key-ones were obviously nicest, but a little over my budget, especially since I could find myself enjoying playing on a cheaper one for hours - maybe the most important criterium, that, indeed, does not show up on a spec sheet.

Another dealer, that from my experience is a lot more knowledgeable, carried gazillions of piano's and grands, but only 3 digital piano's: all from Casio. I learned that they made the choice to step out of the digital piano-battle and consciously go for Casio only, because of it's price/quality-relationship (and probably instigated by the fact that pretty much everyone coming there will buy a normal piano; and so would I if I weren't living in an apartment building built in the days 'sound-isolation didn't even show up in a dictionary).

I found that it's worth it to really step over the cynical frown that may form on your face when you hear the brand name (I think we've all had our share of the $10 Casio watches that would do everything up to time travel and body teleportation before it would give you the right time). Even their cheapest model, the px330, felt surprisingly OK. They also carried the AP220 and the AP420; which have similar key-action I believe, the 420 having nicer matte-ivory looking and feeling keys.
(They didn't carry the 620, but I think it's the the 420 with more built in sounds etc so not what I benefit from. If anyone can confirm this it'd be nice.)
Realizing it's really hard to compare over distance and with 30 minutes in between, I think I still will go as far as saying that the AP420 felt comparable, maybe even slightly better than the Roland models up to $1800 I've tried. Once again I will express this is a completely personal thing - the fact that I was the only one in the room for 1 hour and felt comfortable to try them all out extensively probably had something to do with it too. I wasn't too horrified by the sound and speaker system, as well. After a while you get used to the vague feeling that you're inside a tin can. I could definitely see myself playing it occasionally without switching on the computer.

The only brand (I think these are the main ones?) I haven't tried is Kawai. I heard good things about it and will try to try one soon. There seems to be only 1 in my price-range available where I live (the CN-23) but it'll probably give me a good view on things. So far though I've been leaning towards the AP420 for sure. Low price, nice action.

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#1898557 - 05/17/12 10:08 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
dumbo Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/17/12
Posts: 17
http://www.fatar.com/studiologic/pages/intro_cat.htm

vmk 188
or numa nero black if $ wasnt problem

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#1898583 - 05/17/12 11:02 AM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: Panda Madness]
Kawai James Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 8427
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai MP6.
_________________________
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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#1898779 - 05/17/12 05:10 PM Re: Looking for a good hammer-action weighted midi/usb keyboard [Re: ponydroom]
Ojustaboo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/18/11
Posts: 155
Loc: Deleted
Deleted


Edited by Ojustaboo (07/29/13 06:04 PM)

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