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#2049508 - 03/17/13 06:09 AM Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action
JanVan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/13
Posts: 49
Hello,

I am practicing on a Yamaha YDP-S51 (Arius) digital piano with a Graded Hammer (GH) action and I would like to know how this compares to the action of a real (acoustic) upright and grand piano.

How would you rate the Graded Hammer (GH) action as well as the Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action which is used on the less expensive Arius models?

Is the Graded Hammer (GH) action closely modeled after the action of a real piano (upright, grand or both) or is it completely different?

Would I have difficulty adapting to the action of a real piano after practicing for a long time on my Yamaha YDP-S51 or would it immediately feel natural to play a real piano?

Can I hope to acquire solid piano technique (touch, tone, velocity, trills, ...) by practicing on my Yamaha YDP-S51 or should I consider switching to an upright acoustic piano?

Thank you for your advice and sharing your thoughts on this topic.

Jan

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#2049516 - 03/17/13 06:40 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
LarryShone Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 646
Loc: Darlington, UK
Hmm Ive been wondering just what Graded Hammer action is! What does it mean, graded?
_________________________
If the piano is the King of instruments then I am its loyal servant.

Yamaha PSR225-I NEED A PIANO wink

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#2049519 - 03/17/13 06:46 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
Jean-Luc Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/19/12
Posts: 318
Loc: France
Graded means that their is a slight difference in the weight of the hammers depending of the pitch (lower pitch = heavier hammer, higher pitch = lighter). It is an attempt at replicating the fact that, on a real piano, the hammers (and more so the dampers) are of different weight and size depending on their location. On a good acoustic piano everything is done to minimize the difference in pressure needed to play a low A or a high C but you can still feel it. That's what the "graded" part attempt to replicate.
_________________________
- Please, forgive my bad English smile

Jean-Luc

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#2049526 - 03/17/13 07:05 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1320
Loc: Portugal
Graded (or progressive) means that, like on a real piano, the lower notes are slightly heavier to play whilst the treble end gets lighter and lighter. But as members of piano forums have said many times, this is a very small feature of authenticity compared with the fuss that is made about it by the marketing departments of these DPs.

Much more important is how the main hammer action feels and responds. However, most DPs have 'graded' action, probably because its easy to implement and it sounds impressive in the sales brochures. The feature is minimal in practice and most people say they hardly notice it.

Also, ironically, some makers of fine grand acoustic pianos try to eliminate this 'graded' effect because it is regarded as a fault, not an advantage.


Edited by toddy (03/17/13 07:07 AM)
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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#2049528 - 03/17/13 07:06 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: Jean-Luc]
LarryShone Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 646
Loc: Darlington, UK
Originally Posted By: Jean-Luc
Graded means that their is a slight difference in the weight of the hammers depending of the pitch (lower pitch = heavier hammer, higher pitch = lighter). It is an attempt at replicating the fact that, on a real piano, the hammers (and more so the dampers) are of different weight and size depending on their location. On a good acoustic piano everything is done to minimize the difference in pressure needed to play a low A or a high C but you can still feel it. That's what the "graded" part attempt to replicate.


Ah I see now, thanks!
_________________________
If the piano is the King of instruments then I am its loyal servant.

Yamaha PSR225-I NEED A PIANO wink

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#2049531 - 03/17/13 07:15 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
MacMacMac Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 3667
Loc: North Carolina
The GH feels much better than the GHS. I wouldn't want any GHS-based piano. It's worth the extra cost.

The P155 slab has GH, under $1000. So does the YDP-16x series of consoles, $1400-$1800.

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#2049532 - 03/17/13 07:16 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
CarloPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 148
Originally Posted By: JanVan
How would you rate the Graded Hammer (GH) action as well as the Graded Hammer Standard (GHS) action which is used on the less expensive Arius models?


I'm not a big fan of GH action. I feel it unnatural, but this is just an opinion, I know people who like it. I like way more GHS as it is very responsive. The down side of GHS is that it is very lightweight so when you switch to an acoustic piano (or a heavier digital) you may find it tiring as you got
accustomed to a very light action. Anyway we must have in account that the same action may feel different depending on factors like amplification, speakers, sound engine, dynamic layers...

Quote:
Is the Graded Hammer (GH) action closely modeled after the action of a real piano (upright, grand or both) or is it completely different?


It tries to mimic the gravity drop of grand actions but using some workarounds such as being the hammer under the key. A real piano key is a long fulcrum. Yamaha GH, Roland PHA, Kawai RH and the like are different. This is a GH action picture:



An this one is a real action:




Quote:
Would I have difficulty adapting to the action of a real piano after practicing for a long time on my Yamaha YDP-S51 or would it immediately feel natural to play a real piano?


It's hard to tell as every acoustic piano, even same make, model and year, feels different. Also a perfectly maintained and tuned piano feels different than the same out of tuned and not regulated. There are infinite variables. Anyway I think that for a person who only plays on a digital piano it's at least disconcerting as you get a lot of resonance and harmonics that no digital piano (even the best ones) can imitate. Also the touch makes a difference.

Quote:
Can I hope to acquire solid piano technique (touch, tone, velocity, trills, ...) by practicing on my Yamaha YDP-S51 or should I consider switching to an upright acoustic piano?


I think that if one wants to become a serious player, sooner or later must have an acoustic piano. The ideal is owning a grand piano but a tall upright can also do a good job. You can keep your digital piano as it is a wonderful tool.

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#2049541 - 03/17/13 07:57 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: CarloPiano]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
Originally Posted By: CarloPiano

I think that if one wants to become a serious player, sooner or later must have an acoustic piano. The ideal is owning a grand piano but a tall upright can also do a good job. You can keep your digital piano as it is a wonderful tool.


In my opinion as a 'serious player', most acoustic upright actions are inferior to high end digital pianos such as the Kawai CA95, which, crucially, are simulating the action of a grand, not an upright.
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2049547 - 03/17/13 08:32 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
enzo.sandrolini Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 248
Loc: Europe - France
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Originally Posted By: CarloPiano

I think that if one wants to become a serious player, sooner or later must have an acoustic piano. The ideal is owning a grand piano but a tall upright can also do a good job. You can keep your digital piano as it is a wonderful tool.


In my opinion as a 'serious player', most acoustic upright actions are inferior to high end digital pianos such as the Kawai CA95, which, crucially, are simulating the action of a grand, not an upright.

That is both right and wrong
Right in terms of "easiness" to play: high end DP are much closer in that way to grand piano
Right in terms of controls also
Wrong in terms of "feeling" the actions
And also you have to take in account other points: if you have to practice or take lessons on an upright, you will have hard time coming from "High end DP"..the action is far "too easy"
Everything depends on what you are looking for, or on what you get used to play
_________________________
Music is a lifestyle

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#2049560 - 03/17/13 09:13 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4389
I spent most of the day yesterday in a big piano showroom and ended up playing all the pianos there - including the 20 or so uprights (some new, some reconditioned, but all regulated and tuned) as well as the several grands ranging from baby grands to concert grands, plus a couple of old reconditioned Steinways with ivory key tops. I normally stay away from verticals these days, but I had a lot of time to kill between a masterclass and a concert...

And the exercise (a rather pleasant one, I should add grin) brought home to me again what a huge range of actions there are among acoustic pianos. And the heaviest weren't the grands but the uprights. The grading also varied enormously. But the easiest to play on were the big new grands, with very swift action, minimal friction, and fairly low inertia. And unobtrusive grading.

But common to all is the 'notchy' feel (to a greater or lesser extent) to the key action, which (as I've mentioned before in other threads) is unavoidable because of the escapement action, but which Yamaha has seen fit to ignore in their current DP lineup, reserving it for their AvantGrands and NU1.

As to whether it would be easy to play on an acoustic after practising exclusively on the Arius, I think it depends on whether you have had prior experience of acoustics, and how long for; maybe also on how good a pianist you already are (i.e. how developed is your current technique). Personally, if I was in the OP's shoes, I'd try to play on acoustics as often as possible - and as many different pianos as possible, if you want to be able to adapt easily to playing on different acoustic pianos.


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#2049623 - 03/17/13 11:43 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
Charles Cohen Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 938
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Find a store that has the Yamaha P95 or P105 (GHS), and the P155 (GH), and some acoustic pianos.

. . . Take headphones with you, and try them.

My impression, when I did that, was that the GH action felt close to an acoustic piano (grand or upright), and the GHS action was lighter and less "piano-like".

But people, and opinions, differ. So you should really do this yourself.

. Charles

PS -- bias -- I have a PX-350.

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#2049632 - 03/17/13 12:06 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: enzo.sandrolini]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
Originally Posted By: enzo.sandrolini
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Originally Posted By: CarloPiano

I think that if one wants to become a serious player, sooner or later must have an acoustic piano. The ideal is owning a grand piano but a tall upright can also do a good job. You can keep your digital piano as it is a wonderful tool.


In my opinion as a 'serious player', most acoustic upright actions are inferior to high end digital pianos such as the Kawai CA95, which, crucially, are simulating the action of a grand, not an upright.

That is both right and wrong
Right in terms of "easiness" to play: high end DP are much closer in that way to grand piano
Right in terms of controls also
Wrong in terms of "feeling" the actions
And also you have to take in account other points: if you have to practice or take lessons on an upright, you will have hard time coming from "High end DP"..the action is far "too easy"
Everything depends on what you are looking for, or on what you get used to play


Well if you take this to the logical extreme, you may as well by the worst piano you can find, so that it's not too easy for you to play.
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2049693 - 03/17/13 01:42 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1320
Loc: Portugal
if you have to practice or take lessons on an upright, you will have hard time coming from "High end DP"..the action is far "too easy"

Seems a bit perverse to actually avoid a piano/DP action because it's too easy, though. As Bennevis says above, high end grand pianos are relatively light and easy to control compared to a cheap upright piano. So if you followed the above reasoning, you would never buy a concert Steinway, for example, because it's 'too easy', and you'd not be able to play on another piano if you had to.

It is true that this is a problem for working pianists and for piano pupils taking exams and so on. But I doubt any of these people would buy themselves a poor piano because they might, one day, have to play on one elsewhere...
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

Reaper / NI Komplete 9 /Kontakt 5// EWQL Sym Choirs/ Sym Orchestra Silver/ MOR2
Mics: SP B1 & MXL V67g/ Alesis MicTube Preamp/ Xenyx302/ Yamaha HS7s .

"Only a fool is fooled" pv88, All Fools' Day 2014.

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#2049713 - 03/17/13 02:08 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3474
Loc: Pennsylvania
In terms of action, we all have our preferences, and they matter because if you buy a digital, you will spend nearly all your playing time on it for a long time. Most of us spend very little time performing outside our homes.

In terms of whether you can acquire good technique on one action vs another, there is a ton of variety in both acoustic and (to a lesser extent) digital actions. As long as the keyboard is fully weighted and reasonably responsive you can acquire the techniques you need for all but the most advanced piano playing. If you are looking to hone your techniques for giving a serious concert, you will want to play high quality acoustic grands, which are what you will perform on.

As a pianist, you have to adjust from one action to another. It's just a fact of life. As long as the action you are practicing on is not an outlier (super light, super heavy, super shallow, etc.) the adjustment to a new piano is no big deal. Most digitals are not outliers in this respect.

Anyway, get the action that most pleases you because you will be playing on it a lot, not because you believe that it's necessary to use a particular action in order to improve as a pianist. Concentration, time spent practicing, techniques practiced, lessons taken, and many other things are more important than the particular variety of action you practice on.


Edited by gvfarns (03/17/13 02:10 PM)

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#2049834 - 03/17/13 06:17 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
spanishbuddha Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2234
Loc: UK
I agree with enzo and bennevis. That notch, engagement and disengagement of the hammer, on an acoustic is currently not replicated on high end DP's, even those claiming to have 'escapement', and this makes those DP's easier to play. IMHO. Whether you as a player like that or not is your own choice. I also agree with Dave Horne's philosophy of practising on an action slightly heavy, or clunky, as after that it's all downhill when you encounter a piano or DP not your own. Until pianos become redundant, or replaced by DP's, or I have no desire to play piano and just my own DP, my preference is for an action that is similar to a piano, and DP's currently don't give you that (except for hybrids). This in not an argument for one or the other, you as player make the choice, and no doubt the more experienced you are the easier it is to adapt.


Edited by spanishbuddha (03/17/13 06:22 PM)

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#2050001 - 03/18/13 01:16 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Well if you take this to the logical extreme, you may as well by the worst piano you can find, so that it's not too easy for you to play.


If you take everything to the logical extreme, you are an extremist, not a rationalist.

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#2050026 - 03/18/13 02:49 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
ahhsmurf Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/07/13
Posts: 48
Loc: Banned
Much more important is how the main hammer action feels and responds.

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#2050060 - 03/18/13 04:46 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
CarloPiano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/21/12
Posts: 148
Originally Posted By: debrucey
In my opinion as a 'serious player', most acoustic upright actions are inferior to high end digital pianos such as the Kawai CA95, which, crucially, are simulating the action of a grand, not an upright.


While I do think that action is very important, I also think the sonic response to that pressure over the action also it is. I think that upright actions are been discredited in some circles, sometimes unjustifiably. While it is true that real grand actions are the best ones and the gravity drop is important for the piano technique, there are very good upright actions that can be perfectly playable.

I don't think a fake digital grand action substitute is superior to a nice upright action placed, for instance, on a Yamaha U1. Of course, if we take into account other factors such as resonance, "authenticy of touch", etc, the digital pianos only "win" when compared to the lousiest acoustic uprights.

This is my personal list of preferences about pianos ordered from best to worst (sorry for stating the obvious):

- Concert grands
- Grand pianos (170 cm minimum)
- Tall uprights (Yamaha U1 as a minimum)
- High end digital pianos
- Baby grands (most of what I played are awful, wannabe instruments)
- Cheap digital pianos / short uprights such as B1
- Awful uprights

Yamaha's hybrids aren't on that list as long as I still didn't try them frown


Edited by CarloPiano (03/18/13 05:41 AM)
Edit Reason: correctien ehrrors...

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#2050067 - 03/18/13 05:39 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: CarloPiano]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3331
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: CarloPiano
Originally Posted By: debrucey
In my opinion as a 'serious player', most acoustic upright actions are inferior to high end digital pianos such as the Kawai CA95, which, crucially, are simulating the action of a grand, not an upright.


I don't think a fake digital grand action substitute is superior to a nice upright action placed, for instance, on a Yamaha U1. Of course, if we take into account other factors such as resonance, "authenticy of touch", etc, the digital pianos only "win" when compared to the lousiest acoustic uprights.


I totally agree, Carlo. Of all the DPs I've played, I still find that my Yamaha U3 has a better touch than any of the "miniaturised" hammer action keyboards. Now perhaps some of that is my vast preference to hearing real strings on a real soundboard, but I find my U3 more real and more responsive to my input.

Quote:

This is my personal list of preferences about pianos ordered from best to worst (sorry for stating the obvious):

- Concert grands
- Grand pianos (170 cm minimum)
- Tall uprights (Yamaha B1 as a minimum)
- High end digital pianos
- Baby grands (most of what I played are awaful, a wannabe instrument)
- Cheap digital pianos / short uprights such as B1
- Awful uprights


I fully agree with this list. It has been my exact experience.

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#2050258 - 03/18/13 01:48 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
personne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/24/12
Posts: 123
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: debrucey
Originally Posted By: CarloPiano

I think that if one wants to become a serious player, sooner or later must have an acoustic piano. The ideal is owning a grand piano but a tall upright can also do a good job. You can keep your digital piano as it is a wonderful tool.


In my opinion as a 'serious player', most acoustic upright actions are inferior to high end digital pianos such as the Kawai CA95, which, crucially, are simulating the action of a grand, not an upright.


A good upright piano still beats even high-end digitals in terms of dynamics and responsiveness. Digital action can be faster though.
I do not like the action of many entry- to mid-level uprights, but a fine upright gives much better experience.
To play some advanced repertoire, I struggle to get the dynamics I want but easily get it from a fine acoustic.
Well, I can beautifully play Tchaikovsky 'Autumn Song' on my digital, but it is easier to do on a good acoustic (and I had an upright piano before).
I would say you can learn on a digital, but closer to mid-high intermediate level you need to practice from time to time on acoustic if the goal is to play acoustic.
_________________________
Playing on Roland HP-507RW

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#2050265 - 03/18/13 02:08 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
A good upright costs more than a high end digital. I would much rather practice on a CA65 than an upright piano of the same price. Of course a 'fake' digital action is not as good as a 'fine' acoustic action, but it doesn't make sense to compare things which are so different in cost.
Also, yes responsiveness is as important as touch, but on a cheap upright piano, poor action = poor responsiveness anyway. I find I can get more colour and character out of a good digital.


Edited by debrucey (03/18/13 02:13 PM)
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2050266 - 03/18/13 02:11 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
personne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/24/12
Posts: 123
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: debrucey
I would rather practice on a CA65 than an upright piano of the same price.

Me too.
_________________________
Playing on Roland HP-507RW

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#2050352 - 03/18/13 05:13 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
Colin W Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/18/13
Posts: 1
Originally Posted By: JanVan

Can I hope to acquire solid piano technique (touch, tone, velocity, trills, ...) by practicing on my Yamaha YDP-S51 or should I consider switching to an upright acoustic piano?


I've got the same piano - YDP-S51. I've also got a Yamaha C1 baby grand.

The GH action on the S51 is realistic enough for practising on, learning the notes etc. The only problem I find is that the plastic key caps are a bit slippery when doing fast runs. Maybe it's just my technique!

The action is reasonably good at trills, fast repeated notes, etc. Better than you'd expect. The half pedalling is very good too.

As far as touch & tone go, that's where the big differences lie. The touch sensitivity of the S51 doesn't really match the real piano. Not nearly the same dynamic range, and it's hard to play pianissimo. Plus also I tend to play the S51 with the volume turned down quite low, so when I play the real piano it's, like, 'what's this enormous sound??!'

Of course if you only ever play the digital one, then its great. You can play nice, musical performances to your family etc. But if you ever wanted to show off your skills on a real piano make sure you can spend lots of time practising on one first.

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#2050451 - 03/18/13 08:07 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3331
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: debrucey
A good upright costs more than a high end digital. I would much rather practice on a CA65 than an upright piano of the same price. Of course a 'fake' digital action is not as good as a 'fine' acoustic action, but it doesn't make sense to compare things which are so different in cost.
Also, yes responsiveness is as important as touch, but on a cheap upright piano, poor action = poor responsiveness anyway. I find I can get more colour and character out of a good digital.


You don't have to buy a new acoustic though. I bought a 45 year old Yamaha U3 in good condition for cheaper than a CA65. I'd wager that even at 45 years old, this thing will outlast a new CA65. It's as solid as a rock - and it's a vastly superior playing experience for me. The only thing it doesn't do it rapid repetition.

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#2050471 - 03/18/13 08:37 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
That's Ravel out of the question for me then :P lol
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2050522 - 03/18/13 10:22 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3331
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: debrucey
That's Ravel out of the question for me then :P lol


Not necessarily. I play Ondine on it with no troubles. It's not so much that uprights won't play repeated notes quickly, more that they do it in a different way. Certainly you can't get them repeating as fast as a grand, but you can't necessarily get a DP to repeat as fast as a grand either. The AvantGrand is an example of this - they are not even as good as my U3 for rapid repeats.

Practicing tremolo on a good upright like a U3 can actually build your technique. Because it's harder to do, when I played Ondine on a grand, it was so much easier. The difference is that on an upright, you have to release the key a bit higher (about 3/4 of its travel), and the damper will come down in between each note. On a grand, if you release the key halfway, then press again, the note will sound but the damper doesn't activate. If the rapid notes are to be played with the pedal down, the dampers aren't relevant, then it's just about how far you have to release the key. I don't have any trouble with the rapid chord motif at that runs through Ondine on my upright - it's just more effort, but I believe it is helping my technique rather than hurting it. I'm sure Scarbo would be a different story - but I'm not up to that standard yet anyway. The thing is, the tone for Ravel is so much better with a big upright. I've played Ravel on a DP and it leaves me cold. My U3 doesn't. Being a Yamaha, it has a bright clarity that really works for Ravel.

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#2050646 - 03/19/13 05:50 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
The right hand motif in Ondine doesn't need to be perfectly clean and even, that's sort of the point of it. Youre right that Scarbo however, or Alborada del Gracioso, or the toccata from Tombeau, are different, and I've practiced all of these on many grands, many uprights and digital pianos so I am aware of the practicalities.
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2050652 - 03/19/13 06:29 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4389
Originally Posted By: debrucey
The right hand motif in Ondine doesn't need to be perfectly clean and even, that's sort of the point of it. Youre right that Scarbo however, or Alborada del Gracioso, or the toccata from Tombeau, are different, and I've practiced all of these on many grands, many uprights and digital pianos so I am aware of the practicalities.


I practise Ondine exclusively on my digital at home, and played it at the weekend on the Yamaha CFX (and CF6), with absolutely no problems. (I didn't try it on the uprights there.)

But I remember attempting to play it on an AvantGrand some weeks ago - and finding it extremely difficult. And Scarlatti's K141 was next to impossible at high speed on the AG. There's something odd about the AG's key action - maybe the friction - which isn't there on the well-prepped acoustic grands.

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#2050673 - 03/19/13 07:25 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
Some acoustic grands are just hard to play. The action tends to be a lot heavier on some larger grands. I played K141 on a Bosendorfer imperial and found it much harder than on some of the smaller practice grands I frequent. But it was hard in a good way.
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2050678 - 03/19/13 07:46 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: bennevis]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3331
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: debrucey
The right hand motif in Ondine doesn't need to be perfectly clean and even, that's sort of the point of it. Youre right that Scarbo however, or Alborada del Gracioso, or the toccata from Tombeau, are different, and I've practiced all of these on many grands, many uprights and digital pianos so I am aware of the practicalities.


I practise Ondine exclusively on my digital at home, and played it at the weekend on the Yamaha CFX (and CF6), with absolutely no problems. (I didn't try it on the uprights there.)

But I remember attempting to play it on an AvantGrand some weeks ago - and finding it extremely difficult. And Scarlatti's K141 was next to impossible at high speed on the AG. There's something odd about the AG's key action - maybe the friction - which isn't there on the well-prepped acoustic grands.


I think there is something wrong with the sensor placement on the AGs. Perhaps they don't even use 3-sensors? For all the talk of sensors in DPs, if you don't get them in exactly the right place, the thing will never play naturally and the repeats will always be terrible. Watching Cyprien Katsaris absolutely butchering some tremolo on an AG was enough to convince me that the AG is not for me.

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#2050687 - 03/19/13 07:59 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
I found tremolos on the CA95 surprisingly straightforward. I didn't play ondine on it but I did play the toccata.
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2050742 - 03/19/13 10:48 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: ando]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4389
Originally Posted By: ando


I think there is something wrong with the sensor placement on the AGs. Perhaps they don't even use 3-sensors? For all the talk of sensors in DPs, if you don't get them in exactly the right place, the thing will never play naturally and the repeats will always be terrible. Watching Cyprien Katsaris absolutely butchering some tremolo on an AG was enough to convince me that the AG is not for me.


I think it's safe to say that anyone who can play trills in double octaves at the same speed as others play it in single notes with two fingers won't have any trouble playing tremolos and repeated notes on any piano - unless that piano isn't up to the task.

Watch him in the trill at 0:46 http://youtu.be/GOOfXjMEmBE

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#2050772 - 03/19/13 11:33 AM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
That's not as hard as it looks, and wouldn't necessarily reveal difficulties with fast repeated notes, which are a different technique and appear in many different contexts.
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2050798 - 03/19/13 12:19 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: bennevis]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3331
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: ando


I think there is something wrong with the sensor placement on the AGs. Perhaps they don't even use 3-sensors? For all the talk of sensors in DPs, if you don't get them in exactly the right place, the thing will never play naturally and the repeats will always be terrible. Watching Cyprien Katsaris absolutely butchering some tremolo on an AG was enough to convince me that the AG is not for me.


I think it's safe to say that anyone who can play trills in double octaves at the same speed as others play it in single notes with two fingers won't have any trouble playing tremolos and repeated notes on any piano - unless that piano isn't up to the task.

Watch him in the trill at 0:46 http://youtu.be/GOOfXjMEmBE


I agree with Debrucey that this video doesn't show any technique that would test out a piano's action. In any case, my point was that Katsaris is a supreme technical pianist and if he was struggling to do a decent tremolo on an AG, I will blame the piano and not Katsaris.

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#2050802 - 03/19/13 12:27 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3331
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: debrucey
I found tremolos on the CA95 surprisingly straightforward. I didn't play ondine on it but I did play the toccata.


Debrucey, being the capable pianist you are, I think you are in for a disappointment if you think that practising predominantly on a digital is going to be satisfying and beneficial to you. I know you have said repeatedly that you rank action above tone, but I think you will change that view in time.

Playing composers like Ravel demands management of tone and texture as part of technique. I don't think the two can be separated like you say. I find that playing Ravel on my large upright to be infinitely more satisfying and better for my technique than playing a very good digital. The sheer resonance and liveliness of a real soundboard and strings makes you work for clarity and tone in a way that DPs can't offer you. When you get on a real acoustic after playing a DP for a long time, the resonance is really hard to manage and you realise that there is real technique that goes into managing it. Pedalling, in particular. Clarity is easy on a DP, not so easy on a large acoustic. I would say unless you play music of Bach's era with no pedalling required, it is not wise to confine yourself to a DP too much. As a companion to practice, sure, but not as the main instrument for a high-level classical pianist. A V-Piano may be an exception to this because it is capable of extreme resonance as part of its modelling algorithm, but I haven't spent enough time on one to know about this. Bennevis raves about his though.

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#2050831 - 03/19/13 01:18 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: ando]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4389
Originally Posted By: ando
I would say unless you play music of Bach's era with no pedalling required, it is not wise to confine yourself to a DP too much. As a companion to practice, sure, but not as the main instrument for a high-level classical pianist. A V-Piano may be an exception to this because it is capable of extreme resonance as part of its modelling algorithm, but I haven't spent enough time on one to know about this. Bennevis raves about his though.


I believe debrucey has an acoustic grand to practise on when he's not playing at night. In which case, I suppose working purely on technique on a Kawai DP (even with its unrealistically clear sound and lack of various resonances, compared to an acoustic), while playing a real piano at other times might be OK.

In my case, I don't have the luxury of practising on an acoustic every day - I have to go downtown (London) to get to one. So, I work on both technique and interpretation at home on my DP, then take the finished product to try on the grands in the showrooms. The V-Piano allows me to customize and push up the sustain and resonances to concert grand levels (and beyond), and also allows subtlety of tone and color and pedal effects, which is why it's the only DP that will do for me.

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#2050869 - 03/19/13 02:12 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
If you regard the V-Piano as an exception, then any ordinary digital piano can also be made into an exception with the addition of Pianoteq or similar software.

Again, as I said before, bad action = bad responsiveness. I might not be able to get a satisfactory level of subtlety out of a DP for composers like Ravel, but I'll be damned if the same can't be said for a £1500 upright piano.

I'm not suggesting by the way that technique and tone can or should be separated. When you regularly play on a variety of pianos of all different levels of quality, in a way you learn to ignore the sound the piano is making and instead focus on what sound the actions you are doing would theoretically produce on a finer instrument. I feel confident that the use of a digital piano, or indeed a crap acoustic piano, wouldn't affect my ability to control an concert grand. This is the sort of thing that always has to be adapted in real time anyway. In fact, I would go one step further and say that it's possible to do all sorts of work on tone, texture, cantabile etc. with a piano that makes no sound at all, if you know what you're doing.


Edited by debrucey (03/19/13 02:13 PM)
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2050870 - 03/19/13 02:12 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
kapelli Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 340
Loc: Poland
Bennevis and others,
who has experience on long piano playing on acoustic grands.

How do you feel with the PHAIII compared to RM3/GF from Kawai?

I'd like to have some opinion from experienced people, not only from these ones that have been playing on grands in dealers rooms during searching for DP for them only.

In two months I will need to choose between CA65 or HP-505 (or if I will have much more money then CA95/HP507).
Thus the opinion from experienced piano players will be huge advantage for me.
I play mailny Rachmaninov, Scriabin, Bach etc music.

I know it's matter of taste and feel in some way, however I need to leave my poor acoustic due to new flat and buy a DP.

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#2050873 - 03/19/13 02:18 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2587
Loc: Manchester, UK
I have played on a lot of grands over the past few years and a lot of DPs over the past few weeks, and my personal preference out of those two is for the CA65, which has the GF action. I regard this action to be the most realistic of all the actions on the market at the moment (if not a little lighter than I would like). I would discourage beginners from making an intuitive decision about these things, however, from the sounds of things, you are plenty experienced to know what you like, so you should probably spend quite a bit of time yourself playing them and decide for yourself which you prefer.
_________________________
Kapustin - Preludes Op. 53, Nos. 8, 11, 12, 9 and 10
Poulenc - Nocturnes and Novellettes
Barber - Souvenirs
Esa-Pekka Salonen - Dichotomie
Kevin Oldham - Ballade, Op. 17

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#2050885 - 03/19/13 02:39 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: debrucey]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4389
Originally Posted By: debrucey
If you regard the V-Piano as an exception, then any ordinary digital piano can also be made into an exception with the addition of Pianoteq or similar software.

Again, as I said before, bad action = bad responsiveness. I might not be able to get a satisfactory level of subtlety out of a DP for composers like Ravel, but I'll be damned if the same can't be said for a £1500 upright piano.

I'm not suggesting by the way that technique and tone can or should be separated. When you regularly play on a variety of pianos of all different levels of quality, in a way you learn to ignore the sound the piano is making and instead focus on what sound the actions you are doing would theoretically produce on a finer instrument. I feel confident that the use of a digital piano, or indeed a crap acoustic piano, wouldn't affect my ability to control an concert grand. This is the sort of thing that always has to be adapted in real time anyway. In fact, I would go one step further and say that it's possible to do all sorts of work on tone, texture, cantabile etc. with a piano that makes no sound at all, if you know what you're doing.


I don't have any experience of software stuff - my computer skills are pretty basic. Personally I doubt that software connected to a DP can give you the kind of responsiveness to your every nuance, from what I've read about interface problems (if that's the right term) some people encounter.

As for using one's imagination to produce the sound quality you expect rather than what you actually hear, without sounding boastful wink , I'm a past master of this dark art. I've had decades when I was playing on any old cr*ppy piano, which were not just totally out of tune, but had missing notes and sticking keys. And even holes where keys once resided. I just about managed to retain my hard-earned technique acquired from my school and university days by occasionally hiring a practice room, but as for refining my touch and tone and dynamics and pedalling and all that....that all went by the wayside. Two hours on a fully-prepped grand once a month wasn't sufficient.

But if you have regular access to a good acoustic grand, you'll likely not have any problem. There're some concert pianists I know of who practise on a digital (like the AG) to save wear and tear on their acoustic, and once they've got the notes in their brain, practise on the acoustic to hone their interpretation

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#2050890 - 03/19/13 02:44 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
kapelli Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 340
Loc: Poland
Thanks,
I was only thinking will the PHAIII (which is also highly acclaimed - or was )
will be step back or the level lower than GF. If it's minor difference, who knows.

There's also sound factor, and at this moment Roland is little closer to my taste.
I will buy piano for at least 10 year, on which I can play Debussy, Chopin and Liszt etudes and all this classical stuff.
But the sound is also important factor, however, nice to have some experienced people opinion.

About the sound - when I was teenager I loved very bright and clear pianos, now I prefer a lot rather this what is called german sound (steinway Hamburg etc, Bluthner is too dark for me), rather massive with more harmonics at the base of sound and not so open and straight forward.

Eventually, I see I will need to spend many hours deciding between R/K/Y (I know it's old technology, however I should give them a chance).
NU1 / Vpiano/LX-15 and AG1 are far above my budget frown

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#2050909 - 03/19/13 03:06 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: kapelli]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4389
Originally Posted By: kapelli
Thanks,
I was only thinking will the PHAIII (which is also highly acclaimed - or was )
will be step back or the level lower than GF. If it's minor difference, who knows.

There's also sound factor, and at this moment Roland is little closer to my taste.
I will buy piano for at least 10 year, on which I can play Debussy, Chopin and Liszt etudes and all this classical stuff.
But the sound is also important factor, however, nice to have some experienced people opinion.

About the sound - when I was teenager I loved very bright and clear pianos, now I prefer a lot rather this what is called german sound (steinway Hamburg etc, Bluthner is too dark for me), rather massive with more harmonics at the base of sound and not so open and straight forward.

Eventually, I see I will need to spend many hours deciding between R/K/Y (I know it's old technology, however I should give them a chance).
NU1 / Vpiano/LX-15 and AG1 are far above my budget frown


Key action is a personal thing. I don't have much experience of Kawai DPs, because the stores aren't convenient for me, and these days, I only pop into a DP store if I happen to come across one. But the action of the Kawai DPs I did try (if I remember correctly) felt somewhat more 'spongy', less of a 'thud' at the key bottom, compared to Roland's PHA-III. But I can't remember which models they were. In any case, I preferred them to the Yamaha Clavinovas' actions which are unrealistically smooth and have no escapement feel, which to me feels unnatural. They also seem too light.

So, I'd say that if my V-Piano had the Kawai key actions but retained everything else unique to the V, I'd be satisfied. If I could make an analogy, the Kawai DP's actions felt more like that of Kawai acoustics; the Roland's PHA-III felt more like that of some German brands of acoustic grands (Grotrian-Steinweg in particular).

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#2050921 - 03/19/13 03:17 PM Re: Yamaha Graded Hammer action compared to real piano action [Re: JanVan]
kapelli Online   blank
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 340
Loc: Poland
Thank you bennevis smile
I wanted some other point view, not the Kawai-fan begginer piano lover (it's good that they are buying good pianos and feel the differences). I am classicaly trained and was playing the whole life on acoustics.

I like Rolands - but start to being afraid are they much worse than Kawai new actions. It's good to hear it's no so bad with them, yet wink

PS HP-507 PE is so horribly beautiful

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