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#2225311 - 02/03/14 05:45 PM Using a digital piano primarily for classical music.
chadol Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/14
Posts: 38
Loc: Chicago, USA
Hello, new user here!

I'm thinking of replacing my upright piano with a digital piano, but am worried that I might fall out of practice if I play primarily on a DP. But, all acoustics feel different and you need to make adjustments when playing on a new instrument anyway, right? Then, surely I should be able to make such adjustments even when going from a DP to AP as well? Or is there something fundamentally different about playing DPs and APs that can't be learned by only playing on one of them?

Also, having played on a piano with very heavy keys for the past few years, I'm not really sure what a typical piano is supposed to feel like. In your opinion, Which DP has a feel that most closely represents the "average" piano? From the comments, people say Kawais are heavier than Rolands and you should choose according to your preferences, but I was wondering which is closer to the average experience.

Thanks!

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#2225327 - 02/03/14 06:11 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Take a look at the hybrid pianos from Yamaha.

hybrid pianos from Yamaha .... N1, N2, N3, NU1
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AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#2225344 - 02/03/14 06:56 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
peterws Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3551
Loc: Northern England.
Y`know, people will tell you their measured opinions, which is informative. But in the real world, there`s a job to be done. I had one, playing at a wedding on a grand piano freshly tuned at a large country house. Being only used to digitals (I`ve played acoustics years ago of course) I wasn`t best pleased. I just played. Wasn`t so bad. Bit like driving a steam engine. Antiquated, crude even but the job got done.
You`ll find a difference whatever you play. And you`ll get used to it, whatever you decide on, for one simple reason;

The music is more important than the instrument.

You can play classics on any digital. Why not give `em all a try, perhaps you can buy a decent cheap one whilst you make up your mind in slow time?
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

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#2225358 - 02/03/14 07:19 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
gvfarns Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 3483
Loc: Pennsylvania
In terms of physical feel, all digitals except a few outliers are near the middle of the range of acoustics (i.e., some acoustics are incredibly light or heavy). I'd say high quality digitals maybe tend toward the heavy side on average. The physical differences between digitals are quite small overall compared with the differences between acoustics. Digitals are never in poor regulation, for example. In my experience a poorly regulated acoustic can be VERY difficult to play and give you lots of odd habits. Anyway I'd say adjusting to any physical differences between the digital and an acoustic are small and easy. Nothing you aren't used to.

There is one area in which digitals are significantly different from acoustics: They have an extremely clean sound with a short decay--you can hold the pedal down a long time before it sounds muddy. Acoustics have lots of reverb, only some of which sounds nice. The biggest problem people have who spend a lot of time on digitals is that they tend to mash the pedal too much while playing on an acoustic. This also can be adjusted to as well, but in my opinion it's a bigger deal than keyweight.


Edited by gvfarns (02/03/14 07:22 PM)

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#2225368 - 02/03/14 07:36 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
R_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/09
Posts: 503
"The music is more important than the instrument."

Oooo PETER...
Even though you are from "north of the river" I can agree with you on THAT (-:

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#2225371 - 02/03/14 07:39 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
chadol Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/14
Posts: 38
Loc: Chicago, USA
Thanks guys for your helpful responses! I know I need to just go and try out a lot of pianos, but have been having a hard time finding the time, so I'm trying to do a lot of research online for the time being smile

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#2225388 - 02/03/14 08:13 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 833
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
It is possible to maintain your chops practicing primarily on a digital but you should try to find one with an action that best suits you. It is helpful to play on an acoustic as much as possible so the period of transition from one to the other is minimal. This is particularly important for Classical music because you will rarely be 'gigging' on an electric instrument.

What the other posters have said about pedaling is true and a digital does give you a much cleaner sound.

I like the actions on the Kawai digitals the best (so far) and you may consider the Yamaha Avant Grand series which have real piano actions. I think in some ways these simulated actions (which attempt to simulate a grand piano action) is better than what you would get on a lot of upright acoustics. I find the transition from a digital action to a grand action much less than what it used to be from an upright acoustic.

What is your main motivation for going with a digital? The other main benefit of course is you can practice at all hours without disturbing music haters.
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Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2225397 - 02/03/14 08:29 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5048
Originally Posted By: chadol
Hello, new user here!

I'm thinking of replacing my upright piano with a digital piano, but am worried that I might fall out of practice if I play primarily on a DP. But, all acoustics feel different and you need to make adjustments when playing on a new instrument anyway, right? Then, surely I should be able to make such adjustments even when going from a DP to AP as well? Or is there something fundamentally different about playing DPs and APs that can't be learned by only playing on one of them?


Thanks!

If you choose to go the DP route, try to play on APs at least once in a while - the more varied, the merrier grin.

Get used to different actions. The biggest obvious difference between DPs and APs is that the poor sustain on sampled DPs (partly to mask its inherent artificiality) leads one to over-pedal, and it's a habit that's easily ingrained. The sound is also devoid of many resonances and its clarity easily masks a multitude of pedaling sins.

(Unless, of course, you opt for a modeled DP, like mine wink ).

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#2225402 - 02/03/14 08:41 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1328
Loc: Reseda, California
The DP is great for a whole lot of dreary practice -- the stuff that drives other people nuts, like phrase drilling, scales, etc. Headphones are the reason. Another thing you can do with the DP is crank down the volume to force yourself to play heavy, and crank it up to force yourself to play light.

I second the motion on playing as many different AP's as you can get your hands on. Owning one yourself is ideal if you have the room and money. You can take things to the AP when they're in good enough shape to graduate from practice to rehearsal. Or when your wife goes out shopping, or whatever....
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2225422 - 02/03/14 09:11 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: Vid]
chadol Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/14
Posts: 38
Loc: Chicago, USA
Originally Posted By: Vid

What is your main motivation for going with a digital? The other main benefit of course is you can practice at all hours without disturbing music haters.


Yup, I mostly want a digital so I don't bother my neighbors and stuff. I live in a small studio apartment, and even during the day I'd prefer not to subject them to hearing me play the same passage over and over. Also, I might move soon, and digital pianos seem smaller and easier to move.
Although there are differing opinions, I've been hearing some people say that for the same price, DPs give you better sound and touch than APs. If that's the case, it seems like a no brainer to get a digital, since I'm not trying to be a concert pianist or a professional player. On the other hand, I'm worried that I'll spend hundreds of hours working on a Chopin etude just to find out I can't play it at all on a real piano. blush


Edited by chadol (02/03/14 09:12 PM)

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#2225460 - 02/03/14 10:16 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
StarvingLion Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/13
Posts: 226
Originally Posted By: chadol
Originally Posted By: Vid

What is your main motivation for going with a digital? The other main benefit of course is you can practice at all hours without disturbing music haters.


piano society

Yup, I mostly want a digital so I don't bother my neighbors and stuff. I live in a small studio apartment, and even during the day I'd prefer not to subject them to hearing me play the same passage over and over. Also, I might move soon, and digital pianos seem smaller and easier to move.
Although there are differing opinions, I've been hearing some people say that for the same price, DPs give you better sound and touch than APs. If that's the case, it seems like a no brainer to get a digital, since I'm not trying to be a concert pianist or a professional player. On the other hand, I'm worried that I'll spend hundreds of hours working on a Chopin etude just to find out I can't play it at all on a real piano. blush


"What would the Chopin etudes sound on a piano from the time of Chopin? We might never know the true answer but Martha Goldstein gives us at least a clue when she recorded the complete set of Chopin's Etudes on an Erard from 1851. First, some words about the piano.

The invention of the double escapement mechanism of Sebastian Erard in 1822 transformed the technical capabilities of the Beethoven piano to make it a Chopin piano. The Etudes of Chopin were now possible because of this increase in performance. These early pianos sound different than the modern grand. They were designed for low string tension, with light strings, light bridge, and thin sound board. As a result, the produced tone is explosive and decays rapidly. The fast decay gives these pianos a special character. There is more clarity in fast passage-work than the modern grand. The early piano schools gave great emphasis to velocity, as it was a prerequisite for brilliance on these instruments.

The legato and sustaining powers of the instrument are limited compared to the modern grand. As a result slow movements were played faster, as attested by the metronome markings on the early editions of the Etudes. The pursuit of legato became a lifetime struggle for the pianist."

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#2225536 - 02/04/14 01:24 AM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Forget about a single brand that has the "average" piano action. Every brand has so many different actions that you just have to try them all to figure out what is your idea of an average piano touch. Better yet, just get what feels right. Play something technical and fast and see which action provides the best response.
_________________________
Art is never finished, only abandoned. - da Vinci

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#2225544 - 02/04/14 01:40 AM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
iceporky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/13
Posts: 149
Loc: Singapore
Originally Posted By: chadol
I'm thinking of replacing my upright piano with a digital piano, but am worried that I might fall out of practice if I play primarily on a DP.


I don't play classical but I just thought I'd share this with you.

Kawai has a new entry model ES100 with a key action that uses an older technology. Check out this lady playing some nice classical on it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fB46HlmTs-M

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#2225552 - 02/04/14 01:54 AM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1328
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: chadol
I'm worried that I'll spend hundreds of hours working on a Chopin etude just to find out I can't play it at all on a real piano.


Something similar happened to me (with Cole Porter, not Chopin) when my first AP had to be replaced because the pin block was failing. I couldn't play worth a damn on any other instrument, AP or DP, even new concert grands with six digit prices. That's the danger of practicing exclusively on one instrument, no matter what it is.

So, own multiple instruments, and get some practice time on whatever instruments you can.
_________________________
-- J.S.

Knabe Grand # 10927
Yamaha CP33
Kawai FS690

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#2225598 - 02/04/14 05:52 AM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: JohnSprung]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5048
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
Originally Posted By: chadol
I'm worried that I'll spend hundreds of hours working on a Chopin etude just to find out I can't play it at all on a real piano.


Something similar happened to me (with Cole Porter, not Chopin) when my first AP had to be replaced because the pin block was failing. I couldn't play worth a damn on any other instrument, AP or DP, even new concert grands with six digit prices. That's the danger of practicing exclusively on one instrument, no matter what it is.

So, get some practice time on whatever instruments you can.

Every serious pianist needs to be able to adapt to any half-decent piano (AP/DP) that gets thrown at them - unless they only do gigs on their own DP, or are such big classical stars that they can bring their own pianos to every concert hall around the world. (Currently, there are just two pianists who have the clout to do so - Krystian Zimerman and Maurizio Pollini.....).

I found out the hard way in my teenage years, when I was doing piano exams, and switching from the cheap Yamaha vertical at home to the much better uprights at boarding school took me a few months to adapt - my fingers just didn't have the strength, because that home Yamaha had (and still has) such shallow key travel and light key weight.

And then playing on grands for the first time, after I finished high school and was working towards my piano diploma with my new teacher - another difficult period of adaptation, compounded by the fact that I was practising on uprights but having lessons on grands.

But several decades of playing on any piano I could lay my hands on - I've lost count of how many different pianos - paid dividends: it never takes me more than a few minutes to adapt to any action now.

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#2225649 - 02/04/14 08:34 AM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1674
Loc: Portugal
practising on uprights but having lessons on grands

This used to be the common experience, for all but the luckiest of piano pupils. I had a friend who was determined to become a concert pianist: he lived for piano, playing several hours a night, after homework, until he was pretty well exhausted. But he only had an upright at home. In fact, some teachers also had uprights, too. But the serious teachers for, say ABRSM grades 6 through to diploma would have a grand piano.

As has been pointed out, DPs are the new uprights, I suppose. I would stick my neck out and say that a decent DP action and sound (lower mid-range and up from Kawai, Yamaha & Roland) is vastly superior to the majority of uprights. OK - a fairly new Kawai, Yamaha or equivalent upright will be better in certain respects - but not in action or sound in the lower regions. But the vast majority of upright pianos don't fit into that category, anyway, in my experience.



Edited by toddy (02/04/14 08:39 AM)
_________________________
Roland HP 302, Yamaha SY85

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#2225735 - 02/04/14 12:09 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
StarvingLion Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/13
Posts: 226
Even Pollini in his prime with his choice of acoustic piano couldn't do certain op.10 and op.25 Chopin etudes without missing or hitting a boatload of wrong notes. Who knows how much worse he would have been playing a $2000 dp.

Opinions are nice, but until dp advocates back up their opinions with demonstrations on reference etudes from Chopin, Liszt or whomever, it really doesn't make any sense to say "Yeah a $2500 dp is better than your typical upright". Show me Gavrilov playing an ES7, not standing beside one.

Where is the proof?

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#2225752 - 02/04/14 12:32 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: StarvingLion]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1674
Loc: Portugal
Originally Posted By: StarvingLion
Even Pollini in his prime with his choice of acoustic piano couldn't do certain op.10 and op.25 Chopin etudes without missing or hitting a boatload of wrong notes. Who knows how much worse he would have been playing a $2000 dp.

Opinions are nice, but until dp advocates back up their opinions with demonstrations on reference etudes from Chopin, Liszt or whomever, it really doesn't make any sense to say "Yeah a $2500 dp is better than your typical upright". Show me Gavrilov playing an ES7, not standing beside one.

Where is the proof?


You got me there! I don't have proof. Just going on one's own admittedly very limited experience. However, the fact that Pollini hit the odd wrong note - even in his prime - would seem to me to have no bearing what ever on the subject of whether DPs are, in general, better than upright pianos.
_________________________
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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#2225797 - 02/04/14 02:20 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 833
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Speaking from personal experience because I do work on the Chopin etudes I find it does take some adjustment (as mentioned on here previously) to play them on an acoustic grand. I found the same kind of adjustment is required with the transition from an upright piano to a grand. Since the actions of many digitals attempt to emulate a grand action I find the level of adjustment required is less from the VPC1 to a grand piano.

If you want to use the Chopin etudes as your measurement then I think you would also have to factor in that a lot of them are mostly un-playable on an upright action up to speed. The action does not 'bounce' back fast enough and quick repeating notes are not possible.

I need to include practice on the real thing but I can also do a lot of practice on the digital without it being detrimental to the overall result.

Of course this is anecdotal but I don't know how one would go about providing categorical proof.
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#2225808 - 02/04/14 03:07 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: StarvingLion]
dbudde Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/13
Posts: 30
Originally Posted By: StarvingLion
Opinions are nice, but until dp advocates back up their opinions with demonstrations on reference etudes from Chopin, Liszt or whomever, it really doesn't make any sense to say "Yeah a $2500 dp is better than your typical upright". Show me Gavrilov playing an ES7, not standing beside one.

Where is the proof?


I doubt you'd be able to achieve comparable recordings such as these on any upright let alone a "typical" one, no matter how much editing is done afterwards. Admittedly, the performer edited these performances digitally, but did a fair amount of playing them in to start.

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#2225828 - 02/04/14 03:30 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: StarvingLion]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5048
Originally Posted By: StarvingLion
Even Pollini in his prime with his choice of acoustic piano couldn't do certain op.10 and op.25 Chopin etudes without missing or hitting a boatload of wrong notes.

How many Pollini concerts have you attended?

I've been to almost all his London concerts ever since I started working and had the money to buy tickets (i.e. many, many years ago), and can count on the fingers of one hand all the wrong notes he'd ever played, until a few years ago (when his reflexes lost some of its former sharpness). When he played the Chopin Etudes, it was like child's play to him. (Op.10/12 is his favourite encore).

BTW, he plays on no ordinary Steinway D, but a Fabbrini-enhanced one.

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#2225833 - 02/04/14 03:42 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: Vid]
StarvingLion Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/13
Posts: 226
Originally Posted By: Vid
Speaking from personal experience because I do work on the Chopin etudes I find it does take some adjustment (as mentioned on here previously) to play them on an acoustic grand. I found the same kind of adjustment is required with the transition from an upright piano to a grand. Since the actions of many digitals attempt to emulate a grand action I find the level of adjustment required is less from the VPC1 to a grand piano.

If you want to use the Chopin etudes as your measurement then I think you would also have to factor in that a lot of them are mostly un-playable on an upright action up to speed. The action does not 'bounce' back fast enough and quick repeating notes are not possible.

I need to include practice on the real thing but I can also do a lot of practice on the digital without it being detrimental to the overall result.

Of course this is anecdotal but I don't know how one would go about providing categorical proof.




Well, I am making the point that on my P105 its just a bloody waste of time trying to up the tempo of op. 10 no. 1 past 100bpm. The reason is that I am forced to play deeply into the keys to obtain clear articulation. But you can't play at the marked tempo of 176bpm without a light touch. Try developing a light touch on a digital and the articulation turns into mush. Its like working on Liszts Technical studies book #1 right at the beginning with those finger exercises with the dynamic markings. Complete waste of time on a digital piano.

I am a skeptic that the VPC1 + software piano or the hypothetical MP11 or the VPiano or RD800 can provide any higher performance in doing op.10 no.1

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#2225918 - 02/04/14 05:48 PM Re: Using a digital piano primarily for classical music. [Re: chadol]
toddy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/30/11
Posts: 1674
Loc: Portugal
Well, I am making the point that on my P105 its just a bloody waste of time trying to up the tempo of op. 10 no. 1 past 100bpm. The reason is that I am forced to play deeply into the keys to obtain clear articulation. But you can't play at the marked tempo of 176bpm without a light touch.

But this is why they've developed 3 sensor systems - to behave more like full double escapement grand APs. The P105 is a fairly basic (and old) action that feels lightish, yet turgid. A bit like some unrights I used to play.

I think few people would recommend the P105 for playing Chopin studies.
_________________________
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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