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#2339607 - 10/20/14 07:58 PM Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP
SCD Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/20/14
Posts: 2
Hi! First time digital buyer. I want to purchase a digital piano for our family of 6 for Christmas (2 parents; 4 children ages 10-20). I am overwhelmed by all the digital piano options, and I hoped the knowledgeable people on this forum could help me narrow my search to a handful of options.

Background info:
--We own a Boston grand piano, which we love and use regularly, and which we will be keeping. The digital piano will be for our family room/gathering space. We want an additional “fun” piano option—the kids are so drawn to experiment on the digital pianos they have met, plus we just want a piano in our large gathering room. All 6 family members play piano and sing--I also play the violin as a primary instrument.
--Budget: Because I have not shopped much, I’m not sure how much should expect to pay. Would prefer to pay between $1500-2000. But could go up if necessary.
--Important features for us:
1. Weighted keys/similar touch and feel to a real piano.
2. The ability to play around with different instrument voices, rhythms, etc.
3. Reliable quality; minimal maintenance
4. Nice appearance, though it does not have to be fancy
5. If possible, the ability to create musical notation for your original compositions. Here is where my naivety comes in—-if the piano does not do this, then the ability to easily hook up to software for producing notation from your playing. This interface would need to be easy enough for a 12-year-old to manage, after being shown what to do. One of our sons composes very nice songs on the piano and in his singing all the time. However, in spite of years of lessons, reading music and making notation does not come easily to him, so most of his ideas disappear into the air. We hope the digital piano with voicing and track options will open up a bigger composition world to him, and it would be so nice if the instrument could capture his compositions.

I know this was a long post, but I hoped to give thorough info. Thanks for any advice!

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#2339627 - 10/20/14 08:40 PM Re: Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP [Re: SCD]
Kawai James Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 9354
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
SCD, welcome to the forum.

If you already have access to a reasonably powerful computer, I would strongly consider pursuing the software route, rather than a 'hardware' digital piano.

A good quality MIDI controller connected to software running on a computer will likely be less expensive and more powerful (in the long run) than a 'do everything' hardware instrument. This would also open up the possibilities of using different voices, recording compositions, scoring/notating, etc.

Kind regards,
James
x
_________________________
Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.

"Richard, none of us could forget you have a CLP-990." - EssBrace, 2014

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#2339658 - 10/20/14 10:37 PM Re: Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP [Re: SCD]
Charles Cohen Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1389
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
My Casio PX-350 ticks most of your boxes, and is well within your budget. Some things are compromised:

. . . It has weighted keys, but there are better (more like an acoustic piano) keyboard
. . . actions available (more expensive, too).

. . . It has a hundred or so built-in rhythms and accompaniment patterns.
. . . But __editing_ those patterns is limited.

There's a 17-track MIDI recorder built in, to save (and play back) your ideas.

For capturing playing with standard notation, I'd suggest a computer-based scoring package. I have "Sibelius First", which will "listen" to the MiDI signals from the piano, and score them. There are lots of alternatives.

KJ's suggestion -- a MIDI controller and computer-software -- will certainly work.

Depending on how much auto-arranging, auto-chording, auto-harmonizing you wanted to do, you might check out the Yamaha DGX650, or MOXF8.

. Charles

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#2339678 - 10/20/14 11:15 PM Re: Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP [Re: SCD]
bnolsen Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 06/02/14
Posts: 114
Loc: Colorado
would you want something potentially portable or another piece of furniture? you may want to look at a portable with a stand and speakers.

as for computer midi hookup thats pretty much a standard with all decent digitals.

if you can try to find a kawai es100 to test drive but i don't think that anyone has seen one at a showroom before. a trip to guitar center should get you the casio and yamaha speakered portables...maybe not the yamaha p155 though...

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#2339937 - 10/21/14 07:03 PM Re: Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP [Re: SCD]
SCD Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/20/14
Posts: 2
Thank you for this advice. It gives me some good starting places for models, and some good starting places for learning more as well. I am sure I will be back here with more questions before long!

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#2340112 - Yesterday at 09:43 AM Re: Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP [Re: Kawai James]
wildpig Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/06/14
Posts: 36
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
SCD, welcome to the forum.

If you already have access to a reasonably powerful computer, I would strongly consider pursuing the software route, rather than a 'hardware' digital piano.

A good quality MIDI controller connected to software running on a computer will likely be less expensive and more powerful (in the long run) than a 'do everything' hardware instrument. This would also open up the possibilities of using different voices, recording compositions, scoring/notating, etc.



I second this. I would recommend you checking out kawai VPC1 ($1860 or so) to go along with pianoteq or ivory. All you need is a cheap used laptop running core i3 or i5 (less than $300) and that's it. This set up gives you the best key action and the best sound and can do all kind of fancy recording of performance. It's not the most turnkey solution but is by far the most flexible, and best sounding and i think the most cost effective.


Edited by wildpig (Yesterday at 09:44 AM)
_________________________
Current work in progress: Canon in D (John Galloway ver)
where: slightly past half way. cant quite do LH at 16th notes frown.
Piece done: Minuet G major (w/o trills.. will have to work on that)

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#2340121 - Yesterday at 10:14 AM Re: Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP [Re: SCD]
R_B Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/03/09
Posts: 506
I am NOT up to date with all this, but if you go the software route with a GOOD keyboard, e.g. Kawai VPC there are a couple of things to bear in mind
a) The "open" architecture allows updates/upgrades over time as technology follows Moore's Law, e.g. you will not be STUCK with current offered voices/instruments/sounds/rhythms.
b) Figure the cost of a moderate laptop into the budget; maybe ~$500.
c) Back to a) again, beware the danger of frequent and perhaps expensive GAS attacks
{Gear Acquisition Syndrome}. It can be a "double edged sword".
d) Don't forget the sound system - GOOD amps and speakers (& their placement) make a HUGE difference to the final sound.
This is not an area to "cheap out", i.e. buy a good system ONCE.
e) Rhythm boxes, play-along backing groups, etc can be added into the software.

The learning curve for all this is probably long, as I said I have NOT kept up to date on all of it.
At a guess "there are apps for that" now (-:

======================EDIT - what I did====================
I plunked own what seemed like a LOT of CA$H at the time for a Yamaha KX88 some time in the early '80s and a few "rack" modules.
I upgraded the modules a few years later, but have managed to avoid (let PASS) most of the GAS attacks.
I tinker with demo versions of various soft pianos from time to time, but don't feel an overwhelming need to go beyond the old Peavey KB 100 speaker (15 inch main driver) and Roland U220 sound module - they are making sound about as good as "when new" and hooking up a laptop, loading programs, etc. isn't worth the delay when I want to just noodle around for a few minutes - the "few minutes" that often extends to... well, who's counting ?, but it may be multiples of 60 (-:

BTW, I had a MINOR repair issue with the speaker, Peavey provided schematics for their 30+ year old product within minutes.
Similar story on the U220, Roland provided documentation of the "return to factory pre-sets" process within an hour.
{Beat THAT Microslop "Support" (-:}

So, no regrets - not even the lack of a big lump of wooden musical furniture that I might have bought if the electronics separates strategy had not worked out so WELL (for ME; my ear, my house, my spending priorities, etc.)
============================end edit===============


Edited by R_B (Yesterday at 11:26 AM)

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#2340262 - Yesterday at 04:55 PM Re: Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP [Re: R_B]
PianoMan51 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/30/10
Posts: 15
Loc: United States
Here's my two cents. With kids from 10 to 20, don't underestimate their ability to jump into technology and make it their own. I suggest a cheap MIDI keyboard, a computer (say a Mac running Garage Band) and a pair of powered speakers (like inexpensive studio monitors), a Shure Sm-58, and a small USB mixer (USB so it can send the microphone sounds into the computer to record).

Then let them play. They don't need another grand piano, they need fun tools that will let them try to emulate what they listen to, and then later move onto making their own.

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#2340580 - 9 minutes 51 seconds ago Re: Advice? First digital piano for family--already own a GP [Re: R_B]
peterws Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 3703
Loc: Northern England.
Originally Posted By: R_B
I am NOT up to date with all this, but if you go the software route with a GOOD keyboard, e.g. Kawai VPC there are a couple of things to bear in mind
a) The "open" architecture allows updates/upgrades over time as technology follows Moore's Law, e.g. you will not be STUCK with current offered voices/instruments/sounds/rhythms.
b) Figure the cost of a moderate laptop into the budget; maybe ~$500.
c) Back to a) again, beware the danger of frequent and perhaps expensive GAS attacks
{Gear Acquisition Syndrome}. It can be a "double edged sword".
d) Don't forget the sound system - GOOD amps and speakers (& their placement) make a HUGE difference to the final sound.
This is not an area to "cheap out", i.e. buy a good system ONCE.
e) Rhythm boxes, play-along backing groups, etc can be added into the software.

The learning curve for all this is probably long, as I said I have NOT kept up to date on all of it.
At a guess "there are apps for that" now (-:

======================EDIT - what I did====================
I plunked own what seemed like a LOT of CA$H at the time for a Yamaha KX88 some time in the early '80s and a few "rack" modules.
I upgraded the modules a few years later, but have managed to avoid (let PASS) most of the GAS attacks.
I tinker with demo versions of various soft pianos from time to time, but don't feel an overwhelming need to go beyond the old Peavey KB 100 speaker (15 inch main driver) and Roland U220 sound module - they are making sound about as good as "when new" and hooking up a laptop, loading programs, etc. isn't worth the delay when I want to just noodle around for a few minutes - the "few minutes" that often extends to... well, who's counting ?, but it may be multiples of 60 (-:

BTW, I had a MINOR repair issue with the speaker, Peavey provided schematics for their 30+ year old product within minutes.
Similar story on the U220, Roland provided documentation of the "return to factory pre-sets" process within an hour.
{Beat THAT Microslop "Support" (-:}

So, no regrets - not even the lack of a big lump of wooden musical furniture that I might have bought if the electronics separates strategy had not worked out so WELL (for ME; my ear, my house, my spending priorities, etc.)
============================end edit===============


That takes me back some! I had a Yamaha organ forced on me by the venue and it came complete with this Peavey amp you describe. Have to say, I did not like it at all at all. . .our singer borrowed it for an outside gig. Left his van door open, it got nicked. To prevent repercussions he provided a 160w HH pa speaker system which was brilliant. . .
_________________________
"I'm playing all the right notes — but not necessarily in the right order." Eric Morecambe

""

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