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#2377716 - 01/24/15 06:48 PM The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller
Fripp Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 5
It will be available in 4, 6 and 8 octaves and to a low price, especially when compared to the price of the original VAX77.

It's a Kickstarter project and we'll have to wait until next year, but I like what I'm seeing laugh

Kickstarter - VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller

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#2377726 - 01/24/15 07:22 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
fizikisto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/12
Posts: 808
Loc: Hernando, MS
Very interesting!
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Nord Stage 2 HA88
Roland RD800

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#2377746 - 01/24/15 08:16 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
Dwscamel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/22/13
Posts: 604
Wow, our wishes have come true!!
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#2377750 - 01/24/15 08:33 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
ElmerJFudd Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 229
I watched this all the way through. It sounds like a fun DYI build. Their firmware was quite good on the original VAX, so this could be a very nice controller. I just wonder what the action will feel like. No doubt they are excited about the new sensor. But the keys will have a steel rod running through then to a hammer of sorts that hits what? I don't know that I could buy it without playing it first.

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#2377825 - 01/25/15 01:56 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1774
It may not be difficult to make the modular controllers stackable http://orladirect.co.uk/jamkey/ It would open up additional market segments.
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I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#2377875 - 01/25/15 08:39 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
dewster Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4569
Loc: Northern NJ
Watched the video. What is the sensor technology? He doesn't say.

@ 4:25 : "This is a key element of the design. Every other keyboard in the world senses the key going down, how fast is the key going? That's not right, we want to know how fast the hammer is going. Those are two very different numbers."

While I agree one is better off sensing the hammer vs. the key, he's surprisingly completely and utterly wrong concerning "every other keyboard in the world" not doing this - most DPs have the sensors located on the hammer. And the truly "right" way to sense a hammer action is to have continuous sensors on both the hammer and key (for damping).

I do like the design of the key / hammer though, that's the most innovative thing I see here (along with the continuous sensing).

If these things just fall together, why aren't they assembling them pre-shipping? I don't really get it. I'd rather not trust the general public with sensitive electronics, holding their hands through the assembly, troubleshooting, etc. Kits can be a can of worms for everyone involved, and this isn't just an Arduino shield you pick up at Radio Shack.

I can't believe they aren't offering a 76 key version, though I suppose they aren't because of the 2 octave base unit modularity.

More horsepower in there would give us a nice open platform to develop our own DP on.

But godspeed and more power to them, we need alternative and better controllers.
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)
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#2377876 - 01/25/15 08:45 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
Pete14 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/13
Posts: 367
I assume the continuous sensing is similar to the optical sensors used in the AvantGrands, or am I wrong?

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#2377877 - 01/25/15 08:56 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
dewster Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4569
Loc: Northern NJ
In the video he said they looked at optical and capacitive sensing and didn't go with them. I have a feeling it's a linear Hall Effect device but that's just a guess (and there isn't much else it could be after ruling optical and capacitive out, except for maybe RF transmission).

I personally would start with an FPGA and give capacitance my best shot. Most developers start with a processor and this severely limits your choices when it comes to gobs of sensors and precision timing. An FPGA could be incredibly effective here, too bad they aren't better understood by the development community.
_________________________
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)
!IMO!

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#2377886 - 01/25/15 09:41 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
Pete14 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/13
Posts: 367
Good to know, Dewster.

Optical sensors seem to work very well for the Yamahas, but perhaps the people at VAX are simply looking beyond, or at least at other, more practical alternatives.

The one thing I don't like about the AvantGrand's sensors is that under certain conditions you can see the red -optical- light. It's not a big deal, but it looks a bit like a cheap keyboard with light-up keys; just a bit. Of course, the advantages of a continuously-sensing optical 'light' far outweigh this tiny flaw; which I'm sure most people don't care about or even notice.

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#2377914 - 01/25/15 10:55 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
ElmerJFudd Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 229
I am pretty sure they are offering this DYI because assembly is an area that killed them on the first VAX. Clearly building them in the US priced the keyboard way out of reach of most non-pros (or I should say people who who have difficulty justifying such a purchase without significant income from playing or a tax deduction). At this point, I would guess they have a staff of... 2 - 4 maybe 6 people? So perhaps they are trying the opposite, price it as low as possible and avoid the 6 of them sitting in the shop putting them together themselves.

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#2377923 - 01/25/15 11:11 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
Pete14 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/13
Posts: 367
I don't see why the 6 of them could not sit in the shop and put these together. As Dewster suggested, these parts just fall in together (pre-built modules), and I'm certain that initial sales will be slow/moderate, so they can do it.

As things pick up, they can hire more people for assembly purposes. This whole "you can do it yourself" approach is a bit gimmicky. What next? When I buy a Corolla, Toyota will simply send me an assembly-kit along with the parts, so I can build it myself and feel that I'm, after all, worthy.

"I'm not worthy; I'm not worthy," said Wayne. grin

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#2377926 - 01/25/15 11:16 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
PianoMan51 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/30/10
Posts: 23
Loc: United States
I can't help but wonder if the 'kit' of parts allows them to import their product to markets that would require expensive certification if sold as a complete unit.

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#2377928 - 01/25/15 11:19 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3602
I'm intrigued by a low-cost design that minimizes pushback, which is my problem with so many actions. And based on past threads here, a lot of people looking for a small (i.e. 4 octave) weighted board are going to be happy. I'm curious about what the travel weight will be. And also, once the individual 2-octave modules are assembled, whether they can be attached/detached from each other relatively quickly and easily, which would could open up some other travel options.

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#2377967 - 01/25/15 01:19 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: anotherscott]
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1774
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
... once the individual 2-octave modules are assembled, whether they can be attached/detached from each other relatively quickly and easily, which would could open up some other travel options.

Yeah, it makes much more sense to me to make/sell pre-assembled 2-octave modules (or even 1-octave modules) that click together, along with a wheels module for the left, end cap for the right.
_________________________
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#2377980 - 01/25/15 01:51 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: anotherscott]
dewster Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4569
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
I'm intrigued by a low-cost design that minimizes pushback, which is my problem with so many actions.

Pushback is something my wife always comments on re. DP keyboards, the lack of real escapement. Outside of retrofit AP keyboards (e.g. AG) this is the only DP action I've seen that attempts to do this.

Originally Posted By: anotherscott
And also, once the individual 2-octave modules are assembled, whether they can be attached/detached from each other relatively quickly and easily, which would could open up some other travel options.

Oh, I hope not. I would think that would make 4 of them stuck together rather rickety? Or that kind of joinery done securely might significantly increase the final weight? I suppose we'll see, but their previous folding arrangement was pretty beefy and freaky looking IMO.

I guess I was thinking more along the lines of 3 case lengths to accomodate the 3 configurations, but in the video he says there is only one case, so you may be right. I assume there will exist only a single configuration of the 2 octave key module, which seems to preclude an 88 key arrangement? C on the bottom I'm betting, which my wife dislikes.

If it involves any kind of wiring or circuit board screwing down I think the potential market will be vastly smaller. E.g. PC hardware pretty much falls together these days but I'm the only one I'm aware of among my family and friends who actually assembles them. The intersection of musician and EE hobbyist is rather small. And if they just fall together why not do this before shipment rather than after? Unless, as you speculate, the key count is changeable in the field.

Ha, just saw the FAQ:

Since the cost goals require that each 2 octave module be identical in every respect, only 2 note range options exist, either from C to B or from F to E. We will try to design it so you can choose the option you prefer when you build the module.

All units are about 350 mm (14") deep and 75 mm (3") high.
4 Octave 810 mm (32") 11 kg (24#)
6 Octave 1140 mm (45") 14.5 kg (32#)
8 Octave 1470 mm (58") 18 kg (40#)


58" is +1" longer than our RD-700NX, which is quite long as DPs go due to the joystick in the keybed area. 40 lbs ain't too light. A shame there isn't a 7 octave 76 key option.
_________________________
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)
!IMO!

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#2378041 - 01/25/15 04:12 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: dewster]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3602
Originally Posted By: dewster
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
And also, once the individual 2-octave modules are assembled, whether they can be attached/detached from each other relatively quickly and easily, which would could open up some other travel options.

Oh, I hope not. I would think that would make 4 of them stuck together rather rickety? Or that kind of joinery done securely might significantly increase the final weight?

I think he said the only tool you need is a screwdriver. Assuming that attaching the modules to each other is the last step, my thought was that it could be somewhere in the range of 4 to 8 screws to attach each module to the next. WIth a cordless electric screwdriver, it could only take a few minutes to disassemble the modules from each other (assuming simply screws and plug-in connectors), or to reassemble. Then you might fit three or four of the modules into a small wheeled case suitable for carry-on luggage or gigging via public transit, that kind of thing, where it wouldn't take you an unreasonable amount of time to disassemble at one end of your trip and reassemble at the other.

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#2378051 - 01/25/15 04:26 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: dewster]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2282
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: dewster

I can't believe they aren't offering a 76 key version, though I suppose they aren't because of the 2 octave base unit modularity.


Yes that's a shame, but I could have lived with a 72 key version that started on an A, but that would mean an awkward A to Ab module. Oh well.

Greg.
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#2378059 - 01/25/15 04:58 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3602
I was hoping that the last module that goes on the left (pitch/mod wheels, connectivity) would also include a low E, to use under the F-to-E module arrangement. It would be a lot more useful for splits that involve left hand bass that way.

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#2378080 - 01/25/15 06:28 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
Kawai James Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 10083
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Wow, great to see Infinite Response and the VAX making a comeback!

It looks like they will easily breeze past their $35,000 goal too!

Wasn't there a 3-way folding keyboard/controller proposed by a different start-up a few months ago? I recall a survey to gauge interest). It will be interesting to see how this venture competes against the reputation of the VAX.

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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#2378085 - 01/25/15 06:44 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: anotherscott]
dewster Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4569
Loc: Northern NJ
Originally Posted By: anotherscott
Then you might fit three or four of the modules into a small wheeled case suitable for carry-on luggage or gigging via public transit, that kind of thing, where it wouldn't take you an unreasonable amount of time to disassemble at one end of your trip and reassemble at the other.

For a move type situation I'm certainly ready to take a screwdriver to my DP. I can't imagine actually wanting to do that for something as minor as a gig though. And would the physical and electrical interconnects be up to this kind of repeated man handling?

Ah, whatever, with no 76 key version and the 8 octave longer than the NX, I think our studio is pretty much not the intended audience for this product. And I'm very leery of purchasing things that are basically only slightly beyond the prototype stage. This kick-start hardware/software stuff can be a double edged sword. But more power to them.
_________________________
The DPBSD Project!
THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)
!IMO!

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#2378119 - 01/25/15 08:34 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Kawai James]
Kawai James Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 10083
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By: Kawai James
Wasn't there a 3-way folding keyboard/controller proposed by a different start-up a few months ago?


Ah, now I remember, it was the 'Groove Piano':

https://www.facebook.com/groovepiano

Very unfortunate to read that one of the members of their team has recently passed away.

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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#2378140 - 01/25/15 10:35 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1774
FWIW, as to the range of keys I actually use, I have put stickers on the keys to watch myself playing for nearly a year, and for non-classical pieces, I use only 68 keys F to C shocked The Roland RD-64 would be 4 keys too short.

Where does the bottom A come from?

Why does a company like Roland or Nord not consider a 68-key keyboard?

I don't think I am alone in my actual playing range.

Edit: I am reacting to some previous postings. Perhaps I should have started a new thread blush


Edited by doremi (01/25/15 10:40 PM)
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Had I progressed to playing chords,
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#2378208 - 01/26/15 05:02 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: doremi]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2282
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: doremi

Where does the bottom A come from?


I obviously have a different style to you - I like a big powerful base, and often play octaves with the left hand. I posted my rendition of "Cold As Ice" (Foreigner) recently - that went down to the low Bb, for example. Anyway, the VAX77 started on an A, as did a 76-key MIDI controller from CME. I wish it were more common - it must be all the normal players like you that are preventing it. ;^)

Greg.


Edited by sullivang (01/26/15 05:02 AM)
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#2378219 - 01/26/15 07:26 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: doremi]
anotherscott Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/10
Posts: 3602
Originally Posted By: doremi
FWIW, as to the range of keys I actually use, I have put stickers on the keys to watch myself playing for nearly a year, and for non-classical pieces, I use only 68 keys F to C shocked The Roland RD-64 would be 4 keys too short.

Where does the bottom A come from?

Why does a company like Roland or Nord not consider a 68-key keyboard?

I think yours is the only post I've ever seen requesting a 68-key board!

Personally, I'd like to see 69-key boards, going down to E... it is the smallest usable board that is suitable for a split if you want to play left hand bass, where the low E is crucial (being the lowest note of a typical bass guitar, and so the lowest note of most pop songs of the last 50 years).

FWIW, 64 key with low A was the range of the Wurlitzer electric piano.

I think the logic of a low A and a high C is also that an 88 goes from low A to high C. As a result, it "looks" normal (not visually disorienting), and also, you can cover the exact range of an 88 with a simple one octave shift up and one octave shift down.

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#2378243 - 01/26/15 09:11 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
doremi Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 1774
I don't think we are in fundamental disagreement here. The main point is that there is a mismatch between keyboards that are being made and keys that are actually being used, in many cases.
--------------------
As to liking bass or similar, that could be addressed with sound design/settings rather than keyboard design. Come to think of it, there is an 'octave piano' sound in one of my keyboards, although it sounds dead/non-musical, it is far from playing the octaves yourself.
_________________________
I am 'doremi' because I play scales smile
Had I progressed to playing chords,
I would be 'domisol' shocked

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#2378293 - 01/26/15 11:38 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
dewster Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/09
Posts: 4569
Loc: Northern NJ
More from the VAX kickstarter page:

We recognize that not everyone will want to assemble their VAX and to that end, we plan to initiate a Certified Technician program. VAX owners that complete some additional video training can become Certified Technicians and they will be listed on our website. You can hire a Certified Technician to build your VAX. While it will take about 4 hours to build a VAX for the first time, it will take half that after a little practice. Consequently, assembly fees should be quite reasonable.

*snip*

The chassis will be similar to the VAX77 except that it will be extruded from aluminum instead of magnesium. The keys are assembled on two octave modules that slide into the chassis from the side. Since the chassis is a single piece extrusion, it is a simple matter to offer the new VAX in 4, 6, and 8 octave versions. We simply cut the chassis into three different lengths and you slide in, 2, 3 or 4 modules of 2 octaves each.

Assembly involves sliding modules (first the sets of two octaves of keys then the pitch & mod wheel module) into the chassis on built-in rails and securing them in place with plates at each end. The only tool required is a screwdriver.

So they have three different chassis lengths and you just slide the 2 octave key assemblies in there and screw it shut. Why would this take a trained assembly person 2 hours? Or perhaps there is some detailed software upload and/or QC / unit testing to perform?

I can't imagine ponying up cash without CAD renderings or at least a back-of-the-nakpkin drawing of what they're thinking of building a bunch of. Wouldn't that be job #1 before reaching out to the public with a serious tip jar?

On that page I see an option to "Leave a comment (for backers only)". So they need to see the money before one can request info?
_________________________
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THE RD-700NX Thread!
DPs Exposed! (nekid pichures!)
!IMO!

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#2378349 - 01/26/15 02:14 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: dewster]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1895
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: dewster
...I see an option to "Leave a comment (for backers only)". So they need to see the money before one can request info?


I sent a question in using the link by the FAQs, and I got a detailed response by email from one of the founders of the company within 12 hours. I'd encourage you to give that a try if you're so inclined.
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

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#2378357 - 01/26/15 02:50 PM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: doremi]
sullivang Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/05/09
Posts: 2282
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: doremi

As to liking bass or similar, that could be addressed with sound design/settings rather than keyboard design.


I just want the notes - I often play those notes separately, despite the fact I mentioned octave doubling.

Wherever the lowest A happens to be on a board with less than 88 keys, that's going to be my low A that corresponds to the lowest A on a real piano, so if it's not the lowest key on my board, the keys lower than that A will be wasted for me. That's why I liked the VAX77.

Greg.
_________________________
Middle-aged Top Gear acolyte

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#2393555 - Today at 01:18 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Fripp]
Marzzz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/29/02
Posts: 3
9 days to go, and they are well past their funding goal. $700 for an 96-key hammer-action controller with PolyAT, High Resolution MIDI velocity, and release velocity; hard to pass up!

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#2393580 - Today at 03:54 AM Re: The new VAX MIDI Keyboard Controller [Re: Marzzz]
Beemer Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/13
Posts: 361
Loc: Scotland
I looked at the VAX entry in the Kickstarter site but I don't see how to open up the details of this project.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/search?utf8=✓&term=vax

I have three questions:

Where do I go now?

Is there a stated benefit to me if I contributed to the fund?

Why does the fund end in nine days?

Ian


Edited by Beemer (Today at 03:55 AM)
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