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#2551303 - 06/22/16 12:12 PM Digital Piano/Keyboard Action
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
Hi,

New to the forum and first time poster!

I currently have a Kurzweil SP4-8 which has been a reliable tool for a while. I'm looking for a new keyboard which I can use to improve my technique and playing, with as close to a real piano action as possible.

Does anyone have any suggestions - based on what you have actually played or tried out?

I have seen the VPC1, the SL 88 Grand, the Roland FP 80 and A88 - does anyone have any experience with these, or others?

To add to the mix I'd really love it to a board that has some built in sounds and the ability to run to a pair of speakers, so playing isn't entirely reliant on having software plugged in at the time, but I appreciate sometimes that is a trade-off you have to make.

Any advice would be great.

Many thanks.

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#2551315 - 06/22/16 12:58 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
ElmerJFudd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1206
The SP48 had a Fatar TP-100 action which is not really acoustic piano like. The SL 88 has the Fatar TP-40W I believe which is much better but quite light feeling. It would be ok, but you have better options for a more realistic piano like action.

The VPC-1 has Kawai's RM3 II - preferable for me over anything Fatar is making at the moment.

I don't have experience with those Roland models.

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#2551325 - 06/22/16 02:26 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
ColoRodney Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/07/14
Posts: 197
If you want speakers and built in sounds, try the Kawai ES8. If you don't need it to be portable, the furniture style pianos from Yamaha, Roland, and Kawai open a lot more possibilities.
_________________________
Rodney Sauer
Kawai KG-2E • Kawai ES8

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#2551383 - 06/22/16 08:22 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Kawai James Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 12016
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
RobertJM, welcome to the forum.

I would recommend the current crop of stage pianos:

- Yamaha CP4/CP40
- Kawai MP11/MP7
- Roland RD-800

Note that none of these feature built-in speakers. If this feature is important to you, Rodney's suggestion of the ES8 is definitely worth considering, as is the Roland FP-80, although this is an older board.

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

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#2551397 - 06/22/16 09:35 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
ElmerJFudd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1206
The ES8 is a lovely play IMHO - local shop has it on showroom floor. I'd stay past closing on it if they'd let me.








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#2551482 - 06/23/16 08:29 AM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Doug M. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/14
Posts: 158
Originally Posted By RobertJM
Hi,

New to the forum and first time poster!

I currently have a Kurzweil SP4-8 which has been a reliable tool for a while. I'm looking for a new keyboard which I can use to improve my technique and playing, with as close to a real piano action as possible.

Does anyone have any suggestions - based on what you have actually played or tried out?

I have seen the VPC1, the SL 88 Grand, the Roland FP 80 and A88 - does anyone have any experience with these, or others?

To add to the mix I'd really love it to a board that has some built in sounds and the ability to run to a pair of speakers, so playing isn't entirely reliant on having software plugged in at the time, but I appreciate sometimes that is a trade-off you have to make.

Any advice would be great.

Many thanks.


Would help us in answering your question if you could specify what your preferences are with regard to the following characteristics:
1) Price range (what you're prepared to spend)
2) What you value (relatively speaking)
e.g., You mentioned the need to improve your technique, but: do you want arranger functionality; are you playing live, do you require a light board; how much do you care about having lots of sounds; do you want to be able to layer 4 sounds; do you need an on board sequencer; do you want onboard speakers; do you need blue-tooth functionality; do you want modeled sounds or just sampled; do you need to be able to change a sound mid flow without any artifacts; do you want advanced sound edit funtionality etc..

Price range is the biggest issue, as it determines which boards people might suggest to you.
_________________________
Doug M.

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#2551521 - 06/23/16 12:01 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
Hi All,


Thanks for the helpful replies.

Doug M, in answer to your questions.

1) Around £1,100, maybe slightly higher but ideally not.
2) If by 'value' you mean what is most important to me, I would say i) action ii) midi capability iii) internal sounds iv) other fx, like arranger, accompaniment etc

I don't really need a huge amount of onboard sounds, but I'd like what there is to be of good quality. It would be great if it had more, but the MIDI and action are the main considerations for me.

I had to ability to try out a few today and my notes are as follows - please add your own thoughts.

1) ES8 - Really great sound, good action and nice overall feel.
2) M11 - Better action and feel, no question, but not worth the £650 price jump. I believe the M11 has the same keybed as the VPC1.
3) CA17 - Best of all in terms of action (subjective, I know), but this is purely a digital piano, without other functionality.

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#2551526 - 06/23/16 12:27 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Fer De Armas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/15
Posts: 595
Hi RobertJM, my preference is for the KAWAI plastic key actions, in this case my favorite is the MP7 with the RHII; IMHO is the best plastic key action available in the market today... and i chose this DP over the Roland (PHA4-P,C) or Yamaha (GH3,NW) similar or some step up choices... even over the Kawai wooden key actions! DP´s, because the plastic ones are more quicker for faster key repetitions and more responsive too; but the key action is a matter of personal taste, and you must to try by yourself. Regards.

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#2551658 - 06/23/16 11:34 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
Another question perhaps someone in the know could clear up. I'll try to keep it clear.

The CA17 - Does this feature MIDI capability, via USB connection, or only via the older MIDI I/O connections? I can't seem to find an answer. The majority of my recording work is done via USB to a macbook pro, so this is a must. And - this being a real noob question - can the keyboard be removed from it's stand/mount to be placed elsewhere, or is it a fixed unit?

The CA67/95 appear to have less impressive/equally impressive actions, but retail for quite a bit more - could anyone explain why.

Thanks.

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#2551688 - 06/24/16 02:52 AM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Kawai James Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 12016
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Hello Robert,

Originally Posted By RobertJM
I had to ability to try out a few today and my notes are as follows - please add your own thoughts.

1) ES8 - Really great sound, good action and nice overall feel.
2) M11 - Better action and feel, no question, but not worth the £650 price jump. I believe the M11 has the same keybed as the VPC1.
3) CA17 - Best of all in terms of action (subjective, I know), but this is purely a digital piano, without other functionality.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Please note that the MP11 features the 'Grand Feel' action, which utilises longer keys (and has a longer pivot length than the 'RM3 Grand II' action found in both the VPC1 and CA17.

I shall respond to your other query in my next post.

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

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#2551692 - 06/24/16 03:07 AM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Kawai James Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 12016
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Hello again Robert,

Originally Posted By RobertJM
The CA17 - Does this feature MIDI capability, via USB connection, or only via the older MIDI I/O connections?


The CA17 features both standard MIDI IN/OUT connectors and a 'USB to Host' for sending/receiving MIDI data to a computer/tablet.

For more information, you may wish to refer to the product page on the Kawai Global website:

http://www.kawai-global.com/product/ca17/

The above website also has a 'compare' function, allowing the specifications of several instruments to be compared side by side.

Originally Posted By RobertJM
The majority of my recording work is done via USB to a macbook pro, so this is a must.


The CA17's 'USB to Host' connector will work 'out of the box' using an inexpensive USB-A to USB-B cable. However, it's perhaps worth nothing that the same functionality could be also be achieved using the standard MIDI IN/OUT connectors and an inexpensive MIDI-to-USB cable.

Originally Posted By RobertJM
And - this being a real noob question - can the keyboard be removed from it's stand/mount to be placed elsewhere, or is it a fixed unit?

Theoretically speaking, the main keyboard portion can be separated from the stand, however it will not sit stably on any other surface, so is not something I would recommend.

[quote=RobertJM]The CA67/95 appear to have less impressive/equally impressive actions, but retail for quite a bit more - could anyone explain why.


May I ask you to clarify which models you are referring to?

The CA67 is the current generation model featuring the latest 'Grand Feel II' keyboard action and Shigeru Kawai grand piano samples.
The CA95 is the previous generation model featuring the original 'Grand Feel' keyboard action and does not include the newer Shigeru Kawai grand piano samples.

Note that the CA67 is the successor of the CA65, while the CA96 is the predecessor of the CA65.

The CA97/CA67 are more expensive than than the CA17 because they feature the superior 'Grand Feel II' keyboard action, a larger selection of sounds and features, and more powerful amplifier and speakers. This link compares the specifications of all three models.

I hope this helps.

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

Top
#2551721 - 06/24/16 08:05 AM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
Many thanks James. That clears it up - I was under the impression that the RM3 II was the most recent, and best, action.

Can the keyboard be removed from the stand/shell?

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#2551726 - 06/24/16 08:12 AM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Doug M. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/14
Posts: 158
Originally Posted By RobertJM
Hi All,


Thanks for the helpful replies.

Doug M, in answer to your questions.

1) Around £1,100, maybe slightly higher but ideally not.
2) If by 'value' you mean what is most important to me, I would say i) action ii) midi capability iii) internal sounds iv) other fx, like arranger, accompaniment etc

I don't really need a huge amount of onboard sounds, but I'd like what there is to be of good quality. It would be great if it had more, but the MIDI and action are the main considerations for me.

I had to ability to try out a few today and my notes are as follows - please add your own thoughts.

1) ES8 - Really great sound, good action and nice overall feel.
2) M11 - Better action and feel, no question, but not worth the £650 price jump. I believe the M11 has the same keybed as the VPC1.
3) CA17 - Best of all in terms of action (subjective, I know), but this is purely a digital piano, without other functionality.


If you are considering the CA17, I would suggest comparing that with the Roland HP603, as this comes with fully modeled piano sounds. Also, the PHA-50 action is worth trying yourself, as what people like in an action is highly subjective. Also around that price point falls the Kawai MP7 which is an excellent stage piano (see PianoManChuck review).

You might also consider the Dexibell Vivo P7 Portable Piano; 88 Keys.. Never tried these, but I know that Bonners in Eastbourne have these in their store.

£200 above your price point is the Kurzweil Artis 88 note, which is an awesome board, but the action is not quite as good as Roland or Kawai actions. Kurzweil are well loved by professional musicians and are very robust and compare well to similar stage pianos. The piano samples are competitive, as are the EP's, but the hammond B3 sounds are really top notch.

One last option is a wildcard, but you might like it: the Physis K4 (£1110.85 on Thomann). The Physis K4 has modeled piano sounds like the Roland, but has great midi controller capability. Whilst the action is a Fatar, it is perhaps arguably better in many other areas for that price point.


Edited by Doug M. (06/24/16 10:06 AM)
_________________________
Doug M.

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#2551801 - 06/24/16 02:40 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: Doug M.]
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
Originally Posted By Doug M.
Originally Posted By RobertJM
Hi All,





If you are considering the CA17, I would suggest comparing that with the Roland HP603, as this comes with fully modeled piano sounds. Also, the PHA-50 action is worth trying yourself, as what people like in an action is highly subjective. Also around that price point falls the Kawai MP7 which is an excellent stage piano (see PianoManChuck review).

You might also consider the Dexibell Vivo P7 Portable Piano; 88 Keys.. Never tried these, but I know that Bonners in Eastbourne have these in their store.

£200 above your price point is the Kurzweil Artis 88 note, which is an awesome board, but the action is not quite as good as Roland or Kawai actions. Kurzweil are well loved by professional musicians and are very robust and compare well to similar stage pianos. The piano samples are competitive, as are the EP's, but the hammond B3 sounds are really top notch.

One last option is a wildcard, but you might like it: the Physis K4 (£1110.85 on Thomann). The Physis K4 has modeled piano sounds like the Roland, but has great midi controller capability. Whilst the action is a Fatar, it is perhaps arguably better in many other areas for that price point.


Thanks Doug. From what I've read (and this is totally based on other advice) the Kawai beds are pretty much market leaders in terms of their action. I'm not overly bothered about the sound - whilst I'd like it to be the best it can be, I'm more interested in the feel.

Does anyone have any experience with the SL88 Grand? I'm hearing good things, and want to know if there would be any comparison with the RM3 II and Grand Feel II actions?

TIA

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#2551811 - 06/24/16 03:32 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
ElmerJFudd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1206
The SL88 Grand uses Fatar's TP-40W action. It is a compromise action for portability, shorter keys with the mechanics underneath the keys,



It is quite light feeling, ok for playing many different keyboard parts like organ, synth sounds, electric piano sounds, and even acoustic piano. But you have better options to choose from if your goal is an action that is acoustic-grand-piano-like. This is also true of the ES8's action,



Compact designs for smaller keyboards with better portability.

Here is Kawai's RM3 Action,


And the Grand Feel GF Action,


Edited by ElmerJFudd (06/24/16 03:33 PM)

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#2552077 - 06/25/16 09:58 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
Thanks Elmer.

As I suspected.

Have you - or anyone else - actually played the SL88 Grand? I understand the differences on paper but in reality the feel can be quite different to what was imagined. I'm interested in someone who has played both - particularly since it is proving exceptionally difficult to find someone who stocks the SL88 in the north of England for me to try.

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#2552093 - 06/25/16 11:05 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
ElmerJFudd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1206
No but I have played the Fatar TP-40L on the Kurzweil PC3K8 - also used on the new Forte and the Nord Stage 2 EX. The Nord Piano 3 uses the TP-40W I believe.
You can read about the TP-40 variants here,
http://www.fatar.com/Pages/TP_40WOOD.htm

They've taken thin pieces of wood, perhaps just thicker than wood veneer and sandwiched them onto either side of each key on their TP-40 graded hammer compact action. The result is an aesthetically pleasing look. You see wood at the side of the keys as you press their neighbouring key out of the way. You'll have to play it for yourself to really be certain if it feels like what you imagine it will.

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#2552176 - 06/26/16 11:27 AM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: ElmerJFudd]
Fer De Armas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/15
Posts: 595
Hi, I agree with Elmer... I prefer the Kawai RHII/III key actions over all Fatar TP40 variants; and even over top notch key actions like TP40 Wood and Roland PHAIII/IV(p,c) and Yamaha GH3x, NW... Cheers!.

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#2552199 - 06/26/16 12:29 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Edb123 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/15
Posts: 99
Robert - u can buy the sl88 online and if u don't like it then just send it back under the 30 day money back guarantee

Most of the online retailers do this so no worries if u don't like it

http://www.gear4music.com/Keyboards-and-Pianos/Studiologic-SL-Grand-Controller-Keyboard/1IID
_________________________
Roland F20

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#2552375 - 06/27/16 10:42 AM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
Thanks for advice - It seems that the CA series is pretty much my best bet. Thanks to all.

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#2552377 - 06/27/16 10:48 AM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Fer De Armas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/15
Posts: 595
Hi Robert_JM, if you can please try the Kawai RHII/RHIII... IMHO these key actions are the more responsive and reliable in the market available today; even i prefer these plastic keys over the Kawai wooden options. Regards!.

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#2552411 - 06/27/16 12:18 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
Hi Fer De Armas,

I tried out the RH keys - I believe they are the keys in the ES8. They certainly are a step up from others, but from purely personal preference they weren't in the same league as the RM3.

I'm going to try a few out again later this week so will report back.

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#2552699 - 06/28/16 03:04 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Fer De Armas Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/15
Posts: 595
Hi Robert_JM, I agree with you in the fact that the Kawai RHII/III key actions are a step up over others like Roland PHAIII/IV(p,c), Fatar TP40 Wood and even Yamaha NW... Now, Kawai plastic actions vs the wooden ones, IMHO is a matter of personal taste; in my case I like the more organic and solid feel of wooden key actions, but i prefer the Kawai plastic ones because these are a more responsive and faster key actions... at the end key actions is a very subjective matter of personal tastes as I said above... Regards!.

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#2552704 - 06/28/16 03:16 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
ElmerJFudd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1206
Kawai Piano Action - RM3 vs Grand Feel


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#2552742 - 06/28/16 05:30 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
Hi Elmer,

I've seen that video and it makes interesting watching. I really want to know if anyone has played on both for significant time, and if there's a difference.

On a side note, a friend who has played on the GFII keybed has said that although the action is 'pretty good', the actual feel of the keys (the lacquer etc) is not at all attractive.

I know that touch and feel are subjective but I would expect more than that for something at this price point.

Any thoughts?

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#2552755 - 06/28/16 06:24 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
ElmerJFudd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1206
Are you in the US? What state?

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#2552760 - 06/28/16 06:58 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
RobertJM Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/22/16
Posts: 34
I'm in the UK, in the north west (Manchester).

I have the ability to try out a couple, which I have and will do again, but I'm really after a couple of opinions from more experienced players or musicians.

My love is basic rock and roll, a few very basic etudes, and playing for fun. I want to improve my technique and am happy looking in this price range - but would like as much info and opinions as possible.

Thanks!

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#2552777 - 06/28/16 08:16 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
Kawai James Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 12016
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Hello RobertJM,

Originally Posted By RobertJM
I'm in the UK, in the north west (Manchester).


Well, you are very well placed for music/piano shops - there are a handful of Kawai dealers within a few miles of each other:

http://www.kawai.co.uk/dealers.htm?scat=1&scountry=GB&stext=manchester

Originally Posted By RobertJM
I have the ability to try out a couple, which I have and will do again, but I'm really after a couple of opinions from more experienced players or musicians.


While certainly useful, the opinions of others can only get you so far. It's really best to visit some stores and play-test these instruments for yourself in order to truly get a sense of how they sound and feel.

Originally Posted By RobertJM
My love is basic rock and roll, a few very basic etudes, and playing for fun. I want to improve my technique and am happy looking in this price range - but would like as much info and opinions as possible.


I believe all of the mid/higher-end instruments will help you to develop technique, however it's also very important to have an experienced teacher to inform and guide you through your development.

Best of luck.

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

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#2552785 - 06/28/16 08:45 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: RobertJM]
ElmerJFudd Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1206
^^^

All good advice. Also, what I have been trying to elude to is that it helps to know which digital pianos use the same actions.

Kawai ES8, CN25 and CN35 all have the RHIII action - you want an ES8 but the shop only has a CN25 on the floor. If you must, you can assume they will feel very similar.

Tons of slab digital pianos, workstations and controllers use the Fatar TP-40 (Studio Logic SL88 Grand) and TP-100 actions. I don't think this is on your list at the moment, so I am not going to list a them.

The Roland RD-800, RP-401R, F-130R, HP-506, and HP-508 all use the PHA-4.

You get what I'm saying?

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#2552790 - 06/28/16 09:00 PM Re: Digital Piano/Keyboard Action [Re: ElmerJFudd]
Kawai James Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 12016
Loc: Hamamatsu, Japan
Originally Posted By ElmerJFudd
The Roland RD-800, RP-401R, F-130R, HP-506, and HP-508 all use the PHA-4.


I appreciate the general point that you are making, and it's true that the above instruments all use the same 4th generation of the PHA action, however there are some variations between the different action models (e.g. 'Concert' vs 'Standard') that may influence the keyboard's feeling to a greater or lesser extent.

RD-800: PHA-4 Concert Keyboard: with Escapement and Ebony/Ivory Feel
RP-401R: PHA-4 Standard Keyboard: with Escapement and Ivory Feel
F-130R: PHA-4 Standard Keyboard: with Escapement and Ivory Feel
HP-506: PHA-4 Concert Keyboard: with Escapement and Ebony/Ivory Feel
HP-508: PHA-4 Concert Keyboard: with Escapement and Ebony/Ivory Feel

Sorry for being a pedant :\

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

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