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#2558236 - 07/23/16 05:00 PM Better DP Action for Learning?
slickvguy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/20/14
Posts: 11
Hi. Haven't posted in quite some time, but have been reading hundreds upon hundreds of posts. Thanks to everyone for their contributions!

Finally getting around to buying a new DP within the next week or so. Have been studying and testing for about 6 weeks.

Background: I am 53. Have played piano since I was about 14. Self-taught. Mainly pop/contemporary (a lot of Joe Jackson), a little jazz, improv, etc. Do not really play classical - but want to learn classical, more jazz, to get my mechanics going and UNLEARN some very bad habits (e.g. I play too hard and use the sustain pedal way too much).

I've narrowed it down to just a few models. Mainly the HP-603 and the HP-504 (or DP90Se). CLP-535/CLP-545 are in the hunt too. I've played the Kawais, but the CA67 is too expensive and a bit too "slow" for me (as great as the keys felt) and I prefer the higher-end ROland actions vs. the Kawai RHIII. DP will wind up being used primarily as a controller. VPC1 is out because I have no opportunity to play it and I wont' buy something w/o playing it. Bear in mind that I live in Canada, thus match-ups are different vs. Europe.

I find the PHA4 Premium/Concert action a bit harder and heavier versus the PHA-50 action (though not as hard as the GH3X action). Going by action alone, which one is "better" for me over the long run if I'm going to LEARN to play classical and jazz? To improve my mechanics? Or does it not really matter? Unfortunately, I'm used to my very old Yamaha PF85's action which has probably messed up my touch for life. lol. It was weighted, not graded, and quite plasticy.

Bottom line: should I go with the lighter action or the heavier action (though not too heavy, which was the case with the P255's GH for example)?

Thank you!

Edited by slickvguy (07/23/16 05:03 PM)


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#2558296 - 07/24/16 12:26 AM Re: Better DP Action for Learning? [Re: slickvguy]
Groove On Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/15
Posts: 642
I recommmend learning how to adjust a keyboard's light/heavy settings, and even a keyboard's global tone/character/brilliance settings. I found that this could significantly chang my perception of how a keyboard felt and performed. It also gave me a better sense of the "key to sound connection" and helped clarify how the "keys" really felt as opposed to just judging everything by the keyboard's default factory settings. Its similar to changing the way an acoustic piano behaves by getting it regulated a certain way, except on a digital you can make the changes yourself. At the very least, learn how to reset the piano to its default setting so that you have a baseline to compare.

I enjoy reading online about's people's experiences and opinions of keyboard's they've tried, but it's always with the knowledge that I don't know what settings they used or in the case of acoustics - how the acoustic has been regulated. With that in mind "some dude's" critical or gushing online comment really can't carry much weight. And you may not even be sure that your experience with a piano is a good representation of the piano until you know what settings you were playing with.

FWIW - for many digitals, I found that I preferred to set the keys to a "lighter" setting, this made them feel more "responsive" and closer to the acoustics that I normally play on.
Acoustic Upright + Roland FP-30
The question is, am I making music or just playing a bunch of notes?

#2558310 - 07/24/16 03:18 AM Re: Better DP Action for Learning? [Re: slickvguy]
slickvguy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/20/14
Posts: 11
When I test/play a DP in a store, I make sure to try and do a factory reset before starting. Usually not difficult to find in the "function" menu. At the very least, turning it off and on will usually reset most of the parameters.

I agree that making adjustments can make a significant difference in some ways. As well, the underlying action is what it is. I also play them without being turned on in order to remove the sound from influencing the feel. It's a very different feeling, but worth trying.

I was hoping to get opinions from a few experienced pianists re: heavy or light action being better to learn on. My gut tells me that lighter action would be better, but I could be completely wrong.

#2558314 - 07/24/16 03:47 AM Re: Better DP Action for Learning? [Re: slickvguy]
Charles Cohen Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 3448
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
I think this is one of those questions where many people have opinions, but very few have any data to back them up.

You'd need some _very_ experienced teachers, who had tried "matched pairs" of students -- one on a heavy action, one on a light action -- and seen which one learned "better". I doubt that anyone has done the experiment.

The only warning I'd give:

. . . Don't practice using the DP's speakers, with the DP volume level turned down.

That tends to lead to "pounding", as you try to get a reasonable volume out of the choked DP.

All the DP's on your list have decent actions. Find one you like to play, and live with it. And play an acoustic, whenever you have the chance, just to remind yourself what a "real piano" feels like, and sounds like.
. Charles
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / Korg Wavedrum / EV ZXA1 speaker

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#2558322 - 07/24/16 06:19 AM Re: Better DP Action for Learning? [Re: slickvguy]
kapelli Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 792
Loc: Poland

I think that unless you want to play La Campanella with the speed of Kissing, there is nothing to be worried about Kawai action speed, but if you feel uncomfortable with it there is no sense to buy it, however, for sure it will be not limiting you.

#2560726 - 08/03/16 03:04 AM Re: Better DP Action for Learning? [Re: slickvguy]
slickvguy Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/20/14
Posts: 11
Ended up buying something I had never played before. Got very lucky. Found a very lightly used Roland HP-508 at a great price! Finally!!! I had been looking for a not-too-old used Roland or Kawai for about 2 months.

I had to drive over 6 hours to go and get it. Tested it. Paid the lady. Disassembled it. Wrapped it in moving blankets rented from U-haul and stuck it in my daughter's Mazda3 hatchback. Then immediately drove home another 6 hours. Lugged it up 5 flights of stairs. Re-assembled it yesterday. Working perfectly. Very, very pleased with it. laugh

Edited by slickvguy (08/03/16 03:08 AM)

#2560728 - 08/03/16 03:25 AM Re: Better DP Action for Learning? [Re: slickvguy]
peterws Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/21/12
Posts: 6009
Loc: Northern England.
That was a good find. Those instruments were going cheap after the 603 and 605 came out, acnd avftebrn Id bought something else! Have fun.
"I am not a man. I am a free number"


#2560799 - 08/03/16 11:51 AM Re: Better DP Action for Learning? [Re: peterws]
drewr Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/16
Posts: 201
Loc: Pennsylvania

You did well to fit a 508 into a hatchback. I did too but used the shipping boxes. The one for piano top fit into a subaru but just barely, the one end was pushed snug against the passenger seat back at an angle such that the other end barely cleared the hatch rear windshield .... close call but no room for the stand/box. It was only 3 hours drive one way so this was not too bad for a two-trip move.

I too got the 508 somewhat unexpectedly, had been looking for a more stationary complement to portable ( ES7 ). In 14' when I was searching and reading to home in on purchasing a portable, the 508 / literature was among numerous models studied but at that time it was well beyond the price range I had settled on. When it got to be 15 months later and looking for a console it just happened to be within a week or so after Roland announced the new LX7 and POOF! the 508 price instantly reduced to something more reasonable.

I do not have the years of playing experience you do so, yes, the two actions feel different but to me tbe difference is not something I sense as heavier/lighter. As a typical beginner I struggle with consistent dynamics appropriate for a given piece and overall tend to play too loud ..... actions too light for my fingers so to speak. Recently Ive been experimenting with virtual touch features / settings adjusted towards light ( Light+ Kawai, Lighter 30 Roland). Both brands make this easy but the Roland implementation makes it very easy to change on the fly while playing / practicing with the press of one button.

The 508 seems an interesting choice for eventually using as a controller. If you have a hankering to learn more classical, the included masterpieces and practice pieces should be nice supplements for this endeavor; good luck!


Edited by drewrst (08/03/16 11:53 AM)
- Kawai MP7 w/ MDR7506 phones and LSR308 monitors
- Roland HP-508


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