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#58443 - 12/03/08 10:59 AM The smallest, lightest piano for gigging/touring?
midas224 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/24/08
Posts: 1
Hello all -

I'm the resident piano/organ/synth guy for a smallish indie rock band signed to an equally small indie label. The time has come for another tour and this time I'm dead set on taking along an actual acoustic piano. Until now we've toured with my Nord Electro 2 which has gotten the job done, but now I want something that is as expressive as our recordings, in which I used both uprights and baby grands.

The problem is, of course, finding the right piano to take on tour. So I submit to you, Piano World Forums, this question: what is the smallest, lightest piano you have encountered? Of course I don't mean toy pianos or any other novelty items. I'm talking actual pianos that, for one reason or another, were built small and light.

I've done a bit of research so far but information has proven hard to come by. I've been particularly interested in pianos that were built with fewer than 88 keys. Since this piano is being used primarily in a rock context (as opposed to classical or other genres that use the majority of the keyboard) I don't really have much use for the top and/or bottom octaves. What I've found follows:

1. The Eavestaff Pianette - Also known as the Minipiano, I saw a few pictures of one on eBay once and I believe this thing has fewer than 88 keys. Apart from this site I haven't been able to find much about it, but it seems like it might be one of the smaller/lighter models out there.

2. Certain Aeolian models - One of my favorite bands around today and one of my biggest influences in playing style is The Walkmen. When they re-recorded Harry Nilsson's classic "Pussy Cats" they gave a lengthy interview to Sound on Sound regarding their process. It can be found here . Here's the relevant quote:

Another big part of the sound of Pussy Cats Starring The Walkmen is the studio's Aeolian, the latest in a rather long line of beat-up pianos. "We keep on buying five-octave pianos because they're actually small enough to take on tour. Three people can carry them, but they're so heavy to treat carefully and they get beat up."

I haven't been able to find any more information on what model of Aeolian they might be referring to, since it appears that Aeolian primarily manufactured player pianos and that's all that ever comes up in eBay and Google searches. If anyone knows what model they are referring to, or where I might be able to purchase one, please let me know. This piano sounds absolutely perfect for my needs.

3. Traincar pianos - An employee in a music store once told me that he had heard of pianos that used to be made small enough to fit inside the sleeper cars of trains. He speculated that perhaps they were made with less than 88 keys, but I haven't been able to find anything else out about these "traincar pianos."

Any information you guys have on this topic would be greatly appreciated. For what it's worth, I'm not looking for any kind of piano emulator, virtual instrument, or sampling solution. I've been down all those roads, and none are as expressive as I need them to be. I am totally okay with vintage, old, antique, beat-up, pianos. I understand that touring/gigging with an acoustic piano is difficult, and that most bands today use keyboard emulators, but I'm not satisfied with that approach any longer.

Thanks in advance!

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#58444 - 12/03/08 01:15 PM Re: The smallest, lightest piano for gigging/touring?
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
Buy a Yamaha CP70B (or CP80 if you can find one). If you get lucky you can get an M model with midi.

Back when I was younger and stronger I could actually haul mine all by myself.
"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!

#58445 - 12/03/08 03:12 PM Re: The smallest, lightest piano for gigging/touring?
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 23756
Loc: Oakland
Or a CP 60, if you can find one. The problem with all of these Yamahas is that they are difficult to tune.

If you want an acoustic, and are traveling with a truck and equipment, it is actually easier to move grand pianos than uprights, if you know how. Steinways are among the lightest. You might be able to find an old M at a good price, fix up the action, take it on tour, then rebuild the body and strings, and sell it for enough to get back everything you paid for it.
Semipro Tech

#58446 - 12/03/08 03:49 PM Re: The smallest, lightest piano for gigging/touring?
gryphon Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/09/01
Posts: 11678
Loc: Okemos, MI
Originally posted by BDB:
Or a CP 60, if you can find one. The problem with all of these Yamahas is that they are difficult to tune.[/b]
I didn't even know Yamaha ever made a CP60. I just looked it up and see it's an upright.

I always found my CP70 easy to tune. I didn't do the same tuning my RPT does on my Estonia, but using an electronic tuner I always found it more than adequate. For gigging I don't think there would be any problem whatsoever. I think it is a great piano. It's just that with these new keyboards now, like the new CP300 or RD700SX who wants to carry these heavy pianos around, even if they are real?
"If we lose freedom here, there's no place to escape to."
MSU - the university of Michigan!

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#58447 - 12/03/08 11:00 PM Re: The smallest, lightest piano for gigging/touring?
RealPlayer Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 2464
Loc: NYC
Maybe contact the guy who started the nearby thread, "Harrington piano with folding keyboard." Make him an offer! \:D


#58448 - 12/05/08 12:13 PM Re: The smallest, lightest piano for gigging/touring?
Supply Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 3919
Loc: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
Helpenstill piano
Jurgen Goering
Piano Forte Supply

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#58449 - 12/05/08 09:45 PM Re: The smallest, lightest piano for gigging/touring?
Brian Bennett Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/02/07
Posts: 129
Loc: Salt Lake City, Utah
How I wish Yamaha still produced them. Mine is beaten up and I would love new one.

Schimmel 213 NWS, Yamaha MOTIF XS8, Roland RDX700, Roland Jupiter 6, Akai S3000XL sampler (just for fun)

#58450 - 12/06/08 06:26 AM Re: The smallest, lightest piano for gigging/touring?
Gregor Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/31/08
Posts: 451
Loc: Münster, Germany
I owned a CP70 for years and liked it, but it was realy hard to tune. Furthermore, the touchweight was much too heavy for me. But the sound is legend! I am playing in a band as well, but I switched to a digital piano.

I recommend looking for a small Schimmel upright. In my opinion Schimmel is the company that built the best sounding small pianos. Of course, there are many small uprights on the market, but I think the Schimmels sound better than other small uprights. Aside perhaps from the Grotrian Steinweg 100.

There was a Schimmel Mod. 100 (100 cm) and the Schimmel Capricio (97 cm) which you could get used. Smaller than that is difficult. You can get e.g. a Manthey Klaviano with 90 cm, but that´s garbage. And many of these small uprights have a drop action and that´s garbage too.

piano tech - tuner - dealer
Münster, Germany


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