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#680077 - 02/05/09 12:28 PM Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
IanKP Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/04/09
Posts: 6
Hey Guys,

I bought a novation 61 SL remote a few weeks ago figuring I would have some fun with soft sythns and knob twiddling in programs like Reason. That only lasted a few days before I became drawn to the idea of learning how to play the piano. I've been at it for a few weeks now, making my way through Carl Humphries' The Piano Handbook and watching various YouTube vids, mostly Andrew Furmanczyk. Learned alot about theory, chords, how to read music, etc. I've now moved onto learning some basic songs. I know it sounds foolish, but I was so happy just learning Fara Jacque and Ode to Joy.

Anyhow, I've been reading, watching, and playing for a 1-2 hours every day now and I am hitting the point where this semi weighted keyboard just feels like a toy. I would like to ditch it and upgrade to a weighted/hammer action digital piano. I've been reading over the forums for the past few days here and I've got it narrowed down to the following:

Casio px-120
Casio px-320
Yamaha P 85
Yamaha YGP 635

I've seen the Yamaha YDP 140 mentioned a lot here, but it is a bit above my price range and I am not really keen on its look to be quite honest.

My primary interest at this point is to get something with good key action to take me through the next 6 months to a year of practice. Is there much difference between the PX 120 & PX 320, or does the 320 just feature more sound options? Same thing with the p 85 vs the ygp 635.

I really want to see if my interest sticks before I invest $1000-$2000 on a better one. Unfortunately, this Novation isn't going to cut it even for getting up to speed. The sound quality on the DP isn't as much of an issue for me as I always run it through my PC for a piano VST.

I really need to go and check some of these out in person, but I get so turned off going into places like Guitar Center. All the sales people at the ones I've been in are either 20 year olds with bones in their noses and chips on their shoulders, or 50 year old used car salesmen. Besides, I'd really feel silly going in there and playing Frara Jacque ;\) I really don't know what I'd even been looking for when I went into one of those places so I could use some extra opinions.

I've been reading and reading and flip floping over this decision all week. I really don't know what I'm looking for and I feel like I'm getting nowhere. I'd really appreciate any advice you guys could offer.

Thanks in advance.
Ian

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#680078 - 02/05/09 12:35 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17699
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by IanKP:
I really need to go and check some of these out in person, but I get so turned off going into places like Guitar Center. All the sales people at the ones I've been in are either 20 year olds with bones in their noses and chips on their shoulders, or 50 year old used car salesmen. Besides, I'd really feel silly going in there and playing Frara Jacque ;\) [/b]
LOL!! Welcome to the forum,IanKP. I like your sense of humor.

I think any of the models you've listed there would serve your needs well. And as much as you hate to hear this, the best way to choose among them would be for you to go out and try them. You may find yourself with a strong preference for the touch or usability of one model over the others.

If you're worried about playing in such a crowded setting, bring along your headphones and play to your heart's content. Nobody needs to know you're playing Frere Jacques. \:D

And after you get your new piano please come join us in the Adult Beginners forum. \:\)
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#680079 - 02/05/09 12:59 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
Seneca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 277
Loc: Portland, OR
Hey, Ian--

Don't worry about making mistakes. You'll make lots of mistakes. At least I do, every time I sit down to play the piano. So what if they're laughing at me? I'm sniggering at them, and at your bones in their noses and chips on their shoulders comment.

More seriously, maybe you should rent a keyboard for a couple of months, instead of hauling off and buying a better one. I'll bet that would be a much cheaper way to go. If you really get into piano in a year or so you will be yearning for an accoustic instrument, and it might be nice not to have anything more tied up in a keyboard.

Also, isn't Andrew Furmanczyk great! His enthusiasm, ability to communicate and disingenuous goofiness are truly remarkable. About the furthest thing from a guardian of the temple of culture and keeper of the sacred flame of music as you're going to find. More like a ski instructor introducing you to his sport and his mountain.
_________________________
Seneca
http://apachecadillac.blogspot.com/

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#680080 - 02/05/09 01:45 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
IanKP Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/04/09
Posts: 6
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:

If you're worried about playing in such a crowded setting, bring along your headphones and play to your heart's content. Nobody needs to know you're playing Frere Jacques. \:D
[/b]
Headphones or not, they will know. And they will laugh. And they will point. And they will post the security camera footage on YouTube and I will be RUINED!

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#680081 - 02/05/09 01:48 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17699
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
\:D \:D \:D
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#680082 - 02/05/09 01:50 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
IanKP Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/04/09
Posts: 6
 Quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
Hey, Ian--

Don't worry about making mistakes. You'll make lots of mistakes. At least I do, every time I sit down to play the piano. So what if they're laughing at me? I'm sniggering at them, and at your bones in their noses and chips on their shoulders comment.
[/b]
I'm not so concerned about making mistakes on the piano, I was more referring to my error in buying a semi weighted keyboard. I've read so much in the past few days about digital pianos and I just don't want to make another mistake by buying a 500 dollar piano when a 700 or 800 dollar one would be much more appropriate.

What I am trying to figure out is if there is any actual difference between the pianos I listed, or are all the ones in the $500 - $1000 range pretty much the same in terms of feel and quality, just with different bells and whistles.

I guess a lot of my hesitation has to do with the fact that I only know a few scales and extremely basic songs. How can I use those to judge if the DP I am buying is actually decent.

Thank you both for your posts, Monica and Seneca.

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#680083 - 02/05/09 03:17 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
Triryche Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/06
Posts: 1451
Loc: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Delayed reaction: I just got the bones in their noses reference (I think).

The 2 Yamahas you listed may have the same keybeds, and the 2 Casios may have the same keybeds, therefore having very similar feeling action.
But the difference between the Casio and Yamaha will be different.

I know all to well the frustration of trying to make a decision with so little experience. When I was shopping for a DP, I could barely tell the difference in action. At first I was thinking, I’ll get the cheapest I can for now and save up for something better after I know what I’m looking for. I researched for about 3 months and originally started with a $300-$500 budget, but since I knew I was going to be a lifer, I ended up rationalizing a $2000 Yamaha S90es.

Anyways, I can tell you all 4 boards you listed are respectable for their price range (IMHO).

Good Luck!!

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#680084 - 02/05/09 04:08 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
In light of the fact that you've just
started, a couple of the things you said
really stand out and set off alarm bells
in my mind.

First, there is the thing about the Novation
being a "toy." This is not good, in my
view, because this is far from a toy.
This is a serious instrument that you
can play anything on. The clunky instrument
J. S. Bach played on had only 49 keys and
nothing like the grand piano sound your
piano has. On 61 keys you play all of
Bach and most if not all of Mozart, more
music than you could play in several lifetimes.
The unweighted keys are somewhat less
than ideal, but this won't prevent you
from switching to an acoustic piano or
weighted digital at any time. It is not uncommon
for people to take several yrs. of classical
lessons using a $100, 61-key unweighted
portable keyboard. So, for starters, ditch
this idea of this being a toy. This
is a real piano, in its own way.

The second thing that alarms me is the
statement about you wanting a weighted digital
to take you "through the next 6 mos. to
1 yr. of practicing." Just 1 yr.? And then
what? With the piano, you typically need
something like 5-10 yrs. of experience, "just
to get your feet wet," so to speak.

You've only been at it a few weeks
thus far, and that's not long
enough, in my view, to make
any kind of decisions about the nature
of playing the piano. I would stay with
the Novation for at least 6 mos.--better
one yr. or more--before you make any kind
of conclusions about your relationship
to the piano. The dropout rate with
the piano is high, and in 6 mos.--regardless
of what you're practicing on (many people
buy big grand pianos to learn on and
you see a lot of these in the classified
ads for sale, after the owners lost
interest in playing)--you might
find that this is not what you want to
spend your time on.

As for the 4 weighted digitals you listed,
if you're absolutely set on getting one,
I would buy the least expensive, which
is apparently the PX-120. This will
play grand piano-like, and you'd never
really be able to outgrow it, because
you can't outgrow a grand piano-like
instrument.

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#680085 - 02/05/09 04:12 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
jeffkretz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/09
Posts: 29
While there is a certain level of subjectiveness about playing the DP, I cannot agree with Gyro's post.

While I haven't personally played with the Novation, I use an M-Audio 88 and I have the exact same feeling -- toy. When I went to the piano store and tried out a more expensive DP (and an acoustic while I was there) there was a WORLD of difference.

JK

P.S. Oh, and when I took a song I had practiced on my Prokeys and played on a real acoustic grand, it did not feel the same, didn't sound the same and the voicing was way off.

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#680086 - 02/05/09 04:22 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Another thing about a piano like the Novation
is that it's just plain fun (it's like a
"toy" you play with). You play
it through your computer and transform your pc
into essentially a grand piano, which is
part of the fun. It's also light
and compact and convenient.

With an 88-key weighted digital piano, you're
going to have to sit down at it, like
on an upright piano in a living room, and you're
going to have to work to get the weighted
keys moving under your fingers, which can
take a lot of the fun out of playing.
So I would be in no rush to get to that situation.
Enjoy the fun of playing on something
like the Novation while you still can.

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#680087 - 02/05/09 04:50 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
jazzyprof Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2598
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:

With an 88-key weighted digital piano, you're
going to have to sit down at it, like
on an upright piano in a living room, and you're
going to have to work to get the weighted
keys moving under your fingers, which can
take a lot of the fun out of playing.
[/b]
Part of the fun in playing the piano is the feel of the keys, the way they respond to your touch, the resistance they offer to your fingers, the way you can control the volume with pressure. For learning to play the piano correctly and for enjoying the process, a weighted keyboard is essential, contrary to what Gyro says. Playing on a weighted keyboard also prepares you for the day you take delivery of your $75,000 Steinway...your fingers will have been properly trained!

I have played both the Casio PX-120 and PX-320. I haven't tried the Yamahas you listed but I own a Yamaha P-120S, a Yamaha P-250, and an old Kurzweill PC88. You can't beat the Casio PX-120 in terms of bang for the buck (less than $500). It has a good feel, the keys are appropriately weighted, the piano sounds are excellent, the instrument is quite light so you can schlep it around without throwing out your back. For about $200 more the PX-320 offers better sound and more features. Either one should serve you well for several years as you learn to play piano. But you really need to go to your local store to try out the merchandise and decide on the basis of how the instrument sounds and feels to you.

For comparisons between the Casio and Yamaha DP's you listed, check out this thread:
Casio PX-320 vs Yamaha P85
_________________________
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#680088 - 02/05/09 06:09 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
jeffkretz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/22/09
Posts: 29
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
... and you're going to have to work to get the weighted keys moving under your fingers, which can take a lot of the fun out of playing. ...[/b]
The flipside to this, is that the more time you spend on an unweighted keyboard, the more you have to unlearn when you get a better one.

I learned to play Linus and Lucy (Ab) on an unweighted keyboard and it sounded pretty good. When I started using the Prokeys, which is weighted, it sounded terrible. I had some bad habits to get rid of before it started sounding good again.

JK

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#680089 - 02/06/09 04:54 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
MonksDream Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/08/08
Posts: 101
Loc: Vancouver, BC
IanKP - welcome to the world of piano ticklers! A few points to consider:

- the Novation 61 SL is not a toy. It is a MIDI controller, and a pretty good one at that. It's not meant to be used a piano. If you don't want to keep it you may be able to return it to the place you bought it for a refund or a credit towards a keyboard you do want.

- from what you've said my advice would be to go with the Casios. The PX120 and PX320 have the same keybed and basic piano sound. The difference is the 320 has more sounds and features. Whether that's worth the extra $200 is up to you. I think the PXs are the best values in the market, especially for beginners.

- don't be ashamed of your playing when choosing a piano, particularly in front of salespeople. You're there to pick out an instrument not impress the sales staff. They hear people from rank beginners to seasoned professionals every day. If anything you should should feel sorry for them. The reason they've got that chip on their shoulder is they'd rather be somewhere else playing music. Think of them as a necessary evil. They will have no lasting affect on your playing or your life.

- most music stores will have headphones available for you to use while trying out instruments. It will make the salespeople more civil because they won't have to listen to you play Frere Jacques over and over and over. That's one of the things that makes them want to be somewhere else.

None of the foregoing will matter once you're at home with your new piano and feeling the joy of getting a new tune under your fingers. Concentrate on that an the rest will fade to unimportance. All the best to you as you follow your path!

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#680090 - 02/06/09 07:23 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
Glenn NK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 457
Loc: Victoria BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by IanKP:
Hey Guys,

. . . I'd really feel silly going in there and playing Frara Jacque ;\) I really don't know what I'd even been looking for when I went into one of those places so I could use some extra opinions.

Ian [/b]
Ian:

I started lessons in 1946 (not a typo), and am good enough to not be embarrassed playing in public. In spite of this, I'm not comfortable playing around strangers in music stores.

My solution: I take my favourite headphones, and plug them into the DP which cuts out the speakers so that no one else can hear me playing.

This enables me to do all sorts of "silly" things that I don't want someone else to hear.

As for getting the "right" DP, just spend as much time as you can "practicing" on the store's keyboards. In time, you'll come to a decision - but it takes time.

Glenn

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#680091 - 02/07/09 12:09 AM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
IanKP Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/04/09
Posts: 6
I went to guitar center tonight. I forgot one that my friend's wife there, that made things less intimidating.

I got to test out the Casio PX 120 & 320 and Yamaha YGP 635, P 85, & YDP 140.

I was surprised, the 2 I had narrowed down as my most likely choices turned out to be my least favorite - the PX 120 and YGP 635.

And I hate to admit it, but I loved the YDP 140. The throw on the keys and the matte finish just felt great. I would have bought it right then and there, price be damned, but I really need something more portable since I live in an apartment.

I really wanted to try out the Yamaha P 140, but they didn't have it. Does anyone know if the P 140 and YDP 140 share the same keybed? From what I've read, the 155 is coming out in a few months, but that is going to be around $1200 and I really don't want to wait another 2 months.


I know the Novation isn't junk or a toy. It is a great midi controller and the automap features actually work as advertised. It just doesn't feel very good trying to play it as a piano. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to do some knob twiddling.

Thanks everyone for the advice, my quest continues!

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#680092 - 02/07/09 12:31 AM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
jscomposer Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/08
Posts: 537
Loc: The Boogie Down
The YDP140 and P85 both have the same action. So if you liked the feel of the YDP140 and want something less expensive and portable, I'd go with the P85. Keep in mind that if the P85 were on a wobbly stand, that could've effected your perception of how it feels. On a sturdy stand it should feel just like the YDP140.
_________________________
Joshua Seth plays Joshua Seth

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#680093 - 02/07/09 11:36 AM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8482
Loc: Ohio, USA
P140 has GH action while P85 and YDP140 have GHS, an entry level graded hammer action. you can tell the difference if you play the both.

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#680094 - 02/15/09 09:06 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
IanKP Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/04/09
Posts: 6
I ended up going with the Korg SP 250. It is coming tomorrow. It feels like Christmas eve right now \:\)

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#680095 - 02/15/09 09:48 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
Horwinkle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/08
Posts: 1011
 Quote:
Originally posted by Gyro:
With an 88-key weighted digital piano, you're
going to have to sit down at it, like
on an upright piano in a living room, and you're
going to have to work to get the weighted
keys moving under your fingers, which can
take a lot of the fun out of playing.[/b]
Or, to paraphrase ...

A DP with weighted keys is too much like a real piano. Don't go there!

Instead, enjoy some cheap keyboard thingie, one that's nothing like a piano, and relish its un-piano-like nature. Only later should you suffer from having to actually sit in front of a DP (groan!) and struggle (groan!) to push those heavy keys (groan!).

HUH ??!!??!!??!!??!!??!!??!!??!!??!!??

(Saints preserve us.)

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#680096 - 02/15/09 10:01 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
IanKP Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/04/09
Posts: 6
Is gyro some kind of gag account?

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#680097 - 02/15/09 10:10 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
AnotherSchmoe Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/06
Posts: 499
Loc: Arkansas
 Quote:
Originally posted by IanKP:
Is gyro some kind of gag account? [/b]
I'm beginning to wonder. I'm starting to regret defending him in the past, his posts have always been somewhat unorthodox but lately they've just been getting downright insane. Anyone in their right mind would prefer to play on weighted-keys than on cheap plasticy ones with no substance to them. Oh well.
_________________________

http://www.youtube.com/user/AnotherSchmoe

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#680098 - 02/15/09 10:24 PM Re: Help an eager beginner avoid another mistake
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17699
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by IanKP:
I ended up going with the Korg SP 250. It is coming tomorrow. It feels like Christmas eve right now \:\) [/b]
Congratulations on your new piano, Ian. We love ALL the nitty gritty details of shopping stories, so please fill us in on how you went from your short list of four to a piano that wasn't even on it. \:D

...and don't disappear on us. Come over to AB forum. \:\)
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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