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#695686 - 11/05/07 08:53 AM Buying a Stage Piano - Best Four or Five?
pcoldham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/07
Posts: 11
Hi everyone,

I'm a 22-year-old British student, living in Barcelona and looking to buy an Electric STAGE PIANO! By the way, I'm new to the forums and am really impressed with them.

Here are my four main priorities (two are big ones, two not so big):

1. Obviously, that the piano feel and sound as close as possible to the real thing[/b].
2. That it have a bunch of funky sounds[/b] and maybe even a mixer (?) -- Rhodes, Hammond, Wurlitzer, a pitch bender if possible, some sort of funky guitarish sound. I am classically trained but mostly play jazz and funk, so this is kind of a priority and I guess might be a sticking point.

3. That is be computer-compatible with a Mac[/b] -- I'd quite like to fiddle around and compose some songs and beats.
4. That it be portable[/b] - I am kind of a Gypsy and would like to be able to have it strapped on my back.

Most I've seen have been about the same price -- 1000 euros. Though I don't mind paying more if it's really worth it. I *think* if it wasn't twice as expensive as all the others, I'd probably buy a Clavia Nord 88 since it has so many fab features and emulators, nobs to fiddle with -- plus, I really love the colour! But it's bloody pricey. Who has one of these?! Professionals I suppose.

The main model I have looked at so far is the Roland FP-4[/b] -- nice, responsive touch; good sound; and quite lightweight (more so than the FP-7 I'm told). Good plain-vanilla piano I thought. But I'm not sure if it has all the sound features of something like the Nord (?).

What I really want to know is[/b] - Whom are my main four or five competitorsfor this kind of keybord? (As I gather, it might be the Kawai MP5, Roland FP-7 or RX-200SX, Casio? What about Casio? Or the Nord Electro 2 73?) Any brief info on their main pitfalls and benefits would be great. I promise you all that I've scoured the forum, but there's just too much info to get the picture, so if anyone fancies they can boil it down a bit and try and profile the main warhorses, I'll be greatly appreciative!!

I am going out this Thursday to look in all the music shops and make up my mind. I realise reading these forums how easy it is to agonise over all this for ages -- me, I'm just going to make my decision and then pretend it's the only one in the world!

Thanks in advance,

Peter

P.S. Has anyone any experience in ordering direct from the U.S. to Europe? I thought this might come out cheaper, with the dollar so low and the euro high.

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#695687 - 11/05/07 03:00 PM Re: Buying a Stage Piano - Best Four or Five?
Stephen Hazel Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 734
Loc: Seattle-ish, WA
Check out the Yamaha CP-33, too.
Not a ton of sounds, but it's got all the good ones with pretty high quality samples, etc.
_________________________
...Steve
http://PianoCheetah.com - writing my own piano practice program ...yeah, I'm crazy like that

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#695688 - 11/05/07 03:57 PM Re: Buying a Stage Piano - Best Four or Five?
wruess Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Northern California, USA
 Quote:
Here are my four main priorities (two are big ones, two not so big):

1. Obviously, that the piano feel and sound as close as possible to the real thing.
2. That it have a bunch of funky sounds and maybe even a mixer (?) -- Rhodes, Hammond, Wurlitzer, a pitch bender if possible, some sort of funky guitarish sound. I am classically trained but mostly play jazz and funk, so this is kind of a priority and I guess might be a sticking point.

3. That is be computer-compatible with a Mac -- I'd quite like to fiddle around and compose some songs and beats.
4. That it be portable - I am kind of a Gypsy and would like to be able to have it strapped on my back.
Unfortunately, your priorities #1 and #4 are more or less mutually exclusive. The 'best' stage pianos, sound and feel-wise are gonna be heavier than you would like strapped to your back. BTW the Nord, as expensive as it is, has a semi-weighted keyboard which doesn't feel like a real piano. Anyway, be prepared to compromise between portability and sound/feel.

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#695689 - 11/05/07 06:32 PM Re: Buying a Stage Piano - Best Four or Five?
pcoldham Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/04/07
Posts: 11
 Quote:
Originally posted by wruess:
 Quote:
Here are my four main priorities (two are big ones, two not so big):

1. Obviously, that the piano feel and sound as close as possible to the real thing.
2. That it have a bunch of funky sounds and maybe even a mixer (?) -- Rhodes, Hammond, Wurlitzer, a pitch bender if possible, some sort of funky guitarish sound. I am classically trained but mostly play jazz and funk, so this is kind of a priority and I guess might be a sticking point.

3. That is be computer-compatible with a Mac -- I'd quite like to fiddle around and compose some songs and beats.
4. That it be portable - I am kind of a Gypsy and would like to be able to have it strapped on my back.
Unfortunately, your priorities #1 and #4 are more or less mutually exclusive. The 'best' stage pianos, sound and feel-wise are gonna be heavier than you would like strapped to your back. BTW the Nord, as expensive as it is, has a semi-weighted keyboard which doesn't feel like a real piano. Anyway, be prepared to compromise between portability and sound/feel. [/b]
Good point. Let me clarify and say portability over realism - it needs to be more or less carriable really. Thx for the info on the Nord. I guess I want a weighted keyboard as opposed to semi-weighted, right?

P

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#695690 - 11/05/07 07:19 PM Re: Buying a Stage Piano - Best Four or Five?
wruess Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/09/07
Posts: 120
Loc: Northern California, USA
 Quote:
I guess I want a weighted keyboard as opposed to semi-weighted, right?
Well, IMO if you primarily want to play piano and piano-like patches, then yes. If you only have one keyboard and want to play piano and organ and synth patches, then maybe you would want to compromise on the action.

Some different opinions posted on this thread also: http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/6/3696.html

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#695691 - 11/05/07 08:11 PM Re: Buying a Stage Piano - Best Four or Five?
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3017
Loc: Oregon
 Quote:
Originally posted by pcoldham:


Here are my four main priorities (two are big ones, two not so big):

1. Obviously, that the piano feel and sound as close as possible to the real thing[/b].
2. That it have a bunch of funky sounds[/b] and maybe even a mixer (?) -- Rhodes, Hammond, Wurlitzer, a pitch bender if possible, some sort of funky guitarish sound. I am classically trained but mostly play jazz and funk, so this is kind of a priority and I guess might be a sticking point.

3. That is be computer-compatible with a Mac[/b] -- I'd quite like to fiddle around and compose some songs and beats.
4. That it be portable[/b] - I am kind of a Gypsy and would like to be able to have it strapped on my back.

[/b]
I have the Roland RD300SX. This ticks a number of your boxes: It is relatively lightweight (about 15.5kg) and slim (much less bulky than the RD700SX); it has a pitch bend/modulation lever; it will connect to either PC or Mac via USB (although I've never tried this); it has reasonable Rhodes and Wurly emulations, plus organs with a controllable Leslie simulator; it can do guitar (not something I ever use); the main piano patch is superb. The other really positive factor is the 128-note polyphony and individual samples of all 88 piano keys.

The downsides: the action takes a little getting used to - it is not as good as the 700 or some of the Yamahas but, because of its slightly "spongy" feel as it bottoms out, it is much less wearing on the hands when playing for extended periods. However, it can be played expressively. My Nord Electro2 73 has much better Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds but leaves a lot to be desired in the acoustic piano department, and the action is totally unsuitable for expressive piano playing.

If you want a really lightweight alternative, you could do a lot worse than the Korg X50. Even though it has a synth keyboard and limited sample layers, it has a great sound palette that encompasses all the areas you asked for, and is (surprisingly) capable of being played with expression. It also includes pitch and modulation wheels and some real-time controllers. You could strap it on your back, no problem. I bought a Nord Wave 61 gig bag for mine and it fits well. Strap the Roland to your back and you might find you're leaving a trail in the dirt as you walk! Can you make do with 61 keys, though?

Good luck with your search.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

https://soundcloud.com/richards-recordings/sets/strange-charm-waiting-for-the/s-ppGuy

"can hardly wait to hear what voxpox has to say..."
[HisKidd, May 2014]

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#695692 - 11/05/07 08:23 PM Re: Buying a Stage Piano - Best Four or Five?
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3017
Loc: Oregon
I forgot to mention that I also have the Casio PX-310. This is about to be superseded by the 320. The 310 has a great Wurlitzer patch and quite good Rhodes and acoustic pianos (but poor organs and no "Leslie"). It is very lightweight (12kg or so) and has reasonable practice speakers. There's no pitch/modulation control and the 32-note poly can be limiting under certain circumstances. There is also noticeable lag when playing a lot of big chords fast. The new 320 will have 128 poly and better piano sample layers. However, I'm not sure whether the original (rather good) Rhodes and Wurly patches will still be there - when I tried the other new Casio models I didn't like the Rhodes patch that was accessible from the front panel buttons.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

https://soundcloud.com/richards-recordings/sets/strange-charm-waiting-for-the/s-ppGuy

"can hardly wait to hear what voxpox has to say..."
[HisKidd, May 2014]

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#695693 - 11/06/07 06:00 AM Re: Buying a Stage Piano - Best Four or Five?
Quafadas Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/28/07
Posts: 56
Loc: London, UK
I have the Kawai MP5, and love the action. Its also very easy (two button presses) to turn the touch sensitivity off for organ sounds if you wish. I have nearly no experience with organ sounds, so can't answer for their fidelity, but I'm enjoying them! I mostly play piano, but needed a portable one, hence my choice.

I haven't had occasion to carry it around yet, but I don't think it'll be too hard (its about 20kg -and I weigh more than it does \:\) ).

As regards the America thing - I too looked at this. I found the price to be generally the same, but in dollars. So roughly half price. However I was lead to believe there are issues with voltage, which would be solvable with a knowledge of basic electronics. The big one for me is the service, I asked around a little, but found that if I did (haven't yet) had problems, local dealers and indeed Kawai UK didn't really want to know, if there were any issues, I was lead to believe I'd have to ship it back to America. This sounded inconvienient.

Finally I believe there may be customs issues. I was lead to believe there is some sort of tax on imports above a certain value. I happened to have an uncle who was coming over and may (not sure) have been able to get it into the country - as a 'used' item - under the pretext of personal use, avoiding this tax.

I ultimately decided that if, by coincidence I was going to go out there in the forseeable future, I would have bought it out there. However importing it seemed a little uncertain. You might find that all, or none of the above apply, and if there do there are certainly solutions to all of them. I decided against the hassle however, and bought it from a local shop.

Does this sound right to anyone else?
_________________________
Simon

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#695694 - 11/06/07 12:32 PM Re: Buying a Stage Piano - Best Four or Five?
voxpops Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 3017
Loc: Oregon
As far as I'm aware, Customs usually want their pound of flesh on big-ticket items. The carrier charged me for the customs duty on one item I had shipped from the US to the UK. However, even after paying duty, you may still find that you're making a big saving. I used to live in the UK but moved to America - the prices here in the States are way better than in the UK for music gear, and the pound will now buy 2.08 dollars. I suppose you just have to weigh up whether the risk and worry are worth it. As for voltage, many keyboards (particularly the lightweight ones) have external power supplies. If a particular one is not multi-voltage, it would not be that expensive to order a replacement where you live.

One thing about organ sounds on weighted-action keyboards: the RD300SX automatically switches off touch-sensitivity with organ patches and[/b] causes notes to trigger earlier in the key's travel. This latter feature makes it much easier to play a more organ-related style. (But the Electro2's keybed still wins when it comes to organ sounds.) The organ sounds on the Roland, although presets, are actually very usable.

On the Roland there is a choice of Leslie types. I find the default effect has a little too much pitch variation for my taste and so use the alternative. This kind of decision requires you to store the edited sound in one of the 32 performance-memory positions.
_________________________
Occasional author and inveterate ivory tickler:
http://www.amazon.com/author/richardspanswick

https://soundcloud.com/richards-recordings/sets/strange-charm-waiting-for-the/s-ppGuy

"can hardly wait to hear what voxpox has to say..."
[HisKidd, May 2014]

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