Roland vs Baby grand: question about feel of keys going down

Posted by: BeccaBb

Roland vs Baby grand: question about feel of keys going down - 01/12/13 02:07 PM

I started with a teacher on Thursday and she has a baby grand. I was very suprised when I tried playing on it that the keys felt extremely shallow (like my old accoustic) compared to my Roland.
The Roland seems to go down further when you press them. I'm not sure if they really do but it feels like miles of difference to me.

Also on the baby grand (it was a Yamaha btw) when you hit the bottom it felt like it squished. I've never felt that on any keyboard or piano before. Do any of you know what the squish is from? Is it normal on baby grands? We all know that the Roland thunks when you hit the bottom, but even my acoustic doesn't squish.

I'm just curious about these differences. What do they mean? Is it action adjustments, why does my Roland seem like I have longer or deeper keys? Do large grands feel like you have to push further like my Roland?

The reassuring part was that it was about the same for me to get any dynamics out of it so I know that switching between the two won't be drastic.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Roland vs Baby grand: question about feel of keys going down - 01/12/13 03:12 PM

If you play lots of acoustic pianos, you'll find many variations in their actions, in both uprights and grands. Some feel a lot squishier than others (in my experience, the Japanese and Korean ones - I haven't played many Chinese models yet to comment on them), as if the keys have soft thick felt beneath the keys, while others feel more like they only have a foam pad beneath the keys (most of the European brands), and therefore somewhat more 'thumpy'.

Personally, I'm happy playing either type (and anything in between), though my experience is that new pianos that feel squishy tend to 'harden' over time and become firmer with use - I've often played on older pianos and very few of them (even if they have been rebuilt) feel at all squishy. It can be disconcerting to play on some pianos and find that the frequently used keys in the middle are firm while the ones at the extremities are squishy.

As for the key travel, if your Roland has the same PHA-III as my V-Piano, I'd say it's standard. Maybe the higher resistance plus the squishiness of the key action of your teacher's grand give the impression that the action is shallower. Fortepianos (e.g. the Walters of Mozart's time, and modern reproductions by McNulty and others) and early grands (including some of the earlier metal-framed ones) have shallower actions than modern pianos, but I believe that depth of key travel had become more or less standardized by the early part of the 20th century.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Roland vs Baby grand: question about feel of keys going down - 01/12/13 05:26 PM

Is your acoustic an upright? The actions for an upright and a grand or baby grand are different. There should be some cushioning on the bottom of the keys, and depending on the wear and tear of the instrument, this may be more or less packed down. Also, the key depth varies from instrument to instrument, so there's no agreed-upon industry standard depth.

These are some of the issues pianists have with playing on unfamiliar instruments, and takes some getting used to.
Posted by: BeccaBb

Re: Roland vs Baby grand: question about feel of keys going down - 01/13/13 11:37 AM

Yes my acoustic is an upright (and the action isn't very good.) There is no cushioning (or barely any) when hitting bottom.

The Roland is supposed to have keys based off a grand. Is there that much of a difference between a grand and a baby grand?

Okay so squishy can be normal. That's good then. A new feel to get used to. It really took me by surprise.

Thanks for the answers. I'll be playing on the baby grand once a week so I'll see what else I notice that's different as I go. smile
Posted by: trigalg693

Re: Roland vs Baby grand: question about feel of keys going down - 01/14/13 07:26 AM

The Roland action does not feel anything like a grand piano. If you heard it's supposed to feel like one, you were being misled. Don't worry though, it's still a solid instrument, and the feel isn't so bad that you can't adjust to a real grand piano wink

If you were talking about the feel at the stops, I'm going to scratch my head because the felt stops are usually pretty firm and I believe digital pianos have felt stops as well.

The biggest difference that there is between a grand action and a digital action is that the grand action feels like it has more resistance to your finger as it's travelling down, whereas the digital action feels like the key is attached to a single mass that starts going on its way leaving little work for your finger to do as the key travels downward. It's been a while since I stared at pictures of grand piano actions for fun, but IIRC the mechanical advantage decreases as the key goes through its stroke in a grand action (and especially at the very bottom), which doesn't happen in digital actions.
Posted by: BeccaBb

Re: Roland vs Baby grand: question about feel of keys going down - 01/16/13 10:42 AM

Ah see that is where I'm confused. My roland requires more pressure then the acoustics I've played on (I haven't tried a full sized grand mind you.)

I'm not worried about switching between the two as I already know I can do that. I'm just trying to figure out why my Roland requires so much more pressure than the baby grand or uprights I've tried.
Posted by: bennevis

Re: Roland vs Baby grand: question about feel of keys going down - 01/16/13 11:13 AM

I've measured the downweight of middle C on my Roland V-Piano (PHA-III keys) as 50g exactly, which is what is generally regarded as 'standard' for acoustic pianos (uprights or grands). But there is a lot of variation out there - Horowitz's Steinway apparently has a downweight of 43g; while Rubinstein, who favored heavy key action, preferred 58g or so. We poor pianists just have to be able to cope with anything we're given.....unless you're Krystian Zimerman or Maurizio Pollini, who both cart their own pianos around (or rather, have them carted around for them) for their concerts around the world.

You can try measuring the downweight of the keys on your Roland (and on your old acoustic upright and your teacher's baby grand, if she'll let you) if you have an accurate pair of electronic scales (measuring to the nearest gram), and a selection of coins of different sizes. The downweight is when the key just starts to tip down when you have coins of sufficient weight on the end of the white key (i.e. towards you). Let us know....

P.S. Don't forget that the bottom keys will be heavier than the top ones - try measuring the lowest A, middle C and the top C.
Posted by: BeccaBb

Re: Roland vs Baby grand: question about feel of keys going down - 01/16/13 11:23 AM

LOL

I'll ask my honey if he has one of those (mechanics have the strangest tools some times.)

I might even try just seeing how many coins they require to go down (on my ones at home, doubt my teacher would appreciate it!)