Newbie needs help!

Posted by: wkeever

Newbie needs help! - 11/03/04 11:16 AM

I am very interested in taking lessons, practicing my butt off, and learning to play piano. I don't have any prior training or experience at piano. (although I have played guitar for about 8 years, if that matters).
What I want to know is what kind of instrument do I need as a beginning student?

I have read tons of reviews from every digital piano from Casio, Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Kurzweil, Kawai. I assume that the feel of the keyboard is the most important thing. The second most important thing is the ability to show dynamic expression. Afterall, I want to learn to play the piano not the synthesizer. \:\)

Of all the digital pianos I've read about and tried out, the one I think has the best feel (that closest resembles a piano's keys, in my amateur opinion) is the Yamaha. Not the P60, but the P90, P120 and YDP223.
(especially the YDP223).
I also Think the sound of Yamahas is better than most of the competitors that I tried out in the store. (Korg, Casio & Roland) (Couldn't find a Kurzweil or Kawai in a local store).

The only Roland I could afford is the RD170 and I didn't like the feel of it. (too light).

Korg's SP200 and SP300 were both close runners up in my opinion to the Yamaha.
Good sound and good feel.

To make a short story long...

I have been reading a lot of posts on this forum to see if I could find a keyboard in the $800-1500 price range that was widely considered the best. I have not found this yet. Most people say it's more about preference. But I have heard a lot of talk about an alternative to digital pianos. That is to us a MIDI controller with a computer and Gigastudio, which I believe is made by Tascam. (The only reason I've heard of gigastudio is because I recently bought a Tascam 2488 recorder.)

My question is, would I be better off to buy a digital piano or a MIDI setup?

Keep in mind I already own some of the stuff I would need for the MIDI setup. I already own a new 3Ghz P4 Toshiba laptop with 1Gb of ram and a 60Gb hard drive although not 7200rpm, just 5400.
I also own a set of Alesis powered monitors to play through. I probably already have all the cables I would need except the MIDI cables.
However, I don't have any of the software I would need.

I assume all I would have to buy is the software (Gigastudio or equivalent), and a MIDI controller which are usually much cheaper than digital pianos unless you buy the really nice ones.

I would rather spend a little more money and get a better setup, if that's what it takes.
I will eventually be doing some track recording. Although, by the time I'll be able to do anything on the piano worth recording, there will probably be much newer better alternative out there.

I'm sure the learning curve on some of that MIDI stuff is a little steep too, and that is something else to consider. (I bought a Digidesign 002 Rackmount before I bought my 2488 and it came with ProTools LE.) I brought it back and traded it for the 2488 because the ProTools software seemed way over my head, and more than I wanted to learn at the time.
I don't know if Gigastudio is that complicated, but I'm sure it does require some getting used to.

Anyway, would it be worth going through all this for a beginner, or should I just buy a digital piano and use it until I find out if I even like to play the piano or if I'll stick with it?

And if I do buy a digital piano, should I buy the cheapest one that will get the job done (Casio PX100) or spend a little more and get a better feel and better sound (Yamaha YDP223, P120, P90 or Korg SP300 or SP200)?

Please give any opinions you might have on this subject.
Posted by: ProPianoGuyBC

Re: Newbie needs help! - 11/03/04 08:09 PM

Whatever you do, DO NOT BUY A PX-100! You are doing yourself a disservice if you consider that piano regardless of price! Look at it this way, You get a decent digital piano now....Then later if you decide to get Gigastudio, you have a great controller with fantastic feel. Spend a bit extra now and reap the benefits later!
Posted by: wkeever

Re: Newbie needs help! - 11/04/04 04:59 AM

The PX-100 is that bad, huh?

I had thought of that too. Which ever one I buy would work as a MIDI controller later if I decide to go that direction.

I really like the Yamaha YDP223 and I have just about decided that's what I'm gonna buy.

Any thoughts on the YDP223?
Posted by: Rodney

Re: Newbie needs help! - 11/04/04 07:17 AM

First let me say that you can't go wrong buying any of the Yamaha boards you described although I would recommend the P120. (It's almost always best to go with a better board as your playing skills may evolve beyond the limitations of the P60 and P90.

If you are turely interested in going the GIGA route, then let me make some recommendations. GIGAStudio is a full blown software sampler. That means that its real power does not just come from being able to play back sample libraries, but to create new libraries. I highly doubt that you are actually interested in sampling your own instruments and then programming voice libraries from them so why spend all that money for features you don't need. There is a program called 'Forte' from Coyote Systems that is a GIGA file sample player and only costs $75 USD. No bells and wistles; just a simple player that is designed especially to work with Piano libraries. You can find it at:

I believe you can even download and demo it for a period of time.

There are several demo GIGA sample libraries that you can also download and evaluate with this program before making a purchase.

As for a controller keyboard, there is a serious problem here. None of the major synth / digital piano manufacturers make weighted midi controllers any more. m-Audio makes the Keystation 88 and Studiologic makes the 880/990 models but I personally don't like the feel of either of these. Your best be is to pick up a used Yamaha P60 (Graded Hammer) or S08(Balanced Hammer) keyboard and use them as a controller. Another option would be to find a used Yamaha KX88 controller. Yamaha hasn't made these for a while but they are built like a tank and they periodically come up on the used market.


In my opinion, If you're not to techie, then go for the P120 as lots of things can go wrong with a hobbled together system.

Best of luck.

Posted by: DuCamp

Re: Newbie needs help! - 11/04/04 07:36 AM

Ok, you have a powerful laptop and want to know what to do if you consider Giga...

You need this:
Because you need a GSIF compatible audio card, and laptops don't have them integrated. Or if you'd have kept the Digi002, you wouldn't need it since you could just Rewire (a protocol for streaming audio/MIDI between apps) Giga to Pro Tools' audio engine.

And one of these:
Don't get scared of the MSRP stated at their website, you can usually get them for less than US$700.00 and some places like have them for around $550.00. These are one of the best MIDI controllers out there.

Software-wise, you need Gigastudio 3 and a good piano library:
I'd recommend you the Grandioso Bösendorfer Imperial library, the new GS3 version. But Post also has Steinway libraries and a really simple, but beautiful sounding, Estonia Grand library. He has demos there that you can try to see which one you like.

Now, consider and external firewire or USB 2.0 hard drive in case your laptop's HD can't keep up with Giga (it streams samples direct from the HD instead of storing them in RAM.)

PS: I support the comment that if you don't have a lot of knowledge about MIDI and digital audio, don't go that route... yet ;\)

PSS: On the other hand, when everything is setup, using Giga is as simple as launching it and double clicking on the desired soundbank.
Posted by: Rodney

Re: Newbie needs help! - 11/04/04 08:29 AM

Just a note about the Forte GIGA file player. GSIF drivers are not required!!! Any audio card with ASIO such as SoundBlaster Audigy will work.


I have no affiliation with Coyote. It just seems like a few people here would like to get their hands dirty with sample playback and it is an inexpensive option.

Posted by: wkeever

Re: Newbie needs help! - 11/04/04 10:12 AM

Thanks for the tips.

The Gigastudio seems a little advanced for me since I have absolutely no experience with MIDI.

I do have a lot of experience with PA equipment, effects, mixers, and recording equipment, but nothing MIDI related.
Also, if I had a high quality piano that I would like to sample for use with a controller, I would just play it and save the hassle. \:\)

I have actually played all four of the Yamahas that I mentioned the P60, P90, P120 and YDP223.
I have to say that I like the feel and sound of all of them, excluding the P60 it just didn't feel right. But, anyway I probably will be playing in my music room 99.9% of the time, so I don't really need a stage piano. Also, I like the looks of the clavinovas and home pianos.
That's why I am leaning toward the YDP223.
I think it had an excellent feel and the sound was great too. Plenty of voices and polyphony for what I need.

Is this a good instrument?
I read another post that said the YDP223 was exactly the same as the CLP120, is this true?
If so, is there any advantage to one over the other?