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Joined: Feb 2022
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I bought a (used) Yamaha C5 about a year ago and love it. I taught myself piano as a kid and have played for 25+ years with little formal instruction. But since buying the C5 I decided to learn correct technique and started taking lessons, so have been trying to practice as much as I can. The problem is that the piano is very loud, my wife works from home, and our kids go to bed around 8pm so there's not a lot of time to practice (especially on weekdays).

I'm thinking of buying a digital piano to keep in the basement (and play with headphones if needed) so I can practice during the evenings and when playing the C5 would be bothersome. Until last year I played a Yamaha CLP-990 that I bought used back in 2006 (and sold when I bought the C5). It seemed fine for what it was but I don't have any other experience with digital pianos.

I'd welcome any and all advice for what would be a good digital piano to buy and use as a practice instrument. I'd prefer something on the smaller side (the space I have in mind is 54" wide, and I know some models are wider than that) and lighter (because I have to maneuver it down the basement stairs -- the CLP-990 was like 180 pounds which is partly why I sold it). I think I care most about the action being decent and less about what it looks like, whether it has a good built-in speaker (since I can use headphones), or any bells and whistles (I don't need it to have 100 different sounds -- I'll just be using the piano one).

Given that I already broke my budget on the C5 I'd prefer something on the more affordable side that's "good enough" for my purposes and that ideally I might find used. For example, I recently saw a used YDP-144B listed for $500 in my city.

My 9-year-old daughter has also expressed some interest in learning piano (starting with an app) so she may also use it.

Thanks for any recommendations!

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Originally Posted by MattPianoDC
I bought a (used) Yamaha C5 about a year ago and love it. I taught myself piano as a kid and have played for 25+ years with little formal instruction. But since buying the C5 I decided to learn correct technique and started taking lessons, so have been trying to practice as much as I can. The problem is that the piano is very loud, my wife works from home, and our kids go to bed around 8pm so there's not a lot of time to practice (especially on weekdays).

I'm thinking of buying a digital piano to keep in the basement (and play with headphones if needed) so I can practice during the evenings and when playing the C5 would be bothersome. Until last year I played a Yamaha CLP-990 that I bought used back in 2006 (and sold when I bought the C5). It seemed fine for what it was but I don't have any other experience with digital pianos.

I'd welcome any and all advice for what would be a good digital piano to buy and use as a practice instrument. I'd prefer something on the smaller side (the space I have in mind is 54" wide, and I know some models are wider than that) and lighter (because I have to maneuver it down the basement stairs -- the CLP-990 was like 180 pounds which is partly why I sold it). I think I care most about the action being decent and less about what it looks like, whether it has a good built-in speaker (since I can use headphones), or any bells and whistles (I don't need it to have 100 different sounds -- I'll just be using the piano one).

Given that I already broke my budget on the C5 I'd prefer something on the more affordable side that's "good enough" for my purposes and that ideally I might find used. For example, I recently saw a used YDP-144B listed for $500 in my city.

My 9-year-old daughter has also expressed some interest in learning piano (starting with an app) so she may also use it.

Thanks for any recommendations!

Compact, only headphone use, good action, few bells and whistles required.....Low budget...

Computer says: Used Kawai ES8; ES7; used Yamaha P515; Used Roland FP90; Used Yamaha CP4; Used Roland RD800; Used Kawai MP7...

If has to be new ---$500 is way to low for anything decent---try the Kawai ES110 or Roland FP30X.


Instruments......Kawai MP7SE.............................................(Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000)
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Around these parts ( the piano world ), on a good day, “ good enough” can be quite elusive to determine, especially with consensus, even for the uninitiated beginner. With you having already logged appreciable experience, on a C5 !, i suggest you go a route that may not best serve all of your ‘druthers BUT more so helps your daughter along the path of joining father on the journey that is piano.

Going used can provide a suitably fine item but this sort of ups the ante on trying before buying. Nobody wants to begin this journey with what turns out to be a “looks good on paper” item, not under warranty, for which it is after you bring it home to discover it may be a lemon.

As for brands/models, in the category of “easier to move around the house”, you may want to look at used, higher-end DPs that are either true slabs to be mounted on a stand - such as Kawai MP11 & ES8, or pseudo slabs that optionally have a light-weight cabinet, such as Yamaha P515, Kawai ES520/ES920. These are just a few models to consider. There are many more, to include Casios, Rolands, etc., to be gotten used or new within your budget.

Good luck!

Last edited by drewr; 02/22/22 01:20 PM.

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My son absolutely flew with the Yamaha P515. 1.5 years with the instrument and it carried him from total beginner to taking grade 5 exams and learning grade 6 pieces.

The action obviously isn't the same as having an acoustic instrument (and was a little too light for my son in comparison to his teacher's piano) but it was rock solid and sounds great.

Would recommend the Yamaha sub to go with it - hugely enhances the sound.

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Why not the cheapest Yamaha Arius (YDP-103, only $1k)? GHS graded hammer and comes as a complete setup with pedals. Good enough?


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We're all likely to pitch in with our favourites here. Take your daughter, and visit a decent sized piano store. Bear in mind that some smaller digitals won't sound right in such a large place amongst the big guys, so tale those headphones to get the right sound and feel.


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Thanks for all the great suggestions!

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I like the YDP-103 suggestion. That or a used Kawai CN34?


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To me, there’s only 2 cheap digitals that I like: Yamaha P125 and its variations (121 and p45 if you are okay with using an app as it’s pretty much mandatory in this case) and the Kawai ES110 and it’s variations with the Kawai being my #1 for just straight playing piano.

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Originally Posted by Johnny English
To me, there’s only 2 cheap digitals that I like: Yamaha P125 and its variations (121 and p45 if you are okay with using an app as it’s pretty much mandatory in this case) and the Kawai ES110 and it’s variations with the Kawai being my #1 for just straight playing piano.

To clarify, the "app" is to simplify some of the function selections but there still are buttons and a manual. I use a P121, the 73-key version of the P125, for keeping in practice while traveling for an extended period. I never use the app because I can remember how to do the few things I need to, like the metronome.

But it all really depends on what feels and sounds good enough for you at your skill level.

Ray


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i was just talking about the sound of the p45. It needs an upgrade, but the action is “good enough”. I should have written more clearly in the first place.

FWIW, my digital is also the p121. I do like using the Yamaha app better than the buttons.

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Originally Posted by DeckardWill
The action obviously isn't the same as having an acoustic instrument (and was a little too light for my son in comparison to his teacher's piano) but it was rock solid and sounds great.

Yes indeed. The P-515 is solid and sounds great. The performance of this particular slab instrument surprised me ----- surpassed my expectations.

The teacher's piano's action is obviously relatively heavy --- as the P-515 action is said in many reports as being heavy -- as compared with well-known grand piano actions.

The action (to me) is just great. Each piano ('acoustic' and digital etc) have their own features ---- with their action. It's a credit and hats off to the people (whoever they are) that have been involved with the development and evolution of key action in digital pianos. It's awesome what they have achieved.

When switching between pianos - acoustics and digital ----- we all just get an understanding after a while of their behaviour. And then play what works on that particular piano. There's also the choice of playing what doesn't work too hahaha.

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Definitely SouthPark! Perfectly stated.

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Thanks for your posts Johnny!

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It's all down to personal choice, but to add my experience to this thread, I was a lifelong acoustic grand player until I downsized home in 2012 and bought a Kawai ES7, which I still have and enjoy. (For a time I played my Kawai RX2 and the ES7 at home, and continued for a time with access to a 7 foot grand after selling the RX2) The contact strips have been replaced twice - I play a lot - but tuning a grand since 2012 would have cost far more. From Haydn/Mozart to Rachmaninov it does the job in piano terms, thanks to a decent action and Pianoteq. It is not a grand, of course, but I don't find it too difficult to thunder out Rachmaninov and explore the subtleties of Chopin or the clarity of Mozart. I have used it for charity recitals with monitor speakers and the only real drawback is its appearance. One listener went up to it and said "How do you get a sound like that from THAT!" which I guess is a compliment to Kawai and Pianoteq. (Another referred to it as a contraption. It was not a compliment.)

Whatever your choice there is wisdom - unless you unfortunately chose unwisely for your own preferences - in persevering with one action rather than seeking a "better" one. We can adapt to weight etc over time and we can coax the sounds we are searching for from run of the mill actions. The skills needed rest with us, and that takes time and becoming familiar with the hardware/software at our disposal. Enjoy the search and the playing.

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What made me buy the Yamaha over the Roland and Kawai was the action. The Yamaha shortest pivot by feel which I didn't(don't) like, but it was good in other ways: it was light where the Roland was heavy; and it didn't have the diving board bounce of the Kawai actions. These videos show a good demonstration of these issues: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKw8SA6lcHQYn1asvTQkujT1cLdQFaNLE

I measured the action weights of several DPs: http://dtmblabber.blogspot.com
which largely agree with the subjective feel.

The Yamaha GHS was just the happy compromise for me. The Roland may have actually felt the nearest to an acoustic piano action and I think that's actually to its low upweight. Acoustic actions didn't measure to have low upweight, but they definitely have the feel of less pressure on your fingers on the return. I'm sure that's got something to do with the escapement. The Roland has the least "diving board" bounce, but there's force needed to get the key in motion as well--like breaking pie crust. Those 2 factors have the same underlying cause. Fixing one issue created another. It's an interesting feel that I didn't like for control reasons. There's a chance that these actions just need broke in as well... The Yamaha just easily felt the best of the three.

Sound-wise on default piano sound, the Kawai ES110 is easily the best to my ear followed by the Yamaha P125/121. The Roland just wasn't as realistic sounding though it's plenty expressive. The Yamaha is the least expressive. Both Yamaha and Roland have nice apps but I have no experience with the Kawai in this regard. I absolutely enjoy my Yamaha though and understanding that they all have issues, you just have to go with which set of issues you can live with. Computer connectivity and built in speakers handle my needs very well with the Yamaha. I'm actually very happy with those aspects of its design. Connecting amps is also great with the Yamaha though I no longer get to play with friends or out... I'm not sure with the others, but the Yamaha has intuitive interfaces for all connections and I have no complaints there. The action had me sold and I was willing to live with whatever other compromises there may have been unless the computer and iPad connections would have been a challenge. That would have kept me contemplating. Thankfully it's actually exceeded my expectations in that regard.

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> The Roland has the least "diving board" bounce, but there's force needed to get the key in motion as well--like breaking pie crust.

Oddly, to me the Clavinovas are the ones that feel crusty - hard at the top but turn soft lower down. The midrange Rolands and Kawais start out soft but demand force lower down.

> the diving board bounce of the Kawai actions. These videos show a good demonstration of these issues: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKw8SA6lcHQYn1asvTQkujT1cLdQFaNLE

I think it takes more than the video, because you can't feel the force and rattle. Many key actions bounce on key return relatively unobtrusively (there is the obvious objective to return as fast as possible). But the ES8 RHIII was beyond tolerable for me. Oddly the CN29 and 39 in the same store had at least much more acceptable bounce. Maybe this was due to ageing or a different batch of the damping strip.

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I certainly saw the diving board effect on the es920. The icy pole/popsicle stick effect. Not enough damping if the mechanism for the case when it returns to normal state.

Sure ..... we see other weighted keyboard mechanisms having it too. But not at those amplitudes. Not to that sort of extent. This might not be critical for many cases of playing. But having that level of bounce isn't good in my books. But if somebody doesn't mind it ..... then that's fine too. I would still play it though. But would prefer it if they tweak the design to have that behaviour addressed for future models.


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