Friday, February 18, 2011

REVIEW - IMPORTANT INFO when shopping for a DIGITAL PIANO! - Yamaha, Casio, Roland, Kawai, Williams, Suzuki, Kurzweil, Benjamin Adams, Viscount, Korg, and others

UPDATED July 1, 2013 - Be careful when you shop for a digital piano! I am a professional piano & keyboard player & musician, as well as a piano, keyboard, and guitar instructor for over 35 years (started when I was very young) and I know a lot about pianos of all shapes, sizes, and types. If you are shopping for a digital piano, then you need to read this because I am going to give you some basic but information on what you need to look for in a digital piano at any price. If you get at least the basic necessities in a digital piano, then you should be fine.

I will start off by making my explanation as simple as possible. When you watch TV or listen to music on your stereo or MP3 player, you expect that you can increase or decrease volume of the sound in varying degrees a little at a time in whatever way you choose. In other words, you don't expect that the volume of the sound you're listening to will jump from very soft, to loud, and then to very loud without anything in-between, right? That just wouldn't be good. When you step on the gas in your vehicle, you don't want it to go 10 miles an hour and then suddenly jump to 40, and then to 70? That also would not be good. And also, when you push down the gas pedal to gain speed and then you let off your gas pedal a bit, you obviously wouldn't want your vehicle to stop when the gas pedal was released, you would want it to start slowing down.

Well, that's the way a piano needs to work when it comes to playing the keys and increasing or decreasing the piano volume by pressing on the keys softly or with force. You don't want the volume of your music to move too suddenly or be jerky when playing (key sensor technology). And when you press on the piano pedal (which is very important in piano playing), you want the pedal to bring in the sustain and then let off the sustain in whatever amount you want instead of just suddenly all the way on and then suddenly all the way off (half-pedaling). Finally, the piano tone needs to change from mellow to brighter as you increase pressure of pushing the key down as you're playing (that's called dynamics). 

There are some piano brands and models (portable and in full piano style cabinets) that only give you on and off for pedal (nothing in-between), and/or only give you a few volume changes while pressing the piano keys instead of allowing you to easily and smoothly change volume to whatever you need when you press down the keys easily or with more force. Also, some of these brands have very noisy keys when they move up & down. All keys make some noise when moving, but there are extremes and I have had these experiences on piano brands like Suzuki, Williams, Benjamin Adams, Viscount, and a few others.

As an uninformed buyer, you would never know to look for these things and may not realize what a negative impact these kinds of limitations will have on your piano playing, especially if you are a student. Also, the piano tone on many digital pianos doesn't change at all or changes very little as keys are being played, and that's another limitation which is not good, especially for students and people who play. The tone needs to go from mellow (when keys are being played lightly), to brighter (when keys are being played with more force). That's normal in a regular acoustic piano and is referred to as "tone color" like colors on a pallete where you can have many colors to paint the picture, but that doesn't happen in many digital pianos, particularly in the lower price ranges.

The top name piano brands such as Yamaha, Roland, Casio, Kawai, Kurzweil, and Korg generally do a good job with these things and they do have these necessary piano functions on most models. However, some (but not all) lesser known, off-name brands do have a problem so I would advise you stay away from those, no matter how cheap the price is.

Also, as the digital piano touch response, piano tone, and pedal functions increase in sensitivity and quality of response levels and authentic reproduction, the price of that piano typically goes up. It generally costs more money to get a more authentic piano reproduction and that's why some pianos cost more than others. In most cases, piano sound does come down to personal subjective choice and that's why there are different brands, models, and price ranges. I have certain recommendations in various price ranges and musical needs that I believe would be the best bang for the buck. If you would like to have me give you some specific advice, then you are welcome to contact me directly and I would be happy to help you.

If you want more info on these and other pianos and lower prices than internet discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864

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