Question?...can digital pianos exactly duplicate acoustic piano upright & grand key actions in touch, movement, response, and overall playability? The simple answer is no, unless a digital piano has an actual identical organic acoustic piano wooden-key key action with all the connecting key action parts with a hammer hitting with an actual piano string. Anything short of that would be a best, a simulation with some digital pianos manufacturers doing a much better job of that than others. I don't care what the digital manufacturer tells you about how accurate and perfect their piano key actions are, they are not exactly the same as a real acoustic piano...so don't expect it to be.* If digital and acoustic key actions were the same (including the sound realism & reproduction), then there would be little need for acoustic pianos. Duplicating a full & complete realistic acoustic grand piano sound/tone in digital pianos is also a big issue and that has not completely happened yet due to limitations in current technology including cost, and I will deal with that issue in a future blog. *A few Yamaha digital pianos in their AvantGrand "N series" (starting at about $5000) are using acoustic piano key actions derived or modified from their Yamaha acoustic pianos, but there are no actual strings inside the piano.
|Famous Concert Pianist Van Cliburn|
|Acoustic upright piano felt hammers|
|acoustic piano with weights in keys|
Are you getting confused yet??:)...I am!:). I bet you didn't think a piano key action could be so complex?! Have you ever studied car transmissions or engines and what makes them work correctly? A piano action is a similar thing compared to what makes one transmission or engine good while another transmission & engine might not be so good.
|spring loaded key action|
|Yamaha CP1 digital piano key action|
|Carbon fiber acoustic grand action|
|acoustic upright piano key action|
that regular acoustic grand pianos sell at all anymore given that the digital piano manufacturers claim their pianos can do just what an acoustic grand piano can do, and your enjoyment will be just as great! With that being said, they would have you believe there is no reason anymore for anyone to want a Steinway, Yamaha, Kawai, or other respected acoustic grand piano apart from looks, cabinet style, and the volume/loudness of sound since grand pianos are larger and louder. But other than cabinet, getting an even louder piano sound in a digital piano is no problem because you can connect a larger and better external speaker system to most digital pianos. So why do Yamaha & Kawai (as examples) continue to produce thousands of great acoustic pianos worldwide if their digital pianos are so great with regard to reproducing the grand piano key action movement & response along with realistic piano tone and cool functions in nice looking cabinets?! You can figure that answer out for yourself:). It's because digital pianos (depending on brand and model) can simulate the acoustic piano playing experience but in reality, not replace it.
|Roland PHAIII key action|
|Yamaha AvantGrand N3 digital piano|
I personally know of pro piano teachers and musicians who prefer playing on digital pianos because touch sensitivity velocity curves, voicing, and other key action attributes (left pics) can be easily & electronically adjusted which you cannot do on an acoustic piano (plus good digital pianos don't go out of tune). You can also change other parameters of digital piano key action response (such as how the "hammers" behave) as well as parameters of the piano sound. These kinds of changes can give you the feeling that you are playing on a real organic acoustic piano and allows you to personally "connect" with your music. Ultimately, the music you hear coming from a piano is subjective (and personal), and to prove that point, I have had people tell me they enjoy listening to and playing a piano they bought that in my experienced opinion was a really bad digital piano (a piano that I know is very sub-standard). But these people thought their piano was good. In fact, they were so certain they had a great instrument that they bragged about it and gave those digital pianos good internet reviews ...Yikes! But...it is really no surprise to me this kind of thing happens from time to time because it just depends on your point of view and what kind of music experience you have had in your life. This also means that some (but not all) of these consumer reviews you see on-line cannot be trusted because of who may be reviewing the particular piano and their actual music experience...so you gotta be careful when reading personal consumer reviews! Copyright AZPianoNews.com 2014
|Casio Privia piano key action|
|Digital Piano wood keys|
|Kawai digital piano ivory feel keys|
|Fatar weighted key action|
|Kawai digital piano key action|
|Korg digital piano key action|
I am generally pretty lenient when it comes to criticizing name brand key actions but I must be honest and say that I do not like the following key actions: The Korg NH (natural weighted hammer action) key action in many of the Korg models is quite heavy and mushy to push, unnatural in movement, subpar in dynamics, and (for me) unenjoyable to play overall. If it wasn't for the key action, the Korg models with the NH key action would otherwise be much better choices. The other higher priced Korg key action with the RH3 hammer weighted key action in some of their models is much more enjoyable to play. I do not like the Roland Ivory feel-G key action found in their FP50, RD300NX, Juno 5, and FA08 stage/workstation pianos. The ivory feel-G action in my opinion is is mushy, spongy, and produces a very loud knocking key noise when playing the keys harder as they strike the bottom. For me, because action is everything in a piano (acoustic and digital), I would not personally own any of the Roland digital pianos with that key action. However, other people may be OK with the action and like it...and that's fine, but for me it's a deal breaker and that's regardless of what else that digital piano can do or how it sounds. Other Roland key actions are much better and very enjoyable to play such as their newer PHAIV Standard key action in the RP401R ($1599US internet price) or especially their PHA50 found in their more expensive models. I am not a big fan of the Yamaha GH key action in the Arius & P155/P255 pianos. The action is not bad but it just takes too much touch-weight (for my liking) to get the keys to go down from a resting position and can be a bit fatiguing to play in my opinion...just too stiff for my liking. The Kurzweil digital piano company also has a couple of poorly made key actions in some of their their digital pianos in my opinion which are sluggish, harder to push down (especially the black keys), inconsistent, etc. However some of their other key actions (a few made by the Fatar key action company) are more enjoyable to play. The new Casio-Bechstein Hybrid Grand key action (pic - above left) is amazing and not something found in any other digital piano under $8000...and those Casio model digital pianos which include the GP300, GP400, and GP500 start at $3999 retail price. The key action has actual real individually cut wood movement key actions from the German Bechstein acoustic grand pianos along with a new moving hammer system that gives the feel and look of real moving acoustic hammers. Check out my review of the Casio-Bechstein at the following link: Casio-Bechstein acoustic feel key action REVIEW
I would advise that when doing your digital piano research and trying to figure out what model has a good (acceptable) key action and you want some specific advice, that you contact me first I will be happy to give you more detail about what you should know concerning key actions and what would best fit your particular needs and budget. I can also help you find good new digital pianos (with the proper key action) for quite a bit less money that internet and store discount prices. At the end of the day, you can be happy playing on many of the quality key actions that are manufactured today by the name brand digital piano companies including pianos for under $1000 as well as in the higher price ranges. However, just because a digital piano costs a lot of money does not necessarily make its key action good as I can personally attest to in my own professional playing experience. Please don't buy any digital piano anywhere before you ask me about it:). Better to be safe than sorry:)
If you want more info on new digital pianos and LOWER PRICES than internet discounts, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call direct at 602-571-1864.
* I recommend eMedia educational software. If you decide to make a purchase after clicking on link below, I have arranged a big discount for you direct with eMedia for their educational software and that discount price is displayed through this link only! I want to see everyone learn to play and enjoy piano!