Roland FRP-1 - REVIEW | Digital Piano at Costco | August 2022

Roland FRP-1 Digital Piano Review
UPDATED REVIEW
- August 1, 2022 - Roland FRP-1 Digital Piano at Costco | Portable model with furniture stand and bench priced normally at $699 plus tax. Costco is a popular store for in store and on-line sales. During the year they always seem to have a few digital piano brands and models for sale and then occasionally during the holiday season they have one or two digital pianos models that you can actually see in person in some of their stores. Such is the case with the Roland FRP-1 portable digital piano.

Just so you know, the Roland FRP-1 has been out before under another model name for a while. For the last few years Roland has had a model called the FP-10 available at Roland piano dealers and that model has now been repackaged for Costco including some additional accessories that now come with it all under a new name called the FRP-1. It has also been available through a couple other places other than Costco but for now it seems to be only at Costco and only while supplies last.

INITIAL THOUGHTS ON ROLAND FRP-1


Roland FRP-1 is identical to the prior Roland FP-10
First, before I talk about the FRP-1, I want to mention that as I said before, the FRP-1 is really a rebranded FP-10 piano. The FP-10 piano originally was priced at $600 by itself a few years ago (without stand or bench) including the music rack, sustain pedal, and power supply. It is the identical piano to the FRP-1 but the FRP-1 comes included with a padded bench, piano stand, and headphones.  

When you add it all up and you include local sales tax for most states, then the total price for the FRP-1 is right at about $750 on average...give or take. So what does all this mean? Well, it's just an easier way to purchase a digital piano when it comes with accessories that some people may want to have like a bench, headphones, and stand. The Roland FP-10 version (the piano by itself) also looks like it may be discontinued (it's not available anywhere at this point), so if all you wanted was the piano and did not need all the accessories, you're out of luck on that one.

KEY ACTION


Roland FRP-1 digital piano
As for the FRP-1 piano itself, it is an 88 weighted key instrument using Roland's PHA-4 key action which is Roland's basic, but nice entry level weighted key action. It has been out for a number of years on various Roland piano models including the FP-30X, RP-102, and F701. That particular key action has the synthetic ebony and ivory keytops and definitely has some weight as you press the keys down. Some people consider this keyboard action movement to be a bit heavy as opposed to some other new digital pianos, and I would agree with them. Most acoustic piano key actions that I have played on are lighter weight than this one when pressing down the keys.

Roland FRP-1 Keyboard
The key action is also a bit noisy when you press down the keys and it thumps when going down, especially if you have the piano volume down lower or using headphones for private practice. At that point you can hear the "thumpy noise" when the keys hit bottom. Some people may be bothered by that and others may not be bothered. There are piano weighted key actions in other brands and models in this price range which are quieter when the keys go up and down and I definitely prefer it that way. However, you may like it depending on your piano playing experience.

PIANO SOUND


With regard to the piano sound, there are 4 piano tones and they are different from each other depending on the type of music you are playing. Overall the Roland pianos under $1500, including this one, are known for having a brassier and more metallic sound to them when playing piano, especially if you are playing the keys harder and using more dynamics. The Roland sampled piano sounds are just a lot brighter overall (some people might call the sound "twangy") and some people will like it and others may not.

Roland FRP-1 out of tune?
I play the piano a lot and have for many years. I play all types of acoustic upright and grand pianos along with a big variety of digital pianos. One thing that is important to me is for a piano to be "in tune" when I am playing it. I just do not enjoy playing any piano that is out of tune and I know many people would agree with me on that point. So it comes as a disappointment that the main Roland Grand Piano sound sounds "out of tune" to me. I have discussed this many times in other Roland piano reviews I have done on some additional models that use this piano sound engine.

The "out-of-tune" issue happens because of what is known as "stretch tuning." Stretch tuning" is a normal method of tuning a real acoustic piano where the upper strings (generally above middle C) are stretched more sharp than normal and the lower strings are set to be a bit more flat so that when you are playing the strings will combine for a more resonant sound based on tuning formulas and mathematics. 

piano stretch tuning chart
Tuners and technicians need to know how to do this type of tuning before they tune a piano because they can easily mess it up and the piano can sound noticeably out of tune when you go to play upper notes along with lower notes at the same time. If the tuning is set up correctly then you get a beautiful result with regard to the overall tuning, tone, and resonance.

On the Roland FRP-1 as it is with the other Roland pianos such as the FP-30X, RP-102, and F107, the piano stretch tuning that is in the piano is permanent and cannot be changed or shut off as it can with other brands and models. The FRP-1 sounds noticeably "out-of-tune to me when playing certain notes together or certain chords on the bass clef ad treble clef together. 

Roland FRP-1 stretch tuning issues
All this is because the stretch tuning method that Roland uses is just stretched too far in my opinion and produces a piano sound that seems to be noticeably too sharp or too flat depending on the notes or chords that are being played together. Some people may not notice this but other people will notice it and may think there is something wrong with their ears. But there is nothing wrong with your ears The piano is just not set up with its stretch tuning very well in my opinion and there is nothing you can do about it.

Roland FRP-1 stretch tuning
For this reason I would not personally purchase the FRP-1 or any other Roland model that uses this specific piano sound engine. My ears are a just too sensitive to pianos being in tune with proper stretch tuning so that notes do not sound sharp or flat when played together. I have played on many other brands of digital pianos in this price range and above and I have not run into this issue with them including Korg, Yamaha, Casio, or Kawai.

It is interesting to note that Roland has a more advanced piano sound engine with a different piano technology and those models do not have this "stretch tuning" issue that I hear. They sound seems to be perfectly in tune when notes are played together. But those models go for about $1900 to over $3000 so they are unfortunately not in this lower price range. 

SUSTAIN PEDAL


Roland DP2 sustain pedal
When it comes to the pedals on a piano, they are very important, especially the main sustain pedal. Roland includes a basic square plastic sustain pedal switch with the piano called the DP2. This is an on and off pedal switch that allows you to activate the sustain and holds the piano sound when you press down the pedal. When you release the pedals the piano sound stops sustaining.

It's a pretty simple pedal but does the job in the beginning. Roland also makes an optional upgraded single pedal called the DP-10 pedal which looks more like a real piano pedal and also behaves more like a real pedal in terms of how if sustains the tone giving you a variable amount of controlled sustain instead of just a simple on/off that you get with the FRP-1. The fact is, if you get a FRP-1 you will definitely want to spend the money and order this single upgraded DP-10 pedal at $55 because it will be necessary to take real piano lessons and to play correctly instead of just basic beginner level. 

This piano does not have a triple pedal option which many other digital pianos do. So that is a bit of a disappointment. But hey, it's an inexpensive piano so you cannot have everything.

INSTRUMENT SOUNDS


Roland FRP-1 15 instrument sounds
As far as the other instrument sounds go, there are 15 instrument tones including the 4 pianos, 2 electric pianos, and the other instrument sounds include strings, organs, harpsichords, vibraphone, pad, and jazz scat which is a cool sound. You access all those sounds by pushing a "function button" on the control panel and touching an appropriate black or white key at the same time to trigger the sound you want to play. Once you do that step then the FRP-1 is set up the play that sound. 

You can also layer any 2 sounds together by selecting those 2 sounds at the same time while pressing the function button and then you hear both of the sounds you selected when you play. That is a very nice feature to have. One other thing about digital instrument sounds is that they need a certain amount of "polyphony power" to work and play correctly.

PIANO POLYPHONY


96-note polyphony
Polyphony is normally defined as the total amount of piano processing memory for the piano sounds. In reality it has to do with the maximum amount of (mono) piano notes played and heard simultaneously when playing and sustaining multiple piano notes together at one time. Depending on the complexity of the instrument sounds that you are using, the amount of polyphony processing power that you have can be limited by a lower amount of "polyphony" as opposed to a higher amount of polyphony. The FRP-1 has 96-notes of polyphony so it's a bit on the low side (hence the lower price of this model) and it's using Roland's entry level sound engine in that way. 

There are polyphony sound engines that have 120 notes, 128 notes, 192 notes, 256 notes, and unlimited polyphony. Most people who are experienced with this kind of thing (like me) will say that the more polyphony there is in a digital the better off you will be. But it also has to do with the "quality" of the instrument sounds and not the quantity, especially when it comes to the main piano sounds. Overall 96 notes of polyphony should be fine, especially if you are not layering/mixing sounds together and playing at high skill levels.

CONTROL PANEL BUTTONS


Roland FRP-1 control panel
The FRP-1 control panel is very simple. You have 4 toggle buttons to access all functions on this model and those functions include being able to digitally transpose keys, select 5 types of key touch sensitivity, selecting all the instrument sounds, selecting ambience/reverb, brilliance control, metronome for timing including the tempo, beat, and volume of the metronome, and an internal song library including 17 full length songs and demo tunes for each of the 15 instrument tones.

There is a separate master volume control using 2 of the toggle buttons on the control panel to go from loud to soft volume and there are lighted LED's to show you minimum to maximum volume. There is also a power button for the entire piano and a piano default button if you just want to play piano. So in terms of simplicity, the FRP-1 is simple and not too difficult to use even though there is no display screen. A display screen would be nice to have built in to this model but because this piano does not have many "bells & whistles" then it is not as necessary to have a user display screen.

BLUETOOTH WIRELESS MIDI


Roland FRP-1 Wireless Bluetooth MIDI connectivity
The FRP-1 also has Bluetooth wireless MIDI connectivity.
This wireless MIDI connection allows you to connect with an external Bluetooth device to be able to use apps and software without having to plug in a USB cable. The Bluetooth connection really does not do anything different with regard to what the apps and software will do for you. 

Bluetooth is simply a different way of connecting with an external device like an iPad and not needing to use a cable. For me this is nice but certainly not essential in this case because the device would likely be an iPad/tablet or phone and it would already be at the piano. Having Bluetooth audio wireless connectivity would actually be more useful and some digital pianos under $1000 have this capability as well. So when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity, if you really think you need that then look for audio streaming/wireless and not so much for MIDI Bluetooth as being important.

CONNECTIVITY PANEL


Roland FRP-1 Connectivity array
When it comes to overall connectivity, the FRP-1 has a USB output to device, an update computer port for any possible future updates to that model (I doubt if they will ever update it), and 2 headphone jacks. One of the jacks can be used as an audio output jack but when you do that then it automatically shuts off the main internal speaker system so that's not a good solution.

INTERNAL SPEAKER SYSTEM


FRP-1 Speaker under piano
The internal speaker system inside this piano is a bit of a disappointment but in this price range that's not unusual. The FRP-1 has 2 smaller speakers under the piano and pointed down to the floor. Unfortunately the sound is pointed away from the player (you) when you play it and sounds somewhat muffled and far away as opposed to being pointed up towards you like you would other wise find in Yamaha, Korg, and Casio digital pianos in this price range.  

Having the speakers pointed up towards you like you do in other digital pianos is a much better way to design the cabinet and speaker system inside of it. There is much more immediate sound coming towards your ears and you can hear the frequency range much better that way as opposed to speakers pointing away from you and down to the floor like in the FRP-1.

Also, the total power output for this model is just 12 watts as opposed to 16 watts, 17 watts in other digital pianos, and even as much as 30 watts in other models under $750. The more power there is and the better the speakers are and how they are positioned within the piano, the better the overall sound will be and the more you'll enjoy it. I think there is enough volume in the piano when the master control is turned up. But the quality of that sound and the way it is positioned in this instrument could have been improved. But again, it is essentially a $600 piano without the accessories, so I should not be expecting that much out of it overall.



Roland FRP-1 piano
The cabinet is sleek and fairly attractive at about 51" long and weighing in at about 27 lbs. It connects to the stand nicely and the bench seems to have good support and can open up a bit for inside music storage although you would probably run out of interior bench space soon enough. Most people like an adjustable bench for family members who are at different heights so the single bench that comes with the FRP-1 cannot be adjusted. The piano also comes with a music rack to support your music.

FINAL THOUGHTS


In the final analysis the FRP-1 at Costco is a good piano with the exceptions of a couple of things I mentioned. I think for the average beginning student or player it should be fine but for me or any of my students (some of whom are beginners), in this overall price range I would rather opt for another model that offers a more realistic piano playing experience such as the new Korg B2SP portable digital piano or Casio PX-S1100. I like some of the "bells & whistles" on this FRP-1, but the most important thing to me is getting the most authentic piano playing experience possible (key action, piano sound, pedaling, speaker system) in any given price range. 

With that in mind then it is not going to be "Bluetooth connection," or a bench, stand, headphones, or other similar items that excites me musically. It's going to be the piano sound, the piano key action, the pedaling, and the internal speaker system that makes all the difference for the amount of money you are spending. It always should be the "piano playing experience" that a person should focus on and how realistic you can get it in the price range you are looking at.

ALTERNATE DIGITAL PIANO OPTIONS


Korg B2SP digital piano
There is another well known digital piano brand called Korg. Korg is a Japanese brand and are very well known to musicians around the world for their innovated stage and home digital pianos and keyboards and have been making them for many decades. There is another model that is an excellent alternative to the Roland FRP-1 and it is called the Korg B2SP. The B2SP which is priced at $749 internet price is an 88 weighted key piano that also comes with a matching stand and full triple pedal unit. 

Korg B2SP digital piano
The upgraded triple pedal is normally another $100 more but already is included with the Korg B2SP piano. The piano does not come with a bench but you can purchase a better, adjustable matching bench on Amazon for a fairly low price. The Korg B2SP has quiet key action, responsive sound dynamics and piano sustain, and a more full and less brassy stereo piano sound that uses new sound technology to achieve a higher level of realism without any tuning issues. The internal speaker system is amazing with 30 watts total stereo power and a sound resonating chamber inside the piano for better bass response. It also has the new USB audio streaming technology which is a big "plus."

Korg B2 white cabinet
The B2SP comes in both a black cabinet and a sleek, attractive white cabinet. It is priced at just $749 internet price for its package. Also, there is no sales tax on that model at this time as long as you ask me more about it. It also includes free shipping and full factory warranty anywhere in the mainland US. I would recommend you read my review of the newer Korg B2SP before you purchase the Roland FRP-1 or any other digital piano under $750. Korg B2SP Review

Casio PX-S1100 digital piano
By the way, if you don't need a stand, headphones, bench, or other accessories packaged altogether and just want an impressive portable digital piano under $700,
then the new 2022 model Casio PX-S1100 at $699 could easily be another option. This new model definitely has excellent piano sound and dynamics with responsive piano weighted key action along with some exciting new technology not in other digital pianos. Great for students and also more advanced musicians. This model also has an optional furniture stand and triple pedal unit if you need it. Check out my review on this piano at the following link: Casio PX-S1100 Review

If you want more info on new digital 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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