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Upright to digital? (Read 13691 times)

Offline missdoc77

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Upright to digital?
« on: February 13, 2012, 07:45:29 PM »
I've been reading in this forum but haven't yet found anything regarding moving from a traditional upright piano to a digital piano.  I grew up playing on a Yamaha upright and never liked keyboards but I hear they have come a very long way since I last tried one.  I'm on the market for a digital piano but would like advice on what options there are that are closest to an acoustic in feel and sound.  I'm not looking for a lot of bells and whistles, would just like to play again and haven't had a piano in years - no space!  I'd like the headphone jack as well as recording/playback.  I don't have a need for 100's of voices, etc.  Just want a good, solid alternative to an acoustic piano... and as said above, feel and sound are my priorities.  My daughter also shows an interest in learning so maybe a split keyboard (I think that's right?) would be nice.  We would like to stay under $800 and prefer the console type stands rather than the "x" looking ones.  No need to take it places and would like it to look nice in our home.  Thanks for your opinions and if there are important qualities I'm leaving out, please let me know!!

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #1 on: February 14, 2012, 12:53:10 AM »
I'm not going to give you a specific make and model; I'm not sufficiently familiar with the hundreds of possibiities.

That said, and considering the digital instruments I have had the misfortune to play, my first priority in looking at any digital would be... the keyboard.  How does it feel to you?  Does it respond like an acoustic piano?  Just as with an acoustic piano, I would advise you to go out to dealers and try a number of different instruments, to see what they feel like and respond like to your playing.

And... before you do, and at intervals while you are doing this, be sure to play a really good acoustic piano from time to time, so you will know what it should feel like.  There is no substitute for doing that.

I would also note that the money is in the keyboard, not the electronics,  and that is where the money should be spent.  This is particularly true if you plan on using headphones, as there is no need then for a good power amplifier (a couple of hundred to a thousand or so) and good speakers (at least a thousand and probably more) as the control amplifier which powers the head phones usually is pretty good.
Ian

Offline monkey68

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #2 on: February 14, 2012, 11:17:18 AM »
I grew up playing on a Young Chang upright as a kid, it's what was in my parents home and I didnt know the difference. Now, I haven't played in a few years, apartment living coupled with the need to move every couple years for the next couple years made owning a real acoustic piano unrealistic. I went and purchased a digital piano, the yamaha p95, found a bundle online that included a furniture style stand and a bench and headphones for around $650 total. Should be delivered tomorrow. I don't need or expect concert style acoustics, I'm not fooling myself into thinking I'll be so good that I'll quit my day job to become a professional musician, so for my needs, a digital piano is perfect. It gives me something to tinker around on when I'm stressed, and if my fiance cares to listen every now and again, well, he's pretty much tone deaf so he won't hear any difference between a digital or acoustic piano. But go to a store and tinker around on a few, see what you like. I do feel and hear a difference when I was trying them out, but not enough to make me not want to get one.

Offline johnmar78

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #3 on: February 14, 2012, 02:27:17 PM »
here is my 3 cents...these days, digital piano has vastly improved since 1985 both touch and weight action. If money is a problem so as recording background noises, go for digital. Otherwise, buy youself a good upright. :D

Offline missdoc77

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #4 on: February 14, 2012, 02:44:58 PM »
I went and purchased a digital piano, the yamaha p95, found a bundle online that included a furniture style stand and a bench and headphones for around $650 total. Should be delivered tomorrow.

Monkey68, I'd love to hear how you like the Yamaha.  It's one I have been looking at.  And thank you johnmar78 and iansinclair for your input.  Johnmar78, I'd love to have a good upright - actually I have one but it's at my parent's house 8 hours away and I have nowhere to put it in my tiny house, anyway.  So digital it will have to be for now...  I do plan to go to a few stores and play around and see what I like best.  Was just hoping for some insight from anyone here who prefers acoustic but is happy with their digital. 

Being the 1st digital I've shopped for, I want the best quality for what I am able to spend.  Iansinclair, I do plan to use the headphones, but primarily for my daughter when she wants to play/practice.  I would definitely like the sound - sans headphones - to be good... though I won't be performing on stage with it!  :)  I've read elsewhere about using a sound system/external speakers to improve sound so eventually I may want to do that.

Again, thanks for your input, everybody!  I'm really looking forward to having a piano in the house again because I love playing.  I took lessons for several years growing up but stopped playing regularly about 15 years ago.  I'm pretty rusty!  Maybe I'd better be using those headphones for myself rather than torture my husband!  LOL 

Offline lhorwinkle

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #5 on: February 14, 2012, 07:15:06 PM »
Yes, the action is very important. At the moment Kawai leads the pack. Try one of their CA-series pianos and see for yourself.

Offline john90

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #6 on: February 15, 2012, 07:05:58 AM »
It is easier to get close to the feel of an acoustic upright, than a grand, as there is no let off to simulate. Good brands, weighted with MIDI from the early 1990s on are close enough to an upright for me.

Sound wise, Digitals from the late 1990s are OK with headphones. The most expensive new digitals are still lacking sound wise, so for me any weighted key Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Kawi will be close enough to an acoustic upright. The more I pay, the less happy I am to tolerate it not being perfect, so I buy used, cheap, but am still picky. There are a lot of used unwanted digitals out there. Midi lets you upgrade the built in sound generation using a laptop and headphones to an equally higher quality on old or new keyboards. Keep in mind that you are buying a practise instrument, and things become fun, rather than focussing on shortfalls. You get to enjoy quality time with your Acoustic much more on the occasions you visit, having practised & improved using a digital you are content with at home.

Offline gvfarns

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #7 on: February 15, 2012, 04:22:39 PM »
Not all digitals are created equal.  Almost anything you get new will sound pretty good through headphones, but the actions on low-end digitals are still as bad as they ever were.  Each manufacturer has various actions, and the lower actions tend to be very unrealistic indeed.

In Yamaha, the most popular and possibly most cost-effective option, there are 2 basic actions: GHS (bad) and GH (good).  The cheapest piano they offer with a GH action is the P155.  It's a very fine action, a good replacement for an acoustic, and near your budget.  There is an optional matching stand.  If you want a piano with a built in stand, the cheapest acceptable option is the YDP 161.  The 141 and lower have the GHS action so I would say don't get them.

Kawai does not make any low end action, so you can buy any model and expect a good action.  The EP3 is near your price range.  I have not played one but I have heard people say it is comparable to the P155 in quality of action and sounds.  If so, it's a good piano.  I'm not sure what their console pianos go for.  They have even better actions in the CA and MP line but they aren't near your budget.

Casio does not make any high-end actions.  All their actions are similar in quality to GHS.  I would avoid the whole brand.

Roland makes a variety of pianos but they tend to be more expensive.  I would expect any Roland near your budget to be poor quality.

Regarding stands, it turns out you pay a lot for the privilege of having a stand built in.  Slab style pianos are much more cost effective for the quality.  That is, any console style piano cheaper than what I have mentioned here will likely play very poorly.  Instead of an X-style stand, there are other types that are more attractive and stable.  I personally use a heavy-duty Z-style stand from On-Stage and it's great.  Also possible are the four-legged kind like Quik Lok WS540.  I would suggest you take a hard look at those.

If you increase your budget significantly there are lots of good options that look and feel like an acoustic piano, but if you want to save money, I'd suggest sticking with slab-style pianos and not compromising on the action/sounds.

Offline oxy60

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #8 on: February 15, 2012, 05:39:39 PM »
When I was very active in music, there were no digital pianos! As I went from gig to gig I found an incredible range of differences in acoustic pianos. In every thread there seems to be an assumption about a single sort of acoustic piano action. That is placed up against differences in digital action.

From my perspective my Yamaha P85 has better action than 90% of the acoustics I've tried or played (upright or grand). And it is always in tune and doesn't bother the neighbors.

Don't assume that just because Rowland is expensive that it has better action or sounds better. However it is well built and rugged. I love their equipment.

In the end it will be the sound in your ears that should determine your purchase.
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."  John Muir  (We all need to get out more.)

Offline tannertuner

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #9 on: February 15, 2012, 05:56:08 PM »
I've been a musician (primarily voice, but I play an assortment of different instruments, including piano/keyboard) all my life, the son of a piano teacher with both a grand and a vertical in our home. I learned to tune pianos as a senior in high school, now going on 28 years ago. I've been the concert tuner/technician at two major universities, for dealers of Steinways, Yamahas, Baldwins, Kawais, Samicks, Young Changs, etc., and I've owned both acoustic and digital pianos. I am now a dealer of both acoustic and digital pianos, and I continue to be a piano tuner/technician very much in demand. 

From my perspective as a musician, technician, and a dealer, the one thing any acoustic piano will always be able to do that a digital will not ever be able to match is touch response. If your goal is to learn to play an acoustic piano and be able to control the infinite degree of touch response that only an acoustic piano is capable of, then don't resort to the digital. An acoustic piano produces not only an infinite range of dynamics (degrees of loud or soft), but also an infinite palate of tonal color as well. A digital limits you to (typically 5 or 6) levels of loud or soft - far from infinite - but tonal changes don't happen at all with a digital. With the digital, you get the same tone, be it soft, medium soft, medium, loud and a little louder. While keyboard weighting has been an excellent improvement for digitals, we will never be able to replicate the actual effect that the system of levers inside the action has on that actual hammer to string contact - be it in the vertical or grand action (not to mention the many variations in hammer density, scaling, etc.)  With the piano samples alone, there is no contest between the digital and the acoustic piano (assuming we're not talking about a junk acoustic, here). The acoustic wins without a challenge. The digital simply cannot match the musical sensation of a real piano. The draw of a digital for me, lies in its ability to produce many different sounds, and/or to be able to practice through headphones without disturbing others around me.

My personal reason for owning a digital (in addition to an acoustic) is in my own musical interests, which the piano alone cannot produce, and in inspiring the interest of my children in music itself. They'll fiddle around with all the sounds on the digital and start actually composing music a long time before you can get them to sit down and learn music on the piano. But at the point where they need to start developing skill with playing music composed for the piano, I'm going to push to steer them to the acoustic. And if I'm accompanying myself to sing with a keyboard of some type, if I want just the piano sound, then the digital will be my second choice every time. If I want a combination of sounds, then the digital will be my first choice. But I can get by with a well-maintained, even if the tuning isn't clean, acoustic over a digital any day of the week.

So, to me, the choice is not whether to change from vertical to digital, but why not both?

That said, I am very impressed with the offering of features in this new line of digitals from Samick. For the price, I don't think anything else on the market comes close, and it is my understanding that dealers of Yamaha digitals are placing large orders for the Samicks. One model, the SSP-20, is so popular that it is back ordered 2 to 3 months.

Offline derschoenebahnhof

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #10 on: February 16, 2012, 12:04:38 AM »
I've been a musician (primarily voice, but I play an assortment of different instruments, including piano/keyboard) all my life, the son of a piano teacher with both a grand and a vertical in our home. I learned to tune pianos as a senior in high school, now going on 28 years ago. I've been the concert tuner/technician at two major universities, for dealers of Steinways, Yamahas, Baldwins, Kawais, Samicks, Young Changs, etc., and I've owned both acoustic and digital pianos. I am now a dealer of both acoustic and digital pianos, and I continue to be a piano tuner/technician very much in demand. 

From my perspective as a musician, technician, and a dealer, the one thing any acoustic piano will always be able to do that a digital will not ever be able to match is touch response. If your goal is to learn to play an acoustic piano and be able to control the infinite degree of touch response that only an acoustic piano is capable of, then don't resort to the digital. An acoustic piano produces not only an infinite range of dynamics (degrees of loud or soft), but also an infinite palate of tonal color as well. A digital limits you to (typically 5 or 6) levels of loud or soft - far from infinite - but tonal changes don't happen at all with a digital. With the digital, you get the same tone, be it soft, medium soft, medium, loud and a little louder. While keyboard weighting has been an excellent improvement for digitals, we will never be able to replicate the actual effect that the system of levers inside the action has on that actual hammer to string contact - be it in the vertical or grand action (not to mention the many variations in hammer density, scaling, etc.)  With the piano samples alone, there is no contest between the digital and the acoustic piano (assuming we're not talking about a junk acoustic, here). The acoustic wins without a challenge. The digital simply cannot match the musical sensation of a real piano. The draw of a digital for me, lies in its ability to produce many different sounds, and/or to be able to practice through headphones without disturbing others around me.

My personal reason for owning a digital (in addition to an acoustic) is in my own musical interests, which the piano alone cannot produce, and in inspiring the interest of my children in music itself. They'll fiddle around with all the sounds on the digital and start actually composing music a long time before you can get them to sit down and learn music on the piano. But at the point where they need to start developing skill with playing music composed for the piano, I'm going to push to steer them to the acoustic. And if I'm accompanying myself to sing with a keyboard of some type, if I want just the piano sound, then the digital will be my second choice every time. If I want a combination of sounds, then the digital will be my first choice. But I can get by with a well-maintained, even if the tuning isn't clean, acoustic over a digital any day of the week.

So, to me, the choice is not whether to change from vertical to digital, but why not both?

That said, I am very impressed with the offering of features in this new line of digitals from Samick. For the price, I don't think anything else on the market comes close, and it is my understanding that dealers of Yamaha digitals are placing large orders for the Samicks. One model, the SSP-20, is so popular that it is back ordered 2 to 3 months.

Hmm, I don't agree here. I measured at least 100 velocity levels with the YDP-181 (supposedly up to 128, I guess I would have to slam the keys even harder...). That's very different from 5 or 6 levels. The YDP-181 itself has samples at 3 different levels and then it interpolates between these if I understand correctly. Pianoteq can reproduce a lot more tone color because it is not limited to sampling.

For better or for worse I find it a lot easier to control dynamics on my digital piano than on the upright I used to have (and sold). Ok, it was a Russian upright, and build quality was pretty lousy. I wouldn't go as far as saying uprights have an infinite number of levels. There's friction to get the key going, then there is a minimum speed the key needs to have to get the hammer flying toward the string, etc.

Of course, it is far more than 128, but how many of us are actually able to produce that many levels? Has it been measured for professional pianists? Just curious  :P

CG

PS: obviously I would like an acoustic. Next time I move to a bigger place...

Offline gvfarns

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #11 on: February 16, 2012, 03:31:04 AM »
A digital limits you to (typically 5 or 6) levels of loud or soft - far from infinite - but tonal changes don't happen at all with a digital. With the digital, you get the same tone, be it soft, medium soft, medium, loud and a little louder.

Tannertuner, really!

This post manifests a near criminal degree of ignorance and is completely false.  I'm sorry to say that you have completely discredited yourself in stark contrast to the objective of your first paragraph trying to define yourself as an expert.  Have you only played a child's play keyboard or something?

The minimum number of volumes available in any digital piano is 127, which is the amount the MIDI specification requires.  Internally they may use more, and I believe many quality pianos do.  Whether they do or not, 127 is a large number of velocities--larger than it sounds.  Even if you were trying really hard, you would not be able to strike a note with the exact same volume as the previous one, no matter how good you are.  From the perspective of any normal human the number of volumes may as well be infinite since there's a good chance you can't hear the difference between volume 104 and 105, for example.  It's like telling the difference between two adjacent shades of red in a palette of millions of colors.  Humans can't do it.  Our sensitivity to differences in volume is much weaker than our sensitivity to color.

Your remark about the tone is also false.  Only the very lowest level of keyboards, the ones not really qualifying as digital pianos, use only one timbre.  Apparently the p95 (the best such ghetto keyboard not worthy of the name "digital piano") uses one original timbral layer but uses a mathematical algorithm to modify it with the velocity so that the timbre changes with velocity.  That's a cheap, crappy keyboard, though.  A normal quality piano like the P155 has on the order of 4 original sampled timbres, which are then modified mathematically to respond to how you play and in better pianos, interpolated across the various velocities so that every velocity produces a different timbre even if you play it exactly the same way (which you can't).  Higher end digitals have yet more sampled layers.  Super-high quality digital pianos (i.e., software pianos) use teens or low 20's of timbres for each note as a reference before adding harmonics, sympathetic resonance, articulation, and other musical elements.   Some super-high quality pianos use a completely distinct sampled (or modeled) timbre for every velocity.

Digital pianos are, in fact, very expressive.  A decent digital piano sounds much richer and is capable of a greater variety of colors than a low quality upright because it is sampled from much finer pianos.  Even the cheapest real digital piano, the P155, is more musically expressive and capable of more and better timbral color than a middle to low quality upright.

Don't spread false information to newbies, please.  Really, three seconds in the room with a digital piano would have been enough to disabuse you of most things you said.  I would encourage anyone reading this thread, ever, to view everything you have said and may say in the future with great skepticism as you are clearly given to stating uninformed guesses as if they were facts and are too ignorant to recognize the obtuse falsehoods in your own statements.

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #12 on: February 16, 2012, 03:51:59 AM »
To throw in my permanent and never ending issue with a digital..

there are 127 velocities.. fine..  so say i produce a faster key decent with less arm weight, and hit a velocity of 78...  now say i produce slow key decent with more weight and hit a velocity of 78.

a real piano would produce 2 different sounds here..  will a digital?  and how do I learn to produce a singing tone if all of the recorded samples were made with a touch that produces a nice singing tone..  I could play with a terrible touch and still produce a delicate sound..  seems problematic to me.

I won't pretend to have a clue about the programming going into a high end software piano though.. they are certainly doing a lot better than they used to.

Offline gvfarns

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #13 on: February 16, 2012, 04:22:37 AM »
Ajs, there are valid critiques of digitals but as you described it, that is not one.  The acoustic piano timbre, like the digital, depends only on the velocity of the hammer at the time it strikes the string.  Nothing else.  Any differences you notice (holding terminal velocity constant) are all in your mind.  Earlier you raised a more real (but much smaller) concern about rapid repeated notes all sounding the same instead of resonating more and more.  That is probably a valid concern, but not one easily noticed by a casual player.  In fact, it's not very easily noticed even by an advanced player who is not looking for it.

Digitals certainly have limitations and I have some problems with them as well.  I have complaints about most acoustics I've played also, of course (why are so few acoustics well regulated?). 

The point from the perspective of this thread is that limitations of digitals are mostly subtle, especially for a beginner or intermediate player.  The fact that the same note hit quickly over and over (if you could hit it the same way) always sounds the same isn't going to prevent the OP from improving their piano skills with a digital piano.  Especially when the alternative is...what?  Not having a piano?  Having an acoustic you can't play often because it bothers the neighbors? 

I can tell you I started playing a LOT more after I got my first digital.  I could suddenly practice at night, and I could play any time without being self conscious.  And I didn't have to constantly listen to the harsh tone of the cheap uprights that were my alternatives at the time.  It made a big difference in the quality of my life and playing.  No matter how good the acoustic pianos I own in the future are, I will always have and play a digital as well.

Offline j_menz

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #14 on: February 16, 2012, 04:27:40 AM »
Quote
a real piano would produce 2 different sounds here

Only if your "real piano" can defy the laws of physics - the hammer would strike the strings in exactly the same way and with exactly the same velocity and force, producing exactly the same sound.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #15 on: February 16, 2012, 04:55:57 AM »
Only if your "real piano" can defy the laws of physics - the hammer would strike the strings in exactly the same way and with exactly the same velocity and force, producing exactly the same sound.

The pianos sound is dependent on the speed of the hammer..  and since the speed can change after the hammer is released.. key speed vs weight can result in different final striking speeds..

heavier weight can displace an object with more force at a lower speed because of momentum.  Would you rather be run over by a truck or a bike, considering both travelling at the same speed?

a keyboard can mimic this assuming the hammer action triggers the midi, and it is acutally displaced from key...  a real hammer release..

Is that how is works inside or is it purely triggered by the speed of the key decent and impact point, and the hammer is just there for feel?


tell me my understanding of physics is wrong? - i think if 50g of weight hits an object at speed x, the object will travel less distance than if 50 kg hits it at speed x.

its obviously subtle, but it should make a difference..   

Offline j_menz

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #16 on: February 16, 2012, 05:31:04 AM »
OK, I think I get your point.  The "weight" of the keystroke and the "speed" of the keystroke may in fact combine to impart different speeds to the hammer, but the weight of the hammer is constant, so any two combinations of key weight and key speed that impart the same hammer velocity will sound the same.

Good digitals do, in fact, have a hammer mechanism that strikes a hammer against a sensor to trigger the MIDI, so should work just the same,  and just as subtly, as an acoustic. 

Valid point for the difference between acoustic and non-hammer action digitals.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #17 on: February 16, 2012, 05:45:26 AM »
OK, I think I get your point.  The "weight" of the keystroke and the "speed" of the keystroke may in fact combine to impart different speeds to the hammer, but the weight of the hammer is constant, so any two combinations of key weight and key speed that impart the same hammer velocity will sound the same.

Good digitals do, in fact, have a hammer mechanism that strikes a hammer against a sensor to trigger the MIDI, so should work just the same,  and just as subtly, as an acoustic. 

Valid point for the difference between acoustic and non-hammer action digitals.

Yes, the hammer has a fixed weight so once it is released it is purely a factor of the speed at which is strikes the string..  but our body/arm/hand/fingers are infinitely variable. and we can move at a certain speed and impart almost no force, or a lot of force.. and the hammer will respond the force of the strike, not the speed of the strike..  speed is simply one factor in the force applied.

I'm not enough of a physics wizz to really be able to know for sure how to explain..  but I think acceleration or deceleration through the point of sound should make a difference too..  as in that if the hammer is speeding up at the point of release it should strike the string much faster than if it is slowing down, despite identical release velocities..   

I have long assumed that my digitals hammer action was doing the job of triggering (since I can play it with breaking down into tears :P)

I wouldnt have a clue if thats the norm though..

...

The point is perhaps better explained just as "does the midi velocity reflect the key speed or the hammer speed?" ..if its the latter then we have no problem.

Offline gvfarns

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #18 on: February 16, 2012, 10:42:04 AM »
I think you are still barking up the wrong tree.  All major digital pianos use a real hammer and the sensor is associated with the hammer, not the key.  For example if you hit a key hard but stop it short so it does not bottom out, the momentum will carry the hammer up and trigger the note, just as it does in an acoustic.

Whether the hammer is accelerating or decelerating at the time of letoff in an acoustic will not affect the velocity or tone.  The instant letoff occurs the velocity of the hammer when it hits the strings is fully determined because acceleration stops.  Also because of letoff the amount of weight applied to the key does not affect how hard it hits so mentioning the 50g vs 50kg comparison makes no sense.  Every time a hammer hits the strings in an acoustic it hits with exactly the same weight.  If two strokes have the same hammer velocity at letoff (which is before impact) they will have exactly the same tone and volume.

Digitals do not have true letoff, which is one complaint about them.  However, this does not affect how they sound, only how they feel.  In a digital the amount of weight you use actually does transfer to the hammers (actually they are carefully set up so you can press the hammer against its impact surface and be bottomed out at the same time, but close enough).  However, unlike in an acoustic, the velocity is calculated by sensors which measure velocity before bottoming out, presumably at the same point in the stroke where letoff would occur in an acoustic.  These sensors do not work by measuring the force applied, but by examining the speed directly.   Therefore in a digital, just as in an acoustic the amount of weight you apply will not affect the tone in any way, holding constant velocity at the time the sensors do their calculation.

Notice that your assertion that the speed of the hammer can change after letoff is incorrect (that is, it does change but always in the exact same way given velocity at the point of letoff).  No acceleration occurs after letoff.  In other words, acceleration does not have momentum.  Once you stop pushing (letoff) acceleration stops.  This happens before the hammer hits the strings.

Using more or less weight as you play is a technique for tricking our mind into making our fingers produce the correct velocity.  It doesn't affect the tone in any way besides that. 

I have been looking through but unfortunately I can't find anything in your posts in this thread that is correct.

A couple of things to repeat for clarity and emphasis:

1. Neither digital nor acoustic pianos respond to force.  Only speed.  Your statement that hammer speed is only one variable of interest indetermining force is false in both cases.

2. Tone and volume are perfectly related in both an acoustic and a digital.  It is not possible to get two different timbral colors with the same volume in either instrument, contrary to what piano teachers often say.

Caveat:  Velocity calculation in a digital is performed by measuring the time it takes for the hammer to get from one position to another.  If these two positions were infinitesimally close together, what I wrote above would be literally true.  However, there is a little space between these sensors, and if acceleration occurs in this region, the resulting triggered velocity would be the average velocity of the hammer between the two points.  Although the sensors are close together (this varies by piano) they are not infinitesimally close.  Therefore it is correct to say that the acceleration of a digital in that small region can affect its tone and volume.  The same is not true of an acoustic, where it is the velocity at a single point that is relevant and acceleration plays no part whatsoever.  I'm not sure how large the sensing region is in a digital compared with the tolerances in an acoustic (the space between letoff and hitting the strings, for example) so I don't know whether this is an issue in practice.  However, it is a theoretical difference between the two actions and could, in principle, drive your perception that a digital responds differently than an acoustic.

It would go the opposite way of what you have said, though.  Weight would matter in a digital but not in an acoustic.

Offline monkey68

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Re: Upright to digital?h
«Reply #19 on: February 16, 2012, 11:18:07 AM »
So getting back to the OP question... I just got my p95 last night, and I couldn't be happier. It seems like some people might consider it to be a disgrace to pianos to own a digital, but it makes perfect sense for me. I haven't tested the sound without headphones yet, since I live in a building and came home late last night, but with the headphones, it sounds pretty good. Doesn't sound exactly like an acoustic, but it's not making my ears bleed either. As for the feel, it doe feel quite different, but not too the point where it was hindering my playing. My only recommendation is to find a hard surface to place it on. I have wall to wall carpeting that isn't the most even surface, and when I started playing faster, there was this sensation of the keyboard starting to move, but that's more of a problem with my carpet. The stand did come with wall mounts as well, so you can screw the piano and stand into The wall, but I'm renting, and any holes need to get filled before we move out. I might do it though if it gets to be a real issue.

So my reasons for a digital? I'm on a very limited budget, I'll be moving in a couple years and moving a real piano is a huge pain, I work strange hours so playing when I want without disturbing anyone, and I'm just playing for fun. I don't expect to be amazing, I don't plan on playing any concerts, if I can play a few show tunes when I'm stressed, I'm happy. For that, I dont need or want to spend all my money on something I'll only play a few times a week. I'm not serious with the piano anymore. If I was, I would have gotten something else. I thinkkn it's great for the casual player or someone starting out, and I'm very happy so far with my purchase.

Offline gvfarns

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #20 on: February 16, 2012, 05:21:21 PM »
Good point about the stand.  I'd recommend getting the heaviest duty stand you can, even though there's no chance it will actually have to support 300 pounds or whatever they are rated for.  I used to use an X-style stand and it was quite wobbly on certain songs.  I later got the heaviest duty z-style stand from On-Stage and now it's solid as a rock.  Solid as an acoustic.  Even more frequently recommended is the 4-leg style stands like the Quik Lok ws540.

I do sort of class the P95 with keyboards instead of pianos because it has GHS action and only one sampled timbre layer, but it is sort of the best in its class.  Whatever algorithm they use to modify the sound is pretty effective.  If you do consider the P95, then Casios like the PX 130 come back into the picture.  It actually has a three sensor action, which emulates the double escapement and is present only in high end Yamaha and Roland pianos.  The main complaint I have heard about Casios is that the sustain is not long.  True of many digital pianos, unfortunately.

Offline missdoc77

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #21 on: February 16, 2012, 06:53:11 PM »
Ok, wow... kinda went off on a goose chase there and made my head spin!!  LOL  Thanks, monkey68 for bringing us back to topic and for your comments on your P95.  I hope you'll pop in again and update us as you get to spend more time on it!  I hated to hear in the previous post that the P95 is "ghetto".  That actually made me chuckle, though.  :)  Bottom line and my original purpose for coming here is this - I do not want to "cheap out" on my purchase and end up with something I won't be happy with and/or won't last.  I also don't want to spend a ton of money for many features I'll likely never use.  I want to play again after so many years of not having access to a piano and I want my daughter to explore her interest in playing.  However, I am not a professional, won't be performing anywhere, etc. and don't care for much of anything other than the classic piano voice.  This is about my love of playing and really missing it!  I want something that feels close enough to an acoustic that it won't hinder what skill I have left and hopefully allow me to improve... as well as be something my daughter can start on and easily progress from if she chooses to pursue it and move on to an acoustic.

Thank you, again, everyone, for your input.  Most of it was very helpful!  There are a couple places here in Houston that rent out digitals.  I think we will start there so we can end up with something we'll be really happy with!

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #22 on: February 16, 2012, 07:37:17 PM »
What fun this is!

First off, our grand expert of the five levels is dead wrong; any decent modern digital will measure the force of the key press, digitize it (typically to 255 levels) and then use that information to produce some kind of variation on the sound -- just what depends on the sophistication of the following electronics.

As I said in an earlier post on this subject, the actual mechanism of the keys leading up to that force measurement is one of the major differences among digitals keyboards, and to my way of thinking is by far the most important one.  So if you are buying one, be sure you can play it and see if the "feel" is good for you.  Compare it with a really good acoustic grand, if you can.

Then... if you look at an acoustic piano action, either in a diagram (if you are any good with diagrams) or in real life (get your technician to show you!) you will see that as you press down on the key, the hammer rises (or moves toward the string on an upright).  At some point very close to the string, it is released from the key, hits the string (in that order) and bounces back to a rest.  This is so that you can get repetition, and also so that the hammer doesn't stay on the string if you hold down the note.  Now... the faster the key is moving, the faster the hammer will be moving when it hits the string, and the louder the sound will be.  If you change the force with which you press on the key, the key will move faster; if you want the key to move with more velocity, you have to use more force.  And the force with which the hammer hits the string depends only on the velocity of the hammer when it is released from the key -- nothing else.

What is amazing is that a good player can get such a wide variety of sound quality from such a relatively simple mechanism!
Ian

Offline ajspiano

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #23 on: February 16, 2012, 09:27:30 PM »
I suspect that my thoughts are everything to do with how my mind perceives what I'm doing, not the exact measurable force. As in more weight with less speed, vs less weight more speed at an equal stike velocity doesn't actually mean a different speed at hammer release, but different parts of the human body.

We have a relative sense about the speed we are moving in relation the different body parts range of motion..

So more weight in the arm, less finger speed produces the same final hammer speed as less arm weight more finger speed, but the latter will feel like a faster and more energetic movement.

So it's not so much about the finite velocity as what it feels like to produce it, and whether the keyboard accurately represents the same action as the piano. Because we respond to the resistance (feel) of the piano keys an aim our weight at the point of sound. If the keyboard doesn't have a point of sound and the right feel of hammer escapement it may likely be difficult to develop a truly advanced skill on it that would be freely interchangeable with the real piano.

Offline iansinclair

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #24 on: February 17, 2012, 12:30:57 AM »
Bingo!  You've got it exactly -- and isn't it amazing the way we can perceive ourselves!
Ian

Offline monkey68

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #25 on: February 17, 2012, 01:41:02 AM »
So I tinkered around some more today, and finally opened the manual. I found out how to add a reverb that makes it sound much more realistic. You can also adjust the sensitivity of the keys, but I didn't feel a great difference between the sensitivities. I also played without the headphones. If you turn the volume all the way up, it does sound like a piano, not a Steinway grand, but it doesn't sound any worse than the young Chang upright I grew up with. The problem though is when you turn it down, it doesn't sound so realistic anymore, and you can hearnthe thumping of the keys. With headphones on, it does sound better.

The loudest volume is not so loud, maybe just a bit louder than an upright, but isn't so great for apartment living. Also, I love having the headphones, I can practice without my fiance hearing, and then one day surprise him with how good I am. Is the yamaha p95 perfect? No, but for $500, I wouldn't find anything else comparable. I certainly couldn't afford a real piano,  nor have a place for it. It suits my needs nicely, so I'm happy.

Offline missdoc77

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #26 on: February 19, 2012, 01:52:44 AM »
Weeellll.... as I feared, went shopping today and of course fell in love with some DP's that were way over what we wanted to spend.  Funny enough, my husband is wanting to go back and look at the Roland HPi-7F!!  That's considerably more than what I want but he gets excited about the techie stuff and the 6F they had setup was pretty darn cool.  Anyway, we are renting a Roland RP-201.  I hadn't done much research on these since they are in a different price range than I was concentrating on...  I was very surprised at the differences between these and the Yamahas we looked at, sound wise.  I'm definitely no professional but I thought the Rolands sounded better.

Now that I'm home and doing some research on the RP-201, I am not finding much on it but am finding a lot it's successor, the 301 with upgraded Ivory-feel keys and superNATURAL sound.  I'm also shocked at the price -- the dealer here is asking $2600 for the 201 and I'm finding the 301 online for a thousand LESS.  Seems strange.  Maybe they're trying to pull one over on me!?  I'll have to ask them about that and maybe even back out of the 6-month minimum rental before they deliver it.  Said and done, the 6-month rental will cost us about $600, which will be credited toward our purchase of ANY piano we buy from them.  But if I can get the newer model for $1000 less??  Maybe I'd be stupid to not just buy one outright... or maybe they'll cut me a deal.  We'll see.

Advice from the experienced??  This is my 1st DP purchase!

Offline gvfarns

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #27 on: February 19, 2012, 04:37:13 PM »
Yamaha only samples from Yamaha pianos, Kawai from Kawai, but Roland samples from whatever piano sounds best, so they often have a more general sound (i.e., Steinway) that many find more pleasing.  They are also the most expensive of the three big brands, so don't be surprised by sticker shock.

It's really hard to give you an idea of what's a fair price because console models like you are looking at have super high sticker prices and then you are supposed to negotiate a much lower street price, and the manufacturers do not let stores publish prices online so you can't really compare.  Your best bet is to get competing offers from other retailers.

The 201 has the PHA II alpha action, which is not Roland's best reviewed action.  If you want better sounds and better action and to save money, you can get the FP-7F (buy it online).  It's a slab-type piano, but otherwise superior to the ones you are talking about.  People say the speakers are pretty good for a slab piano, but they may not be as good as console models have, though.  Of course, you can connect it to some external speakers that are better than any digital has if you want.

Offline oxy60

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #28 on: February 19, 2012, 04:39:41 PM »
Getting your feet wet in this field is very important. Knowledge is power, and you will need a lot.

I was also surprised at the prices of Rowland keyboards at my dealer. A point to remember is that the keyboards are "gig" level and are designed to take heavy abuse from being set up and taken down a lot. Not to mention the risks of road houses, seedy bars and all that can happen in public establishments that serve alcohol.

Maybe you can get the sound you want at a lesser price for home use.

"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."  John Muir  (We all need to get out more.)

Offline missdoc77

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #29 on: February 19, 2012, 05:26:43 PM »
I suck at trying to bargain!  But I do intend to point out to them that I can get the newer model RP-301 (w/ PHA III alpha action that works for me) for much less than they are asking for the 201.   If they won't cut me a deal, I won't even rent from them and send $600 down the drain.  I looked at the FP-7F and I do understand the benefits of the slab style but will spend just as much on that one once we buy the stand and bench, even online... and we don't need portable.  It's a tough choice and now that I've gotten my husband interested (which he wasn't before we went shopping), I've got a little more leeway on budget.  I'll say again that the HPi-7F is amazing and has really cool teaching/learning tools, like nothing else I've seen.  If any of you haven't yet checked them out, it's worth looking.  I was impressed.  BUT, not ready to invest that heavily!  :)  I think the guy said they are around $6500.  My husband thought it was so awesome that we should get it - after balking when I was talking $1000 limit.  MEN!!  **No offense to any of you here!**  LOL  Maybe someday when the list of priorities isn't so long! 

Offline missdoc77

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #30 on: February 19, 2012, 07:46:35 PM »
Alright, I emailed our piano guy and he explained the differences in the 201/301 so I now understand the difference in price.  We're moving forward with our rental... I'm super excited - they'll get it delivered in a few days!  :)

Offline gvfarns

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #31 on: February 19, 2012, 08:48:17 PM »
I think the guy said they are around $6500.  My husband thought it was so awesome that we should get it - after balking when I was talking $1000 limit.

Digitals in this price range make no sense to me whatsoever.  I'm always amazed at how they sell at all.  For only like 500 or 1000 more you can get an AvantGrand that is a whole different world in quality from the pianos you are looking at right now.

I saw some Rolands with built in lessons and stuff the other day and thought they were really neat.  Just not worth anywhere close to the price of an AvantGrand N1.   Lessons are cool but not the kind of thing you use over and over and over, I expect.

In my opinion, the price range in which digitals make sense is about $1000 - $2800 or so.  Above that and you are probably overpaying, below that you are better off getting a broken down acoustic on craigslist.

Offline tannertuner

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #32 on: February 22, 2012, 03:32:06 PM »
I'm also shocked at the price -- the dealer here is asking $2600 for the 201 and I'm finding the 301 online for a thousand LESS.  Seems strange.  Maybe they're trying to pull one over on me!?  I'll have to ask them about that and maybe even back out of the 6-month minimum rental before they deliver it.  Said and done, the 6-month rental will cost us about $600, which will be credited toward our purchase of ANY piano we buy from them.  But if I can get the newer model for $1000 less??  Maybe I'd be stupid to not just buy one outright... or maybe they'll cut me a deal.  We'll see.

Advice from the experienced??  This is my 1st DP purchase!

Does the online retailer provide for you a convenient showroom with a knowledgeable sales staff where you can go and try out different models of digitals and probably acoustic pianos as well?  I know plenty of brick and mortar music store owners who are tiring of paying for expensive rents, light bills and staff salaries for prospective customers to come in and try their instruments or amps and equipment, then turn and go purchase the same model online from a retailer who has very low overhead. You mentioned that the dealer would deliver it? He's got both labor and vehicle expenses to cover there. If it's a model that requires assembly of the cabinet stand, that's an hour's worth of labor minimum (not to mention he's got to keep an employee enough work to justify hiring him). You're getting a whole different level of service from your local dealer than you would from an online retailer. In my view, internet sales of new musical instruments could bring the entire industry to a close once local dealers can no longer afford to be in business. We are very near to that point now.

Any rent-to-own program will charge a higher sales price like that because the dealer has to make enough money to replace the inventory on the floor when you've only paid him $35 (or whatever - that's pretty typical in my area) for the first month's rent. Renting, in the long run, will be more expensive than purchasing, and for the dealer, a very slow return on his investment, not to mention the hassle and added expense of dealing with customers who decide to stop paying mid contract.  When we compared buying vs renting a saxophone for our oldest son to play in band, we would have paid almost $2000 over a 24 month period for the rent-to-own vs a little more than $900 for the straight purchase (more than 10 years ago). When you rent and don't keep, you lose everything you pay in. When you buy and decide to not keep, you at least have a nearly new instrument that has a decent value for resale. This is especially true for used acoustic pianos and is one of the strongest recommendations I make for buying acoustic over digital. Due to inflation, an acoustic piano should hold its original purchase value for at least 20 years, whereas resale value of digitals falls like a rock off a cliff due to constant technological improvements and the absence of inflation as new models are introduced. This has happened to some degree in the acoustic industry since the Chinese started building pianos for sale in the US, but that can't continue into the future. There remains a strong market for good used acoustic pianos due to the dearth of supply of late model used instruments because sales of new acoustics over the last 30 years have dropped sharply, partly due to the introduction of digitals as a cheaper alternative.

Consider that digitals, like TVs, have advanced dramatically over the past 20 years while sales prices have remained fairly flat, if not fallen (my $1500 Samick will do about the same thing that the Technics model a friend paid $10,000 for 20 years ago would do, and the samples in the Samick are exponentially better than that Technics had, while a 55" LED TV costs less today than a 32" tube did 20 years ago). The dealer, then, makes the same profit margin on a single sale today that he made 20 years ago, yet his overhead costs have increased significantly in that same time, so he somehow has to find a way to either make more sales or other ways to make more money to pay the rent than he did 20 years ago. Falling prices are good for the consumer in the short term, but once dealers can no longer afford to be in business, the industry will lose a much needed resource to the music community.

Offline oxy60

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #33 on: February 22, 2012, 04:11:55 PM »
One of my friends has both a walk in store and an online store.

On rent to own, yes you will pay more but suppose you don't like the instrument? I like the possibility of switching out. I've bought two acoustic pianos via rent to own and love that system. In today's digital market I need more time than a showroom visit would allow.
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."  John Muir  (We all need to get out more.)

Offline missdoc77

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #34 on: February 22, 2012, 06:43:14 PM »
Let me clarify -- I'm paying $250 up front for delivery/pickup as part of the rental agreement.  The contract is also a 6-month minimum at $50/month.  That's $550 total for 6-month rental.  The only reason I'm ok with that is because that $550 gets credited toward my purchase should I choose to keep the DP (which will be delivered NEW).  If I return it and want to buy something different, the $550 is also credited toward purchase.  So I'm not losing any money unless I decide not to buy anything at all.  So this company, I think, has a great marketing strategy here.  They said they have a very low return rate -- people usually love the rental enough to keep it.  Anyway... I like to support local business and this one has been in Houston a very long time.  That speaks volumes about how they run their business and their customer service.

On a side note, their showroom DP's belong to Roland.

As far as my initial sticker shock...  After digging into the details between the 201 and 301 models, I understand better why the 201 is actually more expensive AND why you don't find them online, only via dealers.  Our dealer explained well and did a great side-by-side comparison for me.  He also let us know that Roland will be releasing a 301R (I think that's correct) in the next 6 months or so that will have the best of both 201 and 301 models so might be something we want to look at and at that point we can choose to buy that one if we wish and not lose anything!  Sounds good to me.  :)

In the end, we're really going to spend more than we wanted to initially but I think it will be a good investment and a DP that will last a long time.  I'll always enjoy playing and maybe sometime have room for an acoustic!  At the least, if our 10 year old decided to get serious, she'll have a quality instrument to get her going.  :)

Sadly, my parents have considered selling my acoustic Yamaha and checked into resale prices, which were not worth the trouble almost.  I was surprised at what the dealer quoted them... of course they take a good commission.  Either way, even on a private sale they wouldn't get anywhere near what they bought it for and it's in excellent condition.  Oh well, I vote for them to keep it and maybe I can get it from them in the future!  :)

Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Offline gvfarns

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #35 on: February 22, 2012, 10:08:28 PM »
Acoustics do last longer than digitals, but the notion that they hold their value well is not as true as it once was.  Digitals have cannibalized the used upright market so much that they now sell for very little indeed from private parties and are not worth much as a trade-in.  I expect that trend to continue in the future.  An acoustic holds its value if you buy from a private party at a very low price so that there is little value to be lost.  But then, digitals sell for a low price as well...

It's a more extreme case, but I compare acoustics to good film cameras and lenses used to hold their value very well.  Digital cameras lose their value faster.  But most film cameras are now paperweights.  Digital cameras progressed a lot faster than digital pianos have, but the idea is the same.

An acoustic upright is likely to not be a good investment at all, unfortunately, due to the very sad state of the secondary market.

Offline houseofpiano

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #36 on: October 15, 2013, 11:04:10 AM »
The action on higher end digital pianos has gotten very close to that of a real piano, but a digital will never completely match the response, and sound of a real piano 100%. I would say that I prefer my digital to most of the uprights I've had the displeasure to have played. I don't have any issues going between my Yamaha Digital with a Graded Hammer Action, Enhanced Keyboard, and the grand pianos I play at Churches, nursing homes, and senior centers, etc. Which is better for you depends on your situation. The advantages of a digital are:
1) Silent practice with headphones, or low volume practice by the turn of a knob.
2) Don't have to worry about climate control (I turn my heat down, at night, and during the day when I'm not here to save money, this wouldn't be good for an acoustic piano).
3) Takes up less space than a grand.
4) Easy to record your performance using Midi for playback to evaluate yourself.
5) A top of the line Digital Costs less than a decent quality new acoustic piano.
6) No tuning costs.
7) More easily moved, and transported.

Disadvantages of a digital piano:
1) Less responsive to differences in touch.
2) Won't sound as good as a quality acoustic piano, in good tune.
3) Won't last as long as a quality acoustic piano that's well maintained.
4) Will depreciate in value quicker than an acoustic.


Regards,
House of Piano Music Academy
visit us - www.houseofpianomusicacademy.com

Offline oxy60

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #37 on: October 15, 2013, 04:39:54 PM »
You also need to factor in the ongoing costs of keeping an upright in tune, etc.
"In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks."  John Muir  (We all need to get out more.)

Offline gyzzzmo

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Re: Upright to digital?
«Reply #38 on: October 15, 2013, 07:52:17 PM »
Its actually not all that complicated. If you're a serious student and have to take the neighbours (or family/gf) into account, take a digital with a headphone. Practising whenever you want is really great. If there's no such problem, take a good accoustic (second hand) piano.
1+1=11