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#2908887 02/12/18 10:35 AM
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Any thoughts on semi-weighted boards? I'm not expecting to be able to play Chopin on them but I'm wondering do they work well enough to play piano and still do jazz organ techniques.

Is it the best of both or the worst?

Thanks for your time


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A lot of people like the Fatar TP-40L for switching between piano, organ, and synth and orchestral timbres. You can find on Kurzweil PC3K and Forte.

On other synths it’s mixed bag with synth actions being made and used now. Most are lousy for piano playing. Try the Roland VR-730 and see what you think.


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Real pianists simply do not like semi weighted keybeds. They can make do with a semi weighted board, but they never like it. I am not a pianist so semi weighted is what I like.


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Originally Posted By: ElmerJFudd
A lot of people like the Fatar TP-40L ... on Kurzweil PC3K and Forte.


Is Fatar TP40L called a semi-weighted action ?
AFAIK,- all the Fatar TP40 models,- L / M / H /GH and WOOD are fully weighted actions.

TP40L only in KURZ PC3x, PC3K88 and Forte/ Forte 7.

The semi-weighted 76 keys action in Kurzweil PC3 and PC3K instruments is Fatar TP-8.

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Originally Posted By: Donsta
Any thoughts on semi-weighted boards? I'm not expecting to be able to play Chopin on them but I'm wondering do they work well enough to play piano and still do jazz organ techniques.

Is it the best of both or the worst?

I'm tempted to paraphrase Dickens, it is the best of both and the worst of both. ;-) Really, I think it depends more on the individual board. The Yamaha NP30 is un-weighted, but better for piano than some semi-weighted actions are. What makes a fully weighted board especially suitable for piano isn't the weight per se, it's the hammer mechanism, which is still absent in a semi-weighted board. That said, some semi-weighted boards are more amenable to piano playing than others. For me, one of the biggest differentiators is the consistency of the key feel from front to back (that's where some of the Roland and Korg boards notoriously fall short). But even then, there's a lot of variations. Some semi-weighteds that I have found pretty decent for piano are the Roland VR-700, Numa Compact/Compact2, Kurzweil SP4-7, Kurzweil Artis7 (esp. with the lighter springs I put in), some Nord models (but not others, even if they are based on the same Fatar P-8O action... though the Nords tend to be a bit heavily sprung for my taste regardless).


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As a pianist, I much prefer a weighted, hammer-action board for AP and Rhodes.

For synth sounds, a semi-weighted board without hammer action is preferred. The Yamaha DX7 action is still my favorite.

Although the TP/100 hammer action has been panned here, I much prefer it to a synth action for AP and Rhodes. Its weight makes a 25 pound board like the Nord Electro HP series a great choice for my needs.

Tom


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Weighted action or not, on a controller or other midi keyboard you're simply triggering a sound. I consider myself a piano player but I got used to synth keyboards after I moved to a 3rd floor walkup apartment and decided my Yam KX88 (63 lbs not including case) wasn't moving again. I could have bought another weighted board and left it in my car or garage, but doing gigs in New York City and its suburbs led me to move towards a small synth action board with easily accessible octave switch buttons! As I've said on this forum before, it's the same 1 to 127 velocity coming from whatever keyboard you're playing – all you have to do is be willing to work at adjusting your touch (along with velocity curves and keyboard dynamics settings if they have them). Some players don't want to compromise, I get that. Losing the weight in the keyboard department lets me transfer some of that to my speakers – the components of my setup that have an arguably bigger effect on its sound and my happiness with it.

More on topic, I have never understood what "semi" weighted means vs plain "unweighted" or synth action. I've always thought that any non-piano-type action was "unweighted." Is "semi" weighted just a synth action with tighter springs for more resistance? I honestly don't know the difference. ITGITC above calls the DX7 action semi-weighted. Really? I always thought of the DX7 as a plain unweighted synth action. What kind of action is "less" weighted than the DX7 (not just one with looser springs)?

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Semi-weighted .... That is sort of like semi-pregnant.


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Originally Posted By: ITGITC?

As a pianist, I much prefer a weighted, hammer-action board for AP and Rhodes.

For synth sounds, a semi-weighted board without hammer action is preferred. The Yamaha DX7 action is still my favorite.

Although the TP/100 hammer action has been panned here, I much prefer it to a synth action for AP and Rhodes. Its weight makes a 25 pound board like the Nord Electro HP series a great choice for my needs.

Tom





+1 for that. I've got an RD700nx, the action of which I love, but at 40kg including the Gator Case, I went for an Electro 5 HP for band work - and just use the RD in the studio or on occasional lounge gigs that require 88 notes. A weighted action in a board weighing 11.4kg + an SKB hard case comes to a total of 18.7kg. Much easier to manage.


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Originally Posted By: Reezekeys
Is "semi" weighted just a synth action with tighter springs for more resistance? I honestly don't know the difference.

AFAK, it's a matter of adding physical weights to the keys, Here are diagrams of Fatar TP8O and TP9S semi-weighteds... I believe the cross-hatched block at the right is the added weight.





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Originally Posted By: Al Coda
Originally Posted By: ElmerJFudd
A lot of people like the Fatar TP-40L ... on Kurzweil PC3K and Forte.


Is Fatar TP40L called a semi-weighted action ?
AFAIK,- all the Fatar TP40 models,- L / M / H /GH and WOOD are fully weighted actions.

TP40L only in KURZ PC3x, PC3K88 and Forte/ Forte 7.

The semi-weighted 76 keys action in Kurzweil PC3 and PC3K instruments is Fatar TP-8.

A.C.


I should have phrased better. I was implying that the light weighted action is preferable to many myself included if you must play piano and organ/synth/orch on the same keyboard.


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Ed (CEB) and Rob (Reezekeys) got it right as usual. "Semi-weighted" is a term that marketing departments like to throw around, but it doesn't really mean anything. I tend to think of 4 main categories:
1. Crappy unweighted (Korg Krome 61, Roland VR09)
2. Quality unweighted (DX7, Korg Kronos). I'd probably put the dedicated organ actions (Hammond, Roland VR730, even the Fatar TP8O etc.) in the same category - although the keys themselves may be different shape (waterfall not diving-board).
3. Hammer-action, covering a sliding scale of actions, including the ubiquitous but divisive TP100 found in Tom's Electro HP. Casio, Yamaha, Kawai, Roland and Korg all have a range of actions that try and emulate piano mechanisms. Yamaha CP4 is a favourite on this forum. I would classify the TP40L (that Elmer Fudd mentioned) as a quality hammer-action but with lighter than average weight (i.e. force required).
4. Others may not identify this as a separate category, but I put the TP8 (that Kurz use on their 76s apart from the Forte 7) in a separate "half-and-half" category. Too heavy to be a synth action, too light (well, too spongy) for piano. The action in my Oberheim MC1000/76 is similar - it's like there's neoprene under the keys. This is closest to what "semi-weighted" means to me, and I don't like it.

AnotherScott's happy with his Artis 7 action, but doesn't like TP8O in the waterfall Nords, which just goes to show how subjective these things are. I do agree with Scott's assessment of the NP30 action - it's a relatively high-quality unweighted action (albeit graded - heavier in the bass than the treble). It bottoms out hard though - I'm gradually getting used to it. I think it would make a great AP/Rhodes action for anyone coming from an organ background.

Cheers, Mike.

Last edited by stoken6; 02/12/18 12:37 PM.

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I have Scarbee EP in my iPhone now and am wondering if any of the USB portable 49 or 61 key controllers have fast good traction ( inertia, leverage that doesn’t feel like feathers, wet sponge, flopping around) playable Rhodes piano actions. I don’t us pitch bend wheels or pads or program changes. Just a bare bones portable controller fir piano with great action . 49 or 61 Keys.



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I have TP-8 action on my Kurz PC3. over the years I've found it to be a good compromise between needing weighted for piano and less weighting for organ. It's not ideal for either but I'm used to it and don't even think about it anymore. The only thing I wish Kurz would have done was go with a TP-8O so that the lip was removed when doing organ smears. At this point I'm not sure why any digital keyboard made uses a lip. My Hammond Porta B actually has lipped keys and that is more of an annoyance to me than the feel of the keys themselves.


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Originally Posted By: stoken6
I tend to think of 4 main categories:
1. Crappy unweighted...
2. Quality unweighted...
3. Hammer-action...
4. Others may not identify this as a separate category...

I would say three physical categories:
1. unweighted (also sometimes called synth action)
2. semi-weighted (same as unweighted, except they add weights to the keys)
3. hammer action (also called weighted actions, or sometimes "fully weighted" to distinguish them from semi)

And *each* of these are available in crappy and non-crappy variants.

As CEB's "pregnant" comment suggests, it is odd nomenclature. There is no such thing as a semi-weight, either it has a weight or it does not. I think this came about because, in the days before semi-weighted was a term, the actions with hammers were just called "weighted actions" to distinguish them from the synth actions. So when they started promoting non-hammer actions with weights, well, they couldn't call them weighted actions, because that term was already in used for the hammer action boards. So semi was a term that implied part-way there, it had weight, but not the full characteristics that people associated with what were called weighted actions. So if you look at it semantically, "semi" doesn't really modify "weight," rather "semi" modifies "weighted action."

Originally Posted By: stoken6
AnotherScott's happy with his Artis 7 action, but doesn't like TP8O in the waterfall Nords, which just goes to show how subjective these things are.

Yes, there's a lot of subjectivity to it. But just to be clear, I actually like the TP8O in the Electro 5D... yes, more highly sprung than I'd like, but still decently playable for piano. But I didn't like the TP8O in the Stage 2! Whether it was a hardware difference, software difference, or both, I don't know, but I did not like the way piano played from that one. Maybe the presence of aftertouch was a factor, I'm not certain. I'm eager to try the Stage 3, which people have said plays better than the NS2 did.

In general I find most unweighted or semi-weighted actions acceptable for organ playing, as long as the edges of the keys aren't sharp, and, though I'm not a stickler for waterfall, I prefer the edges to be at least solid enough on the sides to not provide an impediment to side-swipes. Pushback and pivot point are two other factors that affect playability, but I have a pretty wide range of acceptable. The bigger variable in SW for me is how suited they are for the "wrong" application, i.e. piano playing.

Originally Posted By: stoken6
I do agree with Scott's assessment of the NP30 action - it's a relatively high-quality unweighted action (albeit graded - heavier in the bass than the treble).

Right. And if anyone is wondering how it plays heavier or lighter in different keyboard ranges despite not having any weights, what they did was change the landing surface, so that the resistance to hitting bottom is different at the bottom of the board than it is at the top. (Basically, you're pushing down on more or fewer membrane bubbles.)


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Originally Posted By: Jazz+
I have Scarbee EP in my iPhone now and am wondering if any of the USB portable 49 or 61 key controllers have fast good traction ( inertia, leverage that doesn’t feel like feathers, wet sponge, flopping around) playable Rhodes piano actions.



IMO this is the best feeling dedicated controller in the category you specified.



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Originally Posted By: stoken6
"Semi-weighted" is a term that marketing departments like to throw around, but it doesn't really mean anything.

Cheers, Mike.


Agreed. Semi-weighted action is a marketing misnomer.

There's hammer action. Then there's everything else. And you simply have to put your hands on the keyboard to see if its action works for your needs.

I wanted hammer action when I purchased my PC2X many years ago. Kurzweil didn't offer a 73/76-key hammer action.

After hauling around this 50 pound keyboard in a 33 pound SKB hard case (Model: 1SKB-5817W), I got tired of it. When Nord introduced the Electro 3 HP with hammer action at 25 pounds, I had to try it.

It works well for me.

Compared to a well-maintained acoustic piano, electronic substitutes are all a compromise. If you understand this and are OK with it, then forget about it and go back to practicing.

Tom


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It's either hammer action or it aint. Whether they use spring tension or mini weights to try to site in the action doesn't matter to me.

I don't even think waterfall keys on organs mean that much either. The finest organs in the world have keys the look like diving boards. I've had 3 Hammonds with diving boards(E112, B3000, XB2). Never cut myself in 40 years. .... Also never broke a Hammond key.... Tip: Organs are not velocity sensitive.

Last edited by CEB; 02/12/18 01:55 PM.

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I disagree on their being no benefits to semi-weighted. It just feels smoother, more controllable. At NAMM, I played the Prologue which I first assumed was the same as the Kronos 61. It didn't feel as nice as the Kronos I had, at least from memory. Later I went back and spent more time going reviewing the Kronos action against the Prologue. Anyone should be able to feel the difference. The only difference between the actions is the addition of weights under the keys on the Kronos. And you are NOT going to replace the Fatar semi-weighted on my Minimoog D reissue with some crappy unweighted variant.

And talk about a category made just for marketing purposes, that's hammer action. There is such a wide range of weights. Some are tortuously heavy while often the cheap or and physically lightweight keyboards have this resistance to playing ppp, it's hit or miss if they will actually trigger the sound.

Busch.

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Originally Posted By: ITGITC?
There's hammer action. Then there's everything else.

Originally Posted By: CEB
It's either hammer action or it aint.

Yeah, despite my post about 3 categories, broadly speaking, that's basically how I see it as well. Hammer actions and non. The Semi vs. Un weighted distinction is there (as are a variety of other distinctions among designs) but functionally (i.e. what they're generally aimed to do well), the distinction is largely academic. That said, *most* SW do seem to be a bit more amenable to piano playing than *most* UW, if for whatever reason you simply aren't going to have a suitable hammer action at your disposal. Wanting to have just one board for everything is probably the most common reason for the compromise. Though particularly if you want to keep weight down, I'm not convinced that *every* hammer action board is better for piano than *every* non-hammer board. I've played some hammer boards that just didn't work for me, where I'd actually have rather played a decent SW.

Originally Posted By: ITGITC?
I don't even think waterfall keys on organs mean that much either. The finest organs in the world have keys the look like diving boards. I've had 3 Hammonds with diving boards(E112, B3000, XB2). Never cut myself in 40 years. .... Also never broke a Hammond key....

I also don't insist on waterfall... I actually liked the original digital CX3 action (which had a bit of a lip) over the later true waterfall. Diving board can be okay, but if the slant goes deep enough that there are "openings" in the side when you depress a key, that can make for uncomfortable side swipes. Also, the fact that a "real" hammond used a certain kind of key doesn't automatically make it desirable. My old Hammond C had edges that were too sharp, and yes, I bled! I Also I broke tons of keys on my old analog CX3, the black keys in particular just weren't designed to hold up to side-to-side motion, i.e. from swiping.

Last edited by AnotherScott; 02/12/18 02:25 PM.

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There's Hammer and Non-Hammer, sure, but I think there's more to it than that. Within each of those 2 categories, there are gradients from light to heavy. There are light hammer action keyboards, and heavy non-hammer action keyboards. And I agree with BurningBusch that even on a non hammer action, as long as it isn't sluggish, more weight makes it easier to get your timing tight and I think is more playable than a really light action. Even a real piano can have a really light action that I don't prefer.


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Nothing wrong with the real "semi-weighted" actions (think Yamaha DX7), they are very acceptable for playing piano.

The problem is when some manufacturers just put tighter springs instead of weights and call their actions "semi-weighted" for marketing purposes (Kurzweil is the biggest offender here with their "springy" action on LE series).

The real semi-weighted action doesn't push back, unlike "super-springy".

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The action on my Vox Continental is, in my opinion, the best example of "semi-weighted" that works well for organ, synth, and piano. I believe it is the same as the Kronos (true semi-weighted). It's a major reason I consider the Conti a keeper despite it's rather obvious shortcomings. But even with that, I can never really find my piano groove on it. Playing a Rhodes sound I can come a little bit closer.

In some ideal parallel universe, there's a semi-weighted action that, if you just play it and acclimate to it enough, is possible to play piano well on. That's not the universe I've been living in.

I see from their ad material that Korg is calling the Prologue "natural synth" action, distinguishing from the Vox which they call "semi weighted."


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I once sketched out a design for a variable weighted controller. Each key contained what would be similar to motorized faders except it moved weights and adjusted spring tension. The idea was that for each patch, you could set up zones with whatever weighting and springiness you wanted for the patch in that zone or even grading across a zone. Looked good on paper, never prototyped it. Started doing some rough math and figured out that it would be prohibitively expensive and heavy.


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I used to have an Kurzweil SP4-7 I didn't mind the action on that for piano. I thought it was a pretty fair compromise. It was the old triple strike piano sound I didn't get along with. I prefer a fully weighted action but that's not always true. I have tried some actions in the past that for me didn't work as well as the SP4. Right now I have my eye on the Grandstage 73, I rather liked the RH3 action on my SV1 73.


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I want to thank all that contributed to the discussion so far. I've learned a lot.

Nothing beats actually playing a board. The lack of local stores carrying a decent selection is killing me.

Thanks again


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Originally Posted By: Markyboard
Originally Posted By: Jazz+
I have Scarbee EP in my iPhone now and am wondering if any of the USB portable 49 or 61 key controllers have fast good traction ( inertia, leverage that doesn’t feel like feathers, wet sponge, flopping around) playable Rhodes piano actions.



IMO this is the best feeling dedicated controller in the category you specified.



NI Komplete Kontrol


Marky - the Kontakt controllers are Fatar TP-8 (maybe TP-9?) actions like just about every other controller, synth not made by Roland/Korg/Yamaha/Casio/Kawai. Anything else that you like about their controller?


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I found the Kontakt non weighted inferior to the Nord in every way and couldn't be happier with the stage 3 compact even for piano; but then, I'm not a Beethoven's 4th piano concerto kind of player.

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Originally Posted By: ElmerJFudd
Originally Posted By: Markyboard
Originally Posted By: Jazz+
I have Scarbee EP in my iPhone now and am wondering if any of the USB portable 49 or 61 key controllers have fast good traction ( inertia, leverage that doesn’t feel like feathers, wet sponge, flopping around) playable Rhodes piano actions.



IMO this is the best feeling dedicated controller in the category you specified.



NI Komplete Kontrol


Marky - the Kontakt controllers are Fatar TP-8 (maybe TP-9?) actions like just about every other controller, synth not made by Roland/Korg/Yamaha/Casio/Kawai. Anything else that you like about their controller?


My comment was strictly based on the feel and ability to control a piano/Rhodes type soft synth within the category that Jazz+ was inquiring about; 49/61 keys,portable usb. I believe the Kontrol uses the TP-9s. Aside from feel/response I'm not a big fan of this controller as is doesn't handle external keyboards very well.

The only other dedicated controller I'm aware of that uses the TP/9S is the Novation SL Mk II series. The velocity curves on these suck imo. I don't think any Nord falls into the category being asked about although I may have misunderstood the intent here.

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Since we’re all over the map in this thread I’d like to mention that probably the best actions I’ve ever played in their categories are from Yamaha: CP4 and Montage 61. My SL88 Studio wins the silver in freestyle hammer.


Rod
With the lights out, it’s less dangerous; go ahead now, entertain us;
I feel stupid and contagious; go ahead now, entertain us.

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