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Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player #3005596 08/29/19 04:56 AM
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88 Teeth Offline OP
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I'm looking for an 88-key synth/keyboard with light action. I don't have the arm strength I once did, and while it's true that good technique involves playing with your arms and not your fingers, I've read too many horror stories from professional piano players who suffered tendinitis caused by playing digital pianos/keyboards simply because the keys featured too much resistance (grams of weight required to press each key.) I read "key dip" (how far you must push each key downwards) also plays a role.

Weighted keys are what I'm seeking, as non-weighted keys I've no interest in. Would like to learn full expression for a wide range of playing, and realize non-weighted keys aren't the way to go. And I assume semi-weighted keys wouldn't be much better?

So uh,

If anyone knows a brand of keyboard with light action keys, I'd love to take some suggestions. Yamaha is a brand I'm eyeing so I'm curious how action on those are. Or if you have other advice, believing I'm at error in my ways of perceiving key action, I'm willing to listen.

Thanks.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005609 08/29/19 10:01 AM
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The words "weighted", "non-weighted" and "semi-weighted" are not helping this conversation. There are really two types of action: sprung and hammer (gravity). A sprung action is more like an organ, while a hammer action is piano-style. I would argue that sprung actions are lighter than hammer actions.

An obvious recommendation would be Studiologic Numa 2 or 2X, with 88 nice-feeling sprung-action keys.

Do you have a budget in mind?

Regards, Mike.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005623 08/29/19 01:01 PM
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Kurzweil (and likely some others) have software adjustments - they obviously don't change the amount of force needed to depress a key, but change the MIDI response to that force to be higher or lower, giving the effect of easier operation. My PC3X (88 key, weighted action) has a light touch compared to some acoustic pianos that I've played, although my Baldwin Howard grand is a bit lower. My older PC2X was purchased used and was even lighter (although it makes more acoustic noise)

Ultimately though, the only way that you can really tell if an action suits you or not is by playing different instruments. Also consider instrument physical placement. A keyboard mounted on the wall at an angle won't respond anywhere close to the same instrument laying flat on a stand or table (gravity is cause). The response is also somewhat affected by what amplification is being used by the dealer.

"Semi-weighted" My PC3 has semi-weighted (and the PC361 has synth type unweighted). Actually playing the three different boards runs like this: If I'm doing fast synth runs or Hammond/Leslie emulation, the unweighted gives me the best results. If I'm playing music needing a good deal of expressiveness (think Chopin or similar romantic period), the fully weighted is considerably the best. However, the semi-weighted is what I use in my rig at church because it does it all reasonably well, though not the very best for any.

Yamaha is large enough and well enough funded to manufacture their own actions, Korg is owned by Yamaha. Most other companies purchase the keyboard actions from one of several specialty manufacturers (although Nord then customizes those for their purposes). Fatar makes actions for many different companies, and has done so for decades. Medeli (spelling ?) is a Chinese company that makes actions that are beginning to be used in different keyboards.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: MoodyBluesKeys] #3005627 08/29/19 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by MoodyBluesKeys
Yamaha is large enough and well enough funded to manufacture their own actions, Korg is owned by Yamaha. Most other companies purchase the keyboard actions from one of several specialty manufacturers

Korg hasn't been (partially) owned by Yamaha in some time, and no longer uses any Yamaha actions AFAIK.

Roland, Kawai, and Casio are other companies who use their own actions.

As for the OP's request for 88 key weighted (hammer action) keyboards that have the lightest touch, I'd probably go with Kurzweil Forte... which I haven't played, but I believe is supposed to feel the same as the 88-key PC3 series. After that, I'd probably look at the Korg SV1, or maybe the Grandstage which I haven't played but also uses the Korg RH3 action... I'm not sure whether there's agreement that it feels the same in that board. As for Yamaha, I played a DGX660 that felt light and surprisingly better overall than the MOXF8/MODX8 that use the same GHS action. Whether that's unit-to-unit variation or an inherent advantage of how it's implemented in the DGX660, I don't know.

There has been an unfortunate move towards fewer light-feeling hammer actions available. Yamaha's current 88 line probably does not include anything with a touch as light as the older CP1/CP5, Roland does not have something as light feeling as their older FP7/FP7F, I don't think any Kawai feels as light as the older MP7 (pre-SE), I don't think the newer TP40 based Nords feel as light as the original Nord Stage/Stage EX, I don't think the current Casio Privias feel as light as the earliest ones. It's like everyone seems to think that feeling heavier makes them feel more realistic, whereas in fact almost every hammer action board feels heavier than most real pianos I've played, both grand and upright. (But people's experiences differ, and some acoustics do feel heavy.)


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: AnotherScott] #3005632 08/29/19 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by AnotherScott
DGX660


That’d be my recommendation.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005639 08/29/19 04:22 PM
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FP4


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005654 08/29/19 08:17 PM
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You really just have to check out as many as possible and see how they feel to you. It's the only way to be sure, but some of the advice given already may help to narrow down the list. I find that most digital pianos feel sluggish.. Some are ghastly....feels like you're playing under water. Too heavy - slow return. I'm so used to my old upright grand, (which is worn and tired, but has lightning fast action that I love.) that's it's made choosing a digital piano for me a real chore. I did try a few of the Kawai offerings recently and some felt pretty good. It's a very subjective thing. Happy hunting!

Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005676 08/29/19 10:53 PM
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What weighted board is too heavy? Is it graded it balanced? If it’s too firm then is it just the bass or the whole range. I like the balanced action Yamaha put in the S90xS and Motif XF8 and I think Montage 8 also. It feels light and fast too me. The problem is we don’t have your frame of reference too know where you are coming from. DGX is fun but I wouldn’t want to gig with it due to patch control. If worse comes to worse you can adjust to non weighted 88 if the velocity curves are good. If it had been available at the time I would have bought the Kronos 2-88 LS. I would have hated it for 2-4 weeks but if you use something you acclimate to it if you are a player.

Last edited by CEB; 08/29/19 11:01 PM.

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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005682 08/29/19 11:21 PM
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I own a Yamaha DGX660 and an Studiologic SL88 Studio as weighted keyboards and in your case I think the GHS keybed of the Yamaha would be best suited than the Fatar one on the Studiologic

Jose

Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005684 08/29/19 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by CEB
DGX is fun but I wouldn’t want to gig with it due to patch control.

I hadn't assumed this was for gigging... if it is, the actual travel weight of the board could be an issue as well.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005707 08/30/19 02:02 AM
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I gigged a DGX620 for a couple of years. If the 660 is similar, you can make it work. You can get a lot from 2 presets in 8 banks.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005719 08/30/19 03:42 AM
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I had no idea that Yamaha owned Korg. That’s a wow for me. I’m so out of touch.

I can’t help with the 88 question, my first question is if strength/pain is the key priority driving the light action need - is OP completely against playing a synth/semi weighted action? And would 76 keys meet the need. Night and day in terms of required force but you don’t have the expression of a piano-type feel and you dont have 88. Good luck to OP ... wish you well brother.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: MotiDave] #3005727 08/30/19 06:41 AM
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[quote=MotiDave]I had no idea that Yamaha owned Korg. That’s a wow for me. I’m so out of touch.

Yamaha was a supplier to Korg from the early days, and apparently Korg needed some financial infusion around the time of the M1. Yamaha didn't own them, but had a controlling interest in them for a period of five years ending in 1993, according to the Korg Wikipedia page. Korg bought back most or all of Yamaha's investment when things got more stable. It's unclear from the page if they got it all back, but if not it seems it's a very small portion might still be held by Yamaha.

I'm sure others know more details beyond this....

Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005730 08/30/19 10:53 AM
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That is the time Korg introduced the DS-8. An FM synth based on DX tech but laid out in a way the architecture tried to mimic a more conventional digital subtractive synth. The action sucked. The key travel was weird on the one I played.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3005807 08/30/19 07:53 PM
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I was just playing a Roland FP-90 yesterday, and I think it has the lightest action of any weighted DP I know. It's almost "too light," "too easy," if you feel any need to work for those notes. I believe it's the most affordable PHA-50 board, but still not cheap. Worth checking out.

Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3006234 09/03/19 04:29 AM
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I just sold a Roland RD-300GX. IMHO It had a light fast "easy" hammer action (Phi Alpha II - similar to the FP4 which has onboard speakers?). I sold it for $450 in two days on CL. Otherwise I would have listed it in the classifieds here at KC.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3006261 09/03/19 11:16 AM
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A word of caution: too little resistance can be very hard on your hands. At some point, your fingers are going to hit the bottom of the bed, weighting or good spring action natural slows your movement so the jolt at the bottom isn't so harsh. I only started playing an unweighted board (Mojo61) about a year ago, and the first couple of gigs really tore up my wrists. I adjusted my playing and/or just worked up some new muscles to compensate. But if you have an injury, I would go for something "light-ISH" but steer away from extremely light boards.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3006267 09/03/19 12:03 PM
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I don't own one but where would the PX-5S fall into the action category here? I know it is weighted but is it a "heavy" weighed or less so? I ask also because I am going to sell my Studiologic SL88 studio because it is too "heavy" weighted action for me (although it is a light board overall weight) and I was considering a PX5S as my replacement 88 key controller. Any owners of PX5S can comment?

Last edited by aellison62; 09/03/19 12:48 PM.

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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: aellison62] #3006271 09/03/19 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by aellison62
I am going to sell my Studiologic 88SL because it is too "heavy" weighted action for me (although it is a light board overall weight)
If overall weight is light, then it sounds like you have the SL88 Studio (as opposed to the SL88 Grand). I haven't played it, but it's a TP100 so I'd expect the PX5S to feel lighter.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: AnotherScott] #3006273 09/03/19 12:50 PM
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Yes, AnotherScott, I corrected my post, it is the Studio. I thought I could get used to the TP100 but it's really hard to play fast piano parts on it.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3006364 09/03/19 10:08 PM
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All TP100s are not the same, or at least don’t feel that way. My Keylab MKii 88 feels lighter than the SL88 Studio. Perhaps Arturia asks for a modification, or perhaps it’s psychosomatic due to the colour of the board. 😉


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3006373 09/03/19 11:13 PM
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I have well-documented arm issues here due to a neurovascular condition I developed before I really began playing out much ... I don't know if your problems feel the same, but I can tell you that I can play on a real acoustic piano all day, but really struggle with actions in digital keyboards.

I have held onto my Kurzweil PC2 forever (and into the foreseeable future) because its semi-weighted action and aftertouch seem to be the easiest for me to tolerate. I also notice I like the Nord Stage HA with aftertouch, but when I had the Nord Piano HA88 *without* aftertouch, I couldn't really tolerate it. So consider that whatever cushioning the aftertouch ribbon affords might make it more playable for you (depending on the mechanics of your actual pain issue).

I always feel like weighted actions on digital boards are either too heavy, or if they're lighter they just bottom out too hard. The only way around this for me has been as described above.

FYI the Kurzweil PC2 and Artis 7 both have the Fatar TP8 76-key semiweighted action. And I like it just fine in both. (Although my Artis has a defect that means I can't gig it out anymore, so that sucks.).


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: 88 Teeth] #3006374 09/03/19 11:18 PM
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Yeah, I wouldn't so quickly dismiss a non-hammer action for piano, I'm not as dogmatic about that as I used to be. Yes, I like a hammer action best, but I used to think the worst hammer action was better for piano than the best non-hammer action, and I don't think that anymore. Your example is a good one, I'd rather play piano on the Artis 7 than on some hammer actions.


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Re: Keyboard with Light Action? For Injured Player [Re: aellison62] #3006595 09/05/19 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by aellison62
I don't own one but where would the PX-5S fall into the action category here? I know it is weighted but is it a "heavy" weighed or less so? I ask also because I am going to sell my Studiologic SL88 studio because it is too "heavy" weighted action for me (although it is a light board overall weight) and I was considering a PX5S as my replacement 88 key controller. Any owners of PX5S can comment?


I have a Privia PX850 which I'm 99% sure has the same "Tri-sensor Scaled Hammer Action Keyboard II" action as the PX-5S. I don't like heavy actions (e.g. Yamaha P255, every Fatar Nord I've ever tried), but the 850 hits a sweet spot for me, similar in weight and feel to the PHA-4 Roland action, heavier than the PHA50. Mind you, its graded weighting makes it pretty substantial in the lowest registers. And it's a loud, thumpy keybed (not uncomfortably so -- for my fingers, at least) with clicky keys. I see at least one PX-5S user has the same problem: https://www.casiomusicforums.com/index.php?/topic/13826-px-5s-noisy-keys/


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