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Question about Kurzweil / Fatar action


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I recently had a sort of psychological breakthrough regarding my longstanding dislike of Kurzweil keyboards. My first 88-note board was a mid-90s Fatar master controller. It did fine for about the first year, but then I started breaking key weights on it -- first every few months, then every month, then every week, then every gig. And since replacing them was a pain in the ass (even after I got good at it) I grew to loathe the keyboard for that reason. I felt like I had to play extra light and could never really dig in for fear of breaking one, which affected my playing and my enjoyment of playing. I was exceedingly happy when I finally said good riddance to that thing.

 

This past weekend I ended up playing a PC1X on a gig, with my usual Kurzweil reaction that there was something about it I just didn't like, even if I couldn't put my finger on it. Then it hit me: it felt just like my old Fatar! And then I remembered that Kurzweil used Fatar actions, and suddenly it all clicked into place: I was having a textbook Pavlovian reaction to the feel of the keyboard.

 

So my question is: Is the durability of modern-day Kurzweil/Fatar actions better than their counterparts from 15 years ago? Or if I got one, would I probably end up breaking key weights on it too? (I tend to play hard under certain conditions.) I could probably get over my psychological hangups, if the product actually warranted it. So, are there any heavy-handed pounders who have played a Kurz for a few years and could share their experience?

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I started breaking key weights on it -- first every few months, then every month, then every week, then every gig.

 

So, are there any heavy-handed pounders who have played a Kurz for a few years and could share their experience?

 

Have you thought of signing up for lessons with someone who can teach you how to play properly - without breaking key weights every gig? :idea:

 

Tom

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I was almost tempted to make a comment regarding Fatar keyboards and Tom made the obvious point. :wave:

 

 

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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The actions on the new models are completely different. They have come a very long way. I sold my K2600X because of the action...I enjoy the action the PC3X very much.

 

Tom - it doesn't have anything to do with the way he or anyone else plays. There were lots of those Fatar actions that had problems with the key weights falling off. They'd fall off when you weren't even playing...

-Mike Martin

 

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Both Kurzweil and Fatar have mostly worked out their quality control issues in the latest period. I currently gig with a Fatar VMK-176plus and either a Kurzweil 2600R or ME-1, and I've never had problems. (I'm a pianist, and I beat the heck out of a keyboard!)

 

Feel is another thing, however. If you don't like the feel of the action, I'd say don't buy it.

Also, the PC1x is weighted so-so, to my hands at least. Try a PC3x. or a PC2x at least. Their action feels much better for pianists.

 

Edit: Oops, Mike beat me by a few seconds! :)

 

 

 

 

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Thanks Mike (Edit: and Marino, who beat me by a few seconds). And yes, the problem was not remotely unique to me or my playing; "heavy handed pounders" was a (possibly poorly-chosen) exaggeration for effect. But I had two friends who used the same board around that time (one of whom had a very light touch), and we all had the same problem.
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Tom - it doesn't have anything to do with the way he or anyone else plays. There were lots of those Fatar actions that had problems with the key weights falling off. They'd fall off when you weren't even playing...

 

Right. The problems with the Fatar actions are well documented.

 

Also, I wasn't trying to be mean-spirited about the lessons. I think that all of us on this forum will agree that getting advice from someone who is knowledgeable and has our best interests at heart can be a good thing.

 

Tom

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Those of us that KNOW Tom, know enough NOT TO TAKE HIM SERIOUSLY! You know, same as me. If you take ME seriously, you will be insulted!

 

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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It's at the point for me that I've become obsessed with finding out who builds the toughest, longest lasting piano action and control surfaces. All my other requirements for a DP/controller are slowly becoming secondary. If the thing is not gonna last more than a couple years without breaking or losing a major amount of action then it's very frustrating. I play piano/organ all the time and end up using my dp for gigs or rehearsals like 3-5 times a week. All kinds of different stuff from expansive improv stuff to wedding stuff to banging rock and roll covers. On the quiet piano gigs you really notice the degradation of the action over time. It blows. I've seen other keyboardists that don't even play half as much piano stuff as me go through DP actions (from all different brands) in what I would consider an inordinately short amount of time. At this point I just want the one that's gonna last the longest. If it has ass for organ sounds/control surfaces or looks goofy, I'll just get a module or color the thing black with a freakin sharpie.

 

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I'm also a heavy-handed pounder. Six years of gigging with my old RD-600 and I started breaking key wieghts on every gig as well. The tech that I use to fix my boards told me this was a defect with the action Roland used back in the day. I doubt this was Fatar, but nonetheless a similar problem.

 

I've owned the PC3x for a year now, and have done over 200 gigs with it, countless rehearsals and sessions and it's traveled in the back seat of my car across Canada. It's still super solid. On the other hand, it took 6 years of abuse for my RD to start failing on me. However, I will say that since the Kurz sounds tend to cut much more in the mix, I'm much less likely to pound the shit out of it when I'm playing. This and the fact that I LOVE the action, would make me highly recommend it. But like I said, I've only had it for 1 year, a very busy year, but only 1 year nonetheless.

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I'm also a heavy-handed pounder. Six years of gigging with my old RD-600 and I started breaking key wieghts on every gig as well.

 

Interesting. I replaced the Fatar with an RD-600, and during seven years of constant use (everything from home to studio to local gigs to bus-and-airline tours), I only had to replace one key weight. Maybe it bit the dust just in time for me to avoid the phase you went through, but it always seemed rock-solid.

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While I can't comment on the durability of the action because I've only had it a few months, I chose the PC3x for it's action and it hasn't failed to please. I've been rehearsing with just my NE3 and coming home to play my PC3x is such a pleasant experience (if only it didn't weigh 3-4x as much)
Kurzweil PC3X | Nord Electro 3 61 | EV SxA360s
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"...So my question is: Is the durability of modern-day Kurzweil/Fatar actions better than their counterparts from 15 years ago?..."

 

Of course I'm not the most unbiased person to comment, but technically.... yes. We worked closely with Fatar in developing the TP40L, which is used in the PC3x. We made a ton of progress as far as durability and reliability compared to past models.

 

Years ago, when I was first working here, we saw a good many reports of problems with the Fatar actions. Usually it was with weights falling out of the PC88's action.

 

The TP40L is designed to be much more robust, and thus far we are quite happy with it. The best litmus test for me is to see that Amanda Palmer has had two PC3x's for roughly two years now, and has not had to take one to the shop yet! (She used to have a "stable" of 5 PC88s, with at least 2 in the repair shop at any given time for fallen weights or busted keys.)

 

On a side note, I'm not particularly crazy about the action used in the PC1x - that's a Fatar TP30. It is robust and reliable - as far as I know we've had very few issues with them. But the action doesn't have a release spring, so the keys come up very slowly once they're released. Some of my friends who really like a heavy piano-ish action enjoy this one, but I personally like to have the quick release. It's hard to play organ, clav or a hi-hat part on the TP30.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kurzweil had a terrific keybed in their MIDIboard, if you have the one made in Japan (check the serial badge) it has the superior action which is made by Hammond-Suzuki (!!)

 

That was 1992... They haven't used that action since, which is a shame. I had zero problems with it and it felt really good to play.

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As a long-time user of Fatar-based keybeds from when they first became available in the US (remember those ultra-slim self-contained cases?), I have experienced their early unreliability (i.e. key weight breakage and loss of contact points, even when not playing), and have definitely noticed a steep improvement in their quality these past five years or so.

 

Although I have it up for sale in order to help finance a PC3X, my Studiologic VMK188plus has been the most reliable keyboard I have ever owned. I play pretty hard as I do a lot of latin styles. And also as I grew up on a heavy-action Mason & Hamlin.

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Of course I'm not the most unbiased person to comment, but technically.... yes. We worked closely with Fatar in developing the TP40L, which is used in the PC3x. We made a ton of progress as far as durability and reliability compared to past models.

 

Dave, thank you for taking a minute to bring us up to date regarding the actions currently used in the Kurzweil synths.

 

Although I study the Sonikmatter forums and get quite a bit of information there, it's great to know that you read what our members here are saying about Kurzweil products. Giving consideration to what Kurzweil users are posting about their experiences with your product can only serve to help you produce better instruments - that we'll want to buy.

 

I hope you'll continue to keep us posted with upcoming developments from Kurzweil.

 

Tom

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I started breaking key weights on it -- first every few months, then every month, then every week, then every gig.

 

So, are there any heavy-handed pounders who have played a Kurz for a few years and could share their experience?

 

Have you thought of signing up for lessons with someone who can teach you how to play properly - without breaking key weights every gig? :idea:

 

Tom

 

what's wrong with breaking the keys :freak: many concert pianists break the strings...and how about Jerry Lee who broke not only keys...

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what's wrong with breaking the keys :freak: many concert pianists break the strings...and how about Jerry Lee who broke not only keys...

 

Really? Could you make a list of the concert pianists who have broken strings?

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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what's wrong with breaking the keys :freak: many concert pianists break the strings...and how about Jerry Lee who broke not only keys...

 

Really? Could you make a list of the concert pianists who have broken strings?

 

Horowitz to start with:

 

Just because you're gentle on the keys doesn't mean everybody has to be. When there is a passion things break...

 

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what's wrong with breaking the keys :freak: many concert pianists break the strings...and how about Jerry Lee who broke not only keys...

 

You're kidding, right? :rolleyes:

 

zyzik, if you want to break the keys on your instruments, go ahead. But using Jerry Lee Lewis as justification of someone who broke keys - so it must be OK - just doesn't work.

 

Also, if you want to say that many concert pianists break the strings, then you'll have to name your references.

 

I'm not saying that this isn't true. But what bugs the crap out of me is that you post a statement like this without offering proof.

 

MANY? Please name names. Who are these many concert pianists who break strings and how often do they break them? Do they offer to pay to replace them? I'll bet it's not cheap to replace strings in a Bosendorfer concert grand.

 

Edit: OK, you mention Horowitz. That still doesn't convince me that you need to break strings to show great passion in your music.

 

If you are a concert pianist - or studying to be a concert pianist - is it necessary to break strings in order to become one of the best? Is it good form? Is it something that is admired when the musical community is ranking concert pianists? Let's see... who broke most strings? They must be the greatest! Let's hire them to perform for us and come beat the crap out of our Steinway.

 

The point is that form is important. Sure, there are synths that have had actions that have proven to be unreliable. However, if you are continually breaking keys on your synths and strings on your acoustic piano, then you should check with someone who can tell you, without a doubt, that your form is correct.

 

Chances are good that if you're pounding keys this hard not only are you damaging your instruments, you're not taking care of your wrists and tendons either. And that, zyzik, will come back to haunt you later in life.

 

And one more thing - if I offered my instrument for you to play and you broke the keys or strings, I'd really be PISSED. :mad:

 

Tom

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Edit: OK, you mention Horowitz. That still doesn't convince me that you need to break strings to show great passion in your music.

 

If you are a concert pianist - or studying to be a concert pianist - is it necessary to break strings in order to become one of the best? Is it good form? Is it something that is admired when the musical community is ranking concert pianists? Let's see... who broke most strings? They must be the greatest! Let's hire them to perform for us and come beat the crap out of our Steinway.

Strings break, it's a fact of piano life. Those things are under a hell of a lot of pressure, it's only natural that they break from time to time. I would be willing to wager that most pianist who've logged long hours on pianos have broken at least one string in their time. I've broken a string before that surprised me because I wasn't really playing that hard, forcefully, loud, whatever.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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Strings break.

 

Keys break.

 

Sh*t happens.

 

But if you're breaking them often, you should consider the reasons why.

 

And I still don't think that you need to develop a reputation as one who breaks keys and strings in order to prove that you're passionate about your music.

 

;) I mean, what if you're planning a tour of GERMANY and while you're packing you stop and wonder if your wrists are going to give out half-way through.

 

You're up the creek without a brat.

 

Am I right Mr. Kanker? :cool:

 

:snax:

 

 

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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;) I mean, what if you're planning a tour of GERMANY and while you're packing you stop and wonder if your wrists are going to give out half-way through.

 

You're up the creek without a brat.

 

Am I right Mr. Kanker? :cool:

 

:snax:

 

 

 

I actually have to wonder that about my wrists every gig I play. That said, nothing's gonna come between me and a bratwurst...
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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And I still don't think that you need to develop a reputation as one who breaks keys and strings in order to prove that you're passionate about your music.

 

reputation - no, but passionate playing carry that risk, and there is direct connection between those two.

 

p.s.

nobody said playing music had to be cheap...

 

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what's wrong with breaking the keys :freak: many concert pianists break the strings...and how about Jerry Lee who broke not only keys...

 

Really? Could you make a list of the concert pianists who have broken strings?

 

Horowitz to start with:

 

Just because you're gentle on the keys doesn't mean everybody has to be. When there is a passion things break...

 

OK, we have a string break in 1968. Anything sooner? You used the word ... many, right?

 

So now we associate passion with the breaking of strings; a metallurgist might look at this a bit differently.

 

My hand truck has had a few weld repairs and I'm pretty certain passion had nothing to do with the break. :)

 

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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Whenever someone describes the playing of someone else as being passionate I always ask them to clarify what exactly they mean.

 

I find it more accurate to discuss music using musical terms ... precise control over the dynamics, playing with the time, slowing down, speeding up, control of articulation, etc. For most folks, some guy who is bobbing his head up and down and who writhes in ... ecstasy is playing with ... passion.

 

I find it more accurate to discuss music using musical terms, but maybe that's just me.

 

Since Horowitz was mentioned, I believe he had his grand piano adjusted for a very light touch which then makes playing very fast easier (and lighter). Of course, to play very lightly on any instrument means you have a great deal of technical control. From what I remember, if one were to play heavily on Horowitz' piano, they would have either blocked hammers or repeated notes.

 

Perhaps the more technical guys here, the guys who actually tune and regulate acoustic pianos, could shed some light on escapement, etc ... and clarify my remarks.

No guitarists were harmed during the making of this message.

 

In general, harmonic complexity is inversely proportional to the ratio between chording and non-chording instruments.

 

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When there is a passion things break...

 

Mike Tyson used to break a lot of faces. I don't think that meant he was passionate about the art of boxing. He just wanted to beat the shit out of people, and the money was good.

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OK, we have a string break in 1968. Anything sooner? You used the word ... many, right?

 

yeah right, Kanker in 68 was jumping on the floor from the carpet...

 

I find it more accurate to discuss music using musical terms, but maybe that's just me.

 

yes, it's just you. Playing music has nothing to do with musical terms.

 

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