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The best stage piano on the market?


Tim Wood

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Hello,

 

This is my first post!

 

I just wanted to ask with regards to buying a stage piano. I went to my local music shop and tried out many different pianos, the main brands been the Clavia, Yamaha and Kawai. I'm not after a Roland.

 

I am primarily after a great acoustic piano sound with some good electric sounds such as a Rhodes, and DX7ish kind of sounds. I think the Nord Stage EX 88 is great and that was the one that i really wanted to hear, but I kind of wondered If i would use all the features that are on it, I'm not really interested in the organ and the other features so is it worth £2500? But the piano's were great, but the speakers it was coming through were pretty good as well.

 

I tried the S90ES and wasn't all that impressed, it just didn't have the sound that I was after.

 

The Kawai ES6 surprised me the most, as it's half the price of the Nord, and was a great sounding piano. I wanted to try the MP5 but it wasn't plugged in.

 

So after all that, my request is for advice on buying a piano that has a great sound, but also represents value for money.

 

Many Thanks

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Hi Tim from a fellow Brit. As usual with these questions, you need to add some further information, I think.

 

* How much are you realistically looking to spend?

* Will you be hauling it around to gigs?

* What other functions/sounds do you want now or need in the future?

* How much of a "piano purist" would you say you are?

 

If you're after only piano sounds, then I think the Stage is going to be overkill. What's more, it's acoustic piano sounds and its action divide opinion here and I don't think even its strongest proponents would argue that the AP sounds are "best in class".

 

Some more questions for you:

 

* What didn't you like about the sound of the S90ES - too bright, aggressive (common Yamaha AP characteristics), or what?

 

* Why have you utterly discounted Roland? All boards have their critics, but their RD700GX (my own axe) is acknowledge to be one of the best stage pianos on the market and if you're coming from an acoustic piano background I can guarantee you won't get an action closer to the real thing. It is a bit heavy, though.

 

* What did you like about the Kawai? Why didn't you just ask the shop staff to plug the MP5 in for you?

 

Having probed you with questions, here are some suggestions:

 

* Yamaha has replaced the S90ES with the S90XS, which has a different piano sound. If you liked the Yamaha's action (balanced hammer rather than graded), I suggest you give one a whirl.

 

* Korg SV-1. Already winning a lot of friends here and has a slightly wider sound palette than a lot of "stage pianos". If a slightly shorter keyboard isn't a problem for you, both this and the Yamaha XS come in smaller sizes, still with weighted keys, to save on footprint, weight and (a little) cost.

 

* A little lower down the price range, Yamaha CP33. Nice sound and action, comparatively compact and light.

 

All of these keyboards are great value for money, but as I say, I think you need to ask yourself how much you're really willing to spend first, because at the moment you have a massive financial window of between £1,000 and £2,400.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Sounds as if you have started well - the only way to be satisfied is to try out different makes and models, and choose the one that YOU feel offers the best mix of price, touch, sound, and general performance.

 

There are members here who use most of the different stage pianos. You will likely find suggestions involving Yamaha, Korg, Roland, Nord, Casio, and Kurzweil. I personally use a Kurzweil PC3X, which has a lot of "other features," but I wanted those other features as well. Their SP2X or SP3X would be more along the lines of stage piano with minimal other stuff.

 

Whatever you choose, be sure to allocate enough funds for a good sounding amplification/speaker system. As you have noted, getting a great sound involves every part of the chain. There have been many threads here on amplification, the majority are not satisfied with so-called "keyboard amps," and generally prefer either studio monitors (in setups where their fragility will not be a problem) or some form of PA amplifier and speaker combination. The various "powered PA" systems like the JBL EON series, Mackie, Electro Voice, and QSC also have been favored.

 

It is also true that what sounds best in a solo performance may well not be what blends and sounds best in a band situation.

 

One last piece of advice - if the only reason you are considering a particular piece of equipment is price - that's a pretty good indication that you won't be satisfied very long if you buy it. This is not to say that we all don't have budget considerations and limits.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

HP DAW|Epi Les Paul & LP 5-str bass|iPad mini2

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Jim

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I would say at the moment I will be willing to spend between £1500-£2000. I'm selling some drums at the moment and will have to see how much I get, which will tell me how much I can spend.

 

I am wanting it to play primarily jazz. I have tried the Roland's and just didn't like the feel. I loved the feel of the Yamaha's as that's what I'm used to, we have a Clavinova in the living room. We did have a FP8 before that which was lovely.

 

I would say that I'm a piano purist, but also love the fender rhodes mainly due to the playing of Chick Corea etc. So I am after a piano sound and rhodes sound.

 

My Dad has the original S90 but wants to upgrade, it will be taken out for gigs for him and I will keep it in my bedroom. So it's a joint decision, I should have tried the MP5, but didn't have enough time!

 

The kurzweil sounds interesting, what are the sounds like on their?

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You have to be a little clearer about what you need in a stage piano. There are a number of factors (weight, functions, price, etc).

 

If none of those are of any concern, my personal hands down winner would be the Kawai MP8 II. I think the Kawai has the best action, coupled with excellent sounds and four zone controller capability. It's pricey and heavy, but sounds great. I have an original Kawai MP9000 and it still sounds great and it's the primary controller in my studio.

 

I have the Yamaha CP33 for my "live rig" stage piano and it fits the all around bill just fine.

 

YMMV.

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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Tim, which of the Roland models have you actually tried, as you actually liked the old FP8?

 

The CP33 is a nice piano and if you've been used to a Clavinova you'll find it quite similar in touch and tone. But its Rhodes sound isn't so hot. However, if you only need Rhodes for home and you have a computer in your bedroom, you could always buy a cheap EP soft synth such as Lounge Lizard Session or Mr Ray 73 to add a Rhodes sound.

 

One thing to consider - does your dad use the other sounds on the S90 (which is obviously way beyond a basic stage piano)? If so, what does he need and does he plan to cover them in just this one purchase? That could swing the choices right back round.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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Well, first, welcome to the forum.

 

Second, youll find out quickly that there is no answer to that question, or any other like it (what is the best amp for a digital piano; what is the best synth, etc.).

 

Im curious what you didnt like about the S90es; if you can define that, maybe we can offer some valuable alternatives.

 

Hitting "Play" does NOT constitute live performance. -Me.
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There is a reason many people don't like Rolands and it's perfectly okay to exclude them from consideration. I have found that their use of samples from multiple pianos to be very distracting and obvious. And the action is too light for my tastes. I can't even bring myself to like the V-Piano so color me crazy but some people are not meant to be Roland pianists.

 

The latest Kawai ES6 is a great stage piano with a smooth sound. I've used the older ES4 for several years now and I still think it's one of the best for solo performing and jazz.

 

I also like the CP33 as a stage piano option. I use a CP300 as a msster controller and studio piano and it's still the best in it's class.

 

But there's no substitute for your own opinion because ultimately it's your piano. I think it's good to start off by determining what you DON'T like and then narrowing the field down to what you do.

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I suppose "didn't like " is a bit strong about the S90. But then again it was coming through a different speaker, so that maybe a factor. There were just other pianos I preferred.

 

Regarding the Roland's, I can't remember what the models were but I know they were RD's, I thought they were a little overpriced but we all have different opinions.

 

All in all, the primary aim is for a realistic piano as possible within that price range.

 

Through the old S90, my Dad has a Roland box, can't remember the model for his electric piano sounds.

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Tim, based on what you've told us, my shortlist would look like this:

 

* Yamaha CP33

* Kawai ES6 and/or MP5

* Korg SV-1

 

I think you certainly should take a look at the Korg in particular.

 

It's only just getting into UK stores so you may have to search around a bit for one, but its Rhodes (and other EPs) are way better than either the Yamaha or Kawai boards, while on the acoustic side you have both a bright Yamaha sample like you'll be used to on the Clavinova, or a darker, warmer tone closer to some of the Roland models.

 

And like I say, it's available in both 88 and 73 note models, so that could make it more luggable for your dad on gigs, if you can both live with the shorter compass.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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I went thru this for quite awhile..the thing I found was that while its easy to like a lot of different brands..in a music store...its quite a bit different when your out gigging with the machine..I went thru many different brands..I even had the Roland RD700sx and sold that...I went full circle and am back with a 700gx..for my purposes, it works very well..I find that after playing a lot of grands the action on the gx is a bit light, but in the heat of battle, it works. The only other dp Ive found, and this is highly personal, that I would use live are the Kawai products. I get to use some of these on some of the gigs I do, and I always really like them. Good luck.
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Interesting that two of the three are, as I understand it, brainchildren of the same guy.

 

As I own and gig the Kawai MP4 (older version of the 5) and have been demo'ing the SV-1, I might opine the SV-1 will have a much easier schlep factor and better EPs than the MP5 (along with a host of other features).

 

The MP5's acoustic piano is really nice and will have better 4-channel MIDI controller functions and thus internal/external layering that the SV-1 doesn't offer.

..
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Tim, give these guys a call they're in Pontefract and at one point I was going to demo a PC3X there. You'll have to make an appointment though as it's not a physical shop.

 

There's a lot I like about the Kurzweil, but from a pianistic perspective I think you could find it disappointing.

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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If I had to do it over again, I might not have bought the Yamaha CP300 and just bought the CP33. As far as I know it has the same exact sampled grand piano. On the other hand, the large flat top surface of the CP300 does come in handy.

 

Everyone here has their own favorite. When Yamaha ever introduces the replacement model for the CP300 I'll probably buy it.

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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Get your hands on an yamaha P90. Its the only piano I have ever regretted selling.

 

It's such a solid, compact, great sounding DP...

Not in mono it's not.

 

Beg to differ. Last night I was at my daughter's high school "holiday concert" and when the first choir began to sing accompanied only by a pianist, I had to do a double take. I could not believe my eyes (or ears). The pianist was playing a P90 through some Behringer combo amp! I was astounded as I couldn't believe how playable that piano sounds!!!

 

It kindled my old GAS for the P120. The P120 has the same or similar P90 sound but a much better Rhodes sample IMO.

 

So, if the OP doesn't mind a used Yammie, I highly recommend the P120.

 

aL

Gear: Yamaha MODX8, Mojo 61, NS2 73, C. Bechstein baby grand.

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Get your hands on an yamaha P90. Its the only piano I have ever regretted selling.

 

It's such a solid, compact, great sounding DP...

Not in mono it's not.

 

Beg to differ. Last night I was at my daughter's high school "holiday concert" and when the first choir began to sing accompanied only by a pianist, I had to do a double take. I could not believe my eyes (or ears). The pianist was playing a P90 through some Behringer combo amp! I was astounded as I couldn't believe how playable that piano sounds!!!

 

It kindled my old GAS for the P120. The P120 has the same or similar P90 sound but a much better Rhodes sample IMO.

 

So, if the OP doesn't mind a used Yammie, I highly recommend the P120.

 

aL

 

Yep, I'm tellin' ya, I've had that piano sounding tits! At good sized gigs too, running thru the FOH. Plus it feels like a good DP too.

-Greg

Motif XS8, MOXF8, Hammond XK1c, Vent

Rhodes Mark II 88 suitcase, Yamaha P255

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Yep, I'm tellin' ya, I've had that piano sounding tits!

 

Just what does that mean? ...sounding tits. :rolleyes:

 

In what part of Siberia do they use this term? :)I've never heard it.

 

http://www.thenewstyle.org/hernandez/blogstuff/toilet_doo.jpg

 

Stirring da Pot :laugh:

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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There's a lot I like about the RD700GX, but from a pianistic perspective I think you could find it disappointing.

 

Hi Aidan. :wave:

 

I've told you before, don't DO that to me when I'm halfway through a Diet Coke... Now, where is that mop..?

Studio: Yamaha P515 | Yamaha Tyros 5 | Yamaha HX1 | Moog Sub 37

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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