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Weighted Keys vs. Non-Weighted Keys...?


MuzikTeechur

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I've been using a Kurzweil SP-88x for a few years now as my main Stage Piano. I enjoy the action, it's easy to use, and plays very well. I use it for its own sounds as well as a controller for a second effects board and another module.

When it comes down to it, the only sounds I'm really using on the Kurz are the pianos (three of them, ranging from a dark grand, medium "jazz" piano, and a brighter rock piano). Strings, brass, clavs, reeds, I'm getting from the other boards.

The BIG drawback to the Kurz is that it weighs over 55 lbs, and with its case is probably closer to 65#. It's LOOOOONG and heavy. My case is wheeled, so time spent actually lifting the piano is minimized.

I just bought an Electro 2 module, and with the great pianos in that, I'm beginning to think I could possibly do away with the heavy weighted Kurz in favor of a lighter, semi-weighted controller board; either 73/76 or 88-key.

 

I've been playing piano since a toddler, and have studied formally since the age of 6. Like many pianists, I love the way a full piano-action feels, and is probably the most important aspect of a keyboard. I'm wondering if any others have been faced with this decision, and is it possible that any of you who prefer hammer-action have been happy with any of today's semi-weighted controllers? I could keep the Kurz and be happy, but I'm getting a bit older and one of these days I'm going to damage myself slinging the big Kurz around! Other advantage is that with a shorter main board I could bring my car to more gigs, rather than my (gas guzzling) Tahoe.

 

Opinions?

 

 

 

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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This is the eternal question that you pose here... And there's no easy answer IMO. If you're primary a pianist and you play mostly piano i'm affraid that you'll have to carry some kind of a heavy 88 controller. It's not ergonomical, it's heavy and bad for the tenonts, but it's the only way to go if piano is your main thing or you play solo classical or solo jazz... One the other hand if you can compromise -like i do- you can get any 73/76 semi-weighted controller (i got Nord Stage Compact which has the superb Nord sounds and it's not too heavy to carry around on my motorcycle in the heavy traffic of my hometown) to hook it on your electro module and you can go with it. It's not the best keyboard to play piano, but i think it can be OK for any ensemble performance, rock, jazz or soul/funk use. And it's fantastic for hammond/rhodes etc. I think there are some semi-weighted Kurz 76 keyboards not too heavy. There are also some old Roland 6 octave controllers for that matter.
Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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Most of us who are pianists decide that we can't live without a weighted action. I'm one of them.

 

That said, there are many significantly lighter alternatives to what you currently schelp - Nord Stage 76, Yamaha CP33, Yamaha S70XS, Roland FP4 and Korg SV-1/73 all immediately spring to mind.

 

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

Road: Yamaha YC88 | Nord Electro 5D

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LINK to recent thread

 

I want a 76-key, weighted keyboard with Ivory II onboard that sounds great in stereo or mono and weighs twenty pounds with its case.

 

I also want world peace.

http://www.northernsun.com/images/imagethumb/%20Visualize%20Whirled%20Peas%20Bumper%20Sticker%20(5781).jpg

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I had an SP88X that we used for a home piano - replaced it with a PC2X (same weight, more sounds, better pianos).

Presently, I have both a weighted PC3X and a "lightly weighted" PC3 76 key. I bought the PC3 for gigging, when I am playing in a band or other places that a really controllable piano is not needed, for the shorter size and lighter weight (I'm 68 and find it a bit harder to carry the heavier stuff than I did in the 1980's).

 

However, for playing any real piano music, be it classical, worship, show tunes, anything with real expression; it is just too difficult to control the dynamics as compared to the PC3X. So, I do have a hard case for the 3X also, and use it still whenever I have any type of solo or really exposed piano gig.

 

There have been a very few 76 key boards marketed with fully weighted action. One of them is the PC1SE that Kurzweil did make. It does shave SOME weight off, and or course it is shorter. I wish more of the 76 key boards were available fully weighted; because I have resigned myself to the fact that I really need a weighted board for my best playing of piano style music.

 

Transport wise - I use a RockNRoller cart for moving my stuff, lay the board down flat at the bottom in its hard case (I had a local welder extend it about a foot, so it is long enough for the 88key board). My BMW is too small for carrying boards, and my company's Kia van works well - load the board, miscellaneous stuff, and EON's on the cart - lift one end of the cart and place the wheels inside, lift the other end and push it in the van (put a piece of plywood over the floor so it doesn't get caught in the holes for the seat mounts). As I got older, smarter had to replace stronger.

 

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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Sorry, you are stuck with at least modest weight.

 

There are some other lighter options not already mentioned:

Casio PX series

Studiologic VMK Plus 76 or 61 controllers

CME ZSC series (88, 76, or 64 keys)

 

If you don't have to use a hard case a soft case makes transport way easier.

 

Michael

 

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I'm most comfortable on a weighted action board as well. I "roll" mine wherever possible - and "lift" when I must. I probably spend 60-120 seconds actually lifting the two 88 weighted action boards I schlep to gigs (an RD700SX @ roughly 65 lbs and a CP300 @ roughly 75 lbs). I'm happy enough with the feel that I've simply resigned my self to just dealing with the weight.
The SpaceNorman :freak:
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No substitution for 88 fully weighted hammer action (preferably progressive, but balanced is alright). Synth action is for synths (duh) and organ, fast string lines, pads.

 

But when you need to play piano, nothing else will do.

 

Just my two cents.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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Question.

 

Just why is it that manufacturers DON'T offer two flavors of 76 boards: one hammer action weighted, and the other - lightly weighted?

 

Sure, I've heard the arguments about stocking both varieties, the added cost of inventory, blah blah... :blah: :blah:

 

After reading these posts from all of you, it seems to me that there is a market for 76 key hammer action weighted boards.

 

Even if the weight reduction isn't much, the smaller size allows for easier transport - in a car instead of a van, for instance.

 

Am I asking too much here?

 

Why can't we have it both ways?

 

Put both of them in the stores and see which model is preferred.

 

Perhaps the hammer action weighted variety will win out and that will become the de facto standard instead of a lightly weighted keyboard.

 

Whatdayathink?

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Question.

 

Just why is it that manufacturers DON'T offer two flavors of 76 boards: one hammer action weighted, and the other - lightly weighted?

 

Sure, I've heard the arguments about stocking both varieties, the added cost of inventory, blah blah... :blah: :blah:

 

After reading these posts from all of you, it seems to me that there is a market for 76 key hammer action weighted boards.

 

Even if the weight reduction isn't much, the smaller size allows for easier transport - in a car instead of a van, for instance.

 

Am I asking too much here?

 

Why can't we have it both ways?

 

Put both of them in the stores and see which model is preferred.

 

Perhaps the hammer action weighted variety will win out and that will become the de facto standard instead of a lightly weighted keyboard.

 

Whatdayathink?

 

I think you're brilliant and you should become director of marketing for yamaha, roland and korg. :thu:

 

I really don't get it why we don't have yet weighted 76 or even 61 keys version of keyboards like Mozart had.

I mean if Amadeus could play 5 octaves clavecin so I guess we can too.

 

 

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How about a controller - no sounds, just a decent controller, say 73/76 keys, decent action?

Does it exist?

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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How about a controller - no sounds, just a decent controller, say 73/76 keys, decent action?

Does it exist?

 

With FULL MIDI CONTROL!!!!

 

Not just the basics.

 

No, it doesn't exist. Why not, it boggles my mind every time I think about it.

Ian Benhamou

Keyboards/Guitar/Vocals

 

[url:https://www.facebook.com/OfficialTheMusicalBox/]The Musical Box[/url]

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I'm back at this question too. Long ago I insisted on buying a heavy, 88-key hammer-action controller because I was a piano player, damn it, not an organist or a synth guy or a "keyboardist."

 

Now I want to use a smaller, lighter board, and since I use some some EP and organ sounds, I think a semi-weighted board might do the trick. I never play classical material nor do I play any solo-duo-trio stuff. About half of what I play will be buried by guitarists or the FOH guy, so I've faced the fact that I really don't need a psuedo-Steinway. And that I can get by with 61-76 keys. (Still going to play stereo on stage. . .hehehe.)

 

So I'm going to go out and try some shorter controllers and lighter stage pianos. Various Kurzweils and Casios are on my list. I'm thinking about a VMK 161 plus controller, too, but have heard mixed things about their reliability. If I did that I would get a cheesy 49-key controller for a second board, to use for organ and synth. I do think that Studiologic is on the right track with their 88/76/61 VMK and VMK plus controllers, but it appears that reliability and live performance (no splits on the VMKs) are problematic.

 

Oh well. . .

"The Doomer allows the player to do things beyond which are possible without the accessory."
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reidmc - If I were you I would check out the Korg SV1. The form factor is exactly what you're looking for and the action is worth playing. From what I've read it isn't the best choice to control external gear but as a stage piano that does APs, EPs, and organ it's pretty sweet.
Instrumentation is meaningless - a song either stands on its own merit, or it requires bells and whistles to cover its lack of adequacy, much less quality. - kanker
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How about a controller - no sounds, just a decent controller, say 73/76 keys, decent action?

Does it exist?

 

With FULL MIDI CONTROL!!!!

Not just the basics.

No, it doesn't exist.

 

I think it does exists but the price is a little bit steep, the new new VAX 77 keyboard (only 25lb):

 

folding electric piano

 

http://www.blogcdn.com/www.switched.com/media/2007/10/vax-front-200.jpg

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How about a controller - no sounds, just a decent controller, say 73/76 keys, decent action?

Does it exist?

 

With FULL MIDI CONTROL!!!!

Not just the basics.

No, it doesn't exist.

 

I think it does exists but the price is a little bit steep, the new new VAX 77 keyboard (only 25lb):

 

folding electric piano

 

http://www.blogcdn.com/www.switched.com/media/2007/10/vax-front-200.jpg

 

 

That's SWEET! Wait... $3000?!!! Maybe I'll take a SawzAll to my Kurz...

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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IMHO, the Nord Stage does an excellent job of "splitting the difference" between a weighted and non-weighted action, and has come a long way toward improving the MIDI implementation. So a Stage 76 may represent a good option for you, of course, if you can live with/accommodate the Nord pianos......

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

- George Bernard Shaw

 

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I can get by using unweighted action of the NE2. But, that's painting the best possible face on it. It's not fun, it doesn't feel good, and I can't play my best. Fine for scratch-together jams or rehearsal, but not what I'd want for anything serious.

 

My Ensoniq MR76, which is reasonably compact 76-key board (about 52", fits side-to-side behind my front seats), weighs 55 lbs; I carry it in a lightweight rigid-foam Protec case and it's an easy carry with the shoulder strap. The case is fine for my own hauling; I wouldn't use it for the band truck. Too bad it's finally biting the dust with a few irreparably broken key flyweights, because it makes a good controller, and the ZR76 is even better -- with a decent piano sound too, far far far better than NE2.

 

You can find them used on ebay -- make sure they're ones with pristine keybeds though, only played at home, no clacking keys. They go in the $400-$800 range.

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The Studiologic 76-key unit would be better than the 61-key one: http://www.fatar.com/Studiologic/Pages/VMK_176.html

 

Those are Fatar actions, which may feel similar to my MR76. I really like it as a general purpose keyboard; it's fully weighted and nicely expressive, but just a bit lighter than a piano, making it easier to use for things like organ, where I'd prefer an unweighted keyboard like the NE2's.

 

I like having a good piano sound built-in, though. Definitely helps when having problems with other gear, and eliminates one component in many cases. But if you're happy with controller only, the VMK is probably a great candidate.

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The Studiologic stuff looks like it might fit the bill.

The VMK-176 is definitely a contender. Still almost 40 pounds, but that's quite a weight and size savings over the big Kurz.

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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How about a controller - no sounds, just a decent controller, say 73/76 keys, decent action?

Does it exist?

 

With FULL MIDI CONTROL!!!!

 

Not just the basics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, it doesn't exist. Why not, it boggles my mind every time I think about it.

 

 

 

 

Much of the current controller scene is mind boggling. Granted there is a market for synth action 25, 49 and 61 key controllers for computer based writing and performing, but a 76 key performance oriented controller - with assignable front panel controls (including 9 sliders for drawbar control) is indeed a rare beast. There is the CME UF70 / VX7, and the VAX 77. The Kurzweil PC3 has great controller features, but is not strictly a controller. But with the reliability/connectivity issues of CME (read their forums), and the price of a VAX 77, the PC3 may be the solution that offers the most bang for the buck. If you need to have the piano weighted keybed ( like the VAX 77 ), going up to 88 keys with a PC3X will do the trick, though the cost is then more in the VAX 77 area. Granted you'd be paying for sounds, too; but there's nothing reliable with full, frontal MIDI control in the budget conscious range. (I suppose one could buy two CME UF 70's / VX 7's - to have a back-up unit, and come in at about 1/3 to 1/2 the price of a PC3...) The VAX 77 details on Infinite Response's page are impressive, plus the 'fold in half' concept is rather appealing...

 

My second tier controller situation is in flux. I was hoping that Roland/Edirol, Akai, M-Audio, Novation, et. al. might be showing something in a 76 at NAMM; nada... Heck, Roland even repackaged/enhanced the Edirol PCR series into the Cakewalk A Series controllers, but that stops, once again at 61 keys. Akai has 25, 49, 61... and 88 key controllers. The Akai rep's explanation for the lack of a 76 was curious, something along the line of: " We offer four different keyboard controllers. Marketing research indicates that offering anything more than four models tends to confuse the customer"......

There are quite a few end users who want a 76 key controller with full MIDI control, either weighted or synth action. Apparently, the broader manufacturing community is not listening. I've got a PC3X in my home workspace, but currently am thinking that the best alternative may be to sell my XK1, pick up a PC3 for my 2nd tier 'board, and use that as my controller for MacBook, Receptor, and modules.

 

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think you answered your own question in the first line of your first post.

 

I've been using a Kurzweil SP-88x for a few years now as my main Stage Piano. I enjoy the action, it's easy to use, and plays very well.

 

 

You need a weighted digital piano action, nothing else will do. You play gigs where all you play is piano. Why would you want to compromise that? Because it's so heavy you say. Well you don't have to compromise, as Aidan said, try one of the more modern lightweight piano alternatives. The Yamaha CP-33 is what I use for piano gigs, and it works well. Not to heavy, decent sound, decent action (not great, decent). OR....one of the very latest Yamaha offerings (CP-5) might be good, although that beast is 50 lbs +.

Kawai C-60 Grand Piano : Hammond A-100 : Hammond SK2 : Yamaha CP4 : Yamaha Montage 7 : Moog Sub 37

 

My latest album: Funky organ, huge horn section

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How about a controller - no sounds, just a decent controller, say 73/76 keys, decent action?

Does it exist?

 

With FULL MIDI CONTROL!!!!

 

Not just the basics.

 

No, it doesn't exist. Why not, it boggles my mind every time I think about it.

 

 

OOPS: Forgot to mention the Studiologic VMK-176 Plus. I've had Fatar Studio 1100's in the past, but am not familiar with the newer Studiologic 'boards with full, front panel control. Could be winner in the 76 key niche... Though, for a second tier keyboard I'd prefer a synth action VMK-176; or better yet a VMK-176 Plus Organ. The VMK-161 Plus Organ looks schweet, but I've got this particular BUMA about having a '76'; gotta have room to move...

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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IMHO, the Nord Stage does an excellent job of "splitting the difference" between a weighted and non-weighted action, and has come a long way toward improving the MIDI implementation. So a Stage 76 may represent a good option for you, of course, if you can live with/accommodate the Nord pianos......

 

+1 on that...

 

Now to dream a little: The MIDI control features on the Stage are straightforward, and great for controlling one zone/channel. If they could just figure out a way for all of the front panel controls (including the drawbar buttons) to be MIDI assignable, then that important issue - being discussed here as well - would be covered; and we'd have another viable controller option. "Stage 2", with advanced MIDI control features, and the Electro 3 sounds; there's a dream 'board. My second tier would likely go back to red at that point.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The VMK-161 Plus Organ looks schweet, but I've got this particular BUMA about having a '76'; gotta have room to move...

 

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled program to bring you this important Public Service Announcement (PSA):

 

"BUMA", in U.S. military slang, is an acronym for "Bounce Up My Ass"

 

=========

 

Thank you for your attention.

 

Now back to your regularly-scheduled program.

 

Is There Gas in the Car? :cool:

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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I tried the new Studiologic Numa Nano at the NAMM show last weekend. It's only 22 lbs and has a pretty good action.

 

I don't think you'd like the Infinite Response keyboard. I think the action is way too light. Their supposed "piano weight" is more like an unweighted board.

 

The SV-1, FP4, and 300 gx are all good options w/ a full weighted board. I've played all three and feel like in terms of acoustic piano it goes FP4/300gx followed really close to the SV1. I enjoyed the ep's/clavs on the SV-1 better than the fp4/300gx though. The 300gx has some nice controller options compared to the other two.

 

Anyways, those are some options.....

www.brianho.net

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/brianho

www.youtube.com/brianhojazz

 

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If I could have a buck for every time this has been discussed in KC... :D

 

For the last 9 years I've continually proposed a 76-key master keyboard or DP with piano-style weighting, plus good MIDI functions to control external stuff. For this, I've been regularly ridiculed by young newbies and aggressive guys who like to break their backs by hauling around big keyboards (done already, thanks)... and of course, they *absolutely* need 88 keys, everything else in an unacceptable compromise. And the manufacturers... ok, let's skip that bit. :freak:

 

I've used a Studiologic Studio 2001 for many years, but that has become too heavy for me to carry around (55 lbs + case), and the action is not up-to-date anymore.

 

Last year I bought a Studiologic VMK-176 plus, which has served me well since. The touch is a bit light, but very progressive, with a continuous control of dynamics that I like a lot. Still, I like my action a bit stiffer than that. Plus, it does not have MIDI zones for splits and layers!

 

The only other reasonable solution so far has been the Casio Privia line, which have a stiffer action - but I don't like the onboard sounds, even on the latest generation's PX130 and 330. I could have used one as a master controller exclusively, but the Studiologic wins for its smaller dimensions. I have owned a Privia for a while, but sold it after a few months.

 

Now finally, the Studiologic Numa Nano seems to resolve all that. No need for a reduced 76-key board anymore. Good action, wheels, aftertouch, 4 MIDI zones, a couple (groan) of sliders, and with its 88 keys, it weights LESS than a Casio! 22 lbs or so I think. I've tried it, and it feels good, despite having a totally different response than the VMKs. It remind me more of the action in some Roland digital pianos.

 

As soon as I'm able to collect the money, it will be my next main live keyboard.

I hope that in the USA, it wouldn't be too hard to find, or too expensive. Here, it's a quite reasonable 650 Euros.

 

 

 

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