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How do you Judge an 88-note weighted key's Action ??


engineerjoel

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Each time I find myself in a music store,I'll test each of the weighted keyboards to see if they can pass the "Billy Joel Prelude/Angry Young Man" Test. I typically find that most keyboards don't respond fast enough and wimp out pretty quickly.

 

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I just play it. However, I'm always careful not to make a snap judgement.

For instance, a few years ago I tried out a Roland FP-4 in the music shop. At first the keybed felt spongy - like it was lined with neoprene at the bottom or something, but after a while I found it rather fit my heavy-handed style and I grew to like it.

 

 

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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I typically find that most keyboards don't respond fast enough and wimp out pretty quickly.

 

yes, fast note repetition is a failure of most weighted action keyboards. You have to wonder if engineers even ever thought to consider it!

 

I wonder what are the winners in this particular test if any?

"It is a danger to create something and risk rejection. It is a greater danger to create nothing and allow mediocrity to rule."

"You owe it to us all to get on with what you're good at." W.H. Auden

 

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I will give a +1 to "play it". If it feels good and sounds good it is good.

But also....

I check repeated notes. A shortcoming of many boards, as pointed out above.

I check how hard you need to play to send velocity 127 (if too easy, no amount of velocity curve adjustment will compensate).

 

I play softly and check out the ability to play with subtle dynamics at very low velocities. Often this is where "jumpy" keyboards jump the most.

I like to actually look at what velocitiy is being transmitted, and see if the board transmits consistently throughout the 0-127 range as you get louder.

I play chromatic scales and see if I feel like the black notes are consistent with the white notes, or if any notes in particular jump out or are too quiet.

 

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Each time I find myself in a music store,I'll test each of the weighted keyboards to see if they can pass the "Billy Joel Prelude/Angry Young Man" Test. I typically find that most keyboards don't respond fast enough and wimp out pretty quickly.

 

 

If you play it hard like Billy Joel does , and I was the shop owner , you would be shown the door - possibly on the end of a size 10 boot. That's quite abusive to any keyboard.

 

Brett

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Bring open-ear headphones and your ipod and play along with the your style of music for a good two or three hours. That's how long it takes to discover if you and the action are compatible. Years ago I picked up a Yamaha P120 (?) thinking the action was a little firm, but it would be "good for my technique." One hour into my first gig with the board, I was ready to throw it out the window. It was like in a dream where you're running but you're not getting anywhere. I returned it the next day.
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Oh yea gota play it and play many others,

I have my own personal, sort of technical requirements:

 

The key feel some or most like the old style finish feel where the whites aren't so polished and the blacks have a matt like finish feel to them. Also the shape of the blacks at the ends from the top to the whites. Me, I like the keys to be a bit slippery so I can skid around when I want to, helps keep things smooth.

 

Key depth, Probably not the right term but, how far from key up to key depressed bottom, Again personal preference I like it to be around medium to a little shallow.

 

Resistance, this is a difficult one because you need it stiff enough to be fast enough, but if to stiff then it gets repulsive and of course I want it to be easy because while I enjoy it, I'll never be all that great at it.

 

Towards the bottom of the key stroke, on acoustic boards, you can feel a slite cur chunk from the inner workings, IF you can get that out of a DP or 88 controller then you know the manufacturer really cares.

 

There's also fulcrum point that affects resistance/key weight and is usually faked into the way the mechanism is designed and works.

 

Damper I wish more had contiuess damper inputs with polarity switching.

 

For acoustic grands I like Baldwins and love Yamaha for a DP/88 controller I love my Kawai. Now if I could only get a good 76 key synth or semi weighted, I loved my trinity before it was stolen, the Triton Extreme 76 has a good feel to it. Roland are pretty good aswell. Oh, and a HX PCB switch out in their recommended hammond too.

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I don't look for anything specific about the key finish or depth of travel, I just go on the overall feel playing it. I normally use Kachaturian's Tocatta in Eb Minor to test the technical quality of an action as it covers the whole range of the keyboard at a whole range of velocities and it's got a few very high speed repetitions which are very telling!

 

[video:youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmBgpaAzfog

 

If it passes that test, then it can probably handle anything from a technical point of view, but the second test is whether I could actually play it day in, day out. For that I use The Great Gig In The Sky as I know it inside out and playing it is second nature. If the sound from the board when I'm playing it matches the sound in my head, then I'm sold!

 

[video:youtube]

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Needs to be heavy enough to feel ok for AC piano, needs to be light enough with a fast enough key return to play EPs, Clavs and organs.

 

Fatar TP40L does the trick for me. And it's quite robust and reliable. To be fair, I have played one of these actions (while working for Kurz) 40-50 hours/week since around 2007. So I'm just a tad biased.

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