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Looking for a decent portable keyboard for jazz gigs


Dave R

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I am looking to get a decent portable keyboard and amp for jazz gigs. I would like something with weighted action and a good jazz piano sound. Also on a budget, so not high end, just decent. Don't mind a getting a workhorse from years past. Recommendations?
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Yamaha CP4 would be my first choice if you can swing the cost. For a little less the Kawai MP-7 if you can handle the weight(it's not too bad about 40 pounds) If those don't work out for you get a Casio.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I am looking to get a decent portable keyboard and amp for jazz gigs. I would like something with weighted action and a good jazz piano sound. Also on a budget, so not high end, just decent. Don't mind a getting a workhorse from years past. Recommendations?

 

I've been using a Casio PX-5s for a couple of years now for mainly jazz gigs. Only weighs 24 lbs. It's been priced as low as $799.00. My amp is a CPS SSV3.

Casio PX5s, XWP1 and CPS SSV3
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Since you don't mind an older option, I would also look at a used Yamaha CP-33 as well, provided you have a chance to verify the condition before the purchase. It has Yamaha's GH action and a solid collection of AWM2 sounds and basic pro effects, as well as both USB & regular 5-pin MIDI.

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Gig: Yamaha MODX7, NumaX 73 Piano  Studio: Kawai ES-920; Hammond SK Pro 73; Yamaha Motif ES7 w/DX,VL,VH; Yamaha YC 73; Kawai MP-6; Numa Compact 2x

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The Roland FP 30 is worth a look. Someone I know just got one of these and preferred it's feel over Yamaha and Casio models she tried out.
C3/122, M102A, Vox V301H, Farfisa Compact, Gibson G101, GEM P, RMI 300A, Piano Bass, Pianet , Prophet 5 rev. 2, Pro-One, Matrix 12, OB8, Korg MS20, Jupiter 6, Juno 60, PX-5S, Nord Stage 3 Compact
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What are your specific requirements regarding "portable". Are you moving it by car, or in a subway for instance?

 

I use my PX5s in a small jazz combo together with my K10 for amplification. If I had to buy something at this moment I would try the new Kurzweil SP6. Seems like a great value for money and probably a better piano sound than the Casio (haven't tried it of course!).

 

For amplification, look for a small full range speaker (mono), or maybe you could use the spacestation.

Rudy

 

 

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I have the older version of the Yamaha P115. Nice action, two usable acoustic pianos and decent Rhodes. Very lightweight and inexpensive. The onboard speakers are about as loud as a small upright, so you might not need an amp for quiet gigs.

 

http://www.digitalpianoreviewsite.com/yamaha-p115/

 

http://bestdigitalpianoguides.com/yamaha-p115-review/

aka âmisterdregsâ

 

Nord Electro 5D 73

Yamaha P105

Kurzweil PC3LE7

Motion Sound KP200S

Schimmel 6-10LE

QSC CP-12

Westone AM Pro 30 IEMs

Rolls PM55P

 

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Yes to those who mentioned how helpful it would be to have more specific estimates of budget and acceptable travel weight. gg22's selection is right if the goal is cheapest/lightest, but if there is more leeway in those parameters, there can be better choices. For amp, cheapest/lightest that sounds good for piano is probably EV ZXa1.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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My first choice is the CP4 -- surprise surprise as Gomer would say. :D

 

I don't know if 38 lbs. falls into the "portable category" for you. I'm 64 and with a soft case, I find the CP4 very manageable.

 

Personally I draw the line at 40 lbs. for any keyboard today. So that would exclude the Kawai MP7 - which I'm not a fan of for Jazz anyway. Although the new model -MP7SE - might have a more Jazz friendly tone and touch with the updates. I have no experience with the ES8 (which is 49 lbs.) or the lower level ES110.

 

If the price point of the CP4 is a bit high, you might try the Yamaha P255. Same weight at 38 lbs. but a good choice for Jazz. Plus it has internal speakers if that means anything to you.

 

I played a P255 for almost a year weekly at a jam session as the house guy. I'd say it gave me maybe 60% of what the CP4 offers. It doesn't sound anywhere near as good in mono though.

 

I would second Scott's recommendation on the EV ZXA-1 or the Yamaha DXR-8. If you can swing the CP4 , it can sound pretty decent in mono , actually better then any other piano with the exception of the Nord. You might be happy just with one EV/Yamaha going direct into that.

 

As most know here, I'm not at all a fan of the space station amp for piano in a Jazz context. I would be happier with the CP4 going mono into a ZXA-1/ DXR-8 or even the new generation QSC K8 over the SS.

 

Casios are certainly functional and will get the job done. Also great for people that have more extreme weight limits schlepping, maybe due to a physical condition. The action is playable but until they improve the tone and sustain on their core piano sound - they're off my radar.

 

It's a drag enough having to play any electronic keyboard in a Jazz Trio or Quartet context to begin with. I don't need other elements - wonky sustain, tone and hard to play action , along with nails on chalkboard or low audio quality from the speaker. I have enough stacked up against me in fighting an already losing battle. ;)

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515

 

 

 

 

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I also recommend the casio PX5s. I happen to love its piano soind, but what I didn't realise until I bought it, is how incredibly well it cuts through any band. I use it for all sorts of music, including jazz. :)
"Turn your fingers into a dust rag and keep them keys clean!" ;) Bluzeyone
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Another nod to the PX-5S, which I just bought a week ago (for the weight). It's definitely the nicest sounding AP I've played, with the possible exception of an actual 9' Baldwin.

 

For amplification at home, I use a pair of used Alto 12" powered speakers. The combination is pretty luscious.

-Tom Williams

{First Name} {at} AirNetworking {dot} com

PC4-7, PX-5S, AX-Edge, PC361

 

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Px-5s for lightweight and good piano and Ep sounds. A pair of QSC K8.2s will make it and any other keyboard shine, if you can spend the extra $. Definitely worth it.
Nord electro 3 73, Casio Px-5s, Yamaha SY-85, A&H ZED FX mixer, 2 QSC K8.2s
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Where are you in CA ?

 

I was in L.A. a little less than 2 weeks ago and finally got to play a USED Roland FP7.

 

If you are near Hollywood, that FP-7 is probably still up at Sam Ash. Compare it to the Kronos and the new Roland 2000 they have up there. You might be surprised.

 

The OP says he doesn't mind used. This and the amp have to be under $1000.

 

I thought the FP-7 sounded phenomenal through its own speakers. This is a great example of good speaker and amp pairing, one of the best stand alone sounds I have heard.It was also loud on its own. With a subwoofer, it might get close in volume to a real piano.

 

Another option is a Roland FP-4. I like the Superior Grand sample a bit better than whatever is in the FP-7, but I have never had hands on an FP-4... I am assuming it doesn't have the volume of the FP-7.

 

I am on my second Roland RD300GX, but it has no speakers. I have always preferred this 2010 issue DP to anything Casio has had out and also to most of what Yamaha has put out, with the exception of the CP-4, but not by much. Excellent Rhodes in the RD300GX too.

 

My price on a mint condition Rd300GX was 500 dollars. Enough left over for a good amp system if you are savvy.

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For those of you using the PX-5S for jazz gigs, what Stage Settings do you use?

 

I used the gig piano from Dave Weiser in the big band setting.

 

For the combo gigs I mostly use (a tweaked version of) the Altattack piano and sometimes the mono EQ piano of Jim.

 

 

Rudy

 

 

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Px5 does not have internal speakers, a mistake for jazz....px360 has 4 internals which is a huge benefit

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." 

Harry teaches jazz piano online using Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, or Google Meet.

 

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Px5 does not have internal speakers, a mistake for jazz....px360 has 4 internals which is a huge benefit

 

My PX5s does just fine for jazz gigs. Internal speakers wouldn't cut it for any of my gigs. Do you play a lot of living room gigs?

Casio PX5s, XWP1 and CPS SSV3
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I've owned two Yamaha keyboards with internal speakers - the P120 & CP300. While I certainly dug having the speakers, I can honestly say that probably a good 90% of the time they were totally obscured when playing with bass and drums in Jazz contexts.

 

Even playing Duo with an acoustic bass player and no drums, say accompanying a female singer - I always heard my stereo speakers far more prominent then the internals on either keyboard. And I don't consider myself playing at a "loud volume".

 

I don't know - maybe the newer DPs (FP90 ?) have speakers that put out more sound and it's easier to balance between the internals and your monitors. I just don't have any experience with any of them.

 

If Yamaha came out with a CP4 upgrade with speakers , somewhat in the mold of the CP300, I'd certainly be looking at it very seriously - but probably more for home as it gets old playing with phones (even great ones like the Senn 650s) on the CP5 in the office.

 

I think the internals are great - and I can dig the improved player connection - but for me they just got always swallowed up, either by the room acoustics or again, playing with any other instruments.

https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D

Yamaha AvantGrand N3X, P-515

 

 

 

 

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Even if I can't hear them over the external amplification, I like the piano-like sensation of feeling the vibrations in the keys.

Maybe this is the best place for a shameless plug! Our now not-so-new new video at https://youtu.be/3ZRC3b4p4EI is a 40 minute adaptation of T. S. Eliot's "Prufrock" - check it out! And hopefully I'll have something new here this year. ;-)

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Since you don't mind an older option, I would also look at a used Yamaha CP-33.

Excellent suggestion. I've always thought it was a nice DP (digital piano).:thu::cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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They might be scarce on the ground these days, but even the old Yamaha P-120 was a great gigging board. Most of the features and sound set of the CP-33, with onboard speakers. I used mine for a decade before replacing it with a CP4. Would still hold up well today.
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I agree that the Yamaha P-120 is a good choice. CP4 is my favorite, but also more expensive. I don't know why but I prefer playing a P-120 vs. a CP-33. Probably doesn't make sense technically but this was my experience. I never tried the Kawaii models because they're too heavy for me. I tried a Casio PX-5 once in a music store but didn't like the sound.

 

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