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Why do people complain about the heavy action of the Yamaha P series?


alby

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I have a relatively new Yamaha P90 about 2 months old (for gigging), and also a Yamaha baby grand - C2 model.

 

I find the Yamaha P90 action to be lighter than my grand piano.

 

In fact, I avoid practising on the P90, and just use it for band rehearsals and gigging, because I am worried about getting too used to the light action.

 

Its great when you play it after playing the heavier grand - you can really fly across the keyboard.

 

Its like weight training, then playing football.

 

My 2 cents

Alby

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Alby,

 

I play three keyboards regularly: K. Kawai model 650 6'8" grand, S90, and a P120. The Kawai is my reference because I practice on it about 10 hours a week and like it the most. Its action feels similar to most other grands I've run across.

 

When I play the S90, the action feels lighter and maybe a little faster. It feels good.

 

When I play the P120, the action feels heavy and sluggish. Initially, it's not bad. After about an hour, I'm not likin' it. Not wimpy fatique, just not having fun. iirc, the P90 might have a different action.

 

On a grand, it feels like most of the force is just the initial force required to overcome the inertia of the action. On the P120, it feels like the same force is required through the full key-stroke. This is my personal theory for the difference.

 

Obviously, this is my completely subjective opinion. But, I've heard other players complain about it on other forums.

 

Murray

Casio PX-5S, Korg Kronos 61, Omnisphere 2, Ableton Live, LaunchKey 25, 2M cables
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The P90 does have a lighter action than the one on the older P120s. Newer P120s have the same action of the P90. Being a pianist (I practice on a Yamaha G2) I prefer the older P120 action, but I must admit that the P90 is easier to play. The resistance on the heavier action (on the older P120s) is not always 'connected' with the sound of the note you're playing. I think this is a more general matter: A real grand piano is heavy to play, but it also allows many more gradations of sound than a digital, so the heaviness has a reason to be there - not necessarly the case with a digital.

 

An obvious obsevation: I would prefer the heavier action to practice on, but the lighter one for long gigs. :D:P

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On a grand, it feels like most of the force is just the initial force required to overcome the inertia of the action. On the P120, it feels like the same force is required through the full key-stroke. This is my personal theory for the difference.

I agree with you 110%. And that's gonna be a tough one for manufacturers to replicate.
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Of course, this is a matter of taste. You will never find "the" piano-feel. You will find many different digital pianos, and it's the same with real grand pianos, of course they don't all have the same action. In most cases you will find that the best piano action is the one you are used to. ;)
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Originally posted by marino:

An obvious obsevation: I would prefer the heavier action to practice on, but the lighter one for long gigs. :D:P

With a real piano you get best control by applying pressure all the way down until the hammer releases. If you "fling" the hammer from the top of the action you will get less control. I think a electronic action, because it is measuring the time to pass two points, tends to emphasize such lack of control.

 

But while the audio effects may be more evident, the tactile cause of any uneveness is less evident with the electric. So I think the ideal situation is to spend time practicing on both with the emphasis on the real piano being on good tone.

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Very well said, Byrdman. I've been playing piano for more than 35 years, and I've watched the evolution of the electric, then electronic, then digital piano with the biggest interest. I can honestly say that they're not there yet. Of course, we could semplify the matter and just say that the real piano action has a physical reason to exist, while the purpose of a digital piano action is to mimic something else.

In my experience as a teacher, I've encountered a few kids who have *only* played digital pianos, and the first time they touch a real grand piano it feels strange to them. Funny how things go in reverse sometimes...

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Originally posted by marino:

In my experience as a teacher, I've encountered a few kids who have *only* played digital pianos, and the first time they touch a real grand piano it feels strange to them. Funny how things go in reverse sometimes...

Absolutely! I teach at a music school that uses digital pianos, and I know first hand what you're talking about. It's even worse when they start on a Casio or Yammy unweighted "home" keyboard.
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  • 3 weeks later...

Actually, on the weekend I practised for about 1/2 hour on the P90, and found that my forearms were starting to ache.

 

Yet, I can practise for 2 hours straight on the my grand piano, or the School of musics Yamaha U1 with no problems at all.

 

Interesting. Maybe, I had the volume to low, and had to power the keys to get the volume I am used to for the same force.

 

regards

alby

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Originally posted by alby:

Actually, on the weekend I practised for about 1/2 hour on the P90, and found that my forearms were starting to ache.

 

Yet, I can practise for 2 hours straight on the my grand piano, or the School of musics Yamaha U1 with no problems at all.

 

Interesting. Maybe, I had the volume to low, and had to power the keys to get the volume I am used to for the same force.

 

regards

alby

forearms ache? Which set of muscles - the top forearm muscles or the bottom ones? If your top forearm muscles ached or tensed up, you are using the wrong set of muscles and you should study privately with someone who can help. If your bottom forearm muscles ached, you're using the correct set of muscles but are very much out of shape.

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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Originally posted by marino:

The P90 does have a lighter action than the one on the older P120s. Newer P120s have the same action of the P90. Being a pianist (I practice on a Yamaha G2) I prefer the older P120 action, but I must admit that the P90 is easier to play. The resistance on the heavier action (on the older P120s) is not always 'connected' with the sound of the note you're playing. I think this is a more general matter: A real grand piano is heavy to play, but it also allows many more gradations of sound than a digital, so the heaviness has a reason to be there - not necessarly the case with a digital.

 

An obvious obsevation: I would prefer the heavier action to practice on, but the lighter one for long gigs. :D:P

I played a new P90 and a new P120 in the shop the other day and the P120 still felt heavier to play than the P90. The key depth felt shallower on the P90. And the velocity scale felt easier on the P90. They both felt like they take more effort and are stiffer to play than most real pianos, especialy the P120, though their heavy actions enable great control.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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I remember when I first played on an acoustic piano. I only practiced on a synth, with synth-like action. I felt so out of place. I didn't have a sense of anything. Feel, location, or playing. The keys felt like they weighed 50 pounds a piece. I brought a P80 about 3 years ago. The feel was heavy at first, but after awhile I got accustomed to it. My playing, as well as my son's, got alot better. When I play an acoustic piano now, I have no problem with the weight of the keys or the feel of the piano. I have realized, however, that some acoustics have a much lighter feel.
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I had two gigs yesterday where I used my P120. They were both jazz gigs with just piano and bass, so I was playing a lot.

 

Altogether I played for ten hours. I used my P120 and my two JBL Eons. I had a very enjoyable time, and the sound and feel of the P120 were fine right to the end. I use Piano 1 90% of the time, and the Rhodes voice the other 10%.

 

My arms and fingers (and back) feel fine the next day.

 

During the second gig, we had to move from one room to another, and I got lazy and didn't move my speakers with me, I figured I'd try to get by with just the P120's speakers. I very quickly got tired of that, went and got one of my JBL's. That was a definite improvement, but I wasn't completely satisfied until I went and got my other JBL and carried on in stereo. P120 + 2 good amp/spkrs - it's the only way to go for me.

 

My only complaint about the P120 is I wish the CPU had more horsepower. Sometimes during dense passages with lots of pedalling, the system gets overloaded, and there are some minor, but audible delays. Most of the time, it's not a problem, though.

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Do you ever suffer repetive stress injuries when playing pianos? Some people are more prone to tendon injuries than others, even when playing with proper technique, it's a result of friction (repetive motion)that wears on and inflames the cell tissue. Just like some can stay in the sun for prolonged periods of time and others will burn quickly, it's in large part to do with genetic predisposition, some bodies are built to take it and others are more fragile. Age can be a factor too, just like eyesight and hearing tend to diminish, so can the condition of the tendons and their linings.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Firstly, Hello to everyone on this forum.

 

I was really interested to find this thread. I've owned a P60 for about 9 months and I'm having problems with 'knuckle damage' ! On the fifth and fourth fingers of my left hand , the knuckles are inflamed. I can tie this back to one particulary long session on the P60. I've used upright pianos and syth keyboards for years and never had any problems before. It could just be advancing age :eek: , but I don't think the heavy action on the P60 has helped.

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I had an interesting experience over the last couple of weeks.

 

My left wrist has been troubling me. A couple of weeks ago it flared up and I rested it for a day but couldn't resist going and playing. After half an hour of (gentle) playing the pain was completely gone.

 

So in this case playing made my wrist better.

 

Note - I am not recommending you try this as a cure. I was being obsessive and I really do mean light - I was working mostly on my right hand.

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Ive found its not the hours of practice i do (i play both an upright and my kurzweil pc2X) that gives me pain/discomfort...but those hours of typing on a keyboard and using a mouse combined with the practice!
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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

Originally posted by alby:

Actually, on the weekend I practised for about 1/2 hour on the P90, and found that my forearms were starting to ache.

 

Yet, I can practise for 2 hours straight on the my grand piano, or the School of musics Yamaha U1 with no problems at all.

 

Interesting. Maybe, I had the volume to low, and had to power the keys to get the volume I am used to for the same force.

 

regards

alby

forearms ache? Which set of muscles - the top forearm muscles or the bottom ones? If your top forearm muscles ached or tensed up, you are using the wrong set of muscles and you should study privately with someone who can help. If your bottom forearm muscles ached, you're using the correct set of muscles but are very much out of shape.
Hi Dave,

 

I think from memory it was the top forearms that ached.

 

Its probably from not setting the volume of the keyboard high enough, and I was trying to get the same volume with more force.

 

Also, I was practising swing scale, trying to accent the swung quavers. This is not natural playing many years of classical.

 

But I still find the P90 action lighter than the Grands action.

 

alby

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Alby,

I think from memory it was the top forearms that ached.

 

Its probably from not setting the volume of the keyboard high enough, and I was trying to get the same volume with more force.

If your top forearms ached or were tensed up, your were playing incorrectly and you really should see a professional to have this corrected.

 

That 'problem' has nothing to do with the piano but your approach to that piano. When I as younger I thought I could teach myself how to play and what muscles needed strengthening - I was wrong.

 

Get to a teacher and learn to play correctly. Once you learn to play without effort, your playing will be more musical - you will have more control over the sound and anyone watching you play will comment on how effortless it looks.

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 P120's action (and other p-series) are not perfect, but relatively speaking, they're not that bad, either. They're a lot closer to real piano action than was what available twenty or thirty years ago, and many of them are a lot lighter to carry around.

 

I used to take a 1973 Rhodes Stage 73 to piano-less gigs. The action on the early Mark I Rhodes' was heavy and sluggish. I used to get sore wrists after playing long gigs on that thing, and it wasn't from bad technique, it was just very heavy, sluggish action. They improved this on the later Mark I's, and on the Mark II's.

 

And the Stage 73 in its case used to weigh 140 lbs. Try hefting that up and down stairs, and into and out of cars, by yourself.

 

So, compared to that, I find it difficult to criticize the P-series!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello-

I've been looking a long time myself for the perfect weighted keyboard for myself, and I had narrowed it down to the Yamaha P250 and the now discontinued Kawai MP9500. I went back to Guitar Center and again tried the P250 - Just too heavy for my taste - And I'm classically trained - Play my acoustic daily. But when I finally found the one place here in the Atlanta area that carried the Kawai, I knew that I had to go try it. Well, I have to say - after trying many, many keyboards - the Kawai, because of it's solid wood key mechanisms - was and is by far the best action in an electronic board - period. You've got get your hands on one and try it for yourselves. It weighs 70 lbs., and can only be used as a slave to the pc when recording. Now the bummer: Kawai has decided to discontinue it because it has been effecting their much more expensive line that also has the wooden keys (Heard this from a reseller). Anyway, nobody told it was discontinued until recently, so when I got ready to buy, it's very hard to find now. I have some possibilities & will keep trying - But to re-emphasize: Don't pass judgement on it until you try it. It's the best. You can't tell the difference.

"Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are beautiful."
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THat's too bad. I know I tried their digital baby grand and it was the most inspiring electronic keyboard I have ever played. Better even than many acoustics. But, of course, they're not practical and they cost 15 grand. I've never played the one you're talking about, but if it's anything like lit, it has to be incredible.
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I play regularly too and on lot's of different acoustic pianos by Yamaha, Baldwin, Kawai and Steinway, etc. The other night I did a gig playing with a P120 and my my hands were getting tired and a sore after an hour. I don't usually get that with most of the pianos I play. I find those Kurweil PC88 and Roland RD actions easier on the hands.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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I would be willing to bet that the sound chosen from the keyboard or the level of the sound system has more influence on how you play and how quickly you tire from playing than the keyboard itself.

 

When I play a familiar keyboard action with a sound that might have a built in delay (attack), I find myself overcompensating in how I approach the keyboard. When I change the sound to something take has no delay in the initial attack, everything is fine. (Sorry if I'm using the wrong terms here, but I think you know what I mean.)

 

All of the electronic keyboards I play are pretty easy when compared to a badly made acoustic piano. Even the heaviest electronic keyboard is a joy to play when compared to a badly maintained acoustic piano.

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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If your top forearms ached or were tensed up, your were playing incorrectly and you really should see a professional to have this corrected.

This is interesting to me, cause I too found that if my keyboard wasn't high enough I felt fatigued on the top of my forearms as well towards the end of a single night.

 

The scary part is that I have experienced this soreness after a long week, say 4 to 5 4 hour shows in the same number of days even with the proper keyboard height. Am I doing something wrong? I have tried thru the years to focus on pushing the keys with my fingertips rather than bending the wrist with every key strike.

 

Rick

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Originally posted by Rick K.:

If your top forearms ached or were tensed up, your were playing incorrectly and you really should see a professional to have this corrected.

This is interesting to me, cause I too found that if my keyboard wasn't high enough I felt fatigued on the top of my forearms as well towards the end of a single night.

 

The scary part is that I have experienced this soreness after a long week, say 4 to 5 4 hour shows in the same number of days even with the proper keyboard height. Am I doing something wrong? I have tried thru the years to focus on pushing the keys with my fingertips rather than bending the wrist with every key strike.

 

Rick

Rick, you can answer this yourself by doing that wrist fly away check. I'm not an expert, I just learned rather late in life how to play correctly. Since I spent most of my life playing incorrectly, the lesson had quite an impact.

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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me too feel tense in my top forearm. So I need to repair my tecnique. Needsto find a good proffesional teacher , doesn't it ?

Dave, so do you mean if I play with a good tecnique, I will not tire play in heavy keyboard action ????

Thanks

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I lowered my seat one notch last night and it eliminated my forearm tension problem. I play pedal steel too and had been raised my seat so that I would be more comfortable while at the steel. What a mistake! I didn't have to play steel last night so I was able to lower the seat and I never tired all night and was able to execute my solos effortlessly. I think it was the best live band performance I've played in years. Thank you Mr Horne for bringing this matter to my attention. You've probably added years to my playing.
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Originally posted by STR41N:

me too feel tense in my top forearm. So I need to repair my tecnique. Needsto find a good proffesional teacher , doesn't it ?

Dave, so do you mean if I play with a good tecnique, I will not tire play in heavy keyboard action ????

Thanks

When you have the concept of playing with the least amount of effort, you will begin to have even more control of your sound and you won't tire as easily.

 

Take your hand and place your fingertips on the desk in front of you. Your fingertips are on the desktop and your hand is completely relaxed. Take your other hand, place it under wrist and under the fatty part of your palm and with very quick, short movements, raise that wrist a very short distance. That should be the felling you want when you play. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but that's about it.

 

When you play incorrectly, you play just from your hand and if you were to repeat what you just did, your hand would be locked to the desk top of to your keyboard.

 

Study with someone who is aware of this and who can help you. It took me a few months before I played that way without thinking. _This_ is no substitute for a teacher, study with someone who can correct your overall technique.

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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