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Electro CP80

Dave Pierce

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So, I've been using my Electro more and more as a single 'board for rehearsals, and I'm now thinking about using just the Electro and Micron for one of my band's gigs.


But I just can't get sounds that work for me out of the acoustic piano patches. I don't need a lot of piano for this gig, but I do need a bit.


Today at rehearsal I decided to try the "Electric Grand" patch, which I believe is based on the CP80. I've never played a real CP80, so I've never really paid any attention to this patch on the Electro before.


I kinda liked it! :thu:


What can you guys tell me about playing "CP80-style"? How did the original instrument differ from a piano? What are some recordings I could listen to to catch it's vibe?


Just curious...



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I did the same for one of my gigs - played the CP instead of the acoustic piano. IMO the CP cuts through in the mix in a very effective way among guitar, bass, drums and a heavy amplification. I mainly use it to reproduce jumpy/groovy piano vamps. It's not the best for ballads or jazz trios, but for Paul Simon/Graceland type of sounds it's convincing (allthough i remember no recordings to listen to...sorry :( )just my impressions


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I could never get into the CP80... but as an example of one used fairly tastefully, check out the band Keane. They must be one of the few modern contemporary pop bands which make prominent use of CP80s (the band is simply drums + cp80 + singer). Some nice tunes.
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Roald from HC has a CP80 review page with audio samples:




I went ahead and registered with a hotmail email and it was worth it for me.


I used to play a CP. As to "the" CP sound ... the one I associate with the instrument is mostly in English pop and rock bands. Genesis used it on the Duke album extensively.Gabriel used it on a number of tracks on "So" including his mega-hit "In your eyes". A number of the 80's Phil Collins ballads had it. Howard Jones used it....


Um, don't let me turn you off. It's a fine instrument. ;)


It's played pianistically. Not like a clav that requires special sensibilities.


It has a built in tremolo, but through a slow stereo chorus it develops a lot of color allowing the player to play simply. On a number of the Gabriel tunes, he has quite a dramatic stereo delay on it, and it's the most significant sound in the mix.



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I'm a huge fan of the original Yamaha CP70/CP80 sound after playing a number of Peter Gabriel and Simple Minds covers over the years. I do use the Electro's CP sound in conjunction with S90 acoustic piano sounds. I've always liked using the weighted action of the S90 to trigger the Electro CP80 and mixing it with acoustic piano makes the overall sound cut a lot more than just a piano sound. Plus, the Electro CP sound is incredibly responsive to dynamics. Sounds best with some chorus or light phasing.


As for songs that use the sound, someone already mentioned Keane (great band) and the ubiquitous "In Your Eyes." Here are some others:


- "No One is To Blame" by Howard Jones

- "Alive and Kicking" by Simple Minds (actually most any Simple Minds song features the sound prominently

- "New Year's Day" by U2 (the Edge has played a CP70 on stage since almost the beginning and it shows up in many recordings)

- Peter Gabriel's "So" album - also seek out live versions to hear more




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Originally posted by eric:

- Peter Gabriel's "So" album - also seek out live versions to hear more

Some CP70/80 off Youtube:


Gabriel - In your eyes live ..


Gabriel - Lamb lies down on Broadway


Genesis - An bit of Duke (live)



While there are other players who used it well, the chorused English Rock thing is the most well established sound in my view.



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I seem to recall that the cp 80 had only 2 srings to produce the notes in the middle of the keyboard as opposed to 3 and as such had a clean and cutting midrange because of less beating between two strings as opposed to three. (assuming it stayed in tune on the way to the gig )
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Leon Russell played a CP80 on the entire One For The Road album with Willie Nelson back in 1979. Very cool sound with the straight-up retro-C&W takes on a bunch of old country standards on the original "side one." Check out the wild stereo ping-pong tremolo on the intros to Trouble In Mind and a ragtime Sioux City Sue. Side two of the album featured Leon playing all the instruments (mostly CP80 layered with string pads) and Willie on vocals on a set of Tin Pan Alley standards. The CP provides solo Bill Miller/Sinatra accompaniment to Willie's take on One For My Baby. It's the most "naked" use of the CP I can think of. And if you're a fan of that sound - glorious...

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Hi Dave,


I actually played a few gigs with the exact same Electro + Micron setup. The CP80 worked well - it can sound very funky in the right setting. I think that's a CP80 on Prince's "Sexy Dancer" (the solo). Check it out!

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CP70 was my main piano from 1980 to 1997. I really liked it, but I'm happier in general with modern digitals.


It's a great instrument. I do remember playing with other keyboard players with early digital pianos, and there was no comparison in dynamic range. The CP70 blew their doors off, and the digitals sounded cheezy in comparison. Not so, today, with the best digital ROMplers and software pianos.


One of the big differences with CP70 is that the difference in peak and sustain levels was much lower than with a real piano. On a real piano, when you strike a key (especially for f & louder), the envelope drops pretty quickly at first. On the CP70 this curve is much flatter.


This is a good thing when you want good "ride", a long sustained tone. It's a bad thing for complex music like jazz and classical, where distinctions between notes in a run get lost.


CP70 is great for pop piano techniques like left hand bass and right hand chords; stuff like the ending to "Layla", Lennon's "Imagine" (though, low C is lacking on CP80 and missing on CP70), Beatles' "Let It Be", Eagles' "Desperado", Pink Floyd's "Us and Them". No, CP70 wasn't used on any of those, but it works when it's what you got.


I haven't played the Electro CP80, so I can't comment on that. IIRC, I did play it for a moment and wasn't impressed like I was for its Hammond and Rhodes, but didn't put it through its paces.


Another difference is the high harmonics are sharper than they normally are, due to the short harp. That added to the natural brightness gives the CP70 a very crashy tone. Great for some purposes, but a bit too much for swing piano and jazz cluster chords. It uses up a LOT of soundscape on stage for those styles, so you have to be careful and play more like Count Basie, just playing those key rhythmic notes to pull the band together and drive forward. Minimalism is best there.


But for good ol' rock & roll and rowdy blues, it's great. When you're trying to push out a lot of sound, it always seemed to have plenty in reserve. And I only broke couple strings in all those years, despite having bought a thorougly abused piano. (I broke more Rhodes tines than CP70 strings.)

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I've put together a preset in my Stage which is layered CP-80 and one of the upright pianos. Lots of treble and mids added on both layers gives me that cutting barrelhouse piano that I can use for Little Feat stuff - what Billy used to use MKS-20 piano 3 for.



"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker


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