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Yamaha CP300 vs. P250


Dave Horne

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I was away on vacation for a week and tried to play a CP300 in Germany. It didn't happen, I couldn't find a store that had one in stock.

 

I'm busy trying to sell my P250 privately. After reading this review by Steve Fortner in Keyboard Magazine, I thought I'd copy and paste it here. (I hope this is OK to do. This information is online for the world to read.)

 

I am also very happy that Keyboard reviewed this keyboard so soon after it was released.

 

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Stage Piano

 

Yamaha CP300

By Stephen Fortner | October 2006

 

Say Yamaha CP in a roomful of keyboard players, and those who remember the 70s or 80s will think of electric grand pianos. These had physical strings and hammers, but pickups in place of a wooden soundboard. Before sample-based digital pianos, they were the best way to get authentic sound onstage in a relatively portable package. The CP moniker is back, this time on a flagship stage piano Yamaha intends to replace its venerable and highly respected P250 (reviewed Aug. 05). Lets see if the new CP300 lives up to both legacies.

 

 

Overview

Though the CP300 looks almost exactly like the P250, a closer look at the panel reveals a few improvements: Four MIDI sliders controlling internal or external zones are new, as is an on/off button for the onboard speaker system, and dedicated transpose button. Each of four pairs of increment buttons (labeled A through D) around the display changes whatever is closest to it on the LCD. This is great for sound-hunting for splits and layers, where up to four names may be on the display at once. A dedicated button enters split mode, and you layer simply by pressing two sound category buttons Yamaha calls them voice groups on the CP300 at once. Nothing could be more intuitive. You can get as complex as a split with dual layers on either side.

 

A 16-track sequencer includes metronome and quantize functions, but like the P250, lacks the editing depth of workstation keyboards. In addition to recording and playing your performances, it can play back song files in General MIDI or XG format using the onboard complement of XG voices.

 

 

Sounds

The good old P250s main grand piano sound is still quite good, even by todays standards. But the CP300s, still called Grand Piano 1, is better. To my ears, its not a subtle difference. Highs are more organic and extreme lows are less phasey, and its just more real from top to toe. Under the hood, theres about twice as much piano wave ROM as in the P250. Just like with their legendary acoustic grands, its fair to say Yamaha favors the bright, poppy side when compared with other brands, but this is hardly a bad thing. The CPs two Mellow Piano variations are well-suited to classical music, and I have a feeling theyll fit in with the way a lot of jazzers would approach straight-ahead bebop. When stuck with a mono amp or PA system, you usually have the choice of getting just one side of the stereo picture or risking thin sound caused by possible phase weirdness when a stereo sample is summed to mono. The CP300 solves this problem with Mono Piano voices that are designed for mono amplification, and that sound every bit as detailed and real as Grand Piano 1 theyre not an afterthought.

 

 

IN USE

I took the CP300 down the coast to Santa Barbara, where it served as the keyboard backline for Summer Solstice, a huge multi-band festival in the towns equivalent of Central Park. The bands that used it included blues, classic rock, and Cajun-influenced acts, as well as my 70s funk cover outfit, Area 51. Everyone who played it raved to me afterwards, with comments ranging from, Thats the best feeling digital piano Ive ever touched, to, Its like someone took a blanket off the piano sound, to simply, Wow. Solid. For the most part, it stayed on the main Grand Piano 1 voice, until it was my turn, where I employed Phaser Rhodes and Clavi 2 on several tunes. It was at this point that I really discovered the upside to the things sheer heft and bulk: it didnt flinch an inch when the adrenaline factor took over my onstage performance and I started banging big two-handed gospel chords while jumping up and down like a pogo stick. The lower row of buttons is close enough to the keyboard that you can hit one by mistake when playing very fast or excitedly, but thats what the panel lock function is for.

 

I also played the CP at home for over a month, most often through its internal speakers, and sometimes through headphones or ADAM S2A studio monitors. However I amplified it, I was impressed that even on days when I left the office wanting never to see another keyboard an occupational hazard I always felt like breaking out a chart and practicing by the time I arrived home. Ive played other instruments with this much mood-elevating mojo, but they were either vintage Hammond B-3 organs or six-figure concert grand pianos.

 

 

CONCLUSION

This is a deadly-serious instrument. Playing it is also serious fun Ive always seen finger-to-music connection as paramount when it comes to forgetting your piano is digital, and the CP300s is top-drawer. The only other hardware stage piano with this kind of gravitas is the Kawai MP-8 (reviewed Feb. 06), and I dare say that while the Kawais wooden keys give it the edge for realistic feel, the CP leapfrogs ahead for overall sound quality.

 

Compared to the previous generations highest echelons, such as the Kawai MP-9500, Yamaha P250, or anything else, the sonic difference is more than enough to justify real consideration of upgrading. The CP300 is poised to become the new gold standard for those who demand the most pianistic realism you can get onstage without Elton Johns roadies, and are committed enough to this pursuit that a little more weight and expense than the median is no big deal. Come to think of it, that was entirely true of the CP electric grands in their day. Those letters fit like a glove.

 

Overview

Digital stage piano.

Pros

Superbly detailed, playable stereo piano sound. Special mono piano doesnt compromise sound quality one bit. Graded keyboard action feels exceptionally realistic. One of the best-sounding built-in speaker systems of any digital piano.

Cons

Big and heavy. Keyboard does not transmit aftertouch. No vintage CP electric grand sound outside of XG bank.

$2,699

Yamaha

www.yamaha.com

 

 

 

Vital Stats

Keyboard

88 keys, A to C, velocity-sensitive, graded hammer action.

Polyphony

128 voices.

Internal sounds 50 instrument sounds; 480 XG sounds.

Display

2 line x 24 character backlit LCD.

User memory

64 performance locations for splits and layers.

Speaker system

2 x 5", 30W per channel.

Power supply

Built-in w/ two-prong power cord.

Dimensions/weight

54.75" W x 18.12" D x 6.5" H; 71.6 lbs.

 

 

Gimme Some Action

The CP300 employs Yamahas graded hammer action, in which keys are weighted progressively as you descend the keyboard. You have to look at the sides of the keys to discern theyre not made of real wood, as you sure cant tell this simply by playing. The black keys tops are textured with a matte finish. All keys hit the bottom of their travel smoothly and authentically I definitely didnt feel like I was playing a table, as on some cheaper stage pianos. Compared to the P250, the CP300 seemed a little lighter and more fluid. The action also conspires with the internal speakers and the piano sounds low-to-high-panning to create a very pleasant illusion of playing the real thing. Strike a key, and youll feel a physical vibration from the speakers, coming from the vicinity where the string would be in an acoustic grand.

 

 

Midi Control Functions

The CP300 is a competent MIDI controller, with a local-off mode, two available ports on its USB connection for a total of 32 channels, and the ability to program each of the four sliders to control volume or other parameters like brightness and aftertouch on separate channels. Speaking of aftertouch, it comes up as a MIDI setting in both the transmit and receive menus, but none of the internal sounds seem to use it. Turns out the CP will receive aftertouch messages from an external source, and transmit them from a slider youve programmed to do so. The keyboard itself, though, does not transmit aftertouch.

 

 

Gory Details

Velocity Response Curves

Light, medium (default), heavy, fixed.

Effects

Reverb, chorus, and insert effects including delay, compressor, echo, rotary speaker, and piano sound board.

Sequencer

16 tracks, approx. 140,000 note capacity.

USB Connection

MIDI only, requires driver download.

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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I've only played the CP33, the upgrade of the P90, and if that upgrade trajectory is anything to go by, you'd do well to heavily investigate the 300. I'd even argue you could get the 33 and save your back, unless you really need/prefer the internal speakers of the 300.

 

The piano sound, coming out of whatever monitors they had hooked up at the busy NYC Sam Ash near closing time, sounded pretty damn good and I'd have no qualms using it on a jazz trio bar gig, much less a rock or funk gig. The finger-sound response was really quite good, and felt like I was playing an instrument, not just triggering samples. I don't remember the Rhodes sounds that much - they don't surpass the Nord Stage by any means, but they're decent.

 

David

My Site

Nord Electro 5D, Novation Launchkey 61, Logic Pro X, Mainstage 3, lots of plugins, fingers, pencil, paper.

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I'm not an attention hound, but since you said that you were on vacation I put my impressions of the CP300 here if you are interested and haven't read it:

 

http://www.musicplayer.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/ubb/get_topic/f/18/t/020329/p/2.html

 

I also agree with the above that Yamaha still hasn't put a Rhodes that reflects the best current examples in this series. This one sounded better than my memory of the P250 Rhodses but that's not side by side.

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Hi Dave,

As you know I am also an owner of the P-250.

I've played the 300 and 250 several times, side by side, at Sam Ash music.

While the 300 may have a *slightly* more detailed sound, I personally wouldn't rush to buy it, over the 250.

If they had made it sound better AND 20 lbs. lighter, maybe then I'd be sold. I still enjoy playing my 250 and have not experienced the "GAS" that you would experience from playing, say, a Motif classic and then the Motif ES.

The difference between the 2 really was not enough to justify selling one BIG piano, (probably losing a significant amount of money) and then buying another BIG piano.

A lot of these "you gotta have em" improvements translate out to the "Emporer's new Clothes" syndrome, if you know what I mean...

Just my .02 ...

Let me know when you're in New York!

Tom

Nord Electro 5D, Modal Cobalt 8, Yamaha upright piano, numerous plug-ins...

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DH, so you are upgrading to a CP300, sight unseen, keyboard unplayed?

 

Thought I was a Yammie man. You are a true believer too, huh? :D

 

FWIW, I have played the CP300 and it is fantastic. I cannot recall how differently it sounds compared to a P250.

 

However, if I were in the market for a DP, I would get the CP300 hands down. :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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A large store near me will have one on their floor this week and I will bring my headphones and make the final decision. I have my P250 up for sale on a Dutch web site and am in the process of selling this one way or another. I have a few guys interested in the P250 but so far no one has shown any hard cash. I figure listening through a good set of headphones will make or break my will re the CP300. The P250 has an excellent piano sound and if the CP300 is noticeably better I'll buy it just to have to best sound.

 

(I have a deal to buy the CP300 in Germany at a much lower price than I can get in the Netherlands. It won't cost me too much to trade up if I actually sell my P250. Most of my jobs are acoustic and there's no rush; I can live without an electric piano if I have too - I can always rent one for a job if I'm without one.)

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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Dave, do you need the P250/CP300 for the internal speakers? If not, and if you're willing to carry those heavy instruments to gigs anyway, maybe this is your chance to try a Kawai MP8. To me, it's the closest thing to a piano touch (and your own Grand Touch) on the market at the moment.
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Try a RD-700SX while you are at it. I like it better for jazz because the individual notes seems to have a less pronounced attack with more sustain resulting in a smoother line. Live, I also like that the RD-700SX has a dark tone that is at the same time blended with what almost sound like sparkling high frequency overtones.

 

I have realized that testing digital pianos with good headphones is almost totaly misleading as to how it will actualy sound live when played loud through speakers and playing with other musicians.

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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Marino, I'm guessing that 10 percent or less of my jobs require an electric piano. While the action is important and I'm sure I'd love the action on the Kawaii, I would have to be sure I liked the basic piano sounds on the Kawaii as much as I like them from the P250 ... and then there's the issue of buying yet another flight case(?). (The CP300 will fit perfectly into the case I have for my P250.)

 

Jazz+, I have spent some time with the Roland 700SX and while the piano sounds great I'm less than thrilled with its 'Rhodes' and would be reluctant to buy it if only for that reason. (For me, the 700SX has more 'extra stuff' than I will really use. I prefer a more conservative look on a keyboard; it seems like it is marketed to a much younger crowd.)

 

Cydonia, regarding the warranty - if I buy the piano from Germany, have a problem and Yamaha in Holland refuses to help me, I simply travel to Germany ... or pay out of my pocket. I really can not remember taking any keyboard in for warranty work. I once replaced a key or two on my Roland A80 and did the work myself after receiving some guidance from a tech in Belgium. The warranty issue is not an issue for me, it will get repaired one way or the other.

 

I don't need or use the built in speakers of my P250, I wish Yamaha would have left them out and made the case thinner. Even though the P250 is big, I really like having a large flat surface to place music on instead of bringing an additional music stand or using the cheap plastic stand that comes with the piano. If I were to buy the 700SX I would then have to bring a music stand for those few tunes where it would be needed. If Yamaha would lose the speakers in the P250\CP300 and make the case as thin as possible but still keep the large flat surface, the piano would be just about perfect. So far Yamaha has not consulted me for my opinion. Has anyone ever had their opinion solicited from a manufacturer? I'd be happy with just a follow up call after making a purchase.

 

I'll either buy the CP300 or just hold on to my P250 and trade that in when something new is offered in a few years. I'll have the chance shortly to try a CP300 with headphones. This is a tough decision since I only use an electric piano for less then 10 percent of my jobs.

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 Dave Horne:

Marino, I'm guessing that 10 percent or less of my jobs require an electric piano. While the action is important and I'm sure I'd love the action on the Kawaii, I would have to be sure I liked the basic piano sounds on the Kawaii as much as I like them from the P250 ... and then there's the issue of buying yet another flight case(?). (The CP300 will fit perfectly into the case I have for my P250.)

 

Jazz+, I have spent some time with the Roland 700SX and while the piano sounds great I'm less than thrilled with its 'Rhodes' and would be reluctant to buy it if only for that reason. (For me, the 700SX has more 'extra stuff' than I will really use. I prefer a more conservative look on a keyboard; it seems like it is marketed to a much younger crowd.)

 

Cydonia, regarding the warranty - if I buy the piano from Germany, have a problem and Yamaha in Holland refuses to help me, I simply travel to Germany ... or pay out of my pocket. I really can not remember taking any keyboard in for warranty work. I once replaced a key or two on my Roland A80 and did the work myself after receiving some guidance from a tech in Belgium. The warranty issue is not an issue for me, it will get repaired one way or the other.

 

I don't need or use the built in speakers of my P250, I wish Yamaha would have left them out and made the case thinner. Even though the P250 is big, I really like having a large flat surface to place music on instead of bringing an additional music stand or using the cheap plastic stand that comes with the piano. If I were to buy the 700SX I would then have to bring a music stand for those few tunes where it would be needed. If Yamaha would lose the speakers in the P250\CP300 and make the case as thin as possible but still keep the large flat surface, the piano would be just about perfect. So far Yamaha has not consulted me for my opinion. Has anyone ever had their opinion solicited from a manufacturer? I'd be happy with just a follow up call after making a purchase.

 

I'll either buy the CP300 or just hold on to my P250 and trade that in when something new is offered in a few years. I'll have the chance shortly to try a CP300 with headphones. This is a tough decision since I only use an electric piano for less then 10 percent of my jobs.

blah, blah blah piano sounds. As long as you have your wallet out, why not look beyond? I mean that in the nicest possible way. Imagine, your 24/7 ticket to an open stage, your recording studio, your band in a box in a box... Well, it's your call of course. But think about it. Personally, I feel blessed. :)
"........! Try to make It..REAL! compared to what? ! ! ! " - BOPBEEPER
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Elaborating on what David Horne said about "losing the speakers". I say not lose the speakers but make them smaller, like Kawai did with the ES4, it has 3 5cm. ones on the right and left side of the piano's back, making the instrument's weight at 45lbs, instead of 71.
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Plug a SRX-12 card into the RD-700SX and you have the best Rhodes in hardware.

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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I've been using one of these for ten years and I have a thick book of charts. It folds up quickly and fits in my gig bag, weighs about a pound. http://www.guitarstop.com/acc/stands/music%20stand%20L.jpg

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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The RD-700SX is slim and weighs 54 lbs and fits in a padded gig bag. Why break your back with a P250 and a flight case when you are just going to gigs about town? It's not like you are putting it into air cargo.

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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blah, blah blah piano sounds. As long as you have your wallet out, why not look beyond? I mean that in the nicest possible way. Imagine, your 24/7 ticket to an open stage, your recording studio, your band in a box in a box... Well, it's your call of course. But think about it. Personally, I feel blessed. :)
Non sequitur?

 

Jazz+, regarding a music stand, I personally prefer to have the music lay flat when performing. I just like to occasionally glance down; I think it's important to have some direct eye contact with the audience and a standard music stand gets in the way.

 

I also like the idea of not having to buy an additional card to get the sounds that I think should be included in the keyboard. Come on guys, a stage piano should have a first rate acoustic sample and a first rate Rhodes sample, everything else is gravy. We shouldn't have to buy a card for basic sounds, should we?

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 leavity:

Elaborating on what David Horne said about "losing the speakers". I say not lose the speakers but make them smaller, like Kawai did with the ES4, it has 3 5cm. ones on the right and left side of the piano's back, making the instrument's weight at 45lbs, instead of 71.

I believe the speakers in the P250 are 5". I actually took one out just to see how much it weighed and it wasn't that heavy so I left it in. I have the feeling the case of the P250 is large for the speakers to have a larger resonating chamber. The case does not have to be so large for the electronics. If they lose the speakers the case can be made much thinner. The thickness of the P250 (and CP300) also makes the keyboard sit very high on piano stands and I had my stand cut down in a metal shop to accommodate it.

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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Quote by Dave Horne:

--------------------------------

I also like the idea of not having to buy an additional card to get the sounds that I think should be included in the keyboard. Come on guys, a stage piano should have a first rate acoustic sample and a first rate Rhodes sample, everything else is gravy. We shouldn't have to buy a card for basic sounds, should we?

--------------------------------

YEP! :thu:

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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I like the idea of not having to buy the extra card too, but buying the card is the only way to get Roland's finest Rhodes sound to date. So I bought it.

Having a great Rhodes sound is more important to me than hanging on to a wad of dollar bills ($220). Roland's SRX-12 Rhodes EP1 is much more expressive than the Rhodes in my P250, which is the same as the CP300 Rhodes.

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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Jazz+, wouldn't it be great if Roland and Yamaha followed Nord's lead and allowed us to update the chip in the piano? What a brilliant idea. Of course, that would make too much sense ... and less cents for the manufacturer.

 

By the way, I have someone coming over this weekend to look at (buy?) my P250. I'm lining up the CP300 at the same time.

 

Part of the reason for selling the P250 - I'm getting a good price (once the money is in my hands) and the CP300 is new and should be at the top of the heap (or at least one corner of the heap) for a few years. (You know, you can't your money with you and I'm planning on having some fun with mine.)

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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Of course I meant to write, you can't take your money with you .... you can't, right?

 

I'm reminded of Jack Benny. Your money or your life ... and he replies, I'm thinking, I'm thinking. :D

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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I'm reminded of Jack Benny. Your money or your life ... and he replies, I'm thinking, I'm thinking.

That's because he thought they said,"Your money or your wife!!"

 

I just got a CP 300 for home use and I'm loving the piano experience! It's so heavy I wouldn't take it on a gig though even though I'm tempted.....My gig ax is the Nord Stage. I love the stage but there is no comparison between the piano sounds.

 

John

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I also agree that an excellent piano and Rhodes sound within a DP should be standard.

 

Hell, if ROM/RAM are the issue, they can leave out 95% of those other sounds. :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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Originally posted by Dave Horne:

Jazz+, wouldn't it be great if Roland and Yamaha followed Nord's lead and allowed us to update the chip in the piano? What a brilliant idea. Of course, that would make too much sense ... and less cents for the manufacturer.

 

Obviously that would be good. But that is a hypothetical and I have to manage with what is.

 Find 600 of my jazz piano arrangements and tutorials for educational purposes at patreon.com/HarryLikas Harry was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book."

 

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A follow up to this thread - I just sold my P250 so I am now P250less. If I get a call where I need an electric keyboard I'll have to rent one; fortunately most of my jobs are acoustic.

 

I should have the CP300 within several weeks and while I can not A\B the two keyboards I'll certainly check out the differences in the piano sounds.

 

I got a fair price for the P250 and I'm getting an excellent price for the CP300 so I should be set until the next keyboard comes along. I didn't really need to sell it but, hey, you only live once and you can't take your money with you ... or can you?

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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