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bitflipper

Fellow piano players: you may find this interesting

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https://www.sweetwater.com/insync/keyboard-action-and-key-weight-experiment/?utm_content=article1-button&utm_source=insync&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20200822-t1

This was a test of how "heavy" or "light" the action is on different digital pianos and synths.

I've always liked the feel of Yamaha keybeds and was surprised at how much pressure it takes to play them. I would have assumed that I'd prefer a lighter touch. The heaviest of all was the Hammond SK-1, not a piano but nice to have as a reference, and not an instrument I associate with requiring a lot of muscle to play.

My own primary keyboard (Korg Kronos) was in the middle of the pack, interesting because I've always considered it a pretty stiff action. However, that particular instrument skews the results because it's a progressively-weighted keybed,  meaning it takes more force to hit the low notes than the high notes (like an acoustic piano),. Now I know why I don't solo in the bottom octave.

Digital-Piano-Action-Comparison-Measurem

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Maybe this is why I liked the keybed in my old Roland Juno Stage. Seemed a little zippier. I have heard lots of keybeds are the same in different makes of boards. Also would be curious to know what the actual force is on a typical piano. Likely varies with different pianos.  For faster synth work I don't like piano feel. I'm stuck with it right now and it makes those fast solos more cumbersome IMHO.

Still hesitating on buying a dedicated midi controller since I think I would miss not having something with internal sounds, even though most of my work lately is using a vsti.

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This article describes methods for measuring touchweight. They suggest using stacks of nickels taped together, as nickels are 5 grams and unlike other coins that weight hasn't changed over the years. That piece says most pianos are around 50 grams, which is surprising, even counter-intuitive. It means the average acoustic piano takes far less effort than the average electronic piano. Steinways vary from 47 at the top of the keyboard to 50 grams at the bottom.

Acoustic pianos vary a LOT. I remember the first time I played a Steinway and was blown away by how lightly I could hit the keys and still make a sound. It was a solo gig at a fancy-schmantsy wedding. I was there just for ambiance, and I'd never before been able to play so quietly with such ease. Only then did I understand why Steinways fetch the prices they do. There is nothing else like them.

 

 

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I had a long standing gig at a restaurant on a grand piano with the lightest touch ever. A key would go down if you breathed on it.

Exaggeration? Only slightly. But playing jazz on it was a minefield- the slightest unintended finger drag on the way to the next note would add a new color to a crap rainbow.

Please forgive me for biting the hand that fed me, but every gig for 15 years I walked in there and wanted to burn that piano down.

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In the 80's I had a gig in a fancy athletic club, the kind of place where people wear their sweaters on their backs with the arms tied in front around their necks. To look athletic, I guess. Mostly it was a place where movers and shakers cut deals while dining on their company's credit card. My job was to noodle quietly in the background while people ate. Hey, it paid really well and how many gigs go from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM?

It might have been a dream gig, except that the piano sounded absolutely dreadful. Trying to play it quietly just made plinky dead-sounding notes. One night, I opened the lid and to my shock the entire piano had been stuffed with cardboard. Not in any manner remotely respectful of the instrument's tone, not using some kind of "acoustical cardboard" - just flattened boxes laid atop the strings.

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Acoustical cardboard? That's a first for me. I have had music fall off the piano into the strings while playing. The strings that made a sound were detuned. The other strings affected didn't sound at all. Everyone stops to look at you and it gets really quiet for a bit. 

I was a church pianist and I remember  being told by  pianists that I was hitting the keys too hard. They had a point. I knew I was hitting them hard. Everyone else liked it. Three little old ladies in particular sat toward the front on my side would complain. They kept coming after that for a bit, then I never seen them again. Not sure if they died or grew tired of my playing. The helicopter effect was fun though. Play softer on the verses and then hit them hard with the chorus WHAMO!  The old guard weren't as keen on the types of music I played. On some of it I revved up similar to Jerry Lee Lewis lol. 

Those with no point of reference liked it which was usually 99% of that crowd. That piano was a Schimmel grand the church had bought used and it was expensive back 20 years ago. Since then it has appreciated in value and is now worth quite lump of change. With the lid up it could hold it's own even against a plugged in guitarist ( playing modern church music). Loud for a grand piano and the tone was nice. The institution I work for is a dedicated Steinway school. I guess in order to get that designation you need to buy a bunch of Steinway pianos. The music building is packed with them. It was no easy task. I remember a window had to be removed to get a few of them on upper floors.  Steinway pianos are especially picky about humidity and it can sometimes be a lot of work to make sure they are properly cared for.  

I would imagine bars, clubs and the like would be very abusive environments for pianos. Who knows what the temps are at night when they close? Pianos also need to be tuned regularly. Some are probably more diligent than others to  get them tuned at least once a year.

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You've just revived some painful memories of moving my piano into my current home. Did I hire actual piano movers? No, I saved money by hiring a couple guys with a truck. Now my once-beautiful piano has an ugly gash along one side. I rearranged the entire living room so the blemish would face a wall.

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Posted (edited)

Is it a grand on wheels?  Don't beat yourself up over it. I think we've all  done  stuff like that. I know I have. Just hired a guy to pave my driveway. One call identified all the wires. I showed them to him.....but I had this hunch, this feeling about it. Somehow I knew he was still going to hit the wires. 

I'm sure you were like, " Now guys be careful here, these pianos scratch easily." But Houdini had too much coffee that morning and the rest is history.

 

Edited by Starise

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To be honest, I didn't blame the movers. They didn't know what they were doing, and neither did I. I'd never moved a grand piano before.

Yes, it has casters. But they don't work well even on a hardwood floor. Wouldn't have helped anyway, as the only way to get it in the house was to remove the legs and turn it on its side. Four guys could barely lift it, and there were steps. It got dropped on the concrete steps, hence the gouge.

It's only a 5' 4" baby grand, but it still weighs probably 700 pounds. If I ever sell this house, I'm advertising it as "includes a pool table and a grand piano". 

 

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13 hours ago, bitflipper said:

You've just revived some painful memories of moving my piano into my current home. Did I hire actual piano movers? No, I saved money by hiring a couple guys with a truck. Now my once-beautiful piano has an ugly gash along one side. I rearranged the entire living room so the blemish would face a wall.

Ouch, ouch, ouch!

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13 hours ago, bitflipper said:

To be honest, I didn't blame the movers. They didn't know what they were doing, and neither did I. I'd never moved a grand piano before.

Yes, it has casters. But they don't work well even on a hardwood floor. Wouldn't have helped anyway, as the only way to get it in the house was to remove the legs and turn it on its side. Four guys could barely lift it, and there were steps. It got dropped on the concrete steps, hence the gouge.

It's only a 5' 4" baby grand, but it still weighs probably 700 pounds. If I ever sell this house, I'm advertising it as "includes a pool table and a grand piano". 

 

Wow, there probably wasn't a perfect approach to that. Years ago I helped move heavy cast iron boilers out of basements. Similarly these things are HEAVY. Only one way out...narrow steps. In contrast, our only concern was that we didn't damage the home in removal. The boiler didn't matter. I recently was reminded how fun that was when I replaced my old boiler . It took two of us to get it out and I was seriously wondering if the steps were going to hold it and us. Luckily the new one was more efficient and about 500 pounds lighter.

Pianos? TBH the way the average consumer is today I would be afraid of either being sued or replacing an entire room interior because of one scratch. I have seen this before, " You guys made a mark on the wall." " Can't match the wall covering, you'll need to replace the whole room".The reason why moving them is probably much more expensive. Move a 700 pound large instrument through an average doorway without so much as a smidge on it or any marks in the house is a tall order. Moving it would be well planned, methodical, and a backup plan in case plan one fails. Other necessities- insurance and maybe a little crazy or a penchant for risk taking.

A good argument for keyboards/controllers? Not the same though. The sound coming from two monitors .vs the actual sound is a world of difference.

 

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Posted (edited)

I'm giving away my Baby Grand to some friends who are atm measuring to see if they have the space.

If not I plan on donating it to the Beethoven Foundation A good cause, free pickup & tax deductible.

IMG_0771_piano3.jpg.9f9f0d92bbf6702e929a

Edited by Hidden Symmetry
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My pulse noticeably quickened just looking at that slideshow. I would not want to be the guy on the downstairs end!

How spoiled we've become with smaller, lighter gear. For years I packed around a PA that required two guys to load each speaker into the van. Today, my PA speakers weigh about 35 lbs each and are smaller than just the horns from that old PA.

This past Sunday I went to jam at my friends' house, way out in the boonies. It was surprisingly fun, despite being uncomfortably warm. We played outdoors, widely spaced and separated by clear shower curtains. But doing this required packing up and moving my 80 lb. synth for the first time in 9 months. I also took one of my old Roland keyboard amps, which I hadn't used in years. Those things are made out of real wood, and heavy. That night I went to bed with an aching back. 

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3 hours ago, Hidden Symmetry said:

I'm giving away my Baby Grand to some friends who are atm measuring to see if they have the space.

If not I plan on donating it to the Beethoven Foundation A good cause, free pickup & tax deductible.

IMG_0771_piano3.jpg.9f9f0d92bbf6702e929a

Gorgeous!

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I don't miss those days of loading gear or the back aches. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it again under the right circumstances. Much prefer a resident instrument and sound system if possible. Who doesn't I guess. 

Toward the end of my loading in days I started buying less capable but lighter keyboards like an M-Audio ProKeys 88sx. 88 keys extremely lightweight. Bread and butter sounds. It had some cool things in it like transposition, also a midi controller. I took a laptop along sometimes to augment the onboard sounds. The trade off was it wasn't nearly as nice as a Korg Kronos or Yamaha Motif....but these were simple gigs with basic requirements.

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