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I’ve been reading your circulars for a while, and have waded through your guide from time to time. But now the time has come to make decisions.
I should say straight away: I don’t play. I really don’t. Wish I did, but there you are.
My Son does though. He’s 22 and pretty musical – plays acoustic, electric and bass guitar, drums, piano – and sings.
We have a Broadwood 'bar-less' baby grand piano, so he’s used to a proper action. We also have a Hammond M101 which he uses sometimes for organ music. Unfortunately those are both now in storage as we are moving house – and more to the point he is now a student and will be living in small flats and things for the next few years. We therefore need to think of how he can to continue to play, and I would like to find something to buy for him to allow him to do this.
My thinking – and you are welcome to disagree – is this:
He will have access to good pianos in the future when he performs, and to the Broadwood again when he eventually has room for it.
The purchase of an electronic piano is therefore as an alternative, to help him continue playing when he might otherwise not be able to.
The BIG advantages of an electronic piano are versatility and portability, and these will persist even when he has the Broadwood again. I think we need to make the most of these, rather than trying to get the very best piano-like experience for him. That way an electronic piano will continue to be of use to him for a long time.
So I don’t think we are looking for a stand-up electronic piano that sits in the corner looking for all the world like a real upright. That is surely a main piano for people who have no room for the real thing.
I think we are probably looking for something nearer to what you call a ‘Stage Piano’.
On the other hand it does not need to be all that light. It can be pretty heavy, in fact. It just needs to be possible to carry it around and set it up in different places, even if it takes two people to do it.
To me that implies a full 88-key keyboard, probably on a strong X-stand, with plug-in foot pedals. But it also implies a good, weighted action which will enable him to transfer his skills to the real thing when it’s available.
Sound is a tricky one. It should probably be capable of producing a reasonable sound as it stands, but it is likely to be played through a separate sound system much of the time, so on-board sound is not really critical so long as it is capable of good sound through external equipment or headphones. MIDI output would also be useful of course.
My target price is somewhere between £500 and £900. I know this is wide, and I’d even be prepared to go outside it if you think there is an ideal machine out there for us, but I’m looking for your advice on the kind of machines which would fit the requirements and have very little idea what can be bought for the money.
I’d love your thoughts.
As for buying; I would happily buy from you if that can be arranged. Or if you think there is somewhere local I should go to please feel free to tell me.
Best wishes. And keep up the good work; I’ve passed your guide on to quite a few people!
Reply/ Hi Richard
The Kurzweil MPS20 and Roland FP50 would
both be suitable for your son.
They’re really good pianos and have a realistic
key feel and lovely piano tone. There’s little
to choose between them, but I would say that
the Kurzweil sound is a bit fuller and has more
You can see them here:
They can both be connected to an external amp.
Although with the Kurzweil it’s probably not necessary
because of its large volume range.
"I'm looking for a portable piano"
I'm looking for a piano that will be moved reasonably frequently and needs to be portable – at least two gigs a month – have a yamaha keyboard that is about twelve years old and I have been doing some work with a choir using a
variety of pianos and just feel I would like to a) replace the keyboard and b) go towards an instrument that feels more like a piano. Had a little try out of the p35 and p105 last week as we were on holiday and quite liked the feel.
The piano might be good for working with the choir as you can not always guarantee the quality (tunefulness etc) of a piano at a venue when it is a small ladies choir that does mainly church halls.
Then the Yamaha P105 is my recommendation.
Currently it’s the best portable piano you can
get for under £1000.
But, if you’re not in a hurry, there’s a new
Roland coming out in November.
It’s the F-20.
You can see it here:
The F-20 has a much nicer feel to the keys than
the Yamaha P105. It has more resistance, so the
feeling is closer to a real piano.
I also prefer the Roland’s depth of tone. The
sound is warmer… more Steinwayish.
Now, the only downside is its physical weight.
Because it has a hammer action and wooden
body, its overall weight is more than the P105
(20kg versus 12kg).
But this is definitely worth sacrificing for all
We’re getting the first batch of F-20’s in.
So let me know if you’d like to reserve one.
"Which portable piano will be good for my daughter?"
I bought a Yamaha Clavinova from you back in 2011.
My daughter is progressing well and on to grade 2 now. I'm looking for a portable Yamaha keyboard we can take with us to France and IOW on holiday. Any ideas on which model would be good? She enjoys singing and making up songs to the preloaded tunes and playing other sounds, as well as recording what she does.
Reply/ Hi Charles
Well, the Yamaha P105 springs to mind as
being the most suitable one…
It has a nice key touch and a really good
It is also lightweight and compact. So easy
enough to carry around with you.
As far as additional features go, it has
a two-track recorder, which I think will
be useful for your daughter.
You can see the P105 here:
"Korg SP170S or SP280?"
I haven't owned a piano in several years, and I'm now thinking of buying a stage piano.
I have also played various organs and keyboards for about 30 years, and have always used Yamaha and Korg.
I currently has a Korg PA and a Korg workstation and want a Stage Piano to go in my A frame.
Obviously I've been thinking of either a Sp170S or Sp280 as a portable piano.
Reading your reviews has made me think, "Am I getting the right instrument?"
I want as realistic sound and action as possible but at the best possible price.
What would you recommend ?
P.S. Great website, loads of info.
Reply/ Hi Jane
There’s two portable pianos I’d like to recommend
for you: Yamaha P105 and Korg SP280.
Choosing between them is quite difficult though…
I’ve thoroughly tested both these pianos on
different aspects of key touch and sound quality.
The overall key touch scoring is almost identical.
They both have a nice weighted touch with
adequate resistance both on the down and
The Yamaha does sound cleaner though…
There’s just has a hint more pureness to its tone.
You can see the Yamaha here:
And the Korg here:
"Portable piano under £600"
I am interested in buying a digital piano and am a bit overwhelmed by the choice on offer. I have had an acoustic piano (1980s Schimmel) for a long time but am looking for something in addition which I can use to practice in the evenings after work when the kids are in bed, so good action is more important than sound quality if there needs to be a trade-off to keep the price in the range below about £600.
To add some more constraints, my wife is keen for it to take as little space as possible so a slab would be best as that can be put away more easily. Finally, I want my kids to use it to start learning so again the close the action to a good acoustic piano the better.
What would you recommend, please?
Many thanks in advance.
It seems that a portable piano is the one
that would be most practical for you needs.
But the problem with that type of piano is
the sound quality and key touch…
Because the body is smaller than a standard
digital piano the tone is usually thinner and
weaker. This is because smaller speakers
with a lesser wattage are used.
Also, the key touch is generally lighter in
resistance. These two problems are serious
disadvantages of portable pianos.
It would be better to go for a standard size
digital piano that has a fixed wooden stand
and 3 pedals.
The most compact one available is the
You can see this here:
The Broadway has a really nice tone to it. The
key touch is also responsive enough – although
a little noisier than the Broadway B1 model –
to manage advanced technical pieces.
I recommend the Broadway B2 for you.
If you could make room for a few more
centimetres then the B1 would be an even
You can see the B1 here:
Let me know if you would like more info.
"I'm not sure which portable stage piano to buy"
Thank you so much for writing me. I certainly do have questions for you. I read your book today. Before I read it, I was pretty sure of my selection. After reading it, I thought, "I'd better test these pianos again." I returned to the music store today and, knowing a bit more about what to listen and feel for, I have formed new opinions and raised new requirements. I was just scanning your site, in fact, and was about to begin drafting my inquiry to you. I don't know how to call your phone number because I'm in the USA in New York, so I will email my questions to you now.
I'm looking for a portable digital piano with internal speakers that feels and sounds like a real piano. I don't mind at all it being on the heavy side like the 50+ pounders. I can always have help moving it into and out of my car or to bring it outside to play, which I think would be nice when it's warm. I'm interested in putting it on a Z-stand because I like the idea of playing while standing. I'm not going to be touring or playing in front of an audience; it's just for myself and whoever wants to hear what I'm up to.
The piano I was set on before my return visit today was the FP-7F. I began to doubt my certainty when I was surprised to read that the FP-7F was only partially weighted and that its touch sensitivity is 1-5. You see, the specs on the Roland FP-7F website say it has 100 levels of touch sensitivity. Is that some preposterous claim?
My results from today's visit are as follows:
I don't like the Yamaha P-155 because of the sound and because I feel like the keys push up forcefully on my fingers after I press them down. I don't like the Casio Privias. The store ran out of FP-7F's, so I didn't get to try it with my new learned wisdom. I did get to try the Roland V piano which I was told has the same action as the FP-7F, and I actually didn't really like it because I felt like I couldn't play softly. The salesman told me that this is a sorry limitation of digital pianos. I wanted to try the FP-4F, but this piano was in a box, and I arrived close to closing time, so I was told that another Roland on display had the same action as the FP-4F. I don't remember which model it was, but I definitely did not like the action. It was much too soft, and the surface texture of the keys didn't feel real. I did like the surface texture of the Roland V keys. Next, I played the Roland F-120. This was my favorite. I actually enjoyed playing this one. The heavier action, the surface texture, and the sound were the most enjoyable, but soft playing was still hard to achieve. The salesman told me that the FP-7 actually has the same action as the F-120. I wonder if this means I ought to buy an FP-7. If I remember correctly, I think I did notice something funny about the F-120 – that when the keys are kept pressed, they never stop sounding – the sound never decayed, even with the reverb turned off. I was playing Nocturne in E minor for all of my testing.
I haven't found a location to try the Kawai ES6 or any Kurzweil portables. I certainly haven't come across any Classenti's, but I am so interested in trying the P1 since I read from your site that this brand has the most realistic feel. I am concerned, though, because I also read that it has only 1-4 touch sensitivity. Classenti offers a 60 day free trial period, so a blind purchase would not be terribly risky but certainly terribly inconvenient. I do see that the Classenti P1 makes #8 on your top 10 list while the Roland FP's don't make it at all. I have an acoustic piano, so I'm only looking for the best portable digital with internal speakers. (What is the basis for your sound ratings? Is it the quality of the sound file itself or is it the sound that comes out of the internal speaker, headphone, or amplifier, the last two of course varying according to selection?) I haven't tested all of the Yamahas and all of the Rolands, but based on my tests of the portables, I find it hard to believe that Yamaha beats Roland in sound and touch. I can only assume that there are big differences between the cabinet and portable styles.
I don't know of any portable digitals with my requirements besides those aforementioned. I will try the Roland FP-7F again once my local store restocks them. Based on my likes and dislikes, do you have any more suggestions? I don't care about cost so much. I like the Roland sound, but if there is a better feel out there than what I've felt, with a comparable sound, why, that'd be just perfect.
Thank you very much for your care! I look forward to your response.
Reply/ Hi Cristina
Nearly all digital pianos have from 3 to 5 levels
of touch sensitivity. 6 levels could be possible,
but would require a very large memory; so quite
expensive to implement.
One of the reasons you had trouble playing softly
on the V-piano is because of the escapement.
This feels quite lumpy at the bottom of the
key stroke. I'm not a fan of escapement.
The nicest stage piano I've played (with built-
in speakers) is the Roland FP-7F.
The key touch is a tad lighter than I'm used to,
but it still feels smooth and responsive under
You can see this piano here:
"The stage piano I want doesn't exist on this planet!"
Thank you for your kind follow-up.
I went through your very helpful book and I came to a conclusion that what I wanted does
not exist on this planet.
What I have been looking for is a portable digital piano that can be taken with me during
my business trip.
I have YAMAHA CLP -170, no longer on their catalogue, and I am quite happy with it.
Unfortunately it requires a truck to carry.
What I need is a light piano with YAMAHA's GH3 keyboard touch. The closest in your book
may be YAMAHA P-95. I had an opportunity to play the model but the keyboard touch was
not as desired.
I am beginning to realize that I am seeking an impossible since keyboard's quality and
piano's mass are proportional. As my priority is the lightness, I would have to
compromise with keyboard quality. Maybe I settle with YAMAHA P-95. Any better
Reply/ Hi Zuki
You are absolutely right… there isn't a
professional lightweight, portable piano
that has fully-weighted keys.
The Classenti P1 has the weight of touch
you're looking for, but it's too heavy
for frequent transporting…
The Yamaha P95 is very light, and easy to
carry around, but the key touch is too
basic, lightweight, and springy.
You will probably have to compromise.
Maybe the Yamaha P155?
"I want a portable piano to carry around"
I’d be grateful for your thoughts on the best possible options for a digital piano –
– good (‘real’) piano sound and touch
– as light as possible (i.e. portable)
– bells/whistles/recorded angel choirs/vast pre-recorded song files etc. NOT required
– few technical gadgets
Bottom line: I just want a good ‘piano’ that I (a weak and feeble female) can cart around. If I could take my own lovely old upright, I would!
I have read as much as I can about possibilities, but am still confused. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Reply/ Hi Judy
Unfortunately there isn’t a digital piano in
existence that has a good key touch and
A proper hammer action weighs quite a lot,
so most pianos that are any good are
difficult to carry around.
You might have to compromise a bit on
the key touch.
Pianos worth considering are:
The Roland is the best by miles.
"Roland FP-7F or Classenti P1?"
Hi there, thanks very much for the Howard score is really good and helpful,
I have a question looking at your score is the roland fp7f better than
classenti p1, what are the differences between both, I would like to get
one, but a little confuse am a begginer or which one you recommend it
thanks for you info…
Reply/ Hi Carolina
The Roland FP-7F has a more sensitive key touch.
It’s more suitable for advanced playing.
The sound is also more resonant.
But the Classenti P1 would still be a good
choice. Especially if you are a beginner.
I like the P1, it has a pleasant, natural sound.
The key touch is also fully-weighted, so it’s
good for learning to play on.
"I need a more portable piece of furniture"
I am looking to replace my upright piano, a Bentley which has given years of good service, with an
instrument which 'sounds like a proper piano' but is a far more moveable/portable piece of furniture.
After careful consideration I'm inclined towards the Classenti P1 on the grounds that, on paper, it
offers very good sound quality, good portability in terms of ease of assembly to play & total weight
of piano & stand and the almost exclusive back-up by Classenti of a 5 year warranty.
Reply/ Hi David
The Classenti P1 has a similar feel to the keys as
your Bentley piano. So you shouldn’t notice
much difference transferring over.
The sound is good, and the 4-way speaker
system adds a lot of punch to the sound if
you need volume.
The downside is the weight. It is a portable
piano but, because of its hammer action,
it weighs a few kg more than the average
"Key noise on stage piano"
Have tried the Yamaha P155 today and the Roland FP 4 (didnot have a FP 7F to try and also tried a Kawai.)
Roland model came out tops – the key touch and feel was better than the Yamaha and the Kawai keys felt very plastic and slippy. So i am almost convinced the Roland FP – 7F would be the one for me – just slightly worried about the key noise on glissandi sweeps – will all digital pianos make this noise?
Reply/ Hi Suzanne
You've chosen the right piano.
The Roland certainly feels smoother and more
responsive than the Yamaha and Kawai. It
also has a warmer, rounder sound.
As for key noise, all digital pianos have
this to some degree. The Roland is noisier
on the key's return than the Yamaha and
Kawai. But you only notice this when playing
very quietly or with headphones on. It
doesn't bother me that much when playing.
Since asking the last question -would like to ask another – sorry!
am i correct in thinking that if i went for any of the more expensive Roland models then they would not have the wattage/speakers i need – without buying a separate amp?
Sounds like the Roland RD700NX is all singing/all dancing, but more gadgets than i need and no speakers, am i right?
If you intend playing a stage piano at venues
then you will certainly need a separate amp.
The Roland RD700NX doesn't have internal
speakers like the FP-7F. And yes, it has
many more bells and whistles.
"Do you recommend the Yamaha CP-300?"
I'm looking for a stage piano, and here in my NY-Pennsylvania corner of the world there's not
much choice in brands. You seemed to imply that Roland and Korg have an edge on Yamaha,
but I couldn't find a review on your site of the Yamaha CP-300, which is the instrument, thanks
to your extremely helpful insights, I've nearly settled on. The trouble is, no one in this area
has it in the showroom. How far wrong could I go if I ordered it online
without ever having played one?
Reply/ Hi Barbara
The CP300 wouldn't be my choice because it's
big and heavy. This makes it difficult to
But the touch and sound is very good. So
if you don't mind it being cumbersome then
you should go for it!
"Will stage piano hinder my progress?"
I am a (keen) novice and own an acoustic piano (baby/mid Grand).
I would like to practise more when everyone's in bed and wondered about getting a digital keyboard (with fold away stand to minimise storage space etc – I think they are called 'stage' pianos).
a) Is it worth it – will it hinder my progress switching between different pianos types
b) I had in mind paying around £500-£700 (max) Yamaha P95 / Casio PX130 / 330 / Korg SP250 ?
1) Is this a daft idea
c) Have you any recomendations?
Reply/ Hi Chris
If you're used to playing an acoustic piano then
you'd be more comfortable with a digital piano
that has heavy-weighted keys…
It's important to get the feel and resistance of
the keys as close as possible to the piano you
The Yamaha P95, Casio PX130/PX330, Korg SP250
all have a medium-weighted key resistance.
If you're considering spending around £500 –
£700 then the piano I recommend for you is
the Classenti P1…
The Classenti P1 has heavy-weighted keys. It
also has bigger speakers than other stage
pianos in the same price bracket – so you
get a clear, rich piano sound too.
There is a downside to the P1 though…
although portable, it is heavier than the
stage pianos mentioned previously.
You can read more about it here:
"The piano I want needs to be easy transportable but doesn't need to be lightweight"
I read your digital piano report. Impressive piece of homework and clarified many subjects
in plain language.
Perhaps you can help me in making the final decision.
I play a 1904 Ernst Kaps (upright) at home and although I LOVE this piano (in an absolute
unbelievable beautiful condition) I think I would not really 'desire' the old style touch
on my digital piano. Also I think I don't require the exact replica of an acoustic but do
desire a rich natural sound.
The piano I want needs to be easy transportable but not necessarely a lightweight as I
think it's more easy to place it sturdy if it weighs a few extra pounds.
So back to my choice, I don't hear the KORG SP 170 mentioned yet and to be honest I have
a bit of a crush on the looks and the (loads of) positive reviews on internet. Style that
we will be playing would mainly be pop/blues/songwriter stuff.
So, how would in your experience the SP 170 (based on sound and touch) fit between Yamaha
NP30, P85 and the Classenti P1….. looking at my application.
1) NP30: cheap and cheerful, perhaps good enough for me to start, despite the missing
2) Classenti: think this could be my first choice but again a fair bit more expensive
then SP 170, and I wasn't cheered up by the sound in the attached movie (although the
lady really knows how to play!!!)
3) P 85: perhaps the closest to SP 170 but with a sound lacking 'depth' and the SP170
perhaps more crispy, colourful and transparent (which is what I like)?
Any comment is welcome
Many thanks in advance
Reply/ Hi Christopher
The Korg SP170 is certainly a good looking beast.
It's also very popular… well, it has the looks
after all 🙂
But, what really lets it down is the key touch.
And this is the reason it doesn't make my top
I find the touch a little too lightweight. And
the keys feels spongy at the bottom of their
It's not for me. But maybe OK for you? I prefer
a firmer, more solid feel to the keys. This
way I can put some feeling into my music.
The Classenti P1 does have a nice, solid feel
to the keys. It also has a good sound… a lot
nicer than the poor quality video shows.
The P85 (now P95) is marginally better all
round than the Korg.
"Kawai or Roland stage piano?"
I'm hearing reports that the new Kawai MP6 is an excellent instrument in the €1000 – €1500 price range. The spec looks really good, How would you rate it against the Roalnd FP7F in terms of spec etc.? There is also the new ES6 in Kawai :http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/digital/PRO_2010/mp6-info.html
Would really appreciate your view.
Reply/ Hi John
I really don't like the sound or feel of
Kawai stage pianos…
The Roland FP7F is a lot nicer to play.
The FP7F has a firmer (but a little lighter)
key touch. The firmness more than makes up
for the lightness.
The Roland sound is also more vibrant.
"Yamaha CP33 or Roland FP4f?"
I've looked at your handbook on buying digital pianos and it's been a great help.
I've been looking at either a Yamaha CP33 or Roland FP4f and am wondering which one is best.
After looking at the reviews I see that they do differ especially on price but is there anyway you
can give me a quick comparison on both and your thoughts on them.
Reply/ Hi Janice
They are both nice pianos.
I prefer the sound of the Roland.
It’s richer and more piano-like.
The Yamaha has a slightly heavier key touch.
I would be happy to play either, but being a
bit of an acoustic piano snob, I would feel
more comfortable playing the Roland for
a long period of time.
Here’s my rating:
Yamaha CP33 (70 out of 100)
Roland FP-4F (72 out of 100)
"Would the Korg SP250 be a good choice for our church?"
We have now received your book.
Thanks for all your help and advice, its good to be able to turn to some one for help.
We want to be able to use this instrument in our church along with or some times in stead of the church organ, it needs to be reasonably portable to move from room to room. We have a limit of £500 or there abouts.
We have had a look around and so far we like the KORG SP250 and think that this will fit all our criteria.
We would value your opinion and advice.
Reply/ Hi John
The Korg SP250 has a nice piano sound. But the
key touch is a little too light really…
I recommend getting something with more weight
to the keys. This would feel closer to playing
a real piano, and be more enjoyable to play.
With a budget limited to £500 you won't be
able to get the professional stage pianos
from Yamaha and Roland, but there is a
The Classenti P1 offers a stage piano with
heavy-weighted keys and a very nice piano
What's more, the P1 has 4 speakers. These
speakers are also set up on the back of
the piano. This directs the sound towards
Having a set up like this means you don't
need to get an additional keyboard amp to
bump up the sound, unless you intend using
the piano in a very large hall.
You can read more about the Classenti P1 here:
"Is the Classenti P1 as good as the Yamaha P155?"
Was just wondering what your thoughts are on the Yamaha P155, is the Classenti
P1 as good?
Obviously there is a significant price difference but having spent a day trying
out various pianos it was the P155 that stood out for my wife. We were unable to
try the Classenti P1 however.
Reply/ Hi David
The Yamaha P155 is a good, all-round piano…
You get a nice piano sound and a realistic touch.
It's also the most popular around its price point.
The P155 has a slightly higher reliability
and build quality score.
The Yamaha P155 has more features than the
It also weighs about 5kg lighter.
The Classenti has a heavier weight to the keys,
so it feels more like playing an upright piano.
It has an equally nice piano sound.
Overall I would give the Yamaha the slight edge.
But, value for money wise, the Classenti wins
by a mile.
"Best stage piano for £1,500?"
I would just like add my name to list of those who the take time in
responding to your free valuable advice & information pages. I think it
great that one can obtain free impartial unbiased advice.
I have written to you a few times over the past couple of years.
I currently play in several bands all differing in styles and I got a few
years under my belt I have used most of the semi pro line keyboards.
I am using a Korg PA 588 (although somewhat heavy 25 Kg) Korg PA 588 does
have many features I bought for studio and home use
I like having the weighted keys but I have been using for live gigs, to
continue using this beast is going to cause problems with my back,
I did purchase the Korg 73 key SV1 but it had limited uses, sadly the
updates/sound patches did allow you to transfer the extra sounds I was
And the piano sound was a bit thin, although the organ sounds Electric piano
I am looking for a replacement stage Piano/Keyboard either Yamaha or Roland.
With weighted keys Less than 25 kg.
I don’t require built in speakers as I route via the PA with return
monitoring for myself.
For rehearsing at home I use plug in head phones or small combo amp.
88 notes weighted keys
Grand Piano rich sound with a good heavy bottom end.
Two types of vintage Electric piano
Variety of Drawbar Organs and Vox Continental
Record facility would be good but not essential
I’ve read many reviews on mostly on the Pro keyboard range stage on pianos
Nord is out of my league.
I have a budget of £1500.
My question is which is better Roland RD 300 NX or the Yamaha CP50
I value your input in choosing my next stage piano or keyboard.
I will keep the Korg PA 588 for home use only.
Thank you in advance.
Reply/ Hi Julian
The Yamaha CP50 would be a better choice
than the Roland RD300NX.
The CP50 has a firmer, more realistic key
touch. This would be the main reason to
What about the Roland RD700NX?
That might be something even better for you?
I recommend trying one out.