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Digital Piano Buyer's Guide

 Free Digital Piano Buyer’s Guide:

“7 Things You MUST Know Before Buying A    Digital Piano”, by Graham Howard

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You get all this:

1) How to understand confusing terminology (Polyphony, graded hammer, etc.)
2) Common digital piano questions
3) The disadvantages of buying second hand versus new
4) 6 simple tests you can do in a piano store
5) The best digital piano brands: 1st) ? 2nd) ? 3rd) ?…

6) Top ten piano models: (a) under £500 (b) £500 to £1,000 (c) over £1000
7) Should you buy online or in a physical store?

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“Which has quieter action: Yamaha or Roland?”

Hi Graham

Thank you for writing.  I should perhaps have let you know how very grateful
I am to have been able to download your informed technical comparison of
digital pianos!  It is extremely well done, as I’m sure many others have

I have a 6 year old Yamaha Clavinova which I intend to replace.  The keys
now make far too much noise as I play and it spoils my classical music.  I
am wondering if the newer Clavinovas, CLP320 say, would age in exactly the
same way or if there has been an improvement.  But maybe that isn’t
something you have been able to determine because only time will tell?

So although I was thinking of getting a new digital, maybe I should instead
buy a Yamaha piano.  Or perhaps the Roland digital would be a better
proposition and retain the “soundless note mechanism quality” better than a

I would very much appreciate any thoughts you have on this and thank you
again for writing to me!

Are you aware that notes become very noisy after a time (independent of the
music)?  Is it a problem that has been resolved in more recent models?

I would welcome information directly on that problem

Best wishes,


Pine Mountain, Queensland

Reply/ Hi Val

The build quality is similar on both Yamaha and
Roland pianos. It is possible that the plastic
inside the mechanism is showing signs of wear
and tear. This can happen if the piano has been
played a lot.

A current model should age in the same way as
a 6 year old model.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

“The noise of the keyboard drives me to distraction”

Dear Graham,

I own a Clavinova CLP811 about 10 years old.The noise of the keyboard drives me to distraction.The only relief is to use noise cancelling head phones which also provide realistic piano sound.I seldom use anything other than the grand piano setting.I have several questions-
1.Can the keyboard noise be ameliorated?
2.Can one buy an electronic piano which has ONLY a piano sound and without key board noise?If yes,who makes it and how much does it cost?
I have downloaded your book but can not now find it in my computer.If you can answer my questions I shall not need to(find it).Thank you for you message and my kind regards,

Reply/ Hi Henry

All digital pianos make some degree of keyboard
noise. Nothing can be done about this.

In fact, all acoustic pianos make a keyboard noise.
But you don’t hear this so much from an acoustic
piano because the sound covers it up.

The older digital pianos were particularly noisy –
as you have discovered with your Yamaha. Mostly
they’re much better now with the exception of the 
cheap digital pianos which still have this problem.

Would you like to buy a piano from me?
I can do a good deal for you.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

“I wonder how wooden components in keyboard mechanisms will affect the piano in the long run”

Hello Graham,

First, I want to thank you for posting all the information about the different digital pianos that are out there. 
One of the more important aspects I would not have even thought about was your comment about all the
(higher end) models they are coming out with now.  They seem to have some wooden components now
and as you mentioned, I wonder how this will affect the piano in the long run.  Because one of the good
things about digitals is that they do not need tuning and this could change things in the future.  


“What is the weak point of the kawai ca63?”


I live in Rumania.
I have 41 years and started playing the piano at 11.
What are the weak point of the kawai ca63?
For the same price, what is comparable or better?
Are the improvement in comparaison with the CA18 valuable for the  difference of price?

Reply/ Hi Benzekri

The Kawai CA63 is a very nice piano. But, I don’t
like the bouncy feeling of the keys when they

The piano I recommend is the Yamaha CLP340.

The CLP340 has a lovely feel… its synthetic ivory
keys feel just like tickling the ivories of an old-
fashioned Bechstein grand. It makes me want to play
more and more.

The sound is also crystal clear. I would describe
it as vibrant, rich, deep, and very close to a
concert grand piano.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Further Question/

Thanks for the answer. My first preocupation is the mechanism.
Maybe it is because the kawai’s mechanism ‘look’ like a piano mechanism.
What do you think about that?

Reply/ Hi Benzekri

Yes, the Kawai’s mechanism does look like and performs
in a similar way to a real piano mechanism. But, I’m
concerned that having a wood action in a digital piano
could cause problems later…

For instance, digital pianos are known to withstand
heat sources a lot better than acoustic pianos. This
is because there ISN’T wood inside the piano…

Adding wood to the mechanism and keys could create
problems of loose or sticky notes.

What’s more, I see it as a risky purchase… if
digital piano manufacturers decide that it really
wasn’t a great idea to put wood in a digital piano, 
they will revert to plastic and metal mechanisms.

This would cause a mass shortage of parts for the
wooden mechanism.

Lots to think about here…

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Further Question/

Yes, but acoustics pianos don’t have major problems after years and years…
Do you think the more important is the presence of wood?

Thanks Benzekri

Hi Benzekri

Acoustic pianos that are situated next to a radiator or
other heat source, or near an open-plan kitchen, or
in a conservatory do suffer from a number of problems.

These could be: Loose tuning pins, wobbly hammers,
cracked soundboard, cracked bridge, sticky keys,
rusty strings, sluggish hammers and on and on…

Digital pianos don’t usually have a problem with heat,
only condensation…

My concern is that people will put their digital
pianos close to a heat source or steam from the
kithen, and their wooden mechanism and/or keys
might suffer from being sticky, sluggish or loose.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

“Is set-off an improvement?”


Yes I have a question regarding “set-off” and another regarding “wooden keys”

Although you say that “set-off” is something not to go for, I have read other reviews
that say it is a great improvement. So I am a little bit confused about that.

Regarding “wooden keys”, you say wooden keys do not make any difference at all, but
I also read that they do. So confused again with this matter.


Reply/ Hi David

The set-off on an acoustic piano is only
noticeable when you press down the key
very slowly…

On the latest, mid to high end digital pianos
from Yamaha, Roland and Kawai it is too
sensitive and overdone.

This results in an awkward, lumpy feel to
the keys which is very off-putting.

Wooden keys do feel very slightly heavier.
But it’s hardly noticeable. The only benefit
is physcological.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Questions & Answers About

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Piano Keys
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Progressive or Graded Hammer Action
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