Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

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markymark
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Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by markymark » 20 Sep 2009, 14:34

Okay, venting time!

This thread in PIANOS really got my goat!

http://www.uk-piano.org/piano-forums/vi ... f=3&t=7685

I mean "plastic pianos"? To be fair to the contributors in that particular thread, they are not the first to express this attitude on the forums. That is the sort of derogatory comment you come to expect from certain professionals but what does everyone else think? They may not be the ultimate piano experience and they are not perfect replicas of the piano but no one is saying that they are, not even the manufacturers. At best, they may refer to them as an alternative but that is as far as they go.

Does that then make it right for others to dismiss them as nothing more than "toys", "plastic pigs" or "plastic pianos"?

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by Gill the Piano » 22 Sep 2009, 16:08

They're not pianos, that's my argument. And as I said, I call them plastic because they ARE made of plastic and some people who call me honestly don't know that they don't need tuning; the shorthand to find out what they have is to ask them what the piano is made of - saves me time and a wasted journey, saves them money and a red face.
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by joseph » 24 Sep 2009, 10:53

Honey I think you took it a bit personally. It was only a bit of banter. Anyway, I have a plastic piano ( :wink: ) at home and I rather like it. Of course it's better that someone has a digital piano than no piano at all - I'd go as far as to say that I'd prefer someone to have a 5 octave Yamaha PSR whatever than no instrument at all. With the right kind of teaching, the electronic keyboard can open the doors to that world.

Digital pianos are a God send for people such as composers, arrangers, everyone who uses sibelius (and other software), people who need to practise after hours, people who need a transportable instrument for various reasons, places of worship - especially where they have a rock orientated music ministry, school keyboard labs, group teaching and yes, those who simply can't afford the money or the space for an acoustic piano (real piano? :wink: )

The digital pianos of today are not the same as the digital pianos of 10 years ago, they have come far in terms of expressiveness - especially those in the top end of the market. Perhaps they should be looking to sample a proper una corda sound, as opposed to the left pedal just being a mellow switch?

However I feel that touch still can't be taught very well on a digital piano, even one such as the CLP-380. The Roland V-Piano is moving in the right direction with this regard (I've tried one, I'd really quite like one.... I don't have 5 grand)but as yet every digital falls short. Mind you, so do a lot of uprights......

I think we agree in all of these regards.

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by kebabselector » 24 Sep 2009, 11:39

So an Analogue Piano sounds better than a digital Piano. You know it probably does, but I have no room for an Analogue Piano, also as pointed out before a digital is silent with headphones. Plus it's cheaper more portable and I can sync it with my Mac.

So is it a toy? Give it to a pianist and it'll sound great, give me a Steinway and I'll make it sound crap.
Gill the Piano wrote:Some people who call me honestly don't know that they don't need tuning
Some people are incredibly stupid.
Hello World

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by Gill the Piano » 24 Sep 2009, 16:18

kebabselector wrote: Some people are incredibly stupid.
Got that right, kid...I mean I know nowt about cars but I know what sort of fuel to put in mine, etc..!
joseph wrote:Honey I think you took it a bit personally.
I didn't take it personally...I was just worried that Marky had! :mrgreen:
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by markymark » 25 Sep 2009, 00:47

Gill the Piano wrote: I didn't take it personally...
Yeah, Gill. It's a debate! Not everything has to be about you!

Imagine you going over the top. I thought you were different from all the other emotionally charged female posters on the forum. :P

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by Gill the Piano » 25 Sep 2009, 16:48

I was just saying that I didn't take it personally...what's hysterical about that? I'll get back in my box and not pass comment then...
I play for my own amazement... :piano;

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by markymark » 25 Sep 2009, 19:36

Gill the Piano wrote:I was just saying that I didn't take it personally...what's hysterical about that? I'll get back in my box and not pass comment then...

Back in your box? Don't do an Openwood and split for goodness sake!

Aww Gill! I didn't know you were so easily wound up! Joseph and I (well 'I' anyway) were just trying to get a you. Play the tune and see who dances! You did a right gigue there!

markymark
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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by markymark » 26 Sep 2009, 13:20

See this link: http://www.uk-piano.org/piano-forums/vi ... =21&t=7128

Because the digital piano simply recalls a tone recorded at various volumns from an acoustic instrument, you could see it as being a sophisticated tape recorder with specialist play back options. The keys are simple triggers. In fact, wasn't it the melltrone that used actually cassette recordings of various instruments?

Anything in the hardware like contacts, resistors, velocity sensors acutally blows, wears out, gets splilt on, etc. is replaceable, however, when the electronics or boards storing the recordings get damaged or start going wrong, then it's another new part in a best case scenario. There simply isn't anything to tune or adjust.

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by Feg » 28 Sep 2009, 10:25

A few years ago now, I was called to tune a small grand in a private house.

Sitting in the same room was a rather expensive looking stage piano and the customer requested that I tune the 'steam piano' (his expression) to his stage piano. When I checked the tuning of the small grand it was almost spot on the tuning fork. His very expensive stage piano was almost a full semi-tone lower:lol:

What ensued was a lot of raking around in cupboards until my customer found the instruction manual for the stage piano and a screwdriver so that he could raise the pitch of the stage piano to match his old 'steam piano'.

markymark
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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by markymark » 28 Sep 2009, 22:52

I'd love to know what the model was because nowadays, tuning is controlled via the global settings options in the keyboard without the need to tighten anything. Are you sure it wasn't something like a CP80?

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by Feg » 28 Sep 2009, 23:03

I'm afraid to say that my knowledge of musical instruments that you plug into the mains is very limited. I know a Clavinova if I see one, and will play anything digital/electric if I'm in a music shop but that's about it. This instrument was sitting on a portable stand and looked to be at least 6 octaves in compass.

From the looks of things, I had more fun tuning his steam piano than he had trying to reaise the pitch on the electric one.

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by Barrie Heaton » 29 Sep 2009, 20:28

dave brum wrote:Actually, would a digital piano need re-tuning, but by a micro-electronics engineer flown in from Japan rather than someone like Gill?

Fender Rhodes pianos need tuning and some of the scales on Clavinovas are interesting and some notes run quite sharp in the top treble, but I believe that is done to make them sound like the wooden ones

Yamaha must use more then one master sample

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ebonyivory
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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by ebonyivory » 30 Sep 2009, 16:07

Hello,

Those of you that know me on here, know I am just your average person. I am at the beginning of my musical learning experience and know little or nothing about pianos and keyboards. :?

Like most blogs you read, you sometimes feel you have something to say, so here I go...

I didn't have a piano in the house as a child, :sad: but did think anyone who had one must be rich. Also my parents said they couldn't afford to send me for lessons. One Christmas, when I was about seven years old, they bought me a beige/brown (very 70's) 22 key freestanding organ. A friend taught me a tune, that I remember to this day, don't know the name. Happy memories! After a few years I grew too tall for it and it was put in the loft, probably still there.

Then about 20 years ago, when I had my own home, I bought myself a Yamaha PSR-3, intending to teach myself to play but found it really hard, so just kept it for fun and trying to find the occasional tune on. I still have it, upstairs in the spare room. It is useful, just for practicing a few scales quietly etc. or when you have little ones visiting.

About six years ago a neighbour was going to smash up and burn a very old, dreadful sounding piano. I asked if I could have it, better than nothing I was thinking. It was parked in our hallway and everyday pretty much, I would play that annoying tune my dear old friend taught me. :oops: My husband said, "Why don't you start having lessons and learn something different!". That Christmas he organised my first few lessons.

For my birthday a few years ago, my lovely hubby bought me a much better piano, one you can tune, ha ha! I am very proud of it. It looks beautiful and friends of mine who can play, tell me it has a lovely sound.

Anyway, I think what I am trying to say, after my trip down memory lane, is that I feel all these organs/keyboards/pianos have played an important part in keeping me interested in music. I am still not very good at playing :D but I don't think that matters.

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by joseph » 01 Oct 2009, 21:45

I didn't mean Gill had taken it personally, I meant Marky :D

Perhaps the stage piano that required a screwdriver was one that had a tuning knob on the back, so you could lower or raise the global pitch. If it had lost its plastic cover, you'd need a screwdriver to turn it.

All those organs and keyboards can indeed be a great asset in getting children or anyone else to start music. I started on a Bontempi organ, then I was given a PSR-6, then a PSR -36, then a piano. A dreadful piano, but a piano. I watered it and fed it every day, and it has since grown in to two grands and a CP-300. If I polish them a bit more, they may turn into a Steinway B?

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by aesir22 » 12 Dec 2009, 13:36

Wow, I think I have seen the acoustic .v. digital piano debates on every music forum I have visited :D

Firstly, I think the word 'plastic' can be good or bad. It could simply be...is it made of plastic? Nothing wrong there. On the other hand, 'plastic' in itself can denote meanings like 'cheap knock-off' and 'fake', and can sound quite derogatory. The problem is intent - it is hard to express intent with words on a screen, and what may be meant as innocent banter or fun can turn into something quite serious.

I think even if you do look down on digital piano's, which fair enough its your choice, you shouldn't state it on a piano forum unless it is a polite 'I prefer acoustic, thats my choice.' I think anything more and it leads to uncomfortable debates and people feeling annoyed lol.

I have a digital piano. I have no choice - I live on a first floor flat, I practice very early in the morning and late at night. I cannot afford an acoustic piano. However, I want an acoustic piano, and the environment to suit, very very much. They sound and feel different (the one in my exam was bliss to play). But I love my digital, because it does exactly what I want it to, and it still sounds fantastic even though it isn't an expensive one. And, because I think we all become attached to the instruments we play it can be a bit upsetting to hear people degrade digital piano's if you play one (not that I think anyone here was intending to be rude or mean, but I have read other posts on other forums). Again, on the flip side, people with digitals that do feel genuinely upset by the comments maybe have to learn to take it on the chin and laugh it off. On a similar note, what would life be like with us violin players not poking fun at viola players ;)

Anyway, will stop rambling now :) Have a good weekend everyone!

Danny

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Re: Are digital pianos nothing more than "toys"?

Post by chrisg » 12 May 2010, 05:29

My digital piano is made from wood. Sure Synths and Keyboards are plastic, and personally I don't tend to them, but there are many digital pianos which in my opinions are much better, easier, and nicer to play than some acoustic ones. However, I still can't find a piano to beat the Steinway.

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