Author Topic: Why is keybed so different than a piano?  (Read 561 times)

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Offline jcm2016

Why is keybed so different than a piano?
« on: September 14, 2021, 09:19:39 PM »
What is the origin of keyboards having very different feeling keys than pianos?   Was it intentional from the beginning - as in there's a positive reason for them to feel different?  Or could early keyboards not replicate the feel of an acoustic piano, and that's what people got used to and it carried on?  Or something else?    I understand some of very high end clavinovas essentially combine a Genos with a piano feel and the casing etc that looks like a piano.  I'm curious!

Thanks for teaching me!
 

Offline mikf

Re: Why is keybed so different than a piano?
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2021, 11:26:56 PM »
There are a number of reasons why they cannot be exactly the same. For a start the action of the real piano actually produces the sound by hitting the strings, whereas the keyboard has the voice stored electronically and the action only activates/controls it. So they are functionally quite different.
Even without considering this basic functional difference, which is part of the feel, real piano keyboard actions are complex, expensive and heavy.  It's almost impossible to replicate the feel of a real piano keyboard without also duplicating this cost and weight, and normally this is not acceptable in electronic keyboards.
But some of the more expensive electronic keyboards do come close to capturing the real feel of a piano, even if they still do not get to the level of a top piano brand. And bear in mind that pianos usually need a lot of attention to stay 'good'.
Then there is also the fact that not everyone wants the heavy feel of a piano anyway. Organs, accordions, synths and some other keyboards developed with simpler lighter actions than pianos, and some people prefer that. And pianos themselves are not all identical in feel. Grands are different from uprights, and there are variations in brands and with lower or higher quality instruments. I have played many pianos with horrible actions.
Mike.
 
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Offline meyrick

Re: Why is keybed so different than a piano?
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2021, 12:42:45 PM »
The nearest I ever came to the feel of piano keys on a keyboard was the M-Audio e61. My Tyros 4 at the time was a light touch like organ keys and the difference was very noticeable from day one. I regretted the purchase but was unable to return it, so bought a Yamaha Piaggero NP32. I now have the PSR SX900 and both have the same key feel.   
 

Offline jcm2016

Re: Why is keybed so different than a piano?
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2021, 02:40:04 PM »
Thanks for the responses.  I tried a CVP809 in a store and wow!  The sales person described it as a combination of the Genos and the top end Clavinova.  Far to rich for my blood
 

Offline andyg

Re: Why is keybed so different than a piano?
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2021, 10:54:42 AM »
What is the origin of keyboards having very different feeling keys than pianos?

OK, let's go back to the late 1970s, when the electronic home organ reigned supreme, with worldwide yearly sales in the region of 250,000 units at the peak! Single manual electronic organs, with very basic 'arranger' like features, had been around for almost 10 years. (The Hammond 727 'Piper Autochord' was the very first in 1970). A few organ manufacturers, including Yamaha, were looking at making a truly portable instrument, with new technology that would allow battery operation as well as mains AC. Other non-music companies were also experimenting, Sony, Brother and Casio, for example.

The very first of these appeared on the market in 1980 - opinions vary as to whether Yamaha or Casio got there first. Yamaha simply used their usual organ type keys, and Casio did the same. Although there were a handful of electronic pianos using weighted keys, the bulk, weight and cost would have made such keys unworkable for a small, portable keyboard. And we should remember that the first Yamaha Portasounds were little more than toys with just a handful of styles and sounds. I don't think anyone at Yamaha foresaw how that market would take off - with its disastrous effect on the home organ business!

At first, most players were used to home organ type keys and the professionals wouldn't touch the instruments with a bargepole! So those keys were fine and indeed for most home players they are still fine, even though the instruments have developed beyond anything that the people working back in 1977/78/79 could have dreamt of. And there's a strong argument that says that it's more natural to play orchestral sounds on keyboards with organ/synth type keys.

As a personal note, I helped the team at Kawai come up with a single keyboard in 1979. It got to early prototype stage before the 'bosses' said "No-one will want to buy these things!"  :-[  Bad call, and it would be 7 years before Kawai released a keyboard.  :(
« Last Edit: September 20, 2021, 10:56:26 AM by andyg »
It's not what you play, it's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

www.andrew-gilbert.com
 

Offline mikf

Re: Why is keybed so different than a piano?
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2021, 03:42:42 PM »
Thanks for the responses.  I tried a CVP809 in a store and wow!  The sales person described it as a combination of the Genos and the top end Clavinova.  Far to rich for my blood
The DGX670 is only about 15% of the cost of CVP809, but seems pretty decent as a piano with also arranger like accompaniment. A kind of poor manís version of the CVP  - but unlike the CVP, also portable, although a bit heavy. If I was still playing gigs in lounges, or accompanying a singer, I think The new DGX might be my first choice rather than a Genos. The Genos is the winner if you like to have a really wide selection of great sounds, and the ability to manipulate them, or have more workstation like features. But a piano player who wants auto accompaniment might prefer the DGX.
Mike

Offline jcm2016

Re: Why is keybed so different than a piano?
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2021, 06:09:33 PM »
Thank you both.   Really interesting stuff.  I took the plunge with the SX900 and have been super happy, having tons of fun exploring.  I've learned so much about other instruments, arrangement, blend, harmony, even after decades playing in bands and orchestras (not on keyboard).  It has been an example of "doing" is the best way to learn.