* Prices may differ from that shown
Let me start off by saying that I am a relatively beginner pianist. I actually first started when I was around 10 years old and went for maybe a year before I got bored; more with my very old piano teacher that was going deaf than with playing the piano. As a 10 year old though I couldn't pick my teacher as our family didn't have a lot of money, and the old 'going deaf' piano teacher was very cheap.
I am now 30 and for quite a while I have thought that I would like to learn again, so 4 months ago I decided that is was time to recommence my piano journey. I looked on ebay and found a Casio CPS-85. As a complete beginner, I was more than happy with the piano; to me it sounded and felt very realistic. Once I started with my formal lessons, it soon became apparent that my Casio was not actually like a real piano at all. Although it had 'semi weighted' keys, they were nowhere near as heavy as my teachers Yamaha U3 and the sound quality did not even compare. Despite this, I was still more than happy practicing on my Casio. It got to a stage however where I found I was struggling to replicate what I was practicing on my Casio, on my teachers U3 due to the big difference in the weight and feel of the keys.
I then began looking at other digital pianos and saw that Yamaha had brought out a new range of Clavinova; the 400 series, specifically the 430, 440, 470 and 480. After much deliberation I decided to go with the 440 due to the extra sound quality over the 430, along with the additional functionality. When it arrived yesterday, I was delighted. I had deliberated for quite a while as to whether or not to go for the polished ebony over the black walnut, but eventually decided that for £300 I could do without the gloss finish. I am certainly not sad as the piano looks absolutely wonderful in black walnut. The piano itself looks remarkably similar to a Yamaha acoustic; which I believe was Yamaha's aim. Yamaha believe that the sound quality of the piano is so realistic that they have added the Yamaha logo for the first time in the Clavinova's history. I am very much inclined to agree! The quality of the sound is so good, I can hear almost no difference between the 440 and an acoustic. And I am sure that the 470 and 480 are even better.
As for the playability, due to the fact that I am a beginner, I suppose I am not best placed to say. As a beginner though, I know for certain that the 'enjoyability' factor over a cheaper piano is immense. It has various functions that I love, such as a USB port to add a USB/flash drive. This enables you to play MIDI files through the piano and hear what a song is supposed to sound like when played on a Yamaha 440. Although not at the stage yet where I can play particularly good pieces, it is great to hear what something like Beethoven's Sonata No. 14 or No. 8 sounds like when played properly. It sounds like someone is sitting at your piano playing the piece.
As for the other functions, there are 14 voices including 4 grand piano voices for varying types of music. One of my other favourites is Choir; it really does sound like the name! It also enables you to split the keyboard and play 2 different voices, 1 at each end of the keyboard. It also allows you to play in dual mode where 2 voices are played together on the same note. For example, you can set it to grand piano 1 and choir, so when any note is pressed, both voices are heard.
Another great function is the ability to record your tracks and then save them as either midi files or audio (.wav) files onto a USB stick to be played back wherever you want.
As with a lot of other digital pianos, there is a metronome built in which is very handy.
In Summary: At almost £1,700 it is not the cheapest of digital pianos for a beginner, however I would say that if you can afford it as a beginner, your whole experience of learning to play will be far greater than if you purchased a cheaper piano. This will ultimately mean you will practice more and improve at a greater rate. For me, the extra £300 for the 440 over the 430 is justified on the sound quality alone. Added to this the extra functionality of the 440 and it is a no brainer. The time that I have spent writing this review is probably the longest I have spent away from the piano since yesterday (other than sleeping).
In my opinion, if it makes learning more pleasurable, it is worth it. It does and so it is!
I have been playing piano for a few years now, practising on our old piano which was basically way past its sell by date! After decorating the room at home and doing a bit of moving around, it was obvious that we needed a piano which was slightly smaller. If you had even mentioned to me a few years ago about getting a Clavinova I would have thought you were crazy! Firstly, they seem to have a reputation in the piano world as being an imitation.
There are various models on the market which offer different features, feel etc... we chose the CLP-370 as it seemed to be a good all round model, I also liked the feel whilst playing. The features of this model are as follows:
Dark Rosewood / Cherry / Mahogany / Polished Ebony
88-key NW (Natural Wood) keyboard (wood is used for the white keys)
Synthetic Ivory Keytops
Pure CF Sampling
4-step AWM (Advanced Wave Memory) Dynamic Stereo Sampling tone generation with Stereo Sustain samples and Key-Off samples
14 Voices x 2 variations
Digital Effects (Reverb / Chorus / Brilliance)
Internal Flash ROM for song memory
USB TO HOST and USB TO DEVICE (2, Selectable)
Amplifier (40W x 2)
Speaker System (6 5/16" + 1 15/16") x 2
Internet Direct Connection
Three foot pedals
MIDI IN / OUT / THRU
Sliding key cover
Dual headphone jacks
50 built-in demonstration piano songs with sheet music
As you can see the capabilities of this instrument are certainly not limited. There is even the option to connect the piano to the internet and download lessons and tracks etc...
~ Usage ~
The technology that Yamaha uses in the Clavinova has evolved again and again. Yamaha strive to get the same feel and sound as a real piano whilst often saving on space. A grand piano for example would never fit in one of our rooms at home, but the Clavinova means that the sound produced by a grand, can be imitated to a certain extent.
What I really like about the Clavinova is the headphone port. We have our piano in the living room at home and as you can imagine, as soon as someone turns on the TV, practising becomes impossible! Now I can either turn the volume down or wear some headphones and play until my heart's content!
This model also has a button which allows you to control the damping and the piano also has 3 pedals allowing you to get the most out of your music.
~ Why would I choose a Clavinova? ~
The Clavinova is a superb instrument however side by side, the sound quality and the feel are without doubt not the same. So why choose a Clavinova and not a real piano? We chose the Clavinova firstly because it saves a lot of space. The dimensions of the product are 1408mm x 917mm x 511mm. Because there is no need for strings the height can be reduced.
Secondly, the Clavinova is an electric piano so does not need any tuning. This in the long term saves an extremely large amount of money as each tuning session can cost around £50!
~ Verdict ~
I seriously recommend trying a Clavinova out in a showroom if you are thinking of purchasing a new piano. As previously said the quality is not the same as a real piano, but if you are looking for something to play every now again without the worry of tuning costs etc... then the Clavinova could well be for you. New models are also being released all the time meaning the technology used to built these products is improving drastically! Who knows, in a few years people may be writing reviews on here and saying that they cannot tell the difference between this and a real piano.
What is more the piano is even supplied with a free music book and recording capabilities - release your creative side!
~THE GIFT OF MUSIC, OR A PIANO, AT LEAST~
I'm not musical but I wish I was. I think that being musical, or having learnt to play an instrument, is a wonderful talent, or skill. I think some people are instinctively musical. My eldest daughter could play a simple tune on a toy piano at a very young age; certainly before she could read, and has gone on to teach herself the basics of playing several musical instruments. My other three children I would say are fairly musical, but the skill of playing an instrument had to be taught to them, and then they advanced to varying stages of skill. But one thing they all have in common is that they can read music, and play a song on the piano as well as one or two other instruments. Now, to learn piano to a basic level one doesn't need to be musical but must be given the opportunity and encouragement to learn, and possess some staying power. And with playing an instrument, like anything, the more effort you put in the more adept you will become.
I wish I had learnt, but where I lived as a child it was not usual to have music lessons. It wouldn't have been thought of. Many people of my parents, and more so their parents, generation, could play the piano, but this was usually by ear, and self-taught. I suppose in the days before television it was a useful talent to be able to play a tune. Pianos were often heard in pubs those days, I have been told.
When my eldest daughter, then aged seven, came out of school, excitedly telling me that she thought she might be one of two children in her year chosen to learn violin, I was surprised. She told me all the children showing an interest had all been tested by clapping and humming a tune. She thought she had managed well. My standard response was always 'wait and see'. Well, she was right, she had passed the test and so subsidised violin lessons were offered by the music school, whereby a qualified teacher would visit her school once a week to teach a few children violin. Hopefully they would progress to take graded exams.
I was very pleased as I believe any learning opportunity should be seized, and I also thought that this might provide the chance to play publicly. As I had always been a reticent type, I wanted my children to be able to get up in front of an audience and be able to speak, sing, act, or play an instrument.
My daughter went on to each herself the basic of the recorder, as well as continuing for several years with the violin, until during secondary school switching to viola. Having access to the music room she managed to pick up the basics of piano. Soon she asked if she could also learn piano. Her name was put on the list and soon a place became available.
~THE NECESSITY OF A PIANO/KEYBOARD~
Now, one of the provisos of learning the piano in school is that you have to declare that you have at least a keyboard in the home, preferably of five octaves or more. We started by using her gran's (five octave) keyboard, until that Christmas when we purchased a lovely Yamaha touch sensitive keyboard. Touch sensitive keys are preferable when learning piano as they have the similar feel and effect as a 'real' piano has and so the practice is better, She loved piano and the keyboard was in use on most days.
The other proviso is that the child practises and shows commitment.
When my parents gave us some money to spend on some things for the home, my husband and I both thought that it would be a good idea to buy a much upgraded piano for my daughter and her younger siblings to play piano on. By this time my second child had begun piano lessons. He didn't take to it as much as his sister, but went on to learn guitar at secondary school. The lessons weren't wasted; they taught him the basics of reading music, and he still, at the age of twenty- seven, enjoys 'tickling the ivories.'
~OUR YDP 121 ELECTRONIC PIANO~
I did a lot of research before making the purchase of our first electronic piano. After all, I was a stay at home mum with my husband's income having to support us all. We didn't want to waste this monetary gift, but felt this was a good investment for our children's future. We decided on the Yamaha YDP 121 electronic piano. This purchase was made in around 2002.
I found this model on many internet sites. I went onto the Musicland website to look for the price. It was more expensive in Musicland than on some of the internet sites but, as I was familiar with this store, I rang and spoke to the manager who said that he would match the price that I had quoted. I paid just under £700 for the YDP121.
At this time, the new piano seemed a luxury item. After using a portable keyboard on a stand, for my children, this was a sheer delight to play. I would say that this type of instrument is a good entry level digital piano, with many good functions to enhance the pleasure of playing. All of my children had a good few years playing this. Eventually a couple of the keys didn't work properly and we decided that we would like to upgrade again.
~OUR CLAVINOVA CVP-303~
I took a while to decide on which piano to buy. I did my usual internet research and also paid a few visits to Musicland, asking many questions of the knowledgeable sales staff. By this time, my eldest was living away from home, but my two youngest were both having school piano lessons. So I wanted a digital piano which both could practice on, as well as one that their two older siblings could play when the mood took them.
I knew that as this piano had to be situated in the through lounge it could well be often competing with the television. For this reason I thought we needed something that had the facility for headphones. I also wanted something that didn't look too out of place with the rest of the furniture. I prefer light woods, such as beech and light oak, so although not a perfect match, I felt that the cherry colour, offered in some Clavinova models, would blend in quite well.
As for technical specifications we trusted Musicland, who had advised that the CVP family of digital pianos would take my children to grade eight and beyond, if they so wished. It seemed as if the CVP-303 would best suit us; it had a good sound and all features necessary for many years, as well as some interesting extras.
I knew that I wanted the piano to have foot pedals, to be have full sized touch sensitive keys and to have a full complement of them; that being 88. In effect, what I wanted was a digital piano that felt and sounded like a good quality 'real' piano. Well when looking, touching and listening to the CVP-303 I felt that this fulfilled everything on my wish list but had the added bonus of functions not available on a normal piano such as a microphone slot, recording and playback facilities, memory card slot, and more, which for today's technically minded youngsters might make it even more inviting to master. I thought the recording facility would be useful for GCSE and A level music. I t also has a screen on the underside of the lid on which musical scores can be displayed. Music could be purchased from the Yamaha website and downloaded.
I am not sure of the exact price because I paid for the clavinova CVP-303 as we traded in the older YDP 121 model and I'm not sure of the price obtained. I know I had to pay £1.538.90. I believe we got a good deal on the old piano and that the new Clavinova must have cost around £1,800.
As I wanted the piano in the cherry shade it had to be ordered in. This didn't take long and when it arrived at Musicland I was advised to either come into the store to pay the full price agreed on or to pay by card over the telephone. As I would be in the area I paid in the store and arranged a suitable delivery date. This was included in the price as was the matching Yamaha piano bench. I asked if headphones could be 'thrown in' and they were! Nice digital ones too!
The Clavinova was soon delivered by two men who set it up in my living room, after removing the older piano. They gave instructions on maintenance. As I had already had the YDP I knew that this should be dusted and no polish used. If needed, glass cleaner could be used with a soft cloth.
Now the trouble with school music lessons, in my area anyway, is that they only take place during term time, are quite often cancelled and they are only of fifteen minutes duration in primary school and of about twenty in senior schools. They do provide a good introduction to an instrument and are a great idea. Added to the negatives is the fact that they can prove disruptive to the class as the child is called from the class and has to leave during the lesson and then return while the lesson is still taking place. Of course this can interrupt the class and the instrumentalist's learning. Sometimes the lessons can be arranged during breaks but this isn't often possible. Because of this, and my children both having exams coming up, I was pleased to find a young lady willing to come round to my house and supplement the lessons, at a reasonable price, once a week. This young lady was grade eight on piano and came from a musical family. They had a piano in their home and so she was interested to try the new Clavinova. And she thought it felt pretty much like a 'real' piano and a good one at that.
My youngest two children both feel that the Yamaha Clavinova helped them with their music GCSE and my daughter with her music GCE A/S level. They both used it for their compositions. My son, who is at university studying to be a primary school teacher, still loves this instrument, and usually when he returns home during university holidays, he goes straight to the piano and plays (after the obligatory hugs, that is!)He says he misses playing it so, when on a school placement, he will play a piano if the opportunity arises. Although he hasn't taken advanced grades, he does feel that learning to play has given him an additional and very useful skill as a future primary school teacher.
When we first bought this piano my youngest daughter tried to teach me the basics of piano playing. She was very proud when I managed 'Yankee Doodle!' My husband too has tried but I feel we sadly lack commitment of the youth of today!
But what I really appreciate in respect of the clavinova is the fact that it provides us, as a family, with an opportunity to be entertained. The television and computer can have a rest while we listen. My son loves to play from the many musical theatre piano books my daughter owns while she sings to his accompaniment. Or, he will play some tunes from books such as Pink Floyd, The Beatles, R.E.M. Cat Stevens, to name a few.
When he isn't available my youngest daughter plays backing tracks, so that she can sing while the microphone is slotted into the clavinova, and the sound comes through the piano's integral speakers. This does away with the need to also have an amp in the living room.
There is also a microphone setting whereby one can play chords which give a harmonic effect.
I am pleased that my children had the opportunity to learn piano, moreover, I am glad that we, as a family, purchased the Clavinova CVP-303. I think it is a lovely instrument which made them more likely to be enticed to practice. But I will say that although this has so many functions and specifications we haven't really found many of them that necessary. I think we appreciate more the graded hammer effect keys, the look, feel and sound of this piano, rather than its technical abilities. If my eldest daughter was at home and had more access to it then she may have made more sense of the manual and would have had full use for the recording side of the clavinova. But that said it has provided and still does many hours of pleasure for my children as pianists and myself and my husband as their proud and receptive audience.
~A FEW (OF MANY) FEATURES)~
This clavinova has too many features to list, I feel, but here is a small selection for your information.
Width 1,432mm (56-1/2") Width
Height 885mm (34-7/8") Height
Depth 614mm (24-1/4") Depth
Weight 70kg (154lbs., 5oz.) Weight
Keys 88 graded hammer
Touch Sensitivity Hard2/Hard1/Normal/Soft1/Soft2
Number of Pedals 3
Functions Volume, Sustain, Sostenuto, Soft, Glide, Song Play/Pause, Style Start/Stop, etc.
Score Display Function
Lyrics Display Function
Number of Polyphony (Max.) 96
Number of Preset Songs 120
Internet Direct Connection ( IDC )
*For more details of Yamaha's current range of clavinovas please visit www.yamaha.co.uk
This piano is a great substitute to the real thing. What you lose in some areas you make up in convenience and reliability. You have a piano, harpsichord, two types of organ and other sounds to try. You can control the volume and plug in the headphones if you want to stay on good terms with the neighbours. It will never go out of tune. It is easier to move and will fit easily through your doorway. And if you are not at all good at playing, you can pretend with the demo. The keys are satisfyingly heavy, the finish looks a bit plasticky but will wipe clean easily and it comes with a stool and some music.
I bought mine second hand for 750 pounds from a shop. But it had never been used - the previous owner had taken it home and been told by his wife that it was not coming in the house.
If you are a purist, this is not for you. It does not ring like a piano should when the strings are tight and in tune and the finish is not proper wood. But given the advantages above, on balance I would definitely recommend it to all but professional pianists (And even to some of them as a practice tool).
A few years ago, my parents bought me a traditional upright piano as a wedding present (quite what my now ex-wife got out of it, I don't know - I guess it was somewhere to put photos/vases etc.). Then, my marriage split up (it's in another op, if you want the details!). Working as a doctor, I moved into hospital accomodation - and for obvious reasons, couldn't figure out what to do with the piano. (She wasn't having it, that's for sure!) After lengthy discussions with my parents, we decided to trade the piano in for a Clavinova - the CVP201 to be exact. I ended up adding a bit to the cost, because it was a bit more than the piano, but we felt that it would be more portable, and take up less room than a traditional piano. And it is. It lived quite happily in hospital accomodation with me, moved without a hitch into my first home, and then again into my new home. But, having ferried it around quite a bit (both moving, and when I've needed to "perform" anywhere - pubs, weddings etc.), it turns out to be heavy. Very heavy. Fortunately, the stand quite easily detatches from the main unit (just a couple of screws holding it in place), but at 54kg, it's quite a feat to shift it on your own. Having said that, it's now been battered against walls, doors, and, on occasion, concrete traffic bollards (don't ask), and, except the obvious cosmetic damage, it still plays well. OK, so that's the physical bit done with. What's it actually like to play? What does it do? According to the official blurb, the CVP201 has 64 note polyphony, meaning 64 notes can be played at once. If you are ever in the position where you NEED to play 64 notes at once, I don't envy you at all. However, this number is important if you use the Clavinova for recording multiple tracks - more of that later... What I didn't want to end up with is a keyboard with poor touch-sensitivity. Any musician will agree that if you can'
;t put enough emphasis on certain notes, the music sounds flat and dull. The Clavinova has weighted keys, which, surprisingly, do feel remarkably like a traditional pianos, and the touch sensitivity ("Graded Hammer Action") is actually remarkably good. Obviously, it goes without saying that the Clavinova has a full, 88 note keyboard. But I've said it anyway. In "Piano" mode, it is fairly tricky to tell the difference between a Clavinova and a standard, non-digital piano. Perhaps this is why Jools Holland prefers to record tracks using a Clavinova. And I suppose a big plus (memories from childhood here...) is that you don't have to fork out cash for retuning every so often. People who say there is no "richness of sound" with a Clavinova, obviously haven't actually heard a Clavinova being played. Sure, if you play a Steinway Grand, it'll sound better, but the Clavinova is more than a match for your bog-standard home upright. But, of course, I didn't get the CVP201 to play as a piano. Oh no. Because it does much more than that. And I'm a gadget freak... The 201 has 195 main voices (instruments). These are split into sections, such as Piano, Strings, Brass, Organ etc. The range of voices is incredible. Some are appalling, and you'll never, ever use them. Others are fantastic, and perfectly mimic the instruments they have been sampled from (violin, trumpet etc.) And then the last section is "XG". It took me a little while to figure out what XG actually is - apparently it's some form of synthesis. Anyway, by using XG, you have access to another 480 voices. Yes, 480. They don't sound quite so good, but there are some pretty nice (and weird) sounds hidden away in there. There are also 125 different rhythm styles, ranging from pop, through rock and jazz, to ballroom, latin and traditional waltzes etc... Oh and "Pop Ballad 1" is based on "Every Breath Yo
u Take", by the way. By playing around with the detailed settings, you can set different volumes for the drums, bass, harmony one and harmony two tracks within the rhythm setting, and each style has variation A, variation B, an introduction, a fill-in and an ending. It's in triggering the rhythm track that things become really clever. Anyone who has played an electric keyboard will know the traditional way to trigger chord sequences is by splitting the keyboard, and pressing either one-note chords with the left hand, or by actually fingering the chords, while playing the melody with the right hand. And you can do this. If you want... But, as a reasonably OK pianist, I wanted to do more. And the Clavinova, by some very clever trick, allows you to play a normal piece of music, both hands together, and picks up the dominant chord, laying down an appropriate backing track. And after a couple of years messing around, I can confidently say - it very rarely messes things up. And this, in my opinion, is the key to making you sound good. You can make things as complicated as you like, but the Rhythm Tracks are sufficiently complex and variable to make even a one-fingered pianist sound good. Other stuff? You want more? OK... How about layering - playing two instruments together. Boring? Yeah, I guess so, and in all honesty, some of the reverb is lost when you play certain instruments together, so the music can sound less realistic. What about splitting the keyboard - playing, for example, the bass with the left hand, and a guitar with the right. Pretty cool, but sounds awful when you forget where you've set the dividing note... Reverb and chorus - making your instrument sound echoey (like a huge hall), or dull (padded cell?!) Harmony - can't be used when the rhythm track is on, but for solo playing, adds second notes, third notes, octaves, a choir, strings... very cool for "mellow jazz" if you turn the "four-par
t jazz" setting on. Did I mention recording multiple tracks. Yeah, I think I did... By slotting in a standard floppy disc, you can record up to 16 tracks to disc, with real-time recording (adding layers of new tracks to your previous ones). All different instruments if you want. Changes of rhythm style are recorded as well, so fill-ins appear in the right place. Or, if you're really lazy, just download some MIDI files from the internet, put them on a floppy, and load it into the Clavinova - instant MIDI jukebox, and I guarantee it'll sound better than on your PC. (The Clavinova Demo Songs are amazing as well...) Surely, there can't be more? Oh, but there is. Much more. How about registration memory - by storing instrument, reverb and rhythm settings, you can swap between them with a single button press. Computer connectivity. As expected, Clavinovas are MIDI compatible, so you can link the Clavinova to a computer by cable, and transcribe music as you play... (with the right software - cable and software not included as standard). But surely this is really complicated? Not really. The key to using the Clavinova (apart from reading the manual cover to cover) is the small rotating disc in the middle, under the LCD display. From this, you can set tempo, change instruments and rhythms, set up tracks for recording, change system volumes, name tracks, alter function of the middle pedal (how about setting it up to start and stop the rhythm whenever you press the pedal?), transpose up or down, up to an octave either way, fine tune to match an instrument, or to play along to a CD.... you name it. In summary, this is one of my most favouritest things in the world. If you're an experienced musician, you'll find more than enough to keep you occupied. If you're a beginner, Clavinova have produced Tuition Discs..... You mean I haven't told you about tuition. OK. Quickly then, I've got to g
o. There are little LEDs above each note. If you play a MIDI file, one or two tracks will light up corresponding to the key presses (This is meant to represent L and R hands). Tuition discs come with music, and you can either follow the notes, or preset the machine to hold the music until the correct note is pressed. And you can do this with L or R hand, or both together. So, potentially, you can have "London Bridge is Falling Down" with a full orchestral backing, as if the orchestra is waiting for you, (the star performer) to hit the right note. Believe me, my explanation didn't do it justice - it's very clever. Anyway, enough from me. If you're even slightly interested, pop into a good music store, and ask to have a look. It's the only way you'll make sense of what I've said. And if you're not musical at all, try to take someone who is. Let them have a play.
The Clavinova CVP 107 has proved to be indispensible. With 224 original voices, 6 Organ Flutes, 480 XG voices and 13 drum kits the fun begins. An auto accompaniment (170 of them) gives professional instrumental backing according to the chords you play or you can even create your own! By using the Automatic Vocal Harmony Function and a microphone you can produce vocal harmony allowing a single singer to sound like a group. The disk drive allows you to record your playing, play back midis and the LCD display and guide lamps help you to learn pieces by showing you when and where to play the next note. There is also the facility to sequence midis, change instruments for each track, change tempo, add various harmonies or even have lyrics displayed on the panel (your very own karoke machine!. Even the pedals can be customised to suit your needs The piano has the touch of a grand, which I find very satisfying and my family appreciate the fact that I can plug use the headphones (and I thought I was improving!) A wonderful instrument
What ever any one says about "real pianos", the top of the range Yamaha Clavinova is the best thing i have ever played on. The choice of instruments, styles is amazing and the general sound quality very good. For the ardent pianists even the touch sensitivity is brilliant. The only draw back is its weight it is definitly not portable, which is unfortunate as it is ideal for shows and concerts. It certainly does piano tuners out of a job.