THE P-80 It's a stage-oriented electronic piano. In English, that means its almost as wide as a grand, as deep as twice the length of the keys (think dimensions of chewing gum), weighs as much as a holiday suitcase, and if you need to carry it, you can. No, I don't want to carry it, but if I needed to, I could. The P-80 concentrates on things that people want from a piano: good sound, good action. It does not concentrate on things people want from a good synth - for example: it hasn't got a huge bank of preset sounds but the limited palette it offers is well chosen and almost okay. The pedal will do sustain. To me, that's not enough. A new version of the pedal does 4 levels of damping and some more stuff beyond that. This is a Good Idea(tm). If you are a piano anorak, ensure that the pedal is a variable something wotsit, rather than the on-off switch provided as standard. If you want a master keyboard for MIDI, and you didn't learn piano as a sprog, stop right now. The P-80 is not a synth keyboard. You will develop tendonitis, Thingy-Carpal-Syndrome and whatever. You WILL hate it, so stop right now. Hit the back button. Right. BACKGROUND: I was in the market for a piano. I'm set to inherit a Bechstein, but gave up lessons as a teen because I hated playing scales out loud on it. That's the problem with learning the piano: everyone gets to hear just how bad you are. Here's the wonderful thing about electronic pianos: HEADPHONES! There are plenty of pseudo-pianos available that purport to sound and feel like a proper Grand. I wanted something that I could throw a cover over and forget, switch on in an instant should the mood take, and get the feel of a proper piano (remember I was raised with a Bechstein). Feel is subjective, but keyboard and organ players are often surprised at how heavy a piano keyboard is. Well, they're often surprised at how heavy an electron
ic keyboard is when it's trying to be a piano. That's why you MUST try one in the flesh. The market is wide. There's Yamaha out front, but there are specialists - Kurzweil is virtually unheard of outside this market but proclaim their sound is best. Korg and Roland fight a reputation for stunning electronic sounds, albeit IMHO behind plastic keyboards. The list goes on, and if you are a diligent shopper, look them up. I did, I played a lot of them. Not very well, mind you, but their ivories were well tinkled. Tip: bring your own headphones. I BOUGHT A P-80 Following a series of visits Chez Skunk, my father, who could have followed his father into being a professional pianist, has also decided to purchase a P-80 because of the subtlty of touch and (very important for someone going deaf) loud headphone output. He also rates the harpsichord and suddenly has come all-over white on black. I don't like the harpsichord sounds so much, because the touch and the sound mate like Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. He's right, she's right, just not under the same duvet, please. THE REST I tried a great many keyboards. Only Yamaha and Korg really had a chance at my price point (under £800). Some interesting stuff: Korg was really heavy in action. There wasn't as much subtlty in the action. The sound, though, was tremendous - so long as you judge it by one note played over and over again. A few great samples, lots of lousy implementation, keyboard weighted for Conan the Barbarian. Roland was close, but the keyboard was just a little fluffy. The sounds weren't quite right. It was the next best thing to a P-80, but it didn't whisper 'buy me'. Any other Yamaha other than the P-80 was a bit tarty or a bit too expensive. There were some absoloutely great Yamahas that had touch and sound to die for, all wrapped up in a Liberace wet dream with a bit of Close Encounters th
rown in. But who wants to pay for so much MDF with a bit of fancy lacquer and a Radio Shack display? Okay, so I tell a lie. There are Yamahas higher up the food chain that sound better. But if you can tell the difference, you'd be wearing an Anorak with a keyboad motif on it. I won't tell if you won't. The rest had either floppy or stiff action, poor sound, or stupid price and styling. THE DETAIL Look up the specs. It does everything you need a practice keyboard to do. It also does everything a baby grand is expected to do except look pretty and amplify its self. The keyboard feel is bang-on for any mid-range piano. Not too stiff, not too floppy. The samples are decent for a piano: - Two Grand pianos: one bright, one a little fruitier - Two Upright pianos: one very very good, one probably a baby grand - Two Jazz pianos: one very dry, one with a subtle soundboard defect - Rock piano: first= ELO Mr Blue Sky, second is a little too Elton John - EP Fender Rhodes pastiches, don't play the Taxi theme tune Puhleez - Only consider Harpsichord 1. No Lurch impressions. Keyboard WAY TOO HEAVY for proper harpsichord stuff - try a trill. It's like tapdancing with wellies. - Strings remind me of Soylent Green. I can't go there. - Pipe organ is great for pretending to play carols and amusing 6-year olds, but it isn't church... Well, it is about as church as the p-80 gets... - Church organ - all I can say is that I am glad I don't go to that church - Jazz organ - I can't do this justice as I am not a fan of this instrument (all I hear is porn film). It doesn't strip paint at 100 paces like a wurlitzer, it doesn't have that wheezy breath of a proper valve amped organ, it's just a transplant. - Bass has a great chiff of a cymbal as a variation. Used sparingly, it's a lovely cheesy topping to your rendition THE BA
D STUFF: Yes, the P-80 has some real stinkers. - The pedal sucks! Get the new version with variable pedal action. Sustain is just a Keyboard thing. The Loud pedal on a grand is not a sustain pedal, it is a glove of cashimir that can caress the strings with subtlty. The P-80 pedal is either on or off. The new pedal has about 8 different states, and is the one to get. - Some of the presets contain bum notes. If you have perfect pitch or think you can tune a P-80, please spend lots of time with it AND the competitors before you buy one. A couple of notes are real zonkers for us piano anoraks. Yes, I still bought one, but I wince with some scales. No, 99.99% of audience will not notice. - Unlike the Roland, you can't vary temperament. Okay, so you may not need to, but anoraks like tempered organs, 'kay? - Oh yes, the P-80 offers measely check-box features like a 2 track recorder et al, but you won't use them. If you need a recorder, quantisiation, score transcription et al, get Cubase or similar. - You will need a stand for the P-80 and a connection to your hi-fi. Big deal. The stand is a bit of a downer and could be replaced by an ironing board if you enjoy a touch of the Dada. The hi-fi connection is cured by a length of phono-phono connectors and a compliant amplifier. CONCLUSION: For the money, your best bet for piano nirvana for less than a clapped out upright. If you had more money, there are others, some of which may be better, but you can write that review. My P-80 is a very welcome addition to our family.
The PC88 is an ideal mother keyboard. I've been using it now for 3 years and swear by its good sounds and weighted action. Kurtzweil have a reputation for producing good sounds and the PC88 is no exception to the rule. The keyboard action is very good however, it does bump the weight upto around 60kgs which is not easy going to lift when gigging! It comes with full midi controls and with the MX board (which i have) it expands the sound capibilties. Its a great keyboard with great features, i would have to recomend it to younger musicians that can't afford to purchace the top of the range K2500 X the PC88+MX enhancement being £1300-£1500 compared to the K2500X fully upgraded being around £5500-£6000.
I have a Yamaha PSR-185 keyboard. It was good value for money and has lasted many years.It has a modern look and has many things you can do with the voice style and background style. You can play song tunes including "old lang syne" , "suzanna" and many more. You can even play lots of sounds including birds,an elephant,bongo's,a lion and lots more. The fingered and none fingered coard stlye does it automatically when playing, so does not have to be progammed in. So if your looking for a good keyboard thats good and value for money,try a Yamaha PSR-185.