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Finding the Ultimate Worship Keyboard


After four years of music ministry training in college andseveral years leading children, youth, or adults in worship at a variety of different churches, I have seen just about every worship keyboard out there. and, in all honesty, I didnt like any of them.

The commentaries were no help either. Beyond do your research, itemize your needs, and use a well-known local music store, most articles I read had little meaningful advice.

To my dismay, there were no good sources of information specifically geared towards worship leaders so I had to learn the hard way. Thankfully, I am a bit of an electronics geek and I also understand the importance of good stewardship,so I decided to pass my shopping experienceson to you. I sincerely hope it helps youand your ministry.

While its true that you should select the keyboard that will do what you want it to which creates a massive range of possibilities its also true that most praise band keyboard players have similar needs. and similar complaints. Here are a few of each and, brace yourself, here are my recommendations. I pray you find them meaningful.

Common Complaints:

1. Too Complicated: Everyone knows the Big 3. The Korg Triton, the Roland Fantom, and the Yamaha Motif are all very popular keyboards in churches around the World. Sadly, however, very few worship leaders or praise band keyboardists are able to take full advantage of these expensive instruments because they are so complicated to use. That is because they arent designed to be performance keyboards. Theyre workstations. They are designed for in-depth sound manipulation and heavy-duty sequencing. These keyboards are excellent for professional players who are writing music, sequencing orchestral pieces, and designing their own accompaniment tracks from scratch. but for a volunteer (or even many professional) musicians, these keyboards offer too many features. The result is an overwhelmed player, an underused keyboard and a waste of about $3500. 2. Doesnt Sound Good: In an effort to save some money, many churches purchase very basic keyboards for worship (such as the Yamaha P or YDP series and almost anything by Casio). These keyboards are on the opposite side of the spectrum from the Phantom and the Motif. They just dont soundvery good. They have a variety of features, but few of the professional tones or hookups necessary for todays worship needs. While its important to make sure that youre not overspending (ie buying keyboards with features that your worship team will never use or learn to understand), its just as important to make sure that you dont purchase an instrument so basic that its poor sound and lack of versatility get in the way of The Message. Thus, these keyboards though often less than $1200 also represent an unsatisfactory choice for most churches. 3. Not very portable: In todays worship scene, praise teams are traveling more than ever. It may be an off-site youth function. It might be a special service at a sister church. The reasons abound. but not many keyboards out there offer a lightweight chasse, onboard speakers, USB PC connectivity, adjustable stand, and a variety of ports to integrate with the local P.A. system. Thus, worship leaders find themselves doing pretty amazing things to make their keyboards work for them. (I watched one band use 3 different audio adaptors, 2 headphones cables, and some electrical tape just to hook their Yamaha P60 into their PA system!) but why bring all that extra equipment and stress into the equation? Make sure the keyboard you select can be moved and integrated into professional P.A. systems with ease. 4. Automatic Rhythms and pre-recorded tracks: In smaller churches and in bigger churches when the drummer is out ill automatic rhythms are a tempting tool for worship. The problem with automatic rhythms is that they are just that: automatic. Whether you are ready to move to the second verse yet or not, they are going on. The same thing can be said for accompaniment tracks. There is no room for expression or the freedom to improvise should the minister say Lets sing that chorus again! In their traditional form, automatic rhythms and pre-recorded tracks robotize the service. and they severely restrict your ministry.

Considering these things, I think its safe to say most worship keyboard players arent really happy with their instrument (save the select few who are tech savy or just really comfortable with their old keyboard).

So, to avoid these pitfalls, here are some things to look for in your worship keyboard:

1. Top-grade grand piano sound. Customizability is the hallmark of good piano sound these days. Your congregation wants something that sounds warm and rich through the church sound system. Crisp or tinny sounding keyboards often sound very thin and unsatisfying through a P.A. Find a keyboard with a satisfying piano sound that can be adapted for each worship space.

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2. 88 Full-Sized Gravity Hammer Action Keys. Weighted keys are a thing of the past. Its not enough that the keyboard has some resistance. It needs to have the right resistance. Look for a spring-less gravity hammer action. This is the most piano-like touch available and will last the longest with heavy use. Also, make sure the keys are full-sized. If you have a dollar bill, you can use it to measure the keys. Piano keys should run from one end of the dollar bill to the end of the ink on the other end. 3. At least 5 of the standard worship sounds. You dont need a trumpet or saxophone sound. You need a strong piano with strings mix, a Warm Pad, a good Nylon (acoustic) Guitar, a healthy variety of organ sounds, and a contemporary electric piano or Rhodes sound at the minimum. At some point, you can explore some vocal pads and a few other solo instruments depending on the music youre playing and the instrumentation of your band. but these 5 are a must. 4. Easy Layout. Within reason, you should choose a keyboard with as few buttons as possible. You still want to be able to make rapid tone changes, record, and layer instruments easily, but you probably dont need automatic rhythms, internet connectivity or a ton of flashy features. 5. USB. Every worship keyboard today needs a USB interface. Youll use this to mix music or to make recordings. Some keyboards even come with a USB flash drive port for audio and MIDI file play-a-long. These can be really handy. 6. Portability. Your keyboard will have to be substantial enough to survive the wings and dings of travel but it also has to be light enough to move from place to place easily. A few companies even make luggage-style travel bags with wheels. These can be very helpful. 7. Adjustable Stand. You want your keyboard to be stable and wobble free. It also has to be at the proper height for your player (Some players prefer to stand. Others prefer to sit.). The right stand can make or break your keyboard players experience. 8. Connectivity. Aside from the USB port, your keyboard player needs to have the following options: Switchable onboard speakers, stereo audio IN, stereo audio OUT, MIX IN (or iPod port) and options for damper and expression pedals. This way, it can hook into just about any system out there.

After you have considered all of these things (and whatever other needs your specific congregation may have), you are ready to begin sampling instruments. This absolutely cannot be done online. It is critical that you see and play the instrument youre considering before you bring it into your church. Make sure it delivers the experience you are expecting.

and if you cant find a keyboard to match the above criteria, allow me to recommend my favorite: the Roland FP-80.

In addition to Rolands cutting-edge PHA-III Gravity Hammer Action with real hammers and ultra-authentic SuperNATURAL grand piano sound, the new Roland FP-80 has a couple of features that are totally unique to its genre. One of the most unique features of the FP-80 is its wireless integration with FREE apps from the Apple Store, including Piano Partner and Air Recorder. Enhance your pianos capabilities with FREE iPad apps and, when the app gets an upgrade, so does your piano!

You can also take advantage of HUNDREDS of all-digital sounds, the best on-board vocal harmonizer in the business, and a ton of live performance quick transition features that help smooth out your worship service.

Add the On-Stage Z Style adjustable stand and the SKB KB88 keyboard luggage bag for a completely portable and POWERFUL worship keyboard package.

Stop in and check it out today! I think youll be impressed. especially when you discover our special Gist Piano Center House of Worship price.

God bless and Ill see you soon!

-James Harding

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This entry was posted in Buyer's Guides, House of Worship, Reviews, Videos and tagged church keyboard, church piano, FP-7F, Gist Piano Center, kentucky, keyboard, Lexington, Louisville, minister, ministry, piano, praise band, praisem, Roland, stage keyboard, SuperNATURAL, worship, worship instrument, worship keyboard, worship piano on January 24, 2011 [http://www.gistpianocenter.com/blog/finding-the-ultimate-worship-keyboard/] by James Harding.

About James Harding


From the farmlands of Iowa, James joined the Gist staff in May of 2009. James began studying classical, jazz and piano improv from 4yrs old until he graduated from LeEcole De La Musica at age 18. In college, he majored in voice and music ministry. Then, in 2001, James took a job managing Simons Music. When West Music purchased Simons in 2004, James became their Certified Steinway Piano Specialist. Today, James coordinates Gist community outreach events, designs flyers and web pages, and appears in the popular James and Barrett videos on YouTube.
View all posts by James Harding

81 thoughts on Finding the Ultimate Worship Keyboard

Leslie
May 29, 2013 at 8:09 am

I am a one-man band at a very small country church. I currently lead praise and worship, alone, on a grand piano. I am a vocalist who picked up chording about 10 years ago to fill-in as needed, and Im still there and in desperate need of help. Im in need of a keyboard that can give me the sound of most guitar driven modern praise without all the canned sound of accompaniment cds. I tried that and hated it. I can play worship type songs all day long, but Im not able to play rhythm for modern praise on the piano, (cant strum a piano!) Is it possible to buy a keyboard that can give me rhythm sounds (bass, drums, acoustic rhythm guitar, etc.) and allow me the spontaneity of leading the song without following a track? Is that even possible? I would prefer a full band, or at least a core band, or even a guitar player would work, but Ive waited years for this to happen, and God willing, it will eventually come together. But in the mean time,(10 more years???) I need help. Any suggestions?

James Harding

Post author

May 29, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Hi, Leslie!

I have been where you are and I feel for you! My best recommendation for you is to check out Rolands BK-7M Portable Backing Module. Its designed to give any instrumentalist or singer an instant background band. The big news, however, is that the Apple Store has a FREE Roland BK app that controls it with the touch-screen interface on your iPad. Its really slick and it does a great job for those of us who have to go it alone. We carry the BK-7M here, but it might also be available online. Good luck!

and thank you for the hours and effort you put into serving your congregation!

Steven Rutledge
June 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Great blog by the way! All of these categories are essential. I was just wondering if there were any cheaper alternatives than the Roland fp-7f? Those are pretty pricey and Im looking for something a bit cheaper.

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Thanks!

James Harding

Post author

June 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Thanks for reading, Steven! I am glad you found the blog useful. Now that the Roland FP-50 is out, you might look at it. It is less expensive and still packs most of the basic features. Sadly, there isnt much under the FP-50s price point that I would recommend. The action components are the most expensive parts and they are the most important (ie most expensive to replace, most likely to fail, etc.). Its important to spend the right money or youll end up spending it anyway in service calls and shipping. I would save up until the FP-50 fits the budget. Youll be glad you did! Good luck!

Evelyn
June 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I am looking for a keyboard that fits the above criteria in your blog. By the way, great points that are very applicable to the worship team keyboardist.which I am.

I was wondering if you had a chance to look at the newer model, fp-80, and how it compares to the fp-7f. Also, how do you think the Roland fp-7f, or fp-80 compares with the Yamaha cp-300. Im just trying to get an honest opinion from someone in the know.

Thanks, Evelyn

James Harding

Post author

June 6, 2013 at 10:45 am

Hi, Evelyn. Thank you for reading and thanks for your kind words. I am glad you found my blog helpful. I do have the Roland FP-80 in stock here and I think its a nice upgrade from the FP-7F. They did get rid of the audio key feature (that allows you to used sampled audio files with your music) and the onboard looper, but they added a new 4-speaker sound system on the keyboard that makes it sound great without amplification. Of course, youd still want to plug it into a PA if you are playing for the congregation. The price is the same as the FP-7F (We offer it with a stand, bench, headphones and an extended warranty for $1999.) I think it will be a welcome update to the FP-7F. I really like it!

As for the CP-300, this is where I get into trouble with people who really love Yamaha. To me, the CP-300 is very clunky. The menu system is not user friendly, the piano tone is too sharp for my taste and it has a very keyboardy behavior. For example, its not capable of any true voicing or advanced pedaling and you dont have much (if any) authenticity to the touch. Its also ungodly heavy (forgive the pun)! Personally, even though I can sell the CP-300 here at Gist, I choose not to. Roland is kicking Yamahas tail right now when it comes to piano sound and touch. Id also give them the award for user friendliness.

In short, Id definitely look into the FP-80 if you can. Especially with the FREE Roland apps (from the Apple Store), its a riot. Good luck! -Jmz

Alfred
June 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Hello James I havent talk to you since I made a great choice when I purchase my rd700nx about a year ago. Since then I develop back problems. So Im looking to sell my rd700nx for a lighter keyboard preferable 76 keys professional board to replace mine. Do you have any recommendation.

James Harding

Post author

http://www.gistpianocenter.com/blog/finding-the-ultimate-worship-keyboard/

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June 14, 2013 at 10:18 am

Hello, Alfred! Congrats on your Roland. I am sorry to hear about your back, though. You might check out the new RD-64 from Roland. If you really loved your RD-700, the 64 is very similar, but smaller. You might also check out the new FP-50. Its still 88 notes, but its only 35 pounds MUCH lighter than your RD. Best wishes!

Julie Fair
June 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

I am looking for a new keyboard for my church. I was wondering if you could tell me your thoughts on the difference between the Roland RD-300NX and the Roland FP-7F? I know that the latter has its own built in amplifiers but other than I would love to know your thoughts.

Thank you, Julie

James Harding

Post author

June 15, 2013 at 10:36 am

Hello, Julie! Thanks for your message. First of all, I need to report that Roland has just replaced the FP-7F with the brand new FP-80 (Stay tuned well have new YouTube videos coming in the next week or two to our YouTube channel). The price will be about the same as the FP-7F (We sell it as part of a package with a stand, bench, headphones and extended warranty for $2000). The piano, however, has a few significant upgrades. First of all, it is compatible with a number of FREE apps from the Apple store (including Air Recorder which allows you to wirelessly record your music and share it with iTunes). Secondly, it has a new, 4-speaker system with a surround sound feature called Acoustic Projection. In short, it sounds a lot better than the FP-7F did and it still has all of the popular features. The RD-300NX uses a similar sound chip, has the same Supernatural piano technology and more features. It is a bit harder to operate, however. so, really, both keyboards would be great for your churchs needs. The question is how comfortable are you with technology and how easy do you need the piano to be? The FP-Series is easier and has onboard speakers, but the RD-series has a few more features if you can figure out how to use them.

Boni Morales
July 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm

I am a beginner at the keyboard, I plan on taking music lessons to learn how to play the keyboard because my church has no live worship at all. I need something that I can carry to my lessons and also that will be a good keyboard to grow into and be versatile. Would really appreciate your wisdom

Franco
July 24, 2013 at 12:11 am

I totally disagree with ur blog. I do have the fp7f and although it is a good piano I still prefer my yammy p95 or the 105. Yamaha makes better digital pianos than Roland. Afterall they know a little something about pianos dont they? I just hate when people put down the yammy sound when professionals all over the world use them. Why arent u recommending the motif. Best guitar sounds on any keyboard. But it sounds to me like u r biased and only a Roland fanboy.

James Harding

Post author

July 24, 2013 at 9:32 am

http://www.gistpianocenter.com/blog/finding-the-ultimate-worship-keyboard/

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Hi, Boni, and thank you for your email. I would definitely look at the new Roland FP-50. Its only 35lbs, so its very easy to carry, but its packed with features that you will grow into and use during worship. We sell it for $1699, so its pretty affordable for an 88-Note keyboard. and it will last you for a very long time. I hope that helps! God bless!

James Harding

Post author

July 24, 2013 at 9:42 am

Hi, Franco. Thank you for your comment.

I am certainly not telling you that you cant or shouldnt like Yamaha digital pianos. We carry those as well. For practice (which is the purpose for which Yamaha designed the P-105) or for fun, Yamaha keyboards can be great. However, if you put Yamaha and Roland side-by-side in comparison (as I have done), you can clearly see why I prefer Roland. Right now, Yamaha does not offer behavior modeling, soundboard-style tone decay, true flutter pedaling, or any connectivity between their tri-sensor key action and their sound chip. and, if you really want an eye-opening experience, watch this video: http://youtu.be/eo2nJBhxGYI. I put a Yamaha and a Roland in that video so you can see how they behave. That should help you understand my point.

Yamaha is a huge company and they certainly do pay a ton of artists to play their instruments. However, this doesnt necessarily mean they are superior. Roland created the digital piano and they partner with Steinway to get the very best piano sound.

I only tell you this so youll know why I am a Roland fanboy. However, this doesnt mean you cant like Yamaha too! We sell both, but for churches my recommendation stands. When considering quality, value, longevity and ease of use, Roland will win that battle in my mind every time. (Thats why I dont recommend the Motif I mentioned that in the blog.)

but dont hate me. Blogs are, by definition, based on opinion. Mine is no different. However, as a trained worship leader, a 20+ year professional musician and a retail director in the music industry, I hope like my expert opinion might help other folks.

Thanks again for reading! All my best! -James

Michael
July 25, 2013 at 2:29 am

I am looking for a keyboard that is relatively light weight, but also contains quality pad sounds and is multitimbral with the ability to layer the pad over piano. Suggestions?

James Harding

Post author

July 25, 2013 at 11:03 am

Hi, Michael. Thanks for reading. Thankfully, there are a ton of keyboards that do what you want. Depending on what other needs you have, you might consider the Roland FP-50, the Roland Juno Di or Juno Gi, the VP-770 There are a ton of options. Good luck!

Mike
July 31, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Hi, I am looking for a starter keyboard that can go in our churchs upper room worship & prayer space. I recently heard the Korg Krome great sounds. Do you know anymore about this expressive instrument?

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James Harding

Post author

July 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Hi, Mike. Though I havent personally played the Korg Krome, I know it by reputation. Its a swanky-looking keyboard, but it is not designed for stage performance. Its a workstation designed for sound editing and studio use. If you are confident enough that you can learn how to operate the instrument, it might work for you, but youll probably be the only one who knows how to use it at your church.

Best of luck!

Nikos
October 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Hi James great blog but Id like to add some of my opinions. Early this year I went into a hunt for the perfect entry level e-piano. I am a pianist but I can only have an e-piano in my apartment as a real one would create strained relations with my neighbours. I just moved here in Switzerland and my budget couldnt afford me to have a cutting edge keyboard. Everything is expensive in this country. Anyways, I only had two brands in mind: Roland and Yamaha. I eventually bought a Yamaha YDP 141 simply because it actually sounded well for me and that the sound of the Rolands I tried werent my cup of tea. I hope I could tell which models but I already forgot their names. Surprisingly I am not a big fan of Yamaha Grands (I adore Bsendorfer and Steinway) but I enjoy the sound of the YDP 141. It sounded just right in the room where I placed it. It could sound better when hooked on USB or MIDI to my Mac DAW and studio monitors but hey, I get what I pay for, right? Maybe the point I am bringing here is, when choosing the sound of the keyboard, one must have an open mind. Online reviews are great, but one has to actually audition keyboards well before purchasing. It is still an individual preference of sound in keyboards (features and convenience of use as well, I must say!) that will help one making a good decision. It took me 5 returns to the store before I made a decision.

James Harding

Post author

October 16, 2013 at 11:53 am

Hi, Nikos, and thank you for your comments. You are 100% right. Everybody has a different ear. Some folks like Yamahas least expensive keyboard sound (like the YDP stuff) and some like their most expensive Clavinova technology. I prefer the Roland tone mostly because I am used to handmade Steinway pianos and they tend to have a richer (not so bright) sound. but that is highly individual and the only way youll know what you like is to try them out in person.

Norm
October 19, 2013 at 11:29 am

James,

Thank you for your knowledgeable article and advice on keyboards. I am the keyboard player and the music minister for my church (a small church). Weve been using for about 8 years now the Kurzweil Mark10. I have loved this keyboard. The piano sound and the strings were very nice. But, the weighted keys are starting to feel like they are out of sync with me when I play the keys. Some of them make a very audible clunky sound (at least its audible to me).

Another issue is that I do make my own accompaniment tracks from time to time for my church choir, and also for my childrens choir at my school. I like the easy to use sequencing on the Kurzweil, but it is pretty out of date with the latest tech (no USB for example).

The keyboard is hooked up to our sound system and still sounds nice to the congregation, but Im afraid that sooner or later we are going to have to replace it. Not only because of the weighted keys becoming noisy, but also because some of the features no longer work or will work but only after a couple tries.

My question is,and I realize that the quality of the piano sound is subjective to different people, are you familiar with Kurzweils grand piano sound, and if so, does the Roland FP-80s grand piano sound as good?

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Also, are there FP-80s that are in less portable, but more aesthetically pleasing real piano looking structures? Thats also something that our people liked about the Kurzweil is that it looked like an actual piano (somewhat) and didnt look like something that could just be carried off. Portability is not really that much of an issue with me or our church.

James Harding

Post author

October 21, 2013 at 11:21 am

Hi, Norm! Thanks for your comment and thank you for reading. I have played a number of Kurzweil pianos in my time and I agree they have a fantastic piano sound. Up until last year, I would have said that they had the best piano sound in the market. However, when Roland came out with their new SuperNATURAL technology, that completely changed. To put it into perspective, SuperNATURAL gives you 16,000 different dynamic levels (compared to Kurzweils 128); it gives you the ability to customize every aspect of the tone and create a sound that suits you (vs. having to make do with one of the limited preset options); it provides smooth dynamic curves (instead of stair-stepping dynamics); it gives you true piano resonance (Try pressing a chord so lightly it doesnt make a sound then mash some random keys with your other hand without using the pedal. On your keyboard, you wont hear anything. SuperNATURAL gives you an acoustic after-ring just like an acoustic piano!); and it provides a smooth, natural decay (with no looping, computerized fade or unnatural beat frequencies). Its an entirely new piano sound technology. Youll love it once you figure out how to customize it to your liking.

Most players are used to having a preferred sound (I like Yamaha best! I like Roland best! I like Kawai best! etc.) but now you can create whatever you want with SuperNATURAL. The discussion has changed and I think youre really like it. (Watch my SuperNATURAL video to learn more about Rolands new piano sound technology. ) Also, if you want a nice furniture cabinet, check out the black polish finish for the HP-507 or the LX-15. They are beautiful! They also have a ton of new features (like the ability to play audio files in any key, to speed up or slow down audio files in real time and to remove the vocals from most audio files!). I think youll have a blast.

One quick note most modern keyboards have gotten away from 16-track sequencing. Most folks dont use this and with the new USB integration, software titles like Finale Print Music have gotten so good at doing it that its cheaper and easier to simply connect your keyboard to a laptop or PC via USB and record the tracks using print software. (Finale Print Music should be around $100-$130).

I hope that helps! Thanks again for reading!

jul
November 22, 2013 at 8:21 pm

hi, I just sold my upright and have been a traditional instrument fan for a long time. But:) heres what Im looking for now: I need something to worship with at home, where I can try to learn to be more comfortable with technology, and learn to create the sorts of sounds modern worship uses pads, etc, for covers as well as writing my own music. I also need my kids to be able to learn piano, and eventually worship keyboarding as well. I sold my upright because I need something portable, much better for living room worship settings, and also usable with headphones so my homeschooled children can practice during the day without disturbing others. Can you help?

Thanks, Jul

James Harding

Post author

November 24, 2013 at 12:18 am

Hi, Jul! Thanks for reading and thank you for your question. I would recommend the Roland FP-50. Its a great family piano easy to use and very portable. It also works with the free Air Performer app from the Apple Store. I think your whole family would enjoy it! Click here for more info on the FP-50.

Good luck!

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Minsu
December 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Hi, I am currently looking for a keyboard for my college church. Its pretty small so our budget isnt that big ($450-$530). I was wondering if you could recommend a keyboard for us within that price range and one that fits all/most of your criteria. Thanks.

James Harding

Post author

December 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Hello, Minsu, and thanks for reading. Unfortunately, I dont have any suggestions for you in that price range. I would recommend saving your churchs money until they can afford a professional keyboard. Anything you buy in that range will disappoint you. Best wishes!

James Harding

Post author

December 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Exciting note: The new Roland FP-80 just received Music Incorporateds Pro Digital Piano of the Year Award. Thats awesome! Congrats, Roland!

Dave
February 12, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Hi James. Our church already has a Clavinova, but were looking at buying a keyboard to be used mainly for more electronic sounds like synths and pads and maybe strings. Since we already have a clavinova, we have piano sounds and an 88-key instrument already. Since this would be more of a supplemental instrument, Im curious if you would suggest something different than an FP-80 or FP-50.

James Harding

Post author

February 12, 2014 at 7:06 pm

Hi, Dave, and thanks for reading! It sounds like you have a good piano-like instrument. If you are just looking for a great backing synth, Id check out Rolands FA-06. Its very easy to use and it includes several of the top-grade sounds that made the Roland Fantom famous. The FA-06 is a 61-note synth, but its packed with features (including SuperNATURAL) and its only $1199. I would give it a close look! If that is out of the price range, you might check the Roland Juno Gi. Its alot less expensive ($899), but it has some great sounds as well. It is harder to operate, so you will need to be more synth-savy, but its worth a look. Thanks again for reading. I hope that helps!

Doug
February 15, 2014 at 9:44 am

Hi James. Great write up with good logical arguments! The FP-80 certainly sounds like a very capable instrument.Our church has started looking for a replacement/backup for our Clavinovo 105 which is beginning to show its age. Several of the dealers in our area who carry multiple lines have recommended that we give consideration to the Kawia ES7. Was wondering if youve had any experience with this unit and how you feel it compares to the Roland FP-80.

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James Harding

Post author

February 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

Hi, Doug! Thanks for reading. I am glad the article helped. I have actually played and sold the Kawai ES-7. It has a great sound and I love the look. Its lightweight and it transports well. Unfortunately, I quit carrying Kawai in two different stores over the last several years due to service issues. We were spending what little profit we made selling the keyboards on after-the-sale service. Eventually, we cancelled the line and went with a company that was more reliable (Roland). Thats a general comment, but it was important to me so I thought I would share it.

More specifically, the ES-7 uses Harmonic Imaging (which is a stereo sampling technology). This old school approach to piano sound is very limited. You can only get about 128 different volume levels per key (making your volume transitions pretty sloppy), the action and the sound chip dont communicate (so your technique doesnt impact the pianos tone), and you really cant get any kind of true sympathetic resonance with the Kawai. Try this test: Hold 3 keys down so quietly they dont make a sound. Then, with only those keys down (no pedal), mash some other keys and listen to the after-ring. On a Roland, you will hear a natural resonance just like a piano. On a Kawai/Yamaha/Korg/etc. you wont hear anything. In short, the piano sound is much better on a Roland. Its also much more customizable with Piano Designer. You can create any kind of piano sound you like and save it to your flash drive.

Thus, in short, Id recommend the Roland because it has a much better piano sound, a more durable resin for the keys, a much better service record overall and the ability to manipulate audio (Kawai cant transpose and/or change the tempo of audio files independently.). Best of luck!

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27/2/2014