Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Roland HP-1700

If you enjoy this article, you should read this article, which has pictures of the HP-1700 talked about in this article.

One more thing. This blog accepts anonymous comments. Please post your comments why you like the HP 1700 so much, what you were hoping to find, and what kind of info you would like to know about the HP1700. Thanks.


Today's article will be of more interest to musicians and techies.
(For some reason this week, many people from all over the globe have been checking out this article so I'm updating. I'm sorry to say that I am finally retiring the 1700. I was playing a high profile gig several months ago, and the sounds quit coming out of the unit. I tried running the audio out of the headphone jack, I tried multiple audio cables, but no avail, even though the it had power, no sound would come out. I called my technician, Stan Jones, and we could not figure anything out over the phone. I replaced it with a Yamaha P90, which I am very happy with, though I have to say I admit the loss of the massive space on the Roland. The HP served me well for 17 years. I am donating it to a fellow musician, I will try to get a picture of it for posterity and will post it next week, hopefully, if I have time, as I am in the middle of a move. It was a great piano that suffered greatly all of the moving around I put it through. I'm sure that if I had left it in my apartment and never gigged with it, it would still be going. HP-1700 1993-2007, RIP. bh 7/20/07)

My piano is a 1993 Roland HP-1700, a digital piano, and one of the first of the higher quality mass marketed digital pianos.

Roland marketed it to its home customers. Being such, the piano is a heavy unit, with 2 piano sounds, 2 electric piano sounds, a harpsichord sound along with reverb and chorus.

The piano also came with internal speakers and an attractive stand with two piano-like pedals intergrated into the case.

I chose the HP-1700 over the professional s available at the time simply because the home piano stores were the only ones that offered financing.

Also, Roland's key action at that time was far superior to anything else on the market, and there wasn't anything comparable in their pro-line in a dedicated digital piano.

I paid quite a bit more for this piano than I might have paid for the professional s, but by and large it has been a good piano for me. The instrument is definitely by this time a road warrior, but it works, and it does some cool things.

For example if you hit the 'Function' key and any of the 1st 16 notes of the left hand of the keyboard, then you can change to the corresponding MIDI channel of the keyboard on any device you are controlling with the Roland.

This MIDI selecting technique is a pretty cool feature that eliminates unnecessary knobs.

On most keyboards available during that time you had to go into the edit menu to change the MIDI send channel.

On one less expensive Roland piano that Roland released a few years later, the lower piano keys changed the onboard sound, and the volume was located on a knob underneath the piano.

The only annoying thing about this keyboard is that it has, as part of its touch sensitivity mechanism, these rubber strips that sort of act like gaskets. These strips come in octave sections and are attached underneath where the keys fit into the instrument. Whichever note the strip begins to wear out on, the note will begin to respond at full volume no matter how softly you hit the note. There is no warning when this will happen.

The strips are only 6 bucks apiece but the labor to get this repaired is about a $100.

I became aware of truth in advertising when I read Roland's product brochure about this keyboard...it referred to the attractive feature of the piano 'having virtually no maintenance'....

All that means is that you don't have to tune it. But you do have to occasionally replace those little strips, and depending on how often you play it, it can be more often than not.


At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey brian. i was wondering thoug if the feel of the keys is like that of a non-digital or almost near it. i hate playing on really soft keys. thanks.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for your question!

Most synths and keyboards simply have a simple spring mechanism that doesn't lend itself well to the nuances of piano playing. That is one of the biggest challenges that manufacturers of digital pianos have to overcome-how do you recreate a piano feel on a digital instrument?

I was always very impressed by the feel of the Roland 1700. There are 3 levels of settings, if you put it on the hardest, it was convincing enough for me.

Hope that helps!

At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I was wondering how realistic the piano setting sounds on this instrument compared to more modern digital pianos. cheers!

At 6:58 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for your comments!

The sound is suprisingly good through the internal speakers-of course if you run it through a home stereo or pa speakers then of course the sound, especially the bass will sound much fuller.

The 1700 hundred does not have 'stretched tuning' that some of the more expensive models did. Particularly noticeable on 7ths and extended harmonics. It does not sound out of tune, but it doesn't sound as good as it should be...it was noticeable enough compared with more expensive models in the store.

Hope that helps!

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Carol said...

Does anyone know how to perform a factory reset on the Roland HP1700?
I love my HP 1700 but it's beginning to produce 'echo' sounds and a friend said resetting it to factory specs may help.

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Carol, it has been awhile since you have asked, don't know about that one.

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Betsy Harrington said...

Good Morning,

I purchased for my husband an Roland HP1700, 21 years ago. At some point in the last year, somebody apparently dropped a glass of wine on the left of the keyboard. Half of the keys are no longer working. I've opened the case, vacuumed and cleaned it with rubbing alcohol, with no improvement. I want to know if it is possible or worthwhile, to try to make a repair. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Thanks for your post Ms. Betsy and I am sorry to hear about the accident.
It is unfortunate that your steps to repair the unit were not successful.

I'm not sure what effect rubbing alcohol would have on the electrical contacts. Do be careful putting rubbing alcohol inside the unit, there are rubber contact strips underneath the keys and the alcohol might dry that out.

I had a similar incident happen on my HP. A singer put her wine glass on top of the unit and it sweated and moisture got into the unit and disabled it. After a day it was working again, it just needed a chance to dry out.

The HP is an older keyboard, and there are better keyboards out on the market. However, the action is superior on your model. A technician might charge you around $100 to come out and look at it. A replacement that would be equivalent to what you have would start at over $1000 if you were to get a new one. How much you are willing to spend on it is up to you. Personally I wouldn't spend over $300 on repair on it, but if the alternative is getting a new one then your allowable budget may be higher. Hope that helps!

At 2:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Brian.

I have an Hp 1700, and now im consitering selling it but i dont know how much its value is today. I cant find it on the internet or anywhere else.

Best regards / Stefan


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