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.

Jazz Piano

The last serious jazz piano I played was probably about 2-3 years ago.

That's about when I got my Hammond organ and started playing jazz organ.

Last week, when Lauren Schultz called me to play piano at her jazz gig, I was a little concerned.

Needing the money, I agreed to play for her.

Having not played jazz piano for some time, I was a bit nervous, you have to keep your left handing chording technique sharp, and on the organ, my left hand is busy playing bass lines.

I wasn't able to prepare much for the gig, partly because of a bit of avoidance around the prospect of playing piano again.

The day of the gig arrived. The prior evening I had babysat Michelle's 4 nieces so her family could visit her sister Noele in the hospital. That job wore me out, so that I didn't wake up on Saturday until the middle of the afternoon.

I got to the gig, it was a piano trio-bass, piano, drums with Lauren on vocals. She's a very talented jazz singer, she sings music from the 30s and 40s, good swing stuff.

Just before the gig, I was trying to run through some music on my own, but just wasn't feeling anything...just wanted to go home and go back to bedor whatever...just no playing.

So I went for a walk a prayed to have the desire to have the desire to play, I didn't even feel like trying.

After we started playing, it was pretty clear that my fellow musicians were impressed. So much so that I'm booked through the end of next month.

And actually I'm playing tonight, again with Lauren at Freda's Seafood Grille, starting at 6:30. Paul Klemperer will join us on sax.