Saturday, May 05, 2007

Yamaha P90- A New Piano!

In 1993, after moving to Austin, I was wanting to buy a piano that would be an appropriate choice for playing which would not disturb my neighbors, as well as something that could be interfaced with a computer music workstation, while being able to be moved easily.

Not having a lot of cash on hand, I also wanted something that could be financed.

At that time, professional music stores were not offering credit on instruments, so I went to a store that specialized in the home piano market, mainly selling digital pianos that doubled as furniture and as music instruments.

I ended up getting the Roland HP 1700. At the time, Roland had the best action and sound, and they still do. You can read more about that piano here, but it has been a very good instrument for me lo these many years. I turned it into a road warrior in every sense of the word and it shows its battle scars well.

Friday night I was playing with Austin jazz vocalist Lauren Schultz in Marble Falls, and 30 minutes before the gig was over, the HP quit transmitting sound. I tried switching cables, and tried plugging into the band PA instead of my own, and even tried running a line out of the headphone jack, but no sound would come out. I contacted Stan Jones, the best organ and electric instument repairman in Texas, and we couldn't make any further progress over the phone.

Playing a gig the next night as well, I needed a new rig quickly. That morning, after checking Craigslist for some good deals and finding nothing, I was out the door and on my way to do some piano shopping.

Still having no expendable cash, the choices came down to a Yamaha P70 and a Casio Priva. Something funky was happening on the Yamaha-it seemed the sound was getting clipped as I played it, particularly in the execution of linear jazz style runs. As much as Casio's reputation among professionals has been negative, it became really clear to me that the Priva was the way to go. The keys felt better weighted, and the sound was much more alive.

I was disappointed that Yamaha has long since replaced the P80 with the P90, which runs about $1000. The P80 weighed in a bit less than that during its tenure. With its improved samples, the P90 would have been the obvious choice for me, but I just didn't have that kind of money. I took the Casio, hoping I might grow to love it more, because it really is a good piano. Even better that Guitar Center had a floor model Priva that had an even better discount.

I had just gotten home with the Priva when I got a call from Josiah, my editor from B3 Player Magazine. Since he is up-to-date on modern music instrument technology, I asked him what he thought of the situation. If I could I'd be moving around a real piano just like I used to move my own Hammond organ, but I don't know how to tune those things and my back won't have it.

Josiah asked me to consider purchasing his P90 including the nice factory case for $600.

Since Guitar Center is gracious with their return policy, I promptly returned the Priva and I now have the P90.

I was really looking forward to playing it tonight with Lauren, but unfortunately the gig was cancelled due to weather and other issues.

More on that later.


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