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Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby OldFather » 07 Dec 2017, 14:23

I am looking for an XMas present for my 18 year old daughter. We have a nice piano at home, she's at Uni, and I'm now looking for something transportable which won't take up a lot of space in her room!. It might get carted to a Gig, but I doubt it / not often.

Her primary discipline is Orchestral Percussion (predominantly keyboard percussion instruments), so Piano is more for de-stress and recreation, but she is pretty competent. My thought is to find the best piano-substitute that I can afford, both "touch" and "sound", and as such Synth and so on is not a requirement (well ... I don't think it is :) but I'm a very mediocre musician compared to my daughter).

So a 2nd hand, 5 year old, Nord Piano 88 is a 60% discount compared to a new Nord Piano 3. And I assume I do not even need to think about a Nord Stage.

I've listened to some comparisons of Nord vs. other brands, and to my ear I prefer the Nord. People speak highly of the Touch (of the Nord keys), so I've put it at the top of my list.

But I would appreciate your opinions, both in terms of whether I would lose outon something very desirable (by buying the old model), or whether I should be considering other Brands.
Last edited by OldFather on 07 Dec 2017, 17:01, edited 1 time in total.
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Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88


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Re: Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby lawman » 10 Dec 2017, 01:55

Great idea for a Christmas present, OldFather! Do stick with the 88-key units. Your daughter will also want the keys to be fully weighted (more like a traditional piano- forget the Stage models for that reason) and velocity sensitive (so that the harder she strikes them, the louder they sing). I'd be reluctant to buy a 5-year-old Piano 88 - the technology is noticeably outdated and the parts would just be waiting to fail. Instead, I'd look for a used Piano 2 - check the websites for Sweetwater, Musician's Friend, Guitar Center and Sam Ash. Nothing beats a Nord's piano sounds through headphones, but they are notoriously difficult to amplify well. (Having to always clamp on headphones, though, would be a drag and your daughter will want to be able to play through the air for her friends). Stay away from so-called "keyboard amplifiers" - they ruin a Nord's sound. My $650 Roland KC550 didn't like my Piano 3 at all, but it was acceptable for my Rhodes and Hammond portable organ. A much better option would be a pair of powered, shelf-sized monitored speakers in the 3.5"-5.0" size range. The Yamahas are especially good. In your price range, both Roland and Yamaha offer several units that sound good and have a nice touch. Personally, I'm impressed with the Yamaha MX88 ($1K) - it has a good touch and sound, and a lot of other sounds you can layer on top of, or side-to-side with, the piano sounds (think strings!). The Yam CP40 is also good, but a little more ($1400). I don't like the feel of the Korg or Kurzweil models as much. If possible, have your daughter try out some of the new units to see what she likes. If it were me, I'd probably go for the MX88, a pair of 3.5"-5.0" Yamaha monitors (don't skimp on the sound!), a pair of $80-$100 headphones, and a Z-Stand (the more popular X-Stands make it difficult to use the pedal). About $1600 total. (You might also have to pay $30 for a pedal) [Another option I haven't mentioned is a non-portable piano that looks like a small, skeletonized spinet (quite popular but not as cool) - there are several brands to choose from in your price range.] Good luck to you and your daughter. Having a cool keyboard at hand will encourage her to spend more time in her room!
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Re: Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby lawman » 10 Dec 2017, 02:53

OldFather, I must add one more thing. After you've decided what to buy, get it online from someone like Sweetwater or Musician's Friend and save the sales tax. Or, you can do what I did and get your local dealer to reduce your price so that what you pay, plus tax, equals what you could have bought the stuff for, tax-free, online. My guy was glad to do so and he'd obviously gone down that road before with others.
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Re: Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby Quai34 » 10 Dec 2017, 08:17

Why do you talk about sales taxes, there is some states in the USA that don't have sales tax?
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Re: Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby lawman » 10 Dec 2017, 09:36

Good point, Quai34. AK, DE, MT, NH and OR do not levy a state-wide sales tax. On the other hand, the other 45 states and the Dist. of Columbia do.
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Re: Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby OldFather » 10 Dec 2017, 22:56

lawman wrote:I'd be reluctant to buy a 5-year-old Piano 88


Thanks for your advice, it chimes with the research I've been doing :)

I've (also reluctantly!) decided to buy new. Given my daughter is still a student and likely to be many years before she can buy treats like this from surplus-cash it seems like a better bet to buy something with a 10 year life, or more. So top of my list is the Nord Piano 3 (not Stage). Looks like I can get 18 months 0% interest on new kit, so that makes it affordable for me.

lawman wrote:A much better option would be a pair of powered, shelf-sized monitored speakers in the 3.5"-5.0" size range


I had been researching speakers too and am tempted by JBL LSR305, the Yamaha HS5 work out at about 40% more over here.

lawman wrote:Personally, I'm impressed with the Yamaha MX88 ($1K) The Yam CP40 is also good ($1400)


I was chatting to a Pianist friend tonight. He's never tried the Nord, so that was no help!, but his preference was Yamaha or Roland, so I'll have a look at them too. He cautioned me to stay away from Synth and things with lots of non-Piano voices, and that was my plan, so I feel comfortable with that. i.e. Concentrate on a brand that has a quality keyboard and good feel, and good sampling of piano voices.

Of the YouTubes etc. that I have seen I have much preferred the sound of the Nord. That is both subjective, and also at the mercy of the quality of the original recordings, and the playback gear on my PC, but we made a similar choice when we bought the Piano - just listening to various instruments at the local Piano emporium :) and musicians who have visited over the years have liked it, so I'm happy to go with "That sounds nice to me" :)

lawman wrote:a Z-Stand (the more popular X-Stands make it difficult to use the pedal)


Useful info, thanks. Only snag I foresee is that she doesn't have much room in her bedsit. She may even put the keyboard on the long shelf-desk-thing, but when not in use it needs to "park" in as small a space as possible. Collapsible stand will be important.

lawman wrote:Another option I haven't mentioned is a non-portable piano that looks like a small, skeletonized spinet


Yup, I've seen pictures. Nice piece of furniture :) but fails the "fit in Uni bedsit" test I'm afraid.

We've got a spinet in the house (technically I think its a "square piano"), something my father bought in a junk shop nearly 60 years ago, it sat around for decades and then on a whim he had a cabinet maker restore it. It looks lovely, doesn't hold its tune for more than a few minutes!, and is pretty horrible to play ... sticking some Tech in it might be a kindness to it?!!

lawman wrote:save the sales tax


I'm in UK, so sadly I don't have that option. 20% sales tax baked into everything over here ...
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Re: Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby OldFather » 10 Dec 2017, 23:03

The Square Piano ... bit Low Tech for this forum ...

IMG_2571_SquarePiano.jpg
Square Piano
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Re: Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby lawman » 11 Dec 2017, 02:26

OldFather, I'm glad to hear that you're seriously considering a Piano 3. I love mine (Love It!) The acoustic piano sounds are gorgeous, especially through headphones. Also, your daughter will probably appreciate the Nord triple pedal, which can, among other things, replicate the thump-and-buzz of stomping the pedal energetically and also the soft sizzle of pedal release. You can also switch on String Resonance, the soft, full, spacey noise of all the strings vibrating when a note is played with the pedal down. Your friend is right to steer you also in the direction of Yamaha and Roland. For me, in fact, it was a close call between the NP3 and the Roland RD-2000, which is $500 less than the Nord though still pricey. Although others may disagree, my bottom-line opinion is that the NP3 and the RD-2000 are pretty much equal in terms of the quality of their touch, sound, and build, but I would give a small edge to the Roland's touch and to the Nord's sound. And there's also the Yamaha CP4 to consider. I haven't spent as much time with it but I was impressed nevertheless. The touch and sound are in the same general neighborhood as the Nord and the Roland (plus, I saw Christine McVie playing one on The Tonight Show recently!). Although you're not looking for non-piano sounds, the Nord and the Roland (and probably the Yamaha - I just don't know) have oodles of other sounds built in that you can use in conjuction with the piano sounds, like strings (!), orchestra, horns, choirs, vibraphones, marimbas, etc. If your daughter can play all three of these keyboards and pick the one she prefers, you cannot go wrong with any of them. Merry Christmas!
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Re: Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby OldFather » 11 Dec 2017, 03:28

Thanks. I've spent the evening surfing the internet, and of course I start to persuade myself that first one is better ... then another ...!

Some thoughts:

If she is going to put the keyboard to one side, and then get it back out again, having to hook up external speakers will be an annoyance. So built in speakers would be less hassle.

I was taken with the Yamaha P255, quite a bit cheaper than the others I considered, but apart from weight I think the winner might be the Roland FP90. Demonstrators speak very highly of the key action, and I could see that many of the added added features were worthy:

Connect pedal to iPad page-turner APP

Layer instrument (e.g. strings) with same instrument, but transposed an octave up for a richer (orchestral) sound.

Split keyboard (at any configurable point) with e.g. strings at the bass (e.g. for effect of a Double bass)

Good Bluetooth implementation - play a tune from Phone through Keyboard internal speakers (and jam along / whatever). The Demonstrator said "Play something from iTunes when you want to go to the bar in the middle of a gig" !!). Also Bluetooth "out" for MIDI to external software - lots less hassle than MIDI cables.

Support for dynamic microphone - not sure it would see that much use, but she does sing so could play & sing,a nd I'm sure there will be times when friends would like to sing

I also particularly liked the fact that there isn't so much "menu-diving". I did look at the RD-2000 but I think my daughter would find the amount of controls terrifying! She's not got a lot of patience, so something she can start using without any learning curve would be better. I have looked at lots of videos about the Nord, and although it has a lot of knobs and buttons they seemed really well laid out and straightforward to use, but the FP90 seems even less threatening.

But one downside is the weight - getting it out to play & putting it away again.
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Re: Nord Piano 3 vs. used secondhand Nord Piano 88

Postby lawman » 11 Dec 2017, 10:44

OldFather, I hope I'm not being too pushy about this, but I empathize mightily. You're right about the external speakers - in cramped quarters they'd be a nuisance and, at the very least, take up valuable shelf space. However, as I'm sure you know, there aren't a lot of units available with built-in amps/speakers. I can vouch for the Roland FP90. I looked at it before I bought my Nord Piano 3. The sound is good and the touch is very nice - the best in the store at the time I was looking. It has a clean look about it and you don't have to be an engineer to operate it. However, 52 pounds is just too much to be moving around on a regular basis, unless you're playing professionally. I have two 2 40-lb keyboards (NP3 and Hammond XK-3c) and if I had to physically pick them up and reposition them every time I played, I wouldn't play either one of them very much. The lighter Yamaha P255 seems to be a good keyboard as well, although I don't have any experience with one. Generally speaking, I have liked every Yamaha board I have ever played, and I do see Yamahas being used professionally, so those are good indicators. At 38 lbs, it is substantially and qualitatively more handy than the Roland. A keyboard that doesn't have to be man-handled all the time (sorry about the gender thing) is much more likely to be played and enjoyed. I say this somewhat reluctantly, for the Roland has a much bigger palette of sounds than the Yamaha (350 vs. 24), and a better amp system (two 25-watt amps/speakers vs. two 15-watters). Having said that, I think that those performance aspects of the Yamaha P255 are quite acceptable. Among its 24 available sounds, the Yamaha has 4 acoustic pianos, 4 electric pianos (Billy Joel!), 4 organs, 2 harpsicords (for old Johann Sebastion), STRINGS (an absolute must-have - how else can you play This Masquerade or Misty?), and some other stuff. As for the speakers, the Yamaha's are fine for a college room, and she can always pick up some external monitors in the future. Will she have a chance to test-drive these two instruments in advance? Either way, either one will be great for your daughter. Happy Shopping!
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