- Stage piano
A stage piano is an electronic keyboard designed for use in live onstage performances by professional musicians. While stage pianos share some of the same features as
digital pianos designed for in-home use and electronic synthesizers, they have a number of features which set them apart. Stage pianos usually provide a small number of sounds (acoustic piano, electric piano, and Hammond organ) in a rugged case.
Controls and features
Stage pianos usually have a smaller selection of voices than digital electronic keyboards and synthesizers. Instead of the hundreds of voices and complex oscillator controls available on a high-end, professional synthesizer, they often have only a few voices, typically acoustic
piano, electric piano, and Hammond organ. As well, instead of scrolling through the on-screen menus used on synthesizers, stage pianos are usually controlled with knobs and buttons.
Stage pianos differ from inexpensive home digital keyboards such as the Casio CTK-533 in a number of ways. Home digital keyboards such as the Casio CTK-533 provide a hundred voices, ranging from imitation electric piano and flute sounds to buzzy synth-style sounds. However, the imitation sounds are created by relatively simple synthesis methods, rather than by sampling or complex Digital Signal Processing-modelling, as in the case of a high-end stage piano. This means that the sound quality of the Casio CTK-533 voices are not suitable for a professional performance.
Stage pianos often have a heavier, more robust body, which is better able to withstand the stress of heavy touring. Unlike digital pianos designed for home use, they do not have a fixed stand or fixed sustain pedals. Instead, they are designed to be used with a separate portable stand and portable sustain pedals.
While almost all digital pianos and lower-end synthesizers designed for home use have small onboard powered speakers, stage pianos are often designed without onboard speakers; instead, they are designed to be used with external amplification. While small, low-powered amplified speakers may be appropriate for in-home use, they cannot provide sufficient power for on-stage monitoring in rock and jazz performance settings. While most onboard powered speakers produce between 10 and 30 watts per speaker, a typical professional keyboard amplifier will produce over 300 watts. Nevertheless, some stage pianos, such as the
Yamaha P-250, do have onboard powered speakers.
Most stage pianos provide a recreation of the electro-mechanical electric pianos that were based on amplifying the sound of a metal tine, reed or string hit by a hammer, such as the
Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer200A or Yamaha CP-70/CP-80 series. Instead of using tines or strings, stage pianos reproduce sound electronically by the use of sampled or digitally modelled sounds. They usually have MIDIinterfaces to permit them to be used as master keyboards, which can control other tone-generating modules, such as Hammond organ-emulators or synthesizer string modules.
Most digital stage pianos have
weighted keysor semi-weighted keys. Fully weighted keys are designed to replicate the weight and playing action of acoustic piano hammer-action keys. Semi-weighted keys save weight, which is an important consideration for a mobile stage piano. Stage pianos usually have 88 keys, which is standard for all modern acoustic pianos. However, some stage pianos have fewer keys, such as the Kurzweil SP76. It has only 76 semi-weighted keys, but is still called a stage piano because of its layout and weighted keys.
While the sounds or "voices" available on stage pianos is often wider than that of a digital piano designed for home use, stage pianos have far fewer voices than a typical electronic synthesizer. Stage pianos usually have a smaller selection of voices, typically acoustic
piano, electric piano, Hammond organ, and a few others. Some stage pianos also provide a few basic synthesizer functions, to enable performers to play accompaniment "pads" or synth "leads."
Clavia Nord Stage: produces organ, piano and synthesizer sounds. It comes with either 88 or 76 keys, or a lighter-weight model with semi-weighted keys.
Kurzweil SP88X: This stage pianos has 76- and 88-key semi-weighted action models, and an 88-note fully weighted action model. Its sounds include grand piano, electric piano, various Hammond-organ sounds, and synthesizer string sounds.
Roland RD-700: contains stereo sampled piano sounds. It is designed for live use, and the operation panel includes the most used functions to avoid having to navigate with on-screen menus.
Yamaha P-250: a digital stage piano designed for professional live performance or for use as a studio instrument. It includes grand piano stereo samples, 88-key Graded Hammer (GH) action, MIDI-controller capability, and on-board powered speakers.
Yamaha CP33: this series of stage piano was first introduced in 1976. It has an 88-key Graded Hammer keyboard, 28 other voices, and MIDI master keyboard controller capability.
M-AudioProKeys 88: this digital stage piano has 88 hammer-action keys, a stereo grand piano sound, 14 other instrument sounds, and MIDI controller functionality.
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