If You Want the Best, This is It!
For the past year and a half I have been researching stage pianos, reading on-line reviews, watching You Tube videos, going to Guitar Center stores, and talking to other musicians about which instrument I was going to purchase. At this point in my career I wanted an instrument that would last for years with a solid and reliable build quality, the most realistic acoustic and electric piano sounds currently available, something that I wouldn’t be disappointed with in six months, an ax that I could take to gigs and use at home with pride and excitement.
I checked out all of the workstations and “upper end” stage pianos, and I narrowed my search down to three options: Roland V-Piano; Nord Piano; Yamaha CP1 Stage Piano. With the help of Luke, my Sweetwater sales rep, I settled on the CP1. In fact Luke and I traded several lengthy e-mails and a couple of phone calls making sure I got this purchase right. When you get to this level of instruments, the best available, it’s an expensive decision and you don’t want to make the wrong choice.
After two weeks working with the CP1, here is what I have to offer prospective buyers:
1) Acoustic Pianos (Bank A, 16 Sounds)
The CP1 comes with a 9’ Yamaha Concert Grand sampled with Yamaha’s new modeling technology and the 6’ 9” Concert Grand. Both of these come in several variations including a rock piano, lounge pianos that are a little darker in color and pianos that have various effects on them such as the 6’9” piano with chorus effect. These are absolutely stunning in beauty and real piano nuance. Also on Bank A are 3 versions of the 1980’s Yamaha CP80 and 88. Again, this recreation is beautifully nuanced and quite useful when layered with some of the other piano sounds in the instrument. Closing out Bank A is four versions of the Yamaha DX7. Something I would probably not use by itself, but when layered with other sounds these can really add depth and punch.
Any piano in the instrument can be layered with another sound. In fact, Yamaha has already layered each piano with a companion, and all you have do is push a button. If you don’t like the layered combinations that Yamaha has assembled, then you can change/create your own layers. For a jazz pianist such as me, this opens up incredible sound combinations and sound pallets. If you want a grand piano with a Rhodes, if you want a chorus CP80 with a DX7, if you want a bell Rhodes with a Wurlitzer, and so on and so forth, you can do that with no problem.
2) Electric Pianos (Bank B, 16 Sounds)
There are several electric pianos including 71, 73, 75 and 78 model Rhodes sounds. All of these have several variations, some with chorus or flange, and some with different EQ settings etc. The last four electric pianos in Bank B are Wurlitzer pianos. Some of the electric pianos are dark and punchy, some have the bell and tine click, and all of them can be modified and saved to a different user bank. Most of them are quite good, and with a little tweaking, the electric pianos in this thing can be world class. Yeah, they are that good.
The 16 Presets on Banks A, B and C, cannot be altered or changed. However if you tweak out a piano or change something and you want to save it, you can dump that sound to the User Bank A, B, or C. In other words you have 3 unchangeable banks of 16 Yamaha Presets, and you have 3 user banks of your own presets. This gives you a total of 96 available pianos. Basically you can have any piano that you have ever loved or liked in several combinations.
3) Piano Layers and Splits (Bank C, 16 Sounds)
I love Bank C, for Yamaha has created 16 pre layered and split pianos to work with, and some of their combinations are stunning. There’s a Latin piano that has both the 9’ and the 6’ 9” grand pianos layered at different octaves, and that gives you huge sound. Some of the splits are very useful, and you can create your own splits and change the octaves of the pianos so that the LH split is up an octave allowing you to comp chords with the LH while soloing with the RH.
Each and every parameter of sound can be modified simply with the press of a few buttons. There are pre-amp, effect modulation, amplifier, and reverb and EQ buttons. Simply push one, and you can instantly change one of six parameters with the knobs below the screen. And there are easily accessible pages of menus to go into to tweak to your heart’s desire. It’s easy to change sounds, and then save them to your User bank A, B, or C.
4) Keyboard Touch, User Friendliness and Build Quality
Every piano has a dedicated button, no fumbling with menus and scrolling through options. The build quality of this ax is second to none, it’s fantastic. The touch/action is a joy to play with every kind of dynamic range possible, for a pianist this action is spot on and rapid repeated notes with alternating fingers is no problem. Big chords, subtle passage work, trills, runs and pianistic damper and sostenuto pedal functions are wonderful. The heavy duty triple pedal works just like a grand piano and feels great under your feet. The wooden keys feel expressive and solid. And, Yamaha has just released this newer version which includes pedal resonance!
When you buy top of the line, it’s expensive. And this is no different. But you get what you pay for, and if you’re a musician that wants the very best in stage piano technology, then this is an instrument at the top of the list. Thanks again Luke, and now I just have to figure out what board to put on top of this for the best keyboard rig on the planet. Trust me, you won’t be sorry with this purchase.