As a child, I never really appreciated the piano lessons my mother painstakingly drove me to and paid for. And after high school I stopped all together. Even though I never really played again apparently I’m a piano snob. I found that I turned my nose up against keyboards. Having grown up with a piano I like the solid feel of the keys beneath my fingers, not the airy feel that keyboard keys tend to give.
One weekend I was at my parents house passing time, no one was home, and the internet was on the fritz…again. So I decided to take out my dusty music books from the piano bench and play a diddle or two on the piano. Before I knew it I was happily still able to sight read some old songs and played away on the baby grand ivories. Thoughts of having a real piano where I lived were not to become reality any time soon. Boston apartments don’t really allow for heavy, large musical instruments, especially not the likes of a baby grand.
Just this past weekend, after guests had departed from a large party my parents threw at their house, my cousin and I played some tunes on the piano again. This time the bug caught bad. I was happy when I played. I wanted to have a piano, but I couldn’t. Ugh. The Catch-22. Someone then told me that there were keyboards that had 88 weighted keys that felt like a piano. I said, “No waaaay!” So on to the internet I went and lo and behold! There they were, full size keyboards with weighted keys!
Brands from Casio, Kurzweil, Akai, Yamaha, etc. with price ranges from $400 to $1200 and more. Obviously I am on a strict budget so I decided to check out the low end Casio CDP 100 Digital Piano. All the reviews that I did read from other musicians and pianists said that it was a really good piano keyboard for the price. It felt like a real baby grand piano and the sound was pretty realistic.
Then I looked up a YouTube demo of the CDP-100 and was hooked. I was determined to buy it the next day. Unfortunately, that day was Sunday, which meant I had to wait until noon to get my new toy from Guitar Center. While I waited I passed time looking through Craiglist to see what was available. Someone was selling a used CDP-100 for $50 off retail. I emailed them with a lower price and was told I could come see it at 5pm. Ugh! That pushed the time back for my new toy very close to closing time for Guitar Center if I didn’t like the used one.
Finally noon came and I called Guitar Center. The Boston store had no stock, but they said the Natick store did. So I called up there and was told there were no 100s, but the Casio CDP-120s were in. Same price as the 100. The upgraded Casio CDP-120 is now USB plug and play, has 48 polyphony (the 100 has 32), Transpose functions, Touch function, Tune function, Keyboard Channel, Local Control function and the tone is improved. Everything else is more or less the same: 5 demo samples of each of the pianos (Grand Piano 1, Grand Piano 2, Electronic Piano, Harpischord, and Strings), speakers, damper pedal, music stand, Reverb function, and Chorus function. There is no metronome function for the 120 or the 100.
Five o’clock came…and went, and I never heard back from the CL poster. Which was fine by me, I wanted the newer piano keyboard anyway. Off to Natick we went. There was a floor sample of the Casio CDP-120 and I pinged around on it. It felt very nice and sounded very nice. The speakers were good too. For some reason I thought I had to get external speakers for it [lol don’t ask me why! :)] So I was happy to find out that I didn’t need to. I purchased the digital keyboard and a couple of books: ‘Alfred’s Self-Teaching Adult Piano Course’ and ‘Alfred’s Essentials of Music Theory A Complete Self-Study Course for all Musicians’. The latter I bought because I know it is my weakness and I thought it would help me improve my music theory. Both books come with CDs. I may review the books at a later date.
Once home the piano was set up on the desk in the office. (I have since purchased a keyboard stand a la Craigslist! ) Or you can buy the Casio CDP-120 stand online. The manual is fairly simple. Some of the new functions of the keyboard are for when it is connected to the computer: Keyboard Channel and Local Function. I have not used these functions as of yet so cannot comment on them.
I can however go through all the buttons and their functions:
Volume control knob on the top.
From Left to Right:
Demo/Function button: plays five demo songs for each type of piano and strings. Beautiful to listen to! Holding the Demo button and pressing any of the assigned black or white keys activate another function of the keyboard: Touch, Tune, Reverb, etc.
Grand Piano 1: The original sound and default.
Grand Piano 2: To me, it just sounds like a softer/muffled version of the Grand Piano 1.
Harpischord: Whenever I hear this I think silent movies or a joke or even the Addams Family. It makes me smile, but I can’t take this sound too seriously.
Strings: Beautiful sound for accompaniment.
You are also able to play two sounds at the same time when you press both of the buttons of the sounds you want to hear at the same time. My favorite is Grand Piano 1 with the Strings. It is a beautiful, full sound. You can go back to single mode by just pressing one sound button.
Starting from two octaves down from middle C begins the additional functions of the keyboard activated by pressing the Demo/Function button and the appropriate white or black key.
Touch Response: From the low two octave C to D# activates how sensitive you want the keys to be to your playing.
Off: All volume is fixed regardless of how light or hard you press
1 (default): Touch response is normal to a real piano
2: More sensitive to touch
3: Less sensitive to touch
Tune Function: From F to F# can fine tune your keyboard to adjust to other musical instruments you may be playing with.
Transpose Function: From G to G# changes the pitch in semitone steps. Range is +/-12 semitones. Default setting is 0.
Reverb Function: From C to A# adds a longer duration of reverb to notes without the damper pedal.
Chorus Function: From middle C to F “adds depth and breadth to notes”. It makes it sound like there are multiple instruments.
The next two functions are specifically when the keyboard is plugged into the computer. The minimum computer requirements as stated in the manual:
OS: Windows XP (SP2 or late), Vista, 7, Mac OSx (10.39,10.4.11,10.5.8 or later, 10.6.6 or later). The XP has to be Home Edition or Professional (32-bit); Vista (32-bit); and 7 (32 or 64-bit).
Keyboard Channel Function: G to G#. Sends Digital Piano date to the computer. Channels range from 1 to 16. Default channel is 1.
Local Control: A to A# controls whether you want the Digital Piano to sounds notes on the keyboard when exchanging date with the computer.
PROS: The Casio CDP-120 is compact, light (25lbs-ish), sounds and feels like a real piano, and there is no need for tuning!…Ever! You can play as loud as you want (with headphones) and not bother your house mates or neighbors. The CDP-120 is also great for beginners, students, and intermediate players.
CONS: The standard damper pedal slides around under foot…and yeah, that’s all I got for cons.
To circumvent the damper pedal issue, I received the Casio SP-20 Piano Style Sustain Pedal as a gift to use as a more traditional style damper pedal. It looks and feels more like a real damper pedal from a piano than the blocky one that comes standard with the keyboard.
How do I wrap this up? The Casio CDP-120 88 Weighted-Key Digital Piano (Standard) is a combination of the best of both worlds. You can have the sound and feel of a big piano that will not take up a lot of room in your apartment in a compact, portable and affordable package. It’s grand! LOL Yeah, I had to go there! Groan all you like!
E Rating (1 E= meh, 5 Es = Eenae Endorsed): EEEEE.
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