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I have a 2 years old Yamaha YDP 163, and it is very hard to play on it. I did the coin test, and it was around 100g on middle C, around 80g in the higher range, and 120-150g in the lower range. Compared to an acoustic piano it is very strange and nearly impossible to do fast or piano, soft pieces on it.

Are Yamahas really bad like mine, or is it just mine's problem? What should I do?

  • According to this site, "down weight has very little to do with how the piano feels to the pianist when it is played" boddinpianoservice.be/PTDen.htm That said, I tested my Yamaha Silent upright and its initial down weight was around 55 grams around middle C ... are you sure you got those grams right, and there's no error by a factor of 2 or something? – piiperi Reinstate Monica May 26 '19 at 16:14
  • Yes, I'm sure, the weights are right. – Mart May 27 '19 at 4:42
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There are several movements which can go into playing a key; forward shifting, forearm rotation, grouping of fingers and arm weight.

Drop your hand on a chord, any three notes. Notice that you are not really playing from the fingers but more the fulcrum of the elbow. You may not really notice it because we all eventually minimize the correct motions for efficiency.

When you play individual notes with your fingers, they should still come from the weight of the arm - the fulcrum of the elbow or gravity. This also requires you to adjust your elbow/forearm so that each finger you are using aligns behind the arm. That is why your two and three are naturally strong because they are right behind the arm. So is the four and five if you make the adjustment.

There are a lot of movements which can rob you of power. If there is a twist in your wrist you will lose power. Likewise if you abduct your fingers, then you lose the alignment of the forearm. Since each finger is a different length, in order to play on the edge of the keys where they are lightest, you need to have in/out motions. Playing black keys, you need to forward shift on top of them so, you need the up/down motion of your arm or, gravity/arm weight. Remember from HS physics, every motion must have an equal and opposite motion. In order to play down on a piano there must first be an up somewhere.

In order to play with power and a relaxed hand, there needs to be a lot of parts actively engaged, just not the ones most of us are taught to use. Your fingers don't have any muscles so the key is learning which muscles we actually need to use to play. If you play from the fingers, you risk straining your long flexor tendons and that ain't good. I know, I had it bad. I had to re-learn how to play and fifteen years later I am still eradicating bad habits from old repertoire.

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  • It's not about my playing technique, there is no problem when I play on acoustic piano. – Mart May 27 '19 at 4:43
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I had a similar issue with my Clavinova CLP-535, about 3 years after I started learning. I measured the down weights at 80g after getting aches a little too often. I spoke with Yamaha Support and a Yamaha repair service man who renewed the contact strip. Yamaha said the 80g down weight was within spec and changing it wasn't covered by the warranty. The repairer said changing down weight takes hours of work (i.e. expensive) and needs some parts. He couldn't be certain he'd get the desired results but could give it a go. You can adjust the sensitivity so that slower key presses play louder. But that doesn't make the keys lighter under the hands.

I came to the conclusion I had outgrown the piano a bit earlier than I expected. It would be worth nothing if adjusting keyboard down-weights went wrong. The piano wasn't that expensive compared to other digital pianos. Yamaha had made a good cost-effective design, albeit a compromise on real piano actions. It would surely suit someone else. So, I would be wasting my money. Yamaha has more expensive (about £9000 last time I looked) models for more discerning player. These have real piano actions, motion sensors, lots of speakers and nice wood. They weight as much as an acoustic upright I think. But too expensive for me.

In the end, and after trying a lot of good makes, I bought a different (pro) stage piano that has a (slightly shortened) grand piano action. Keys are setup for 50g down weight. It feels and sounds great and will last me many years, but wasn't cheap. The slab is big to accommodate the long keys and the slab weighs 40kg! without the 6kg gig bag and pedal unit. I can only just lift the piano (piano slab, pedal unit and posh gig bag) into and out of my little car. So it stays in one place most of the time.

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