Expression and sustain pedals

PSR-S500 Information and Advice

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Hamstersandwich
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Expression and sustain pedals

Unread post by Hamstersandwich » Sun Sep 21, 2014 11:26 am

Hi
I have PSR S550 as recommended by my children's keyboard teacher. It is a great keyboard and sounds lovely.

But.... now they have to have a keyboard that can have 2 pedals, the sustain and the expression.... assuming there is no magic adaptor that would do the job...

Can anyone recommend a keyboard that is similar to the one we have but can operate both pedals?

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parametric
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Re: Expression and sustain pedals

Unread post by parametric » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:35 pm

Hi Hampstersandwich . . . .

The real question here is whether the teacher is teaching them "Keyboard" or "Piano".

The fact that TWO pedals has been requested, suggests to me "Piano" . . . .

With two pedals, the RIGHT one is SUSTAIN - which you currently have (either FC-5, or (better) FC-4)
The LEFT pedal (where Pianos are concerned) is termed "Una Corda" (often referred to as the "soft" pedal)- and, like the sustain pedal, symbols for both are often written into Piano scores when required by the composer.

Most Pianos - Digital OR Real Acoustics (except really budget models) have in fact THREE pedals. In addition to the two mentioned above, there is a third BETWEEN the other two, which is called the "Sostenuto" pedal. Its use is somewhat rarer (IMO) and allows a chord to be sustained, whilst overplaying "staccato" notes - (i.e NOT sustained).

If "Piano" is the intention of the teacher, then the S500 is not the best choice (IMO) for a number of reasons.

1) The PSR has a "Synth" type keybed, which is "springy" and very unlike a Piano.
2) The keybed is 61 notes - which is shorter than a Piano, which are typically 88 notes.

My recommendation would be a Yamaha Clavinova.

Yamaha make a HUGE variety of these at prices ranging from "reasonable" to "expensive". The technical spec is "more or less" similar across the range, particularly the Piano-weighted,88-note KeyBed, and the presence of the three pedals, which are incorporated into the instrument (rather than being "loose" - to chase across the floor). Both, GOOD features. I'm fairly sure that a Headphone socket IS available on all Clavinovas - for "silent" practice.

The more expensive ones are more about the finish, though all are envisaged as being a "reasonable piece of furniture" as well as a functional "instrument".

I think there are TWO basic ranges - CVP and CLP - I can't recall the details, but some online searches or (better) a trip to a Yamaha Dealer should sort that out.

Learning Piano isn't everybody's cup of tea - so there is the possibility of ebay - for "used" purchase, though I WOULD recommend "ALWAYS try before you buy" with ANY keyboard.

[I've just looked on ebay (search "Yamaha Clavinova) and there are lots there from very cheap to quite expensive - It'd give you an idea what they look like - as well as showing what I mean about the pedals]

If possible, ask a pianist to try for you - teacher, perhaps?

Another issue may be the children themselves . . . . .

Having had the PSR-S550, and experienced its array of other sounds, the Clavinova may seem a disappointment in comparison.

It DOES have some other voices, but only about 10 or so . . . .

By all means, show this post to the teacher and discuss how you want to proceed . . . .

Hope that helps

parametric
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SysExJohn
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Re: Expression and sustain pedals

Unread post by SysExJohn » Sun Sep 21, 2014 5:41 pm

The PSR S550 does have a sustain pedal socket, as far as I can see, but no socket for expression. You need to purchase a Yamaha FC4 for sustain.
If it had a MIDI in socket there would be the possibility of connecting something that controlled expression.
With only USB it becomes very difficult.
If you like the Yamaha sounds and the general way of working then the next step up is not the S650 (which is equipped the same as the S550) but the S750, which has two pedal sockets.
But it's a big hike in price although a very much more capable keyboard.
The only thing might be to look for a used one, but check it very carefully before buying.

Then again you might be able to pick up a used Yamaha Tyros 1 or 2 for a good price.
As the Tyros 5 is not long out, the older machines have dropped in price.
The Tyros range has sockets for three pedals BTW.

As Chris says, a different approach is to look at the various Clavinovas, but they are electronic pianos with a very different feel to the keyboard.
The keys are 'weighted' rather than being soft to press like an organ or a synthesiser. A music teacher will tell you they're better for 'technique'.
But they don't have expression pedals either. Usually the same pedals as a piano.

Just a few random thoughts.
Good luck with your search.
John.
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Hamstersandwich
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Re: Expression and sustain pedals

Unread post by Hamstersandwich » Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:28 pm

Thank you so much for all your help and advice.... what a great site!!! :D

The children have keyboard lessons, as opposed to piano, the expression pedal is a new thing for Grade 4. Although not being a keyboarder I'm not sure what it's all about!!!

I am a bit annoyed about the whole situation as it was a keyboard I bought a few years ago as recommended by the teacher, with a deal made by them and the local music shop. It was a present from Father Christmas, and we bought an expression pedal as well (the shop never mentioned anything about not being able to use both pedals), and it was really expensive and a difficult decision to make. But knowing it would last them throughout their musical life it seemed a great purchase.

When I realised soon after Christmas that I couldn't use the expression pedal I was so so disappointed, I think I felt a bit silly as I had made the wrong decision. I couldn't take it back (how do you explain the returning of a present from F.C !!) and then the shop closed down so I was doubly scuppered.

They have enjoyed a good few years on a beautifully sounding instrument and I have never really thought much about the expression pedal until last week when my son's teacher said that really they need to think about upgrading their keyboards to be able to have this function (ARGH!).

So I am really stuck now with a great great keyboard, but actually I need something else.... and trying to search for keyboards with this function was really really hard.

So thank you so much for your advice and recommendations ... the 750 looks good.... I am going to speak to the teacher and ask if there is any financial help available with these purchases.. and maybe just accept that unfortunately I had bad advice (not deliberately) and I am going to have to bite the bullet and somehow find the cash to get a new one.... and maybe try and sell the one we have.

Thanks once again!!
:)

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Re: Expression and sustain pedals

Unread post by parametric » Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:57 pm

You're very welcome . . . it's kind of why we are here :D

Being "old-school" myself, I had "Piano" lessons - as these "keyboards" weren't around back then, so I don't have a "handle" on how "Keyboard" is taught.

Indeed, annoying that what was fine, seem to be no-longer, fine. Most of us indeed DON'T have limitless funds to keep buying new kit . . .

I would still ask about the Clavinovas - as I believe that learning to play "with expression" is best learnt (and easier "understood") with a Piano-weighted action, but that is just my opinion . . . . .

Used Clavinovas on ebay can be had at very reasonable prices, but don't discount the possibility of a trade-in deal through a store - although THAT will probably imply a NEW Clavinova . . . . .

ebay may be a good way to go BOTH to get a Clavinova (or whatever you decide) AND to sell the S550?

Best Regards

parametric
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SysExJohn
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Re: Expression and sustain pedals

Unread post by SysExJohn » Tue Sep 23, 2014 4:51 pm

My pleasure.

Oh! And whilst I think of it, take a look at the S710 and S910.
They're not current product line, having been fairly recently superseded by the 750 and 950.
Quite capable keyboards too, and with two pedal sockets.
Maybe not all the bells and whistles of the S750 or S950 but will certainly take 'keyboard' players several levels higher.
you may well find these at competitive used prices.

Kind regards,
John.
MIDI Tutor forum at http://midi-tutor.proboards.com/index.cgi.
UW500; 2xMU1000 + PLGs AN, DX, VL, VH & PF; SC8850; EWI4000s + VL70m; Samson Graphite 49.
AN1x, Novation X-Station 25. E-MU 02 cardbus + 1616m x 2. Sonar 7 PE. XGworks ST. & SQ01.
Garritan GPO4, COMB2, JABB3, IO, Organs, Steinway, World, Harps + GPO5.

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