There is little doubt now that the future of the piano is going to be digital.
While there will always be a place for acoustic pianos, the lines between digital and acoustic are blurring more and more.
Just as in other areas of disruption, where digital has triumphed (and even become better than acoustic) eg. XYZ, the piano world is headed for a shake-up.
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CASIO CELVIANO GRAND HYBRID
This is Casio's first foray into hybrid pianos and is a new direction for a company that, until now, has focussed only on digital instruments (and watches, calculators, etc.).
Unlike Yamaha, who already produce both acoustic and digital pianos, Casio had no acoustic pianos in its catalogue from which to create a hybrid offering, so they partnered with C. Bechstein, the well-respected German acoustic piano manufacturers, in order to have the knowledge and skills to create the true hybrid experience.
C. Bechstein pianos were loved by Grieg, Scriabin, Debussy, Ravel and Bartok and the company has a long history of quality acoustic piano construction.
According to Casio, they were crucial in the creation of the Celviano hybrids, bringing all their acoustic piano expertise together with the technical wherewithal of Casio to create a phenomenal product.
WHAT IS IT?
This is a true grand piano hybrid with full grand piano action, spruce full-length keys and complete grand piano mechanism including weighted hammers, keybed, bushes - everything that you would expect to see in a grand piano action.
The only notable differences are that the hammers and some of the componentry is plastic (whereas this would be wood/felt in an acoustic) and, interestingly, there is no noticeable escapement 'bump' as you depress the key.
The hammers have been individually weighed from the bass to the treble to authentically replicate the different feel and weight of the different size hammers.
The removal of the escapement 'bump' was a conscious design decision the enables keys to be repeated even faster than humanly possible, and certainly faster than the traditional double-escapement mechanism of a grand piano.
While some people may notice this as a different feeling with playing, it's made absolutely no difference to my own playing and I wouldn't have even noticed it when I started playing!
MODELS & PRICING (AUD)
Casio are very cleverly positioning this at the entry-level of the hybrid market where hybrid pianos (eg. the AvantGrand models from Yamaha) can sell anywhere from $9,000 to $25,000 AUD.
Casio's GP500 is retailing at around $7,000 AUD here in the Australian market, clearly opening up a competitive price-point for teachers and students without the budget to stretch to the AvantGrand price points.
- Natural Grand Hammer Action Keyboard developed by C.Bechstein & Casio
- High-grade Austrian Spruce keys & key bed, key top materials, etc. made in C.Bechstein’s factory on their acoustic grand production line
- Real hammers
- All combine to be the same size, weight, and follow exactly the same path as a concert acoustic grand piano
SOUND, SPEAKERS AND AMPLIFICATION
- Grand Acoustic Sound System
- 6 x speakers, 2 amps
- Arrayed vertically (up/down) for acoustic grand piano soundboard-like experience and sound-field
- 3 x 9-foot grand pianos in one - Berlin grand, Hamburg Grand, Vienna Grand + another 32 other sounds (harpsichord, electric piano, more acoustic pianos, strings, etc.)
- Concert Play
- Scene Select
- Ability to open the "lid"
- Large, acoustic-piano size music rest holds large books comfortably
- Massive ability to vary sound, tone and touch response
- Dual headphones with split, so you could teach independent students with headphones on this one instrument
THINGS TO IMPROVE
- The headphone socket is in an awkward position up underneath the bass keys and takes some finding - this is something they could easily fix in a future release and is by no means a deal-breaker.
I think Casio has been really clever to position itself as the entry-level player in this market without compromising quality and I would happily use the Casio Celviano Grand Hybrid as the primary instrument in my studio.
There are many teachers (and definitely students) who simply wouldn't be able to spend upwards of $10K on a digital instrument (or acoustic for that matter) and at the $7K price point, I think they'll sell well.
Thanks to Shriro Australia LTD (distributor for Casio in Australia) for providing a demonstration model for review purposes. I was not compensated in any other way for this review and all views are my own.