Robert Estrin - piano expert

Can You Play Expressively on a Portable Piano?

If you own or plan to own a piano keyboard, this video is for you.

In this video, Robert talks about "portable pianos," also known as "digital piano keyboards," by analyzing the Casio Privia PX-S1000 and S3000 keyboards. How much do they limit your expression? What are the main differences compared with a real piano, and what are their benefits?

Released on July 29, 2020

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hi, and welcome to, I am Robert Estrin. Today, I have an interesting subject for you. I've got an award-winning digital piano. Now, when I first saw the Casio Privia PX-S1000 and S5000 when it was first introduced to the NAMM Show, I knew I wanted to buy one for myself. Why? You might wonder. I've got all kinds of pianos. Over here, I've got the top-of-the-line Casio Grand Hybrid. Downstairs, I've got my beautiful Semi-Concert Grand Baldwin SF10. Why would I need this? Well, the thing is, this piano, take off four thumb screws, and you've got a 24-pound piano you can take with you anywhere. It'll even run on batteries. And the sound, I was blown away. The on-board speakers are really nice, and the action. I just love this piano.

As a matter of fact, I even got one for my daughter, because I think it's an ideal piano for a lot of folks. And it's only a few hundred bucks. How can you beat it? Well, first of all, they've been winning awards like crazy on these pianos, and it's really pretty remarkable. What's the difference between the 1000 and the 3000? Just more sounds and rhythms on the 3000, but you get the same action, the same speakers, the same high quality piano sounds on both. You also get the addition of a pitch bend wheel and a couple of controllers, continuous controllers, to get at the 700 sounds on here, which is massively more than you get on the 1000. But if you just want piano and keyboards, the 1000's a great choice, as well. So what else is on this piano? There's so much to love on this piano.

It's got Bluetooth, so you can use the speakers to stream music from your phone or anything else. You've got an incredible Chordana app. Now this app gets all the functions. You ever take a digital piano, and then you're trying to do splits, layers, you're trying to adjust the touch, you're just trying to get around on it, and you have a little screen, and it could drive you nuts? Well, on this, you just put an iPad, or you could put your phone, even an Android phone, and you get to all the functions right in front of you. It even has music education software built in. It's really pretty amazing.

There have been some questions about the action on this piano. And I think the action is stellar. And one of the things, the challenges, with any digital piano, is being able to fit an action in something. This is such a sleek cabinet, it's unbelievable how they fit an action in here. And so the question is, can you play expressively on this piano? And that's what this video is going to explore. If you want to know more about the Casio Privia PX-S 1000 and S3000, there's lots of great material on the internet. But, today, I'm going to focus in on, can you play expressively on these pianos?

And I'm going to play a little bit of Chopin that has all sorts of flourishes, and fast notes, and slow notes, and see if it's possible to get good control out of this keyboard, this digital piano. It's like a keyboard, except for the sound and the touch, as you'll hear. By the way, this is the beginning of Chopin's B-flat Minor Nocturne [piano playing]... So that's this little digital piano that you can take anywhere. There's even a backpack that you can pop this thing in. You could take this anywhere, to gigs, to friends, even if you want to go out to the park and play the piano. I can't think of anything more fun than this, a piano you can take anywhere.

So I'm interested in your opinion. Did you think that was expressive playing? Any of you who have these pianos at home, love to hear your comments from you. Again, I'm Robert Estrin, here at, your online piano resource. We'll see you next time.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Bill McClellan * VSM MEMBER * on July 30, 2020 @12:28 pm PST
Beautiful expression! Thank you.

My local piano store carries many acoustic pianos at all price points. They also carry portable digital pianos but almost all of those are Roland digitals. I'm guessing they carry this brand because they think that the touch of the weighted keys more closely matches the touch of an acoustic piano.

If a professional pianist only had access to a portable instrument do you think they would prefer a Roland digital or is the technology changing so fast that it's hard to tell which portable digital provides a touch that is closest to a good acoustic piano?
Robert - host, on July 30, 2020 @2:19 pm PST
Right now, the Casio PX S1000/3000 has unique capabilities not found by any other manufacture. However, Roland, Yamaha, Kawai and Casio all have formidable digital piano technology. None of these companies dominates in all categories of digital pianos and each of them are constantly coming out with new products. It's a buyer's market!
Meera Thadani on July 30, 2020 @9:46 am PST
Fantastic technology! Such a beautiful sound. Truly amazing. Thanks for the great review.
Robert - host, on July 30, 2020 @12:13 pm PST
I never would have believed how far digital pianos have come. To have an instrument with this quality of sound and action at this price point is so welcome! Decades ago when I was developing my private piano teaching, there was nothing out there in this price range except old upright pianos which required refurbishing. I moved my share of them to students. Now, you can carry a piano under each arm!
Ben Hundley * VSM MEMBER * on July 29, 2020 @5:54 am PST
Well played and well stated. I picked up an electronic keyboard online and had never experienced the weighted keys but the portability of the piano is really a plus if one wants to go into the park, good idea! Just witness to this pianist in New York lugging his Steinway around in public Here's a question however for you:
What is the best and easiest easy to share one's piano playing recordings whether it be digitally or on a concert grand? Since social distancing is the norm, it's easy to see how sharing online should be that much more appealing for pianists of all levels but mostly amateurish ones. What's better an audio recording on SoundCloud or a video on YouTube? I'm wondering which pianists prefer using most often.
Robert - host, on July 29, 2020 @12:08 pm PST
Where to share your music online comes down to what platform you have any followers on. For example, if you have a lot of Facebook friends, then that's the best place to post your music. As to whether audio or video is better is related to what you have available in regards to space and equipment. The single biggest challenge can be developing an audience to share with. From there, you can determine what you have to offer in regards to type of media.
Ben Hundley * VSM MEMBER * on July 29, 2020 @4:24 pm PST
That's good to know. I've tried fb, youtube, vimeo with varying results. Hard to say. YouTube would appear to be good if you have a large following already as a recording artist and vimeo has the best video quality seemingly. thanks
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