I am a pretty serious piano snob so a lot of people have been surprised that I bought a Yamaha Clavinova about 6 months back. I came to this conclusion because I live in an apartment and I sometimes like to wake up at 3AM and play my little heart out. When I used to do this with my (very loud and very awesome) baby grand it resulted in nasty phone calls making me feel I was doing something bad when I was making music which is supposed to be making me feel good. Musical bad mojo is hard to shake and is to be avoided in my opinion. Once again, just like my high school guidance counselor warned me, life is all about trade offs and here I had to make an important one. I decided that I was willing to give up a certain amount of ‘piano-ness’ in order to retain the freedom to play whenever I want. There are others who would say that they would NEVER have purchased a digital piano over an acoustic but my guess is most of these people don’t actually play a lot of piano at 3AM nor do they live in an apartment. It is easy to to have rigid idealistic beliefs when you are not in the trenches. I have not regretted this decision one bit and it turns out the trade-offs were minor. The Clavinova is not an acoustic piano but it is damn close. To put it in terms we can all understand, the Clavinova is not that sad inflatable sex doll that Hopper drags around in Blue Velvet. No this is a true Cylon – a piece of technology that can actually ‘pass’ for the real thing in many applications including recording. It feels very good to play, is always perfectly in tune and I can play with headphones on at a satisfying volume any time I want. …and I do. So take that Mrs Ratouche in 1C! You, Madame, will no longer hamper my musical creativity you intolerant music-hating nightsleeper! Frankly, I pity you.
There are a lot of models of Clavinovas out there. The number of models is actually ridiculously confusing and seems rather excessive but Yamaha must know what they are doing. I ended up going with the CLP-240 which is a mid-level model that has the good piano touch and nice speakers without a lot of extra features like tons of silly sounds, room character-sensing digital effects and cruise control. Highly recommended.