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Old 10th November 2002, 12:34 PM   #1
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Default DIY MIDI keyboard

I have been away from this some time and look what happened....

I recently got the idea to make a bit more music myself. As I can only play keyboard intruments and I want to be able to move my instrument alone, a midi keyboard came to mind. The last requirement is essential: an upright piano or electronic organ is not portable enough, got both and you definitly need at least 3 people to move those and a large van.

So I started with the idea to make it myself. Biggest problem are the mechanics. How do you make a keyboard? I have seen an organ builder do it, but this is out of my leage, I need it in a few months, not years and a woodworking course later.

Played a bit with the idea of geting hold of a defunct piano and midifying the keyboard after sawing/hacking away the not needed bits.

What I need:

- portable
- good touch, it needs to resemble a piano, but Steinway (TM) class is not essential
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Old 11th November 2002, 12:20 PM   #2
Schaef is offline Schaef  United States
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Depending upon how realistic you want it to look, you could remove the internal bits from a piano, including the keyboard. Then, make a platform where the keyboard was, and install a new electronic keyboard. I've seen this done at the "dueling piano" style bars. From the audience, it looks like they're playing real pianos, its not until you get up close and look at the keyboard do you realize they're fake. (Or sit close enough to realize you only hear keyboards through the P.A. and not from the pianos themselves)

If you want to use the existing keyboard and modify it to use electronics instead of the hammers on strings, I'd have to think more....
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Old 11th November 2002, 02:09 PM   #3
JBL is offline JBL  Canada
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That would be a very big project.

Imagine all the electronic and mechanic involved. Hope that you don't want touch response.

I don't say that this project can't be done but it's going to be hard. And I think that a new korg triton ius going to be less expesive than building a keyboard yourself.
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Old 12th November 2002, 03:18 PM   #4
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Scheaf: it's your second one I want. Re-use a defunct piano keyboard. Not modify a piano to take a synth.

JBL: No, it does not have to be. The goal is only a slimed down master keyboard. There need to be no sound generation on board.

This brings down mechanics to attaching some kind of switches to the hammers (or somewhere else). Thats why I want to re-use exsisting mechanics, I can't make those myself.

Aftertouch will indeed be next to impossible. But who knows, that's why we tackle this with the power of the numbers. Most of the electronics have already been done before so that would be up to the maker to decide wich way to go. Or it could be done again here, but that is definitely for later on.

HAs anyone ever got the possibility to play (mess) around with an "unusable" piano keyboard?
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Old 12th November 2002, 06:29 PM   #5
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JBL is right. This is one of those projects that just doesn't make sense to DIY. Making a keyboard with an acceptable response and feel, especially a piano style weighted one, is a serious pain no matter how you slice it. AFAIK, Roland and Yamaha are the only companies that actually make their own. Everyone else OEMs from Fatar.

Repurposing a old piano keyboard probably wouldn't work very well anyway. There's a lot more to it than ripping out the keys, because the way a piano action works mechanically is very different from a keyboard controller. To retain any semblance of the feel, you would have to retain the hammer mechanisim. If you feel you can deal with the resulting beast, then you would have to devise a good method of measuring velocity, and program a controller to turn this into MIDI, as this is not a feature of most cheap DIY MIDI controller projects.

This project will definetly cost more than the $350 or so a used Fatar will run you.

If you DO make it work, please post pictures so I can be REALLY IMPRESSED!
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Old 13th November 2002, 02:34 PM   #6
Schaef is offline Schaef  United States
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Now I understand... You want the feel of a real piano keyboard, so you want to take the keyboard out of a real piano and put it in something close to a synth case, right? Now, that's completely different...

How complicated do you want to go? I just had some pretty bizarre thoughts as to ways of doing this, but you would end up with something pretty clunky.... (It involves keeping the hammers with the keys, and adding a whole bunch of piezo elements) At the bare minimum, you'd need a microcontroller to convert the keys into MIDI events, as others have stated, so you'd be looking at some type of programmer board in addition to the controller. (getting more expensive now)

Depending on how much you want to spend, and how clunky you're willing to live with, it'd be do-able... My idea might even be do-able without the hammers, but using something under the keys themselves. (This would also actually give you touch-sensitivity, I think) But, I don't think it would be easy....
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Old 13th November 2002, 03:04 PM   #7
JBL is offline JBL  Canada
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I never saw a keyboard with the feeling of a real piano. The keyboard will always lach the inertia of a real piano key. So the key will always be easier to press and will not have that small kickback the piano have.

Altought thet if you make one, sell it to keyboard manufacturer.

Big project indeed.

Even if you keep the same key of the piano I d'ont think that it would be possible.
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Old 13th November 2002, 03:19 PM   #8
bob4 is offline bob4  Germany
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Hi all,


Quote:
Originally posted by JBL
I never saw a keyboard with the feeling of a real piano. The keyboard will always lach the inertia of a real piano key. So the key will always be easier to press and will not have that small kickback the piano have.
keeping the whole mechanic construction of course keeps "the feeling of a real piano".
But the sound won't improve, you would at least have to find a way of generating velocity-messages to control the attack (when using MIDI).

cheers,

bob
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Old 13th November 2002, 03:28 PM   #9
JBL is offline JBL  Canada
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You need to keep everything, including the string to get the same feeling. That defeat the point of making a midi keyboard if the piano is still making sound. Could still try to put magnetic pickup on every string.
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Old 13th November 2002, 05:49 PM   #10
bob4 is offline bob4  Germany
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Red face strings or no strings?

Hi JBL,


Quote:
Originally posted by JBL
You need to keep everything, including the string to get the same feeling.
Are you sure? I don't think that the whole touch would be lost only by not using strings. I don't know exactly how it works, but I think the main factor influencing the feeling is definitely the mechanical system.

Quote:
Originally posted by JBL
Could still try to put magnetic pickup on every string.
Yeah, like a Fender Rhodes- but the "strings", if you can call them strings, are a bit different though....

cheers,

bob
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