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They advertise the new Roland piano, the FP-7F as one of the most affordable models out there in a full stage piano to feature “escapement”. It’s a top-of-the-line feature, and most pianists will pay a lot for it. What exactly is escapement, anyway? And why is it such a bargain to have it on the $1900 piano that the FP-7F is?
Here’s what escapement does. What exactly happens when you press a piano key? For the instant that you press the key, a damper the lifts off the strings so that they can vibrate freely, and then the hammer briefly hammers on the strings to cause them to vibrate. If you were to design a really simple piano, there would be solid contact between every key and its hammer. That way, the hammer would be in touch with the strings for as long as you kept the keys pressed. But that isn’t a good idea. If the hammer were to be always in contact with the strings, the strings would never vibrate freely. The hammer has to just hit the strings and then fall away. Put simply, that is what escapement is. It is a way for the key to cause the strings to be struck once and to escape immediately.
The modern Roland piano simulates the whole escapement feel, admirably. How exactly do you feel escapement on a real piano? About two-thirds of the way down pressing a key, there is a point where there is a sudden bit of resistance on real pianos. The modern Roland piano, models such as the FP-7F, beautifully simulate the pressure point that real escapement on a real piano brings. It’s just a further step along in the evolution of the digital piano that helps it edge ever closer to an acoustic piano in feel.
It used to be that escapement pianos cost thousands of dollars. You could often just go out and buy a real piano for the money. These days though, models such as the FP-7F offer unbelievable value. All the realistic keyboard feel wouldn’t really matter much though if the onboard sounds weren’t realistic enough that you could take advantage of the keyboard. Luckily, the FP 7S Roland piano comes with Roland’s new SuperNATURAL piano processor for expressive sound. It has a great built-in harmony engine that comes from Roland’s BOSS heritage too. What exactly does a harmony engine do on a piano, you ask?
The FP-7F comes with a microphone input to help you sing into the piano. You sing, and you make use of three different kinds of vocal harmony to process your voice with. You can play the chord you wish on the piano, and the piano will use the chord to create a harmony effect that you wish in your singing. The onboard speaker system sounds great, and let’s not forget that the keyboard has a great ivory feel. All in all, this Roland piano is a near-perfect package that should carry the digital pianists through satisfactorily for a number of years.