AN acoustic piano is a delicate and cumbersome instrument, requiring proper attention and maintenance to be at its tonal and playable best over the years, or its quality will deteriorate. Which is why digital pianos are popular with both professional and amateurs who dabble occasionally in the privacy of their home. These electronic instruments are more easily transportable for gigs, and don’t need a specialist to keep them in tune.
Japan’s Roland Corporation made its first “electronic” piano with touch sensitive keys, the EP-30, in 1974, two years after the company came into existence; in 1986, it introduced the world’s first digital piano, the RD-1000, which gained traction with many well-known artistes. Along the way, digital pianos also found their way into homes due to their convenience and increasingly realistic simulation of the acoustic instrument’s tone and touch.
Roland’s latest digital piano offering in Malaysia is the 88-key RP302, previously available only in the Indian and Taiwanese markets. Roland Asia-Pacific has enlisted The Guitar Store (TGS) as the sole distributor here for the RP302, which went on sale in early November.
TGS and Roland AP officially launched the RP302, tagged as a “compact and affordable family piano”, on Saturday, Nov 30, with pianist Maxy Chan demonstrating the numerous capabilities of the instrument and wowing attendees with her considerable skills.
According to TGS co-founder and director (sales and operations) Kuah Wei Chin, the previous digital piano model from Roland had been selling well for the company, but its stock dried up three months ago.
“When we asked for new stock, we were told that factory production of the model had been discontinued. The Roland AP people, after some discussion, suggested a model that had so far been made available only for Taiwan and India,” said Kuah at the launch.
However, if TGS wanted to order the RP302, there was a catch.
“The number of units we had to order made us think twice,” he said, adding that he and his team did some research on the RP302 to ascertain its suitability for the Malaysian market.
“We found that, like the previous model we sold, problems were rare. We also considered the price – there is no model in the range that has this level of weighted keyboard and tone, which are very close to a good acoustic piano.
“The RP302 will be very satisfying for the player, whether a beginner, intermediate or advanced pianist. And it has more than 300 sounds on board, including 11 types for piano.”
So, he said, TGS decided to take on exclusive distributorship for the RP302 in Malaysia, via its various outlets and appointed dealers. While the RP302’s base target is obviously parents who want an easy-to-handle piano for their children, its extensive range of features makes it suited to professionals as well.
Among the features are the high quality key action that emulates a grand piano feel (a number of “touch” settings are provided), silent practise via headphones, Roland’s highly expressive superNATURAL technology, a USB port that allows playback of CD quality files for the pianist to practise with a full arrangement or record a performance, a USB MIDI out to a computer for functioning as a controller, expression pedals that allow a number of functions, and split sounds from the keyboard. While it has onboard amplification/speakers for independent output, the RP302 can also be hooked up to an external amplifier or PA system.
The RP302, which retails at RM5,999, is made in Roland’s Malaysian factory, which was set up in 2014 to produce its digital pianos, V-Drums, amplifiers and synthesisers, among others.
TGS is offering the RP302 at a special price of RM5,299, inclusive of a piano bench and a pair of headphones, until Dec 31.