Excerpts from Six Wives of Henry VIII played on Yamaha CP-70





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Published on Oct 13, 2011

To hear it plugged in, click here:

The Yamaha CP70B is an electric grand piano made from around 1978 to 1983. It has a very distinct, fat sound that can be heard on songs like U2 "New Years Day", Journey "Don't Stop Believing", Genesis "Turn It On", Peter Gabriel "In Your Eyes", Tears for Fears "Head Over Heels", Billy Joel "My Life", and the list goes on.

Bands like Led Zeppelin, Boston & Asia used them on tour since the CP70 was the only portable grand piano in existence. At just under 400 lbs, it's hardly portable by today's standards, but back then (before digital samplers) it was the only option.

What makes the CP70 different from a regular piano is that it does not have a soundboard (the big hunk of tree that resonates and amplifies the sound). Instead the CP70 has 73 piezoelectric pickups, one for each key, which are used to amplify the sound like an electric guitar does. No other keyboard instrument is like it (except for the Kawai EP-308 which was a CP70 clone made in the 80s).

Despite its immense popularity and unique sound & look, the CP70 went the way of the dodo, and now 20 years after the last one rolled off the assembly line, they're rarely seen at all.

Originally sold for $4000, they sometimes pop up on ebay these days for around $1000 in the USA (2-3 times as much in Europe), but sometimes you can find them for a lot cheaper in local ads. I got this one off craigslist for $275, but I had to drive 600 miles to pick it up.

Portability: Although it's possible to move & set one up by yourself, do NOT try to move a CP70 alone unless you're the incredible hulk or totally insane. Although it breaks down into 2 parts, each around 200 lbs you WILL cause serious damage to your bones & brain if you try to do it yourself. Two people can move it a lot more easily.

The song I'm playing is an excerpt from "Excerpts from The Six Wives of Henry VIII" written by keyboard guru Rick Wakeman in 1973 with a little bit of Beethoven Opus 27 No 2 third movement thrown in at the end. My dog was less than impressed :/

I know I'm playing it too fast, but I sorta like it that way. I think it makes the right hand part sound more nebulous. Btw I don't know what nebulous means. Also I think the song is supposed to be in C minor, but I play it in C# minor because C#m is the coolest key ever, and you can really slam those black keys for percussive effect, especially on a cool piano like this.

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