Riding the 99 B-line is an unique experience. So many storefronts, diverse crowds of people and that comforting voice saying things like, "next stop Main Street". Every time I travel on that accordion bus between Cambie and Main Street, one sign in particular stands out. "Pacey's Pianos"-- red and white, simple but elegant; alluring to the common pianist. A couple of weeks ago I took a look inside. I greeted the young salesman, a person I later discovered to be Sean Pacey and sat down at a piano worth a few grand. Great sound! Every make and model of piano has a distinct sound. Some are brighter (accent on the higher frequencies), some are more metallic sounding... the list goes on.
I tried out a couple more pianos and Sean told me I am free to check out the basement. Jackpot! Kawai, Yamaha, Roland; a pianist's paradise. Wedged between these gems were one or two models of electronic pianos. I learned to play on a 49-key Casiotone my Father purchased for me when I was eight years old. I then moved up to a 61-key Yamaha keyboard when piano lessons started going well. I reminisce on a discussion my Dad had with a very old fashioned family friend. She claimed digital pianos can never sound as good as a real, organic piano. As true and accurate this is, my Father and I vouched for the fact that there are things you can do with a digital piano that simply cannot happen with an acoustic grand or upright piano. You can record a keyboard with greater ease. Some have record features built right in and the innovation of MIDI (Musical Instrument Data Interface) in the early 1980s created a basic binary language for synthesizers to effectively communicate pitch, tone, modulation, velocity and other parameters. This sort of expression cannot match the real touch of a human hand tethered by a padded hammer like with a real piano, but a digital operator can adjust such parameters in non-real time: before or after the recording and programming process.
Moving from specimen to specimen in the basement, I came across a small but sturdy full length digital piano: The Daewoo Veloce Digital Piano X-100. Korean-made, equipped with seven instrument sounds (the electric piano sound is just cheesy but the church organ is awesomely stylized. "How much is this one? $700?", I asked. Why do I always do that? Naming a price off the getgo is no way to make a deal. Luckily, I am right to have some faith in human kind: "I think that one's really cheap. We have ten of them in the warehouse at a blowout price" said Pacey. I found out the Daewoo is used but only $300! My face lit up, "I think I'll take it". I signed the necessary papers and Sean told me I could come by to pick it up the next day.
How exciting. One day no piano of my own in Vancouver, the next day I am making room for the full size keyboard in my room. Eighty-eight keys of glory..Now I do say that with an air of humility. The acoustic piano sound is average and you can really hear the intermittent silence between notes (not to mention a small delay in response) but WHAT A GREAT FIND! Recently I have been able to play for pleasure, practise for my shows like last Tuesday's Vancouver Observer Relaunch party and resume composing music. I am just waiting for my MIDI cable to come in the mail from Ontario and I will have a basic studio at my fingertips shortly.
Last time I checked there are nine more of these badboys still waiting to be purchased from Pacey's family warehouse. If you are in the Main and Cambie area (Ontario Street specifically) take a look inside Pacey's Pianos and try out the products. While waiting for my order to be arranged I was welcome to play instruments valued upwards of $20 000. One day they will be mine, "Oh yes, she will be mine" (Wayne's World moment). Say hi to Pacey for me and you may receive a special deal.
Keep on rockin', don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow and ENJOY THE DAY :D
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