Wyman Piano Company (North American distributor)
P.O. Box 506
Colusa, California 95932

In 1957, Nazzareno Orlandoni established Orla di Orlandoni & Company to manufacture parts for accordions and reed organs. In 1965, "Mimmo," as Nazzareno was known, was joined by Alfio Monaci, and the company was renamed ORLA. Today, ORLA remains a family business, with Alfio Monaci's son Enrico at the helm.

In 2009 the ORLA product line encompasses digital pianos, home organs, church organs, portable keyboards, accordions, and accordion sound modules. In the North American market ORLA offers seven models of digital piano, including three verticals, two grands, and two stage pianos.


Roland Corporation U.S.
5100 S. Eastern Ave.
Los Angeles, California 90040

To simply say that Roland Corporation was established in 1972 would be to ignore one of the most compelling stories in the realm of digital pianos. Ikutaro Kakehashi started down the path to Roland Corporation at the age of 16, when he began repairing watches in postwar Japan. His enthusiasm for music soon evolved into repairing radios in addition to watches and clocks. At the age of 20, Kakehashi contracted tuberculosis. After three years in the hospital, he was selected for the trial of a new drug, streptomycin, and within a year he was out of the hospital.

In 1954, Kakehashi opened Kakehashi Musen (Kakehashi Radio). Once again, his interest in music intervened, this time leading him to develop a prototype organ. In 1960, Kakehashi Radio evolved into Ace Electronic Industries. The FR1 Rhythm Ace became a standard offering of the Hammond Organ Company, and Ace Electronic Industries flourished. Guitar amplifiers, effects units, and more rhythm machines were developed, but as a result of various business-equity involvements, Ace was inadvertently acquired by a company with no interest in musical products, and Kakehashi left in March 1972. One month later, Kakehashi established Roland Corporation. The first Roland product, not surprisingly, was a rhythm box.

Fast-forward to 1986, when the introduction of the RD1000 stage piano was Roland's first entry in what would become the digital piano category. Today Roland offers 24 models of digital piano covering every facet of the category -- slabs, verticals, grands (including moving-key player pianos), ensembles, and stage pianos. Some Roland digital pianos are even assembled in the U.S. at the Roland-owned Rodgers Organ factory, in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Of particular interest to those looking for educational features are the Hpi models, which include a substantial suite of educational capabilities supported by a music-desk-mounted LCD screen. The newly introduced model LX10 adds a traditional-looking vertical piano to the line. Roland can also lay claim to the most extensive collection of model designations in the world of digital pianos. While this is hardly a drawback, it does present a challenge when sorting through the model lineup; the chart of "Digital Piano Specifications and Prices" will help to clarify things.

Many new digital-piano products have been announced this year, but only two stand out as "game changers," and one of them is Roland's V-Piano (the other is Yamaha's AvantGrand; see below). The V-Piano is the first digital piano to rely entirely on physical modeling as its tonal source. Physical modeling breaks down a piano's sound into discrete elements that can be represented by mathematical equations, and creates the tone in real time based on a complex series of calculations. There are no acoustic piano samples. For more information about physical modeling, please see, elsewhere in this issue, "Digital Basics, Part 2: Beyond the Acoustic Piano" and "My Other Piano Is a Computer: An Introduction to Software Pianos."


Suzuki Corporation
P.O. Box 710459
Santee, California 92072

Suzuki sells its line of digital pianos online through Costco. Models change relatively frequently, and at this time the five models shown on the Suzuki website do not match the two models available on the Costco site, making it difficult to know what to list here.


FALL 2009 -- page 255

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