New Product: Valente Electric Piano

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The Valente Electric Piano is a new electro-mechanical instrument designed by Brazilian inventor Tiago Valente. 

photograph of the Valente Electric Piano seen from the front left

Valente had been making electronic musical devices since he was a kid. In his teens he joined a local rock band, but the only instrument he could afford was an old Suette piano which was in a poor state of repair. 

The Suette piano was a popular, low-cost electric piano made in Brazil by Clomildo Suette back in the 1980s. It uses reeds (steel strips) of varying length and anchored at one end as the sound source. When struck by a hammer action, the vibrating reed induces a small current in an electrostatic pick-up, which is subsequently amplified. The workings, although a little more basic, are similar to those of the Wurlitzer electric piano.

Valente tracked down Suette and through many conversations became an expert in the workings and repair of his instruments.

photo of the designer Tiago Valente with his electric piano
Tiago Valente and his electric piano

To cut a long story short Valente eventually used his knowledge and experience of reed-based instruments to develop his own product — the Valente Electric Piano.

Electric, Electronic, and Digital Pianos

Unlike an acoustic piano, these instruments all require amplification to be heard, however the way they generate the sound differs.

An electric piano (often referred to as electro-acoustic, or electro-mechanical) uses a physically vibrating medium as the sound source. The Valente uses metal reeds (strips of metal anchored at one end). Other examples of reed-based instruments include the Wurlitzer electric piano, the Hohner Pianet, and the Klaviphon.

An electronic piano uses (primarily) analogue electronic circuits to produce an electrical signal that simulates the sound of a piano. Examples include the Yamaha CP30, Galanti Instapiano, and Roland MP700. This technology is no longer used, as it has been superseded by the digital piano.

Digital pianos use processors to generate the instrument’s output. There are two main ways to digitally produce the sound: sampling and modelling. 

Most of today’s digital pianos are sample based – i.e. all the notes of an acoustic piano are individually recorded  at various levels in a studio environment. The digital instrument replays and manipulates these samples to generate its piano sound.

A modelled instrument “calculates” the desired sound using complex mathematical algorithms.  Examples: Roland V Piano, Roland LX-700 Series.

Design and Development

Valente, in conjunction with the US distributors Key Magic Inc. (KMI), took the prototype piano to the NAMM Show in 2017. Many improvements and redesigns were subsequently made, and the finished product was revealed just a few weeks ago.

“Character”, both in sound and appearance were key elements in the concept for this instrument.

rear view of the Valente Electric Piano

The Valente Electric Piano is undeniably retro. Its attractive curved profile is inspired by the cars of the 1950s. And this shape also handily serves to prevent the user from placing other electronic instruments on top of it which could introduce interference (early Fender Rhodes utilised the same idea). 

At under 20 kgs (42 lbs), the instrument is portable. To part-achieve this the compass of the keyboard is restricted to just five octaves. It can, however, be upgraded to provide a MIDI output. 

The side cheeks are made from natural wood (andiroba, aka crabwood) and there are just two simple controls – volume and bass-boost/brilliance. The only other control is the damper pedal which uses a pull (rather than push) mechanism to raise the dampers.

The responsive hammer action is designed to emulate the touch and feel of an acoustic piano.

image showing technician bolting the reeds to the pianos harp
Fitting the reeds to the Valente Electric Piano

Many musicians are fed up with the synthesised digital instruments of today. Few will deny that the use of a physically vibrating medium – in this case reeds – gives a harmonically more vibrant sound. Valente’s designs optimise this sound source and bring the electromechanical piano right up to date.

More information including how to order, can be found on the Valente website.

Valente Electric Piano Specifications

• True portable electro-mechanical piano
• Hammer action made using high tech polymers for smooth responsive touch

• Harp with a system of counter hammers and steel reeds

• Neodymium electromagnetic pickups designed exclusively
• Exclusive damper pull system
• Vinyl covered sloping lid
• End cheeks made of andiroba wood with matte varnish finish
• Simple interface with volume, bass booster and brilliance control knobs
• Exclusive neodymium electromagnetic pickups
• Entirely lead free
Number of keys:61
Keyboard:Fatar Grand Touch
Materials Used: steel, electromagnetic coil, plastic polymers, MDF, felts, plywood, exotic wood, aluminium
Dimensions:102 x 42 x 15cm (40 x 16.5 x 5.9in)
Product Weight:approx. 20kg (42lbs)
Distributor: Key Magic Inc.
US Price:$2,999.00

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