After trying several high end digitals (none of which completely convinced me, not even the Kawai Novus NV10S) I decided to spend as little money as possible on such an instrument and finally bought a Casio GP 310 for 2819 € from Thomann, delivery and assembly included. To anybody who is considering buying the Casio GP 310 or 510 – this is what you will get. Here is my (subjective) review.
Stability and structure of the cabinet
The instrument makes a rather stable impression. The rear panel gives the structure its stability. But beware if you should remove it (in order to replace the heavy spring in the pedal)! Never try to move the instrument without that panel and its screws in place – the whole thing might easily collapse and crash.
Keyboard and action
Some of the keys still have minor flashes from production. But I must say that I found the (short) action, developed in cooperation with Bechstein, rather precise and realistic, even better and more precise than the Novus action. Fast trills and embellishments are always accurate and playing the keys on the rear part works reliably without any problem. That is truly fantastic. Forget all the discussions about pivot length and real grand actions in a digital. Besides, I tried several Kawai acoustics, including those that use the same action as the Novus. I disliked… lack of precision. The only Kawai acoustic grands I liked were the Shigerus.
The sustain pedal has a very low switch point and reacts late. Change “half pedal” to “-2” (the highest point) and the result will be acceptable. The pedals of my instrument all had extremely heavy springs, I almost got a foot ache after playing for some time (this problem does not seem limited to the Casio – several people have reported a similar issue with the Kawai Novus). So I disassembled the pedal unit, took the spring of the sustain pedal out and measured its specifications. It was 32 mm long, its outer diameter was 13 mm and it had a max force of about 400 N (about 40 kg!!!). Those Chinese are crazy! The rear part of the metal casing of the pedal unit was already crooked and deformed after only a couple of days because of that. I got myself a spring with an Fmax of 186 N from a supplier on Ebay and fixed the thing. The sustain pedal is okay now, although it is a very mingy and primitive construction (but it has a potentiometer, not just a simple on-off switch). The plug of the pedal unit is a real rinky-dink thing with small pin contacts that might easily break and the thready, angled wires coming out of the cable sheathing are so thin that you should think twice before trying to pull the plug out.
This is the only decent onboard sound of the instrument. But… the samples of f1, f#1 and g1 played with full pedal are half pedal only which is rather annoying. You very clearly notice that these notes do not fit in with the rest when you play a melody in that region. And… the high notes from f#3 upwards (where the strings of an acoustic would not have dampers) are extremely loud and disturbingly booming.
The sound is rather muffled, not clear at all, and the bass region is annoyingly banging and booming like crazy even when I touch the keys softly.
This is the worst sound in the set. It is extremely muffled and already the “player” position sounds as if I was listening from far away with ear plugs.
Best settings with onboard sounds
“Berlin grand”, keyboard touch response “normal”, hammer resonance D, lid full, damper resonance 6, string resonance 10, damper noise 1, key on/off action noise D, reverb “Berlin hall”, brilliance -1.
Unlike the GP 510, the 310 only allows you to have the latest settings saved by switching “Auto resume” on. You cannot save multiple settings.
The two downfacing speakers are not that bad if you play the onboard sounds. Open the lid to get a clearer sound. But do not expect to get an acceptable result by looping the output of a VST into the line-in jack. You get a loud buzzing and humming and none of the advice some people are giving on PW helps.
As a VST controller
The best you can do with the GP 310 is to make it a VST controller and play it with high quality Sennheiser headphones (I have Sennheiser HD595 from former times, but they are no longer produced). Although setting up a VST is never trivial, at least if you are a classical pianist and want a result that is similar to a concert grand worth $$$$$$$, you can achieve that. Unfortunately, there are only two owners of the GP 310 who have published their velocity settings with Pianoteq. I got it working with Galaxy Vintage D. My settings are available on request, but I am not sure they would work as well with other VSTs like Garritan CFX. Better find out yourself what you can achieve.
Am I satisfied?
Yes, in the end. With the pedal spring replaced, the instrument is at least as good a VST controller as the Kawai Novus that is 3 times as expensive.
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