Out with the old, in with the New:
(Update at bottom of article)
Roughly a year and a half ago, my wife gave me a Yamaha DGX-640. I started this blog and have been enjoying it ever since. The package came with the Yamaha LP7A Keyboard Foot Pedal Unit… fancy label for a pretty slick set of pedals.
The main appeal for me was the fixed mounting. The LP7A attaches to a crossbeam that mounts directly on the Yamaha keyboard stand. My previous experience with keyboard foot pedals was the little FC-5 flat unit that comes with most keyboards and digital pianos. I hated those, was always having to chase it with my foot. Slid all over the place, and tape didn’t help; it pulled loose, and left gummy residue on the floor.
So long as the LP7A didn’t slide, drift, or attempt to escape… I was on board. Besides, it did the job. Even had two other pedals – Soft, and Sostenuto, plus a half-sustain mode. I’ve never used either. I’m a country boy and tend to play with a heavy hand (and foot). The pedals worked as promised. The springs are much stronger than anything I’ve ever used before, and the pedal seemed very short, so the fulcrum point felt a bit off. But that’s an observation, not a complaint. It was easy to get used to.
For one and a half years, I was happy with the pedal. Then Monday night after work, sat down to play, NO sustain. My first thought was something had gone wrong with the DGX-640, which was a mighty depressing thought. Fortunately, it turned out to be the foot pedals. Read some Amazon reviews, and learned that the LP7A tends to break after 6 months to 2 years. It’s made of plastic, which gets brittle after a while. I took mine apart, you can see in the video above. It’s a complex, almost elegant, design. If Yamaha had spent a little extra and used metal on the hinge (where it takes all the pressure) it would probably have lasted forever. Or at least, longer than me, which would have been sufficient.
M-Audio SP-2 (SUS-2)
Looking at the broken piece, I could have tried to fix it. Some CA glue, maybe attach a brace. But that’s just a stop-gap. Once the plastic breaks in one place, I don’t trust it not to keep breaking. Or my home-fix may not last. So I ordered an M-Audio SP-2 Universal Sustain Pedal. I have M-Audio speakers for my DGX-640, so know and trust the brand.
Besides, if you research all the foot pedals available on Amazon, the SP2 is ranked head and shoulders above the other models. You can’t argue with nearly 750 reviews that average 4.5 out of 5 stars. It was far cheaper as well. Nearly $80 for another LP7A. $15 for the M-Audio SUS-2. Even it if doesn’t last as long as the LP7A, it’s 5 times cheaper.
When it arrived, the first thing I notice was the box nomenclature. Rather than SP-2, the box says it’s the “M-Audio SUS-2 Universal Sustain Pedal.” I looked it up, they’re two different models but seem to be exactly the same. They look the same, have the exact same features and work the same.
Aside from that, it has a much nicer feel than the LP7A. The spring feels more natural, compared to the acoustic pianos I’ve played. The SUS-2 pedal is slightly longer than the LP7A, which also gives a more natural feel and movement. It looks far nicer with a chrome shaped pedal as opposed to a square, stubby, plastic pedal.
The bottom is non-skid, and the pedal is very heavy for it’s size. One reviewer mentioned having a clean floor helps. It there’s dust on the floor (or the pedal base) it will slide. I wiped the floor and pedal base with a damp rag, it hasn’t budged since.
It comes with a polarity switch, so should be compatible with pretty much any keyboard or digital piano. If you use it and the action is reversed – it sustains while not pressed, and stops when pressed – change the polarity switch. Or if you have a DGX-640, hold the foot pedal down while turning the piano on. Does the same thing.
My big concern was the sound. The LP7A has a half-sustain mode as well as full sustain. It also has a more sophisticated connection to the keyboard. The SUS-2 uses a simple 1/4″ plug. No worries, it works wonderfully. Nice long sustain, smooth fadeout when I release. Works perfectly, looks good, feels right.
EDIT – It’s been more than 2 years since I wrote this page originally. I’m still using the SUS-2, and it’s been wonderful! Durable, feels good to use, my only complaint is still the sliding. If you thoroughly clean the floor and base of the pedal every few days, it stays in place better. But I got lazy. Currently, I have it wedged in place with some 10-pound dumbbells that I meant to exercise with. The dumbbells may not have served their intended purpose, but they do great at keeping the foot pedal where I put it. Still playing pretty much every day and can highly recommend the M-Audio SUS-2.