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#2116382 - 07/11/13 10:59 PM Buying First Piano
pianomom101 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/11/13
Posts: 3
Loc: DC Metro
Hi all,

I think this kind of question comes up once in a while.

We are shopping an upright for my 10-year old son who has been taking lessons for two years with our digital keyboard. Like many piano teachers, his teacher highly recommends Yamaha U1, or at least a good 48-inch full size. We have a low budget, $3K. I have done some research over some websites and forums, including this. Here are some findings and thoughts which ask for comments or recommendations:

1. Brand Preference: Yamaha or Kawai. Both are more affordable quality pianos (and offer higher re-sell value). They are very comparable, depending on personal preference. My son plays a Yamaha grand at the teacher's studio but I don't think he can tell the difference.

2. New piano is out of the questions. For used pianos, I read a lot about buying from private sellers or used piano dealers. Dealers offer a wide selection but the models are advanced in age, usually in the 70's. Are they too old or okay? I heard that pianos aged over 30 start to have problems. Craiglist sometimes offer some newer uprights but you have to keep looking and act fast.

3. Also, many dealers carry Yamaha or Kawai made in Japan for the Asian market. Yamaha folks say these pianos were not seasoned for the climate in America, and the parts of these pianos are not available here. But, some piano expert/technicians say these imported instruments play well in this country and probably will survive here for some more years.

4. Model. I know we cannot even afford a used U1. I am looking at the Yamaha T121. I read a lot good comments on this model, which is based on the pre-2002 U1 model. However, some say post -2002 T121 is made in China. Those made before 2002 are made in Japan. Is that correct? Are those Yamahas made in China are inferior? Is it a good choice for a 10-year old child? What is the Kawai equivalent for Yamaha T121?

5. Other than these two Japanese brands, what else should I consider? American brands are too old. For those who are still in production are either expensive or not reliable in terms of quality. Many said no no to Korean and Chinese made. German ones, if you can find one, are expensive too.

I hope you piano folks would educate me in this piano world!

Thanks,
Pianomom 101

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#2116424 - 07/12/13 01:10 AM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
michaelha Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 831
Here are my opinions...

1. I prefer Kawai. Most Yamaha's are too bright to me, more metallic sounding, and on some of them I've used the term "clanky." Kawai's are warmer, mellower, which I prefer.

2. Yes, pianos are a wear & tear item. Less played is generally better, but not to the point where they never played & tuned it. If you find one that's less than 10 years old that got average use then that's pretty good.

3. The "grey market" thing is almost entirely BS. Definitely validate everything a piano salesman tells you.

4. 3K for a used U1 seems pretty typical, depending on the supply/demand in your area. New ones shouldn't be more than $6K. I thought the U's were better than the T's, but the T's are not bad for the price. And yes, the T's are Chinese.

Although I've played a bunch of different pianos, I might not be qualified to answer which other brands are good.
_________________________
Casio CDP-100
2012 Kawai RX-5 BLAK

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#2116480 - 07/12/13 06:17 AM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
OllyB Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/10/13
Posts: 14
Loc: UK
I personally have a U1 and i feel that it is extremely bright. It is an extremely well made piano and when it was next to a Kawai K2 there was no comparison. The Kawai sounded very false and had no depth in tone.



Olly

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#2116599 - 07/12/13 01:08 PM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
michaelha Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 831
I found this article a pretty interesting read about Japanese pianos and touches on Korean pianos, also talks about the "grey market" lie. I'd be suspicious of dealers who spread that.

http://www.pianofinders.com/educational/shortguide2.htm

Also, if a Yamaha dealer starts talking about how Kawai actions are bad because they're "plastic", that's also complete BS. Personally, if I catch a dealer spreading lies to me, I politely walk out and will absolutely not do any business with them. The relationship doesn't end when you take delivery. The piano might come with some damage, might need warranty service, etc...good luck getting help from dishonest dealers. Like this reader:

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthrea...tml#Post2111862
_________________________
Casio CDP-100
2012 Kawai RX-5 BLAK

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#2116635 - 07/12/13 02:33 PM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
berninicaco3 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/14/13
Posts: 103
Loc: iowa city, ia
you can also get a superlative classical-sounding keyboard for that price, too, like the kawai e7
Save $150/yr on tuning, and on moving costs. But if you won't be moving for years, then the latter doesn't matter.

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#2116683 - 07/12/13 04:31 PM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
PianoGamer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/10/13
Posts: 34
You may not be interested in a Chinese made piano such as the Pearl River 48" EU122, but you can get one brand new for just under 3k. I enjoy mine very much even though eventually I'll probably upgrade. When I was looking for pianos I tried many used Yamahas and honestly I didn't like the bright sound they had, but a lot of that is just personal preference. I was attracted to the Yamaha name though and the reputation, I won't lie about that.

I bought my piano from a very knowledgeable musician, Garron Larcombe, from his warehouse (not a salesman). He has a solid reputation and knows his stuff. His opinion is that the Chinese pianos are getting better and better and the stigma associated with them is similar to how Americans viewed cars from Japan back in the 80s compared to American brands. Look who's on top now... I would find a someone you trust and let them help guide you on different options.

If you're interested, you can reach my guy Garron below. I'm just a loyal customer and was extremely pleased with his honest, integrity and expertise.
http://www.thepianowarehouse.com/

I certainly don't receive anything by recommending him.

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#2116745 - 07/12/13 07:54 PM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10362
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Quote:
5. ...American brands are too old. For those who are still in production are either expensive or not reliable in terms of quality. ...


Two words: Charles Walter

You can find both new and gently used CW uprights at a good price compared to the U-series. The ones I have played have been superb instruments.
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Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#2116768 - 07/12/13 09:20 PM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: michaelha]
pianomom101 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/11/13
Posts: 3
Loc: DC Metro
michaelh,

Tx for the article about gray market. I've read it too.

Which area/country are you located (if you don't mind)? The prices for used and new Yamaha U1 you mentioned are much lower than this area, Washington DC Metro. A 70's U1 is at the range of 3.8-4K (listed not sold at) here.

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#2116788 - 07/12/13 10:39 PM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: Piano*Dad]
pianomom101 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/11/13
Posts: 3
Loc: DC Metro
Thank you for everybody's feedback.

Piano*Dad,

Thanks for mentioning Charles Walter. I read a lot good review about it but thought it's an expensive piano. I found out that there is a CW dealer nearby. Will check it out.

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#2116796 - 07/12/13 11:21 PM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2676
Loc: western Wisconsin
Well, a new CW will be out of your $3k budget, for sure, but you might try to find a nice used one. As someone else mentioned, there are a few new pianos at that price (at least as a "street price").
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#2116798 - 07/12/13 11:41 PM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2051
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Most of the imported used Yamaha's and Kawai's that I have seen often show the signs of being exposed to high humidity for extended periods. This stresses the wood. I have seen a few with failing pin-blocks. Most of them look very good cosmetically.
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2116846 - 07/13/13 03:15 AM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
michaelha Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 831
I'm in the SF Bay Area. I was looking at pianos just a few months ago and most of the Yamaha dealers are having sales, although I'm not sure if it's any special or if it's some perpetual sale.

Either way, the prices they put on the piano are not the "real" selling prices. Occasionally, perhaps more often then we think, someone just pays that price, but the truth is they will probably come down 30-40% off of their asking price. But either way, I don't think wholesale prices for dealers in SF should be much different than DC.
_________________________
Casio CDP-100
2012 Kawai RX-5 BLAK

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#2116850 - 07/13/13 03:26 AM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: michaelha]
StarvingLion Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/13
Posts: 226
Originally Posted By: michaelh
I'm in the SF Bay Area. I was looking at pianos just a few months ago and most of the Yamaha dealers are having sales, although I'm not sure if it's any special or if it's some perpetual sale.

Either way, the prices they put on the piano are not the "real" selling prices. Occasionally, perhaps more often then we think, someone just pays that price, but the truth is they will probably come down 30-40% off of their asking price. But either way, I don't think wholesale prices for dealers in SF should be much different than DC.



I informed my local Steinway dealer that I wouldn't pay more than $3000 cdn (including shipping) for a new Essex EUP108C. They said go away. I guess the stunning drop in acoustic piano sales is not causing a panic.
_________________________
I'm starting the solid wooden keys revolution in digital pianos. Get'em now or be square!

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#2116929 - 07/13/13 10:37 AM Re: Buying First Piano [Re: pianomom101]
Jolly Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/20/01
Posts: 14051
Loc: Louisiana
As an alternative...

You might find a ten year old, nice, low-mileage Baldwin 243 for 3K...Or, if you look hard, a Baldwin 248 for less than $4K.

A 248 will surprise you...personally, I'd take one over a U1.
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