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#2162034 - 10/05/13 08:35 AM Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length.
pogmoger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/13
Posts: 169
Loc: Norway
I was wondering if anyone out there has any thoughts about the newer designed Shigeru Kawai pianos vs. the older models? At least for the SK2, SK3 and SK5 models, I believe they are all now 2cm longer which is due to longer keys (or perhaps a bigger action?)

It might be a long shot, and many of you probably haven't had the chance to make any direct comparisons between these pianos. So I'm also interested in general opinions about key length. Does a longer key really give that much more tonal control that it's worth waiting to get one of the newer models?

There are still a few of the older models around in showrooms, and I have yet to play one of the newer SK3s, which is the size that would most likely be appropriate for me.

Thanks in advance for all comments.

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#2162041 - 10/05/13 08:55 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
ZBGM0 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/11
Posts: 100
New Shigeru has longer keys. That's why they are longer for about 2 cm. SK-2 is 180 cm (older was 178), SK-3 is 188 (older was 186)

Longer keys are better. Better leverage, better control overall - especially when playing softly. Easier to tame.

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#2162045 - 10/05/13 09:00 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
Mark Polishook Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 731
Loc: Leicester, UK
I played on 2 olders vs. 1 newer in London. The newer action feels a little diiferent. But just a little. The older ones were greatly reduced in price. The piano shop was trying to move them out to make room for the new ones.

Not long after trying them I found out about Estonia Pianos w/factory in Tallin. Prices and shipping even w/VAT are astoundingly low. With enough advance notice it's cheaper to fly to Tallin from the UK than it is take a train to London.

Had I not found the Steingraeber I ended up with and if the UK Border Agency were faster in getting my passport back to me I would have visited the Estonia factory, for sure. .. I'm guessing you're closer to Tallin than London...

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#2162047 - 10/05/13 09:09 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi Pogmoger,

First of all, I'm not a tech and I speak as a pianist with a fairly good understanding of the mechanics and geometry of a piano action.

When asking about key length, you must consider that the visible portion of the keys, the keyboard, is only part of the consideration. The differences occur when considering the length of the key sticks, the entire key. As overall grand piano length increases, the key length generally increases and the extra length provides room for different, and more responsive, action geometries. In simple terms, it is the difference in action (feel) between a 5'-8" piano compared to a concert grand of the same brand.

Having now had the chance to compare the new Kawai GX to the previous RX, I notice a distinct improvement in the smaller grands with their new approach with the action geometry. I don't know if the change is occurring in the SK pianos as well.

I have always considered the SK action design to be more responsive than the Kawai RX series. Now they are very similar in response with the introduction of the GX line. I can only speculate if the improvement of the GX is a design based on the existing SK?

If there is a change in the SK instruments, the longer key length could result in a more responsive piano. It would be interesting to confirm that this is really the case, rather than it being confused with the recent changes in the Kawai (RX-GX) line.

Calling KawaiDon !!!
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2162075 - 10/05/13 11:05 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: Mark Polishook]
pogmoger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/13
Posts: 169
Loc: Norway
Hi Mark,

I also played an older SK3 in London a few weeks ago. The only newer Shigeru they had in the store was an SK2. I found it difficult to compare the different actions, as I definitely preferred the SK3 overall because of it's stronger bass and richer tone. The price was, as you say, greatly reduced and if I still lived in the UK, I probably would have bought it already!

I also know of an older SK3 that a dealer in Norway has, and I assume that I would get it for a better price than if I wanted a newer model. But in terms of getting the best instrument rather than just the lowest possible price, it's tempting to consider a newer model instead. But I don't know...:)

Others have suggested that I should travel to Estonia, but I would rather support a local dealer and buy a piano in Oslo. I've tried various brands which aren't available here on visits to London and Edinburgh, including Grotrian, Steingraeber and Bluthner, with the view that if I found something truly spectacular then I might go to the trouble of importing a piano myself. I find it odd that there isn't a single dealer in the UK that stocks Estonia.

At the moment, I've narrowed down my choice to C.Bechstein, Bosendorfer or Shigeru, all of which I can buy locally with good after purchase service.

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#2162083 - 10/05/13 11:21 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: Minnesota Marty]
pogmoger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/13
Posts: 169
Loc: Norway
Hi Marty,

Thanks again for an informative response. If you have noticed a discernible difference between the RX and GX actions then this is definitely worth considering, as I think the changes to the latest Shigerus are probably similar to the improvements made to the GX line.

I've just looked in Piano Buyer and there is some detailed information about the changes made to the Shigeru designs:

'In 2012, Kawai updated the Shigeru Kawai grands, changing the cabinet styling and some of the pianos' construction features. The inside of the rim is now finished with bird's-eye maple veneer, and the round legs have been changed to straight legs with brass trim. The rim itself is now made of alternating layers of rock maple and mahogany, which Kawai says provides more power without losing warmth in the tone. The structure at the front of the piano has been made stronger, and the beams underneath are now made from spruce instead of the laminated mahogany Kawai uses in its other models. The keys have been lengthened for a better touch, especially on the smaller models.'

My question is how much these changes really affect tonal control and enjoyment of playing the instrument and if it's worth spending a bit more money on a newer model. It seems that it probably is worth going for a newer model if I decide to get a Shigeru.

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#2162110 - 10/05/13 12:10 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
If the changes to the SK are as significant to the result of the action upgrade of the RX to GX, the increase in price may well be worth it.

I have always enjoyed the Shigerus.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2162126 - 10/05/13 12:51 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
Mark Polishook Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/12
Posts: 731
Loc: Leicester, UK
Hi Pogmoger,

I hear you, exactly .... in the end my piano was a local purchase.

My guess is we played the exact same piano(s) in London. With the Estonia because of no dealer here they would've delivered to my front door. Then I'd have to have a local mover bring it in the house and set it up.


It sounds like your local situation between SK, Bechstein and Bosendorfer has the "one" in there somewhere ...

Best of luck with the search!

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#2162220 - 10/05/13 05:17 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2783
Loc: western Wisconsin
I also had the chance to play an RX and GX Kawai side-by-side (you'll read my review soon in the Piano Buyer) and did notice something of a difference. However, I also sampled an "old style" Shigeru next to an RX series Kawai at a good dealer a few years ago and thought the Shigeru action in the "old" version was very responsive and a step up.

If you love the sound and feel of the piano, and it's a good deal, I wouldn't second guess the version.
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Casio px-200, Bechstein A190 #192939 @ home
Steinway A #585209, B #416809 @ work
Schimmel 130T #339100, on loan

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#2163202 - 10/07/13 10:44 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
LFL Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/12
Posts: 72
I played a 2000 SK5 side by side a 2012 (new concert series model) during my piano search last year. I cannot say that there was much difference in the feel of the action with the longer keys. There is some adjustment to be made, in the subconscious part of the brain, I suspect. However, as Minnesota Marty said, one would expect the difference in key length and how it affects the action, to be more noticeable in the smaller models. The SK5 is an "in-between" length. I do not believe the key length affects the sound when comparing the two either, as so much of "sound" can be affected by voicing, etc. I bought the 2012 late last year and have had my MPA visit. I DO believe that the newer rim construction (and perhaps the spruce beams) has improved the sound in terms of sustain and resonance. I believe that Kawai states that the new rim gives a more "powerful" sound, but I translate to a richer sound. I also would mention that the SK5, SK6, and SK7 models all have boxwood in the bridge, while the smaller models do not. This is supposedly a heavier (?denser) wood and may have more to do with any difference in sound than anything else. All this said, I agree with Terminaldegree--get the piano that pleases you, and worry less about old vs. new.
_________________________
Shigeru Kawai SK5L

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#2163237 - 10/08/13 12:42 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: LFL]
schwammerl Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/06
Posts: 2012
Loc: Belgium
For European potential Shigeru buyers it is worth mentioning again that now with the new models the visit of the MPA is included - as it has been for many years in the U.S.; with the 'older' models this was/is not the case.

For some (?many) this might be a nice extra feature too summed up to the other improvements like extra key length, different rim construction etc.

schwammerl.

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#2163246 - 10/08/13 01:47 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: schwammerl]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1299
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
I always thought that to provide the MPA visit in one major market but not in another seemed lopsided. Now that anomaly has been addressed, at least for the European market. According to a number of testimonies on this website, the MPA visit refines an already extraordinary piano to create a sublimely beautiful musical instrument.

Robert.

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#2163287 - 10/08/13 05:11 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
pogmoger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/13
Posts: 169
Loc: Norway
Thanks to everyone for the additional comments.

Terminaldegree and LFL, I understand what you both are saying about not worrying about 'old' vs 'new' too much as long as I find an instrument which I love the sound and touch of. Perhaps I've exaggerated how much this concerns me, as I have no doubts that an 'old design' SK is still going to be a world class piano. But I was interested in hearing from anyone who had had the chance to make a direct comparison of two models of the same size, old vs new. LFL, it seems that you had this opportunity and the new SK impressed you enough that the extra cost was worth it. Thanks for mentioning the other differing design features.

I'm definitely leaning towards taking up the offer I've been given of a trip to Kawai in Germany to select a new piano, which would then be purchased through my local dealer (MPA visit presumably included!)

I might still go for something entirely different, though...

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#2163694 - 10/08/13 10:26 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
LFL Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/06/12
Posts: 72
If you can take the time to go to Kawai in Germany, I would jump at that chance. (And I didn't know that the MPA visits had started in Europe--that was a significant factor in my decision to get a new one.) Even if you don't end up purchasing a Kawai or Shigeru, the experience will help you with other comparisons. Your ability to distinguish differences between pianos will sharpen as you play and listen to as many pianos as you can. You certainly have many choices since you live in Europe. The Shigeru line is probably the best buy for the money amongst the top tier pianos, but that is just one factor. And, the difference in cost between a few-year-old Shigeru and a new one is probably around US$8-15,000 (depending on the model); while the difference between a Shigeru of any age and Bosendorfer/Bechstein/etc is likely much more. If you find a "used" (but relatively contemporary) piano, you may need to factor in some short-term maintenance costs (for example new strings, dampers, etc after "x" number of years). These comments are from my experience, but I have only purchased 2 pianos in my life; others on this forum have much more experience. This decision making is not simple, but you must make sure that you don't have regrets later.
_________________________
Shigeru Kawai SK5L

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#2163830 - 10/09/13 08:39 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: LFL]
pogmoger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/13
Posts: 169
Loc: Norway
Thanks LFL. We certainly have a lot of top piano factories to choose from in Europe and travelling to them is relatively easy and inexpensive. But the second hand piano market in Norway is pretty small, so I've pretty much ruled out finding a lightly used top quality grand here.

Sizing up Shigeru against top tier European pianos is tricky. As you say, the Shigeru offers best value for its price, but this is not the only factor. I like Shigerus a lot, so to be convinced to buy a European top tier instrument for up to twice the price, I'd have to really really love it. After quite an extensive search, I feel that only Bosendorfer and C. Bechstein are distinctly exciting enough to make me consider them as alternatives - but it's so much more money! eek

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#2163957 - 10/09/13 02:08 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1299
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
Try as many different Shigeru Kawai pianos as you can in Germany. After the meticulous manufacturing process of each of these instruments, and provided they have been set up for the showroom, they will all have a special, particular character. You need to find the one that you love.


Good luck!

Robert.

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#2164424 - 10/10/13 12:24 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
ZBGM0 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/11
Posts: 100
Originally Posted By: pogmoger

But I was interested in hearing from anyone who had had the chance to make a direct comparison of two models of the same size, old vs new.


I will tell my observations in one week. It is very difficult to find old SK vs. new SK (same model) side by side….. but I will have a chance to compare (same model).

Next week….

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#2164427 - 10/10/13 12:33 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: schwammerl]
ZBGM0 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/11
Posts: 100
Originally Posted By: schwammerl
For European potential Shigeru buyers it is worth mentioning again that now with the new models the visit of the MPA is included - as it has been for many years in the U.S.; with the 'older' models this was/is not the case.
schwammerl.


Is that true?

I was spoken to a dealer in EU and he didn’t think so. One of you two is wrong, I hope the dealer is wrong and you are right. Maybe only some country in EU but I hardly believe that whole EU has MPA visit. I am not saying that you are wrong (actually it would be awesome if MPA is included, this would be also important factor for me) but...I just somehow have doubts that all EU has this benefit.

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#2164431 - 10/10/13 12:45 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
Why not contact Kawai directly and simply ask?

http://www.kawai.de/
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#2164553 - 10/10/13 06:04 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: ZBGM0]
schwammerl Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/06
Posts: 2012
Loc: Belgium
Quote:
Is that true?


Please visit the new European Shigeru website they set up after the launch of the new series Shigerus; here you have the MPA statement in German (you can go the the home page and select German, English and French)):

Shigeru Kawai Europe - MPA

schwammerl.

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#2164717 - 10/11/13 04:58 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: ZBGM0]
pogmoger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/13
Posts: 169
Loc: Norway
Schwammerl and I had this same discussion a couple of months ago smile

Here is the page on the Shiguru Kawai European website in English which mentions the MPA visit:

http://www.shigerukawai.de/exclusiveness_en.htm

My dealer in Norway also mentioned the MPA visit to me, so it definitely seems to apply here. I wouldn't assume that it's going to happen though without either confirmation from a dealer or from Kawai in Germany. As Marty suggests, you could always contact them directly.

I'm be interested to hear how you get on comparing the different models. Where are you located by the way?

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#2165757 - 10/13/13 06:08 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
Hagar The Horrible Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/13/13
Posts: 5
Loc: London UK
I have read all the above with interest.

Just a couple of points.

I had a Kawai RX5 but wanted more power and a top of the line model and a seven foot piano.

I tried Steinway, Bosendorfer, Fazioli and the SK6 and the Shigeru old and new models.

Perhaps I was a bit biased because I had got used to the Millenium III action that was superb. I was not so impressed by the Steinway B to invest £70K of which I tried two . Lovely pianos of course but I just did not like them. The Bosendorfer was excellent and the Fazioli just superb but so were the Shigerus.

Frankly at my level of playing I could not discern any difference between the old and new model Shigerus (apart from cosmetics) and in my humble opinion only a serious professional player would really appreciate the differences described in this forum. For mere mortals I believe the differences (apart from cosmetics) are a nice topic of conversation but are really irrelevant.

My other hobby is photography - and most will know that cameras have more and more facilities and there are endless discussions about them. What is important is where you point the camera and in pianos it is how you play it. A basic low quality product played by an expert will sound better than a top tier model played by a talented amateur.

When I got over the allure of the names Stainway, Bosendorfer and Fazioli the choice was obvious the older Shigeru that I bought from their main UK dealer at a saving of around £20K

I am the proud owner of an SK6 and my playing has improved dramatically because the piano is so great I am spending hours a day practicing.

As to the MPA visit - it is included - old model or not.

Happy playing to all
_________________________
If music be the food of love play on - provided you really know the score!

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#2166214 - 10/14/13 04:57 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: Hagar The Horrible]
pogmoger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/13
Posts: 169
Loc: Norway
Congratulations, Hagar with your new SK6. Good to hear that you will get an MPA visit even although you have bought an older model.

You make some very interesting points about not getting too caught up in new technical features or famous brand names - a musical instrument is best evaluated on how it sounds and how it responds to being played and not much else.

When I was at Jaques Samuels a couple of months ago, the SK3 I played was my favourite amongst everything I played on of a comparable size (including a Grotrian and rebuilt Steinway.) Except for maybe a Fazioli 183, which I felt was perhaps about equal (but more than three times the price!)

How recently did you buy the SK6? If it was within the last few weeks, then it's possible that I played the exact same piano.


Edited by pogmoger (10/14/13 04:58 PM)

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#2166258 - 10/14/13 06:37 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
Hagar The Horrible Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/13/13
Posts: 5
Loc: London UK
Hi Pogmoger

A couple of weeks ago - so you probably did play mine. Did you like it?

I came to the same view as you re the Fazioli

Regards

Eric
_________________________
If music be the food of love play on - provided you really know the score!

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#2166655 - 10/15/13 12:38 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: Hagar The Horrible]
pogmoger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/13
Posts: 169
Loc: Norway
Yes, I think I must have played your piano then (although not for very long, because i was mainly looking at smaller sizes.) I liked it very much - I'm sure you will have no regrets about your choice!

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#2169266 - 10/21/13 06:58 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
ZBGM0 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/11
Posts: 100
Originally Posted By: pogmoger
Schwammerl and I had this same discussion a couple of months ago smile

Here is the page on the Shiguru Kawai European website in English which mentions the MPA visit:

http://www.shigerukawai.de/exclusiveness_en.htm

My dealer in Norway also mentioned the MPA visit to me, so it definitely seems to apply here. I wouldn't assume that it's going to happen though without either confirmation from a dealer or from Kawai in Germany. As Marty suggests, you could always contact them directly.

I'm be interested to hear how you get on comparing the different models. Where are you located by the way?



OK, here is the difference. I played old SK-3 and new model SK-3. Touch of new model is noticeably lighter. That’s it. I have to say that I am tired of old RX heavy touch which makes my hand only tired. But even the old SK has lighter touch than RX.

It is personal preference – I like more the new SK-3 model than the old. I somehow have a feeling that it gives me more control (but hey that’s me, someone else will have different opinion).

It depends on what you like….you should play both and decide. I think that smaller models (SK-2 and SK-3) are the one that benefit most from longer keys. Longer models probably already had longer keys before, therefore people didn’t feel the difference.

As far as inner cabinet is concerned……...old model is very average, but I can’t say that I saw more beautiful piano (inside) than the new Shigeru…..everything shines like gold:) cast iron looks so much fancier…it is important to ask yourself if piano is just musical instrument to you or also piece of furniture.

I am in Slovenia (EU)… BUT here is MPA visit not included. It depends on the dealer, country etc.

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#2169892 - 10/22/13 06:36 AM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: ZBGM0]
pogmoger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/23/13
Posts: 169
Loc: Norway
Thanks for sharing your observations, Z. How disappointing that you don't get an MPA visit in Slovenia.

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#2176701 - 11/03/13 11:27 PM Re: Newer vs. older design Shigeru Kawai - key length. [Re: pogmoger]
Hagar The Horrible Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/13/13
Posts: 5
Loc: London UK
Hi ZBGMO

Thanks for your observations. As to the touch I did not try the Sk3 as I was looking for a 7' piano - And I bow to your judgment on the SK3.

I see your point on the cosmetics and you are right. To me the piano is first, second and third a musical instrument and provided it looks very good (as all pianos at this level do) it does not need to be the most beautiful piece of furniture.

Regards
_________________________
If music be the food of love play on - provided you really know the score!

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