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#674394 - 08/19/04 09:58 PM advice request from a newbie
CJL Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/19/04
Posts: 5
Loc: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Hello, I'm new to this message board and any advice from what seems like rather knowledgeable members here would be much appreciated. I'm also new to the digital piano experience and I'm looking to buy my first one in the next few days.

I was trained classically and have been playing for almost 19 years. While nothing beats a real piano (the Steinway in my professor's studio in college is still the best piano I've ever played on...-sigh-), I'm going digital because I live in an apartment and can't really afford anything over $3000. Different shops in my area carry different brands...but basically my decision is now coming down to a Kawai CA9 or a Roland HP-2 (for some reason, I'm just not so crazy about the Yamahas). It's been hard to choose between the two. To me, the wooden keys of the Kawai CA9 feel great...better than the Roland, imo. The Roland touch is just a wee bit light for me, even on the heaviest touch setting (but hey, it makes for easier expressivity)...but I think the Roland has a better sampled sound (supposedly from Steinways) and better pedaling. They're both identical in price. Yeah, there are different bells and whistles between the two but that's kind of secondary in my consideration.

The Roland lady is being very aggressive and she wants to sell me a floor model of the Roland HP-2 at a slight discount, with delivery. (I haven't actually seen her yet...this was through my brother, who's also a piano player, but I'm scheduled to meet with her in two days). The Kawai guy brought in the CA9 brand new and assembled it out of the box right in front of me so that I could play on it in the store. I think they're not as willing to discount, since they already assembled it for me, and I'd have to transport the CA9 myself (for some reason they don't offer delivery).

I was kind of leaning towards the Kawai, but my brother advised me to try to bargain with the Roland saleslady to see if she could slash the price significantly on the floor model.

I don't know anything about floor models...I don't know how long that Roland has been sitting there. (I can't take the word of a commission-driven salesperson.) Regular price is $2699, they're offering it to me for $2400 plus $200 for delivery. I think for a floor model they should slash the price even more...like $2000! Is that ridiculous? The Kawai is regular price at $2700, but it's brand new, assembled and ready to go.

Any thoughts on this dilemma would be appreciated...and I'm sorry if this post has been really long-winded. \:\( Thanks!

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#674395 - 08/20/04 08:15 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
mch412 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 32
Loc: Springfield, MA
You really need to base your choice on which instrument you feel is best for you. The floor model thing should be a non-factor. There is not much that can happen to a digital piano except cosmetic damage by being on display.

Although you do not know how long the Roland has been sitting on the floor, the Kawai technically speaking became a floor model as soon as they set it up and put it on the sales floor.
_________________________
Former piano sales-weasel

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#674396 - 08/20/04 08:18 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
Hi CJL,
Are you saying that the manufacturer's list price on the Roland is $2699, or that the dealer's normal (discounted) price is $2699. I guess what I'm asking is, "what's the list price?"
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#674397 - 08/20/04 09:02 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
CJL Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/19/04
Posts: 5
Loc: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
SteveY,
I believe that the "list price" for the Roland is $2699. They are discounting the floor model to $2400, and then I'd have to pay $200 for delivery (unless, of course, I decide to pick it up myself).

CJL

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#674398 - 08/20/04 09:17 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
nan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/12/04
Posts: 140
Loc: San Francisco
CJL Interesting that you can get the CA9 Kawai for 2700 because I was told the CA 7 Kawai would be $3000! This is right before they came out. I also like the Roland sound but find the HP 2 keys a little light and not as much play in them as I needed. I now have a CLP 990 (discontinued model which I got for $3200) which I love. I admit that I still like the sound of Roland better (probably because my teacher has a Boston grand and I love the sound of hers), but I really needed a good keyboard with good action. And with a digital, there's a lot of possibilities for playing with the sounds.

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#674399 - 08/20/04 09:33 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
If the list price is $2699, then $2400 is not a particularly low price -- especially for a floor model. But before you start negotiating, you'd better confirm what the list or retail price is (which can be done with a phone call).

$200 to deliver a digital piano seems pricey as well. I paid just a touch more than that to have a 7 foot piano delivered!!!
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#674400 - 08/20/04 11:40 PM Re: advice request from a newbie
Frungy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/24/04
Posts: 283
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
So the Yamaha P-250 is out of the question? I thought the Yamaha stage pianos felt very different from the Clavinovas... heavier keys and better sound. Just wondering which Yamahas you tried out and why you didn't like them.

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#674401 - 08/21/04 12:21 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
CJL Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/19/04
Posts: 5
Loc: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Frungy,
I wasn't interested in the Clavinovas because they are out of my price range. I don't think I saw a Yamaha P-250 at any of the stores I went to. I don't remember exactly which Yamaha models I played on...there were several all at various places...In general the Yamahas are reasonably heavy but stiff. I find it hard to describe this in words. Heavy is good but there's this extra element that I can't ascribe a particular word to. Perhaps it has to do with return, which may be why the wooden keys of the Kawai appeal to a lot of people. I'm not so sure that a "floaty" return (say, with plastic keys) interferes with so much expressivity but it may just have to do how accumstomed the player is to that feeling. Banging on various models, particularly with single notes and not chords, brings out that "klack" from the key that is perhaps supposed to reflect "hammer action". This is more evident with plastic keys, esp on the Roland HP-2 I tried.

And the sound...well, they sound like Yamaha acoustics. I have to say, pretty good. Kawais sound like Kawai acoustics. I find that Kawai acoustics have lighter, more tinkly higher octaves than say Steinways. I could only really compare with those two since I trained on Steinways and Kawais growing up and have never played on a Yamaha. Rolands sound...well, they do sound like Steinways to me. On the Roland, sound is at the expense of touch. The full Steinway sound of the Roland is sampled on "normal" touch, which I find too light. I switched to "heavy" and definitely noticed a difference in the amount of force I had to put into producing a similar forte.

anyways...all rather nitpicky.

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#674402 - 08/22/04 06:52 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
miket156 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 3
Loc: PA
Cjl:

Do your homework on the list price on each of the piano's you are interested in BEFORE you considering buying any of them. Steve touched on it "lightly" when he said the 2400.00 was not a particularly low price. I'm not a piano salesman anymore so I'll tell you straight out, the prices they are quoting you are a RIP OFF. Basically they are trying to charge you TOP price for what they are selling. Don't fall for it. In particular, digital pianos "never" require service. I'll qualify that by adding that unless there's a defect with the instrument when you get it, you will be tired of it long before you need to repair it or replace it, if ever. So don't let them try to sell you "service" on something that will never need it. I use to work in a music store that sold pianos, organs, digital pianos, etc. There's no reason NOT to buy a floor model if it looks like it hasn't been played with a sledge hammer. If its not beat up cosmetically and your satisified with the instrument yourself, you should be able to get a good DEAL on it. Dealers need to move floor models because they have to make room for new models, same as cars. (sorry about that analogy, but its true) It is not unusual to discount a floor model 25% or 30% off the retail price at most dealers. The longer it sits, the less its worth. When the new model comes out, they'll have to sell it just above cost to move it on down the road.

Expect to pay a little more for a brand new model right out of the box. That's where they have to make their money. I'm not at all opposed to dealers making a reasonable profit on what they sell, but they get at least a 45% discount off retail for resale, and depending on how much they sell and what manufacturer you're talking about, 50% off retail is not unusual. So a 5% or 10% "discount" plus a high delivery charge would have me walking right out of that store. Its a buyers market and if you shop around, you can save a lot of money. Don't worry about having one shipped to you if you go internet sale, I've bought a lot of instruments over the internet, UPS and Fedex are good at what they do.

That dealer you are "working" with is not doing you any favors. Your money is good anywhere and a lot of other dealers are willing to cut the price a lot more than they are.


Good luck,


Mike T. \:\)

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#674403 - 08/22/04 09:17 PM Re: advice request from a newbie
Kenpcola Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/07/04
Posts: 86
Loc: Pensacola, FL
True that you have to shop around and make an offer well below MSRP. Nothing beats real grands, especially REAL Steinway. Given 2 specs, I lean towards Kawai. Very nice specs especially amplification parts...(may seem silly but it is a BIG factor for digital pianos since these pianos partly depends on speakers and amplification for "acoustic " character of the sounds they make) and wooden keys(I guess may be a factor for well trained pianist). It has more polyphony and "added" sounds of real pianos(nuances). I heard Kawai sounds(both acoustic and digital pianos) before and they are nice too. I guess they sample their own Grand pianos.

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#674404 - 08/23/04 08:34 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
mark2048 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/31/04
Posts: 48
Why not just go to guitar center, sam ash, or some other discount music store where you don't have to worry about haggling over price? At a discount music store everything has a price tag on it, and the prices are pretty much as low as they can go already, no haggling required.

If you like the roland piano at a piano store, try out the very highly regarded roland rd700 at a music store for $1800. I think Yamaha and Roland both price their "professional" lines of digital pianos well below their "home" lines for pianos of similar quality.

Or, before you even go to a store, go to an online music dealer like music123.com and check out features and specs of various pianos, get prices and then call your local stores to see what models they have before you go try them. You can do a lot of research at your leisure at home before you even walk in the store.

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#674405 - 08/23/04 09:27 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
I've never thought of GC and Sam Ash as "discount stores". The may have pricetags on the gear, but unless it's a blow-out/clearance item, the prices are usually pretty average (which of course is not terrible).
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#674406 - 08/23/04 09:58 AM Re: advice request from a newbie
miket156 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 3
Loc: PA
The "National" Internet companies, Sam ASH, GC, Sweetwater, Musicians Friend, American Musical are bound by MAP for their prices they post on line. (Minimum Advertised Price). If you call MOST of them, you can haggle for a lower price. Sam Ash didn't bother to respond to an email price request I sent them, Sweetwater wouldn't budge on MAP prices (They DO have better people that know their products, but I'm not in a $$$ position to pay for it). The main thing is to zero in on the model you want and then start making your calls.

Mark2048 mentioned the RD700 for 1800.00. That's MAP price. I got quoted as low as 1595.00 for it. The Roland RD700 is a very nice instrument. Easy to use, a lot of set ups, good sound, and you can get them at a fair price. Also take a look at the Yamaha P250. Its a nice compromise between a Clavinova and a professional stage instrument. It would still look nice in your house, has a good amp/speakers built in, and have what I consider to be the best piano sample on a digital available. I love the action on a P250. Others feel the action is too stiff and the sound harsh. So it depends on what YOU want to hear and feel. SHOP AROUND.

Another alternative-CJL-you're in Baltimore. Why don't you take a ride to Chuck Levins. They're "in" Maryland, but just outside of DC. They have everything, you can test drive what you want and then haggle price. If they know you're a serious buyer, they'll deal. \:D

Mike T.

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#674407 - 08/23/04 03:31 PM Re: advice request from a newbie
CJL Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/19/04
Posts: 5
Loc: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Actually, it's been difficult to find a cheaper price on the Internet for the Kawai CA9. When I searched for it on ebay, I got zero results. Websites like music123.com don't seem to carry that model. In fact, the only sites that were selling the CA series were German...at 3000 euros a pop for the CA9! I'm glad I live in the States. \:\)

I confess...I never went to the haggle session with the Roland sales rep because she is in Annandale, Virginia (almost an 80-mile drive for me from Baltimore!). I've been limited by time and been busy with other stuff. I told her on the phone that I tried the same model at a closer store to me and was still leaning towards the Kawai.

I did go to Chuck Levin's. They reduced the price on the CA9 only modestly (about 10%)--but I was happy with their friendly service. They know nothing about Rolands, as they are not authorized to sell them. I don't think I saw a Yamaha P250 in the store.

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#674408 - 08/23/04 06:00 PM Re: advice request from a newbie
mark2048 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/31/04
Posts: 48
Roland, Yamaha, and Kawai all have a "home", and a "stage" or "professional" line of digital pianos. If you like one of their "home" pianos you can usually find a similar "stage" model which will cost you a lot less. You will never find the kawai "home" piano you are interested in at guitar center or online; kawai won't let them sell it because they make lot of money selling pianos at or close to the manufacturers list price to those who are unwilling or unable to bargain down.

The trick is to find the kawai piano at music123.com that is most like the home version you like for a lot less money and with free delivery.

You mentioned the yamaha p250, which I own. A comparable clavinova would have cost me one or two thousand more than the $1850 I paid at guitar center.

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#674409 - 08/23/04 09:10 PM Re: advice request from a newbie
miket156 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/22/04
Posts: 3
Loc: PA
Interesting story about Chuck Levins CJL. Maybe the Sales sharks are reading you as a push over? Please don't be offended, maybe you don't have a lot of practice beating up Salesmen on price like "some" of us do. \:D

It could be also that the Kawaii you want is in limited supply and they're trying to get the most out of it. It may not be too often that someone comes in looking for that particular model. Drop back 10 and punt on Chuck Levins, I'm surprised. I've always gotten aggressive prices from them.

I'm not familiar with any Kawaii pianos, if the model you're looking for is a home piano you might be able to get the Professional version as Mark2048 mentioned. The key is to find out what is the equivalent in the Pro model. I think you might want to spend a little time doing research to find the Pro equivalent and then shop that model. If all else fails, call Sweetwater and see if they can tell you what model is the same as the home model you're looking for. If you do, give them a shot at the sale, its only right if you take up their time.

Keep at it, you'll save money if you don't jump at the first deal see.

Mike T.

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#674410 - 08/24/04 10:58 PM Re: advice request from a newbie
CJL Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/19/04
Posts: 5
Loc: Baltimore, Maryland, USA
I was told at Chuck Levin's that there is like a 3-6 month waiting list for the Kawai CA series. They said they could order one but it would take months to get here. I doubt they would discount an item that they need to backorder...but then again, I didn't ask that exactly. And so, they weren't pushy at all. If anything, their attitude was basically like, we're not worried that you're not going to buy it, because somebody else will!

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