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#77665 - 06/01/05 10:34 PM Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
schwa115 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 15
Loc: MI
Hi,

I have found 3 kinds of pianos that I have narrowed my search to, all brand new. I have been playing for about 6 months and I'm looking to upgrade to a new grand. Here's how I see it:

1.Yamaha GB1 Baby Grand 4'11" $8600
Pros: Yamaha, resale, happy owners
Cons: Size, last 4 bass strings are cloudy in sound, cost

Kawai GE-20 Baby Grand 5'1" $9500
Pros: Duplex scaling, soft fall fallboard
Cons: More than a GB1

Story and Clark 185 6' High 8K-Low 9K
Pros: Length, duplex scaling
Cons: Cheaper matterial, sound?

What does everybody think? Has anybody tried the Story & Clark. I haven't had the chance, but I heard the action is very similar to a Kawai. Also, at 6', it must produce decent bass...but how about the tonal quality in comparison to the Yamaha and Kawai?

What is the best deal? Thanks!

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#77666 - 06/02/05 05:59 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
CHAS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/03
Posts: 521
Loc: Ski Country of Colorado
Kawai, of the three listed
Quality and best sound of the three.
That Yamaha sound can get old fast
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A

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#77667 - 06/02/05 08:00 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
pianocliff Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/05/05
Posts: 398
Loc: Washington, DC Metro
Honestly you can probably get a high-quality upright in that price range (50"-52") that will sound better than any baby grand you can buy. The truth is you are at a price point where buying a better upright makes more sense than trying to get by with an entry level grand. I know it doesn't have the same "prestige" factor as a grand piano but from a purely accoustical standpoint the upright well have a better sound. Larry Fine mentions this in his wonderful book on pianos...

~pianocliff

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#77668 - 06/02/05 08:20 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
Christopher P. Smith Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/05
Posts: 1306
Loc: Timonium, MD
Well, if the Yamaha sound gets old fast, It would be fair to say that so could the Kawai.

It depends on the player and I don't think that is a fair statement to say about any make of piano.
_________________________
Representing Yamaha, Story and Clark, and other fine instruments
Menchey Music Service
Associate Member of PTG
Serving Central Pennsylvania and the Greater Baltimore Area

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#77669 - 06/02/05 09:11 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
Piano Peddler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/28/04
Posts: 351
_________________________
Craig Smith
aka "Piano Peddler"
Veteran industry professional
and keyboard musician

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#77670 - 06/02/05 10:44 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
Christopher P. Smith Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/05
Posts: 1306
Loc: Timonium, MD
Really? I don't think just because they are made in indonesia that this means the quality of materials are "cheaper". I believe the materials are up to Kawai and Yamaha standards (for that size piano) Its just the labor that is "cheaper".

I have not disected either of the 4'11" pianos in question... or the 6' SC to comment any further.
_________________________
Representing Yamaha, Story and Clark, and other fine instruments
Menchey Music Service
Associate Member of PTG
Serving Central Pennsylvania and the Greater Baltimore Area

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#77671 - 06/02/05 02:56 PM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
Paul Y Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/05
Posts: 1083
Loc: Nashua, NH
The Yamaha GA1E (now replaced by the GB1E) was first produced totally in Japan. However, the pricing was not much less than the old GC1 (at the time). So, Yamaha decided to have this piano assembled in Indonesia, purely to save money! The retail priced dropped nearly $1,000 after this move and was welcomed with open arms.

The GB1E is a far step better than it's predecessor (GA1E). The scale seems to be warmer and arrives in terrific shape, despite the long trip from the country of Indonesia!

If you review Larry Fine's book, ALL Chinese pianos are rated in the two to two-and-a-half stars group. They are particularly lacking in the "quality control" category, which in my estimation is quite important.

However, the current publication is about 3 to 4 years old and perhaps there are some that have improved since then.

Hope this info helps in some way.
_________________________
Retired Industry Professional

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#77672 - 06/02/05 03:38 PM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
ghostclaws Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/05
Posts: 382
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
...Really? I don't think just because they are made in indonesia that this means the quality of materials are "cheaper". I believe the materials are up to Kawai and Yamaha standards (for that size piano) Its just the labor that is "cheaper"...
Here's a question I have been wanting to pose to the forum pro's for a while.
Let's assume we have two equally equipped manufacturing plants, one in Japan and one in, let's say China and let's further assume that the same materials were used by both factories to manufacture pianos of exactly the same design[/b].
Which factory would produce the better pianos?

What the question I guess basically asks is in mass produced pianos, how much does human input still count? I presume that the Japanese technicians/managers/workers are more experienced and better trained than their Chinese counterparts...or is that a fair presumption in the current state of affairs?

If the machinery/materials are in fact significantly more important than the human factor in mass-produced pianos, I don't see how, given enough time, how China would not eventually end up making all these pianos...even assuming their workers don't improve in training and quality (I would not place a bet on that personally...in fact, I think they will catch up rather quickly even in that aspect).

GC

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#77673 - 06/02/05 04:48 PM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
Paul Y Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/05
Posts: 1083
Loc: Nashua, NH
If the assembly lines and machinery ("robotics") are exactly alike and the same quality of parts are used in both, other than the final tuning (chip-tuning process), there is little hands-on in these factories (*). Therefore, they should be equal in quality. However, the Japanese-assembled pianos would cost more to produce because of the labor cost differences between the two coustries.

(*) There is human contact in some of the assembly lines, especially around the action and keyboard installation areas. Otherwise, much of the piano building is done by company-designed machines. While they cannot be deemed as "handmade", it does make for a very consistant and reliable musical product.
_________________________
Retired Industry Professional

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#77674 - 06/04/05 01:53 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
jdbrysk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 150
Loc: pleasanton CA
 Quote:
Excerpts of
Originally posted by schwa115:
3 pianos
Yamaha GB1 Baby Grand 4'11" $8600
Pros: Yamaha, resale, happy owners
Cons: Size, last 4 bass strings are cloudy in sound, cost

Kawai GE-20 Baby Grand 5'1" $9500
Pros: Duplex scaling, soft fall fallboard
Cons: More than a GB1

Story and Clark 185 6' High 8K-Low 9K
Pros: Length, duplex scaling
Cons: Cheaper matterial, sound?

Has anybody tried the Story & Clark. I haven't had the chance,

What is the best deal? Thanks! [/b]
BTW, the Story & Clark is similar (or identical)to the other names from the Dongbei Factory (e.g. Lothar Schell, Hallet & Davis, Nordiska, Everett, Suzuki) so look for those names, too. Until YOU play one, advice here is almost irrelevant. I liked them and found IF WELL PREPPED, they could have a nice even tone with some richness and color, not as bright as the smaller Yamahas and Kawais.

I generally find the Yamaha sound too bright and thin until you get up to the C1/C2.

I can't comment on the GEs (although I like the RX's ;\) )

Have you looked at Young Chang/Pramberger (that's what we bought)...we found them to be a good value.

Also, don't be afraid to offer a price in your budget on a higher priced instrument. Don't expect the dealer to necessarily take it, but you might get lucky and you might get a nice suprise.
_________________________
A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.
--Benjamin Franklin

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#77675 - 06/04/05 02:10 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
jdbrysk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 150
Loc: pleasanton CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianocliff:
Honestly you can probably get a high-quality upright in that price range (50"-52") that will sound better than any baby grand you can buy. The truth is you are at a price point where buying a better upright makes more sense than trying to get by with an entry level grand. I know it doesn't have the same "prestige" factor as a grand piano but from a purely accoustical standpoint the upright well have a better sound. Larry Fine mentions this in his wonderful book on pianos...

~pianocliff [/b]
Larry Fine also explains the differences between a grand action and an upright action which should be considered. I don't agree that an upright at this price point will always sound "better" than a grand. I do agree that one should look at them both as it widens the field of options. But for us, the grand action was a desireable feature and a tipping point.

What uprights would you recommend in that price range?
_________________________
A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.
--Benjamin Franklin

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#77676 - 06/04/05 02:39 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
jdbrysk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 150
Loc: pleasanton CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Y:

If you review Larry Fine's book, ALL Chinese pianos are rated in the two to two-and-a-half stars group. They are particularly lacking in the "quality control" category, which in my estimation is quite important.

However, the current publication is about 3 to 4 years old and perhaps there are some that have improved since then.
[/b]
SHAME ON YOU for selling Yamahas and downplaying the current assessment of chinese pianos by Larry Fine, and I quote, (from the 20004-05 supplement)
"At the time of publication, I placed most Chinese pianos in Group 5, the lowest level. At the present time, I would probably place most in Group 4."

While trashing the competition based on country of origin, you say that your product while produced in Indonesia is better than its Japanese predecessor :p

If the Fine chart is our measure the only Indonesian make I see is the Samick which got two and a half stars for quality control.

In reality, I think the Indonesian Yamaha should be better, but so are the Dongbei Chinese, so let's try to keep the spin out of it.
_________________________
A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.
--Benjamin Franklin

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#77677 - 06/04/05 08:15 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
Paul Y Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/05
Posts: 1083
Loc: Nashua, NH
Josh,

No, you misunderstood. Both the GA1E and the GB1E were/are assembled in Indonesia. I said it's predecessor (the GA1) was made in Japan. The GB1E used to be the GA1 (without the "E" designation). For some reason, Yamaha added an "E" designation, meaning it was made in Indonesia(?).

And, yes, I failed to consider Fine's suppliment where he raises most of the Chinese-built pianos up to the next group. Sorry. I'm not sure I agree with him (based on the labor it takes to make some of these pianos floor-ready). We sell the Palatino brand. A good piano for the money but certainly not in the class of other tier 4 pianos.

I don't see my claim of Fine's book as "trashing" Chinese pianos. We sell them on our sales floor and they are a part of our business. I am just claiming that they are not up to the standards of the more widely-accepted brands as yet.
_________________________
Retired Industry Professional

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#77678 - 06/06/05 10:05 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
jdbrysk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 150
Loc: pleasanton CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Paul Y:
Josh,

No, you misunderstood. Both the GA1E and the GB1E were/are assembled in Indonesia. I said it's predecessor (the GA1) was made in Japan. The GB1E used to be the GA1 (without the "E" designation). For some reason, Yamaha added an "E" designation, meaning it was made in Indonesia(?).
[/b]
Maybe I did misunderstand. I am unclear as to your opinion. Do you think that the current Indonesian made GB1E is better than the GA1 Japanese made predecessor? or did the quality of the GA1 degrade when it was moved to Indonesia and became the GA1E?
_________________________
A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.
--Benjamin Franklin

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#77679 - 06/06/05 11:19 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
RMAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 367

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#77680 - 06/06/05 11:33 AM Re: Beginner buying a piano soon.....Yamaha GB1 or Kawai GE-20 or Story & Clark 185?!
Paul Y Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/05
Posts: 1083
Loc: Nashua, NH
It's been a while since I played and evaluated a Japanese-made GA1. But comparing the GA1E and the GB1E, the current 4' 11" is much better IMHO. The early GA1 was a nice piano if I recall, but the price made it too close to Yamaha's 5'3"'s

In the early days of the 4' 11" Yamaha piano, it was made in Japan ONLY and it was a very nice, but very expensive little piano! It was basically a C-series 4' 11" grand. It was called an "A1". It had duplex scaling and all the goodies that the C-series has. Unfortunately, it was more expensive than Yamaha's entry-level 5' 3" GH1B! In other words, in our minds, if it's a smaller piano (4'11" vs 5'3") it should cost less! This model was more expensive. So, Yamaha Corp. of America decided NOT to import this model at the time. They (YCJ) finally got the message that it had to be LESS expensive and they agreed to build the "G"A1 for the North American market.

I don't recall if ANY degradation occured when the assemble was moved to Indonesia. I just recall the price dipping, which was very important to us District Managers at the time.

In my opinion, it's the quality of the parts that make Yamaha a terrific value and not JUST where it's assembled. If it has the name "Yamaha" on it, there is a certain standard that the finished product must meet! For instance: In China, the "Eterna" (Yamaha) piano is produced for both the Chinese market and (up until now) the U.S. market. In the eyes of Yamaha, the Eterna product is not a high-enough grade to be considered a Yamaha product. So, although it is warranteed by Yamaha, it is an "Eterna" piano, not a Yamaha.
_________________________
Retired Industry Professional

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