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#96676 - 08/21/04 10:37 PM Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
Zing-Man Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/21/04
Posts: 3
Loc: California, USA
Looking to buy a new Baby Grand with my limited budget. Yamaha GA1 is within my budget ($6000-$7500). It is a 4'11". All parts are from Japan but it is assembled in Indonesia. Any info on the quality of this Piano? I was told by Kawai sales person that I should not buy below 5'. Is this correct? Is the difference between 5'2" to 4'11" so large that I should not consider buying a baby grand below 5'?

Thanks Ron

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#96677 - 08/21/04 11:10 PM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
RMAC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/02
Posts: 367
This piano has only been around for about a year so there is really no track record on it. I would bet that all parts arent from Japan, but that doesn't make much difference. Samick has been building pianos and guitars in Indonesia for almost a decade (first guitars, then pianos), you might be able to get a 5'4 Samick for the same price as the Yamaha and it should sound significantly better. I would strongly suggest looking at a good used piano in this price range as well.

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#96678 - 08/22/04 04:23 AM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
cps Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 171
Loc: Sydney, Australia
The GA1 is a good quality piano for the price. A Samick grand in my opinion is the spawn of Satan :p , so I'd stay away from them, regardless of how big they are for that price. I've been working on GA1s since they came out, and haven't come across any problems with them yet. The tuning is actually more stable when new than the Japanese made GA1s were. Probably due to the Indo factory spending more time on tuning and prep.

I've just had a go on the new model (GB1 here) which was quite a bit better than the older model, so you might want to see if there's a new model coming out soon.

Try as many pianos in that price range as you can. If you love one, buy it. Even if it is a Samick. To answer your questions, the GA1 is a good quality piano, which will last you a long time. The difference between 4'11" and 5'2" is actually quite noticable, but if the budget won't go that far, it won't go that far. Some will tell you not to bother with anything under 6 foot or 7 foot, so it's really a personal choice. If you're happy with the 4'11" piano, go for it!

Greg
_________________________
Yamaha accredited tech (Japan & Australia)
Technician for www.loganspianos.com.au

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#96679 - 08/22/04 02:37 PM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
I have found the GA1 to be UNDER-PREPPED, and difficiant in many areas. There is no SOSTENUTO, only a Bass Sustain. The Tenor break is a nightmare. and the pinblock fitting to the underside of the plate is Suspicious at best.
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#96680 - 08/22/04 03:27 PM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
Jens Schlosser Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/31/02
Posts: 262
Loc: Leipzig, Germany
 Quote:
Originally posted by TomtheTuner:
I have found the GA1 to be UNDER-PREPPED, and difficiant in many areas. There is no SOSTENUTO, only a Bass Sustain. The Tenor break is a nightmare. and the pinblock fitting to the underside of the plate is Suspicious at best. [/b]
Tom,

I never played one. Last time I was in a piano store in Berlin the sales men (manager of the store) told me that he was reluctant to sell the GA1 because he considered it to be a toy-piano. He spoke of tuning problems as well.

But now you talk about fitting of the pinblock to the plate. I'm really curious how you figured out that. Did you disassemble one?

Best regards,
Jens

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#96681 - 08/22/04 08:22 PM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
Zing-Man Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/21/04
Posts: 3
Loc: California, USA
Tom,

I am very new to pianos and not familiar with some of the terms you used. Couple of questions:
1) Was the GA1 you are talking about assmbled in Japan or Indonesia? I heard that the ones assmbled in Indonesia are actually better.
2) Based on what you have mentioned above, is this correct to assume the GA1 is lower quality than other baby grands of similar size (i.e. Kawai 5') and thus I should stay away from it?
Thank you for your feedback!

-Ron

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#96682 - 08/23/04 06:21 AM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
byebye Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/03
Posts: 1426
In shopping I played one and thought that it was decent, except for the lack of bass. I recommended it to someone.

Then I found out that it has a "composite" rim. My technician calls it paper. Would this shorten the life of the piano or cause other problems?

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#96683 - 08/23/04 10:03 AM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
IOf you pull the action out and explore the bottom of the pinblock fitting with the plate you will see that there is a lot of space between them. This would account for lack of stability. Also the Tenor Break area is where the bass strings end and the treble wire begins. Usually about an octave below middle C . My first test of a piano's quality is to play Chromatic runs abobe thru, and over this area. I am listening for how much difference in tone happens when you get to that spot. Some pianos are as smooth as a baby's behind, and some are like bunji-jumping.
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www.thomasccobble.com

BUSY IS BETTER THAN BORED

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#96684 - 08/23/04 10:57 AM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
byebye Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/03
Posts: 1426
Tom,

The break on the Steinway B in my studio (a few feet away right now) is more obvious than that on the Acrosonic spinet I had as a kid. I'll bet you can name some very fine pianos with a break more obvious than the Steinway's. I don't remember the break in the little Yamaha; it was the lack of resonance in the bass that got my attention.

I thought that Yamaha was fitting the pinblock with fiberglass or something to fill the gap. Was that posted here by someone?

I'm still concerned that someone bought a piano on my recommendation and it has a rim made out of whatever.

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#96685 - 08/23/04 11:16 AM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1904
Loc: El Cajon, CA
I personally prefer a large upright (a good quality one with a good bass section) over most grands shorter than 6' to 6'6", but comparing a Yamaha 4'11" piano to a Young Chang 4'11" piano, I think I personally like the tone of the Yamaha better in the bass and tenor (most likely the bass, tenor could be a little iffy but probably due to the poor hammer voicing on the plain wire trichords near the break on the Yamaha - last one I played wasn't particularly nice and I think I have played a GA1 that was better than that one).
_________________________
Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
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#96686 - 08/23/04 11:22 AM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13976
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
cps:

Explain your connection and intimate knowledge of *products from Satan* with special emphasis to Samick pianos! \:D

norbert
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#96687 - 08/24/04 12:23 AM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
cps Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 171
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Norbert,

I don't really have an "intimate" knowledge of Samick pianos (thankfully, I have a wife you know), but I used to work for the importer of Samick pianos in Australia for a few years. I ended up spending about 2 years as the spare parts importer and distributer for them. I eventually moved on to another place and I am now a tuner/ technician with my own business.

The only other "spawn of Satan" I have a connection with is my wife's Terrier named Pixie.

Greg
_________________________
Yamaha accredited tech (Japan & Australia)
Technician for www.loganspianos.com.au

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#96688 - 08/25/04 08:31 PM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
Wagscpa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/04
Posts: 36
Loc: St. Louis, Missouri
Zing-Man:

I begin this post with admitting my bias as I purchased the Kawai GM-10LE (their 5' baby grand)a few months ago. However, I played and checked into both the Kawai and Yamaha low end babies pretty extensively and here are my extremely subjective and personal opinions:

The Yamaha GA1 has a pretty good sound for the small piano it is and seemed to have a very pleasing tone for rock and roll. The Yamaha GA1 seemed to me to be a reasonable quality piano. I say this because it is the bottom of the line of their grands, obviously they have taken some shortcuts. But as I told all of my piano salesmen, I do not care if they built the piano out of cotton as long as it sounds good, plays well and lasts.

I do not believe that Yamaha would intend to jeopardize their reputation by making junk (that may be naive, but it is my opinion).

For comparison purposes I kept shopping around and found the Kawai GM-10 was actually in my price range and when I purchased it, it turned out to be cheaper than the Yamaha GA1E. I played both pianos several times.

I liked the sound of the Yamaha better in general (I am mostly a rock and roll and pop piano player) but I must admit the Kawai tone seemed much better to me on classical pieces like Claire De Lune. As I played the two pianos more and more the Kawai tone grew on me. That combined with the fact that it had the action I liked better and a full sostenuto pedal, and it was $1,000+ cheaper, explains why I now own the Kawai.

In my opinion they are both great pianos for what they are, that is low end grand pianos. Having played mine for a few months now I would never go back to an upright as both the action and sound are better on even my little, tiny grand piano.

I agree that the break of the scale in the Yamaha piano is dramatic if you actually go looking for it. That is play the low notes before the break and then the notes above the break and keep doing it and you will notice the break. With that said that had zero impact on my decision. I believe that was a sales tactic by my Kawai salesman as while it is true, I do not usually go around playing the notes up and down, around the scale break, out of context of a song. In the context of any song I played, I found the break issue irrelevant and I played a lot of songs on the Yamaha GA1E.

It was my telephone consultation with Larry Fine that helped with the decision to purchase the Kawai and this decision was largely based on the fact that I wanted to still play some classical music and we agreed the Kawai was a little more versatile in tone. I admit to this day that I still like the Yamaha GA1E tone better on rock and roll music in general.

As far as the difference between 5' and 4'11", I say forget about it. Play the pianos and see what sounds good to your ear. I have had people tell me not to buy anything under 5'8", 5'5" and god only knows how many other things I was told.

Here is my opinion. My piano is in my house. Not a school, not a concert hall, but my living room (o.k. actually my home theatre room). 5' of piano (or even 4'11") is plenty of piano for my room and I have an 18' X 33' room. I was amazed when I brought the piano home how loud the Kawai 5' was in my home. It did not seem nearly as loud at the store, but of course the store is ten times the size of my house.

Finally, you will not have 5'5", 5'8", and 6' pianos sitting around in your house. I learned this lesson years ago in recording studios. I sat in recording studios hearing a section of a song for six hours at the behest of engineers and producers only to realize that no one but us would ever hear the comparison. No one in the general public would ever hear the 50 different takes that we did not publish. They would only hear the final track.

So it is with your piano. Yes a 9' Bosendorfer will sound better than a 4'11" Yamaha. So What! If you enjoy playing your piano and it sounds good to you go for it.

But just to be sure, play as many pianos as you possibly can, and then do it again, and again and again and again, and then go buy the best one you can afford. That is the one that is the best compromize in your opinion. The best sound for the best money with the best action and the best size. Obviously there will be compromises.

Good luck and enjoy your piano.

Keith

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#96689 - 08/25/04 09:44 PM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
Zing-Man Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/21/04
Posts: 3
Loc: California, USA
Thank you all for your professional advice. I have learned a lot! I forgot to mention that I am actually buying the piano for my 10 years old son who start playing a year ago (I myself do not play). He played the Yamaha GA1 and Kawai 5" and liked the Yamaha much more (maybe beacuse he wanted already to leave the store :-) ). The Yamaha dealer offered me a good deal ($7000 US) for new GA1 w/ free shipping and tuning for a year (similar to what Kawai cost) so I plan to buy the GA1.

Thanks again. I will continue to serf this forum and hopefully be able to help in the future to other memebers.

-Ron

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#96690 - 08/27/04 04:49 PM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
TomtheTuner Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/29/01
Posts: 806
Loc: Melbourne, Florida USA
Mark wrote"5 Tom,
'""The break on the Steinway B in my studio (a few feet away right now) is more obvious than that on the Acrosonic spinett,,"" etc....
Mark. If you have a B, then it is very possible for a quallified tech to smooth out that break. It is close to impossible to do so on the G1A.
_________________________
Maker of the TCHAMMER
www.thomasccobble.com

BUSY IS BETTER THAN BORED

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#96691 - 08/28/04 07:15 PM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
byebye Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/03
Posts: 1426
Tom,

The break in the Steinway B isn't that bad. It's just that Baldwin disguised the break in the Acrosonic very well. I once played a thirty year old Petrof 115 which had an undetectable break. I had to open the lid to find it.


Ron,

Congratulations on your purchase. That sounds like a really good price.

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#96692 - 08/28/04 07:40 PM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
JIMBOB Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 1323
Loc: South Carolina
Forget about it... Not well made and it is below the 5 foot size that Larry Fine recommends.
I think I heard that the rim was not even real wood but some type of composite. Anyway you want a grand with a real sostenuto instead of just
a pedal that lifts just bass dampers. Don't be in a hurry because the dealer wants to make a deal. If you buy the wrong piano or buy it just based on price you will not be happy.
_________________________
Certificate in Piano Technology
Associate Member PTG
Yamaha & Petrof/Nordiska Training
Dampp-Chaser System Installer
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#96693 - 08/29/04 03:55 AM Re: Yamaha baby Grand GA1 - Is it a good Piano
cps Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/04
Posts: 171
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Jimbob,

I think you'll find Ron has already bought the piano, and he was happy with it before he bought it. So even though we all know a small grand doesn't sound as good as a big one, if he liked the sound of that piano, that's great! Who cares if Larry Fine says not to buy anything under 5 foot. Your last two sentences were spot on though.

I musn't have found the Larry Fine shrine or something. Everyone sems to worship the guy.

Greg
_________________________
Yamaha accredited tech (Japan & Australia)
Technician for www.loganspianos.com.au

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