Kawai 350 vs KG-1C

Posted by: Lilia

Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 09:11 AM

Hi, I plan to buy a babygrand for my daughters(for learning) and myself(for fun). Now I have two offers and both of them are from private. The first one is KAWAI 350--the owner bought it as new from 1970 and the price is around 3200 usd. The other one is KAWAI KG-1C--the current owner doesn't know how old the piano is but the serial number is 766057, the price is around 4100 usd.

The two pianos are in nearly the same condition in terms of exterior looking, and their sound are very similar too.

Which one should I choose? Is the KG-1C a bit newer than 350? But for piano is it true that the newer the better?---I am completely new to the piano world :-)
Posted by: Mike Carr

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 11:45 AM

Lilia,

The KG is from 75. Its difficult to guage value/condition without playing the pianos. Age's effect on value/condition is not white as wash . . . Age is only important as it affects condition, condition is only important, to me at least, as it affects tone and touch . . . condition is usually dependant on use and upkeep, especially environmental concerns, more so than age . . . offhand, without a closer look, the prices look ok . . .

Mike


Posted by: Rickster

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 12:25 PM

Hi, Lilia, and welcome to the Piano World Forums!

I agree with Mike... not a bad price on either piano, if it is in good condition. A dealer would easily ask twice that.

Good luck!

Rick
Posted by: Lilia

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 03:41 PM

Thank for replies. We just went out and tried the two pianos once again. The key of KG1C seems to be a little bit heavy compared to the 350. According to the owner of KG1C, they bought the piano about 15 years ago and as no family member really know how to play the piano, it has been used only 1-2 times each year however they do keep piano tuned every second year.

Regarding the 350, as the "real" owner (current owner's parents) have passed away many years ago, the piano hasn't been used during the past 5-6 years and therefore not tuned these years either. The sound is not as accurate as KG1C. Can this piano stil l be tuned to its best condition?
Posted by: Steve Jackson

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 04:52 PM

Originally Posted By: Lilia


Regarding the 350, as the "real" owner (current owner's parents) have passed away many years ago, the piano hasn't been used during the past 5-6 years and therefore not tuned these years either. The sound is not as accurate as KG1C. Can this piano stil l be tuned to its best condition?


Hi:

You would need to have a tech look at it to know for sure. Considering the age, you should have it done with either piano. Both could be good deals.

Take care,

Steve
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 05:27 PM

Originally Posted By: Lilia
Thank for replies. We just went out and tried the two pianos once again. The key of KG1C seems to be a little bit heavy compared to the 350. According to the owner of KG1C, they bought the piano about 15 years ago and as no family member really know how to play the piano, it has been used only 1-2 times each year however they do keep piano tuned every second year.

You'd be surprised what a good cleaning and lubricating/friction reduction service on the action would do. It won't make the action feel substantially lighter, but it will make it feel substantially smoother (with the preception of being lighter).

It sounds like the KG 1C is barley broken in. Get the one you like the best, of course.

Good luck!

Rick
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 10:02 PM

Well..I hate to be a stick in the mud....but grin

You really need to retain a knowledgeable tech that is aware of what the REMAINING life expectancy of either piano IS not just it's present condition. You don't even want to purchase said piano come to find out some refurbishment has to be done in the not so distant future. Even partial refurbishment is a costly endeavour,probably more $ than the cost of either piano. On either piano you are talking 35-40 years old which is fairly OLD for an all original Japanese piano. Of course it is always condition contingent based on it's previous environment and it's extent of use. A low milage 40 year old piano even if never played will have dying bass strings and hardened action felts. Now if the piano was kept in a hermetically sealed bag for the past 40 years, maybe not.

I have owned many many preowned 350s with either the Howard stencil or the K.Kawai fallboard name. The majority were candidates for restringing,damper felt and action work or hammer replacement. 40 years of subtle humidity is deadly on any piano.The rebuilding industry obtains these pianos for cheap.They do the refurbishment at wholesale and makes a few dollars upon resale.
Now the KG1C is a bit newer but still. Actually 1975 is old for a KG1C. That is on the border of the transition from the 350,550,600,750 to the first KG series pianos. Most KG?C were of the late 70s to the early 80s before the KG?D series took over.

So....in conclusion I wouldn't invest in a 35-40 year old all ORIGINAL Kawai baby grand for $3500-4500. But if you do keep my # in case you need to refurbish either said piano and it will cost you more $ than the final out the door purchase price of either piano.
Just by opinion! wink
Posted by: gnuboi

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 10:06 PM

Pianobroker, what's the expected life of the pinblock and soundboard on these Japanese pianos?

There was this Yamaha from the 40's nearby but I didn't get a chance to go check it out :p
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 10:11 PM

I'd say that was a blessing for you. It is definitely a gray market piano being of the 40s. Probably was in some ancient Buddist temple outside of Hamamatsu. grin
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 10:31 PM

Well the Japanese both Yamaha and Kawai utilized less than #1 size tuning pins even smaller than the European standard. One doesn't need to address the pinblock first time around unless... it was damaged for some reason. Now the soundboard would probably sustain maybe another 40+ years but to fully restore this piano for 10-15K+ would seem to be kinda Nutz,don't you think ?.

The question is when the time comes "Should I fully restore said piano for ?$ or should I buy a brand new improved one for the same $. wink

This predictament doesn't apply to Steinway restoration. grin
Posted by: gnuboi

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/04/11 11:54 PM

With the dollar falling so fast, local rebuild labor might end up cheaper than importing a new piano wink

Thanks for the insight!
Posted by: Mike Carr

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/05/11 12:43 AM

Lilia,

PB a stick in the mud? Not hardly. But there are enough exceptions to hard and fast age rules, especially in a climate like we have, that, well . . .

The 5'1" 350 "artisan" level culminated in the KG-1 C and D (GE1-GE20?) . . . the KG-1 E and A grew to 5'5", little newer, better sound depending on your preference, leading into the current RX-1 . . . did Kawai think the 5 1 was undernourished? Who knows, but the e and a’s are considerably more than 3 to 4k . . .

I played a '67 350 a while back, the dealer wanted 7 grand for, I think. Pretty fair piano in walnut. Not a bad player in that range . . . remember, pianos don’t come with an expiration date . . .

The wonderful world of pianos. Let’s see . . . If you’re new at this and since you will need one, might start looking for a tuner, someone practical, not too glib or given to ardent spirits . . . if one of these checks out and isn’t headed for the sanatorium anytime soon or already mummified or DOA (I’m talking about the piano, not the tuner) prices are attractive enough (a little less never hurts) . . . it all depends on your market and what else is out there . . .

Mike
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/05/11 10:45 AM

Originally Posted By: Pianobroker
So....in conclusion I wouldn't invest in a 35-40 year old all ORIGINAL Kawai baby grand for $3500-4500. But if you do keep my # in case you need to refurbish either said piano and it will cost you more $ than the final out the door purchase price of either piano.

You always give good advice, Pianobroker, and I’m in no way qualified to disagree or even debate with you on anything regarding pianos; but I must say that we live in two different worlds when it comes to used piano prices. It would be really nice if us meager consumers could buy a decent pre-owned piano for what you dealers are able to buy them for, but that is almost always not the case.

I saw an all original Kawai 350 from the late 1970’s (that needed work) at a piano dealer, and they were asking $8000 for it (in it’s original condition). It is rare to see any Kawai or Yamaha baby grand piano, at any age, for sale for less than $3K or $4K.

I don’t know, maybe I’m out of touch with current, real-world prices for used pianos (not that I'm in the market to buy one).

All the best!

Rick
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/05/11 12:48 PM

Rickster, Let me give you an extreme example. If one could purchase a high quality Chinese baby grand for 6K BRAND NEW why would one spend $4000-4500 for a near 40 year old piano that is probably not as good quality wise as these new pianos on the scene today. Don't get me wrong. I've had many many preowned Kawai KG1C and 350 over the past 15 years. I personally like the KG1C but comparing a 35 yr. old original one to a BRAND NEW piano, it's a no brainer and the piano industry knows it.
Even though piano industry professionals are aware of this fact, it actually takes years for the piano consumer to catch on even for PIANO WORLD members.
One could either get a BRAND NEW Kawai GM10 for way way less than 10K and not that much more than 6K for that comparable better Chinese manufacturer.
Well that's my argument in the court of Piano World. Havent litigated a case in a while. grin
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/05/11 01:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Pianobroker
Well that's my argument in the court of Piano World. Havent litigated a case in a while. grin


Great advice, Pianobroker! Hey, you'll get no further argument from me... I rest my case! laugh

Maybe that old, worn-out Kawai 350 for $8K at that piano dealer was a reverse psychology strategy to help steer customers toward the new Bergmann and Falcone grands he had in his store. wink

All the best!

Rick
Posted by: Mike Carr

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/05/11 10:06 PM

Originally Posted By: pianobroker
Rickster, Let me give you an extreme example. If one could purchase a high quality Chinese baby grand for 6K BRAND NEW why would one spend $4000-4500 for a near 40 year old piano that is probably not as good quality wise as these new pianos on the scene today. Don't get me wrong. I've had many many preowned Kawai KG1C and 350 over the past 15 years. I personally like the KG1C but comparing a 35 yr. old original one to a BRAND NEW piano, it's a no brainer and the piano industry knows it.
Even though piano industry professionals are aware of this fact, it actually takes years for the piano consumer to catch on even for PIANO WORLD members.One could either get a BRAND NEW Kawai GM10 for way way less than 10K and not that much more than 6K for that comparable better Chinese manufacturer.
Well that's my argument in the court of Piano World. Havent litigated a case in a while. grin



PB,

Because of the rising yen and slowing availability of used japanese pianos, among a few other reasons, dealers can realize more profit off the new Chinese pianos. . .

Is profit more appealing than offering variety to suit the temper of the annoyingly rare piano buyer?

I would agree with you that likely as not when players compare tone and touch between used Japanese and new Chinese pianos, the new contrivances are sorely unappreciated . . . However, I doubt if the reasons are simply naivete or an unwillingness to transend tradition (isn't that the piano industry's problem?)and more likely the ability to listen to the piano rather than the salesman . . .

So, if a piano offers better perceived value in both sound and touch, despite a profit margin thin as some retailer’s scruples, will the retailer choose serving the hapless piano player’s lofty faculties or watching the gold pile up on the counter?

A high quality Chinese grand for 6k? That’s a joke. Right?


Mike
Posted by: Red Autumn

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/26/11 08:16 AM

Chipped in here a bit late,

but I want to come to the defense of the 350. I have a 1968 model, all original, which turned out - by design or sheer luck - to be a quite decent piano after recent decently performed voicing and regulation which cost me $250 for 4 hours' work.

In fairness it has had limited / occasional use until 1987 when I obtained it, and still light use after that. But I have moved it a few times and the locations have not always been one hundred per cent ideal.

Still, the way this piano 'came to life' during the recent service was an eye opener. Sure there are buzzes in a bass string or two. But the overall sound is very, very satisfactory to me, and the touch is as good and even as I can wish for IMHO. Much much nicer than any so-called 'reconditioned' piano of similar age I could sample.

It's amazing what a voicing can do for sustain! And how excellent overall balance can mask shortcomings in individual registers (i.e. bass).

Prior to the service, I was not happy with the piano and looked around plenty at other used pianos - some quite expensive 'big name' ones too, plus new ones in the lower price ranges.

Since the service I have not visited the piano showrooms even once. I have been too busy playing and enjoying my own piano.

So - one might just be very happy after a sealing a deal like the one mentioned by the OP. But the risk remains.


Posted by: John Pels

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/26/11 08:52 AM

And like I always say, it's not the age it's the mileage, and if I had the option of picking used Yamaha or Kawai or new $6K Chinese whatever, I would feel more comfortable with the major brands....assuming it passes a tech check. I don't necessarily think that "Red Autumn" has the only usable 40 year old Japanese piano. I have seen plenty of older Japanese pianos on Craigslist for this kind of money and in many cases could turn out to be a great deal. Most used pianos do NOT see conservatory use/abuse. Most are furniture!
Posted by: gnuboi

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/26/11 12:02 PM

I'm more wary with the pinblock getting old. A 40-year-old pinblock has been holding against all that pressure for 40 years plus humidity changes with or without use. I had asked before about this and what I gathered is that after 40, don't be surprised if you need to use larger pins, and if you go beyond that significantly, new block.
Posted by: John Pels

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/26/11 01:02 PM

Pinblocks get old. OK, how many times was the piano tuned during the last 40 years? Moving the pins back and forth tends to loosen them somewhat. Those pinblocks have quite a few laminations generally, lots of glue along with the wood. Even older pinblocks, with only say 7 laminations can hold up over long periods of time providing that this is not a conservatory environment where they are tuned more frequently. I was greatly surprised by a pinblock on my vintage 1909 Weber. When I got it, it had already been restrung once back in the 60's, but, they restrung to the original pins which were size 1's. They were still all tight enough to hold a tuning with no problems, and this WAS an institutional instrument, bought from a university. Evaluate each piano as an entity, on its own merits. If the piano needs re-stringing, provided you didn't overpay on the front end, the cost should be $2K or under and that would include a new pinblock. The cost of materials is roughly $100 for the new pinblock, so it is not worth stringing to an old block if you decide to restring. The cost of restringing to an old block will be cheaper because it is not necessary to remove the plate to do so, which saves tech labor.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/26/11 01:59 PM

Originally Posted By: John Pels
If the piano needs re-stringing, provided you didn't overpay on the front end, the cost should be $2K or under and that would include a new pinblock. The cost of materials is roughly $100 for the new pinblock, so it is not worth stringing to an old block if you decide to restring. The cost of restringing to an old block will be cheaper because it is not necessary to remove the plate to do so, which saves tech labor.


Maybe you can do a new pinblock for that kind of money if you are sloppy with the fit and the drilling, maybe burning a few holes. In that case, you would be better off with the old one.
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/26/11 02:09 PM

First time around it may be OK to use oversized pins (#1or#2) in that the Japanese use .69 pins originally. Now if there is this pintite, CA glue or ? used in the interim, forget it,

I will agree that an original pinblock with #5 pins is better than a new badly fitted substandard block which is quite common in the industry.
Posted by: Jeoehdn

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/26/11 02:50 PM

Hi Friends

I simply LIKE the sound of the Kawai upright pianos, which is somewhat mellow but bright enough for strong definition...

I do not own one but would take one for myself any day.

Regards, smile

Jeoehdn
Posted by: John Pels

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/26/11 05:35 PM

OK BDB, it's been a few years since I have discussed the cost of restringing with other friends that are techs. There really aren't that many sources of pinblock material. I typically use the maple from Schaff. The cost of a double plank is around $160 plus shipping, so figure $200 for a double plank which will make two pin blocks. The cost of Delignit is more of course and will be around $300 shipped, so $150 per plank. All of my holes are transfer punched so that I am always centered up and it likely takes me a couple of hours to drill carefully. The jig is infallible and the bit is always fed with around 40psi compressed air to keep the drill bit cool. As for fitting the block to the plate, I have yet to have ANY instability issues after fitment, and I guarantee that my fit is better than the last Baldwin I pulled apart with the gaps filled with an epoxy matrix that in some areas was beyond a half-inch. The first block I fit was on the piano I play daily. It has been 22 plus years and it still tunes like it did when first installed. The cost of bass strings is around $300 plus or minus, the cost of pins $60, wire maybe another $40. That adds up to $500 in materials which still leaves $1500 for your time. What am I missing? For me it's a hobby not a business, and yes it's a lot of work, but $1500 labor is still not chump change. I'm in the process of checking locally on the cost of this. I may be out of date..who knows.
Posted by: pianobroker

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/27/11 03:07 PM

Actually a new pinblock and restringing alone for 2K is kind of doable though there will always be those other costs that are compounded along with doing the pinblock and restring. You gotta pull the plate first of all.We've never done a new pinblock and restring without refinishing the soundboard and reguilding the harp,prepping the harp (understring felt,agraffes etc.)new damper felt,refinish the damper heads, installing and regulating the dampers, pitchraise and MULTIPLE upon MULTIPLE tunings. But if one is sourcing out the job exactly just the pinblock and just restringing, 2K is possible. You guys know this stuff already.
Discrepancy is what exact work is entailed for 2K. wink
Posted by: BDB

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/27/11 03:53 PM

It also depends on the piano. It is easier on a Baldwin, where the block comes out with screws, than on a Steinway or Mason and Hamlin, where it is screwed, pegged and glued, and those are easier than a Bösendorfer or Bechstein, where it is all that, plus multiple layers and exposed top to be fitted. I do not like someone coming along and dictating what the price of someone else's work should be, particularly for a vaguely described job.
Posted by: John Pels

Re: Kawai 350 vs KG-1C - 08/27/11 11:26 PM

BDB, I thought we were talking about Kawais here, which unbolt as you describe. I am not talking esoterica here, just mainstream. That was the original topic after all. I have done Steinways and others that also require mortised blocks etc, but that is not what the OP was discussing nor what I was quoting. As far as Baldwin goes, I have had those that unbolt and also those that are glued in like Steinways across the strecher as well. It just depends on the vintage. I have two torn apart presently a Mason and a Lester. The Lester is just bolted in, the Mason CC is bolted to the plate and then the whole shebang is bolted to the case.