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#1370651 02/11/10 01:13 AM
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I thought I had found the perfect piano for me in the Kawai K5. Liked it better than anything else I played at that price point until I played the Boston 126. I like the action of the 126 better than the K5, but I like the sound of the K5 better than the 126. The 126 sounds a little 'muddy' to me.

Locally, the 126 is about $1600 more expensive than the K5.

Any suggestions?

Also, is the Kawai K5 more comparable to the Boston 118?

Thanks for any feedback.

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In my admittedly limited experience playing both pianos, I would say they have a rather different sound. (Though Boston is manufactured in the Kawai plant it is designed to whole different set of specs with some different technology all designed and specified by Steinway. NOT Kawai.) I think these pianos should be distinctly different enough to find a pretty clear favorite over the other. How much more do you like the action of the Boston vs. the Kawai. Is it enough to sacrifice the tone you like? I'm sure the real experts will chime in shortly, but definitely play them both a lot! See which one suits you personally for your playing style. Play some of your repertoire on both pianos and see which one naturally agrees with your playing style and what you like to hear.

That is my advice.

Last edited by Supernick5000; 02/11/10 01:27 AM.

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Both are built very well and hold value well.. It is true many of the case parts are very similar between the two pianos but much of the materials used are far different.. notably the composite action parts vs. all wood, of course. The designs are completely different as well. I agree with Supernick that, even though these pianos were manufactured in the same factory, they will play and sound much different from one another.

You mentioned that the Boston was 'muddy' sounding. I would express this to the dealer and see if he has any ideas to address this problem. Sometimes a muddy sound can come from an piano which is slightly out of tune. Perhaps they could voice the piano up a little to make it sing more.. Just some ideas..

Good luck thumb



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As Jonathan mentions, express your concerns to the respective dealers. See who's willing to make the adjustments needed to make you happy. Just be mindful that changes in voicing can sometimes be hard to undo and adjustments to the action can take hours, so be sure you've narrowed it down to the final 2 before making such a request.

It looks like you'll have a nice piano on your hands either way. I'm not sure how these pianos would compare to the 118, although I think there is more than one model Boston 118 (one of them is more of a "price" oriented instrument, while I've read the other is better made).


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The Boston 118 is an institutional studio. The comparable Kawai would be the UST-9. While both are nice pianos, they don't hold a candle to the K5 or 126.

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if you can get a Boston 126 for only $1,600 more than the K5, run don't walk to that dealer! As far as the "muddy" bass some on Piano World use that exact term in describing Boston's bass...thus, stop reading Piano World and come up with your own conclusions as to how the bass sounds to YOU! Don't forget, each Boston 126 will have its own character

Last edited by choleric; 02/11/10 10:45 PM.

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Originally Posted by hirsch08
I thought I had found the perfect piano for me in the Kawai K5.


To be honest I'm not really a fan of upright pianos but I played a K5 in a gig a couple of years ago and thought it was really good! I can't really say that it was the best upright I've ever played because I can't remember many of them (I teach one day a week on a horrid upright!) but it must have got close to being that...

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Thanks, Supernick5000, Diaphragmatic and terminaldegree for the input. Much appreciated.

BPrentice, that helps. I didn't like the UST-9 as much as the K3 and K5. Especially the K5 with really nice tone.

choleric, I actually hadn't read any reviews on this forum using the word 'muddy'. I thought people who knew anything about pianos would chide the reference from someone who is obviously inexperienced in piano buying. Even the tech at the dealer thought something was off with the sound of the 126 I looked at. Fortunately they have another 126 in their warehouse. They are tuning it so I can play it. Hopefully the sound is more clear. Otherwise the K5 is coming home.

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Originally Posted by choleric
if you can get a Boston 126 for only $1,600 more than the K5, run don't walk to that dealer!


Hearing the quotes on most Bostons (and their affiliates), I'd crawl instead of walk. "Only" $1,600 more, or for that matter, only 50 cents more is a relative number. Then again, I could be wrong (I frequently am). Good luck!


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Originally Posted by BPrentice
The Boston 118 is an institutional studio. The comparable Kawai would be the UST-9. While both are nice pianos, they don't hold a candle to the K5 or 126.


You mean the 118S, not the 118E/PE which is in another league. Not much difference between the 118E/PE and the 126 IMHO. A bit more volume, that's all. Same number of copper-wound bass strings, etc.

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Originally Posted by hirsch08
Thanks, Supernick5000, Diaphragmatic and terminaldegree for the input. Much appreciated.

BPrentice, that helps. I didn't like the UST-9 as much as the K3 and K5. Especially the K5 with really nice tone.

choleric, I actually hadn't read any reviews on this forum using the word 'muddy'. I thought people who knew anything about pianos would chide the reference from someone who is obviously inexperienced in piano buying. Even the tech at the dealer thought something was off with the sound of the 126 I looked at. Fortunately they have another 126 in their warehouse. They are tuning it so I can play it. Hopefully the sound is more clear. Otherwise the K5 is coming home.


I hope they really put a good Boston out there for you. because I absolutely loved the 126 I played at Steinway-Hall Akron. The touch was unbelievable and the full sound was something to revel in. Of course the Kawai has such a sweet tone, I definitely think you have a hard decision in front of you. Enjoy the process! and then Enjoy the winner!!!!!!


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The tech at the Steinway shop sorted out the 126. The tone in the lower register is much more clear now.

Is $8500 a decent price for the 126? It's still $1600 more than the Kawai K5 (which I really like, and the tone is still my favorite, but I prefer the action of the Boston slightly).

Played a Boston 118PE as well. Not quite as impressive as the 126, but the way the fallboard folds behind the music stand is fantastic. Great design improvement from Boston.

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In my experience I think $8500 is a great price for the Boston 126. The action on a Boston is a good feeling experience, but I like the Action on all Steinway pianos. However it would seem the Kawai is still your favorite. As much as I love the entire family of Steinway designed pianos, I cannot recommend you go against what you seem to truly favor based your own personal assessment of both pianos. If the Kawai just works for you, sounds the best to you, and fits your style of play and makes you sound the way you think you should sound you should definitely go with the Kawai. You don't want to spend that much money and not get the piano that sounds the way you want.

It seems in your case the Boston may be what I call a "trap" product. Good enough to get your attention and give you a thrill. But your heart seems to be with the Kawai for the long run. Of course if I'm wrong please disregard this entire post.
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hirsh08,

If your comparison of touch is close, then as you get familiar with the piano, you will naturally adjust.

It sounds like the Steinway tech is willing to work with you on tone, however people don't usually adjust to the sound the way they adjust to touch. If you are happy with the sound and comfortable with the tech, it is fair that he can make another round of adjustments in your home (something to ask for in your offer.)

If you are willing to pay more for the Boston, you should like it more using whichever criteria you choose. Both will serve you well.


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I think the K5 is slightly the better piano and just as the Boston dealer improved the 126, I'm sure the same could be done to improve the action feel of the K5.

I certainly don't see any 'relationship' between a Steinway and a Boston piano except for the fact that Steinway own the Boston name.

The premium you pay for the Boston over the Kawai may well relate to the Steinway name connection.

There are more 'Kawai' characteristics than 'Steinway' characteristics in a Boston. (components, feel, tone, appearance)

Your choice. Better piano or better 'name connection'?


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I agree with ChriVenables. Explain to the Kawai dealer what you don't like about the touch, and it is likely something that they can take care of. If they improve it to your satisfaction, you get a piano with the sound you prefer, touch you like, and you save $1600. That's a win in my book.

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Originally Posted by ChrisVenables
I think the K5 is slightly the better piano and just as the Boston dealer improved the 126, I'm sure the same could be done to improve the action feel of the K5.

I certainly don't see any 'relationship' between a Steinway and a Boston piano except for the fact that Steinway own the Boston name.

The premium you pay for the Boston over the Kawai may well relate to the Steinway name connection.

There are more 'Kawai' characteristics than 'Steinway' characteristics in a Boston. (components, feel, tone, appearance)

Your choice. Better piano or better 'name connection'?


I find it hard to believe that someone can actually spend serious time with either and Essex or Boston Piano and not find the touch and tone similar to that of Steinway Pianos. Not just knowing that Steinway makes all the specs and implements it's patents in those pianos but just playing them they sound like Steinways. As I played all of the entry-level pianos I was somewhat shocked at how these pianos actually had that Steinway sound after all the stuff I read on here about how Boston sounds just like Kawai. I think those statements are way too vague (and seemingly based a lot on ignorance and no real experience playing the piano, or perhaps an agenda of some sort) and I don't think anyone who didn't know that Bostons were manufactured in the Kawai plant would say that they were the same sounding piano.

I read on here over and over how Boston and Essex were just run-of-the-mill pianos with Steinways name. It just isn't true, I found all of them to be wonderful instruments that truly had characteristics similar to Steinway. I think to call buying a Boston buying a name connection is insulting to the purchaser.

I don't understand all of the negativity on here around Boston and Essex Pianos. They are very good pianos.


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If the above comment is true, why pay for a Steinway?


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Originally Posted by Supernick5000

I find it hard to believe that someone can actually spend serious time with either and Essex or Boston Piano and not find the touch and tone similar to that of Steinway Pianos.


A couple of questions for you--
Sit down at a model K, 1098, M, and a D. Do you think the characteristics of touch are really the same for all? What is exactly the "Steinway touch", anyway?

Are the hammers for the Essex and Boston pianos made by the same process of tone building as those of the Steinway piano? (softer felt, lacquered to taste)

Do the string scales of the various Essex, Boston, and similarly sized Steinway models share anything in common?

Aren't many of the often-touted S&S patents now expired, allowing any maker to copy them?

If you love the touch and tone of your Steinway-family-of brands piano, that's great, and a tip of the hat to your local dealer for having the pianos set up to play their best. At the end of the day, this is most important.


Your contempt for the forum membership is noted. Gee, thanks a lot!


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Originally Posted by Nick Mauel
If the above comment is true, why pay for a Steinway?


I said they were similar not the same, and surely not as high quality. But they are more than a generic piano with Steinway's name on it. I think they get a raw deal when they are immediately written off as generic pianos with an affiliation to a name. I've played several and I've played more than a few Steinways. Of course Steinway is steinway and they cost what they cost for a reason. But with a very limited budget I was able to find a piano that plays similar to, and sounds similar to the Steinway that I had in mind but couldn't afford.

Of course no pianos are identical but each manufacturer seems to have a certain sound that is indegenous to it's pianos. Steinway being very notable for having that "Steinway Sound" I found a familiar sound in both Essex and Boston pianos. Not equal or identical but familiar. I think these pianos are trashed unfairly as being a "name" only and I just don't think that is true.

I am in no way saying Trade in you Concert D for a EUP-123. and you'll have the same piano. I didn't mean to imply that if I did. but the Pianos definitely have some similar characteristics in sound that is IMO identifiable as a Steinway piano. I don't think Steinway would make pianos and not offer a little of their DNA in thier product. The Essex and Boston lines have a little of their fathers DNA and I think someone who honestly assesses them should notice a slight familiarity in the way it plays and in the versatility of it's sound.


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