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#1817818 - 01/03/12 01:37 PM Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please  
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Dabrador Offline
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Hello all,

Would like some advice and feedback. My wife and I are looking at two different pianos. The first is a 1979 Yamaha U1 built in Japan, serial #H2945492. The other one is a brand new Pearl River GP 148, serial #1180385.

I know...very different pianos. One is 32 years old, the other is brand new. One is an upright, the other a petite grand.

Both are being sold by the same dealer and they were kind enough to deliver both to our home to help us decide. The Pearl River is $1,800 more than the Yamaha. The Yamaha has been professionally tuned its entire life by the previous one owner. She traded it in for a new Yamaha grand.

The Yamaha has a "cleaner/crisper" sound. The Pearl River is more mellow. The Yamaha has obvious name recognition, but what's the reputation of the Pearl River?

I'd like your thoughts on the two. I know it's probably an apples and oranges comparison but wanted to know what the experts think.

Thanks everyone!


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#1817836 - 01/03/12 02:23 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Hi, and welcome to the Piano World Forums!

I'm not much on giving advice, and it is worth about as much as it costs! smile

With that said, the Yamaha U1, though it is 32 years old, it is a professional grade instrument. The PR is a very small, entry level baby grand. About the only advantage I can think of regarding the PR, is the grand action, and perhaps the perception and prestige of owning a baby grand piano; plus, it is new.

The cleaner/crisper tone you mention regarding the U1 is associated with the higher quality instruments vs. entry level instruments; that is not to say that some entry level instruments can't have a cleaner/crisper tone.

I'm sure you’ll get other opinions because we all love to give advice here!! laugh

Good luck, and keep us informed!!

Rick

Last edited by Rickster; 01/03/12 02:24 PM.

Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#1817838 - 01/03/12 02:23 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Hi Dabrador!

The U1 is a grey market piano, so you should get it checked out.

Take care,

Steve

#1817847 - 01/03/12 02:36 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Thanks for the input. I found a Yamaha site that allows you to input a serial number to determine what market it was made for. It said that this particular model was not made for the North American market and thus might develop issues due to a dry environment. In fact, the site states that Yamaha strongly discourages the purchase of one of these used "made for Japan" pianos.

Should that concern us about this U1? Also, what's a gray market U1? How can we determine that? Wouldn't the dealer be able to tell that?

Lots of questions...

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#1817858 - 01/03/12 02:47 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Originally Posted by Dabrador
Hello all,

Would like some advice and feedback. My wife and I are looking at two different pianos. The first is a 1979 Yamaha U1 built in Japan, serial #H2945492. The other one is a brand new Pearl River GP 148, serial #1180385.

I know...very different pianos. One is 32 years old, the other is brand new. One is an upright, the other a petite grand.

Both are being sold by the same dealer and they were kind enough to deliver both to our home to help us decide. The Pearl River is $1,800 more than the Yamaha. The Yamaha has been professionally tuned its entire life by the previous one owner. She traded it in for a new Yamaha grand.

The Yamaha has a "cleaner/crisper" sound. The Pearl River is more mellow. The Yamaha has obvious name recognition, but what's the reputation of the Pearl River?

I'd like your thoughts on the two. I know it's probably an apples and oranges comparison but wanted to know what the experts think.

Thanks everyone!



Greetings,

Are you planning to spend a lot of time on the piano? If you only use it sparingly, then the grand is better because it looks better. Unless the Yamaha is really worn and in bad condition, I can say with almost certainty that the Yamaha has better sound than the PR. So the decision comes down to "looks versus sound". If you or anyone just play the piano casually without getting serious, then the grand is a better choice. DP

#1817861 - 01/03/12 02:51 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: dr.dai phan]  
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Dabrador Offline
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The Yamaha is in excellent condition...in fact, it looks new. My wife and I will probably play on a regular basis. She's more accomplished than me and I'd like to begin lessons.

Should I worry about that "not made for North American market" issue?

#1817865 - 01/03/12 02:59 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Dab,

Grey market means simply that the piano was not distributed for sale in the US market, but has been imported here at a later date in a used condition. After 33 years of use (unless it's just reached a US port), IMO it matters little what market it was originally intended for. Your information about one owner since new would indicate it's been here a while -- if the info provided is correct.

Thinking along those lines, if that piano was going to crash here due to wood content not sufficiently dried for our typical indoor climate conditions, it would have done so long ago. I would amend Steve's point that it should be checked out by an independent tech because it's 33 years old, not because it was sold originally in another country.

It would help a lot if you could get a tech who's ready to check for the usual signs of decline in an old Yamaha U. Worn out or rock hard hammers, repetition threads, and bass strings are among the usual culprits.

I assume the dealer's kindness in delivering both pianos to your home means that you are committed to buying one of the two. If you don't want to get into a paid tech inspection and/or worry about the Yamaha's advanced age, go with the Pearl as long as you find the touch and tone acceptable. It's not a current Pearl River product. They replaced it with a GP 150 a while back, slightly longer and quite a bit heavier, so that one's probably been sitting around a while. However, if your dealer is a good established dealer and is ready to stand behind the PR factory warranty, things should work out just fine.



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#1817867 - 01/03/12 02:59 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Dabrador: Where are you? If you're in a humid area (e.g., Gulf Coast), it would be crazy to pretend that a gray market piano would give you more trouble than another Yamaha, no matter what Yamaha tells you. If you're in the desert or even a not-so-atypical U.S. environment with central heat causing low humidity in winter with considerably higher internal humidity is summer (e.g., Chicago), then if you're concerned about the humidity issue, you can take care of it with a total DamppChaser--the kind that can both lower and raise humidity. It's about $500.

You haven't mentioned price. The economy is lowering lots of used piano prices. I just sold a 1992 U3 and all I got was $4000 and it was in great shape. (You couldn't do this through a dealer, but you should actually have to pay much less than that for an older U1 through craigslist. Check!)

Many on pianoworld agree that a good upright beats an entry-level baby grand. True, but a 40 year old U1 might still be a fine instrument or might have been beaten to death. Only the tech can sort all that out for you. Good luck!

As said above, particularly if you get an older anything, you really need to pay a tech to go over it before you write the check. (I have no stake in this. I'm not a technician.)

#1817869 - 01/03/12 03:01 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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I did a lot of reading on the "grey-market" pianos a while back, and I think you should be fine. I'd want an independent tech to verify the condition, but if it is in good condition, I doubt you'll have any issues.

I'm also not sure the GP 148 is a current PR model. I think (but could be wrong) it was replaced by the GP 150 within the past 2-3 years.

Although I like some PR products (especially my Rit), if you like the sound on the U1, I'd probably go that route here.

Good luck,
Mike


If you're bored, try my blog (mostly faith & family): http://mikeheel.wordpress.com.
#1817877 - 01/03/12 03:12 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Here's some additional info...

We live in Cincinnati, OH...dry winters, humid summers.

As to the price...the Yamaha is $4400 and the PR is $6200. That's total for both (tax, delivery, tune).

Also, the dealer is giving us full trade in value. For the Yamaha, he is giving us 5 years and the PR he is giving us 10 years.

Concerning the condition of the Yamaha...the dealer states that it has been tuned and cared for professionally for its entire life. He showed me the condition of the hammers and they all have very little indentation on them. He said the previous owner played a style of music that put less pressure on the hammers.

When you look at the Yamaha, it really does look new, inside and out. I might add that the Yamaha also has a "quiet" pedal (the middle one). Was that added on later? I thought I read that the U1 from 1979 didn't come with that.

So, what do you think?

#1817884 - 01/03/12 03:24 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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At that price point, I'd much rather buy a new PR T3 upright. It should be priced right in between the two you're looking at. My other recommendation in that range would be a new Kawai K3 upright.

But, between the two you're looking at, I'd still lean toward the U1, as long as an independent tech checked it out and said it was ok.


If you're bored, try my blog (mostly faith & family): http://mikeheel.wordpress.com.
#1817909 - 01/03/12 04:01 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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The fact that the retailer is giving us full trade in value for 5 years, shouldn't that say that the condition of the U1 is good?

#1817910 - 01/03/12 04:02 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Originally Posted by Dabrador

So, what do you think?


To be honest, taking into account current production pianos and their prices as well as grey market used prices, both pianos are significantly overpriced.

The monetary value of trade-up cannot be defined unless the cost of the piano traded up to is established and put in writing at the time of purchase of the first piano. It never is. Because of that, the dealer can manipulate the selling price of the piano traded for to offset any overpayment to you on the trade-in beyond its wholesale value.



Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier
#1817914 - 01/03/12 04:08 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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$4,400 is WAY too high for a 40-year-old gray market U1. (Though, as others have stated, gray market isn't a big deal, U1s for the American market tend to go for more money--inversely, gray market should sell for less.) Again, I just sold a far newer (1992) far better (American market U3) Yamaha in the Christmas season and all I could get was only $4,000. (In better times, my newer American market U3 would still have only gone for about $4,900, so even before the economy tanked, a measely $500 more than what they're charging you should get you a piano half as old and if not twice as good, close to it (not to knock U1s--then fine work horses that do their job solidly. I had one once and was quite happy with it). DON'T BUY THIS U1. It's way overpriced!

#1817922 - 01/03/12 04:31 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Personally, I'd go with the Yamaha.
I may not know the exact piano's you're dealing with, but on the other hand I may have tried them out months ago (too long ago to remember the specific ones). I live in Cincinnati too, and have probably played every for-sale piano in the city. I don't think I have played a Pearl River that made me think "I'm happier sitting at this piano than I would be at a piano beside it".
My only concern about the Yamaha would be that it may not have as much life left as the Pearl River, simply because it's older. But, for the considerable life that it does have I would expect it to be a superior piano.

It was very nice of the dealership to deliver both pianos for you to test, so kudos to them. You'd be happy with either piano, in my opinion.


Full disclosure: I rent a Baldwin upright from the Kawai dealer in this city. I prefer Kawai over Yamaha, usually, but never enough to give a proper reason, I just developed a preference and stuck with it.

If you are still shopping, I recommend visiting the Kawai dealer too; partly because he has been very good to me, but mostly because he also has pianos that are well worth consideration (he may have a used baby grand within your budget too). There is also a dealer in Dayton that has a huge selection of used pianos, and they have great weekend hours.
But it sounds like the dealer you are working with has been good to you too. I'm sure you'll be happy with whatever path or piano you choose.

#1817929 - 01/03/12 04:37 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Originally Posted by Dabrador
Concerning the condition of the Yamaha...the dealer states that it has been tuned and cared for professionally for its entire life. He showed me the condition of the hammers and they all have very little indentation on them. He said the previous owner played a style of music that put less pressure on the hammers.


Okay, I'll play the devil's advocate for a moment... (not my normal demeanor laugh )

For the piano to be a grey market piano (from parts unknown), the dealer sure seems to know a lot about the history of the piano… seems a little strange to me.

Also, the hammers could have easily been filed/re-shaped, a common voicing practice. And, again, what style of music would put less pressure on the hammers? Doesn’t all styles of music have occasional FFF?

I don’t know… just seems a little like “over-kill sales pitch” on the part of the dealer to me.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#1817960 - 01/03/12 05:34 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Rickster]  
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Originally Posted by Rickster


For the piano to be a grey market piano (from parts unknown), the dealer sure seems to know a lot about the history of the piano… seems a little strange to me.

Also, the hammers could have easily been filed/re-shaped, a common voicing practice. And, again, what style of music would put less pressure on the hammers? Doesn’t all styles of music have occasional FFF?

I don’t know… just seems a little like “over-kill sales pitch” on the part of the dealer to me.

Rick


I was thinking the same thing - how do we know it has been taken care of in it's whole life? I figure if you really like the Yamaha, negotiate a better price and have your tech check it out. Then forget about what the salesperson tells you about it's condition.

Jonathan

#1817971 - 01/03/12 05:47 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Dabrador: Have you checked craigslist in your area? Have you looked at U1 prices on eBay? (There's a way to look only at auctions that are already completed, so you'll see what they actually sold for.)

$4,500 U.S. should at the very least get you a 12 year old U1 or a 20-year-old U3. Either way, you'd be way better off than the deal they're offering you. The $100 or less it will cost you to bring a tech out to go over whatever you find on craigslist etc. is no more money than what you'd have to pay the same independent technician to go over the 30-year-old U1 they're offering you. Buying an old piano regardless of make or cost without having a tech give it a physical exam first is asking for trouble. The tech can save you a lot of grief.

#1818035 - 01/03/12 07:32 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: jivemutha]  
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We've monitored craigslist for over a year now. We've seen dozens of $1000 pianos that are junk. No regular tuning, serious scratches/gouges in the piano...all the while the seller "claims" it's a $10k piano.

Because of that we've decided to go with a dealer. Thus the situation we're in now.

I must say that even though this is somewhat frustrating, you all have been extremely helpful and have given me great information to use in our decision.

We may just abandon these two and start all over. I'm still really concerned with the Yamaha being grey market and the fact that this U1 may develop problems due to dryness. I'm also concerned about the PR being 2-3 years old and a discontinued model.

Let's try this...if you had $5000 to spend, what would you get?

#1818040 - 01/03/12 07:58 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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What do you plan on using the piano for? Is your heart set on a grand vs upright?

Jonathan

#1818041 - 01/03/12 08:10 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Jonathan Alford]  
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Grand or upright...doesn't matter. Although, if it's a grand, it has to be a petite grand due to size of room.

As to use, my wife and I will play on a regular basis. She's more accomplished than me and we both are planning on lessons to improve our skill.

She comes from a very musical family. Her mother was a concert violinist and pianist for over 40 years.

We want the elegant piano sound in our home.

Advice on what to buy?

#1818044 - 01/03/12 08:19 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Hi Dabrador!

A few months back, I was in a similar situation to yours. New Yamaha uprights in my area tend to be pricey compared to some of the prices I've seen discussed for certain areas of California that involved "group purchases". If I were you and not really requiring a baby grand, I'd look at new Hailun and Ritmuller uprights that are in your price range.
These brands represent the "higher end" of the quality spectrum in Chinese-made pianos. Hailun is a privately-owned company while Ritmuller is the "high-end" Pearl River brand. If you like the sound of them ... a more mellow sound than the Yamaha uprights, they might be a suitable alternative to a new Yamaha and at least you have that warranty and peace of mind in having a "new" piano. If you have a dealer for these brands nearby, it might be worth a look. Unfortunately, in my case, the Hailun dealer was a long ride away, so I didn't get to play one. For your $5000 a 48" or 52" upright might be doable. Best of luck in your piano search! grin

Last edited by Emissary52; 01/03/12 08:32 PM.

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#1818046 - 01/03/12 08:30 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: turandot]  
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Originally Posted by turandot
The monetary value of trade-up cannot be defined unless the cost of the piano traded up to is established and put in writing at the time of purchase of the first piano. It never is. Because of that, the dealer can manipulate the selling price of the piano traded for to offset any overpayment to you on the trade-in beyond its wholesale value.

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#1818047 - 01/03/12 08:31 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Rickster]  
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Originally Posted by Rickster
Originally Posted by Dabrador
Concerning the condition of the Yamaha...the dealer states that it has been tuned and cared for professionally for its entire life. He showed me the condition of the hammers and they all have very little indentation on them. He said the previous owner played a style of music that put less pressure on the hammers.


Okay, I'll play the devil's advocate for a moment... (not my normal demeanor laugh )

For the piano to be a grey market piano (from parts unknown), the dealer sure seems to know a lot about the history of the piano… seems a little strange to me.

Also, the hammers could have easily been filed/re-shaped, a common voicing practice. And, again, what style of music would put less pressure on the hammers? Doesn’t all styles of music have occasional FFF?

I don’t know… just seems a little like “over-kill sales pitch” on the part of the dealer to me.

Rick


Maybe the last owner played with the soft practice pedal. It lessens hammer wear to next to nothing.

#1818135 - 01/03/12 11:59 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Originally Posted by Dabrador

Let's try this...if you had $5000 to spend, what would you get?


Assuming that your used market is as poor as you've described it, I'd choose between a K-3 Kawai or a better 48" vertical from Indonesia or China. The latter would include Young Chang's best series, Samick's better lines, or Chinese vendors Brodmann, Hailun, and Pearl River's Ritmuller line.

Because showroom initial offer prices are usually pie-in-the-sky, you should figure out first which of these has the most appeal and then be prepared to bargain hard and hold fast to your 5k limit. You won't get the glamour of a grand, but you'll get a good learning instrument for you and your daughter.


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#1818146 - 01/04/12 12:22 AM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Unless I missed it no one pointed out that a gray market U1 has to have at least TWO owners and no one knows how the piano was treated before the last owner that traded it in.

I just went through a search for a used U1 in Canada where prices are much higher and from what I found I would expect to pay about your price for a model newer than 1990. Based on the (higher) prices up here if you figure a life of about 40 years for a U1 you would be paying over half the new price for a model with 1/4 of it's life left. I wouldnt' expect the last quarter of it's life to be the best quarter either.

I don't know anything about the pearl river but I do think 4400 is too much for the yamaha.

Good luck.....

Last edited by DougMorgan; 01/04/12 12:32 AM.
#1818263 - 01/04/12 08:48 AM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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Portland, OR
Originally Posted by Dabrador
Let's try this...if you had $5000 to spend, what would you get?


I'd peel a very few of those $5000 dollars off and buy a copy of Larry Fine's "The Piano Book", read the whole thing, (focusing in part on P.208 wherein he tells you what used pianos are probably worth), and only THEN start to look around.

Look--we've all got our opinions and no 2 will be alike, but if you read The Piano Book first, you'll then be in a much better position to not throw money away and to find what you want. Good luck!

#1818293 - 01/04/12 09:48 AM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: jivemutha]  
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the nosy ape Offline
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the nosy ape  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2008
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Westford, MA
Originally Posted by jivemutha
Originally Posted by Dabrador
Let's try this...if you had $5000 to spend, what would you get?


I'd peel of a very few of those $5000 dollars off and buy a copy of Larry Fine's "The Piano Book", read the whole thing, (focusing in part on P.208 wherein he tells you what used pianos are probably worth), and only THEN start to look around.

Look--we've all got our opinions and no 2 will be alike, but if you read The Piano Book first, you'll then be in a much better position to not throw money away and to find what you want. Good luck!


I would save those few dollars and just click on the Piano Buyer link on this page.

Ha ha, I beat Steve Cohen to the punch.

#1818339 - 01/04/12 11:18 AM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: the nosy ape]  
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jivemutha Offline
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jivemutha  Offline
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Posts: 528
Portland, OR
Originally Posted by the nosy ape
I would save those few dollars and just click on the Piano Buyer link on this page.


In theory, nosy ape is right. In reality, however, it takes quite a while to read and digest this book, despite it's clarity and very helpful pictures. I could see reading a chapter or two on-line, but not the whole thing.

If it's available for the 21st century people (with their Kindles and Ipads, etc.) that I'm guessing that would work, but otherwise, since it sounds like you really need to read the WHOLE thing I suggest if you want to save the few bucks it would cost, borrow a hardcopy from your public library. That's what I did. I'm now reading it a 2nd time before turning it back in. If this book doesn't save you money, it'll save you regret. Either way you win.

#1818562 - 01/04/12 05:38 PM Re: Yamaha vs Pearl River...advice please [Re: Dabrador]  
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gnuboi Offline
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gnuboi  Offline
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Posts: 2,705
USA
In my area the nice baby grands start at around $6k. I would get those over a new U1. I have modest standards (well, now I do, after spending all that money)... many people would only consider grands closer to $10k.

With your budget I think I would get a new upright from the same companies offering very nice grands at $6k. Even a 45" would do, from between $3k and $4k. The trick is to find the ones with good designs that at minimum smooths out the tenor break.

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