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Hi,

My first post here, as my kid started learning piano and the digital piano just doesn't cut it.

Thinking about getting a new, mid range upright, probably the range of Kawai K2-K3, Yamaha U1 or T series, or Boston (UP118). That way if my kid doesn't play in the future, at least it'll motivate me to learn to play. I personally like classical music, but can't even read any music.

I haven't talked to the sales people at the stores yet. Any tips (since I don't play yet) for negotiation? (almost feel like car buying)

My questions are:
1. Just wonder if any particular model that the experts here think may be most "value"? Like any consumer product, I guess there's always something in that category?
2. Is manufacturing location important?
3. In terms of the tone being bright or warm, any general preference for young students that could encourage them to learn or enjoy more?
4. For a new piano, is it best to get one that's delivered more recently vs. one that has been sitting at the store for sometime?
5. Reading the specifications of the models doesn't help me much. Is there anything glaring I should pay most attention to? Is height the most important factor?
6. Any comment on service / reliability of these models?
7. How important is it to match the piano at the piano teacher's place?

Thank you!

Last edited by 1standgoal; 06/11/12 05:06 PM.
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Any advice from the fellow members? thanks.

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A good place to start would be to purchase The Piano Book by Larry Fine. After reading, you should have many of your questions answered. You can find it at Barnes & Noble. Local libraries usually have their (outdated) copy, too.


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Originally Posted by mahermusic
A good place to start would be to purchase The Piano Book by Larry Fine. After reading, you should have many of your questions answered. You can find it at Barnes & Noble. Local libraries usually have their (outdated) copy, too.


Much of the information is The Piano Book is outdated.

Larry's new semi-annual publication, Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer, would be a better refference. It is free and can be accessed by clicking on the ad in the left-hand column of this page.


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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
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0. Your motivation comes from within and not from spending money on a piano (or exercise equipment). Having a piano at home always ready to answer your curiosity and drive really helps develop your interest, though.

1. That depends on what value means to you. If you want something that can re-sell easily with lowest depreciation, then it would be a used Yamaha U1. Second to that would be a new Yamaha U1 wink It's a nice piano, too. If you want to spend less money for something that can still serve your purpose in #0 above, the other models you mentioned are great, too, and have a good track record.

2. Judge the location by the end product, not the other way around. If 20 years later, Yamaha's Indonesian models are still just as tough as their Japanese, then we would know that Yamaha can make great pianos out of Indonesia. We know that the Japanese factories have churned out reliable products for decades and we're just waiting-to-see how the non-Japanese factories do over the long run.

3. As long as the tone does not detract the student hearing the music in their mind, it's fine. My kid loves those little electronic keyboards too.

4. I think there is a small advantage to a piano that's sat around a bit longer. You wouldn't need to tune as often as you might for a piano that was just made last month. The dealer's tech would have tuned the unsold piano frequently to keep it presentable, and any small problems that might develop would have been spotted by the tech then.

5. Taller usually means longer strings and hence better tone. Usually. Not always. Tone value is subjective. If I were a complete beginner and I picked a piano based on price and reputation, I would not think anything wrong with that approach. Eventually you will develop your own preferences and you might replace your first piano with something else (or totally different, like a ukulele).

6. From what I read here they are all dependable models.

7. I don't feel it's important to get the same piano as the teacher's. A pianist adapts to the instrument of the location. There are parents who buy the the smaller versions (like a C2) of the competition grands (probably a C6 or a C7) to give their kids an advantage in competitions. I do not test or compete so this "matching" thing does not apply to me.

Last edited by gnuboi; 06/11/12 09:26 AM.
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Originally Posted by gnuboi

7. I don't feel it's important to get the same piano as the teacher's. A pianist adapts to the instrument of the location. There are parents who buy the the smaller versions (like a C2) of the competition grands (probably a C6 or a C7) to give their kids an advantage in competitions.


Even if those parents do that, it still doesn't work, as the pianos are still different. Great post^

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Originally Posted by 1standgoal

1. Just wonder if any particular model that the experts here think may be most "value"? Like any consumer product, I guess there's always something in that category?

I'd recommend that you forget about value. If you want value, get something like a Steinway and watch 30% of your cash walk away instantly and the piano slowly lose you cash as you see it remain at a steady price lower than you purchased it for. Then you can sell it for half what you could get, and realize you got taken for a ride.

Look at a piano as something to be used and appreciated, but not as an investment. Never an investment. A brag, perhaps. An object of price, possibly. Something that will make you money... not unless you are a dealer.

Quote

2. Is manufacturing location important?

It can be, but others should answer this. Depends on the model and make, etc., and some here have a lot of info on all the specifics.

Quote

3. In terms of the tone being bright or warm, any general preference for young students that could encourage them to learn or enjoy more?

When I was 10 years old, I preferred the bright sounds with light action. Heavy action for a kid is heck. Maybe some kids love it, but I hated it. The old uprights my dad reworked were sometimes so fantastically loose that I could effortlessly rocket through pieces--perfect. Now older, a slightly-loose action is nice, but I find tight and hard action an utter pain in the butt. You want responsiveness, not a struggle.

Quote

4. For a new piano, is it best to get one that's delivered more recently vs. one that has been sitting at the store for sometime?

Doubt it. They probably keep their pianos well. That's their job. A piano kept properly doesn't really accrue many problems over a decade or two. Of course there are improvements in pianos, so something like a Kawai or Shigeru Kawai might be much better after 2004 (or around there) because they changed their actions.

Quote

5. Reading the specifications of the models doesn't help me much. Is there anything glaring I should pay most attention to? Is height the most important factor?

Use your ear. That's the most important factor. Ears and hands should matter completely. The "size" debate has some merit since usually the larger sizes have better sound, but that isn't always true.

Quote

6. Any comment on service / reliability of these models?

I'd recommend the Yamaha or Kawai. I'm not a fan of the Bostons' action or sound.

Quote

7. How important is it to match the piano at the piano teacher's place?

I had a teacher with a well-used Steinway when I was single-digits old, and I played on a crisp Sohmer grand. Didn't matter. It could if the teacher or student have wildly different sounds. When I go from a loosey-goosey piano after weeks of practice and sit at something proper like a Yamaha C-3, my ears take a long time to adjust. I'd hope you and your kid's teacher have similar piano sounds instead of one being a clunky honky-tonk from 1900 and the other being a mid-80s conservatory grand.


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Thanks everyone for the nice input. I'll do more due diligence.

I have no intention to treat this as an investment or to re-sell this soon. I tend to research things a bit carefully and use them for a long time - cars, watches, etc. The Honda that I have is 10 years old approaching 100K and probably can last another 8 years (it does have good resale value). My one watch is 15 years old.

When I talk about value, I'm just referring to products that offer more compared to others at the same price point - reliability, performance, usability.

One quick question: how important is my daughter's opinion in preference for the sound of the piano? She's had 3 months of lessons.

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Originally Posted by 1standgoal
Thinking about getting a new, mid range upright, probably the range of Kawai K2-K3, Yahama U1 or T series, or Boston (UP118).
My questions are:
1. Just wonder if any particular model that the experts here think may be most "value"? Like any consumer product, I guess there's always something in that category?
2. Is manufacturing location important?
3. In terms of the tone being bright or warm, any general preference for young students that could encourage them to learn or enjoy more?
4. For a new piano, is it best to get one that's delivered more recently vs. one that has been sitting at the store for sometime?
5. Reading the specifications of the models doesn't help me much. Is there anything glaring I should pay most attention to? Is height the most important factor?
6. Any comment on service / reliability of these models?
7. How important is it to match the piano at the piano teacher's place?

1. Best "value" though not best quality is generally thought to come from Chinese pianos these days. As Kawai often sells for a little less than Yamaha but is of equal quality, it might be considered of better value than Yamaha. A bunch of PW contributors have griped that Boston is not as good a value as either Kawai or Yamaha but I don't know the details.
2. Best to read Larry Fine's The Piano Book about this issue. The Japanese always reserve manufacture of their best instruments to Hamamatsu and the Koreans mostly do the same regarding Korea. While this piece of information doesn't say manufacturing in Indonesia or China is necessarily inferior, it may affect your considerations.
3. No. If the kid's going to get interested and the piano is kept in tune, what you initially buy is unlikely to make a big difference, though this can change in time.
4. A new piano with a previous year's manufacture date might mean it will be harder to resell for the same price as one with a new date, though this difference will shrink quickly with time. On the positive side, if the strings have had time to stretch out and the instrument has been kept in tune by the dealer, you might find that you'll be able to cut down on the typical first-year-only hassle of needing 3 or 4 tunes.
5. Besides the height (translate: string length) that you mention, arguably the next most important thing would be to read Larry Fine (The Piano Book) regarding the instruments in question. Your public library will have a copy. Half.com is a good place to buy a cheap copy.
6. Kawai and Yamaha have stellar reputations for reliability that similar or less epensive pianos don't, though Boston is likely to be the exception given that it's made (though not designed) by Kawai
7. Zero

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Buy the "Idiots Guide to Buying a Piano" book.( Amazon.com)

It will bring your piano IQ and buying leverage up.

When you find a model you are leaning towards......do a search on Piano World for various opinions and pricing.

I would buy a Kawai K3 over a K2. If you read something about an instrument in their marketing that you don't understand...ASK questions here! If you think you might upgrade to a grand in the near future.....don't buy the upright with a kitchen sink. Save your money for the future grand.

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Based on some reading, it looks to come down to U1 vs. K3 vs. Boston UP-118S PE. Of course listing price is all different, and I'm not going to worry about that yet.

Boston UP-118E seems to cost significantly more than UP-118S, with relatively similar specs. what's the reason? These recent Boston uprights have the "performance edition"; however it's hard to find any useful reviews.

Mostly on the way the instruments sound: Rusty commented that "I'm not a fan of the Bostons' action or sound." Is there anything particular about Boston? The Pianobook site said of Boston "a little better sustain and more tonal color" (vs. Kawai). Someone commented on Yamaha tends to be a bit bright (for classical music) - is that still the case for newer models?

Thanks.

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You are aware that Boston is manufactured by Kawai for Steinway......?

Before I bought my Kawai K8 I checked out the Boston pianos. For my taste I found the Kawai to be a better value.

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Originally Posted by 1standgoal
One quick question: how important is my daughter's opinion in preference for the sound of the piano? She's had 3 months of lessons.


Well, it'd be rather de-motivating to express preference only to end up with something else. Set a budget and ask her to keep her selection within that wink

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Originally Posted by 1standgoal
Mostly on the way the instruments sound: Rusty commented that "I'm not a fan of the Bostons' action or sound." Is there anything particular about Boston? The Pianobook site said of Boston "a little better sustain and more tonal color" (vs. Kawai). Someone commented on Yamaha tends to be a bit bright (for classical music) - is that still the case for newer models?


What if you like "bright" classical music and less "color" in your tone? For all we know these reviewers have completely opposite preferences compared to yours.

For me a bit brighter is a better than the opposite. Helps keep you awake.

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Originally Posted by 1standgoal
Someone commented on Yamaha tends to be a bit bright (for classical music) - is that still the case for newer models?


New Yamahas have become less bright by design over the years. Larry Fine mentions this but so have several PW postings. Whether it's still "too bright" is a matter purely of personal taste. Yamaha has millions of fans around the globe and dozens of detractors on Pianoworld. You must decide for yourself.

You raise the issue of "classical." While almost all jazz players seem to like the sound, so does an apparently significant though undefined percentage of classical players. Play some. Listen. Then decide for yourself.

One nice thing about new Yamahas--they're all the same. If you like (or dislike) one U3 or C3 you'll like (or dislike) the next. This is also true of Kawai. It has been said to be true of a few of the top-end German lines as well, but the vast majority of piano lines from Chinese all the way up to Steinway have yet to be able to produce such consistency.

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So do people feel that the Boston model I refer to probably isn't on par with the other 2? - due to size / features differences, and maybe location of manufacturing.

Sound wise I guess it's all personal preference. No side by side comparison is possible, and I don't have discerning ears to tell the difference among these pianos (all fine quality to me). Dealers are at least 30 min away from each other.

Thanks.

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Originally Posted by 1standgoal
So do people feel that the Boston model I refer to probably isn't on par with the other 2?


The fact that some PW contributors have a sense that Boston is priced a bit high compared with Kawai or Yamaha in terms of value for money doesn't necessarily mean it won't be your favorite.

Check prices. Play them all and see what sounds good to you. Make a decision. Then forget about all this stuff and enjoy your new piano. No doubt it's more than 90% your playing and less than 10% what you're playing on that counts! You won't go terribly wrong with any of these three, nor would any of the three bring you Fazioli-level $100,000 quality. That said, they're all very good.

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Thanks for the comment. I was trying to make some elimination of choices (sometimes too many choices is confusing) based on features, without worrying about prices.

Price wise, the Boston UP-118S model actually has the lowest list price according to the Piano buyer. It's based on the list price at the New York retail store and it is about eight hundred dollars lower than my local store's listing price. Of course, this model doesn't have the feature set of K3 and U1, and the step up (UP-118E) has a 50% price increase. So, I feel this is a bit odd. In addition, the relative lack of discussions of this model makes me hesitate.

I recognize that I shouldn't buy stuff because certain models are popular - but if tons of people buy Toyota or Honda, I see no reason to buy a Nissan when I can't even tell the difference how they drive. smile

Anyway, any one having experience with UP-118S please feel free to chime in.


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No experience but no one ever said Bostons were poorly made. They're made by Kawai, after all. So it's more like Mazda supplying powertrain components for some Ford models wink

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Originally Posted by gnuboi
No experience but no one ever said Bostons were poorly made. They're made by Kawai, after all. So it's more like Mazda supplying powertrain components for some Ford models wink


'Kind of hard to not view Kawai and Yamaha as the "Honda and Toyota of the piano world." Even if so, however, I think gnuboi's analogy is a pretty good one! Kawai is not going to make junk, especially in the Hamamatsu factory. That throws the spotlight onto the designers at Steinway. Anyone have any particular inside knowledge regarding those designs? (I've heard rumors but don't want to spread rumors as I have no solid information.)

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