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Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
#2367331 12/30/14 05:29 PM
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Hi, everyone -- I have been exploring the Internet for the past few weeks and just today discovered Piano World.

My partner and I have decided that we'd like to look into buying a used upright. I have done some preliminary research, and since I'm in the DC area, I have visited one specific dealer to see / play some of their used pianos for sale. (I'm not indicating the dealer's name, since I'm not sure that is acceptable on this site?)

Neither my partner nor I played extensively as children, but I did progress a bit further than he did (at least, it seems that way - LOL), so we're focused on getting a good quality upright on which we can both rediscover the joy of playing.

We have preliminarily focused on 4 uprights, all in various wood grain (as we both prefer the wood to the black lacquer). This particular dealership specializes mostly in used Yamaha and Kawai...and from my research, we have come to understand that those are both very good models, particularly in the used upright market.

So, I've been browsing all of the posts here for the past few hours, and thought you'd all be the best source of info for a few questions that I have (we're planning to return to the shop on Friday to potentially make a purchase, so I'm glad I found this forum!).

Here are the 4 pianos we're considering:

Piano 1: 1980 Kawai KL-502 cherry 49.5" tall -- $4,898
Piano 2: 1978 Yamaha W teak 48" tall -- $4,898
Piano 3: 1978 Yamaha W mahogany 52" tall -- $5,288
Piano 4: 1970 Yamaha U5 mahogany 52" -- $5,298 (on clearance for $4,588)

My questions for you:

1) Fundamentally, do these prices seem in the right range for these pianos? The dealer seems to have many testimonials (posted on the walls, on the website, etc.), and the person who I interacted with on my one visit was wonderfully helpful, so I have no reason to distrust them.

But, I figured that this might be the place to receive some unbiased outsider insight and perspective...

2) This dealer seems to have a very thorough process for restoring / preparing the pianos before they are delivered. From other posts that I've read, many others suggest still obtaining an Independent Technician's review -- is that still advisable in this case?

This dealer also offers a 10-year warranty on all parts and labor, and a lifetime full-value trade-up guarantee. The former appeals to us more than the latter (but, then, maybe we'll also be bitten by the grand bug at some point?).

3) I'm pretty terrible at negotiating prices (if my past experiences in purchasing vehicles is any indication), but my partner is very proficient at it. So, my question for you all is whether we should anticipate that we can / should be negotiating these prices in any significant way?

4) What other questions am I NOT asking that you believe that I should be asking?

Really appreciate any advice you're willing to share -- I hope to be able to one day return the favor.

NoVaNewbie

Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367362 12/30/14 06:22 PM
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IMHO, too expensive for 30+ year old pianos. At those prices you might look at new Kawai and Yamaha.

YMMV

Last edited by Plowboy; 12/30/14 06:23 PM.

Gary
Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367365 12/30/14 06:30 PM
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I agree considering the age of the models those prices seem steep. Those pianos would have to look and sound like brand new instruments for that kind of money. In that price range can they not get you into something newer?


Yamaha LU101, Casio CDP220R. 1968 Mason & Risch 'frankenpiano' only the cat plays. It's where our musical journey began though so I refuse to get rid of it.
Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367393 12/30/14 07:46 PM
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Prices are too high and by some. At $5k, you could be looking at new (chinese or Indonesian) pianos. Expand your search area to include techs who broker used pianos and those that carry Samick built stencils or one of the Pearl River brands. There's more fish in the sea than overpriced grey-market Kawais and Yamahas.

Kurt



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Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367411 12/30/14 08:52 PM
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Welcome to PianoWorld, NoVaNewbie.

If you enter your dealer's name into the search box at the upper left of this page, you'll see what kind of reputation he has here. If its who I think it is, he has a good reputation.

If you're really looking for value, and don't mind doing some leg work, don't be afraid of buying directly from a private party (and hire a tech to inspect before you commit to a purchase). For the same price range you might discover you don't have to wait to get that grand piano!

Good luck with your search.



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Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367421 12/30/14 09:18 PM
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The older, better series uprights from Yamaha & Kawai are exceedingly common in black. For attractive wood finishes, the rarity would make the prices more in line.

Even when a dealer has good rebuilding/restoration facilities, uprights like these are refurbished, not rebuilt. Refurbishing, even to a high standard, does not change the fact that the parts and all major components are original and in the second half of their life, not the first half.

As others have said, there are tremendous options new (even in wood finishes) from both well-received and well-established brands now building in China or Indonesia ... and not 34-44 years old.

Older Japanese pianos, nicely refurbished are a viable option, but we find that younger used Japanese pianos, since the depreciation after ~15 years is sooo slow, tend to make more sense than much older pianos. A sweet spot between value and availability in the market tends to be between 10 - 30 years old.


Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
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Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
PianoWorksATL #2367433 12/30/14 09:57 PM
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Wow -- thanks, everyone, for your incredibly valuable feedback.

I'm very thankful to have found this forum, as it's introduced me to so much more that's worthy of considerations (I hadn't even heard the term "grey-market" before today!) :-)

I will continue to peruse these boards to continue accumulating advice / information.

Thanks again, all!

Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367455 12/30/14 11:49 PM
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Glad you found Piano World. There are experts on this forum that freely offer information that is not easily found anywhere. And don't forgot to look at the Piano Buyer's Guide found in the left hand column of this page. Welcome and good luck in your search.


David



Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367631 12/31/14 11:55 AM
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It's amazing how much can change in 24 hours.

After sharing with my partner all of the advice provided above (and via PM -- thanks to those of you who reached out), we're now also considering new Ritmuller and Pearl River models (in black).

From scouring these boards for the past few hours, I've read a bit about the difference between the Ritmuller UP ("Classic Vertical") and the UH ("Premium Vertical"). If I understand correctly, the consensus is that the UH pianos are much more desirable because of the way they are made (e.g., Renner hammers).

We're interested in the UH-118R, which has an SMP of $6,700 according to Piano Buyer, but is only 46.5". The UH-132R is more appealing to me because it has a height of 52", but, understandably, comes at a notably higher SMP of $8,790.

I'm pretty certain I already know the answer to this question, but I'm guessing that most of you would recommend going for the taller UH-132R, and that the additional $2k is worth it?

Also, at this point, it appears that we are mostly focused on these options:

1) New upright Ritmuller / Pearl River (UH-118R; UH-132R; or EU-122S)
2) Used upright Kawai or Yamaha (most likely no more than 20 years old)

Option 1 will definitely carry a higher price point than option 2 -- most people here seem to prefer option 1 vs. gray-market option 2. Is that a fair statement?

Anything else you'd recommend that we think about / consider? (considering that we're targeting Friday as our primary day to get out there and really start looking for the right piano for us)

Thanks again, everyone.

Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367676 12/31/14 01:33 PM
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In the case of Ritmuller, their best 121 (121R?) was extremely nice for the price when I had the chance to compare them side-by-side at NAMM. Roughly the same size and price, the Hailun HU-5p was also really good. Sometimes I've found the overall tone to be better balanced in the 48-50" models than the taller 52"+ models, particularly among non-high end pianos.


Pianist, teacher, apprentice technician, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367680 12/31/14 01:43 PM
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I can't help you much as I am a newbie myself and also in the used upright market. Just wanted to point out that in my search so far the Yamaha U1 model seems to be looked upon kindly by the two technicians I spoke with. Both said that it was an acceptable choice as long as it was between 10 -15 years old. They also both said that the U3, while considerably more expensive in the same age group, would be their choice versus the shorter U1.

That said you seem to have a great battle plan for finding your piano and I wish and hope you find your dream piano, (at a steal of a price of course) as soon as possible.

BTW the topic and answers in this thread will make for a respectable research thread for others in the future.

Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367701 12/31/14 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by NoVaNewbie
It's amazing how much can change in 24 hours.

After sharing with my partner all of the advice provided above (and via PM -- thanks to those of you who reached out), we're now also considering new Ritmuller and Pearl River models (in black).

From scouring these boards for the past few hours, I've read a bit about the difference between the Ritmuller UP ("Classic Vertical") and the UH ("Premium Vertical"). If I understand correctly, the consensus is that the UH pianos are much more desirable because of the way they are made (e.g., Renner hammers).

We're interested in the UH-118R, which has an SMP of $6,700 according to Piano Buyer, but is only 46.5". The UH-132R is more appealing to me because it has a height of 52", but, understandably, comes at a notably higher SMP of $8,790.

I'm pretty certain I already know the answer to this question, but I'm guessing that most of you would recommend going for the taller UH-132R, and that the additional $2k is worth it?

Also, at this point, it appears that we are mostly focused on these options:

1) New upright Ritmuller / Pearl River (UH-118R; UH-132R; or EU-122S)
2) Used upright Kawai or Yamaha (most likely no more than 20 years old)

Option 1 will definitely carry a higher price point than option 2 -- most people here seem to prefer option 1 vs. gray-market option 2. Is that a fair statement?

Anything else you'd recommend that we think about / consider? (considering that we're targeting Friday as our primary day to get out there and really start looking for the right piano for us)

Thanks again, everyone.


Hi NoVaNewbie:

Welcome to the Forum (with visions of Zero Mostel in Toga)!

I wanted to clarify for you the various Ritmüller / Pearl River models you are considering. The UP series Ritmüller pianos are the premium models designed by Lothar Thomma, and each has Renner hammers and many other premium components. The UP series does not, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be part of your consideration. IMHO, you should compare the 121RB (Classic series) to the 48" pianos from Yamaha and Kawai, as the tone palate is similar but, again IMHO, warmer and deeper. However, if you want a totally different tone palate - very warm, deep and bell like - then you should check out the UH121 and UH132. However, let me throw a wrench into that ..... there is a model called the RB (OY, these models get confusing - or maybe Confucius eek). The RB was designed by Thomma, and should be called the 126 instead of "RB" as it is 126cm in height...aka 49". It has the premium features of the UH, but is a more modern, sleek cabinet and not as boxy as the UH132. I think you will find its tonal and performance quality to be superior to pianos like the U3 and K8.

Be SURE to play lots of instruments and listen for differences. If you can, find a dealer that has all the instruments you are considering in one location so you can compare them. In your area, there are several dealers that should be able to accommodate that.

Have Fun!


Russell I. Kassman

FORMER: US Rep.for C.Bechstein - Sauter; Retired founder/owner R. KASSMAN Piano; Consultant - GUANGZHOU Pearl River Piano Co.

www.rkassman.com
russell@rkassman.com
Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2367720 12/31/14 03:30 PM
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Hi NoVaNewbie! Welcome to Piano World!

Three years ago, I was in the same situation as you. It was time to start seriously shopping for an acoustic piano. I also tried some used Yamaha uprights as well as a couple of Kawai uprights. They didn't attract me to them by their sound. The Yamahas were a little bright and the couple of Kawais my dealer had were fairly ancient. After awhile, I decided to buy new.

One of my local dealers carried several models from the Pearl River/Ritmuller family. I could do a couple of A-B comparisons between Pearl River uprights and Ritmuller uprights that were just about twins. The Ritmullers invariably performed better than their Pearl River counterparts, so the fairly small price differences between them, made the Ritmullers stand out even more!

I tried the Ritmuller UH-121R in the Sapele Mahogany, which looked very nice, but I'm a traditionalist and wanted a black piano. He didn't have the 132 and I was very interested in that model, but ...and this is a big but, several Ritmuller owners and dealers here on Piano world, convinced me to audition a few of the Ritmuller grands and after I did, I forgot about uprights altogether! I tried some of the 160s a 170 and a 188. To make a long story short, I ended up buying a GH-170R for a few grand more (no pun intended! grin) than the 132.

I'm eternally grateful to the folks here at Piano World who convinced me to get the grand. On a later visit to my dealer, I got to play a UH 132R and it is a very nice piano. But if you have the space and are willing to go a bit higher, try out a couple of the Ritmuller grands. The GH-160 is available in the mahogany finish if that is an important consideration.

If you have a Hailun dealer near you, I'd try them out as well!
I was just too lazy to drive from Charlotte to Raleigh to my nearest Hailun dealer. It seems that there are quite a few Ritmuller and Hailun owners here who are happy campers! Best of luck in your search!

Last edited by Emissary52; 12/31/14 03:36 PM.

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Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2369282 01/04/15 09:34 AM
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Thanks again, everyone, for all of your input. This forum is such a wonderful source of help for those of us who are just dipping our toes in the piano pool... smile

So, my partner and I finally made a decision (and a purchase) yesterday. We ended up going with a new Yamaha P22, in satin black.

We got to look at almost all of the major upright brands that were indicated in the post above (and, yes, there is a lot more out there than 35-45 year old overpriced grey-market Yamahas and Kawais). We didn't look at any grands because we just don't currently have the space.

Although there were some used offerings that were tempting, we were both drawn to the P22 for its overall look and design (we both really liked the full-length music desk), its black satin finish (neither of us were really fans of the polished ebony look), and, of course, most importantly, the tone / sound. It just produced a warmth that both of us really fell for.

We strongly considered the Baldwin line (and thanks to those who recommended that we take a look at those). We loved their sound and tone (and loved that the 122 came with chrome hardware), but there were other aesthetic and sound elements of the P22 that just won out over the Baldwin.

Pricewise, the P22 was a little bit below the Baldwin, so, of course, that factored into our decision, as well. Our final negotiated price for the P22 (excluding delivery and tax) was $5,200.

Hope that others who find this thread via the Piano World Google search function (which I have definitely leveraged substantially) will find this information helpful.

P.S. Edited to add that while my partner was drawn to the "versatility" (for lack of a better word) of the Yamaha Hybrids (i.e., the digital pianos with the "real" key action), I just couldn't shake the feeling of sacrilege (LOL)...and after hearing them side-by-side, I just knew that, for me, I needed real strings and wood... smile

Last edited by NoVaNewbie; 01/04/15 10:28 AM.
Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2369341 01/04/15 12:17 PM
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Congratulations! It's a fine instrument and I wish all three of you many years of happy playing. Try not to fight with the husband too much about whose turn it is.


Yamaha LU101, Casio CDP220R. 1968 Mason & Risch 'frankenpiano' only the cat plays. It's where our musical journey began though so I refuse to get rid of it.
Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2369491 01/04/15 06:33 PM
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Congratulations! When is delivery? Enjoy for many years.

Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2369499 01/04/15 06:57 PM
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Congratulations! I hope it brings you much happiness.



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Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2369576 01/04/15 10:34 PM
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Quote
. This particular dealership specializes mostly in used Yamaha and Kawai...and from my research, we have come to understand that those are both very good models, particularly in the used upright market.


This has been the "conventional thinking" for long time and is the exactly reason why this dealer has brought in a large group of grey market pianos.

Fact is the guy is not interested to give you the best pianos but the "easiest" to sell.


But things are changing...

Quote
I tried the Ritmuller UH-121R in the Sapele Mahogany, which looked very nice, but I'm a traditionalist and wanted a black piano. He didn't have the 132 and I was very interested in that model, but ...and this is a big but, several Ritmuller owners and dealers here on Piano world, convinced me to audition a few of the Ritmuller grands and after I did, I forgot about uprights altogether! I tried some of the 160s a 170 and a 188. To make a long story short, I ended up buying a GH-170R for a few grand more (no pun intended! grin) than the 132.


This was exactly my own experience as a dealer and player years ago.
Unfortunately I keep getting chided over saying it by simply expressing my conviction that these [and a few others..] are far better options that the whole bunch of used Yamis & Kawais on market.

Quote
Pricewise, the P22 was a little bit below the Baldwin, so, of course, that factored into our decision, as well. Our final negotiated price for the P22 (excluding delivery and tax) was $5,200.


The Yamaha 22 is a very good choice - even used - and I don't blame you one bit going for it. In my mind a far superior piano over some of the cheaper yet not exactly lower priced new models recently introduced to market.

Congrats!

Norbert smile

Last edited by Norbert; 01/04/15 10:48 PM.

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Re: Just found PW -- advice on buying a used upright
NoVaNewbie #2369714 01/05/15 08:17 AM
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Thanks for the congrats, everyone...

Delivery is scheduled for this Saturday. My shipment of piano books arrived yesterday...now, to just try to make this week go by as quickly as humanly possible... smile


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