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Kawai 52" upright model recommendation #2452704
08/21/15 02:21 PM
08/21/15 02:21 PM
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RealFamilyMan Offline OP
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Could someone please guide me with the answers to some questions.

The choice of secondhand models is overwhelming. And I realise you should play/listen to each piano. But I had to find some way to limit the number of choices. So for about two weeks now I've read many sites, including much from PianoWorld.com); listened to youtube clips; visited the only piano store for a hundred miles; spoke to a retired piano tuner; and listed all the specs I could find in a spreadsheet.

From that research I pretty much settled on either a 52" Kawai upright, or, Yamaha U3. The retired piano tuner I met agreed, saying the U2 is rare around here; 52" is as close as you'll get to a the sound of a grand; and the Yamaha U1 is smaller, thus has less 'presence'.

However, he also said to choose one from the mid-1980s to early 1990s, claiming quality suffered after that. (I think he may have been referring to Yamaha only though.)

Q1. Is that correct - that I should avoid newer models than say, '91 - '92? (Because I'm not finding comments online that indicate that.)

I really liked the sound of Kawai BL71 models I hear online. But then I found the US50 replaced it; and the US55 is newer again; then the US63H is newer yet again plus it has front sound vents. Then someone (on PW I believe) said all other things being equal, if you had to choose between a US6X and US63H, to take the US6X. (I think because it has a better build quality.)

Both the US63H and US6X were made (about) 1989. It's now 2015. I've been slowly collecting model numbers as I stumble on them. Then I search for their specs to enter in the spreadsheet.

Q2. If the quality of newer models IS ok, then where can I find a list of newer 52" Kawai uprights made over those next 26 years? (Kawai seems to change model designations every 2-3 years.)

??-?? BL71
??-?? BL82
??-?? DS7
92-?? DS85
83-?? KL32
14-15 K700
84-?? KL70
78-80 KL704
69-?? KU5
84-?? SA8E
82-85 US50
85-89 US55
90-91 US6
82-85 US60
88-89 US63H
85-89 US65
90-?? US6LE
89-91 US6X
??-?? US7
82-85 US70
82-85 US80

The years listed are just estimates from ebay, etc. I know there's obvious models missing, but that's because they either have a sostenuto pedal, or, don't have the grand-style music stand. (See points below.)

Q3. Here's the features I need or prefer. Does anyone 'recognise' some closes model matches?

Must be:

a. Kawai 52" upright
b. Middle silent/practice pedal (not sostenuto)
c. Grand piano-style flat music stand
d. If the 'only buy mid-80s to early 90s' comment from the retired piano tuner is true, then want as close to 86-92 as possible.

Would be nice to have these features below, but they are not deal-breakers:

e. Square or rounded top - doesn't matter.

f. Visually I prefer rounded key covers. (But if I must have the squared shape, then so be it.)

g. (I think) front sound vents would be nice. But I guess you can always just open the top panel, correct?

h. Prefer 'open' side legs (not closed in). But again, whatever it has, it what it has.

i. Continued from 'h', I prefer tapered square legs over square legs that are the same size top to bottom. Chippendale-style legs might also be ok. But I don't think any 52" models have those. But again - none of this is a deal breaker. If they must be ugly closed-in blocks, or boring squares, then oh well...

j. Soft-fall key cover would be good to have.

k. Would love a brown finish, but don't think that's likely. :-(

Sorry for the length. I know from reading the site for days, you folks frequently get similar starting questions. So I wanted to put in my own research before posting.

Thank you for reading. :-)

Last edited by RealFamilyMan; 08/21/15 02:57 PM.
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Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: RealFamilyMan] #2452717
08/21/15 03:07 PM
08/21/15 03:07 PM
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RealFamilyMan Offline OP
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Sorry, to summarise... Which newer Kawai 52" models from say, 1992 onwards, have a grand-style music stand, no sostenuto pedal, and is their build quality still as good or better than 1985-92, or to be avoided?

(The rest of the stuff like appearance I can again look up myself, once I have the model numbers.)

Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: RealFamilyMan] #2452727
08/21/15 03:22 PM
08/21/15 03:22 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,691
Atlanta, GA
PianoWorksATL Offline
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PianoWorksATL  Offline
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Atlanta, GA
Welcome RealFamilyMan,

Used Yamaha & Kawai uprights are popular choices - some people choose them because they prefer them and many people choose them because they represent a "safe" choice, reasonable compromise. With used pianos, the specific instrument matters and it's condition more than any tendencies or generalized opinions.

Q1. That is a frankly silly statement that quality suffered on more recent upper level models from Yamaha and Kawai. You could make a case that the addition of more entry-level models happened in more recent years, but the track of the upper level models is steady. As you said, your research also does not support any claim of a dropoff in quality.

Q2. Trying to keep up with all of Kawai's upright models is futile. Don't search based upon model, search based upon size. I can think of numerous models that did not make your already substantial list. While there are differences, it's more about what you find. Do not get hung up on 52" or you might miss some gems. We recently sold a 49" Kawai K70 from the late 1990's and it was a lovely instrument and chosen over the Yamaha U3's right next to it.

Q3. While the 52" models are great, I'd include any Kawai 49" or taller with the grand-style music desk as a potential winner. Forget the age restriction against younger models. This would also open up more of the cabinet options...I remember a model DS-6E with Chippendale leg.

If it has the grand-style music desk, it will have a grand-style fallboard, rounded. You won't have slow-close unless you get very young. With Kawai & Yamaha, I believe it became standard on upper level uprights (U-series or equivalent Kawai's) ~1998.

If you want brown, you'd have more luck finding an old Yamaha W-series that meets many of your other requirements. They are getting long in the tooth, but they were noticeably better than the U-series when new.

OR...

You could also consider something new like an Albert Weber AW131 or Knabe WKV131. I think that is a good match for your priorities. They could also be ordered in wood finish. This is a path I would recommend. Both companies also make 48" models that are very nice with the grand-style desk, slow close. Again, don't get hung up on 52" only.


Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bösendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Hailun
Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
Full Restoration Shop
www.PianoWorks.com
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Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: RealFamilyMan] #2452767
08/21/15 05:29 PM
08/21/15 05:29 PM
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RealFamilyMan Offline OP
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Hi Sam, thank you for the reply and the welcome. I was searching again, and just found the perfect one - except for one thing - it has sostenuto. :-( Apart from that, it has everything I was hoping for. The large... 'resonation cavity'(!?) above the keyboard. Even the legs are particularly nice:

http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/vertical_09/k8.html

(Don't like the legs on the K800 http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/k_series-00/k800.html - well, like them less than the K8 anyway.)

Only comes in ebony, but I don't think I'm going to be able to avoid that. Pity, because I find black pianos 'suck up' all the light - I prefer brown - I just find it easier to discern between the keys and the piano itself. It's difficult to explain. I have a black computer too - and I hate it - always need a light on to see the keyboard, even though I touch-type.

Oh why couldn't they have left the sostenuto off - and given it a silence/practice function instead - grrr! Is there a way to give a piano like this a silence function?

Thank you for the model suggestions too.

AW-131 - Has a standard music stand.
WKV131 - Has sostenuto.

The DS-6E has turned up in a few of my searches. Quite a nice appearance. But also has a standard music stand. Maybe I could rig something up, but...

I'm self-taught on guitar, don't play piano - yet. Have wanted to for years, have several 'learn to play by ear' and standard DVD courses and books, and know the note/chord locations. I've used that limited knowledge in the past to work out song chords for the guitar (piano chords on the left hand, pencil in the right. It's easier than writing whilst hugging a guitar.) Writing on paper on a standard piano music stand is a painful experience. So the first time I saw a grand-style music stand, I knew if I was going to spend thou$and on a piano, it was going to have one.

Something is nagging at me... I (think) I vaguely remember reading something in the last week, about pianos with sostenuto pedal still having a silence function!? Not holding down another pedal, but something else - maybe moving something inside the piano!? But maybe I'm remembering wrong?

Last edited by RealFamilyMan; 08/21/15 06:25 PM.
Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: RealFamilyMan] #2452781
08/21/15 06:41 PM
08/21/15 06:41 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,691
Atlanta, GA
PianoWorksATL Offline
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PianoWorksATL  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,691
Atlanta, GA
The Knabe WKV131 has both sostenuto & practice rail.

You can add an aftermarket practice rail fairly simply. It will be lever operated instead of pedal operated.

The new K8 (or K800) is very nice, but certainly a lot more than the used models you were considering or even the Knabe & Albert Weber models I mentioned. Cheers to you for stepping up!

Now all you have to do is find a dealer that has one....


Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bösendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Hailun
Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
Full Restoration Shop
www.PianoWorks.com
www.youtube.com/PianoWorksAtlanta
Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: RealFamilyMan] #2452914
08/22/15 09:52 AM
08/22/15 09:52 AM
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RealFamilyMan Offline OP
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Thanks - I read a couple of old posts, once I knew what to search for. The ability to add an aftermarket practice rail opens more model possibilities. :-)

Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: RealFamilyMan] #2453422
08/24/15 08:11 AM
08/24/15 08:11 AM
Joined: Apr 2014
Posts: 229
Auckland, New Zealand
Ben_NZ Offline
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Originally Posted by RealFamilyMan
[The Kawai K8 is] the perfect one - except for one thing - it has sostenuto. :-( Apart from that, it has everything I was hoping for.

http://www.kawaius.com/main_links/vertical_09/k8.html

Oh why couldn't they have left the sostenuto off - and given it a silence/practice function instead - grrr!


They gave it a practice function AS WELL, operated by a lever. You can see it under the left hand end of the keyboard in this video:
some guy's new Kawai K8
I'm not sure if new K-800s also have the practice lever in addition to the sostenuto or if you'd have to have it added. You mention that you don't play much yet - have you tried out pianos with practice pedals, and are you happy with the sound while the system's engaged? If you bought a digital piano for practice, not only could you pick your volume without affecting the sound, you'd also be free to consider acoustic pianos with sostenuto pedals. A used digital and used older Kawai might be cheaper and easier to find than a K8.
Aaaand a digital just plugs right in if you want to record.

Originally Posted by RealFamilyMan
Only comes in ebony, but I don't think I'm going to be able to avoid that. Pity, because I find black pianos 'suck ....

wink
I had the same dilemma. I gave up and bought a black Kawai, but I did speak to a vehicle signage company about wrapping parts of the piano. I bought some textured woodgrain vinyl but was told it was too thick to handle sharp corners. The company have wood textures on file that they can print onto thinner wrap, which would get around that problem. You could have a wood finish put on just the areas beside and behind the keys to help with visibility, and it could be removed again for resale or if you got sick of it.

Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2453437
08/24/15 09:55 AM
08/24/15 09:55 AM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 2,905
SoCal
Plowboy Offline

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Plowboy  Offline

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SoCal
Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL

The new K8 (or K800) is very nice, but certainly a lot more than the used models you were considering or even the Knabe & Albert Weber models I mentioned. Cheers to you for stepping up!

Now all you have to do is find a dealer that has one....


If the OP is in Southern California, Kim's in Garden Grove, CA always has a K-800 in stock.


Gary
Essex EUP-111 at the mountains
W. Hoffmann T-122 at the beach
Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: RealFamilyMan] #2453442
08/24/15 10:11 AM
08/24/15 10:11 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4,811
San Jose, CA
Jeff Clef Offline
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RealFamily-

There is something endearing, and even heroic in your very dedicated search. All I can say is that you deserve the very best of success. I would bet money that you will get there.

A few years before I started looking for a piano to buy, a very small Kawai upright model caught my attention because it was in a room where we had meetings. Forlorn and neglected as it was, I came to love that little piano... enough to want to buy it off the community center it had landed in. Too late! It was destroyed before I could act. I still regret it.

You've gone all the way to the top of the line, where a maker usually gives its best effort... and all by radar. My interest in that modest little model eventually led me to buy one of Kawai's grands. "Safe," people call them. Playing the piano is about as safe as a highwire act, or the flying trapeze. But, ok, if we compare performance to those high-risk professions, we really would like our wire or our trapeze or our piano to be safe under us. So I guess there's nothing wrong with saying it... though it's a risky world, even for pianos.

My best wishes to you.

And, BTW. Many people also get a digital piano for those occasions when nothing but silence will do... or to gain access to the many special features that these models offer.


Clef

Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: Ben_NZ] #2453821
08/25/15 02:34 PM
08/25/15 02:34 PM
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RealFamilyMan Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Ben_NZ
You can see it under the left hand end of the keyboard in this video...


I think I must need glasses, LOL.

Quote
... have you tried out pianos with practice pedals, and are you happy with the sound while the system's engaged? If you bought a digital piano for practice, not only could you pick your volume without affecting the sound, you'd also be free to consider acoustic pianos with sostenuto pedals. A used digital and used older Kawai might be cheaper and easier to find than a K8.


I began this search a couple of months ago, looking for a digital. Figured it would be easy to move, not go out of tune, could turn the volume down as you say... I went to a music store to get some idea of sound. But didn't like what I heard from any of them. By the time they did approach a decent sound (to my ears), their price was equal to a great second hand acoustic.

I do regularly watch ebay, etc. for used digitals though. But being self-taught on the guitar, I later realised I learned many bad playing habits. I wish to avoid making that same mistake with piano. So I'd want a digital to feel as close to an acoustic as possible. The problem in that of course is, looking at the price of new ones, I kept thinking I could get a good second hand acoustic! ;-)

Additionally, the second hand digitals turning up for sale are quite old. So they don't have that realistic playability. Their starting bids (where I live) indicate people think their 10-20 year old digitals are made of gold. Making it more sensible to add a few hundred $ and buy new. But again if I can do that, then I could just get the acoustic that I'm trying emulate in the first place.

I do understand what you gentlemen are saying though - I could get both... So the search continues on both fronts.

Quote
You could have a wood finish put on just the areas beside and behind the keys to help with visibility...


Great idea, thank you.

Last edited by RealFamilyMan; 08/25/15 02:40 PM.
Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: Plowboy] #2453827
08/25/15 02:48 PM
08/25/15 02:48 PM
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RealFamilyMan Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Plowboy
If the OP is in Southern California, Kim's in Garden Grove, CA always has a K-800 in stock.


Just a little out of that area. (I'm in Australia.) ;-)

I'd love new too, but...

Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: Jeff Clef] #2453837
08/25/15 03:28 PM
08/25/15 03:28 PM
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RealFamilyMan Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Jeff Clef
My best wishes to you.


Thanks Jeff. I've been thinking, maybe brand new isn't the wisest move after all, me being a beginner.

Does anyone know... The US50/55, and other similar models from the 1980s, have that empty square resonating section above the keyboard - but I noticed later models (2005-06) like the K60 do not have it. Does their sound suffer from its removal? (What kind of effect does removing that space have on the sound?)

Re: Kawai 52" upright model recommendation [Re: RealFamilyMan] #2454012
08/26/15 07:52 AM
08/26/15 07:52 AM
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Posts: 229
Auckland, New Zealand
Ben_NZ Offline
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Originally Posted by RealFamilyMan
Originally Posted by Ben_NZ
You can see it under the left hand end of the keyboard in this video...


I think I must need glasses, LOL.

Here it is:

[Linked Image]


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