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Yamaha grand S400E #2549951
06/16/16 05:42 PM
06/16/16 05:42 PM
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 8
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From Amsterdam Offline OP
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I am thinking to buy a Yamaha grand piano and was initially focusing on a C3.

In The Netherlands (where I live) there are quite a few preowned C3's on the market, usually dating from around 1988-1991. You can get these for prices ranging from 13.000 to 18.000 USD. My budget lies around 17.000.

But then I came across a S400E (built in 1995) for 19.000 USD. My impression is that there is a considerable qualitative difference between the C3 and the S400E. Am I right in supposing this? So would it be worth investing the extra money for? Or should I actually be suspicious that the S400E model comes this cheap?

I was looking for other preowned S400E's to compare it with, but it seems they are very hard to find in Holland.

What's your opinion on this matter?

Last edited by From Amsterdam; 06/16/16 05:54 PM.
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Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2550229
06/17/16 11:04 PM
06/17/16 11:04 PM
Joined: May 2006
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Georgia, USA
terminaldegree Offline
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The S400 was considered an upgrade from the garden-variety C series piano, yes. If memory serves, it may have been made with better materials, and on a different, smaller and slower assembly line which made the concert grand models. This was Yamaha's best model for its size at the time it was built.

Hopefully a current or former Yamaha dealer will see this and offer up some more information on the model.


Pianist, teacher, apprentice technician, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2550247
06/18/16 02:09 AM
06/18/16 02:09 AM
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Glendale, Ca.
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Dave Ferris Offline
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I can offer an opinion about a '97 S6 I purchased new to supposedly upgrade from a '85 C7e.

Looking back if I had it to do over again I probably would have kept my C7. Although on my trade in of the C7 I did get a 12 year newer piano. The S6 also probably sold for more in '06 then my C7 would have.

Financial consideration aside and speaking from a tonal aspect- I really couldn't tell that big of a difference. I was practicing a lot of hours during those years and the S6 hammers had to be continually voiced down. When I did sell it, it probably needed new hammers.

I recall LA master piano tech Richard Davenport making a special trip to my house from the West side. He worked on those hammers all day and it seemed like he was knee deep from the felt on the floor…. grin That held me for a couple of years and the piano probably was at the best level it had ever sounded during that period. But it seemed too short lived. The tone became overly bright again after continuous playing.

Like any piano, I'd play the S4 and see if it speaks to you regardless of price. 19K seems a little high for a 22 yr old Yamaha 6 footer. I'd play as many of the individual C3s your are considering and see if you feel the tone is that different from the S4 and worth the price.

If the C3 has low playing hours on it and has been well taken of , it can be a very nice piano.


https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D
Yamaha CP4, CP5
Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2550260
06/18/16 05:44 AM
06/18/16 05:44 AM
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joe80 Offline
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There is something different about the S4 when compared to the C3. The few examples of the S4 I have played have been decent enough pianos, but they don't seem very stable. They can also have quite a metallic bass sound and not always great tuning stability for some bizarre reason. My gut feeling on this is that you'd be better to get a good C3 and have it prepared by an excellent technician.

For the same price as the S4, you might be able to find something like a used C6, and if you can accommodate the space AND you're willing to hold out to find a used one on the market, I'd suggest going for a C6. For a start it will probably be much cheaper than the S4, and with the right preparation it will sound much more beautiful. I remember a C6 at the conservatoire in Glasgow and to be fair it was a perfect piano except for the voicing, which was set too harsh, but every other C6 I have played has been beautiful.

If you can find a good Kawai, such as the RX3, 5 or 6, or their immediate predecessors, you'll find that you can usually find examples about 20 years old and in good condition that will fit within your price range. They might be worth looking at as well.

As far as new instruments in your price range, you could have a look at Brodmann and Feurich. Personally, and it is personal, I played a very new Feurich 178 at a friend's house last week, it had the 4th pedal on it, but I wasn't all that impressed with it. It was good bang for the buck but it didn't inspire me. Both the tone and action were functional I guess, not that brilliant, but acceptable. Brodmann can be very nice - there isn't a Brodmann dealer very close to you at the moment, but the same piano from Parson's music is sold at various dealers in Europe under different brand names including Wilh. Sternberg, and there's another dealer in Frankfurt who has a very similar piano for sale. In fact there is a dealer in the Netherlands who also sells a Parsons range of pianos under his own name but I can't for the life of me remember who it is! Anyway, they're not quite as strong as the Yamaha or Kawai, but they sound pretty enough for the money.

Of course, you could also hold out and buy an early 20th Century rebuilt piano such as a Bechstein, Blüthner, Grotrian, or if you're very lucky a Bösendorfer or Steinway, but of course we are now talking about a completely different sound world from a modern Yamaha. Not necessarily a more or less beautiful sound world, because that is down to your choice, but then there are differences between any two pianos.

So, in short, and in general, back to the C3 vs the S4, I'd actually say the C3 is superior - they hold up better under tough conditions (walk into any conservatoire in the world and you'll find a stock of C3s ranging in age from 5 to 40 years old, that have had 12 hours a day of heavy playing, and they are still functioning very well.....). The S4 is a bit fussy, a bit time hungry from the technician, and not as satisfying as the work that needs to be put in to it.

Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: joe80] #2550267
06/18/16 06:48 AM
06/18/16 06:48 AM
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 8
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From Amsterdam Offline OP
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From Amsterdam  Offline OP
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Thanks a lot for your comments. All things considered it sounds like I am better of with a good C3.

I actually saw one from 1999 for 19K at a shop (well-known and respected among piano techs), which I think I'm gonna play next week. Allthough I feel 19K for a 17 y old yamaha c3 is stil a bit expensive...? At least I know that the piano shop is to be trusted.


Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2550269
06/18/16 06:49 AM
06/18/16 06:49 AM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,810
Tennessee
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Ed Foote Offline
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Tennessee
Greetings,
I must say my experience is different. We were given a s400B at Vanderbilt years ago, and nobody wanted to play it. The action was thick and mushy feeling. I found that the balance rail holes in the keys were too thick, and once I set the proper thickness, it played far better. The hammers had been abused and it was in a heavily used practice room, so I replaced the shanks and hammers with carbon fiber WNG shanks and Ronsen Weikert Special hammers. It was a completely different piano after that and is now one of the more preferable pianos we have. There is far more tonal range with these hammers and the piano is a big, responsive instrument.
We have 15 C3's in this same building. None of them has the response of the S400. However, they are as durable as any of the pianos we have, and I haven't seen either of these models exhibit much difference in how well they stand up to the industrial use of a university practice wing. Students manage to break strings in both models with equal frequency. The C2's that were purchased at the same time as the C3's don't seem to stand up to the same use, and we are gradually replacing all of them with a Steinway rebuilding program that I began 35 years ago.
Regards,
Regards,

Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2550293
06/18/16 10:10 AM
06/18/16 10:10 AM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 3,598
Atlanta, GA
PianoWorksATL Online content
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Atlanta, GA
At the moment, we have Yamaha C3, S4 & G3 sitting next to each other.

When we got the S4, the action was near frozen and the voicing was erratic and obscuring the strengths of the piano. All it needed was thorough, deliberate service from one of our concert techs and the piano is now lovely. This instrument has had very little play.

The S4 is substantially better than the C3 or G3 in every metric for music: better dynamic range, better tonal change, flatter sustain. The action feels better to me. The sound is Yamaha's sound, but fuller, deeper and more even. I prefer many other handmade instruments of similar size from other makers, but I certainly see this instruments appeal and caliber. An S400 would have that potential.

There are visible construction differences. The rim is substantially thicker in the S4. The scale design is different. The fit and finish is better. The hammers are different and shaped very different from typical Yamaha hammers.

Condition is what matters in a used piano. If the condition is comparable, than I believe the S400 would certainly be worth a premium over any C3 or G3. Given how rare they are, how much premium is hard to say.


Sam Bennett
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Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2550342
06/18/16 01:43 PM
06/18/16 01:43 PM
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Posts: 2,897
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joe80 Offline
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Well, it's nice to hear both Ed's and Sam's experience with the S4 are vastly different to mine, and it's good to know that the S4 can be as good as its price. Perhaps it's the case with the ones I played that they weren't properly set up, or had been subjected to harsh conditions?

Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: joe80] #2550356
06/18/16 03:07 PM
06/18/16 03:07 PM
Joined: May 2003
Posts: 1,810
Tennessee
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Ed Foote Offline
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Tennessee
[quote=joe80 Perhaps it's the case with the ones I played that they weren't properly set up, or had been subjected to harsh conditions? [/quote]

Greetings,
There are 8,000 moving parts and 35,000 lbs of tension in there. There is no telling what condition that particular piano is in right now. My point was that the S400 series is superior to the C series in its features. A well regulated "lesser" piano will be more responsive than a poorly regulated one of higher quality, so the value comes from individual conditions.
Regards,

Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2550975
06/21/16 04:20 AM
06/21/16 04:20 AM
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 8
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From Amsterdam Offline OP
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Of course, every piano should be approached by itself, their individual condition and particular tone & touché is what matters most, I guess. I will play all of them before deciding.

But still, I just like to have some background knowledge, some general idea about their features. I hope this helps to make a more informed choice, and also to make a better judgement as to whether a piano is worth the money asked for it. Thank you all for your input so far.

Here's another question: how about the differences between the C series and the G series?

I saw an interesting G3 from 1991, in good condition it appears, imported from Japan. With a new silent system (Magic Star) and cheaper than the C3's I was looking at - 11K. Do you think the C3 and G3 differ much as to their quality and their overall features?

Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2550985
06/21/16 05:20 AM
06/21/16 05:20 AM
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joe80 Offline
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I don't know much about the G3 because it's so long since i've seen one. It depends on the condition of the piano - some of them can be very good, and some of them can be a bit rough around the edges. I used to practice on a 1980s G2 in London, and I know it's a different model, and it's older, but it was a really awful piano. Yet, there are some G2s and G3s that have been set up and voiced and make really nice instruments.

From what Ed and Sam have said it sounds like you might want to give the S400 some serious consideration.

Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2556490
07/13/16 05:32 PM
07/13/16 05:32 PM
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 8
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From Amsterdam Offline OP
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Okay, so last weeks I've been visiting piano stores in Holland, playing and comparing grands. As for the Yamaha's, I discovered that the newest series of the C3, the C3X, do really sound much better than the older ones. They seem to be a big improvement. Most of the C3's from the 80s and 90s I played so far sounded too harsh for me.
I didn't have a chance to play a S400 yet, though.

But, this week I came across a second hand C3X, which is rare given how young the are. It is sold by a respectable pianodealer, who sold it only one year ago and allready got it returned. The piano was hardly played. I can get it for 23K instead of the 28.5K or 30K that new ones cost. The piano plays well, it has a warm tone actually, everything seems like in a new condition, there is not so much as a scratch to be seen.

Would this be a smart deal you reckon? To be sure, 23K is higher than my initial budget, but I would consider investing more if that means (1) a much better instrument and (2) an instrument that will keep its value and will still yield a good price if I decide to sell it again later.

Or do you think that for this money there are better instruments out there?

Oh, and another question: If you would compare the C3X to a Schimmel of that size, which one would you consider superior?

Last edited by From Amsterdam; 07/13/16 05:36 PM.
Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2556505
07/13/16 07:16 PM
07/13/16 07:16 PM
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joe80 Offline
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Personally I think it's a good deal, it's a good price for a C3X. As to whether a C3X is comparable to a Schimmel of the same size, this really comes down to which piano you prefer. Schimmel is an excellent piano, it's a much more expensive piano of course, but a C3X is also an excellent piano.

My own personal hunch is that a C3X would probably be better than a 20 year old S400, but of course that hunch is based on not playing either of the pianos in question. A C3X would be a good enough piano for any pianist to practise on, of course, and so there's no worry as to whether or not it would be up to the job. Will it keep its value? Well, Yamaha does pretty well on the second hand market - people want them - so it will certainly be worth something when the time comes to sell it, but I don't think its necessarily that helpful to buy a piano thinking about its prospective resale value. Buy it because it's a good piano, and don't worry about what you'll get for it in ten years time.

Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2556538
07/13/16 11:02 PM
07/13/16 11:02 PM
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Glendale, Ca.
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Dave Ferris Offline
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I'm not up on pricing (other then I know they've gone way up !) with regard to the the newer X series but I have played the C3,6 and 7X. I can really hear a significant difference from the standard C series, for the better.

The C3X is an excellent piano and I wouldn't hesitate to get it in the condition you describe. Again I don't how that pricing would compare to a private party but like you said, they are relatively new and you're lucky to find one be it from a dealer or private party.

And I would most certainly go with it over say a 20 year old S4. Unless the S4 was immaculate condition and rarely played.

A C3 from the '80s or '90s, unless it was meticulously maintained, rarely played or had a new set of hammers, I would expect to have a harsh sound.

I also don't feel you should use resale value down the road as a criteria for buying this specific piano. You played it, you dig it. Life is precious and can be too short. Better to get busy practicing and making music now as opposed to running around for months on end. You never know what tomorrow might bring. That said, Yamahas, especially the later the model, always hold their value.

Personally, despite the highest standard of workmanship and build quality of the Schimmels- I'm simply not a fan of their tone. I much prefer Yamaha even though I feel it has a less complex sound then the Schimmel. But's that's my taste. smile

Looking at the C3X MSRP on the Yamaha site (and gasping !), this sounds like a pretty good deal to me , depending on what the out the door price is with regard to tax.


https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D
Yamaha CP4, CP5
Re: Yamaha grand S400E [Re: From Amsterdam] #2556583
07/14/16 08:01 AM
07/14/16 08:01 AM
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Arkansas
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supersport Offline
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Arkansas
Did the dealer give you a reason that he already has the piano back? Was there an issue the previous owner found with the piano that could not be fixed? Are you able to talk to the first owner?

In the Netherlands, does the factory/manufacturer warranty transfer to the second owner?

Good luck on your search.


David




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