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Need some help in choosing a piano #2557974 07/21/16 05:05 PM
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Hagai Offline OP
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Hi,

I'm going to buy my first piano (I learned piano about 15 years ago, but didn't touch one for many years), and I want to get something that will last for a long time in a good shape.

I went to the store the other day, and within my budget the options were either a second hand Yamaha U3, a new Hailun HU120 or HU121 or a new Seiler Johannes 122 Traditio.

As for my personal, non professional experience:
I liked the sound of the Yamaha less than the others (the U3 was better than U1, but still).
The sound of the Hailun was nice, but it felt a little too stiff and resisting, but this might be just a matter of tuning, right?
As for the Seiler, I really liked the sound (and the look), and indeed, it was the most expensive (forgot to mention the prices, the Hailun is ~4K$, Yamaha is ~5K$, and the Seiler is ~7K$)

Now, the problem is that Hailun is chinese and the Seiler is (partially?) made in Indonesia, and they're not around for that long, to tell if they're really good, and are going to last for many years, but on the other hand, the only option that is left, the Yamaha, I liked much less...

Which of the options would you say is a good choice? Or maybe really neither of them is good, and I need to up my budget for a real German, which is already about ~13K$?

Thanks

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Re: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: Hagai] #2557982 07/21/16 05:54 PM
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PianoWorksATL Offline
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Hello Hagai,

We carry New Hailun, Seiler, and often a variety of pre-owned Yamaha U1/U3 pianos among others, so customers visiting our showroom have a similar experience and questions that you have.

Each brand has a different voice and makes for a good selection while at competitive prices. I'm not sure where you are shopping, and prices to vary in different markets, so I cannot address that as directly.

However, the question as to brands "proving" themselves is overstated. The 2 new piano brands you mentioned are making traditional instruments with traditional materials utilizing modern manufacturing efficiencies. When customers prefer the sound of a Hailun or Seiler, it's not a trick or some temporary thing, it is the piano's design shining through. And when a customer prefers the Yamaha's sound, we welcome that, too.

Given the design, construction and materials of the models you mentioned, our experience with them suggests they will at least perform comparably (as durable) as the U1/U3. We've tried many other brands and models that would not earn that confidence.

I suggest that you consider the instruments first, how they actually sound and feel. If the Hailun would benefit from additional prep is a question for your dealer and you may offer to purchase contingent on satisfying your request. At the lowest cost, wouldn't that be most simple? For the Seiler that you liked, you can purchase and be happy with it. For your preferences, it seems like the used U1/U3 is left out as neither your favorite or the most affordable. They may be the right pianos for the next customer.

Also, Seiler does have both German SE models as well as the ED series that are duplicates of the 2 largest German SE models. The ED series is more than the Johannes Seiler 122 and perform very closely to the SE models, but I think the SE would be even more than your estimate if new and a similar size.


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: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: Hagai] #2558016 07/22/16 02:39 AM
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wouter79 Offline
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I recommend that you try many more pianos and enjoy the search. Find also shops specialized in 2nd hand. Ignore brand names and prices initially, just listen and feel until you know what you want. THen find what's possible in that budget.

Seiler is a well known german top brand that has been around a long time (160 years actually). This is a lot longer than Yamaha (about 70 years, FAIK they started pianos after WW2). But IMHO you shouldn't focus on this yet.

Last edited by wouter79; 07/22/16 02:42 AM.

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Re: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: Hagai] #2558017 07/22/16 02:47 AM
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It's like going to a Kia dealer and they have some 50 year old Toyota rusting away next to it and the guy says, "see our Kia's are better than Toyota."

It's an old trick. That Yamaha you played is like 50 years old. It's literally garbage from Japan that they give to piano dealers here for maybe the price of shipping. If you want to hear what Yamaha sounds like - go play a new one, not some 50 year old one pulled from the dumpster.

Pretty much all of these grey market Yamaha/Kawai's I've encountered were terrible. Hammers hard as rocks - not sure if it came that way or they put super-glue on it. Then they'll list the 50 year old U1's for something like $4000, but it should probably be more like $500-1000, but then you think "oh for $500 more I can get a brand new XYZ..."

But to be fair the Yamaha and Kawai dealers probably do the same thing. I was at a Yamaha dealer in San Jose and he had this Pearl River baby grand that sounded like a harpsichord. I've never heard a PR that bad - I'm pretty sure that wasn't an accident.

Anyway, go play a new Yamaha. You can get a new U1 for about $6000-6500 on a good day. But Hailuns and Seilers are probably good too - just don't make up your mind on Toyota's based on some 50 year old one.




Re: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: wouter79] #2558051 07/22/16 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by wouter79

Seiler is a well known german top brand that has been around a long time (160 years actually). This is a lot longer than Yamaha (about 70 years, FAIK they started pianos after WW2). But IMHO you shouldn't focus on this yet.


Being a beginner in piano, my opinion is unfortunately of little use to the OP.

If memory serves, Yamaha builds piano for well more than 100 years. However, in the beginning probably not as good as today's production. Please correct me if I am again wrong.

Re: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: Hagai] #2558061 07/22/16 10:36 AM
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PianoWorksATL Offline
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Yamaha's production of pianos does go back about 100 years, but production was small and not exported to US and Europe for many years. Production ramped up rapidly after WWII and exponentially in the late 60's when they started exporting seriously to US & Europe.

michaelh's opinion is quite strong, and while I know that some of what he speaks of is common as either peddled junk or a cross-selling trick, there are a few well know vendors for "refurbished" gray market pianos with very good reputation for QC. They tend to hire ex-Yamaha & Kawai craftsmen that had to retire early under Japan's laws and customs, and the pianos they ship are good, representative examples of these brands. So it really depends. Certainly, go and try new Yamahas. As far as the prices he's reporting, we haven't seen that in a few years with the specific exception of hyper-competitive California cities, often connected with larger "group" buys. I still don't know where you are posting from, but you'd never get that price in Atlanta, for example.


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: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: Hagai] #2558067 07/22/16 11:27 AM
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I can say from my experience piano shopping, the grey market dealer here in town has made his Yamahas sound great. These are all 30-40 years old but he has done an amazing job with getting them to sound their best. But it is in his best interest to do so since that is his main bread and butter. Heck even the Kawai dealer has made his used Yamahas sound very good, even though that may mean cannibalizing some of his new sales.

On the other hand, there are a couple dealers who obviously keep a U1 in stock to show how good their lower tier pianos sound in comparison to the gold standard. They have no intention of selling that piano considering the price they want is coincidently just over the price of their new 48".

Re: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: Hagai] #2558072 07/22/16 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hagai
Hi,

I'm going to buy my first piano (I learned piano about 15 years ago, but didn't touch one for many years), and I want to get something that will last for a long time in a good shape.

I went to the store the other day, and within my budget the options were either a second hand Yamaha U3, a new Hailun HU120 or HU121 or a new Seiler Johannes 122 Traditio.

As for my personal, non professional experience:
I liked the sound of the Yamaha less than the others (the U3 was better than U1, but still).
The sound of the Hailun was nice, but it felt a little too stiff and resisting, but this might be just a matter of tuning, right?
As for the Seiler, I really liked the sound (and the look), and indeed, it was the most expensive (forgot to mention the prices, the Hailun is ~4K$, Yamaha is ~5K$, and the Seiler is ~7K$)

Now, the problem is that Hailun is chinese and the Seiler is (partially?) made in Indonesia, and they're not around for that long, to tell if they're really good, and are going to last for many years, but on the other hand, the only option that is left, the Yamaha, I liked much less...

Which of the options would you say is a good choice? Or maybe really neither of them is good, and I need to up my budget for a real German, which is already about ~13K$?

Thanks


Hagai,

All I can do is give you my purchasing experience. I wanted to replace my 28 year old London made Knight K10 upright. The route I took was from ignorance of what was available. Of course I was aware of premium brands like Steinway etc. but I dismissed these as a price way beyond what I could justify.

So I chose Yamaha as my starting point, not even new but one of the U1/U3 "refurbished" pianos now flooding into the UK. These pianos as offered by dealers seemed to have such a wide variety of tone (voicing) that I was nervous about buying one.

I also considered Kawai "K" model uprights but after reading here about "Tier one" pianos I decided to buy a used German piano. That was easier thought than in practice as high quality German pianos of recent manufacture are not easy to find. I decided to save and save hoping that a used Bechstein, Blüthner or similar would magically appear. That was just wishful thinking here in Scotland.

I visited all my local piano shops trying out various new Tier One pianos. As soon as I played my Blüthner Model A upright, I knew I had to buy it. The sound was so beautiful compared with the other brands that there was no need to delay further.

I'm not suggesting that you buy a Blüthner, but to me the Seiler brand and the model you are looking at must be given serious consideration.

Hope you get your dream piano.

Ian



I'm all keyed up
2016 Blüthner Model A
Re: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: PianoWorksATL] #2558143 07/23/16 02:27 AM
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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL


michaelh's opinion is quite strong, and while I know that some of what he speaks of is common as either peddled junk or a cross-selling trick, there are a few well know vendors for "refurbished" gray market pianos with very good reputation for QC. They tend to hire ex-Yamaha & Kawai craftsmen that had to retire early under Japan's laws and customs, and the pianos they ship are good, representative examples of these brands. So it really depends.


I don't know. The ones I've encountered were nothing like a new copy. Not to say they're not usable, they're completely usable pianos but most of them sounded old, brassy, or loose actions and definitely not inspiring. Like an old car really - you could do a few things to fix the low-hanging fruit, but to make it feel like a new car you pretty much have to rebuild everything which would be prohibitively expensive and it'd be cheaper to buy a new that's made in a factory with all their mass production processes, etc.. . If these grey-market U1's were around $1000 that'd be OK...

Re: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: BornInTheUSA] #2558162 07/23/16 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by michaelha
It's like going to a Kia dealer and they have some 50 year old Toyota rusting away next to it and the guy says, "see our Kia's are better than Toyota."

It's an old trick. That Yamaha you played is like 50 years old. It's literally garbage from Japan that they give to piano dealers here for maybe the price of shipping. If you want to hear what Yamaha sounds like - go play a new one, not some 50 year old one pulled from the dumpster.

Pretty much all of these grey market Yamaha/Kawai's I've encountered were terrible. Hammers hard as rocks - not sure if it came that way or they put super-glue on it. Then they'll list the 50 year old U1's for something like $4000, but it should probably be more like $500-1000, but then you think "oh for $500 more I can get a brand new XYZ..."

But to be fair the Yamaha and Kawai dealers probably do the same thing. I was at a Yamaha dealer in San Jose and he had this Pearl River baby grand that sounded like a harpsichord. I've never heard a PR that bad - I'm pretty sure that wasn't an accident.

Anyway, go play a new Yamaha. You can get a new U1 for about $6000-6500 on a good day. But Hailuns and Seilers are probably good too - just don't make up your mind on Toyota's based on some 50 year old one.
I don't see anything in the OP's post to indicate the Yamaha mentioned was grey market or particularly old. Have you played the particular Yamaha or are you just assuming everything?

Re: Need some help in choosing a piano [Re: Hagai] #2558203 07/23/16 12:15 PM
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Friends of ours have a Yamaha U3. From the serial number its from 1978, made in Japan. This was relatively easy to look up. The piano tuner that came to tune it apparently said that there are or maybe could be issues with the strings? Some kind of addition, coating or something that may be problematic? Are there any potential issues with U3 strings?

It now has been almost a year since the last tuning and you can hear it, but its not much out and with its 132cm it really has a deep bass and nice discant.

A second hand U3 can be a really nice instrument, totally depends on how good it was kept.


Kawai CN35. Daughter wanted a piano, so we got one. Now who'll learn faster? ;-)

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