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With a budget between 2-$3000.00 (prefer 2k), what piano should I be shopping for. We need to get an upright as I have no room for a grand. I am looking for the best value that my money can buy in terms of overall build, aesthetics and most importantly sound quality and playability. I am looking for my wife who used to play a 48-52' Petrov when she lived in Azerbaijan. I live in OH, if that makes any difference.

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I am a piano teacher in the Tampa area, the Steinway dealership sells the Kohler & Campbell piano for there more entry level price point.

I feel it is an excellent piano given its price. They have Maple action parts (not plastic, very important) solid spruce sound board (not laminated like most other pianos in this price point) and they are built on a low tension scale like Steinway and Boston pianos.

For the money, it is the very best piano available.

just my 2cents

J


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You might consider a used Yamaha U1 which you may be able to find in the upper limit of your price range.

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If you're trying to stay at $2000, I would be inclined to be very, very patient and shop the used market (dealers and private sellers). Once I found a potential instrument to buy, I'd pay a technician to check it out before purchase. It would also be a good idea to see how the new entry-level pianos sound and feel at a dealer, of course.


Quote
Originally posted by jman37:
I am a piano teacher in the Tampa area, the Steinway dealership sells the Kohler & Campbell piano for there more entry level price point.

I feel it is an excellent piano given its price. They have Maple action parts (not plastic, very important) solid spruce sound board (not laminated like most other pianos in this price point) and they are built on a low tension scale like Steinway and Boston pianos.

For the money, it is the very best piano available.
J
jman37,
How are plastic or composite materials a problem in a modern action (it isn't 1965 anymore...)? High-end Kawais use them, and I've read that Mason & Hamlin may soon release a concert grand with carbon-fiber action parts.

Also, could you explain how the low tension scale makes a difference? That sounds like sales-speak, and I doubt the statement holds true for all Steinway models (and likely not for the Kawai-built Bostons, if I were to guess).

In my experience, the suitability of any entry-level piano is largely influenced by the dealer's willingness to prep and tune it to some degree of suitability, and not so much the name on the front.


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I would second terminaldegree's advice. If your wife liked her Petrof, I would shop craigslist for a used Petrof. It will probably take some time. Finding Yamahas and Kawais is easier, but they are both quite different from Petrof pianos.

If you prefer new, you are really at the low low end of the price spectrum. There are some good values, but IMO they don't quite equal a nice Petrof.

The low-priced pianos are coming from Indonesia and China. You should compare for yourself. Nothing wrong with Jman's suggestion to check out a K&C for the Indonesian entrant. For the Chinese I would recommend a Hailun to maximimize your purchase power. If you can't find a dealer in Cleveland, try BHA pianos in Dayton. Wherever you go, bring your wife with you. The player should make the decision. Good luck!


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I took her to the two largest stores in our area today to look at used pianos. She seems to really like the Yamaha U1 and U3 and felt comfortable with a few of the larger Kawai's. These were all falling in around $3500.00 shipped. The yamaha's were "Reconditioned or Remanufactured", which I don't quite understand. Regardless my wife seemed to like the sound and playability of the Yamaha U1 the best.

That being stated, she has not gotten to see many other brands and we did not look at the new inventory. Thoughts??

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"Reconditioned" or "remanufactured" are terms that are tossed around without clear definitions in the piano industry. They suggest that existing parts were adjusted or fixed, or that new parts were installed to replace worn-out ones. It is not financially smart for a seller to totally rebuild an upright piano (you can't make your money back on a competent full rebuild) like this, so don't believe for a second that all the parts were replaced or refinished.

If you look at the serial number of the piano, I'm pretty sure you can determine the year of manufacture on the yamaha or kawai website. I would still recommend a technician inspect the piano pre-purchase so you have an idea as to what may have been replaced, or how well the work was done.

Of course, there are many new entry-level uprights to choose from at the $3500 pricepoint-- different sizes and finishes, too.


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Quote
Originally posted by terminaldegree:
If you're trying to stay at $2000, I would be inclined to be very, very patient and shop the used market (dealers and private sellers). Once I found a potential instrument to buy, I'd pay a technician to check it out before purchase. It would also be a good idea to see how the new entry-level pianos sound and feel at a dealer, of course.


Quote
Originally posted by jman37:
[b] I am a piano teacher in the Tampa area, the Steinway dealership sells the Kohler & Campbell piano for there more entry level price point.

I feel it is an excellent piano given its price. They have Maple action parts (not plastic, very important) solid spruce sound board (not laminated like most other pianos in this price point) and they are built on a low tension scale like Steinway and Boston pianos.

For the money, it is the very best piano available.
J
jman37,
How are plastic or composite materials a problem in a modern action (it isn't 1965 anymore...)? High-end Kawais use them, and I've read that Mason & Hamlin may soon release a concert grand with carbon-fiber action parts.

Also, could you explain how the low tension scale makes a difference? That sounds like sales-speak, and I doubt the statement holds true for all Steinway models (and likely not for the Kawai-built Bostons, if I were to guess).

In my experience, the suitability of any entry-level piano is largely influenced by the dealer's willingness to prep and tune it to some degree of suitability, and not so much the name on the front. [/b]
Low tension scaling provides a warmer tone where high tension tends to be brighter like yamaha and kawai's tend to be. It's personal choice.

and lets be clear.. the ONLY reason a manufacturer uses plastic parts is because of costs. Whether or not they are as good or as durable as shaped wooden parts is opion I suppose. I just look at all the top pianos in the world, they all have wooden action parts.


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jman37,

In the interest of disseminating good information here, a few follow-up questions:

Are all Steinway and Boston models "low tension" scales?
At what point does a piano have a high tension scale?
The Kawai has a high tension scale but the Kawai-built Boston doesn't?
The tension of the scale is the primary determinant of "warmth" of sound?

You should search the tech forum here for an active discussion of the new WNG action parts. I think they're produced by the M&H people, and judging by the nature of the discussion, they're not cheaper than the wood parts. (techs, correct me if I'm wrong) Do you think Steinway was trying to save money when they used teflon bushings in the 1960's-1980's models? It was my perception that they tried this as a more durable alternative to traditional bushing cloth. Of course, that experiment was not a success. I am unaware of any entry-level piano that makes extensive use of plastic at this time, though it's not the part of the market I'm that interested in.

Of course, these matters of scaling and cost of composite materials vs. wood have been discussed at length here by industry professionals, techs, rebuilders, and even piano designers. They were very interesting and long-winded threads that came to a very different conclusion, if I recall correctly...


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Quote
Originally posted by terminaldegree:
jman37,

In the interest of disseminating good information here, a few follow-up questions:

Are all Steinway and Boston models "low tension" scales?
At what point does a piano have a high tension scale?
The Kawai has a high tension scale but the Kawai-built Boston doesn't?
The tension of the scale is the primary determinant of "warmth" of sound?

You should search the tech forum here for an active discussion of the new WNG action parts. I think they're produced by the M&H people, and judging by the nature of the discussion, they're not cheaper than the wood parts. (techs, correct me if I'm wrong) Do you think Steinway was trying to save money when they used teflon bushings in the 1960's-1980's models? It was my perception that they tried this as a more durable alternative to traditional bushing cloth. Of course, that experiment was not a success. I am unaware of any entry-level piano that makes extensive use of plastic at this time, though it's not the part of the market I'm that interested in.

Of course, these matters of scaling and cost of composite materials vs. wood have been discussed at length here by industry professionals, techs, rebuilders, and even piano designers. They were very interesting and long-winded threads that came to a very different conclusion, if I recall correctly...
yes my understanding is all steinways & Bostons are build on a low tension scale which means that each string is pulled to a lower tension relative to "high tension" pianos.

ex. Steinways generally are pulled to about 155 lbs per string where some other japanese pianos are pulled to over 200 lbs per string.

These different types of scaling result in differet types of spheres of sound and oddly enough, longevity..

The higher the tension a string is pulled too equalls a higher weight that is pushed down onto the soundboard. This inhibits the soundboard from vibrating as freely thus reducing the sustain time amongst other adverse effects that I will try to explain.

a higher tensioned piano sound tends to be brighter with a much faster, sharper attack, and as stated before, followed by a shorter sustain

also, the increased string tension adds more physical strain on the piano from a day to day basis which causes them to ware more quickly. The larger the piano, generally, the higher the tensions

the next logical question is Why would a company choose to build a high tension scaled piano?

The answer is simple, it is easier to design and manufacture a high tensioned piano than a low one.

RE: you are able to use an inferior design, which happens to be cheaper to manufacture, and less expensive materials with a high tension scale and still achieve a full sounding piano. this is because the higher tension can compensates for the other lacking materials or scale designs.

Its late and I hope this makes some sort of sense.


Yes, Boston pianos are made in Kawai factories. They have completely different scales and designs, and are made with completely different materials. case and point.. Kawais have all plastic action parts whereas boston are all wood, this is just one example of many differences. If you look at the shape of the rims they are TOTALLY different, bridges are placed on different areas of the soundboard, action geometry are totally different.

I have done much research as I shopped extensivly for my piano studio (have purchased a Boston GP-178 and Steinway B) and my finding are that about 15 years ago when Steinway set out to find a manufacturer for there limited production Boston piano they choose kawai because the pianos they built were built well, and they had idle manufacturing facilitates they could use immediatly in japan.


and the final part of your question..

I believe there are many variables to a pianos warmth of sound. The scale of the piano is deffinetly a big part of it. Quality of materials, manufacturing methods voicing and well, personal opinion as well.


Tephlon bushings is a whole other subject..if you want me to give me 2cents on that i will, but the problem didnt lie with the bushings themselves, it lied with the way Technicians out in the field were treating the new tephlon bushings. Tephlon at the time was no cheap substitue either, it was state of the art back at that time period.

sorry for grammar and other, its late wink


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sorry for grammar and other, its late
You should get some rest jman. If you decide to drop in here tomorrow, I suspect you'll have a busy day. laugh


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jman37,

I found a couple of those older links; it starts here:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/1/18966.html

and then heads into the very substantive discussion here:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?/topic/1/6601.html

It's a very interesting, albeit technical and long-winded read.

My skepticism regarding the topic is driven by past experiences with oddly-coached salespeople who get hung up on one marketing catch-phrase at the expense of everything else: "high tension", "sand-cast plate", "roslau strings", "hand-crafted", "renner action", "cold-pressed hammers", etc. One of these elements alone doesn't a great piano make, and there are a lot of lousy pianos with a many of the "desired" characteristics and parts, too.

I've never heard anything like what you've said regarding the teflon bushings and the technicians being at fault (and I talk to a lot of technicians who service dozens upon dozens of teflon-era Steinways, and trained in NY). I seem to remember that the great and oft-mentioned Franz Mohr even went on-record as not liking the design. If the design was clearly not at fault, then why did they stop using it? How do you screw up a bushing, anyway?

In my brief experience working as a student for an institutional tech, servicing the teflon bushings was a snap: pop it out, put in the new one, use the special reaming tool, and done! As a total novice, it took me far less time to install and calibrate than the traditional cloth type...

Apologies to the original poster for completely derailing your thread... sorry! My motivation here is ONLY the dissemination of good and correct information as an alternative to the typical sales-spiel. I am not trying to turn this into an anti-"Steinway family of pianos" thread-- seriously.


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the infamous teflon bushings that steinways used were not a problem until technicians who worked on them went to adjust the bushing size by enlarging it, just as they had for the last 100 years. These new teflon bushings were very precise fittings that could not be adjusted in the fashion technicians had been use to.

when they widend the bushing for the flange pin they damaged the bushing and caused it to squeak.
It was a mistake by Steinway to not properly train or educate the technicians on how to regulate the actions appropriately . But was not a manufacturing problem from the factory.

the reason technicians do this is after long periods the flange pin will wear the flange which will cause the shank to not rise and fall as quickly. This is why Technicians need to adjust them periodically.

at least this is my understanding.

I understand that today Steinway uses teflon coated bushings which can be adjusted more easily out on the field.

Perhaps I may have this wrong, anyone elses opion about this infamous time in Steinways era would be great to see!


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JasonG, Have you looked at the Piano Book by Larry Fine and the latest annual supplement on prices? Do the used U1s from the larger piano stores come with warranty or tunings from the seller?

This person might also suggest places to check:
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from JasonG
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I took her to the two largest stores in our area today to look at used pianos. She seems to really like the Yamaha U1 and U3 and felt comfortable with a few of the larger Kawai's. These were all falling in around $3500.00 shipped. The yamaha's were "Reconditioned or Remanufactured", which I don't quite understand. Regardless my wife seemed to like the sound and playability of the Yamaha U1 the best.

That being stated, she has not gotten to see many other brands and we did not look at the new inventory. Thoughts??
It seems that your wife is not stuck on the Petrof's tone. That's good because I can't think of another piano that has the Petrof tone.

I think the most important thing is not to rush. U1 is a fine piano, a standard for pro level verticals. If the Yamahas and Kawais that you saw are grey-market, and I'd guess they are, you do want to factor in the age. Even if they are in good working condition and low-mileage, you can do better than a 20-30 year old piano for 3.5k. You will find that to be true if you exercise caution and patience.

Here are links to charts that provide age info for Yamaha and Kawai. Serial numbers are usually easy to spot when you lift the lid of the piano.


[edit: can't seem to split the Yamaha age link web address this morning. Sorry. Google Yamaha piano age and click on the link with the official Yamaha name. Maybe someone who is less of a computer dufus than me could post it correctly.]

http://www.kawaiustsd.com/pages/serial_manudate.html

Remember too that the selling price of any piano at any dealer is not etched in stone. You can certainly bargain the price down. Sales staff expect that and posted prices are reckoned to take that into account.

Finally, there are many grey-market Yamahas and Kawais in superb condition. There are others that are very tired. Opinions here about grey-market pianos are often all-or-nothing black and white . That's not the reality. It's really different shades of grey smile .


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Originally posted by guest1013:
JasonG, Have you looked at the Piano Book by Larry Fine and the latest annual supplement on prices? Do the used U1s from the larger piano stores come with warranty or tunings from the seller?

This person might also suggest places to check:
Another OH shopper
I am planning on running to borders tomorrow and at least perusing this book for insight. Another had also recommend this book to me. The Yamaha's and Kawai's would come with a 1-3 year warranty and or a full 5 yr full trade in allowance towards something else. I would negotiate a few tunes in. Note, all these warranty's are from the respective dealers and not the manufacturer.

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Turandot and all, what are your thoughts on these Grey Market Items. A good value for the money if in good condition and warrantied, or should they be avoided like the plague? If they are worthwhile, what price should I be negotiating towards do you think.

Just getting into the market, this is all very confusing. Especially when you start to think about the quality of the Teflon used in the bushings and how much tension is on the Scale. smile Seriously thought, thank you all for helping me get on the path of making an educated decision.

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I would look at new Asian pianos in this price range. Many of them are quite nice. I do not feel the Yamahas and Kawais are enough better to overcome the risk of buying used. I would not rely on a dealer's warranty these days. Dealerships are closing all over.


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yes my understanding is all steinways & Bostons are build on a low tension scale which means that each string is pulled to a lower tension relative to "high tension" pianos.

ex. Steinways generally are pulled to about 155 lbs per string where some other japanese pianos are pulled to over 200 lbs per string.

These different types of scaling result in differet types of spheres of sound and oddly enough, longevity..

The higher the tension a string is pulled too equalls a higher weight that is pushed down onto the soundboard. This inhibits the soundboard from vibrating as freely thus reducing the sustain time amongst other adverse effects that I will try to explain.

a higher tensioned piano sound tends to be brighter with a much faster, sharper attack, and as stated before, followed by a shorter sustain

also, the increased string tension adds more physical strain on the piano from a day to day basis which causes them to ware more quickly. The larger the piano, generally, the higher the tensions

the next logical question is Why would a company choose to build a high tension scaled piano?

The answer is simple, it is easier to design and manufacture a high tensioned piano than a low one.
This is all incorrect. There is only one difference in pianos that results in a significant difference in the tension of the strings. That is the size. Larger pianos have higher tensions, as the longer the strings, the higher the tension needs to be to overcome the extra length.

I do not know where the discussion of teflon came into this topic. Steinway never used teflon bushings in upright pianos.


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No you you are wrong. a 5'8Yamaha or similar sized kawai tension is far higher than a 5'10 boston.

and If you read my post I stated that the larger the piano the higher the tension needed.

Low tension pianos, to me, sound sweeter have a longer sustain and produce a warmer tone.

My experience says Kawai's and especially Yamaha's tend to be brighter more percussive piano's, please do not flame.. I don't believe its inherently good or bad.. purely opinion


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