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My piano buying adventures #2731725
04/25/18 02:35 PM
04/25/18 02:35 PM
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schinl Offline OP
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Hello! I am a returning adult student struggling on a digital Yamaha keyboard (Y143). A few weeks ago I started on a journey to try as many acoustic pianos as I can and maaaaybe find one that matches my modest playing and even modester budget.

Of upmost importance to me is a responsive action and touch, and a warm deep sound. I would like to focus on romantic pieces and trying to work on musicality, and practicing Chopin's Aeolian harp on the digital keyboard (weighted, at least!) leaves me with a sore forearm and 0% pleasure.

I would LOVE a grand, but I don't think I can find a good one in my price range ($7-10k), and the used grands I’ve tried weren’t quite right.

After weeks of trying out dozens of used and new and grand and upright pianos from so many different showrooms... from Yamaha (the U1 and U3 is beautiful but a little too expensive) Boston, Kawai, Young Chang (I like it but don't love it?), Essex (great price and I like the touch, but not the sound), Pearl River (lovely sound but just not quite right), Ritmuller, Hailun (very interesting pianos!) etc etc to dreamy castle in the air Steinways, Shigerus, Bosendorfers, Mason & Hamlins, Petrof.. you name it, I've tried it! (you can also see why I'm so confused and overwhelmed).

When I was out of state for a conference, I came across a Kawai K500, which I did like very much! I liked the beautiful sound and most of all, the goooorgeous keys and such a responsive touch. I believe they are synthetic ivory or something, to match their amazing grands (I also tried the GL series, which are my dream pianos). The K300 did not inspire me as much.

However, my local Kawai dealer do not have a K500 in stock, and I would have liked to try it again to make sure I really love it, especially since it is right on the edge of my budget. I would have to special order and have it set up in my house, though they did say if I didn't like it by 14 days it could be sent back. However I don't think I am ready to commit to buying something sight unseen and right out of the box! Is this normal procedure?

I would appreciate any advice or suggestions! I am not in a hurry though every time I practice on my digital keyboard I wish I had something better already! I’m pretty sure by now the dealers are sick of me returning several times inquiring about new stock. Is finding “the one” a pipe dream, or should I just settle for a perfectly good Young Chang or Ritmuller?


Falling in love with the piano again after 15 years of silence!
www.openinkstand.com
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Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731729
04/25/18 03:02 PM
04/25/18 03:02 PM
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Urbandale, Iowa
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Steve Chandler Offline
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Hi schinl,

You don't say where you are, location is important. Most participants on this forum are in the USA or Europe, but there are also some in parts of Asia and other parts of the world. Having looked at the link in your signature I see you're in Las Vegas. If the Kawai dealer in Vegas doesn't have a K500 in stock, he should. The idea of special ordering seems a nonstarter for me, you could drive to LA try more than a few K500s and many other fine instruments and then also enjoy that the market in Southern California is much larger and more competitive than the piano market in Vegas. The savings alone on a K500 would probably cover your delivery, gas, meals and hotel room. Tell that to your local dealer and he'll know it's true. I purchased my piano long distance (purchased in Stamford, CT, delivered to Iowa). Long distance piano purchases is nothing to fear, just expect support to be from local technicians. Good luck!

Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731730
04/25/18 03:04 PM
04/25/18 03:04 PM
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Danville, California
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Furtwangler Offline
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My advice: Buy it.


Amateur Pianist and raconteur.
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731731
04/25/18 03:04 PM
04/25/18 03:04 PM
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Each piano is unique, and it behooves one to try it before committing.

However, Kawai's are generally very uniform. There is fair chance you will like the one sight unseen.

Maybe you could talk to the dealer about working something out. My dealer had something like "We will order a piano and set it up for you, if you put down 50% of the agreed price. If you like it, you pay the rest and buy it. If you do not like it, you have to buy another piano from us using your down payment." If you are going to eventually buy a piano from them within a year, this might be a good option.

If you go this route, get it in writing with terms and dates spelled out. Best of luck!

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Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731753
04/25/18 05:29 PM
04/25/18 05:29 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
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Atlanta, GA
PianoWorksATL Offline
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Unless your request is for a K500 in a finish other than polish ebony, I find it very unusual that it is considered a special order. As a dealer, we tend to carry a representative piano of any popular model, though we do run out of stock. In those cases, deposits give priority for incoming pianos, but is very different than a special order. Since you liked the one you played, there is a very good chance you will like the new one.

The 14 day return option is very reasonable to offer, but it would be important to outline what is included in the setup. Kawai's factory prep is good, but all pianos require some before and after sale service. 14 days is plenty of time to see if you like it, but very little time if it needs any adjustments to make it a keeper. For that reason and benefit, I would hope you can work it out with your local dealer.


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: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731755
04/25/18 05:35 PM
04/25/18 05:35 PM
Joined: May 2001
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Victoria, BC
BruceD Offline
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I stand somewhat firmly in the camp of try-it-before-you-buy-it. Each piano is different and even among the same models of the same brand, including those brands known for their overall consistency, individual pianos may have slightly different tonal and touch characteristics. Make sure that you get exactly what you are expecting from your shopping experience, down to the point of recording the serial number of the piano purchased and verifying that number when the piano is delivered.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731757
04/25/18 05:40 PM
04/25/18 05:40 PM
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schinl Offline OP
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Steve: Yes, I am indeed in Las Vegas and would love to buy and build a relationship with a local dealer, as I feel they will offer more support in case of any malfunction etc. In fact they had mentioned that they had been burned before, someone ordered a fancy piano, tried it in their showroom and decided to buy from California instead, which is why they were reluctant on ordering a K500 for me to try. I didn't have the idea of buying from out of state till they mentioned it! How amazing you bought your piano from two states away!

Redfish1901: Thanks for your response. I have only spoken to the salesmen, and not the owner, who seemed pretty reluctant, but perhaps would do some kind of deal. However, I am also looking at used pianos, and so rather not be tied down to one particular dealer.

PianoworksATL: Well apparently the K500 isn't a popular model for them, and they were reluctant to order one in case I don't like it, and it will sit in their showroom unsold for a long time. They do have the K300 and K400, but I didn't like those very much. Can you elaborate on what kind of adjustments it would need after sale? I know pianos need some time to adjust after unboxing but I'm not sure how much more work it needs.

BruceD: Yes, that is what I feel, too! The difference in touch and tone is subtle but enough to drive me crazy if it is not correct.

Last edited by schinl; 04/25/18 05:42 PM.

Falling in love with the piano again after 15 years of silence!
www.openinkstand.com
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731763
04/25/18 06:07 PM
04/25/18 06:07 PM
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Perhaps I’m missing something in this thread. Why can’t you simply purchase the K500 that you tried out of state and really loved? I realize that you’d prefer to buy locally for after sales service. But I think you would have little problem with a company like Kawai wherever you bought it.

Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731772
04/25/18 06:33 PM
04/25/18 06:33 PM
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schinl Offline OP
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SMA55: The K500 is indeed beautiful, and it stands out amongst the uprights I have tried in the showroom out of town. It would be great if I can try it again locally to really make sure.

However it is quite expensive and for that price I am still wondering if I should continue my search and maybe find a cheaper used grand instead. Or 'settle' for the K500.


Falling in love with the piano again after 15 years of silence!
www.openinkstand.com
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731775
04/25/18 06:54 PM
04/25/18 06:54 PM
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I guess I misunderstood. It sounded to me like you were sold on the K500.

Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731776
04/25/18 06:56 PM
04/25/18 06:56 PM
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Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by schinl
SMA55: The K500 is indeed beautiful, and it stands out amongst the uprights I have tried in the showroom out of town. It would be great if I can try it again locally to really make sure.

However it is quite expensive and for that price I am still wondering if I should continue my search and maybe find a cheaper used grand instead. Or 'settle' for the K500.


How much are they asking for the K500 ??


Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731782
04/25/18 07:06 PM
04/25/18 07:06 PM
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schinl Offline OP
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SMA55: I don't blame you, I know I sound very confused in my post! I love it but I'm not in love with it, and am hesitant to pull the trigger!

Carey: A little more than $10k, but I don't know how flexible they are. And I know I can get it cheaper elsewhere, however they are the only Kawai dealer in town. May I ask how much you paid for yours?


Falling in love with the piano again after 15 years of silence!
www.openinkstand.com
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731787
04/25/18 07:18 PM
04/25/18 07:18 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
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Atlanta, GA
PianoWorksATL Offline
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Prepping an upright is very routine, but the time needed to regulate to specs and to voice to suit will still vary. 3 - 6 hrs of skilled prep is common among better quality, mass produced pianos, though quite a few are sold with less. Sometimes more is necessary. Beyond the normal factory variance, a piano is affected by transit and time spent in transit/warehouse.


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: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731789
04/25/18 07:30 PM
04/25/18 07:30 PM
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Phoenix, Arizona
Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by schinl
SMA55: I don't blame you, I know I sound very confused in my post! I love it but I'm not in love with it, and am hesitant to pull the trigger!

Carey: A little more than $10k, but I don't know how flexible they are. And I know I can get it cheaper elsewhere, however they are the only Kawai dealer in town. May I ask how much you paid for yours?


Certainly.......$8.000 (two months ago) - plus tax and moving. Included one home tuning. Of course, the dealer had purchased a good many Kawai uprights as part of a large sale to a local college, so he was able to reduce the price accordingly. I believe he still has one K-500 available.

Perhaps you could get the Las Vegas dealer to go down to $9K.

If you buy elsewhere, you'd be looking at additional shipping costs and you'd lose the local dealer support.

If you really want a grand, however and have the space for it, I'd encourage you to pursue that.



Last edited by Carey; 04/25/18 07:39 PM.

Mason and Hamlin BB - 91640
Kawai K-500 Upright
Kawai CA-65 Digital
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731791
04/25/18 07:40 PM
04/25/18 07:40 PM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 131
Alsea Oregon, USA
jshelton Offline
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Like you we bought a digital piano to get started and almost immediately switched to a new upright console which was a nice piano but our tuner found a GC1 yamaha that was virtually unused and only a few years old for a good price so we upgraded. Not saying we're normal but if I were you I'd find a place for a grand piano in your home and skip all the expensive steps between the digitals to uprights to finally a grand. Right now we're shopping for a larger, higher quality grand although neither of us will ever be at the level of most on this list.


John Shelton
Shelton-Farretta Guitars
www.sheltonfarrettaguitars.com
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731803
04/25/18 08:17 PM
04/25/18 08:17 PM
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schinl Offline OP
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PianoworksATL: Thank you, how interesting! I doubt any technician will want to spend 3-6 hours doing the complimentary prepping in my house. I really wish they had one in the showroom all ready.

Carey: That is a great deal, and congratulations! How wonderful you have a Mason & Hamlin as well, how would you compare your wonderful upright and grand?

jshelton: That is exactly my dilemma. On one hand I feel I should stay within a lower budget and stick to practicing on an upright, and then get a grand when I have a better repertoire, experience and budget. On the other, skipping all the steps, rearrange some furniture and fit in a beautiful grand. Unfortunately for my $10k purse, I can get either a very good upright or a lesser quality used grand!

A GC1 is pretty good! What are you looking to upgrade? What don't you like about the GC1?

Last edited by schinl; 04/25/18 08:18 PM.

Falling in love with the piano again after 15 years of silence!
www.openinkstand.com
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731808
04/25/18 08:57 PM
04/25/18 08:57 PM
Joined: May 2013
Posts: 478
Bay Area CA
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pwl Offline
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schinl -

I'm NOT trying to talk you out of an acoustic piano. Really, I'm not . . .

Just being sure you're aware of the Kawai and Yamaha hybrids that offer a true mechanical action (from an acoustic grand). Kawai's new Novus is getting a lot of positive talk from owners (over on the digital forum) - altho it's maybe just slightly above your top price range. Yamaha's N2 is, according to most reports, definitely within your range.

Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731812
04/25/18 09:05 PM
04/25/18 09:05 PM
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schinl Offline OP
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PWL: Hybrid pianos are certainly on the table! I did try the Yamaha N1 and 2 but found the action to be too hard. I would LOVE to try the Novus, in fact I have been asking everyone about it as I am quite interested in how the volume can be controlled (how loud a grand would be in my house is one of my concerns). Unfortunately the kawai dealer here do not plan to bring one in and I would have to be “seriously interested” for them to order one. As I know the price range is higher than my budget, I could not make any promises however tempting it is.


Falling in love with the piano again after 15 years of silence!
www.openinkstand.com
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731818
04/25/18 09:43 PM
04/25/18 09:43 PM
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huaidongxi Offline
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schinl, convincing a dealer to do something for you they're not predisposed to do might/might not be as simple as it seems. at the >$10k. budget there are many options including used grands if you accept a patient strategy. a major dealer with a large inventory (R.Estrin) in orange county, CA includes transporting a piano in that price range (which is probably worth more than an economy plane ticket from 'vegas to see the piano).

any acoustic piano you own will mean establishing a connection with a technician, one major difference between an acoustic and a digital. for me the quality of sound and touch response does not compare with a good acoustic piano unless one takes the plunge for the high end hybrid digital pianos.

Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731827
04/25/18 10:42 PM
04/25/18 10:42 PM
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Posts: 15,365
Surrey, B.C.
Norbert Offline
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Quote
from Yamaha (the U1 and U3 is beautiful but a little too expensive) Boston, Kawai, Young Chang (I like it but don't love it?), Essex (great price and I like the touch, but not the sound), Pearl River (lovely sound but just not quite right), Ritmuller, Hailun (very interesting pianos!) etc etc to dreamy castle in the air Steinways, Shigerus, Bosendorfers, Mason & Hamlins, Petrof.. you name it, I've tried it! (you can also see why I'm so confused and overwhelmed).


You will be even more confused when shopping and trying uprights and grands in totally different price groups.

You also found some pianos "interesting" but still didn't buy them.

Please keep us in the loop on what basis you will make your decision.
Good luck!

Norbert


www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731847
04/26/18 01:17 AM
04/26/18 01:17 AM
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Retsacnal Online content

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Retsacnal  Online Content

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Don't be afraid to look at second-hand grands. You might be surprised what you can find within your budget. Just out of curiosity, I took a peek at the Las Vegas Craigslist. This Baldwin R might be worth having a look at:

https://lasvegas.craigslist.org/msg/d/tuners-sale-baldwin-grand/6529591003.html

The listing says it's an RPT's personal piano. Just to see if it might be a scam, I Googled the contact phone number in the listing and it hit several music related links, including this one to an RPT's listing on the PTG website:

https://www.ptg.org/scripts/4disapi...=DirectoryDetail&PersID_W=14863&

If I was shopping in Las Vegas with your budget, I think I'd take a look.

There are others too, and more over in Los Angeles (I'd second the notion of going there to look if you need to).


if you're content with A V E R A G E . . . then just do what everyone else does
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: Retsacnal] #2731920
04/26/18 08:24 AM
04/26/18 08:24 AM
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GC13 Offline
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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Don't be afraid to look at second-hand grands. You might be surprised what you can find within your budget. Just out of curiosity, I took a peek at the Las Vegas Craigslist. This Baldwin R might be worth having a look at:

https://lasvegas.craigslist.org/msg/d/tuners-sale-baldwin-grand/6529591003.html

The listing says it's an RPT's personal piano. Just to see if it might be a scam, I Googled the contact phone number in the listing and it hit several music related links, including this one to an RPT's listing on the PTG website:

https://www.ptg.org/scripts/4disapi...=DirectoryDetail&PersID_W=14863&

If I was shopping in Las Vegas with your budget, I think I'd take a look.

There are others too, and more over in Los Angeles (I'd second the notion of going there to look if you need to).


I second that idea! The Baldwin R can be a very nice piano. I'd definitely take a look at it if I were in Las Vegas. Good luck. I hope you find something you like.

Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731946
04/26/18 10:44 AM
04/26/18 10:44 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 131
Alsea Oregon, USA
jshelton Offline
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Originally Posted by schinl

jshelton: That is exactly my dilemma. On one hand I feel I should stay within a lower budget and stick to practicing on an upright, and then get a grand when I have a better repertoire, experience and budget. On the other, skipping all the steps, rearrange some furniture and fit in a beautiful grand. Unfortunately for my $10k purse, I can get either a very good upright or a lesser quality used grand!

A GC1 is pretty good! What are you looking to upgrade? What don't you like about the GC1?

I played a Kawai GX2 a while back and loved it. It stood up well to several much more expensive pianos at the same shop. I like the mellow voice better than the strident voice of our Yamaha and the action was very smooth.


John Shelton
Shelton-Farretta Guitars
www.sheltonfarrettaguitars.com
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2731966
04/26/18 12:50 PM
04/26/18 12:50 PM
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schinl Offline OP
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huaidongxi: Thanks for the tip. Which piano shops in California do you think I should visit? It would be fun to make a weekend trip visiting friends and piano shops. Now that I see buying pianos long distance isn't that big of a deal, I feel more open to the idea.

Norbert: Yes, I have tried dozens of pianos costing from $3k all the way to $70k Bosendorfers. I know I am thoroughly confused. The only thing I know for sure is I wish I had a bigger house and budget!

Retsacnal & GC13: The members of PW never fail to amaze me. Within a day of making this thread I feel more ideas and options opening up. Thank you so much for the link and research, I can't believe I missed it. I will make a call to her today!

jshelton: I have tried a Kawai GX also, and yes they are so wonderful. I do tend to lean to Kawais as I enjoy the responsive action very much. Best of luck and I hope you will get your GX2 soon.


Falling in love with the piano again after 15 years of silence!
www.openinkstand.com
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2732037
04/26/18 05:11 PM
04/26/18 05:11 PM
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Urbandale, Iowa
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Steve Chandler Offline
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Originally Posted by schinl
huaidongxi: Thanks for the tip. Which piano shops in California do you think I should visit? It would be fun to make a weekend trip visiting friends and piano shops. Now that I see buying pianos long distance isn't that big of a deal, I feel more open to the idea.

Good! Just to be clear, I bought my piano half a continent away. The fact is if you get tech services through your dealer you'll probably be paying a higher price. That's why you want to develop a direct relationship with your tech.

However, dealer prep is important. Your local dealer doesn't care to stock a high end upright. My guess is they don't stock Kawai's high end grands either. Do they talk much about dealer prep or is that something you first heard about here? Many dealers don't do much more than tune their new pianos unless there's a problem. I wish I cold recommend dealers in Southern California, but one has already been suggested (Estrin). Maybe others will chime in with their favorites in the region.

Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2732045
04/26/18 05:45 PM
04/26/18 05:45 PM
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schinl Offline OP
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Steve Chandler:
Did you also visit your piano in person, then have them send it to you half a continent away?? How did you acclimatize your piano then, was that just between you and your own tech?

The local dealer actually has wonderful high end Kawais, there were new Shigerus and GLs. They only had K300 and K400 uprights unfortunately, so I'm not sure why they don't spare some space for a K500.

We did not talk much about dealer prep. But I do know that I much prefer trying the actual piano I want to buy in store before paying. I know Kawai is very reliable but I'd hate to be the exception to the rule.

If anyone has some SoCal piano store recommendations I'd be very interested to hear them!


Falling in love with the piano again after 15 years of silence!
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Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2732064
04/26/18 07:13 PM
04/26/18 07:13 PM
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huaidongxi Offline
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schinl, there are a number of participants here who have been around to the major dealers in the metro LA/orange county area. one individual for example is D.Ferris, a professional performer who found a used kawai grand recently in the area for a colleague.

Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2732097
04/26/18 08:49 PM
04/26/18 08:49 PM
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Kurtmen Offline
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In Southern California you have Kim's Piano, they are a big Kawai dealer. I personally know Bajamin Kim and Steven Rivera both very professional.


San Mateo Piano
Kawai Piano Dealer San Francisco Bay Area
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Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: schinl] #2732220
04/27/18 09:47 AM
04/27/18 09:47 AM
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Steve Chandler Offline
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Originally Posted by schinl
Steve Chandler:
Did you also visit your piano in person, then have them send it to you half a continent away?? How did you acclimatize your piano then, was that just between you and your own tech?

Yes, I played it and many other pianos and arranged to have it delivered to me. As for acclimatizing it, I just had it set up and started playing. After a few weeks I got a tuner in to go over it, but it was still in pretty good tune. My piano still has very good tuning stability. Any work has been done at my expense by techs I've hired, with one exception. I had 1 string replaced because of inharmonic overtones (that was covered by warranty).

Last edited by Steve Chandler; 04/27/18 09:49 AM.
Re: My piano buying adventures [Re: Steve Chandler] #2732338
04/27/18 05:03 PM
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SMA55 Offline
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
I had 1 string replaced because of inharmonic overtones (that was covered by warranty).

Wow! You actually got the manufacturer to accept a warranty claim on the basis of that? I am truly shocked and impressed. Was that Estonia?

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