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Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 #2763630
09/05/18 08:22 PM
09/05/18 08:22 PM
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LYNND Offline OP
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Hello,

I am a newbie here (first post). smile

Should the current open-heart surgery on my '90s-era Kawai PN-300, fail — it's suffering from sticky keys for which it is necessary to file down an apparently-swollen plastic key component per the manufacturer — I will be in the market for a long-overdue upgrade. At issue is that finding a showroom with all three models I am contemplating is a challenge. As a result, there is a distinct possibility that I won't have a chance to "test drive" what I ultimately end up purchasing. That's where I hope the members of this forum can help!

In reviewing what I've been missing all these years from Kawai, it looks like some of their more substantial "furniture" look models in the sub- ~$2500 range are behind them. Since I expect that sound, action and "bells & whistles" will be better than my ~25-year-old PN-300, I am not particularly concerned with coming up short in those respects. This leaves "bonus" functions like bluetooth and ergonomics to mull over. (Having a ton of voices isn't all that important compared to the quality of the piano sounds. That said, a nice jazz organ would be a bonus!)

I asked Kawai what they recommend and was pointed toward the CN series. I am, however, very interested in the wood-key models — the CE220 and CA48, specifically. Having said that, the U.S. price difference for the CE220, CN27 and the CA48 aren't significantly different at the moment — all of which has created somewhat of a dilemma. Of these, I am inclined to eliminate the CN27 first because it too much resembles the considerably less costly KDP110 that would no doubt serve my needs just fine — if I could tolerate a less-substantial looking DP in my living room! Problem is, I don't know if I would much happier with the aesthetics of the current CA-series.

To my eye — based on product photos and video demos — the ergonomics of the CA-series is less than optimal. On the PN-300 there are buttons arranged behind the keys, as is the case with the CE220, which makes the CE220 visually most similar to what I am accustomed to playing. On the CA48, by contrast, I notice that the controls are confined to one small area on the far left whereas the overhang for the lid, although slight, seemingly casts a shadow that imparts a somewhat cramped, shallow appearance to the keyboard. The proportions, especially when viewing the CA-series demos featuring men who look like giants alongside the compact cabinet, are "off". That said, I am merely looking at demos and online brochures — which is why I'd like to get a sense from those who own or have tested a CA48 in person whether the keyboard looks as shallow/compressed in real life as it does in the demos?

Thus far, I am inclined toward the CE220 due to the familiar layout of the buttons and the similarity of the overall ergonomics. However, I don't want to shortchange consideration of the CA48 exclusively on aesthetic grounds. (The current models that sample the top-of-the-line Kawai SK-EX concert grand sound amazing whereas the CE220 sounds fantastic, too, but essentially identical to my much-older PN-300.)

While I fully expect the CA/CN-series to impress my ear with newer sampling/voices and modern key action, my understanding — and I could be wrong! — is that Kawai's "Virtual Technician" equipped models require an iOS device to access advanced functions. This concerns me since I am highly likely to own/play whatever I purchase for the next ~15 years — long after such apps or the iOS they run on are unsupported. So my next question is whether it is is indeed recommended to have an iPad to get the most out of the CN- or CA-series? (I own an iPhone but my tablet of choice is a Samsung!)

In summary, my dilemma is that I am drawn to the touch-button familiarity and ergonomics of the CE220 but the sound/connectivity improvements of the newer makes. Am I being too harsh on the design (shallow cabinet and menu-driven controls) on the CA48 or too quick to rule out the CN27?

Decisions! Decisions!

Any input — and any owner photos that might help me determine if my eyes have deceived me with respect to the CA48 — would help.

Thank you!

Last edited by LYNND; 09/05/18 08:24 PM.
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Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2763648
09/05/18 10:05 PM
09/05/18 10:05 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
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Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai James Offline
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Hello LYNND, welcome to the forum.

You raise a number of good points, that I shall try to respond to shortly.

However, before I do, I wonder if there is a reason for ruling how the higher-specification CA58?
It's a little above your $2500 budget, but if you can stretch, I believe you will find the improvements worthwhile.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2763656
09/05/18 10:47 PM
09/05/18 10:47 PM
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California, United States
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LYNND Offline OP
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Hello Kawai James!

I would love to consider the CA58, but yes it's a bit too far out of the budget.

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2763668
09/05/18 11:50 PM
09/05/18 11:50 PM
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Gabriel Hikaru Offline
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Hi LYNND,

First of all, welcome to the forum. Good to have you aboard!

I bought a CA48 recently, and I must say, I love it! The action, sound, and appearance is much better than my old Casio Privia PX-780.

Originally Posted by LYNND

To my eye — based on product photos and video demos — the ergonomics of the CA-series is less than optimal. On the PN-300 there are buttons arranged behind the keys, as is the case with the CE220, which makes the CE220 visually most similar to what I am accustomed to playing. On the CA48, by contrast, I notice that the controls are confined to one small area on the far left whereas the overhang for the lid, although slight, seemingly casts a shadow that imparts a somewhat cramped, shallow appearance to the keyboard. The proportions, especially when viewing the CA-series demos featuring men who look like giants alongside the compact cabinet, are "off". That said, I am merely looking at demos and online brochures — which is why I'd like to get a sense from those who own or have tested a CA48 in person whether the keyboard looks as shallow/compressed in real life as it does in the demos?

Thus far, I am inclined toward the CE220 due to the familiar layout of the buttons and the similarity of the overall ergonomics. However, I don't want to shortchange consideration of the CA48 exclusively on aesthetic grounds. (The current models that sample the top-of-the-line Kawai SK-EX concert grand sound amazing whereas the CE220 sounds fantastic, too, but essentially identical to my much-older PN-300.)


In my opinion, the CA48 is not shallow in appearance at all -- the depth of the piano (from the keys back) is probably 8 inches or so longer than my old Privia due to the length of the action.

Honestly, I think the CA48 has similar proportions to a spinet upright piano.

Also, I got the CA48 for the very reason that the buttons are located at the sides of the piano. They are very inconspicuous, allowing the CA48 to actually look a lot like a real piano.

More importantly, I have longer fingers, so whenever I play fast octaves on the black keys, it is common for me to hit the fallboard (I believe that's what it's called?) from time to time. On my Privia PX-780, this was a pain, because the buttons were located there, and I would always hit one of the buttons, messing up my performances.

Originally Posted by LYNND

While I fully expect the CA/CN-series to impress my ear with newer sampling/voices and modern key action, my understanding — and I could be wrong! — is that Kawai's "Virtual Technician" equipped models require an iOS device to access advanced functions. This concerns me since I am highly likely to own/play whatever I purchase for the next ~15 years — long after such apps or the iOS they run on are unsupported. So my next question is whether it is is indeed recommended to have an iPad to get the most out of the CN- or CA-series? (I own an iPhone but my tablet of choice is a Samsung!)


Based on the CA48 manual, I believe the Virtual Technician app is only required to adjust individual parameters within the Virtual Technician feature of the piano. Without the app, you can only select Virtual Technician presets using key combinations.

However, every other feature should be accessible through the piano alone.

Personally, I never really use the Virtual Technician feature, because the piano sounds fine on its default settings. (Plus, I usually use VSTs anyway.) All it does is color the sound differently. It doesn't make a remarkable difference (to my ears, anyway).

By the way, I was quite surprised how good the built-in piano sound is on the CA48. It's not as good as Garritan CFX, of course, but it's good enough that I don't mind using it from time to time with headphones. I couldn't stand using my Privia's built-in sound after getting CFX.

Good luck in your search for a piano, and I hope this has been of help to you!

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Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: Gabriel Hikaru] #2763674
09/06/18 01:43 AM
09/06/18 01:43 AM
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California, United States
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LYNND Offline OP
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Thank you, Gabriel.

I particularly appreciate that you confirmed that the key length is not any shallower than a spinet. As long as they don't come up shorter than an upright I would be happy with it since an upright is what I originally learned on. The CA48 is looking very promising, although I note it does not have USB-to-device compatibility. So my other question is whether or not losing the flash drive is of any real consequence given the presence of the Bluetooth with which to record wirelessly to software? (This is a whole new area to me as I have been using a DP that predates all this!)

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2763678
09/06/18 02:17 AM
09/06/18 02:17 AM
Joined: Dec 2017
Posts: 365
Just outside London UK
akc42 Online content
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I also tried a CA48 on my way to purchasing a CA67 as an upgrade to a Casio AP 460 that I had bought a couple of months earlier, but which I had realised was not good enough within about 6 weeks of owning it.

1. The key length of the CA48 is perfect - not shortened at all. The action is wonderful (almost but not quite on a par with the CA67).
2. The controls to the side was a plus for me. One problem with the Casio was that I was always accidentally hitting the buttons which were just behind the keys I was playing

The reason I went for the CA67 in the end was two fold - better amp and speakers - and the ergonomics of selecting functions via a small function keypad and piano keys (everything on the CA67 is selected from a bigger side function keypad). Being end of range it also was a good relative price.

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2763680
09/06/18 03:07 AM
09/06/18 03:07 AM
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Gabriel Hikaru Offline
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Originally Posted by LYNND
Thank you, Gabriel.

I particularly appreciate that you confirmed that the key length is not any shallower than a spinet. As long as they don't come up shorter than an upright I would be happy with it since an upright is what I originally learned on. The CA48 is looking very promising, although I note it does not have USB-to-device compatibility. So my other question is whether or not losing the flash drive is of any real consequence given the presence of the Bluetooth with which to record wirelessly to software? (This is a whole new area to me as I have been using a DP that predates all this!)



That depends on what you want to use the USB for. The Bluetooth in the CA48 will transmit MIDI to a smart device or computer. There is also a port for a USB MIDI cable to connect the piano to your computer.

However, if you wanted to record audio files to a USB drive, then you would need to work around that, such as by connecting the piano to the computer with the USB MIDI cable and running a virtual piano VST program such as Garritan CFX. You would a need a DAW program (such as Reaper) to record the MIDI from your piano and render it into an audio file.

This is what I do in order to record my performances and compositions, so I have no need to record directly to a flash drive.

Pianoteq will allow you to record and render an audio file from the MIDI from your piano without using a DAW.

It's not that hard to set up (you will need to buy a VST if you don't have one already), but if that sounds like too much trouble, then you may want to consider finding a piano that will record audio files directly to a USB drive.

Last edited by Gabriel Hikaru; 09/06/18 03:12 AM.
Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2763684
09/06/18 03:55 AM
09/06/18 03:55 AM
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Germany
JoBert Offline
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But note, that with the procedure that Gabriel describes, the recording will not have the exact same piano sound that you hear on the piano. It will have the piano sound of whatever virtual piano you are running on the PC.
If you want to record the original sound, I think with the C48 the only option is to do this via the headphones jack.

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2764377
09/09/18 03:28 PM
09/09/18 03:28 PM
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LYNND Offline OP
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I appreciate seconding that the key length is not shortened. Oddly that was one of my bigger concerns (the photos/videos having made them look a bit off). Still, I am curious — and maybe Kawai James can jump in here? — is there any (exposed) key length difference on the CE220 vs. the CA48/58 at all? I can't seem to find specifications that specific, hence the question.

akc42, I think I would have been a good candidate for the CA67 for the exact same reasons you described — plus I preferred the lighter brown/mahogany finish better than the rosewood – but, alas, I don't think it's available in the U.S. (anymore).

Gabriel, thanks for outlining how to go about recording without the USB flash drive using a MIDI/USB connection, VST/DAW. Even the terms "VST" and "DAW" are new to me. Speaking of software options, how would Audacity fit in with the other software options you mentioned?

With respect to recording audio to a USB flash drive, I read somewhere that on the CE220 there are limitations on MP3/WAV compatibility. How might that impact the desire to record a song to a USB drive?

Thanks, again! Great forum and very helpful!

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2764418
09/09/18 09:07 PM
09/09/18 09:07 PM
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Gabriel Hikaru Offline
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Originally Posted by LYNND

Gabriel, thanks for outlining how to go about recording without the USB flash drive using a MIDI/USB connection, VST/DAW. Even the terms "VST" and "DAW" are new to me. Speaking of software options, how would Audacity fit in with the other software options you mentioned?


No problem. Audacity is an audio recording and editing software. To use Audacity to record from the CA48, you would have to connect the headphone jack on the piano to the Line In (blue 3.5mm port) on your computer using a male-to-male Aux. input cable. If you don't have a Line In port, you could try connecting to the Microphone port (red 3.5mm port), but I'm not sure if that would work well.

With the piano connected, just set the input source in Audacity to whatever port you connected the cable to, press record (in Audacity), and start playing.

However, I had problems when I tried this method before with my Privia. For one thing, digital noise from the computer would get picked up and mixed into the recording. Also, I had to make sure that the volume on the piano wasn't set too high, or I would get clipping in the recording. You may encounter these problems with this method.

For this reason, I now use virtual piano software such as Pianoteq or Garritan CFX to make recordings. And as good as the CA48 sounds, Garritan CFX still sounds better (IMHO).

(By the way, a VST is a virtual instrument that runs on your computer. A DAW is a Digital Audio Workstation, a program used to load multiple VST's and create music.)

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2764435
09/10/18 12:19 AM
09/10/18 12:19 AM
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LYNND Offline OP
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It's helpful to know that there's an option of using the line-in/microphone ports (I do have a Macbook that I could probably connect this way.) I wish there was a "thumbs up" option on these replies. Many thanks!

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2764447
09/10/18 02:34 AM
09/10/18 02:34 AM
Joined: Sep 2007
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Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai James Offline
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Hello LYNND,

Originally Posted by LYNND
With respect to recording audio to a USB flash drive, I read somewhere that on the CE220 there are limitations on MP3/WAV compatibility. How might that impact the desire to record a song to a USB drive?


Do you recall where you read that information.
The CE220 can only playback SMF MIDI files from USB memory - it does not support MP3/WAV recording nor playback.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2766037
09/17/18 12:32 PM
09/17/18 12:32 PM
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Thank you LYNND for starting this post. I'm in the same position (deciding between the CN27, CE220, or CA48) so I hope you don't mind me jumping in with a question for Kawai James (or anyone else that can help).

I've been able to try out the CN27 and CE220. I prefer the action on the CE220.

I've contacted 2 Kawai piano dealers in my area and have been told that the CA48 is considered an internet model and they have no plans to have one in the showroom. At this point it seems unlikely that I'll be able to find a CA48 to try. However, based on everything I've read it seems that the CA48 might be the best choice for me.

I've found a dealer that has a CA78 and I'm hoping to try it this week. It's out of my price range, but my thinking is that the Grand Feel II action of the 78 might feel similar to the Grand Feel Compact action of the 48.

Do you think that either the CE220 or the CA78 will give me a reasonably good idea of what the CA48 action would be like?

Thanks in advance for your help.

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: TheresaM] #2766129
09/17/18 09:48 PM
09/17/18 09:48 PM
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Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai James Offline
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Hello TheresaM, welcome to the forum.

Originally Posted by TheresaM
I've contacted 2 Kawai piano dealers in my area and have been told that the CA48 is considered an internet model and they have no plans to have one in the showroom.


That's unfortunate. It's true that the CA48 and CA58 are available from the larger online retailers such as Kraft Music, however it should also be possible for the smaller independent retailers to still order these models for their store.

Originally Posted by TheresaM
I've found a dealer that has a CA78 and I'm hoping to try it this week. It's out of my price range, but my thinking is that the Grand Feel II action of the 78 might feel similar to the Grand Feel Compact action of the 48.

Do you think that either the CE220 or the CA78 will give me a reasonably good idea of what the CA48 action would be like?


The overall mechanism is very similar between the three models, so there will definitely be similarities.
The CE220 is obviously an older model, and its keyboard action lacks some of the features of the latest instruments. Those who have played a CA48/CA58 and a CA78/CA98 use comment that they prefer the touch of the larger models, but that the feeling of the keyboard action on the smaller instruments isn't so far behind.

If you haven't done so already, I recommend reading through the CAx8 series brochure here to get learn about the differences between the four Concert Artist models.

I hope this helps - best of luck with your search!

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2766201
09/18/18 07:34 AM
09/18/18 07:34 AM
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TheresaM Offline
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Thank you Kawai James.

The brochure is very helpful. Based on the diagram, the Grand Feel II and Grand Feel Compact actions do look very similar. I'd have to assume that they'd also feel very similar. I'd really love to try a CA48. I've sent an email to Kawai US to see if they can help me locate one.

Thanks for your help.

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: TheresaM] #2766293
09/18/18 03:48 PM
09/18/18 03:48 PM
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It'd be interesting to hear from people who bought into the GF Compact Action, and why; I much preferred it, and I suspect others do too irrespective of the costs involved. Personal choice, i know, but . . . . shrug


"I am not a man. I am a free number"

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Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: TheresaM] #2766303
09/18/18 04:22 PM
09/18/18 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by TheresaM
Thank you Kawai James.

The brochure is very helpful. Based on the diagram, the Grand Feel II and Grand Feel Compact actions do look very similar. I'd have to assume that they'd also feel very similar. I'd really love to try a CA48. I've sent an email to Kawai US to see if they can help me locate one.

Thanks for your help.


Something you cannot see from the diagrams is that grand feel 2 has counter weights in all the keys. GF compact has counterweights in a range of the bass keys. Suffice it to say, it affects the feel. I am not saying one is worse than the other, that's for you to decide. In any case, IMHO the difference in feel between these actions can be felt, they look very similar on paper bar the pivot length, but I wouldn't just buy GF compact site unseen based on what you feel trying grand feel 2. When you play on the middle octaves on GF compact where there are no counter weights, or deep into the keys the differences can be felt how the key bed responds.

Last edited by Alexander Borro; 09/18/18 04:23 PM.

Selftaught since June 2014.
Books: Barratt classic piano course bk 1,2,3. Humphries Piano handbook, various...
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Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: Alexander Borro] #2766353
09/18/18 10:07 PM
09/18/18 10:07 PM
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Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai James Offline
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Originally Posted by Alexander Borro
Something you cannot see from the diagrams is that grand feel 2 has counter weights in all the keys. GF compact has counterweights in a range of the bass keys.


Yes that's true, however this point is explained on the opposite side of the page (of the brochure):

[Linked Image]

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2766407
09/19/18 07:49 AM
09/19/18 07:49 AM
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Thank you Alexander and James for your comments.

I believe that the CE220 has bass key counterweights. I realize the action of the CE220 is not the same as the CA48 and 78. However, playing the CE220 again while paying close attention to the difference in the feel across all of the keys will give me an idea of how the lack of counterweights in the mid and high range feel.

I'm still trying to locate a CA48 because I really don't want to buy one without trying it.

Re: Comparing the Kawai CN27, CE220 & CA48 [Re: LYNND] #2828024
03/17/19 10:32 PM
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TheresaM, it's been six months. I would love to hear what you found out and what you ended up doing.

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Happy Birthday Lennie Tristano!
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“Spring Time” - A beautiful song
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Piano action issue
by kokatla. 03/19/19 04:31 AM
Practice session of Chopin prelude 3
by baudelairepianist. 03/19/19 12:26 AM
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