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My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 #2814745
02/13/19 06:08 PM
02/13/19 06:08 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 696
Indianapolis
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Long post ahead! I hope some find it helpful or at least entertaining! grin yippie

We have a great local dealer that always has an excellent mix of pianos on the floor, both new and used. From time to time, I get out on a Saturday afternoon and drive over just to play and see what they have in stock. So, I did that last Saturday. I always have a lot of fun. I know the owners personally, and we have a great time talking if the sales floor is not too busy. This time, my experience really stood out to me so I thought I’d share it here on PW with all of you. (I’ve already shared my experience - the same day - at the Steinway dealership with a Model D Spirio R and new Model B in another thread -- see link below.)

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthre...teinway-d-spirio-record.html#Post2814007

Here's the list of Pianos I played – I’ve posted pictures of most of these in the Photo Gallery
http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/galleries/2814529.html

• Baldwin L (6’ 3”) 1963
• Steinway A3 (6’ 4”) 1920’s
• Baldwin Concert Grand 9’ (rebuilt pre-SD10)
• C. Bechstein Concert Grand 9’
• 2 different Yamaha C7 (late 2000’s models) 7’ 6”
• Yamaha S6 7’ (late model)
• 2 Steinway Model D’s 9’ (1990’s)
• Steinway Model B 7’ – mid-1990’s
• Bosendorfer 200 6’ 7” late model
• Kawai GX6 Blak 7’ New
• Kawai GX7 Blak 7’ 6” New
• Shigeru Kawai SK6 7’ New
• Shigeru Kawai SK7 7’ 6” New
• Shigeru Kawai SK-EX 9’ New

(Note: I did not get to play the Bosendorfer Imperial or the Yamaha CFX which were both out on rental.)

The Baldwin L – this was a great piano with a huge sound. The bass rivals a 7’ piano in my opinion. It played very well for a piano of it’s age. I don’t think it had been rebuilt. It probably came out of an institution by the looks of the case and keytops. It could use some voicing and regulation, but it’s an excellent piano at the asking price of around $6k US. At that price, I think I’d be tempted to grab it even if it needed a partial rebuild, but I haven’t really done my research on the value of Baldwin L’s.

The Steinway A3 – I had never played one of these before, so I was excited after all I’ve heard about them. This one has been rebuilt at some point, and probably needs some work to bring it up to it’s potential. Maybe it’s just voicing and regulation by an excellent technician. I think it may have been in an institutional setting as well based on the cabinet. Playing this one made me want to play a quality rebuild on an S&S A3. At an asking price of over 6-times the Baldwin L, I would have had to choose the Baldwin hands down. It just supports my view that there are amazing bargains out there on the Baldwin Artist and Concert grand models. I think they are highly undervalued.

The 2 Yamaha C7’s – They were very typical of the C7 piano if you are familiar with them. I think they were both from the late 2000’s since they both had the more modern Yamaha logo and name plate on the treble side of the case. They did sound and play differently. One I preferred a lot more than the other. So while Yamaha is famous for their consistency in production and preparation, I am convinced that there are differences in any 2 pianos of the same make and model of piano – sometimes small (as in this case) and sometimes huge. However, the Shigeru Kawai’s I played challenged my thinking on that. More on that in a bit.

The Yamaha S6 – What a beautiful instrument! I had never played one of the S-series Yamaha’s, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s a very different experience compared to playing a C-series piano, as great as they are. The S6 definitely held up to the reputation. My only criticism is that the baritone / low tenor section lacked clarity when I attempted tighter chord voicing in that range – voicings I use all the time and got by with on the Kawai SK pianos. But I just think this particular piano may need a little attention in that register to take it to then next level. This piano is already sold, but it’s a piano I know I could enjoy in my home!

The C. Bechstein Concert Grand – I’ve played this one several times. It’s a part of their concert rental fleet. I have never been overly impressed with this one. I have played one other C. Bechstein 9’ grand years ago in the mid-2000’s, and I wasn’t overly impressed with it either. They just aren’t my preference. I keep hoping I’ll play one that will grab me, b/c I know they have a great reputation, especially by some of our PW posters whom I highly regard. I’ve heard beautiful C. Bechstein recordings as well, but in this case, the piano seems to lack power, and the action is heavy and unresponsive. The voicing seems a little dull, muddy and lifeless. It maybe that this particular one just needs a little attention. But it just didn’t stand out beside the other pianos I played.

The Baldwin (D or SD6???) Concert Grand Rebuild -- It is definitely not an SD-10 b/c it doesn’t have the vertical hitch pins, but it does have a more modern Baldwin logo on the fallboard, so I assume it has been rebuilt or refinished. It’s also a part of their concert rental fleet. In my opinion, it played very well. It was voiced and regulated nicely. It had that classic, beefy, Baldwin sound with a monstrous, growling bass. As with most Baldwins, I always feel that the key length (from keyslip to fallboard) is shorter than on most pianos. I have long fingers, and when I play up on the flats, I feel like I’m digging into the fallboard.

The Steinway Model B (mid-1990s) – I’ve played good and bad Model B’s, and this one was pretty nice, very typical of the classic Steinway feel and sound. I enjoyed it. The bass was a little weak, so I think it could use a set of bass strings (kind of like mine). This one probably came out of an institution based on the condition of the cabinet for a 1990’s piano, but it was in good shape otherwise. My 1981 B’s case is much less abused than this one. It could use a little voicing and regulation. But it was very similar and feel and sound to my own Model B at home, even though this one is all original and mine is a “Steinwas”. 😉

The 2 Steinway Model D’s (mid-1990’s) – 1 on these is used in the dealer’s concert rental fleet, so it is maintained very well. It’s pretty much the classic Steinway concert regulation and voicing. It could use a little touch up at the moment on voicing and regulation, but it’s classic Model D all the way. I always enjoy sitting down at this particular piano. It will do anything I ask it to do. The other I’ve also played before. It’s a used instrument that they have on the floor for sale. It doesn’t play nearly as well as the one in the concert fleet, but it has lots of potential. I little voicing and regulation would do it wonders. It’s pretty bright and the action has a little play in it With the difference in asking price, after inspection of course, I think I’d choose the 2nd one and have my technician work his magic provided he would agree with my assessment.

The Bosendorfer 200 – Like the C. Bechstein, in general Bosendorfer pianos have never made a huge impression on me, but this one did!!! I was completely drawn in to the bass, tenor and mid-section of the piano. Personally, it’s the upper 2 registers of Bosendorfer pianos that really don’t appeal to me. And the same goes for this one, but I did like the tone much better in those registers on this piano than I have on the other Bosendorfer’s I have played. I could have spent quite a bit of time playing this little beauty if I didn’t have several more I wanted to experience before the store closed for the day.

The Kawai GX-6 and GX-7 Blak – I used to have unlimited access to an RX-7 in a local recording studio, and I loved that piano. My wife worked there, and anytime it wasn’t in use, I could let myself in and play to my heart’s content. I’ve enjoyed the other RX-series pianos I have played. This may have been my first experience with the GX-Blak series. I have to say that I wasn’t overly impressed, however, I was playing them side-by-side with 3 Shigeru Kawai’s and the other pianos I have mentioned. The action on these 2 seemed heavy and the voicing wasn’t as balanced and refined as I expected. I’ve seen many references to the heaviness of the Kawai Millennium III action. I know I was subconsciously comparing it to the WNG CF action on my S&S B so that was surprising to me. I was expecting the actions to feel very similar. The 2 GX pianos felt just alike – the GX-7 having more power and depth in the bass section. Other than that, they were very consistent. The problem may have been that I was comparing them to the Shigeru Kawai SK pianos sitting side-by-side.

The Shigeru Kawai SK6, SK7, and SK-EX – All I can say is Wow! I have played the SK-EX (in their concert fleet) side-by-side with their Yamaha CFX. I enjoy both pianos and have great respect for the CFX. I’d take a CFX any day, but given a choice of the 2, I prefer the SK-EX hands down. The SK6 and SK7 met all my expectations of the SK-series. Moving between the SK6, SK7, and SK-EX was seamless on all levels – voicing, regulation, control – in every way. The only difference was more depth and power in the bass as I moved up to the 7’ 6” and the 9’ – and the 7’ SK6 bass is by no means weak! I thought to myself, this is ideally how it should be when moving between pianos of various sizes in the same line of pianos. I thought of the recent PW thread by one of our contributors regarding the visit of a leading Kawai technician to service his SK-series piano. The attention to detail and refinement was very evident in all 3 pianos. In all three versions of the SK line, I had excellent control of the piano. They all 3 were putting the same thoughts in my head and giving me back just what I asked for. The Millenium III action in these pianos felt completely different from the action in the GX Blak pianos I played side-by-side, but the SK action DID feel very similar to the WNG CF action on my S&S B. The tonal characteristics were much more clearer and more developed that the GX Blak line. Playing them gave me the sense that I was playing world-class instruments – so refined and filled with class and character. My personal preference leans toward the fullness and complexity of big the American sound characteristic of Steinway, Baldwin, and Mason & Hamlin, and the Shigeru Kawai’s seem to lack a little on that side of the tonal spectrum, but I can’t really say that the SK pianos really disappointed me in any way! These 3 were a dream to play.

Final Thoughts – It’s very rare to be able to play so many different pianos in the same piano showroom on the same day. This visit was unusual even at this showroom. This dealer is a Kawai and Yamaha dealer, they stock a wide variety of used/rebuilt instruments, and they have a wide variety of concert grands for rental purposes. This visit was different in that they had the complete line of new Kawai semi-concert and concert grands in the store on the same day. That has never happened. That was an amazing experience. I’m going to keep my eyes open and try to go back on a day when they have a more complete line of new Yamaha semi-concert and concert grands. I wonder if I would have similar thoughts when comparing differences between the same size pianos across the Yamaha piano series and also regarding the level of consistency between models within each Yamaha line from model to model.

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Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: GC13] #2814762
02/13/19 06:36 PM
02/13/19 06:36 PM
Joined: Mar 2006
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Georgia, USA
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I enjoyed reading the post! Sounds like you had a great time! I'm sure you felt like a kid in a candy store. smile

Thanks for sharing your piano adventure with us!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: GC13] #2814769
02/13/19 06:53 PM
02/13/19 06:53 PM
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Houston, Texas USA
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Thanks for sharing your experience. Could you elaborate more on the new Steinway Model B that you played. You said on the other thread that it was a "dream." Are you able to compare and contrast to the used pianos above? If money were no object would you take the new model B over the others?

Thanks!

Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: GC13] #2814817
02/13/19 08:47 PM
02/13/19 08:47 PM
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Victoria, BC
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GC13:

What an interesting read and obviously a fun day for you. Thank you for sharing.

Regards,


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Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: GC13] #2814837
02/13/19 09:51 PM
02/13/19 09:51 PM
Joined: Jan 2018
Posts: 2,409
In the Ozarks of Missouri
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Lot's of fun there! Making me jealous whome


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Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: GC13] #2814855
02/13/19 10:55 PM
02/13/19 10:55 PM
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I've had so much fun reading the post! Thank you for sharing.


Roland FP30, Pianoteq 6 on MacBook Pro, Sennheiser HD598se.
Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: Compañero] #2815016
02/14/19 09:44 AM
02/14/19 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Compañero
Thanks for sharing your experience. Could you elaborate more on the new Steinway Model B that you played. You said on the other thread that it was a "dream." Are you able to compare and contrast to the used pianos above? If money were no object would you take the new model B over the others?

Thanks!


In short, yes I think I would choose the new S&S B from the other thread at the Steinway dealer, if money were no object, comparing each of the pianos in their current condition as the sit on the showroom floor right now and my personal taste. Why? None of the used pianos I played were in top performance condition and the ones I like needed refinishing. They would all need some level or work to get them into shape. As with used pianos, one should have them inspected first. While I enjoyed playing the newer Yamaha and Shigeru Kawai pianos and really enjoy playing them when performing or recording with a full band, for my home when playing solo, I much prefer the fuller, fatter, pallet of the American Steinways, Mason & Hamlins, and Baldwins. The Yamaha S6 and the Shigeru Kawai's had many similar qualities to the S&S B -- bass that could be subtle and deep yet give a powerful growl, baritone/tenor sections with clarity and strength, a singing treble, and event tonal transitions across all registers at all dynamic levels. But there's a unique, full, orchestral quality that a great, well-prepared Steinway has at all dynamic ranges that just made this one stand out to me -- especially when they are played solo..

As many rightly argue, Steinway pianos aren't always consistent, but as many report it's getting much better at the factory level. They do also leave quite a bit of final prep to the local dealer, and it then depends on what the local dealer puts into that. I think our local dealer does a pretty good job on that. I find that Steinway is more consistent with the Model B than the Model D. I would choose differently in real life b/c of my limited budget, b/c I think buying used would be a better value,

Now if I were shopping and money was truly no object, I think I'd be in the market for a S&S Model D Spiro Record. And the one I played might be the one, but it did need a little voicing and regulation for my taste, and it was already taken. The drawback for me would be if the things I've heard are true regarding how appointments are made to select Model D's in NYC -- that one has to commit to purchasing a piano whether or not an ideal piano is available.

Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: GC13] #2815040
02/14/19 10:18 AM
02/14/19 10:18 AM
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I had exactly the same experience with a recent Bechstein. It was dull and lifeless. It was like it was voiced down not to sound like a Bechstein. The Bechstein sound is bright in the treble and slightly percussive, but gentle and refined at the same time. If it sounds dull, it has no reason to exist as a Bechstein.

I've heard the opposite on some Bösendorfers where the treble sounds like it would cut your eardrums, as if someone tried to compensate for the "weak" treble. I love the Bösendorfer sound when it sounds the way it was meant to sound. That glorious tenor...

Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: GC13] #2815067
02/14/19 10:56 AM
02/14/19 10:56 AM
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Southwest
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GC13 - thanks for posting. What a blast! I’ve never had the opportunity to play so many big fine pianos so I’m really envious.


J & J
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Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: GC13] #2815177
02/14/19 02:08 PM
02/14/19 02:08 PM
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Glendale, Ca.
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Originally Posted by GC13

In short, yes I think I would choose the new S&S B from the other thread at the Steinway dealer, if money were no object, comparing each of the pianos in their current condition as the sit on the showroom floor right now and my personal taste. Why? None of the used pianos I played were in top performance condition and the ones I like needed refinishing. They would all need some level or work to get them into shape.

While I enjoyed playing the newer Yamaha and Shigeru Kawai pianos and really enjoy playing them when performing or recording with a full band, for my home when playing solo, I much prefer the fuller, fatter, pallet of the American Steinways, Mason & Hamlins, and Baldwins. The Yamaha S6 and the Shigeru Kawai's had many similar qualities to the S&S B -- bass that could be subtle and deep yet give a powerful growl, baritone/tenor sections with clarity and strength, a singing treble, and event tonal transitions across all registers at all dynamic levels. But there's a unique, full, orchestral quality that a great, well-prepared Steinway has at all dynamic ranges that just made this one stand out to me -- especially when they are played solo..

As many rightly argue, Steinway pianos aren't always consistent, but as many report it's getting much better at the factory level. They do also leave quite a bit of final prep to the local dealer, and it then depends on what the local dealer puts into that.


Thanks for the post, a fun read. Last year when I was looking at pianos for someone, I stopped in both of the LA Steinway stores- Pasadena and W. LA. I probably played eight to ten new Bs and I'd say, at least a half dozen of them I would have gladly taken home with me.

I remember going to Fields in Santa Monica before they closed, right before I bought my D in '06, at 9 months used from a private party. Out of the 6 or 7 I played then, not one I would have chosen over my Yamaha S6 at that time.

Agree, while the S6 was a fine piano, it saw many hours of use in almost 10 years, it's not as preferable to me as a good B.

I had my own , on a smaller scale with regard to pianos played, little adventure this past Saturday. I was in the Valley on a gig and was in the neighborhood, so I stopped by Keyboard Concepts.

I played the newer Bosendorfer 280VC, and right next to it was the Yamaha CFX. Wow, HUGE difference between the two ! While being a Yamaha fan and having owned two in the past, the CFX simply doesn't compare with the Bosedorfer in regard to complexity and refinement of tone. Having them side by side, the characteristics are instantly glaring how much difference there is. Hate to say it but the CFX sounded pretty vanilla next to the Austrian piano.

The 280 has such a sweet sound to it at a softer volume, I hated to play it loud. The Renner action was super responsive too. And the sound was crystal clear although thinner then my D. A very different animal.

They also had a 1914 rebuilt NY Steinway O (5' 10") that was very nice for 35K. Rebuilt with all Steinway parts- action and hammers, original sound board. A really nice sounding piano for a rebuild. Sitting down to it, I was back in familiar territory. The NY Steinways are still my preferred sound.

But that 280VC was certainly fantastic, again just different.


https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D
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Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: Dave Ferris] #2815198
02/14/19 02:39 PM
02/14/19 02:39 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
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Indianapolis
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Indianapolis
Originally Posted by Dave Ferris
I saw D/ Spirio a few weeks back at NAMM. It was in the foyer outside the main piano rooms on the third floor. Not as noisy as downstairs but still far from an optimum space to hear it.

I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Piano World member Bob Snyder, who was overseeing the proceedings.

Good to hear it in a more favorable environment and nice playing too. Thanks for posting it.


Dave - Thanks for the compliment in my other thread about the D Spirio R. That was just very quick off the cuff, so it means a lot coming from a professional.
Originally Posted by Dave Ferris
Originally Posted by GC13

In short, yes I think I would choose the new S&S B from the other thread at the Steinway dealer, if money were no object, comparing each of the pianos in their current condition as the sit on the showroom floor right now and my personal taste. Why? None of the used pianos I played were in top performance condition and the ones I like needed refinishing. They would all need some level or work to get them into shape.

While I enjoyed playing the newer Yamaha and Shigeru Kawai pianos and really enjoy playing them when performing or recording with a full band, for my home when playing solo, I much prefer the fuller, fatter, pallet of the American Steinways, Mason & Hamlins, and Baldwins. The Yamaha S6 and the Shigeru Kawai's had many similar qualities to the S&S B -- bass that could be subtle and deep yet give a powerful growl, baritone/tenor sections with clarity and strength, a singing treble, and event tonal transitions across all registers at all dynamic levels. But there's a unique, full, orchestral quality that a great, well-prepared Steinway has at all dynamic ranges that just made this one stand out to me -- especially when they are played solo..

As many rightly argue, Steinway pianos aren't always consistent, but as many report it's getting much better at the factory level. They do also leave quite a bit of final prep to the local dealer, and it then depends on what the local dealer puts into that.


Thanks for the post, a fun read. Last year when I was looking at pianos for someone, I stopped in both of the LA Steinway stores- Pasadena and W. LA. I probably played eight to ten new Bs and I'd say, at least a half dozen of them I would have gladly taken home with me.

I remember going to Fields in Santa Monica before they closed, right before I bought my D in '06, at 9 months used from a private party. Out of the 6 or 7 I played then, not one I would have chosen over my Yamaha S6 at that time.

Agree, while the S6 was a fine piano, it saw many hours of use in almost 10 years, it's not as preferable to me as a good B.

I had my own , on a smaller scale with regard to pianos played, little adventure this past Saturday. I was in the Valley on a gig and was in the neighborhood, so I stopped by Keyboard Concepts.

I played the newer Bosendorfer 280VC, and right next to it was the Yamaha CFX. Wow, HUGE difference between the two ! While being a Yamaha fan and having owned two in the past, the CFX simply doesn't compare with the Bosedorfer in regard to complexity and refinement of tone. Having them side by side, the characteristics are instantly glaring how much difference there is. Hate to say it but the CFX sounded pretty vanilla next to the Austrian piano.

The 280 has such a sweet sound to it at a softer volume, I hated to play it loud. The Renner action was super responsive too. And the sound was crystal clear although thinner then my D. A very different animal.

They also had a 1914 rebuilt NY Steinway O (5' 10") that was very nice for 35K. Rebuilt with all Steinway parts- action and hammers, original sound board. A really nice sounding piano for a rebuild. Sitting down to it, I was back in familiar territory. The NY Steinways are still my preferred sound.

But that 280VC was certainly fantastic, again just different.



I think you and I would get along great. Our piano preferences are very,very much the same. I forgot you used to own an S6. I've probably read your impressions and had them in my mind when I sat down at that one Saturday.

The dealer I visited (Piano Solutions, Carmel Indiana) also carries Bosendorfer along-side the Yamaha line, and they do occasionally have new ones on the floor. I just haven't been in when a Bosendorfer VC has been on the floor. I'll have to keep my eyes open for that. I don't know if you've played many Shigeru Kawai pianos or not, but I would describe the tone as you did the Bosendorfer 280VC -- more complex and refined compared to the CFX. However, I'd expect that the 280VC takes the refinement and complexity to a completely different level. It would be nice to play a 280VC alongside a CFX, SK-EX, and Model D. That theoretically could happen at Piano Solutions.

Based on your impressions of the model B, would you say that they tend to be pretty consistent overall -- of course each with their own nuances? I agree that there is just something about that NY Steinway sound that draws me in more than any other. I can appreciate any nice piano, but the NY Steinway sound just grabs me.

Re: My piano adventure last Saturday 2/9/2019 [Re: GC13] #2816063
02/16/19 06:54 AM
02/16/19 06:54 AM
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Posts: 2,103
Glendale, Ca.
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Dave Ferris Offline
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Glendale, Ca.
Piano Solutions sounds like a nice store. Pretty unique, at least from here in LA, to have a dealer that carries both Kawai and Yamaha. Plus the Shigeru no less. Pierre is a Kawai dealer but isn't authorized to carry Shigeru. That leaves Kim's Pianos in Orange County as the only dealer to my knowledge. On the other hand, Pierre has the Faziolis, plus an assortment of used Steinways, Yamaha and occasionally a Bosendorfer, but not often on those..

I just did play the SK-7 at NAMM. Usually a terrible place to hear anything but as usual, Kawai had their own room, separate from everyone else. And I hit it at a good time when it was quiet. The semi-concert Shigeru was indeed very nice but didn't really inspire me this particular time, for whatever reason. And I have played the SK-EX in past years there. Again, a fantastic piano but it doesn't have that special quality where I feel I'd really like to own it.

In fact, often after playing other pianos in stores, at a show, on a gig , in the studio -- the first thing I do when I get home is open my piano up and start playing. Immediately I feel ....nah, "that piano" doesn't touch this. Even the Faziolis, which I highly like. There was a new D at the Bev Hills store, maybe 2 years ago, that when I played it, instantly I was floored. And I did the comparison test when I got home. I have to say if someone would have said, would you do an even trade ? I would've said yes , most definitely ! But that's only piano I can recall feeling that way about in the almost 13 years I've owned mine. A Fazioli 278 had me thinking about 10 years ago though...lol But I'm glad I passed on Pierre's offer. Yes, I'm fortunate beyond words.

Regarding the Bs-- I really find the newer ones pretty consistent. At least at the two store here. One might be a shade brighter or may have had a bit more regulation and is easier to play. But again, I'd say a solid half dozen out of the ten I played, between the two stores last year, I would be overjoyed to own. Contrasted with past years, when they were almost all terrible.

Yes, the NY Steinway is my preferred sound, especially for Jazz, which is what I mainly do and love. Of course a good player can play on anything , that's good , even not so good, and still make beautiful music. But the inspiration of the NY tone, along with the feel of the NY action, at least for me, once it's ingrained into your inner soul, that's it.


https://soundcloud.com/dave-ferris

2005 NY Steinway D
Yamaha CP4, CP5, RCF TT08A speakers

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