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Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
#2828034 03/17/19 11:18 PM
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Hi, folks. I need to get your advice on a piano that I will be looking at in person next week. It is a 1998 Kawai RX-3. I have been told by the tech who inspected it that it has several cracks on the soundboard. He didn't seem too alarmed by them, and says that they are fairly typical for pianos of this age. He says that they don't seem to have an effect on the piano's tone. I have attached links to the photos below. The cracks seem to surround the bridge. Should I be concerned about these cracks? Assuming that everything else is OK on the piano, would this be a reasonable piano to purchase? I do understand that the cracks would have a negative effect on the piano's value/resale value, so I would try to negotiate a lower price to reflect the soundboard cracks. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/q0gh2e8x9nizws4/20190224_121741.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/47e59am0ha9n474/20190224_121744.jpg?dl=0

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Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
basebase #2828042 03/17/19 11:37 PM
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Those are some nasty looking cracks around the bridge area. As far as cracks like this being typical of pianos of this age, according the tech, I'm afraid I would be inclined to disagree. I'm no piano expert, but I can disagree with an expert if I so choose, based on common sense. smile Remember, experts are not always right.

I'd be afraid to buy this piano unless it was dirt cheap. But that is just me...

Quite frankly, I'd rather pay more and buy an RX3 in better condition. And, again, I honestly don't think this is typical on older Kawai RX3s as the tech says.

Just my .02 that is worth .00. smile

Good luck!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
basebase #2828059 03/18/19 01:38 AM
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I'd agree with Rickster 100%. That isn't typical for a Kawai of that age. And the location of the cracks is NOT a good one. There are too many good pianos out there for good prices. Don't settle for this one unless it's a next-to-nothing purchase.


Dan Wilson
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Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
basebase #2828092 03/18/19 03:51 AM
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The first crack looked typical, but the second one looked more like a result of excessive downbearing. Did the Tech measure the downbearing and Crown?
If it helps, replacing a soundboard can range from $4k-$8k, maybe that should factor in your negotiations.
-chris


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Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
basebase #2828487 03/18/19 11:55 PM
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Well, basebase. As the owner and lover of a Kawai RX-5, the younger sister of the RX-3 (remember, the Japanese like to skip the number 4), I'm sorry to say that I think you have cause for pause. Quite a bit of it. It's not really a pleasure to deliver this kind of news, but I hope you'll forgive me if I have a little fun with it. After all, it's better to laugh than to scream... most of the time.

This "tech who inspected it," who "didn't seem too alarmed" by this system of of deep, chevroned cracks--- literally, too many to count--- and says that "They are fairly typical for pianos of this age". (They are not). Who says that "they don't seem to have an effect on the piano's tone". That might be true, provided he heard the tone before the cracks--- is that the case? Does he have recordings?.

"The cracks seem to surround the bridge. Should I be concerned about these cracks?"

Well, this is the kind of spilled milk that it doesn't do any good to cry over. It's not even your milk, yet. But, I'm curious. Tell me, who paid for this consult? If it was not you, and if you're serious about this piano, I would insist on getting a real one from a real tech, one whom you have some reason to believe knows about pianos. If you don't already have one you trust, try http://ptg.org Piano Tuners' Guild. I read "Grand Obsession"; I know it's Billings, but they should be able to give you contact information of techs who are at least relatively close. My tech in California belongs. I can say, at least, that their RPT members have met tests, which assure the public that they meet, or surpass, at least a minimum standard of proficiency. Lots of candidates have to take these very tough tests more than once. That, and as full members they subscribe to a code of ethics, which is all spelled out. The main thing, boiled down, is that they say, as a body, that they mean to do right by the customer.

I can't help but wonder what the president of PTG would say about the gentleman who has already advised you so poorly. You could ask. I was going to say, and now it doesn't sound quite right, but oh well: And PTG supports a program of continuing education for its members. And, they offer consulting service, for those stumpers. It's significant support for the industry.

As to what might have happened, really. I'm not a fortuneteller (you might need a teller of misfortunes, anyway), But, let's just see. I believe Montana has cold winters, if I'm informed correctly. Pianos were invented in Northern Europe, in a time before HVAC, or any kind of climate control. Pianos are not really bothered by cold. What pianos do not like, is going from very dry winter air (it's dry to begin with, and heating it makes it even more dry), and once Spring comes along, going to very juicy wet air. And no sooner do they get used to that, and here come the holidays again. What they do like is even conditions, the year round. I have heard that some very long-lasting pianos have been seen up in your neck of the woods, because they like the year-round dry air.

The classic awful gigs for pianos are: teaching piano (like in a school or studio), church piano (encountering extremes the year round, and often beaten nearly to death because they tried to make a a too-small piano sound like a big one, able to be heard over all those voices). Then there are bars and clubs...

You know, I'm pressed pretty hard to believe that adverse conditions like that, even continued year after year, could have raked the wood by the bridge so drastically. Kawai's are seasoned for North American conditions, and they are built to take plenty of use and even some abuse. Maybe they rolled it out on the back porch and threw a tarp over it once the kid went away to college. Or who knows. There are floods; there are hurricanes. Maybe someone from Kawai could hazard a better-informed guess. http://www.kawaius.com/

If it will take and hold a tune, you may be able to get an idea for yourself of its voice, and its action. That is how I bought my own piano: with my ears. And, what I now know is that it could be worthwhile to buy a Kawai just for the action. And your own tech can listen with educated ears. He or she can not only assess it for condition, tell you what needs repair, and give you an estimate of what it might cost to put it in good shape, if that is possible. In addition, they can give you an estimate of its value in the local market. Ask for these services when you are booking the inspection; they'll give you a little written report--- it's a check-off list of the various things they see, as they assess. They can include photos as they go. Not the kind of thing that costs a lot more, to have them added to the report.

Best of luck to you! Let us know. Bringing a piano like that back from the edge would qualify as a very good deed

Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
basebase #2828712 03/19/19 02:56 PM
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I would like to remind everyone of the OP's location. In Montana soundboard cracks are very common indeed! It is a sign that the piano was too dry for too long!

Those are pretty bad cracks, though, and would be difficult to repair. It's not a Downbearing issue - soundboard cracks often jump across grain when they are near the bridge.

The cracks may not affect the piano at all, but then again they may. We can't tell just by seeing pictures; the technician should tune the piano, check it's stability, check the soundboard crown, check the sustain, listen for buzzes and noises, etc. etc.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
basebase #2829301 03/21/19 01:08 AM
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Thank you for all of your replies. I really appreciate your collective advice. I decided to cancel my appointment to see the piano. If I buy a piano, I want it to be something that my family and I can use and enjoy for a long, long time. It is rather obvious that this piano is not it. Unfortunately, there aren't too many used pianos to choose from in Montana, and I don't think that I have the funds to purchase brand new at this time.

I think that KawaiDon is probably right in that soundboard cracks here are common. The weather here can be very brutal at times. We've had numerous days this winter where the temperature hasn't gone above 0 degrees Fahrenheit, so the heaters are sometimes constantly running. In my home, even with a whole house humidifier, I sometimes can't keep the humidity above 35-38%.

To answer some of the other questions above, I didn't pay for the piano inspection. It was actually paid by the seller of the piano, and I spoke to the tech that performed it. I'm not sure if he did any of the measurements that were mentioned above. I was planning to hire a different tech to look at the piano if I were still interested in it after seeing it in person. However, I have no doubt that he was trying to give me his honest assessment of the piano.

So my search for a new piano goes on. Though to be honest, my biggest obstacle right now is convincing my wife that we have space for a grand piano...

Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
basebase #2829406 03/21/19 09:15 AM
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Right from the outset of this thread I was inclined to write something more in line with what Don wrote (but he beat me to it). So, I agree more with his assessment than with the others. We see stuff like that in NE all the time. And, the thing is 20 years old!

You should have tried this piano out yourself FIRST, then hired your own consultant if you felt you liked it. IMO you went about it backwards. Still though, it may not have changed your decision (but it is your decision to make). Addition of a humidity control system with undercover AND full piano cover "could" make a world of difference on this piano for the future.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
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Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
P W Grey #2829446 03/21/19 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by P W Grey
Right from the outset of this thread I was inclined to write something more in line with what Don wrote (but he beat me to it). So, I agree more with his assessment than with the others. We see stuff like that in NE all the time. And, the thing is 20 years old!

You should have tried this piano out yourself FIRST, then hired your own consultant if you felt you liked it. IMO you went about it backwards. Still though, it may not have changed your decision (but it is your decision to make). Addition of a humidity control system with undercover AND full piano cover "could" make a world of difference on this piano for the future.

Pwg


I agree. That is the most logical sequence of actions. In this case, the tech that inspected it had been hired by the owner, so I actually had the benefit of having some knowledge of the piano's condition before even playing it. Of course, if I had tried the piano and liked it, I would have hired a tech to do an independent inspection. I'm fortunate to know that this is a piano that I should pass on without even having to spend money on an inspection.

Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
basebase #2829670 03/21/19 07:39 PM
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Okay, good. 👍

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
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www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Kawai Grand Piano with soundboard cracks
basebase #2829714 03/21/19 10:17 PM
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I think if you can keep the humidity at 35-38% you are doing better than most.


David




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