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Joined: Aug 2011
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Hi all,

I'm looking for a bit of wisdom and input on Yamaha's range of SE upright pianos. I played one for the first time last week (SE122) in the Yamaha Music London store just off of Oxford Street. I was quite impressed with the SE122 and having played that model along with a U3, YUS5 and SU7, I liked this the most. I thought the SE122 had a very controllable action and a direct tone meaning that I could voice the music well and bring out the melody where I wanted to.

The saleswoman at Yamaha told me that they are built using 'German parts' which I believe she said came from Bösendorfer. Furthermore, she said that the SE pianos were designed with a more 'European tone' and are aimed at the European market. Does that mean that this line of Yamaha's pianos is not sold in the US?

I suppose my real question is what are people's thoughts on the SE series? I did a search on the Piano World Forum but it didn't return very many results. I would be keen to hear people's opinions whether having just played them in a store or have actually bought one!

Many thanks in advance.

Will


Current: Yamaha AvantGrand NU1X
Previous: Venables & Son Academy-168, Kawai K-15 E and Yamaha Clavinova CVP-208

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Hi Will,

I looked at the Yamaha SE series quite extensively a few years ago when I was buying my current upright. Although I eventually bought a YUS5 which I adore ,the SE series was a serious contender. My own thought was that they were warmer and more mellow than a standard Yamaha, and in many ways I was more taken with the 122 than the 132. The 132 lacked a bit of power in the bass relative to the rest of the piano, and the 122 just felt a bit better balanced imho. The price premium over the YUS series is quite significant, and the view of a couple of people I trusted was that the SE series didn't really justify that as the YUS series could be prepped to produce that more mellow sound without a problem if that is what was wanted.

Hence in the end I went for a YUS5, and have never regretted that choice. The voicing can indeed give a more mellow sound (although mine does have a tendency to "drift bright" if the voicing is neglected) and compared to an SE132, my YUS5 has a much stronger (yet still very controllable) bass while also being a bit darker in overall tone. At the time I bought my piano, the SE series also didn't have the Ivorite keytops (unlike the YUS5), which seemed an odd addition on a more expensive instrument.

So for me the SE series offers a slightly different sound "out of the box" but I'm not sure it actually justifies the price premium (hence I didn't pay it when I was buying in that segment of the market!). That's just one view of of course ,and a far from expert one at that.

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The SE is not distributed in the USA (I am told that the "E" in the model stands for Europe) because these models are designed with Europe in mind. I have never seen one but I understand that they are "mini production" pianos, much like the YUS series of instruments.

I hope more of our European members can give us more information.


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Rich,

Thanks for your input - I was starting to think that I wasn't going to get a reply from anyone! Having said this, I did wonder if that might be because the SE series of piano are not offered in the US and thus, not many people have any experience with them.

Thanks for your help anyway.


Current: Yamaha AvantGrand NU1X
Previous: Venables & Son Academy-168, Kawai K-15 E and Yamaha Clavinova CVP-208

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Jason74,

Please accept my apologies - I didn't see your post at first when I clicked on my thread! Hence my previous message being directed towards Rich only.

With regards to what you have said, I greatly thank and appreciate your input. I also agree with what you have said, especially in terms of power in the bass of the pianos. I first played the SE122 last Tuesday and didn't think that the bass was underpowered at that time but when I went back on Thursday of this week, I played both the SE122 and the SE132 and distinctly remember feeling that the bass was underpowered, even on the SE132 which is the larger piano.

I'm not sure exactly what it was but I just could not get the power and richness out of the bass of those pianos that I was so desperately looking for. On a different note, despite the significant price jump from the YUS series, I was also surprised at the lack of Ivorite keys and real wood sharps on what Yamaha is describing as one of their more 'premium pianos'. I actually played a YUS5 before I sat down at the SE122 and really liked it so I can certainly see why you are pleased!

On the whole, the SE122 is a great piano and I liked it but there are three niggles for me that have put me off buying:

1. The lack of power in the bass. A strong bass in a piano is something that I look for in particular and I know that this piano is only 122cm tall but my old Kawai K-15 E at 110cm tall felt like it had a far stronger bass. I would have thought the extra 12cm would make a difference!

2. The lack of Ivorite and real wood keys on a piano that is supposedly of a higher calibre isn't great. I find that the feel of a piano key can make a difference and if you've ever played one with cheap plastic keys, it's not great. When you consider the cost of the piano, this is quite disappointing. This also brings me nicely onto to my next point...

3. The price of the piano. Yamaha Music London are advertising this for around GBP 14,500 if memory serves me correct. It has been offered to me for less but even still, that's a lot of money for an upright in my opinion... I could spend that much elsewhere and get a decent second-hand (or possibly new) grand. I'm sure there are other uprights in the market that are worth spending that money on too.


Current: Yamaha AvantGrand NU1X
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Yamaha SE series have Bosendorfer bass strings, and special designed hammer heads. There are some minor modification to the case too (fallboard and keybed). These are fine upright pianos, but not in the high-end class.

BTW, Yamaha uprights never have real ebony black keys. The YUS series have Ivorite and wood composite black keys (like CX series grand pianos). Only the Premium CF series grands have Ivorite with real ebony black keys.

Last edited by trandinhnamanh; 03/31/19 07:23 PM.

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Originally Posted by williambonard
Jason74,

Please accept my apologies - I didn't see your post at first when I clicked on my thread! Hence my previous message being directed towards Rich only.

With regards to what you have said, I greatly thank and appreciate your input. I also agree with what you have said, especially in terms of power in the bass of the pianos. I first played the SE122 last Tuesday and didn't think that the bass was underpowered at that time but when I went back on Thursday of this week, I played both the SE122 and the SE132 and distinctly remember feeling that the bass was underpowered, even on the SE132 which is the larger piano.

I'm not sure exactly what it was but I just could not get the power and richness out of the bass of those pianos that I was so desperately looking for. On a different note, despite the significant price jump from the YUS series, I was also surprised at the lack of Ivorite keys and real wood sharps on what Yamaha is describing as one of their more 'premium pianos'. I actually played a YUS5 before I sat down at the SE122 and really liked it so I can certainly see why you are pleased!

On the whole, the SE122 is a great piano and I liked it but there are three niggles for me that have put me off buying:

1. The lack of power in the bass. A strong bass in a piano is something that I look for in particular and I know that this piano is only 122cm tall but my old Kawai K-15 E at 110cm tall felt like it had a far stronger bass. I would have thought the extra 12cm would make a difference!

2. The lack of Ivorite and real wood keys on a piano that is supposedly of a higher calibre isn't great. I find that the feel of a piano key can make a difference and if you've ever played one with cheap plastic keys, it's not great. When you consider the cost of the piano, this is quite disappointing. This also brings me nicely onto to my next point...

3. The price of the piano. Yamaha Music London are advertising this for around GBP 14,500 if memory serves me correct. It has been offered to me for less but even still, that's a lot of money for an upright in my opinion... I could spend that much elsewhere and get a decent second-hand (or possibly new) grand. I'm sure there are other uprights in the market that are worth spending that money on too.


I'd agree with all of that, and you have neatly summed up why I didn't buy one. Out of interest, why are you in the market for an upright ?. You already have the Venables grand which is probably a better piano than almost any upright outside the larger top tier pianos, so I'm curious as to where you are coming from. If you are in the market for an upright, I'd suggest a trip back to Hampshire. I'd recommend going back to Venables and trying out their YUS5 (I bought from their and the prep that the piano had meant their YUS5 was streets ahead of the one I tried at Yamaha music London). They also carry Pertof, which didn't do much for me when I was looking but might suit you better as a classical player (jazz and other modern music is more my thing). While travelling, I'd also suggest going to Ben Wheeler's near Basingstoke and trying their Kawai 800 (again, they prepped their pianos to a standard that meant they were much nicer than any Kawai I tried in London).

You're right in general that there are better options for less than the Yamaha SE series (and I say that as someone who looked seriously at them). I'd add the Hoffmann T128 to the ones mentioned above, and would also thry the Kaserburg artist pianos before parting with cash personally

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Originally Posted by williambonard
Jason74,


3. The price of the piano. Yamaha Music London are advertising this for around GBP 14,500 if memory serves me correct. It has been offered to me for less but even still, that's a lot of money for an upright in my opinion... I could spend that much elsewhere and get a decent second-hand (or possibly new) grand. I'm sure there are other uprights in the market that are worth spending that money on too.

Indeed. Although I went for a K800 in the end I was offered the larger SE132 (which was a lovely piano) for less than that.


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