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Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
#2890951 09/16/19 11:46 AM
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I am presented with two similar price options that I need to make a quick decision. 1988 Steinway L and 1999 Kawai RX2. The Steinway L will need an overall action regulation and voicing for even playing. The Kawai is in good playing condition. The Kawai will be an easier option for me, since I don't need to do much to the piano other than tuning, but the Steinway L once fixed up could be really nice. Right?

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Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2890955 09/16/19 11:56 AM
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Why do you feel you have to make a quick decision? Is the salesperson pressuring you? Both pianos really need to be inspected by an independent technician before you choose. Your thoughts may be true or they may be unfounded. This could go either way. It all depends upon the current condition of each instrument. What are the other factors involved such as price?

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2890958 09/16/19 12:07 PM
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I need to make a quick decision because I am tired of looking for piano. Have been trying out pianos for nearly one month and want to move on. I did have a tech look at the Steinway L and that was his opinions regarding regulation and voicing. I have owned and played on Kawai for 30 years so I know how Kawai sounds and plays. This Kawai is younger, so I don't expect much problem with it. Perhaps the question to ask should be when properly fix up, is a 1988 Steinway L a better piano than a 1999 Kawai RX2.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2890977 09/16/19 01:12 PM
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I think the question of 'better piano' is much more subjective and is entirely up to your personal tastes. Of the Steinways I have played, the model L currently used by my teacher for lessons is my least favorite 'decent' acoustic piano I have played. I'm not crazy about the sound, and I feel the action could be better. There is a Yamaha C3 in the same building that I prefer much more. I am sure that a different approach to regulation and tuning would solve those problems, so as a result I wouldn't rule out the L, but the opinion simply comes down to the state of the two instruments when I played them at that moment in time.

If money is no object, I am sure that the Steinway L could be brought up to your personal standard and be a beautiful instrument to enjoy for many years. However, if speed is your primary concern, it sounds like you have made a decision regarding the Kawai already.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2890980 09/16/19 01:26 PM
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They're both excellent instruments. We recently had a poster here on PW that has owns a late model RX2 (Late 2000s). It was purchased from Kawai brand new. It recently developed a crack in the bridge. It is still under warranty, so Kawai will take care of it. I bring this up just to say that even new pianos can develop issues.

Sometimes what seems like a little regulation and voicing can end up being a complete action job b/c of worn parts or hammer replacement b/c the hammers are too far gone. But it sounds like your technician has already looked at that. Did he give you an estimate of just how much the work would cost on the Steinway? Does the RX2 need anything or is it in top shape?

In my personal taste, I tend to prefer Steinway for touch and tone, and in general, I think they are a better piano They usually command a premium sticker price if they are in excellent shape.

The L is larger than the RX2, so you can expect more from the piano in the bass. Does the RX2 have the Millennium action? What's your personal taste? Are you ready to make a break from Kawai? Which piano speaks to you? What's your current piano? You really don't know what you'll get in the Steinway until the work is done. It's really hard to predict that, unless you are using a technician you really trust b/c you are very familiar with his work and expertise.

Are the pianos at the same dealer? Is there a "return/trade" option if the Steinway doesn't turn out the way you want it to? I'm just asking questions for you to think about.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2890992 09/16/19 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Apoll0
Perhaps the question to ask should be when properly fix up, is a 1988 Steinway L a better piano than a 1999 Kawai RX2.
Although many would say Steinway is a higher quality piano that's not the only issue. We can't tell from your description how "off" the touch and tone are on the Steinway. More importantly, unless you really like the touch and tone right now on the Steinway you don't know if the Steinway's touch and tone will please you after whatever work you choose is done. Don't just buy the name on the fallboard.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
pianoloverus #2890995 09/16/19 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Don't just buy the name on the fallboard.

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Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
pianoloverus #2890998 09/16/19 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Apoll0
Perhaps the question to ask should be when properly fix up, is a 1988 Steinway L a better piano than a 1999 Kawai RX2.
Although many would say Steinway is a higher quality piano that's not the only issue. We can't tell from your description how "off" the touch and tone are on the Steinway. More importantly, unless you really like the touch and tone right now on the Steinway you don't know if the Steinway's touch and tone will please you after whatever work you choose is done. Don't just buy the name on the fallboard.

+1



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Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Carey #2891031 09/16/19 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Don't just buy the name on the fallboard.

thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb thumb


+1



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Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2891057 09/16/19 04:53 PM
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"Just needs regulation and voicing" could mean cheap fixes or very expensive fixes.
I'd pick the piano that works correctly.


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Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2891172 09/17/19 02:40 AM
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If it’s not supposed to be the piano of your life, you could also think about there “resale value “ .
And I believe they are not playing in the same category...



Last edited by rolex67; 09/17/19 02:43 AM.
Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2891242 09/17/19 09:05 AM
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How much are these pianos and in what currency? The model L wasn't Steinway's greatest piano, and the fact that it's a New York kind of makes me think twice about it - some of them are good and some of them are downright nasty. That, however, may be an opinion and not backed up by scientific data - I'll leave that to the techs to argue.

For me personally, Kawai is more consistent and I prefer the clearer sound of the Kawai to the fatter sound of the NY Steinway. I usually find Kawai more even the NY Steinway in both touch and tone, and I have found that the build quality is more consistent, although the latest models of NY Steinway are vast improvements over what was going on there in the 1980s.

You always have to interpret what technicians say, unless you know you have a stellar technician. For example, we have three Steinways in Alabama that have weak trebles - three in particular that are standing out to me that is. On one of them it's an issue of the strike point, alignment, voicing, and regulation. On the others it's quite clearly a soundboard that has reached the end of its useful life after being subjected to crap air-conditioning for 40 years. The other thing was that the older ones weren't that good to start with and have all sorts of really weird action issues.

Had you said 1988 Hamburg Steinway O vs Kawai RX2 I'd have leaned more to the Steinway. The Hamburg ones don't have the diaphragmatic soundboard that is as much a curse as it is a selling feature.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2891274 09/17/19 10:34 AM
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OP here.

The 1988 Steinway L is from NY. Not Hamburg. The tech I took told me that the soundboard and bridge are good, bass strings are new, pins are tight, but keys are uneven. There is also some water stain on the action of the piano. I personally found right-hand notes too soft relative to left-hand notes. The seller does not want to work on the piano so he lowers the price significantly to compensate for the upfront repair costs and risks for me. The 1999 Kawai RX2 is from my neighbor. My quick internet search shows that the asking price probably a bit high for a 20 years old Kawai while a 30 years old Steinway L should still be more expensive than the Kawai. Right now I am leaning toward the Steinway L even though I know Kawai will probably be worry-free for me.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2891286 09/17/19 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Apoll0

The 1988 Steinway L is from NY. Not Hamburg. The tech I took told me that the soundboard and bridge are good, bass strings are new, pins are tight, but keys are uneven. There is also some water stain on the action of the piano. I personally found right-hand notes too soft relative to left-hand notes. The seller does not want to work on the piano so he lowers the price significantly to compensate for the upfront repair costs and risks for me. The 1999 Kawai RX2 is from my neighbor. My quick internet search shows that the asking price probably a bit high for a 20 years old Kawai while a 30 years old Steinway L should still be more expensive than the Kawai. Right now I am leaning toward the Steinway L even though I know Kawai will probably be worry-free for me.

From this I read more upside opportunity on the Steinway than the Kawai. If you get the Steinway and have the work done it will be a more valuable piano. The current owner is paying the price of laziness for not having the work done. The Kawai is by your reckoning a bit overpriced and owned by a neighbor, so then the question is how hard would you want to bargain to get the price down to reasonable? I think I agree with you, get the Steinway. If after all the work it's not the instrument for you you can probably sell it for at least what you'll have put into it.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2891288 09/17/19 11:21 AM
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Tonally they are obviously quite different. The Steinway will have the fatter "America" profile, while the Steinway will have a clearer more focused sound. To choose the Steinway requires you to have a lot of faith in the technician's ability to accurately assess and estimate it's condition and the cost to bring it into shape. I've read so many posts here on PW, even in the Technician's forum, of repairs that looked like a minor problem, that then became mysteries and led down the path to issues that were much more time consuming and costly. I really enjoy the Kawai RX Pianos a lot, but at heart I'm definitely a fan of a GOOD Steinway -- emphasis on good. There are good ones and bad ones. Steinway definitely produced some bad ones in that era.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2891289 09/17/19 11:23 AM
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Yes exactly...
NY Steinway with weak treble...... I'm always suspicious of a weak treble.

Buy the piano you prefer..period. whether its Steinway or Kawai.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Steve Chandler #2891346 09/17/19 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
I think I agree with you, get the Steinway. If after all the work it's not the instrument for you you can probably sell it for at least what you'll have put into it.
Or it could quite easily sit unsold for a very long time.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2891365 09/17/19 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Apoll0
OP here.

The 1988 Steinway L is from NY. Not Hamburg. The tech I took told me that the soundboard and bridge are good, bass strings are new, pins are tight, but keys are uneven. There is also some water stain on the action of the piano. I personally found right-hand notes too soft relative to left-hand notes. The seller does not want to work on the piano so he lowers the price significantly to compensate for the upfront repair costs and risks for me. The 1999 Kawai RX2 is from my neighbor. My quick internet search shows that the asking price probably a bit high for a 20 years old Kawai while a 30 years old Steinway L should still be more expensive than the Kawai. Right now I am leaning toward the Steinway L even though I know Kawai will probably be worry-free for me.


IMO the "L" is probably the better piano.
Of course, regulation & voicing CAN get expensive depending on how many parts might need replacement (action stuff), and if the board is dead, well... lots more.
So a few questions:
- Did your tech pull the action and inspect the action parts for wear? If s/he did, and is talking "regulation" not replacement and regulation, this is a plus. NB: I don't know the year Steinway switched back from teflon to cloth bushed metal pins. If this piano has a teflon action, it's not a show stopper provided your tech has experience working with teflon.
- Did your tech inspect the hammers for wear? Feel them to evaluate their resilience vs hardness? If the hammers are not too worn, voicing (which would potentially include reshaping, fitting to strings, traveling the hammers) COULD make that Steinway sing in that special Steinway way.
- Soft treble vs louder bass might not be an issue. How was the SUSTAIN? If the piano is sustaining but small voiced, and bridges and soundboard are in good shape, VOICING could turn the trick.

Grist for your mill; one pianist's opinion.


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Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Apoll0 #2891403 09/17/19 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Apoll0
OP here.

The 1988 Steinway L is from NY. Not Hamburg. The tech I took told me that the soundboard and bridge are good, bass strings are new, pins are tight, but keys are uneven. There is also some water stain on the action of the piano. I personally found right-hand notes too soft relative to left-hand notes. The seller does not want to work on the piano so he lowers the price significantly to compensate for the upfront repair costs and risks for me. The 1999 Kawai RX2 is from my neighbor. My quick internet search shows that the asking price probably a bit high for a 20 years old Kawai while a 30 years old Steinway L should still be more expensive than the Kawai. Right now I am leaning toward the Steinway L even though I know Kawai will probably be worry-free for me.


Interestingly enough, the L that is used at my piano lessons is practically mute from the fifth octave starting at G and up. I am sure it could be solved for, but interesting that they both seem to have the same issue. If you go for the Steinway, I'd love to see a before and after video of the piano to see how good you can make it sound.

Re: Steinway L vs Kawai RX2
Joseph Fleetwood #2891431 09/17/19 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by joe80

You always have to interpret what technicians say, unless you know you have a stellar technician. For example, we have three Steinways in Alabama that have weak trebles - three in particular that are standing out to me that is. On one of them it's an issue of the strike point, alignment, voicing, and regulation. On the others it's quite clearly a soundboard that has reached the end of its useful life after being subjected to crap air-conditioning for 40 years. The other thing was that the older ones weren't that good to start with and have all sorts of really weird action issues.



My tech complains about the action rails not staying aligned in the NY models, and tends to use WNG parts for rebuilds.

My teacher, when I was growing up, had a divine L that was made just prior to WWII--there are good ones (or they were good at one time). It always sounded better with the lid down, though, for some reason other than just voicing (might be a characteristic of the scale?).

UA must still be keeping it too cold. 😆


WhoDwaldi
Howard (by Kawai) 5' 10"
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