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Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
#2891685 09/18/19 12:56 PM
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I have an old Wurlitizer piano that is not holding it's tune. I am tired of paying for the tuning as over time I have paid more in tuning versus the value of the piano. I have 3 children that play now and 2 more that will play in a few years. We are not intense musicians just a family that appreciates music and the value it is for children. I am considering purchasing a used Kawai CA-51, 9 years old. The current owner said it wasn't played much. I read reviews of the piano written 9 years ago and they were outstanding. Do you believe a digital piano, like this can still be considered excellent? I am not sure how age affects a digital piano. I would assume a digital piano of today has more bells and whistles but I think my kids will only use a few and not be as in depth as a musician or composer. Anyone have any insights on the value and what to pay if this piano is if in excellent condition?

Re: Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
5boys #2891725 09/18/19 02:54 PM
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How does the owner judge "excellent" condition? Be skeptical.
How do you judge it?

Assume the worst. Offer low. Very low. Send the offer from a throw-away email. Make it conditional on a demo.
Wait a week.
Make a different low offer. From a different throw-away email.
Wait a week.
Make a not-so-low offer from your primary email. See what happens.

Someone else here ... someone familiar with the older Kawai models ... will have to tell you whether this piano is really nine years old, and not twenty years old.

BTW ... a piano like this will sell for just a few hundred dollars. At most.

Re: Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
MacMacMac #2891742 09/18/19 03:28 PM
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Originally Posted by MacMacMac
... will have to tell you whether this piano is really nine years old, and not twenty years old.


That's always a good point as:
- people lie
- people remember wrong
- people buy discontinued models as new

The oldest mention of the CA-51 found with a quick search was from late 2008 and there are some music store and official Kawai video demos on YouTube from early 2009, so I guess that's when it was new.

Kawai UK and Germany sites tend to have information available on older models too:

https://www.kawai.co.uk/products/archive/ca51/
https://www.kawai.de/products/archive/ca51/

The German site has a German speaking video and both have sound samples.

It has the "AWA PRO II" action with wooden key sticks that Kawai still sells inside the CE220 model.

Some thoughts about the CA51 here:

http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/2379648/kawai-new-cn25-or-used-ca51.html

As usual, whatever the seller is asking or whatever you think you are willing to pay, the question is what else can you get with the same money? Something new and good enough? Something less old and good enough? Is it more important to get a piano that you really want or to save a few bucks?

But hey, recycling makes sense. I haven't ever bought a brand new digital piano myself yet.

Re: Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
5boys #2891746 09/18/19 03:35 PM
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Hmmm...

The Kawai CA91/CA71/CA51 User's Manual says "Copyright (c) 2006 Kawai Musical Instruments...".

And I can see some newsgroup mentions from 2007. Maybe it's a 12...13 years old model.

Re: Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
5boys #2891750 09/18/19 03:41 PM
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Unless you get for $300 or less I would pass. To old


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
Re: Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
5boys #2891752 09/18/19 03:48 PM
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I just read the specs for the CA-51, and, it looks like it was indeed a very nice digital piano.

Its best feature is the AWA Pro II key action. It is almost indistinguishable from the RM III action in the very popular, and current, Kawai VPC1. I, along with many others here, play the VPC1. It does a very nice job of mimicking the feel of an actual grand piano. I think the AWA Pro II differs from the RM3 by having a slightly shorter distance from the key front to the pivot point on the black keys only (resulting in slighty degraded control on the black keys) than does the current RM3. I have played the AWA Pro II and liked it.

A second issue is the age/quality of the sound engine. Digital piano sound engines seem to get upgraded/improved every three years or so. The sound engine in the CA-51 is a couple of generations old. I think it is now the standard sound engine in the lower tier current Kawai digitals. You may find that this sound satisfies your needs. If not, you have a couple of newer generations of sound engines to consider. Something to bear in mind is that there are several nice VST (software piano engines you can install in your computer) which can easily supplant the on board digital piano sounds. Some of them are available for less than $100. I play one that is around $79 (Garritan CFX Lite) and have been quite pleased. So, if the CA-51 sound is not adequate for you, replacing the sound is fairly easy and inexpensive.

I recently had occasion to snoop around the lower priced Kawai digitals with wooden keys. I think there are still a couple of models available with the AWA Pro II key action that can be had for about $1600 US.

As for how to purchase a used one, it seems the major impediment to purchasing at a reasonable price is the lack of understanding on the part of owner/sellers about just how much their beloved digital has fallen behind the times in terms of technology. You would likely help yourself a lot by learning all the ways the CA-51 piano is "behind the times" compared to the current Kawai offerings. Owner/sellers may just look at the current prices of new ones to reaffirm their unjustifiable high assessment of what their old digital is worth. You would do well to familiarize yourself with the CA-51's lower specs, such as amount of polyphony, the number of generations of key action upgrades, the number of generations of sound engine improvements, and other technology upgrades that those new pianos possess and that the used piano does not possess. With this knowledge, you can better educate the seller about just how far behind current specs the used piano has fallen. Some sellers will listen to the truth, others will just tune you out.

Lastly, consider trying to learn to tune your own piano. Many of us have gained varying amounts of ability to tune our own acoustics. You may save a lot of money, and, may be surprised at how nice you can keep the piano sounding. You can almost instantly respond to the earliest sign of it losing its tune by tuning the one or two strings that have crept out of tune. You may need to do this monthly or so, but, if you learn how to do it, each episode might only take 10 minutes of your time. Periodially submitting the piano to a professional tuner, with your home based adjustments along the way might get you back to one or two tunings per year.

Good luck to you.


Ralph

Kawai VPC1
Garritan CFX Lite
Pianist since April, 2015
Re: Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
5boys #2891900 09/19/19 04:06 AM
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I agree with Ralph.

If the CA51 is in good condition, the keyboard is still very desirable. The sound engine is a little dated by today's standards, but this can be bypassed by using a computer/iPad, and feeding the sound back into the CA51's speakers.

Kind regards,
James
x


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 & occasional rare groove player.

"I agree that the User Manual is very good." - arc7urus, March 2019
Re: Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
5boys #2891950 09/19/19 07:31 AM
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I’d start with a new digital piano, and not an entry level one. Then you have a warranty and the “clock/odometer ” starts at zero, giving you the best chance at several uninterrupted, trouble free years. You already experienced what happens buying an old used acoustic piano on the cheap...and this seems like you’re about to do the same thing with a digital.


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Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Re: Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
5boys #2891991 09/19/19 10:42 AM
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Regarding the age of the CA-51, I don't think there is any way to predict its future reliability. My own experience is this: I started playing in 2015 on a Casio Privia PX-310, which was already 10 years old when I acquired it. It performed flawlessly through two years of 2 hours a day, daily practice. I only parted with it to upgrade to a newer, improved sound engine, and, to get a cabinet style digital (Casio Privia PX-760).


Ralph

Kawai VPC1
Garritan CFX Lite
Pianist since April, 2015
Re: Kawai CA-51 - Cost today
5boys #2892001 09/19/19 11:14 AM
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Yeah, but that’s a sample size of 1.

The OP mentioned not wanting to pay more than a piano is worth in repairs. That scenario would be possible with an older, out of warranty unit, assuming you can find a technician who would repair it in the first place. I’d probably have to drive 100 miles each way to get to one here.


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Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer

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