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Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
#3011754 08/08/20 10:47 PM
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Hey Everyone,

So, I've been taking lessons for a couple of years and we use the Faber series for instruction, which I find has worked well for me. I have used a Kawai ES100 throughout this time and, although this is a very good entry level Digital I am beginning to feel the dreaded twinges of PAS. As something I read one time (possibly here!), ultimately, a piano is an acoustic instrument and something digital simply cannot reproduce. Obviously, modern digitals are amazing, but for me I feel acoustic (specifically an upright) is the way to go next.

As I have a Kawai, I started with them and have played the k-300, 500, and 800. This was a bad idea as with each instrument, I realised that it was just better than the last. The k-800 is really very good indeed, however the k-500 is also excellent, and in comparison to the k-300 I felt it was noticeably better. The low C in Pachelbel's Canon was somewhat spine tingling. I also played a GL20 and SK3, and although I have no interest in a grand at this time (money and space reasons), I felt the SK3 was really very good but also twice the cost of the K-800, zing! The GL20 didn't do anything for me, which I was happy about as it meant that I won't have to rearrange my living room! I also played a Boesendorfer, which while amazing, is a little out of my price range - lol.

Next up, the Yamaha U1 and U3. To be honest, I struggled to find anything I liked about the U1. Didn't like the action nor the tone, maybe badly regulated but I guess it's all personal taste. The U3 was nicer, but it was also the same price of a K800, I will have to go back and play one again but I feel like it is not going to be the one for me.

Being in Canada, there are lot's of Holtzman pianos around - particularly used - and I quite like the action but the tone seems to vary wildly. Petrofs are also fairly easy to find used, and I do like them a lot. The action suits me and the sound is just a quintessential piano sound - lovely.

I also had the opportunity to try a Sauter 130, as well as a C Bechstein Classic (124?), and they are wonderful instruments. I look forwards to treating myself to one of them when I pass my grade 10 RCM!

So, early runners are the K-300 and K-500 I think, with possibly the "right" Holtzman or Petrof. The great advantage of the Kawai is that they also come with Aures and, being a shy player in condo (albeit concrete), I think this is an amazing marriage of digital and acoustic. Sadly, I cannot try the K-500 Aures as they are not available in Vancouver at the minute. Also, I figure that the K-500 Aures will be roughly the price of a K-800, yikes.

Early conclusion: there are too many choices and too many great instruments out there, this isn't going to be easy.

Cheers,
Steve.


Kawai K-300 Aures
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Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3011843 08/09/20 08:49 AM
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Good Morning Steve and welcome to PianoWorld! It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. My only added advice would be if you are going to shop used, be sure to get an independent piano technician to check it out for you before plopping down your cash. There are lots of pianos out there but take your time and try them out. It is an adventure but well worth the effort and time. Do keep us posted and when you find “the one” please post pictures of your new “baby” because we like to look at members new and new to them pianos. Best Wishes on your journey!


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Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3011846 08/09/20 09:05 AM
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IMO, since you already have a digital, you might keep it and spent your budget for the best acoustic only piano you can afford.

I own a 2005 model Kawai RX-2 (acoustic only) and advice you to try one of these (RX-2, RX-3). You might find one that fits your budget. I always advocate a grand over an upright when possible. It is totally a different experience.

Here are some recent recordings of my RX-2 (as recorded in my living room. No effects etc.):
Listen with ear/headphones please.

https://app.box.com/s/mj4ci5zyp2zv78318952c0u3kpy04d7i

https://app.box.com/s/lw6lpghxa04s76di85qtixd9dwfzm72c


The silent systems somewhat alter the touch. So keep that in mind too.

Last edited by Hakki; 08/09/20 09:06 AM.
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3011888 08/09/20 12:07 PM
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Hi Steve, welcome to the forum. A few years ago I went through the same process you are going through. I had the opportunity to play both the regular and Aures version of the K500 right next to each other. I was able to detect a slight difference in the touch between the two, and if you search the forum you will find the technical explanation for why that is the case but it has something to do with how close to the strings the hammers are before the letoff point. I'm not a tech so I'm just parroting what I've read here. You might not notice the difference, it is slight, but it would sure be nice if you could try it first to be sure. In the end I chose a lower end grand model because the action was more important to me than the sound. Enjoy your search.


Yamaha P90, Kawai GL-10
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3011896 08/09/20 12:28 PM
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Maybe also check out the Yamaha SE models if the don´t take the europe in the name literally. Halfway between Bösendorfer and Yamaha I'd say.
And if you're looking for an amazing action see if you can play a Feurich 123 Vienna.
Both are roughly in the same price Range.

Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3011899 08/09/20 12:31 PM
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Welcome to PW! It sounds like you are getting to try out a lot of nice pianos, that in and of itself is such a great learning experience. I have owned Yamahas (a digital, an upright and now a grand), a Baldwin-Hamilton upright and a Petrof upright (and played many other brands) and it is really neat to experience the different voices of each brand and each piano. I loved the voice on my Petrof (I only got rid of it bc I bought a grand), and it certainly had a different "personality" compared to the Yamahas I've owned and played. (The Baldwin I had was near the end of its life, but still could shake the house like a good Baldwin! smile

I've never played a Holtzman, I assume that's a Canadian brand?

Good luck and keep us posted as your journey progresses!


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3011946 08/09/20 02:17 PM
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Thanks for all the feedback and encouragement! I totally take the point of buying the best possible piano, I moved into a concrete build specifically so I can get an acoustic, and I only learned about these silent systems after the fact. Of course I can practise on the digital and then move to the acoustic once I have learned a piece but that seems to be defeating the point. I'm still on the fence in all this - as you know, this is a hard decision.

I _could_ afford a K-800 (~CA$18k) or something in that range towards the end of the year, but really my thinking is something in the K-300 range (~CA$10k) with the idea that in a few years time I would be looking at either a top class upright, or very good grand in the SK3 sort of range. Space is an issue, as my main room is only around 350sqft, and a 6ft grand would take a lot of the room and so I need to justify it. Also, I find myself thinking that the K-300 is an excellent piano that would easily get me to the upper RCM grades, and maybe it's just piano-lust wanting the K-500 or equivalent. Isn't it hard to try and be objective and emotionless about the purchase of something that inherently emotive ?

Oh, and I meant to say Heintzman, not Holtzman about the Canadian piano company.


Kawai K-300 Aures
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3011982 08/09/20 03:07 PM
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Hi polarcharm, welcome to PW!

Originally Posted by polarcharm
I totally take the point of buying the possible piano... Isn't it hard to try and be objective and emotionless about the purchase of something that inherently emotive ?

It seems you have a point. I would say it is not only hard, but for someone who is heading to a RCM 10, it would seem to be impossible. For this exact reason, why do you think you have to wait until then to have the best possible piano? Are you seeing the process of becoming a pianist a purification and only hard time where something "just useful", a simple means to an end, would be more than perfect? (Not to say that a K300 is just useful, far from that... it all depends on the context one is describing... after all, we are not talking about investment, but about accomplishment, isn't it?)

By my side, I would like that my journey in piano music was made along the best piano I could buy NOW. I don't even know if I will be alive next year. And if later, somewhere along the road, I feel the need to buy a better piano, it is not impossible to act/plan accordingly to save enough for it then. Actually, this is exactly what I am doing. But, you know, I am just thinking out loud.

Wish you make the best possible decision to honour your emotions and musical taste, the very foundation for your building up artistry, alongside discipline. smile


Fluxo

Sauter V 182
C Bechstein 8
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3011999 08/09/20 03:45 PM
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Since you are planning to reach higher RCM grades, I definitely recommend a used grand over a new upright.

IMO, you might try Kawai RX grands before making your final decision.

Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
Hakki #3012112 08/09/20 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
Since you are planning to reach higher RCM grades, I definitely recommend a used grand over a new upright.

IMO, you might try Kawai RX grands before making your final decision.
I have had quite few students who have done the grade 10 level quite easily and who only had agood upright. A grand is not aessential !
Since the OP is looking for an upright I do not think it very nice to try and persuade them to buy a grand !

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/09/20 11:09 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3012114 08/09/20 11:21 PM
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Both the K500 and the U3 are excellent pianos.You probably could upgrade at full value later on for a Sauter 130 , or trade in for a C Bechstein 124(classic) , or if you later want a grand you could no doubt upgrade at full value for a Yamaha G or a CX grand at the same dealer.(or trade in for a GX
Kawai grand)
But no, you do not have to buy a grand now.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/09/20 11:23 PM. Reason: spelling
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3012116 08/09/20 11:31 PM
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I loved the RX3 I played for sure, but causally measuring my living room for a fitting means I lose fully 1/3rd of the space. Also, I cannot afford it even second hand, so there is that haha.

I'm still early on my piano journey, I know many people who 'burned out' around grade 5, as well as several who achieved grade 10 and beyond (on a vertical no less!). If I end up having to trade up in 5-10yrs time then I'm ok with that. Right now, I have to be careful with money, especially in these crazy days we live in.

A salesman said something to me yesterday that has stuck with me: find the instrument that will inspire you.

I'm in no rush to buy, and I very much appreciate all he advice and opinions!


Kawai K-300 Aures
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3012118 08/09/20 11:35 PM
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Sauter has the double repitition action so the touch is similar to that of a grand.I think the CBechstein 124 Classic also has a quicker repetition action unlike regular uprights.
A K500 or a U3 are also good choices if you do not want spend that much money though. Both these pianos have a great response and an excellent tone.Well made pianos that will last.
Best wishes on your piano search.

Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3012133 08/10/20 12:55 AM
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Just went through a very similar exercise for my family's first acoustic piano, and ended up with a K-500, having looked at similar instruments. I was buying for two of my kids who take lessons, and myself (a complete beginner).

Disclaimer: I am completely unqualified to offer musical assessments. But to my amateur ears I feel like the K-500 has a terrific price-to-performance ratio given its position and price in the new piano market. IMO, it is easily worth the premium above the already very good K-300. I dismissed the U1 and U3 because the Yamaha sound profile is less pleasing to me, according to the examples I was able to hear on my heavily abridged shopping sessions.

After a month, I still find the instrument a delight every time my children or I sit down and play. The K-500 is just delicious. Ask me again in a year!


Kawai K-500
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3012142 08/10/20 02:52 AM
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With the K500 you can always make the sound softer and it has a practice pedal.It is a softer piano than a U3.Heintzman are now Chinese made (new ones)
Of course Petrof can have a lovely sound if voiced and prepped properly Take care with individual piano choice with this one.

Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3012177 08/10/20 06:29 AM
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Ok. If not a grand IMO you should at least go with the K500.

Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3012196 08/10/20 07:39 AM
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Since you are still on instruction books a K300 should be OK for many years but I would try and aim for at least a K500. The taller the piano the bigger the soundboard the longer the strings.
The GL10 is an alternative for a 48" upright and is about the price of a U3.,It has a far more mellow sound than the GL20 which is actually very bright. The K500 gives a far better bass however
and is a better instrument.This instrument gives a darker tone than the Yamaha alternatives.
But then tone is often a matter of taste.I once tried a really excellent U3 which had been prepped ready for its new owner.

Another very important thing is to buy the instrument you actually play in the store. Do not let any dealer send you an instrument you have not played from the warehouse.If the piano has been in the store for a year or 18 months that is OK.If it has been in the warehouse for 4 years ask for more of a discount.
A VERY NEW piano has to settle down , its strings stretch etc. It needs about 3 tunings a year .After about 6 tunings it should settle down. A piano in a store is one YOU know you like and it will already have had a few tunings and regulations. Still make sure you ask that it be properly prepped for you.
Every piano is different (of the same brand ) so make sure you buy the one you love.
I bought a VERY NEW U1 in a the store .It was extremely bright and sometimes developed a metalic tone.( really unpleasant) Fortunately we already preferred the Sauter 130 on the other side of the store so we upgraded to that piano.( they gave us a full value trade in towards the Sauter ) The Sauter is an instrument that is totally inspiring in its tone and response.
However if your budget does not go to that high, a U1 ,U3, K300 or K500 are all good choices !
You may want to try to find a used piano by CL. You have to have such an instrument carefully
checked by an independent technician because it may have serious problems ,and not hold its tuning.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/10/20 07:41 AM. Reason: spelling 7
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
Lady Bird #3012199 08/10/20 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
Another very important thing is to buy the instrument you actually play in the store. Do not let any dealer send you an instrument you have not played from the warehouse.

That can't be said often enough. I might buy a premium instrument without playing if I had the money to factor in a lot of voicing until it's definitely to my liking.

- open the lid, write down the serial number, have the serial number in the contract -

This, by the way, is also an argument for a used instrument - they don't need to settle down as much.

Last edited by Keybender; 08/10/20 08:03 AM.
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
polarcharm #3012489 08/10/20 10:48 PM
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More good advice! It makes me want to go back to the piano showrooms immediately! Thanks everyone!


Kawai K-300 Aures
Re: Buying a new Acoustic Piano: A Journey
Hakki #3012846 08/11/20 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Hakki
IMO, since you already have a digital, you might keep it and spent your budget for the best acoustic only piano you can afford.

I own a 2005 model Kawai RX-2 (acoustic only) and advice you to try one of these (RX-2, RX-3). You might find one that fits your budget. I always advocate a grand over an upright when possible. It is totally a different experience.

Here are some recent recordings of my RX-2 (as recorded in my living room. No effects etc.):
Listen with ear/headphones please.

https://app.box.com/s/mj4ci5zyp2zv78318952c0u3kpy04d7i

https://app.box.com/s/lw6lpghxa04s76di85qtixd9dwfzm72c


The silent systems somewhat alter the touch. So keep that in mind too.
Hakki
I love your playing and your piano. A really beautiful tone in that piano.Certainly not too much brightness there . I am sorry if I appeared rude. To me it seems that so many people think one cannot really achieve much on an upright. Of course it depends on the upright or the grand involved.
Perhaps Osco Bosco should try and find a used RX Kawai !
Thank you for sharing your sound clip.

Last edited by Lady Bird; 08/11/20 11:04 PM. Reason: spelling
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