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Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
#3048217 11/22/20 09:40 AM
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Hi,

Would like to get your views and recommendations for a grand piano in my small apartment, preferably below 7ft with budget constraints.

Have short-listed these:

- Yamaha C3X - dealer offers a reasonable discount on a 2-year old showroom unit, which edges closer to a new Kawai GX2. Doesn’t sound too bright as a typical Yamaha, but I do notice a bit of “yellowish” keys, which dealer said it’s normal.

- Kawai GX2, brand new but likely need to wait for at least 2 month shipment. Will need to be back to dealer to carefully test the GX2 to see how well it pit against C3X. The correct comparison will be GX3 but given the C3X discount and budget constraints, a new GX2 will probably be my max. I have also seen some mixed reviews in this forum about GX2. So just wanted hear more from those who owned or experienced this model.

- Kawai GX1, also brand new and have to wait for shipment. Have tried the GL20 but felt GX1 sound better with more quality neotex keys. Need to weigh if GX2 will be a more substantial upgrade in terms of sound quality.

Grateful for any expert comments or recommendations. Thanks very much!

Last edited by Dick Tracy; 11/22/20 09:45 AM.
Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3048224 11/22/20 10:22 AM
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Welcome to PW, DickTracy! I will start by giving you the third degree! grin

So, are you committed to buying new?
Is there a reason you're only looking at Yamaha and Kawai so far?
How big is the room where the piano will go?
What are you playing now?
Where are you located? (If US, what region?)

Ok, having said (asked) all that... Yamaha and Kawai make very nice pianos. I am not fond of the Kawai action, but that is personal preference and not a statement about the quality of the pianos. Nevertheless, I don't recommend that you purchase one you haven't played (I mention that because of your comment about waiting for a piano to ship).

As to the size, those pianos are all reasonable sizes but where will the piano be placed?

I have a Yamaha C2 (5'8") in an approximately 11 x 18 foot room (there are two doorways as well, so that also plays a role in the sound). In any case, I could fit a C3 in here, but then I'd never be able to get around the back (tail) end of the piano, so for me and how this room is laid, the 5'8" size is perfect. And it sounds great, though that has to do with the placement in the room as much as the sizes of the piano and room.

Piano shopping and talking about piano shopping are some of my favorite things to do, but I'll stop here. smile


Started piano June 1999.
Proud owner of a Yamaha C2

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Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3048236 11/22/20 11:09 AM
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I’ll add to ShiroKuro’s excellent advice. Typically piano dealers carry “stencils” on fabric that outlines the sizes for all the different grands. You can lay it on the floor to see where and how it fits. You can have two people hold it at piano height to “see” it in 3D. I’ve borrowed one after I closed on my house. Besides Kawai and Yamaha, I don’t know your budget, maybe Boston by Steinway? An Estonia L168 could be beautiful. Plus, those brands used could be a nice find after your piano technician inspects it and gives it the OK. The possibilities are exciting. Play as many different brands to see what’s out there and what you want. Another brand I nearly forgot is Schimmel and William Schimmel. Petrof also. Have fun exploring. It will be more difficult during Covid-19 but take your time. Best Wishes!


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Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3048268 11/22/20 12:46 PM
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You mentioned waiting for shipment. Most of us would recommend against buying a piano you haven't played. Don't know your location or how many options you might have nearby. If a long drive might get you to dealers with more instruments on the floor, it might be worth it.

Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3048294 11/22/20 01:54 PM
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The highest value in grand pianos is to by one rebuilt by a highly skilled rebuilder. You don't mention where in the world you are located and many portions of the world do not have fine rebuilders available.

Some rebuilders offer technology that new makers don't use or even understand. Issue like properly shaped V-bars and string holes in agraffes. Carbon fiber action parts. Light hammer, high leverage action designs. Hybrid Wire Scales and Fully Tempered Duplex Scales.

All of these methods lead to superior performance and far superior durability.


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Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3048324 11/22/20 03:13 PM
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I will add the same caveat that some others have mentioned:

Unless it's impossible to do otherwise, don't buy a piano that you have not played. Because of the organic parts that comprise much of what contributes to the sound of a piano, there can be variants from one piano to another even among the same make and model. You may like the sound and feel of one model of brand X in the dealer's showroom, but may not like nearly as much another piano of the same brand and model.

Unless, as I wrote, you cannot do otherwise, it is a risk buying a piano that you have not played, used or even new. If you do buy from a dealer, make sure you note the serial number of the piano you like, that the serial number is on the bill of sale and that the piano that arrives on your doorstep has the same serial number.

Yes, it can be that critical - at least for some of us.

All the best in your search.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3048385 11/22/20 07:09 PM
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I do not give any further comments on brand selection because other persons gave the very right ones already. I just would like to share my knowledge on the piano placement. Because you mentioned that you live in a small apartment (same as me), I wonder whether you read “Ten ways to voice a room” in the website Pianobuyer.com. It is quite helpful for choosing the right piano size and placement.
In my case, I followed the rule in the article: length of my piano is lesser than the length of all walls (1.57m vs 18meters). However my piano is still “overpower” to the room (especially bass sound), maybe I put it too close to the corner.

Wish you will be happy with your new piano. It is always an inspired and memorable memory to us.

Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3051267 11/30/20 01:24 PM
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Sorry for the late reply guys, as tied up with work. Thanks for all the questions and recommendations, much appreciate it. Here are the updates:

- I live in a 1500 Sq ft duplex, divided equally, ground floor with Living, Dining, Study, and Kitchen. I intend to place a grand piano in my Living space, roughly translate to 187.5 Sq ft (roughly 750 Sq ft subdivided by 4 spaces). Have used a template & even moved our big dining table to gauge! Wife advised something smaller but I am willing to go 6ft 1in or slightly bigger size so no compromise in sound.

- I prefer to buy new, but willing to consider those “showroom” units with warranty / good deal.

- Am an advanced player & started my piano journey since 13. First piano was a Monington & Weston upright (no bells or whistles but good enough for me to pass exams), then went to college & played a Yamaha 9ft CFIIIS (absolutely love it with fond memories).

- Fast forward: My original intent was to get a piano for my 14 year old, also an intermediate violin player, whom for some reasons wants to learn the piano. We want to get something that will double up for me to play / practice plus a nice piece furniture that matches our decor, should some day the kid move on for further studies.

- Taking from j&j que, I went on and tested Wilhem Schimmel W180 (not bad, clear treble & good bass, keys abit light), Schimmel (need to confirm model & I think is 6’ 1 or 3 model, need to retest as it was too near to wall & glass), August Forster (loved it, again need to check model), and C. Bechstein (L167, bass seems weak, costly). These European grand models seem more expensive than the conventional (consumer grade) Kawai or Yamaha.

- From a different dealer, I also tested the Shigeru SK2 and SK3, love them but budget a far stretch! Played the Kawai GX1, GX2, GX3, GL20. They’re not selling those showroom units, rather an order must be placed for 2-3 months waiting time (citing COVID), and 6 months for a new Shigeru.

- From Yamaha showroom, I tested a white GB1K (was thinking of go cheap & go home, but wife complained of headaches after listening to the extreme bright sound :-), GC1 (same brightness issue), then slightly better C3X.

- I also tested Boston (GP 156PE), and Steinway Model O. Love the Steinway but hate the price; Boston (meh for me as no Steinway or Kawai signature sound) plus overpriced.

So far the Wilhem Schimmel W180 seems nice but more expensive than Yamaha C3X (due to heavily discounted) and Kawai GX2 / GX3. But I have no idea of its reputation (seems like cheaper version of Schimmel made in Poland). I know there’re experts in this forum. Can I get some no holds barred advice on some of these brands?

Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3051325 11/30/20 03:14 PM
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Here's a recent review we did of the W180, but a rather picky wink pianist:
https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/...el-w180-grand-and-schimmel-c121-upright/

And here's an older review I wrote of the GX-2, compared to the previous model:
https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/review-kawai-gx-evolutionary-or-revolutionary/

If you're an able player with a discerning ear, I would select the specific piano you're going to buy. Not try a well-prepped floor model and then get one sent from a crate...


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Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3051402 11/30/20 06:36 PM
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I know it’s all relative but I don’t consider a 1500sq foot apartment to be small, lol. I’ve lived in 800, 600, and 450sq foot apartments. We just moved into a 1500sq foot house and it is a mansion to us.

Last edited by LarryK; 11/30/20 06:38 PM.
Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3051705 12/01/20 04:16 PM
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Is the living room wall shared with your duplex neighbor?

Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3051953 12/02/20 10:02 AM
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Pianos on the showroom floor are often likely to be more discounted than a piano ordered. There are differences between individual pianos of the same make and model so the buyer has to take a bit of risk when ordering a piano rather than what’s in the showroom that has been prepped to sound it’s best when prospective buyers play it. Also, a piano that’s been on the floor for a few months to a couple years is already further down the road as far as settling in. Personally I want the exact same piano I tried and fell in love with. Best Wishes on your search.

Last edited by j&j; 12/02/20 10:03 AM.

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Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3052237 12/02/20 10:41 PM
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Yamaha and kawai have different tone and tough characteristics. They both make great pianos but people tend to like one or the other. If you like GX1/2 at the showroom enough to purchase as is, you could ask the dealer to order a new one, have it set up at the dealer and choose between the floor model or the newly ordered one. Just a suggestion. However, the dealer would probably need your full commitment to choose one or the other and not bail out.

Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
K8KT #3052279 12/03/20 02:54 AM
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Originally Posted by K8KT
Yamaha and kawai have different tone and tough characteristics. They both make great pianos but people tend to like one or the other. If you like GX1/2 at the showroom enough to purchase as is, you could ask the dealer to order a new one, have it set up at the dealer and choose between the floor model or the newly ordered one. Just a suggestion. However, the dealer would probably need your full commitment to choose one or the other and not bail out.

Indeed, dealer wants me to put a 50% down payment for something that’s not seen nor touched except the ones in showroom. I’ll try your suggestion. And I know of 1 customer put a 50% for his SK2 in September and have to wait till Mar 2021. They have a floor model SK3 (more than 10 years), and mainly used for exhibitions, concert events, and practice rooms. Not much discount for this SK, but still sound good with prestine condition though.

Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
offkey #3052281 12/03/20 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by offkey
Is the living room wall shared with your duplex neighbor?

My Living Room floor is facing downwards neighbor’s bedrooms downstairs. Likewise my bedrooms are underneath my upstairs neighbor’s Living. I only have 1 neighbor beside on same floor, with my kitchen and Study Room segregated in between. Having said that, I do hear some annoying sound from the side and upstairs whenever they dragged their chairs or moving some heavy objects for fun. Guess I need to respond in kind with a new grand piano by playing the fortissimo version of Moonlight Sonata 😜

Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
terminaldegree #3052285 12/03/20 03:28 AM
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Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Here's a recent review we did of the W180, but a rather picky wink pianist:
https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/...el-w180-grand-and-schimmel-c121-upright/

And here's an older review I wrote of the GX-2, compared to the previous model:
https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/review-kawai-gx-evolutionary-or-revolutionary/

If you're an able player with a discerning ear, I would select the specific piano you're going to buy. Not try a well-prepped floor model and then get one sent from a crate...

Thanks terminaldegree, very well written articles! I need to weigh the pianos as they have very different characteristics. W180 is Schimmel’s entry grand, whereas the GX and CX are considered mid-level grands in their brands. Yet all these grands are unique in their own rights.

I often hear dealers mentioned certain piano brands are “seasoned” for particular destinations, when it comes to humidity or durability. Are these just marketing gimmicks?

Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
LarryK #3052292 12/03/20 03:47 AM
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Originally Posted by LarryK
I know it’s all relative but I don’t consider a 1500sq foot apartment to be small, lol. I’ve lived in 800, 600, and 450sq foot apartments. We just moved into a 1500sq foot house and it is a mansion to us.

Indeed we’re a spoiled bunch 😅. I think our house ceiling is low (averaged 8.5 ft in height), hence gives the “smallish” illusion. That’s why my wife and I have to nitpick a bit on the grand piano size and appearance, while trying not to compromise too much on the sound.

Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3052296 12/03/20 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Dick Tracy
Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Here's a recent review we did of the W180, but a rather picky wink pianist:
https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/...el-w180-grand-and-schimmel-c121-upright/

And here's an older review I wrote of the GX-2, compared to the previous model:
https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/review-kawai-gx-evolutionary-or-revolutionary/

If you're an able player with a discerning ear, I would select the specific piano you're going to buy. Not try a well-prepped floor model and then get one sent from a crate...

Thanks terminaldegree, very well written articles! I need to weigh the pianos as they have very different characteristics. ....,..,

I often hear dealers mentioned certain piano brands are “seasoned” for particular destinations, when it comes to humidity or durability. Are these just marketing gimmicks?

‘Seasoned for the US market’ makes me laugh—which geographic area: Makes we want to ask ‘great! Which state? A mile from the coast or a home in the desert?’


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Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3052392 12/03/20 10:29 AM
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Dick, don't forget sound-treating your room after you get your piano. A friend of mine has a nice Boston grand that he has inside the den of his house. His kid is a pretty advanced student. However, the room is just 4 walls, hardwood floor, and a piano. I asked his kid how he liked the sound of the Boston and he said he liked it a lot. But when I closed the French doors and played, boy was it echoey and loud in there. Poor kid was probably just used to it. Hope he doesn't lose his hearing by the time he graduates high school. So in case you haven't considered it, make sure you add some sound dampening if you have a small space. Area rug under the piano, bookcases, furniture, and drapes. Maybe even acoustic treatment on the ceiling. I recently spent a lot of time sound dampening my office, conference room, and living room, so let me know if you want to see pictures.

Good luck on the piano search. You're considering two excellent brands.

Last edited by Emery Wang; 12/03/20 10:30 AM.

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Re: Grand Piano Recommendation in a small apartment
Dick Tracy #3052408 12/03/20 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Dick Tracy
- From a different dealer, I also tested the Shigeru SK2 and SK3, love them but budget a far stretch! Played the Kawai GX1, GX2, GX3, GL20. They’re not selling those showroom units, rather an order must be placed for 2-3 months waiting time (citing COVID), and 6 months for a new Shigeru.

SK being out of questions for cost, you don't say if you loved the GX's you tried. If you did love them, don't underestimate the power of going to the showroom with checkbook in hand (especially after the holidays, when there will be less people shopping) and with pen in hand tell to the owner: I want this exact piano in my home by next week, who do I write the check to? If they start the rigmarole about ordering a new one and waiting, just walk away saying you have other choices from other shops: they may call you back before you're gone out of the door. They have 3 GX's on the floor, you are not taking away all of them, so they will still have two and after the holidays there will be less customers, so they can live with it, until the one they order (to replace yours) arrives and is prepped.

As others have said to you already, selecting the exact instrument is important. Often times pianos getting out of the crate will require considerable amount of work before they can meet the pianist's standard. Who is going to pay for that work? Who guarantees you that the work will be successful? Even if the shop agrees to pay and guarantees your money back (extremely unlikely), just the string stretching and the repeated, frequent tunings needed for the first year or two will be a hassle, especially in COVID times. Not to mention the wait, obviously. Try the "checkbook power" as described above, but ONLY if you love the instruments!

Best of luck!

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