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I'm helping someone to buy an upright piano so that her daughter can start piano lessons smile Their teacher is adamant that her students must get an acoustic piano (I disagree with this but it's not my place to argue). The budget is a flexible $4K. She'd prefer to buy from a dealer and would like a piano with good resale value in case her daughter loses interest.

We're meeting at the local Kawai dealer to look at pianos next week-- they also have a bunch of used Yamahas but some of them are from the 70's. Is that too old? They also have several Charles Walters and I think at least one is within budget, but I think these may fail the resale value test due to lack of name recognition. She also asked what I thought of the Kawai 506N model (new). Of course I'm going to play all of them to see if I like the pianos, but I thought I'd get a head start on research by asking here. The other big dealer has a surprisingly limited selection of used uprights in their online inventory, so I'm not sure if we'll end up making a trip there. There's another dealer that she's already visited but she wasn't a fan of the pushy salesperson. I may stop by there on the way home to check out the options, though.

If the Charles Walter is the favorite, it's possible that when she sells she can write a good ad encouraging potential buyers to do their research. These days everyone can look online!

Thoughts, advice?

Last edited by twocats; 01/15/21 01:24 PM.

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I played a 506N last week. I was comparing it to a K500 which was hard for the little 506N, but I grew up and learned on a very similar Console Kawai which I loved, and without the side by side comparison it sounded and played great. I think it's hard to go wrong there as far as the action. Don't be opposed to looking on Craigslist and Marketplace. There's someone in my area selling a 90's 48" Kawai for $1200. I'm going to go play it myself and potentially buy it tomorrow.

Last edited by Sail26; 01/15/21 01:32 PM.

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Thanks! I'll definitely try out that model smile

She would prefer to buy from a dealer and I don't really have time to go around town to try out private party pianos anyway (also being careful about covid and going to people's homes-- the dealers are by appointment only).

Good luck with your Kawai!!

Last edited by twocats; 01/15/21 01:48 PM.

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Honestly I'd lean that direction for a newbie anyway. Something sentimental about being a first owner.

I'm actually in your area. Ron at Portland Piano company is the one selling the 506N for $3k and some change. I'm trying to decide between getting a K500 from him or cheaping out used. Super nice guy though. Highly recommended.

Last edited by Sail26; 01/15/21 01:50 PM.

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Oh cool!

Yeah I like the folks at Portland Piano. And I always attend Paul Roberts' masterclasses when he's in town-- they host it there and I always learn something! I wish they hadn't moved since they were very convenient for me before but now they have that enormous space. I'm looking forward to playing their Faziolis after I'm done shopping for the upright smile

I'll try all the pianos within her budget and can tell her what I think. From there, it's her decision!


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All you can do is audition what is available at the various dealers and decide which ones are the best bets. If you stick with Yamaha, Kawai, Charles Walter or Baldwin the name recognition shouldn't be a major problem. But ultimately it is the individual piano and its condition that counts. Used pianos from the 1970s and 80s may indeed be too old, unless some work has been done on them. The Kawai 506N will come with a transferable new piano warranty -- so that would be a selling point down the road. Of course, you already know all this. Have fun with the Faziolis. smile


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I hate to say this, but I think she shouldn't count too much on resale value, it's so hard to predict... Could she consider renting? Does the dealer offer any rent-to-own options?

Also, darn that teacher for saying no digitals. There's absolutely nothing wrong with starting on a good digital. But yeah, not our place to argue...

I don't know the Oregon market, but name-recognition in the US generally goes like this (leaving out S&S)
Yamaha
Kawai
Baldwin
Others

BTW how old is the daughter?


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Originally Posted by Carey
If you stick with Yamaha, Kawai, Charles Walter or Baldwin the name recognition shouldn't be a major problem. But ultimately it is the individual piano and its condition that counts. Used pianos from the 1970s and 80s may indeed be too old, unless some work has been done on them. The Kawai 506N will come with a transferable new piano warranty -- so that would be a selling point down the road.

Does Charles Walter have good name recognition? I was thinking 70's or 80's pianos are likely too old. And the 10 year transferable warranty from Kawai is something that had not occurred to me and would indeed be a selling point for resale-- thanks!

Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
I hate to say this, but I think she shouldn't count too much on resale value, it's so hard to predict... Could she consider renting? Does the dealer offer any rent-to-own options?
...
BTW how old is the daughter?

Looks like that dealer does not do rent-to-own. I think she just doesn't want to end up with a piano that's difficult to sell or that incurs a huge loss, which is understandable! I think her daughter is 5 smile


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Sail26, I just found out there's a new piano store in Beaverton that's run by what seems to be two very reputable piano technicians! I'll definitely have to check them out as well. If that used Kawai doesn't work out for you, it might be worth taking a look there.

Also, they are a Petrof dealer and I'm very curious to check out the new line-up!


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Originally Posted by twocats
Originally Posted by Carey
If you stick with Yamaha, Kawai, Charles Walter or Baldwin the name recognition shouldn't be a major problem. But ultimately it is the individual piano and its condition that counts. Used pianos from the 1970s and 80s may indeed be too old, unless some work has been done on them. The Kawai 506N will come with a transferable new piano warranty -- so that would be a selling point down the road.

Does Charles Walter have good name recognition? I was thinking 70's or 80's pianos are likely too old. And the 10 year transferable warranty from Kawai is something that had not occurred to me and would indeed be a selling point for resale-- thanks!
In terms of name recognition, yes, Charles Walter would be less known than Yamaha, Kawai or Baldwin to the general public. But a potential buyer who does a little research should be able to get past that. Is your friend considering a Charles Walter from the 70s or 80s? Your best bet would be to try to find one that is no more than 20 - 25 years old. While the new 506N might be the way to go, if the child ends up enjoying her lessons and progresses beyond a certain point, a better piano would probably be needed in the future.


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I was able to figure out the age based on the serial number. Strangely enough they have a Charles Walter studio piano from 1994 advertised for $9K but the other that should be from 2002 is advertised for <$4K and claims to have been meticulously maintained. Maybe it's on consignment? Will have to play it and see!


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Originally Posted by twocats
Sail26, I just found out there's a new piano store in Beaverton that's run by what seems to be two very reputable piano technicians! I'll definitely have to check them out as well. If that used Kawai doesn't work out for you, it might be worth taking a look there.

Also, they are a Petrof dealer and I'm very curious to check out the new line-up!

Is that PianoNow? I'll have to check them out. I honestly have no experience with Petrof. Don't think I've ever played on one.

I did play on the CX21D. It's in great shape as far as I can tell (hasn't been tuned in 5 years, but the fact that it's as close as it is says a lot about the Piano.) They're asking $1200 which seems like a great price to me.

I just am so close to buying a K500 too it's hard to make either decision now. Will go in and check out the K500 they just got it at PPC tomorrow and try to make a decision. Maybe I can run out west Sunday.


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Yes, Pianos Now! I had a Petrof 125 upright that I loved and then a Petrof IV grand that I felt meh about. I think they changed up the design of their grands (and really jacked up the prices) but I don't think the uprights have changed. My upright had such a lovely tone and a good action. I don't know if it's out of your price range but I think they're worth trying out!

Do you love the K500? If this is a piano you'll be keeping for a long time and you can afford it, I always end up regretting if I settle for something that wasn't quite what I wanted because it was a good deal.

Last edited by twocats; 01/16/21 02:27 AM.

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A Petrof was my last upright before I bought my grand, it was a really great piano!

Let us know what your friend ends up getting. I can understand her hesitance to send a lot since her daughter is five, on the other hand, what a great age to start!

You too, Sail26. smile


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Demanding an acoustic piano for a 5 year old beginner to practice on at home seems a bit excessive to me. Perhaps Mom should rent an acoustic for 6 months and see how the lessons go before making a more substantial financial commitment. As for 5 being a good age to start, it really depends on the individual child.


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Hi TwoCats,
I wonder if you are aware that many Yamaha pianos are imported ones which have been 'reconditioned' (not rebuilt) in a subsidiary factory in Yamamoto Japan. Invariably these have been worn out in the Japanese music colleges.
Regardless, Yamaha pianos from the 70s will be inferior (unless rebuilt) to buying a used piano from say 2010 or dare I say a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano.
Of course in might be that this particular teacher has a 70s Yamaha smile
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Originally Posted by ShiroKuro
A Petrof was my last upright before I bought my grand, it was a really great piano!

You're the only other person here that I've heard of who had a Petrof upright-- glad I'm not alone in being a fan! And mine had a flame mahogany case that was just stunning smile

Originally Posted by Carey
Demanding an acoustic piano for a 5 year old beginner to practice on at home seems a bit excessive to me. Perhaps Mom should rent an acoustic for 6 months and see how the lessons go before making a more substantial financial commitment. As for 5 being a good age to start, it really depends on the individual child.

Yes, I agree. The teacher doesn't know how good some digital pianos can be. I used to have a Yamaha P120 (guts of a Clavinova in a simpler case) and it was pretty great. Looks like there are some piano rental options, but I don't know what those pianos would be. If that one Charles Walter (I suspect it's there on consignment) is indeed a nice piano and a deal, it might be worth getting and she may be able to sell it for a similar amount later.

The teacher is also her kid's preschool teacher and the child is very excited to start piano. I really wanted to start piano when I was 5 but we lived in North Africa at the time and I didn't get the opportunity until I was 8.

Originally Posted by Beemer
Hi TwoCats,
I wonder if you are aware that many Yamaha pianos are imported ones which have been 'reconditioned' (not rebuilt) in a subsidiary factory in Yamamoto Japan. Invariably these have been worn out in the Japanese music colleges.
Regardless, Yamaha pianos from the 70s will be inferior (unless rebuilt) to buying a used piano from say 2010 or dare I say a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano.

I did not know this! Now I know where the pianos from the second dealer came from-- they are "certified" by Yamamoto Japan and I was wondering what that meant. Thanks for the info, I don't think they are worth considering then.


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So we went to the Kawai dealer-- they also had a very limited selection within her budget. I played the Charles Walter and instantly hated the touch-- it was like there were springs in the keys!! The (sold) refurbished Yamaha U1 had a slightly springy feel as well. Played an older Yamaha studio piano.

Then played a new mahogany Kawai 506N. Not in tune. Moved to a black one, and it was a really nice piano! Good touch and round, warm tone. Turns out that this one wasn't new at all, but slightly used from 2019 and there on consignment. Still 8 years left on the warranty and I think it was actually broken in from its couple years of use! We also tried the other sold mahogany 506N but it was also not in tune. But even so, the black one seemed heads above the others. I was shocked at how much I liked this little studio piano.

The new ones were offered at $3800 and the used one at $3500 (consignment price set by seller). My friend got it for $3100 including delivery and tuning, a great piano for well below her budget!

P.S. She wanted me to try out a Wilhelm Grotrian upright listed for $11K to see what the difference was. I only played it very briefly but I really liked the touch and tone. I connected with it more than I did with a poorly located Grotrian Concertino (placed against a glass window, think it was reflecting sound so not an accurate evaluation of that piano) and also a Kawai K500 (Sail26 said that one was a hybrid). If I were in the market for an upright I would have spent a lot more time with that Wilhelm Grotrian!


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That's a terrific outcome! You certainly did your friend (and her child) a great service. Sometimes "slightly used" is the best way to go. Good work - and congratulations.


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Thank you Carey! And it was fun for me as well, been a while since I've gotten to go to a piano store smile


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