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#3151432 08/30/21 03:34 PM
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Hi,

I have been in the market for a used Yamaha U3. I had initially started looking for a piano from the mid-80s, but have since started thinking I'd like something a little newer. I've found a U3 from 1996 from a reputable dealer that appears to be in good shape and is for sale for $7k. But what that's got me thinking now is whether that's a lot to pay for a used piano, especially given that a new U3 is only about 50% more (I think those can be negotiated for purchase around $10k, is that right?).

I'd love opinions on a 25 year old $7k U3 vs a brand-new U3. If the used U3 were a few thousand less I think I'd be comfortable with it, but now I'm wondering whether it's overpriced and it's better to just spend a little more and buy a new piano.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
P. Cancook

Last edited by pcancook; 08/30/21 03:37 PM.
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Yes, this is always the dilemma. If you can afford to spend a few thousand more you can get a better piano, of course that still leaves the dilemma of whether it should be a new piano or an even better used one :-)


7K seems a bit expensive for the used U3 to me, you can (at least in my location) get nice condition U3 pianos for 4K and upwards (UK pounds not dollars). If this is only your first (or second) piano and you may well change to another model later you are likely to lose less on the exchange with a used piano than one bought new, against that you have a much wider readily available choice if you are buying new though - so try lots of pianos not just the U3.

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If you think of hammers as consumables (brand new vs 25 year-old hammers) and factor in the 10-year warranty you get with the new piano, I find it hard to wrap my mind around the concept of buying used pianos, unless the price justifies it.

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I would aim for a new U3 rather than one made in 1996.There would be the initial breaking in period for the piano.Any new piano would need to be tuned more often, sometimes touch up voicing until the instrument settles down.Sometimes other small problems arise such as a squeaking pedal which the warranty will cover.
Other instruments to consider would be the Kawai K500 and
the Boston 126 or 130.


My piano's voice is my voice to the great unknown, out there..in other words a hymn.That is all but that is enough.

Just sold my old C2 and am thinking of replacing it with a CBechstein124, Schimmel K132 or a YUS5.
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Whether to buy used or new depends on many factors including the condition of the used piano and the price. Since pianos immediately depreciate around 20% upon delivery, used may be a good option, a warranty can be good, but remember it covers defects in manufacturing and not everything

PianoBuyer has a depreciation schedule

https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/buying-a-used-or-restored-piano-how-much-is-it-worth/

Right now, it is a seller’s market so used prices may be a little higher

Last edited by dogperson; 08/31/21 10:48 AM.
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You should find the Yamaha warranty works very well. Generally any good dealer will send a technician to do the minor adjustments needed for new pianos.These usually are slight adjustments of pedal, the correction of a buzz etc.
Make sure you get the piano you actually played in the store. Take down the serial number.Have the piano fully prepped before delivery.Unless you are intending to sell the piano the depreciation factor does not really matter Unless it keeps you awake at night or it bothers you afterwards to such a degree that you develope a stomach ulcer or you scratch all the the hair off your head.
You sound as though you may enjoy a new U3.If you can afford it buy a new one.


https://www.pianobuyer.com/brand/yamaha/

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My 1976 U3H (2016 refurbished with new hammers, strings, felts, finish and such), which in February 2020 cost me 3700€, was IMHO a great deal.

Maybe a new one could sound somewhat better (of course, different) but, for me, the huge price difference was not worth it and I am enjoying it a lot. It is my first acoustic, BTW.

Some pictures of it as received:

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Yamaha U3H
Kawai VPC1
...plus some other DPs, synths, controllers and VSTs

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So how much did the restoration cost.Fitting a new set of hammers, strings etc,must have cost quite a few dollars.The hammers must have taken ages to settle down? From what I have heard a technician has to spend many hours revoicing those hammers and you could have unequal or a distorted tone for months?
The piano looks great by the way.

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Wow, that piano looks awesome!

My concern with a piano from the 1980s is that I've heard many components have a 40-50 year life. I am willing to get a piano tuned, but don't want to deal with additional repairs. Plus, most of the pianos I found from the 1980s were grey market ones. I know that's probably not a big deal, but we don't live in a humid area and I definitely don't want to deal with major problems as a result of that.

The mid-90s piano was made for the US market, which is very appealing. Plus, if it is 25 years old and still has 15-20 years till things start breaking a lot then I feel like I have some runway (I don't play much anymore, this is more for my kids who will be out of the house within 10 years). That being said, it is $7K, which seems like a lot given a new piano is $10K. I am fortunate to have flexibility in how much I can spend, and am more concerned about value than extra cost.

Thanks for the tips on the other new pianos to consider - I will take a look. Though I will admit, I don't have a lot of time and the U3 seemed like a good low-risk choice for me.

Thanks,
P

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Originally Posted by pcancook
Hi,

I have been in the market for a used Yamaha U3. I had initially started looking for a piano from the mid-80s, but have since started thinking I'd like something a little newer. I've found a U3 from 1996 from a reputable dealer that appears to be in good shape and is for sale for $7k. But what that's got me thinking now is whether that's a lot to pay for a used piano, especially given that a new U3 is only about 50% more (I think those can be negotiated for purchase around $10k, is that right?).

I'd love opinions on a 25 year old $7k U3 vs a brand-new U3. If the used U3 were a few thousand less I think I'd be comfortable with it, but now I'm wondering whether it's overpriced and it's better to just spend a little more and buy a new piano.

Thoughts?

Thanks,
P. Cancook

The second you decide to try used, then condition is everything. How does the playing experience on the used U3 compare to the new U3? For most pianos the price is negotiable. If both pianos are at the same dealer negotiate on the piano with the most enjoyable playing experience.

For myself I usually look at used pianos that are distinctly bigger and better than what I can afford new. But that’s just me.


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FWIW I've always had a soft spot for institutional models (e.g. Boston UP-118S) because the desk design allows you to place books from end to end, and whether warranted or not, 'institutional' seems to suggest heavy duty/durability in the face of hours of daily use. At any rate, awhile ago when I was buying an upright it was down to a used Boston or a very similar, new Pearl River - and both were at price points much less than a Yamaha U3 (or U1).

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Originally Posted by tre corda
So how much did the restoration cost.Fitting a new set of hammers, strings etc,must have cost quite a few dollars.The hammers must have taken ages to settle down? From what I have heard a technician has to spend many hours revoicing those hammers and you could have unequal or a distorted tone for months?
The piano looks great by the way.

I bought the unit when it had already been restored. Everything looked, as you can see on the pictures, pristine. It was used from 5/2016 to 2/2020 in a recording studio, but they had also a couple baby grands, so it was not used too much. When I got it, hammers were only slightly dented and the sound and action were very smooth. Once at my home, I called a technician / tuner to work on it and he told me the unit was in excellent shape and "sounded beautifully". He even took a picture of the hammers (YAMAHA original it seems) as he was going to work on another U3 and wanted to replace hammers with a similar set.

My understanding is that these units are direct imports from Japan, from companies which specialize in this kind of work. Mine has an added slow-closing system for the fallboard, which is a plus. It is NOT a YAMAHA restored unit, I knew that. But, for that price, I think it is a quite respectable piano and I won't need anything else for some years. I am playing for three and a half years now, so it is perfectly suitable for me, as at the moment I can't fit a grand at my home. And, sincerely, the instrument is not the problem to sound better! grin

So, for the OP, don't discard getting a used unit, there are nice ones waiting.


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If your choice is really between spending 7000 on a 1996 U3 or 10,000 on a new U3, I'd honestly just go all out and get the new one. U3s are excellent pianos and a 1996 model could potentially be great, but 25 years is not an insignificant amount of time. At 70 percent of the cost of a new instrument this is hardly a steal.

If the reputable dealer, and keep in mind I have no idea who this dealer is, has checked the piano over, had it regulated, voiced, replaced any worn parts, and really made sure that the piano is as good as it can be, buffed out the case work, and stabilized the tuning, this 1996 piano might be a good buy. I just can't help feeling the price is just a little close to that of a new U3 and of course that might be by design.


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It's a blessing when budget is not an issue. If you have set a budget you would like to spend, then the next step is to get what you like.

If you have the luxury to be able to play both of the pianos, new vs old, play them. Feel the sound and touch etc. Once you know which you like more, then it is easy, if you like the old one more, and its drawback such as longevity, warranty etc are worth less than 3K, then it is the one.

If you like the new one more, get the new one! Since it's within budget. And i trust the 3K (budgeted 3K is smaller than unbudgeted 3k) is justifiable as you "like" this piano more and there are more benefits for a new piano.

That's what i would do using my thought process.


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