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I've been searching for a good piano, preferably Kawai or yamaha, that isn't too old or too expensive...so difficult.
I just saw a kawai kL-601 for sale on marketplace for 3500. I can't find too much (any) info on that one; any opinions?
Thanks!

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Wow this is interesting. it looks like there are only 19 listings on Pianomart for all of Portland (most are Classic Pianos ads) and none whatsoever for central OR.

I wonder what you would pay for shipping if you end up buying one from Portland. At any rate, you can't argue about the price of this one

https://www.pianomart.com/buy-a-piano/view?id=45637


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That Kawai is a large 132cm upright, the current size model it corresponds to in the Kaweai lineup is probably the K500 (which is a great piano and often recommended here). The Yamaha equivalent would be a U3 in size.

For older pianos condition is everything and you would be well advised to have an inspection but *if* it is in good condition that Kawai is likely to be a fine piano, more than adequate for a teenager early on in their studies I think. If your son has progressed enough to have a feel for the piano it would be good for him to try to play a few Kawais and Yamahas (plus anything else readily playable) to see if he has any strong preferences for one makers pianos over another (they do vary and different folks have different preferences).

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Calebsmum- I don’t have any expertise in this area, so I need to make clear that what I’m going to say is speculative and not based on anything concrete that I have found. Like you, I can’t find much information about this model of piano. I suspect that this model piano is what has been termed a ‘grey market’ piano, which means that it was produced for the Japanese market and was subsequently exported (used) to the United States. My understanding is that one of the main concerns with these pianos is that they were not seasoned for the North American climate, and this can be a problem if you live in a part of the country that experiences very dry weather. I think central Oregon is not such a place (but I’m also not very familiar with the northwest). But my suspicion would be that the bigger issue for you is related to the general condition of the instrument, which can vary a lot in used pianos. The general advice on this forum would be to have an independent technician inspect the piano. They should also give you an indication of whether the asking price is reasonable. I hope this helps. Here is the PianoBuyer.com article on gray market pianos:

https://www.pianobuyer.com/article/gray-market-pianos-and-cracked-soundboards/

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I contacted piano technicians who get a lot of exposure
to all kinds of pianos… I told them what I was looking for an offered a finders fee and would use them to service if I purchased…
That’s how I got mine .. one year now -pristine Yamaha
U 1 —no complaints—88. Rarely used except last year by me —I practice 3-5 hrs religiously 7 days a week so it gets a good workout—tuned twice in a year but barely needs it—technicians can be very helpful.

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thanks everyone for your replies. Yes, I plan on hiring a tech for anything we're serious about, just trying not to waste everyone's time first by researching said piano options as much as possible to determine if it's worth it. One concern is yes, we do live in the high desert (very dry) so the grey piano market thing is a concern. Although, I have been told to purchase a humidifier and that would perhaps suffice.
I have taken him to a few piano stores to play what he wants and he comes back preferring the Kawai, so that's why I'm focusing on that, although not leaving yamaha out either if a great one comes along.
I actually looked at some in Eugene (close to Portland) and was told it would cost $500 to deliver to our area; hence, why I'm taking so long hoping to find something already here.
There's only one shop in our town and they sell new and used, but the used don't come with warranties or delivery. smirk
Well...thanks, it looks like this kawai may be a good choice; I'll see if I can get them to come down on the price first, seems a bit high for an older piano. I asked for the serial # but haven't gotten it yet. I'm assuming it's an '80's or'90's, made in Japan.

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As you are in very dry conditions perhaps enquire about how long the piano has been in the country and (if not local) what the humidity was where it was kept? If it has been brought over from Japan years ago and in someone's home it will already have acclimatized but if its straight out of a shipping container at a dealers I would be very careful about both the guarantee offered and what humidity it is practical to keep my home at. If it at a dealers on the shop floor but has been there for a long time somewhere between the two above cases I guess, and that would apply for new pianos as well as imports.

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It's being sold on marketplace by owner and the serial # shows that is was made in Japan in 1979. I'm wary of one that old, in addition to humidity aspect, but I guess if it's that old and being sold here that it most likely has acclimatized by now.

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If it’s that old you definitely want your son to try it out, including all current repertoire. Get an independent inspection by a piano technician. Personally I’d probably keep shopping for something a bit younger.


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Mum,

I can't emphasize enough the need to have a tech you know and trust thoroughly check out anything you think you're serious about. The design lifespan of pianos is about 30-40 years. Bug that time period certain major components are usually well into process of failure. They may still be "operating" but not within their design specs anymore. And there are numerous "hidden" things that only an experienced tech will/can catch (at least they will be looked at and assessed.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Calebsmum,

My personal experience is that Kawai makes some models with the younger piano learner in mind, which perform very well for what they are. My first piano (of my own) was an old beater--- not a Kawai; too soon for that--- but I loved it. The days when a 70-year-old beater built solidly enough to stand up to a teenage boy's idea of music may have passed us by. But, the natural life cycle of these older pianos is that they get turned over every 5 to 10 years, when their current player gets enough better to need a piano with more upward range, and uses the value of the present piano to help get them to the next one. Or, goes off to college, or gives it up because playing football looks cooler... whatever.

This is the piano food chain. My values are perhaps a little more liberal than Peter Grey's, in that I like the rule of thumb to reach as far as a 50-year-old used instrument. Or, I should say, that's where my values say, "Stop, you've gone too far." For we are talking about the musically useful life, not how long the case can stand there gathering high desert dust. The money it costs to keep an old (or mistreated) instrument going becomes prohibitive, for progressively poorer returns... and there are plenty of people who would be more than happy to offload this white elephant on you.

This is what you are not shopping for. And this is why your search for a piano might begin with a search for a piano technician, for one thing, to inspect any local candidates for condition, and if you still like her or him once you buy something, to take care of it. Local techs often know when a customer is getting ready to move up, and can give you a very good idea about the quality and condition before it goes on the market.

http://ptg.org
Piano Technicians Guild has a free technician locator service, keyed to your Zip Code. If you key up the link, you'll find it explains what the organization is and does.

Shops. Visit in person, size up the inventory and introduce yourself to the manager. Leave your contact information, and if a trade-in comes in that might suit you, they may call. It helps to check in yourself; helps them know you're serious and still interested.

I do not suggest this to many piano searchers, but Kawai's top-of-the-line MP11se stage piano might suit your boy. The plain MP11 recently moved up to the SE, and you might find some used MP11's for sale. I would get a new one if you can; they were about 4 grand last time I looked, and they weigh 72 pounds and are not easy to ship. Additional costs would be for a stand (about 100 bucks) and headphones (another 100) and/ or powered speakers. Besides having a lot of other voices and features, there is a real piano in there; real pianists buy them. Matter of fact, a lot of pianists have both acoustic pianos and digitals.

Here's wishing you the very best of luck. Thanks for supporting your son's musical education!

Last edited by Jeff Clef; 10/06/21 11:39 PM. Reason: 40 is not 72

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Well... wrong again. First I guessed the weight of the Kawai MP11SE at around 40 pounds; it is 77. Then I guessed the price at around $4000. Not quite: Sweetwater is listing it at $2799.
https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MP11SE--kawai-mp11se-88-key-professional-stage-piano

You might also like to do the lookup at Kawai's own website
https://kawaius.com
if this is of any real interest to you. I can well appreciate your wish to have a real piano in your home. There is nothing like it; never has been, never will be.


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thanks for the new feedback. Yep, I've lined up a piano tech, I just haven't found anything yet worthy of paying her for an inspection. smirk

This kawai came close, as did a Steinway, but those are off the table now. The kawai due to the age (1979), and the Steinway because they sold it to a shop.
But it wasn't much newer than the kawai anyway.

I AM also considering digitals, even though I know they aren't anything close to a real piano, but sometimes "them's the breaks". IF I can find a good one that doesn't cost as much as some of the acoustics I'm looking at. He played, and liked, a new kawai digital that cost $5000. I'll pass on that. Buying one online, while an option, doesn't offer him the chance to play it first and see what he prefers.
The hard thing is, again, our location. There is one piano shop, and they don't offer warranties. I don't feel good about using them because of that. (the piano tech, interestingly, is friends with the store managers, so that might be an issue) There are no digital shops. I have had to drive to different cities hundreds of miles away just so he can sample them. Understandably, he's getting frustrated with the time it's taking; but I want to make sure the money is well-spent. I'm not really an impulse shopper. laugh

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Calebsmum, I post on the Piano World Digital forum far more often than on this one, and am very familiar with the digital piano market.

You haven't told us how much experience your son has on the piano, but here are my thoughts on digitals:
1. Entry-level weighted-key digital pianos: Kawai ES110, Roland FP30X, Yamaha P-125. About $600-$800 depending on options. These look like keyboards with optional X-style stands or more like pianos with optional wooden stands and three-pedal units. Okay for beginner to early intermediate level.

2. Mid-level digital pianos: Kawai ES920, Roland FP90X, Yamaha P-515. About $1500-$2000 depending on options. Good for someone with more experience, and a great value due to their upgraded key actions vs. entry-level pianos (above) and saving on expensive cabinets vs. console-style pianos (below). Look good with optional wooden stands and three-pedal units.

3. Console-style pianos: Kawai's CN and CA lines, Yamaha's CLP line, and lines from Roland, too. About $2500-$5000. Some of these pianos have similar key actions to the previous category, but are priced higher because their formal wooden cabinets make them look more like pianos. Some, such as Kawai's CA79 and CA99, have the best actions in digital pianos and are priced accordingly.

These are broad categories and there are several which fall in between, e.g., Yamaha's Arius line, or into other specialty categories such as stage pianos, e.g., the Kawai MP11SE mentioned by another poster.

One of the problems with buying a digital piano at present is lack of inventory due to Covid-related supply-chain disruptions. In normal times, it is not difficult to get 15-20% off by waiting for sales, but that is almost impossible now. What's more, the "best value" mid-level digital pianos in category 2 are often not found in retail stores and must be ordered online, albeit with an option to return.

A digital piano cannot match an acoustic piano in its control of dynamics or complexity of sound (particularly over speakers vs. headphones), but is a reasonable alternative for many. You would do well to consider one if your acoustic piano choices are too limited or too expensive.
All the best!
Lotus
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Working on: Mozart / Sonata in D, K. 284, "Durnitz"
Pianos: Kawai GM-10 grand, Yamaha DGX-660 digital

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Thanks Lotus,
He's been playing for about 3 years now on an entry Casio 66 key keyboard, so he's ready for an upgrade for sure. He wants an acoustic or a console with 3 pedals. Due to moving quite a bit I'd prefer a digital, although acoustic would be grand. smile I'll take a look at your suggestions, some of which I'm familiar with but couldn't decide between. thank you.

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Calebsmum, since your son has been playing for three years on an unweighted 61-key keyboard, any weighted 88-key digital piano should feel like a huge improvement. So even those in category 1 above may be perfectly fine. I prefer the Roland FP30X to the Yamaha P-125 for its more realistic key action ("touch") and haven't played the Kawai ES110 or the Casio PX-S line, which also get good reviews.

If you can spend more, those in category 2 above have better actions that he may appreciate. Both category 1 and 2 pianos look nice with their optional wooden stands and three-pedal units, though not quite like consoles with their full cabinets. Note that Kawai and Roland have pianos that fall between these categories, such as the Kawai ES520 and Roland FP50/60, and Yamaha has several at various price points in its broad Arius line.

The thing to focus on is the key action; more expensive is often better, but not always. The worst values, in my opinion, are the console-style digital pianos with lower-end actions masquerading as higher-end pianos because of their more expensive cabinets. Not all consoles are like this; some do have superior actions and are priced accordingly.

If you move often, a digital piano may well be a better choice. It can be dismantled and repacked into its original box, is much lighter than an acoustic piano, and stays in tune after a move. It does have disadvantages vs. an acoustic in touch and tone, but for many it is a decent alternative, especially if quiet practice with headphones is important.

I live in a big city and bought my digital piano from a local retailer. If you have no piano stores nearby, online retailers like Kraft Music and Sweetwater have a reputation for good prices (especially with bundled options) and fair dealing. Your son won't be able to try the piano first with an online purchase, but any weighted key piano from a reputable manufacturer (Casio, Kawai, Roland or Yamaha) will feel far more authentic than his current unweighted keyboard.

All the best!
Lotus
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Working on: Mozart / Sonata in D, K. 284, "Durnitz"
Pianos: Kawai GM-10 grand, Yamaha DGX-660 digital

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Originally Posted by Lotus1
here are my thoughts on digitals:
Where would the Yamaha Arius line fit in? (I have only played on one - the weighted keys were quite ok I thought, although the sound left something to be desired)


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Originally Posted by cygnusdei
Where would the Yamaha Arius line fit in? (I have only played on one - the weighted keys were quite ok I thought, although the sound left something to be desired)

Yamaha, being a great manufacturer and marketer, does an admirable job of blurring distinctions between its product lines!

The lower-end Arius pianos, YDP-103, YDP-S34 and YDP-144, share the same GHS action as the less expensive P-125 and DGX-670 keyboards. This is a fine action for beginner to early intermediate pianists, those with say less than five years experience.

The higher-end Arius pianos, YDP-S54, YDP-164 and YDP-184, have the better GH3 action. However, the less expensive P-515 keyboard has the even better NWX action. This is why the mid-level keyboards (Kawai ES920, Roland FP90X and Yamaha P-515) are often chosen by more experienced pianists.

When one compares Yamaha's Arius line to its P-series keyboards, most people would be better off buying the less expensive keyboard, perhaps adding the optional wooden stand and integrated pedals, unless the full wooden cabinet of an Arius is a priority.

Digital pianos fall short on complexity and depth of sound, particularly through their speakers, compared to acoustic pianos. Through headphones, the best digitals sound excellent but -- until you get to the hybrids costing several thousand USD -- they won't quite match the touch of acoustic pianos.

That's why I chose an acoustic grand instead of a higher-end digital when I was shopping for an upgrade a few years ago. Still, they meet the requirements of many, and "Calebsmum" may very well find a digital piano to be the best option for her son. My digital still has a cherished place in my heart and in my home!

Lotus
__________________________________________
Working on: Mozart / Sonata in D, K. 284, "Durnitz"
Pianos: Kawai GM-10 grand, Yamaha DGX-660 digital

Last edited by Lotus1; 10/17/21 03:32 PM.
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Some of these used imported Japanese uprights are very good.It is vital that the piano be inspected by an independent technician though.


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.

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There are not that many different piano actions and piano engines used in Kawai digital pianos. Which model did your son like?

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