Here's my situation: adult re-beginner, playing a Kurzweil RG100 circa 1996 that works well enough for today, purchased on Craig's List for a ridiculously low sum. My climate control practices suggest a DP is a much better choice than an acoustic piano.

I'm thinking that getting a better DP would be a pretty good 50th bd gift-to-self, which gives me about six months to shop. At the moment, I expect to have $600 in the birthday gift fund.

My plan is to start playing new DPs and loading my mental database with information about which models provide what features; what "benefits" can my ears actually hear, etc. However, I'm aware that my budget puts me at "entry level," and my taste is likely to put me at "payment plan," and I'm not sure that's the best financial decision.

Which sends me back to Craig's List. I can buy a lot more piano used for my money than I can at Sam Ash or Guitar Center or any other retail outlet. (There's a white Kurzweil baby grand DP in my local listing this week, $8000, and I can just see how fab that would look with a Peter Max-style paint job...(which I could do). Wonder if they'd accept a payment plan?)

My question, then, is do you have any suggestions for mapping my experience playing current models to older ones? Do DPs change that much year-to-year, within a brand? Are there "lemon" years to look out for?

I've looked at the Piano Book and its recommendations for checking out a used piano; is there an equivalent guide to used DP shopping? I got lucky on my Kurzweil but honestly, the price made it a pretty risk-free deal. It'll be different at a higher price point.