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I think I'll limit my choice to these three, probably something like a Steinway O vs. similar small Kawaii grands.

Who can compare and contrast, in terms of:
1) quality of workmanship
2) likelihood of having mechanical problems over 10-15 years of daily use
3) value
4) gentleness of tone for a 10x15 room with wooden floors

Thanks again!

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1) The quality of workmanship is very high in all 3.

2) It'll differ by the unit. But generally, you're not very likely to have problems with these pianos.

3) I think Steinway holds its value the best.

4) Depends on the unit.


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I would be interested in hearing from people on this as well. Loki didn't answer any of Bachfan39's questions, but hopefully someone else can, right?

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We looked most closely at the S&S and Shigeru (not the standard model Kawai).

1. A good part of what you're paying additional for on the Shigeru is the quality of workmanship and the attention to detail, so obviously the Shigeru rates high here. As can be read ad-nauseum on this forum, the "quality of workmanship" on S&S is generally excellent but sometimes with some maddening amount of variability in various areas.

2. Very low on any model you choose barring any bad luck.

3. Value is in the eye of the beholder. Does paying $20000+ extra for that S&S logo worth it if the basic Kawai makes you happy?

4. Non issue as far as choosing the piano. Purchase the piano you like and tweak the room as needed.

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4. Non issue as far as choosing the piano. Purchase the piano you like and tweak the room as needed.
Absolutely - find the best tone you can first and foremost.


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Attention to detail on the fits and finishes will be the highes on the Shigeru and the lowest on the S&S.

The Shigeru IMO is the tops of the Asian catagory in every respect. When detailed and fully prepared the S&S is a terrific piano and fine example of the best of the domestic catagory. Just takes some time and work to get them there.

These two will have vastly different touch responses and tonal response color. Only you can decide between these choices.

The standard RX line of Kawai is terrific, but not in the zone of the other two above.


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Structural integrity is very high on the S&S and I would imagine on the SK and RX Kawais as well. My take on the cosmetic aspect of the "fit and finish" issue is that it is not as important as how the piano sounds and plays. I bought a Steinway for its tonal qualities and responsiveness-- I think it is above the Shigeru Kawai in that regard and both of those are above the RX Kawai on those dimensions. Obviously, this is just my preference. The Shigeru is an absolutely beautiful piano and has the added value of the visit from the master piano technician .

Re: cosmetics: I suspect that not many professional players spend time looking up at the underside of the piano to see how perfect the paint job is under there, or playing with the slow close fallboard. Cosmetic "fit and finish" are qualities that are lovely when there but don't imho make or break the main reason for buying a piano: to make music.

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I am wary of the idea of depending on a local technician to voice the piano (it seems like such an inexact art, too reliant on the uncertain skills of a local technician); I would much rather the piano be voiced in a way that I like right out of the factory. My understanding from the forums is that Steinway does not tend to come well-prepared from the factory. Is it true that Kawaii/Shigeru is a better finished, ready-to-play instrument right out of the factory, with no extra at-home technical servicing? How about other brands, such as the other "top tier" pianos (Bosendorfer, Bechstein, etc.)

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Regarding 4) - Craigen mentions taking note of the tonal response color. I'm not sure if the following is exactly what Craigen is referring to, but I suggest you listen carefully to whether the piano "opens up" - whether the tonal quality changes - when played more loudly. My opinion is the Shigeru tends to sound louder, but the tonal quality stays pretty even. Could be a plus or minus, I suppose, depending on what you're looking for. Also, the nature of the showroom you are playing the pianos in can greatly affect how bright / mellow a piano sounds. This can affect your impression of how loud a piano is, also.

Jeanne W


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Quote
Originally posted by Bachfan39:
Is it true that Kawaii/Shigeru is a better finished, ready-to-play instrument right out of the factory, with no extra at-home technical servicing?
If you're located in the States, Kawai will send a master technician to your home to voice and regulate your Shigeru piano sometime in the first year of ownership. I'm not sure if you would consider that a pro or con, as it counts as "extra in-home servicing," but I find that level of service *extremely* impressive.

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Bachfan 39:

Wishing you well, but you happen to look at quite different [sounding..] pianos really.

Any reason you wish to restrict your search to only these few pianos?

Your'e leaving out some pretty interesting alternatives and/or highly competitive other options....

Norbert



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We auditioned several - RX3, SS M, Shigeru SK3, Yamaha C3 and Schimmel (K189? and C182). SS was out our price range. Really liked the Schimmels (K189 is superb), Shigeru SK3 and Yamaha C3 - all three roughly same price range. Finally went with the Shigeru SK3 - really like the tone and touch. We have now had it for 3 weeks and enjoying it. Our room is 17'x 15' and 8' high. We were also worried about piano over-powering the room, but it seems to be fine. Shigeru have a more mellow tone than Schimmel or Yamaha C3 and that helps.


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Quote
Originally posted by Bachfan39:
My understanding from the forums is that Steinway does not tend to come well-prepared from the factory. Is it true that Kawaii/Shigeru is a better finished, ready-to-play instrument right out of the factory, with no extra at-home technical servicing?
Doesn't the purchase of a Shigeru Kawai also include a visit by a technician from Japan to voice the piano to your home? I won't compare the Shigeru to S&S because frankly I don't know how they come from the factory and Bear will eventually see this thread and offer his Kawai expertise. So to answer Bachfan's question the Shigeru includes a visit by a technician from far away who is very capable and expert in regulating and voicing the Shigeru/Kawai.


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Yes, Shigeru purchased includes a MPA visit from Japan to fine tune your piano to your home environment. See below

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/21623.html#000000


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You couldn't go wrong on any of these three, What one do YOU like?


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Quote
Originally posted by Steve Chandler:
Quote
Originally posted by Bachfan39:
[b]My understanding from the forums is that Steinway does not tend to come well-prepared from the factory. Is it true that Kawaii/Shigeru is a better finished, ready-to-play instrument right out of the factory, with no extra at-home technical servicing?
Doesn't the purchase of a Shigeru Kawai also include a visit by a technician from Japan to voice the piano to your home? I won't compare the Shigeru to S&S because frankly I don't know how they come from the factory and Bear will eventually see this thread and offer his Kawai expertise. So to answer Bachfan's question the Shigeru includes a visit by a technician from far away who is very capable and expert in regulating and voicing the Shigeru/Kawai. [/b]
I had interesting experiences auditioning Steinways and Shigeru Kawais a few months ago. Clearly neither had received any dealer prep (the S&S dealer here unfortunately does not prep the pianos until they are sold). The Steinway, without voicing by a tech, sounded like I had socks in my ears. Compared to an S&S in the same room that was sold and had been voiced and regulated, it was night & day. The Shigeru, which the dealer claimed had just arrived and was uncrated earlier in the day, sounded beautiful (and surprisingly it was mostly in tune, too). The Shigeru SK3 sounded vastly better than the RX3s I tried in the same room (which had similarly received no work other than a tuning by the dealer).

Of course, neither one would continue to sound the same after a few months anyway. If I were buying I'd ask the dealer to voice and regulate the piano the way I wanted it before taking the final plunge. In fact overall I was disappointed by the lack of preparation of the pianos on the showrooms of nearly every dealer I visited when I was searching a few months ago (the exception showed just what I was missing at the other dealers!).


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Norbert,
I would be interesting in trying the Grotrian in your shop.

I've played a Grotrian and it's one of my all-time favourites.

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Originally posted by Gabe Racz:
. [/qb]
I had interesting experiences auditioning Steinways and Shigeru Kawais a few months ago. Clearly neither had received any dealer prep (the S&S dealer here unfortunately does not prep the pianos until they are sold). The Steinway, without voicing by a tech, sounded like I had socks in my ears. Compared to an S&S in the same room that was sold and had been voiced and regulated, it was night & day. The Shigeru, which the dealer claimed had just arrived and was uncrated earlier in the day, sounded beautiful (and surprisingly it was mostly in tune, too). The Shigeru SK3 sounded vastly better than the RX3s I tried in the same room (which had similarly received no work other than a tuning by the dealer).

Of course, neither one would continue to sound the same after a few months anyway. If I were buying I'd ask the dealer to voice and regulate the piano the way I wanted it before taking the final plunge. In fact overall I was disappointed by the lack of preparation of the pianos on the showrooms of nearly every dealer I visited when I was searching a few months ago (the exception showed just what I was missing at the other dealers!). [/QB][/QUOTE]

I think you will see the biggest difference in the Steinway between prepped and unprepped and I would not make my decision until you heard it prepped, as it can be, as noted above, "night and day" in most cases. I really like the Shigeru but I don't find them as colorful as S&S nor does the timbral change with "opening up" happen as much. Really, it comes down to personal preference but don't make up your mind until you've heard the S&S in its prepped state. THen you'll have a better idea of what your choices among these three really are. There are also other good options out there too, as has been mentioned.

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My 2 cents:
1. Kawai tends to have tighter quality control than Steinway, resulting in pianos that are near-perfect out of the crate, which does not happen normally with Steinway pianos. Does this mean that Shigeru has a higher quality of workmanship than Steinway? If we're talking about precise alignment of every part, for example, then the answer is yes. However, the greatness of a piano is a lot more than precise alignment of parts. The scale designs of Steinway are what make that brand great, not just the precise alignment of parts.
2. No difference. This depends on how the piano is used and how it's maintained, not really about quality, since both are high-quality pianos.
3. Steinway, hands down, if you mean resale value. While Shigeru is prized by people who know excellent pianos, it doesn't have Steinway's name recognition, which ultimately affects it's resale value. For people who don't really play the piano, but have the money to buy a high-end piano, they almost always want a Steinway and nothing else.
4. I think you mean, mellow, right? Gentleness of tone is largely dependent on voicing. Both pianos can be made to be mellow sounding, but I lean toward Steinways because I believe that their hammers are more malleable, producing a more mellow tone.

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I posted this on a thread about the LX playback system, but I think it's worth re-posting here...it's a new Shigeru Kawai SK-6 7ft grand with an LX playback system installed. It's very well recorded and will give you a fairly good representation of the Shigeru sound, not to mention the fantastic playback of the LX. Scroll down to the bottom to see and hear the files. Incidentally, if you have a high speed connection, the very large video file is worth the wait to download.

http://www.grandpianohaus.com/iklavier.asp

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