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Posted By: Dreyfus Fabrini Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 11:41 AM
Hello!

I was wondering if you could help me. After a while, we’re finally buying a piano so I can go back to study. I had the opportunity to try a few models, and these are my impressions:

- Yamaha C2X: I like the tone, but it lacks power
- Kawai GX-2: too dark
- Kawai GX5: I liked the power of the bass, the sound is airy and open, yet I felt it could be a little more refined.

Unfortunately I don’t have a Shigeru to play, so I won’t be able to compare it.

My question is: I really like the power of a larger piano, but I also want refinement. If I opt for the SK-3, although I loose some power, will It be a better option?

Thank you for you help!
Posted By: pianoloverus Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 12:37 PM
I think the only way someone could answer your question in a reasonably definitive way is if they have the same tonal preferences and their ideas of power and refinement are exactly like yours. Unless the piano will be in an extremely large room I don't think power is important but that's just me.

I assume you're trying to find a compromise among price, size, and quality when asking about the SK-3. In that sense, your choice seems perfectly reasonable. Have you played any Shigerus? If not, you're certainly taking a chance if the dealer is special ordering the piano and you have to commit to buying it. OTOH it is not always possible to be able to try out a piano one is considering so some people are willing to take a chance.

Are there other dealers a reasonable distance from you that you haven't visited yet?
Posted By: j&j Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 12:49 PM
Dreyfus - Welcome to PianoWorld!

If there’s not a Shigeru available for you to try, how are you going to determine if the SK3 is the perfect piano?

I’m certainly not a Shigeru or piano expert but high quality pianos like Shigerus are very individual and unique and really need to be played, tried and appreciated individually. I don’t know your location but you should really always try before you buy any piano, but especially a Shigeru.

Best Wishes on your search.
Posted By: gwing Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 01:11 PM
It would be madness buying a piano of a type you have neither listened to or played. Go find one, play it, see if you like it. If not repeat :-0
Posted By: Joseph Fleetwood Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 02:09 PM
The Shigeru SK-3 might not necessarily be less powerful than the GX-5, it's not such a big size difference honestly. It may have less clarity in the bass, or however people describe it. The over all response is more refined on the Shigerus than it is on the GX series, but honestly it's better to compare two pianos of the same size to get an accurate comparison.

Anyway it sounds like you're looking for a lot of power, combined with a lot of refinement. That combination of attributes tends to happen in much more expensive pianos than a Shigeru SK-3 or Kawai GX-5, and really what you're looking for doesn't start to happen until the realm of the 7' to 7'6 piano. How much power do you need when you're studying anyway? I honestly find practicing for long periods on large and powerful pianos to be quite strenuous on the ear.
Posted By: Dreyfus Fabrini Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 05:27 PM
Thank you for all the great feedback.

As pianoloverus said, I’m trying to to find a compromise among price, size, and quality. I know that you get the piano you pay for, and for this price range, those are the best options available in my country (Brazil).

Unfortunately, I’ve already searched for a Shigeru in all major dealers, and there’s no availability, and if o choose to buy one, it would be blind folded, just based on my impressions on the GX-5.

I don’t have a really large room, that’s why I was considering the SK-3: a little less power, and more refinement.
Posted By: K8KT Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 05:43 PM
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
The Shigeru SK-3 might not necessarily be less powerful than the GX-5, it's not such a big size difference honestly. It may have less clarity in the bass, or however people describe it. The over all response is more refined on the Shigerus than it is on the GX series, but honestly it's better to compare two pianos of the same size to get an accurate comparison.

Anyway it sounds like you're looking for a lot of power, combined with a lot of refinement. That combination of attributes tends to happen in much more expensive pianos than a Shigeru SK-3 or Kawai GX-5, and really what you're looking for doesn't start to happen until the realm of the 7' to 7'6 piano. How much power do you need when you're studying anyway? I honestly find practicing for long periods on large and powerful pianos to be quite strenuous on the ear.
Have you tried gx3? That should also give you an idea of what sk3 has to offer in terms of clarity in bass(or lack of) and power. I personally feel that the piano needs to be at least in the mid 6’ lengths to have satisfying bass. Of course, the longer the better😃 Unless you are placing your new piano in a large space, say as large as the showrooms that you have visited, I don’t think you need quite a power. But as a bare minimum, no matter which model you choose, you absolutely need to play and purchase that particular piano because every instrument has its unique touch and tone, even within the same model from the same year.
Posted By: Joseph Fleetwood Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 07:14 PM
It's a little bit more complicated than longer is better, to be honest. I'm not meaning to disrespect your view, I just don't share it. I believe it's about balance, and the bass of the instrument has to be in context. A lot of instruments are quite uneven, even after voicing, and on some makers larger instruments the bass can overpower the treble which creates a lot of problems for playing certain repertoire. Talking about new Hamburg Steinway for instance, I like the A a lot, but the B, and I love the C and D. Talking about Blüthner, the Model 6 is excellent (6'3), the Model 4 feels imbalanced (7'), and the model 2 can be incredible (7'8). I've come across similar things with Yamaha where the C3 is usually excellent, and I'm not so fond of the C5 and C6, but the C7 can be outstanding. Interestingly I love the Bösendorfer 7' (Mod. 214), so it's not necessarily a size thing. It's a taste thing for me, which is highly individual.
Posted By: Wes Lachot Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 11:24 PM
Dreyfus,

When I was looking at Shigeru grands for a client I was able to compare an SK-3 side by side with an SK-5, an SK-6, and an SK-2. In the case of these four particular pianos, the most perceptible bass drop-off was between the SK-3 and the SK-2. The SK-3 really held its own next to the larger pianos, and it was an exceptionally fine piano. I had to talk myself out of buying it, and I own a Steinway B. Your mileage may vary.
Posted By: Seeker Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/20/20 11:40 PM
When I was researching piano buying options for the university where I was adjunct I visited a Kawai dealer. One place on the floor was a GX-5. There was an SK-3 in the other room.

I tried both fully expecting (based on my experience playing a wonderful SK-7 in a concert hall in Beijing) to like the SK better.

I didn't. I actually preferred the GX-5.

Now there is an important detail to consider: that particular GX-5 had personally been prepped by non other than Don Maninno (or so I was told), because it was under consideration by an important client of the store. Superb prep had, perhaps, elevated the GX above its usual station. (Please, GX owners, I am NOT trying to insult you. The GX are very good pianos. The SK, by design and execution, are arguably better. They certainly cost more).

I also tried an SK-6 and an SK-7 there. Neither was the equal of the piano I played in Beijing, but both were absolutely wonderful. I got a bit of dealer talk, "well, the pianos haven't bloomed yet, they need to be played in, etc", but at SK prices, I am not interested in "potential", just realities.

I confess that the sound of the SK series is, to my ears, richer, more refined than the GX, and the actions DO feel better to my hands and feet (on the pedals) than the GX.

OP - I'd try both instruments if possible to determine what feels and sounds best to YOU. That's what really matters. Get the piano you can love the most that you can afford.

As Wes Lachot wrote, "Your mileage may vary".
Posted By: Joseph Fleetwood Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/21/20 12:38 AM
Andrew, you've brought a very important element into the conversation and that's prep.

We can talk about models all day, but a good technician can work wonders with a good piano. Of course the tech can't put in what the piano isn't capable of, but it makes such a massive difference having a technician prepare an instrument to an individual's taste.
Posted By: K8KT Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/21/20 06:05 AM
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
It's a little bit more complicated than longer is better, to be honest. I'm not meaning to disrespect your view, I just don't share it. I believe it's about balance, and the bass of the instrument has to be in context. A lot of instruments are quite uneven, even after voicing, and on some makers larger instruments the bass can overpower the treble which creates a lot of problems for playing certain repertoire. Talking about new Hamburg Steinway for instance, I like the A a lot, but the B, and I love the C and D. Talking about Blüthner, the Model 6 is excellent (6'3), the Model 4 feels imbalanced (7'), and the model 2 can be incredible (7'8). I've come across similar things with Yamaha where the C3 is usually excellent, and I'm not so fond of the C5 and C6, but the C7 can be outstanding. Interestingly I love the Bösendorfer 7' (Mod. 214), so it's not necessarily a size thing. It's a taste thing for me, which is highly individual.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. No offense taken. I agree that my comment was extremely generalized and that there’s more to just the length. Perceived improvement in tonal quality is not necessarily linear. Just because the manufacturer can come up with a certain size for a marketing purpose and they can fit it with its designated scale design doesn’t mean every combination is a winner either. I happen to prefer c5 than c3 but it’s just me. Also, I happened to have seen c2 that’s almost as good sounding as c3 or rather underwhelming c5 and c7 so the initial build along with further voicing need to be considered.
Posted By: Joseph Fleetwood Re: Kawai GX-5 vs Shigeru SK-3 - 10/21/20 04:05 PM
Originally Posted by K8KT
Originally Posted by Joseph Fleetwood
It's a little bit more complicated than longer is better, to be honest. I'm not meaning to disrespect your view, I just don't share it. I believe it's about balance, and the bass of the instrument has to be in context. A lot of instruments are quite uneven, even after voicing, and on some makers larger instruments the bass can overpower the treble which creates a lot of problems for playing certain repertoire. Talking about new Hamburg Steinway for instance, I like the A a lot, but the B, and I love the C and D. Talking about Blüthner, the Model 6 is excellent (6'3), the Model 4 feels imbalanced (7'), and the model 2 can be incredible (7'8). I've come across similar things with Yamaha where the C3 is usually excellent, and I'm not so fond of the C5 and C6, but the C7 can be outstanding. Interestingly I love the Bösendorfer 7' (Mod. 214), so it's not necessarily a size thing. It's a taste thing for me, which is highly individual.
Thank you for sharing your experiences. No offense taken. I agree that my comment was extremely generalized and that there’s more to just the length. Perceived improvement in tonal quality is not necessarily linear. Just because the manufacturer can come up with a certain size for a marketing purpose and they can fit it with its designated scale design doesn’t mean every combination is a winner either. I happen to prefer c5 than c3 but it’s just me. Also, I happened to have seen c2 that’s almost as good sounding as c3 or rather underwhelming c5 and c7 so the initial build along with further voicing need to be considered.

Right exactly, it's all about taste! I find that a lot of makers 7-foot pianos have not necessarily a better sustain in the bass, but kind of a more punchy sound in the bass that sometimes voicing can't effectively fix, and for me, I'm not looking for that sound. Some players absolutely love that sound, and I respect that. It suits their style, it suits their repertoire, but it doesn't help me find the sound I'm looking for. Honestly though, for a domestic piano I'm looking only for an even touch and tone, and I don't really care about power so much as colour. With a concert grand, power becomes important in concertos, and it definitely helps to have something on the brighter end of the spectrum when playing with a full symphony orchestra (like a Tchaikovsky, or a Rachmaninoff), but for a solo recital it really depends on the repertoire. There are some concert halls have the luxury of having two actions per piano, one brighter and one more mellow, but most places you just have to plump for what's on stage and hope that the local technician can do something with it!
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