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About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos

Posted By: Niya Witteman

About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/25/08 03:00 PM

Can anyone advise above piano brand is reasonable good? Well, I mean the between 25 to 30 years old uprights.
They were made in Japan before, now Apollo and Atlas are made in China.

Thank you!
Posted By: Rickster

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/25/08 03:36 PM

Hi Nyia,

Welcome to the PW forum; as a gesture of good-will, I will offer my humble opinion on your question. In regards to the definition of “reasonably good” it depends on what you consider to be reasonably good. Also, when it comes to different piano brands, makes and models, one person’s treasure might be another person’s trash laugh .

With that said, depending on what the cost of the piano in question is, I would say that the Japanese made pianos of those brands during that era are “reasonably good” in my view. But it depends on the individual piano in question.

I'm sure you will get some differing opinions here (that is what makes the PW forums so interesting. laugh )

I have no direct experience with the brands you mentioned but I do have a Japanese made Tokai grand piano from the late 1980’s that I consider “very reasonably good” for what I paid for it. To me, it is a poor man’s Steinway laugh wink .

Hope this helps,

Posted By: Jim Volk

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/25/08 03:43 PM

I agree with Rickster.

I've sold all three brand names you mention, some of have been 20+ years old, and although I wouldn't qualify them as being equal to Yamaha, they are still good pianos and a good deal if priced reasonably.

I don't recall anyone ever disparaging a Japanese-made piano. Japanese builders are not in the same class as Korean or Chinese manufacturers, because they have a different approach to concepts like integrity, quality control, and precision.
Posted By: turandot

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/25/08 04:00 PM

I agree with Rickster and will follow the example of his generous gesture in offering his opinion free of charge. laugh

I also agree with Jim in his statement about the pianos. On his comments on integrity, I will bite my tongue even it might bleed. laugh

Grey marketeers in Asia are buying all of these old Japanese brands and are paying even less for them than they do for old Yams and Kawais. Some of them are finding their way into the US this way.

Some Diapason uprights from Kawai were sold to institutions on the West Coast of the US many years ago. These are not grey market. Some of them show up occasionally as used. They are usually tired.

I played a Diapason grand that was twenty-odd years old on many occasions a while back. It had some interesting European upgrades including Renner hammers. I think the soundboard was also a European premium brand. I don't know if it was grey-market or originally sold in the US. It had a powerful bass and a very nice tone throughout. The tone had more clariy in the fundamentals than any Kawai I have played. I really really liked that piano, but never played a Diapason vertical that did anything for me.
Posted By: Niya Witteman

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/25/08 04:33 PM

Thank you for all the opinion.
Well I am in Holland, I found one big piano handle in the South of Holland, he import a lot of Yamaha and Kawai and other used Japanese pianos, with good price as well, for example for the used Atlas piano (from 1980´) he offer between 2200-2500euro.
All the piano has been restored in China, the outlook has no difference to the new. Then the question is the quality, my standard of reasonable good is, can this kind of piano be lasting for at least 10 years ?
Posted By: Jim Volk

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/26/08 01:14 AM

"On his comments on integrity, I will bite my tongue even it might bleed."

Turandot, I probably should have qualified my use of the word 'integrity'...

I didn't intend it to be understood as a synonym for 'morality' per se. My apologies!

I was thinking more in the sense of the concept of a combined manufacturing methodology and business philosophy that thoroughly integrates an almost preternatural, fanatical devotion to extreme precision, quality control, and personal accountability at even the highest levels of management.

And of course, it was just an opinion...fwiw.
Posted By: Jim Volk

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/26/08 01:20 AM

Nia, I meant to add, your consideration for at least a 10-year useful lifespan for a 1980 Atlas is in my opinion a reasonable expectation.

The problem is, used pianos run the gamut.

One used piano may be pristine and well maintained; another may have been neglected, exposed to an unfriendly environment, or played by an iron-fisted maniac for the past 28 years.

I'd think that your local piano tech's nominal fee to inspect the piano carefully for you before you decide to buy would be the best way to allay all fears.
Posted By: masaki

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/26/08 04:10 AM

These brands were good some 30 years ago. These were considered by non-first-timers and some of pros at least better than Yammy in those years. Today, only Diapason's higher grade grands are considered so by them.

an amateur
Posted By: Niya Witteman

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/26/08 04:45 AM

Thank you Masaki,
As a Japanese point of view, you think those piano are quite ok, even through they were built on 1980´

Were Apollo/Atlas/Diapason´ popular in Japan?

I have tried Atlas,the sound is quite ok, but the touching is very heavy, compare to Yamaha.

And I also tried Lester piano, has very romantice rich tone, and easy touching keyboard. In fact I got the better feeling than Atlas and Apollo/Diapson. But I even could not find the name of Lester on internet, it only shows is an American piano, nothing about Leste piano built in Japan.
Posted By: masaki

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/26/08 07:30 AM

I am sorry that I can not comment on the old pianos you are looking at wheter or not thety are quite ok now. They may have been used for quite a long time or stored in the environment which is unfriedly to pinaos.

Yes, Apollo/Atlas/Diapason were popular in Japan some time until 1980. Only Diapason is popular in Japan now. Apollo is still manufacturing pianos, but making most of the money in other biz I guess.

Touching of keys of Japanese pianos other than by Yamaha were heavy. They are getting ligher, though. But still heavy in my opinion. There had been some schools of thoughts in Japan believe heavier touch pianos are good for practices.

As I know of, there were two Lesters in the world. One in the USA and the other in Japan. They are different companies.
Posted By: Niya Witteman

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/26/08 12:56 PM

Today I have tried Barock, my idear of Apollo/Atlas/Diapason has changed.
Barock makes very rich sound, has more likely European piano character.
Did anyone know about Barock piano?

I found Atlas built the piano in flexible way, for example, different Atlas piano has different place for the serial number.
I am not quite sure if they were proffessional piano maker.
Posted By: turandot

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/27/08 12:02 AM


I have no idea what a Barock piano is. I doubt very much that it Japanese. My guess would be East European.....very East....possibly not of the finest materials.

Of your original three, I think there is a difference. Atlas was made by a piano maker in Japan who was trying to compete with Kawai and Yamaha. Some of the pianos are branded Atlas and others are branded Tadashi. I would imagine any of these in Europe are grey-market, probably shipped in by Union Gakki or some similar grey-market entrepeneur to sell at a lower-pricepoint than the Yams and Kawais. They should certainly cost less than a good grey-market Yamaha.

With Apollo you need to be careful. Some of them were made in Japan. Others in Vietnam. Even a Japanese one shouldn't be priced anywhere near a good Yamaha, and a Vietnamese one is not worth your bother.

Diapason was an experiment by Kawai. One of their company masters , Bangan Ohashi, was given the task of creating a new scale design and specifying materials. Diapasons used Renner hammers and upgraded soundboards in their grands. So not only is the piano a genuine Kawai product, with the reputation to go with it, but it is a kind of premium Kawai in that its board and action must have incurred more costs to Kawai than their stock action of 25 years ago. If I'm wrong on this, Oso Grande (Bear 1) can give me an online beating. I do not know the construction details of the Diapason uprights. They come onto the market occasionally in California where I live. A couple of colleges here used them in practice rooms. They are nothing special, but that could be because any upright with 10 to 15 years in a practice room is nothing special.

Are you interested in secondary brands more than a major brand just to have something different or is it just a matter of price?
Posted By: Norbert

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/27/08 02:55 AM

Apollo, Atlas, Barock pianos, etc are common names for "filler pianos" regularly coming in grey market containers from Japan.

Being ridiculously cheap, these pianos are often 'thrown in' as chepos typically to fill grey market containers fro importers to the very rim.

Many dealers use them later as cheap "Japanese pianos" in the hope having to offer something against the Chinese tide.

I've played some that were nice, others weren't.

I doubt anybody here could give you reliable information on these type pianos.

If a grey-market Yamaha or Kawai piano may have certain risks, these could even have more...

Caveat emptor!

Norbert smile
Posted By: turandot

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/27/08 03:58 AM

Apollo, Atlas, Barock pianos, etc are common names for "filler pianos" regularly coming in grey market containers from Japan.

If you've seen grey-market Barock pianos from Japan, they must be especially for the BC market. laugh I scanned the inventory of several grey marketeers and I didn't see one Barock. I guess you must have cornered the market. If I pay a deposit up front, can you hold one for me in Surrey? laugh

BTW, what does 'filler' piano mean? Is that to serve as a buffer between the old U Yamahas and the sheet metal container walls when the ocean water is turbulent?
Posted By: Niya Witteman

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/27/08 06:03 AM

Ok I see, I will take more risk to get those grey-market products.
Yes, I want to have cheap piano.Because my son is only 6 years and I don´t know how long he will be learning piano.
As I thought, if the piano can be reasonable good for 3 or 4 years, then it is ok. Later can always change to the good one, even above piano worth nothing.

I have seen Atlas, I doubt they were careful to make those pianos, because inside looks rough, in those some small spare parts, in one piano they used wood, another piano they used stil.

The Barock, the piano dealer show me the book the serial number, it says made by Higasinihon piano, they also made Gershwin,Friedrich, Kriebel,Jackson &sons.

But now I don´t what to do any more.
Posted By: Niya Witteman

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/27/08 06:11 AM

What is BC market?
Posted By: turandot

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/27/08 06:35 AM


BC is British Columbia. Norbert posts from there. He thinks that Barock comes from Japan, but I don't.

Maybe it would be a good idea for you to visit some well-established new piano dealers near you and see if they would rent you out a decent used piano that you could buy later if it works out.

Thirty-year-old secondary brand grey-market Japanese pianos refurbished in China and selling for 2500 Euros does not sound like a good idea to me.
Posted By: Niya Witteman

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/27/08 06:51 AM

How about they offer me 2000Eur? For Barock.
Acuturally for all same age of Atlas/Apollo/Diapson.
I still know if is worth?

If I go to rent one, then I must go for at least 4000eur value of piano. Still they are used piano.

Posted By: turandot

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 04/27/08 08:16 AM


I can't give you any advice on the Barock. I've never seen one. I have no idea what it is, where it's from, how old it is, or the condition.

What's the monthly rental cost on a used piano with a sales price of 4000 euros? What kind of piano is that? How old is it?

Thomann sells its own brand pianos for under 2000 euros and they'll deliver one to you for 8 euros.
Undoubtedly those are basic Chinese imports, but at least there's a guarantee. I think you need help locally to make decisions about thirty-year-old grey-market Japanese pianos coming from China. 2000 euros is too much money to throw away.

Here's a link to a PW member in Holland who can probably give you some advice that comes from local knowledge. Just send him a PM from the link on his page. Click where it says "send new private message" in red ink.

Posted By: gorman

Re: About Apollo/Atlas/Diapason upright pianos - 08/15/10 10:58 AM

I live in Thailand and have tried literally 100's of Kawais and Yamahas - and every single one of them (even the brand new ones and even the grands) exhibit an irritatingly noticeable high-pitched metallic zing in most of the low register. Possibly in the rest of the range as well, but the high-pitched sounds are probably beyond my hearing level.

One (Kawai) dealer admitted that in Japan, these brands are considered level 4 tier in terms of quality. It's not possible to eradicate these extraneous noises because of the overall construction of the piano.

He then told me that Atlas was a fore-runner of Yamaha and branched off on its own. They are considered level 3, at least the pianos made before 1990's.

I tried the two Atlas uprights he had in stock. They were ever so slightly better in sound, but otherwise equal in other respects. They had the same problems, but only in around 5-6 notes. The Yamahas and Kawais had this problem in over half of the keys in the lower register to a greater or lesser degree. And that was for the "good" pianos that actually produced a decent, powerful sound. So many pianos had dull notes, like the strings were made of nylon, not metal!

So far, no technician can explain to me why so many pianos produce these metalic sounds in some/many, but not all, of the (lower register) keys.

Is it true that Kawais and Yamahas can never aspire to producing a clean sound because of the materials inherent in their construction?

Saying that, I did detect similar problems with a few brand new $100,000 Steinways in a showroom. So it may simply be some regulation or voicing issue that no-one I've been in contact with seems to know about. smile

I challenge dealers/technicians to prove me wrong. It seems I've got to go back to the German and British made pianos. You gets whats you pays for as they say in the London streetmarkets...
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