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Posted By: Kai C Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/13/14 06:55 PM
Two used upright pianos have come available in my area at about the same asking price, roughly $3,000. A Charles Walter 1520 console and a Yamaha U5. Assuming both get a good bill of health from a Registered Piano Tech, which way would you go? I lean toward the U5 for what I assume would be a deeper bass and larger sound. But the Walter is a beautiful, smaller piano with remarkably big sound for its size. Thank you.
Hello Kai,

Without seeing both pianos we cannot give you sound advice. However, if the pianos are of equal quality, I would strongly prefer the Charles Walter. YMMV.

Good luck,
+1 for the Charles Walter.
I would also cast a vote for the Walter.

Have both inspected so you know the relative condition of each.
+1 for the Walter 1520. I owned one for over twenty years before I sold it for my currently rebuilt piano.

It will exceed your expectations and sound like you have a baby grand in your room. Great action; even tone.
I would likely prefer the Walter.
Play both buy the one that speaks to you. If neither does, keep looking. Either would be a good choice given a clean bill of health.
Posted By: Kai C Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/14/14 02:58 PM
Thank you very much for your comments. I'm kind of surprised by the response so far. I thought the larger soundboard and potentially longer bass strings of the U5 would argue for the Yamaha. I've seen and played the Charles Walter. It is a beautiful Queen Ann in cherry (signed by Kevin) and sounds lovely and even, though I would have liked a slightly deeper bass sound. I hoped the full upright Yamaha would provide that . . . though I haven't seen it or played it yet. I was surprised that the specs of the U5 said the longest string length was 47.5 in. whereas the Walter 1520 specs said 48.5 in. Does that make sense? Thanks again.
Posted By: BDB Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/14/14 03:33 PM
Try the Yamaha. Check whether it has a sostenuto pedal or not.
Posted By: malkin Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/14/14 04:08 PM
Size isn't everything. If it were, anyone could build a giant monstrosity: the bigger the better!

You asked and people are expressing a personal preference. Now you can go and find out your own preference.
Yes, the Walter 1520 has a longer bass string than the Yamaha U5.
Originally Posted by Kai C
I was surprised that the specs of the U5 said the longest string length was 47.5 in. whereas the Walter 1520 specs said 48.5 in. Does that make sense? Thanks again.

Yes that does make sense. A vertical piano with a good, progressive design will sometimes extend the bottom of the plate through the bottom of the cabinet. Also they will run the bass strings at as steep an angle as possible, again resulting in longer strings.

As for the larger soundboard theory you mentioned earlier... soundboard design is complex enough that just the square footage isn't really worth considering. (IMHO)

Do play the Yamaha. You asked what we would prefer, and you got some consistent answers. But some people are in love with the Yamaha sound, so give it a try.
Posted By: Norbert Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/15/14 01:37 AM
Instead of recommending this or that piano and disseminating all the details, play them and see where your heart lies.[ hoping you like my choice of words... wink ]

It's the only way and of course the most important thing.

I do this everytime when selecting pianos for my customers.

"Why" something sounds great and touches your heart, is secondary.

By the way, what's the "speaking length" of lowest bass string for a 6'1 Sauter Delta, a 5'6 Estonia or 121 UH Ritmuller upright?

Better go check...

Norbert grin
Posted By: Kai C Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/15/14 02:11 AM
Very helpful. Now if I can just find someone who wants my Baldwin spinet to make room for the new piano! I would almost give acrosonic away, as long as it was used and not trashed. Either the 1520 or U5 would be a tremendous step up. Thank you.
Originally Posted by Kai C
Thank you very much for your comments. I'm kind of surprised by the response so far. I thought the larger soundboard and potentially longer bass strings of the U5 would argue for the Yamaha. I've seen and played the Charles Walter. It is a beautiful Queen Ann in cherry (signed by Kevin) and sounds lovely and even, though I would have liked a slightly deeper bass sound. I hoped the full upright Yamaha would provide that . . . though I haven't seen it or played it yet. I was surprised that the specs of the U5 said the longest string length was 47.5 in. whereas the Walter 1520 specs said 48.5 in. Does that make sense? Thanks again.


You've seen and played the one but not the other. No fair! I would think it would be more valuable at this point to invest your time in seeing and playing the Yamaha rather than collecting the votes of a Walter dealer and professed Walter fans on a web site.

At least give the Yamaha the courtesy of an audition unless a maker's signature is a top consideration. You're not likely to find that on a U-5.

You're very unlikely to find a Yamaha dealer or vocal fan club here either. Yamaha retailers generally don't bother with this site. Owners for the most part don't step up to testify and influence others. That's more common with underdog brands like Walter and Estonia. Yamaha is the industry leader so there' no rallying cry.

About your question, the angled layout of the Walter strings allows them to squeeze more length into the small cabinet. The 1520's do outperform their size.

BTW, age is a consideration. How old is each?

Posted By: Norbert Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/15/14 04:17 AM
Quote
That's more common with underdog brands like Walter and Estonia.


Perhaps it's nice to be an 'underdog'!

P.S. what exactly is this?

If you sell all you're making, sounds more like a "super-dog"

Norbert wink

Originally Posted by Norbert
Quote
That's more common with underdog brands like Walter and Estonia.


Perhaps it's nice to be an 'underdog'!

P.S. what exactly is this?

If you sell all you're making, sounds more like a "super-dog"

Norbert wink



It is nice to be an underdog provided the company has creative energy focused correctly.

Avis reached its peak with the "We're number 2. We try harder" campaign. A big part of that was convincing the workforce to actually work harder. Estonia came out of nowhere wit a sharp market focus on NA and a succession of improved products. Laul sold into the market that he knew and understood. The question now is whether the market he has sold into is the market he should continue to want to sell into. There have been some rough patches when the NA economy went into recession.

Walter is more difficult to gauge. Marketing is haphazard so it's up to the retailers and loyal fan base to keep things going. Word of mouth is critical. Where's the creative energy? The grands were nice, but they have not fared well in terms of sales or price paid.

Market leaders can sometimes get distracted and/or lazy. I can remember when Kirin beer had an almost 80% market share in Japan. Where do you go from there? It's extremely hard to grow your market penetration at that level. The downtrodden competition including Sapporo, Asahi, and even the chronic laggard Suntory all set to work with a slew of niche products that outperformed sales expectations and chipped away at Kirin's market share. Kirin stepped down to their level and began competing there. They became so distracted that they discontinued distribution of their signature Kirin lager in the US and other export markets replacing it with the not-so-special but temporarily trendy Kirin Ichiban. Now the trendiness is gone and Ichiban is just another beer in a crowded competitive market. Kirin's mistake was acknowledging the competition by stepping down to meet them. Will Yamaha make this kind of mistake? Unlikely, but you never know.
_______________________

It would be reasonable for the OP to go either way here, but he really should listen to and play both pianos and pay some attention to their age and condition.
Posted By: Kai C Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/15/14 01:03 PM
The Walter was built in 1996 and cared for by my own RPT since 2001. It has a complete climate control system: heater rod and humidifier. The U5 was purchased at a "piano sale" in 2000. I assume that means it was used. It has a rare wood-grain finish, that appears to be all mahogany. (If I could figure out how to upload photos--not so simple on this forum?--I would) I don't have any more information on the U5 because the owner has been unavailable. That's why I haven't seen it or played it yet. Plus, the owner lives a considerable distance from me. I will make the effort when/if the owner gets back to me. Thank you.
Kai C,

It's true that that the best way to decide is to play both instruments. It is impossible to compare the reality of one to the concept of another.

Without veering into global market strategy, I would believe that the comments you have received, including my own, are based on direct experience with playing both instruments. When you asked, the responses were the type of info you requested.

The vague history of the Yamaha would be a concern to me.

Good luck with your search.
Originally Posted by Kai C
The Walter was built in 1996 and cared for by my own RPT since 2001. It has a complete climate control system: heater rod and humidifier. The U5 was purchased at a "piano sale" in 2000. I assume that means it was used. It has a rare wood-grain finish, that appears to be all mahogany. (If I could figure out how to upload photos--not so simple on this forum?--I would) I don't have any more information on the U5 because the owner has been unavailable. That's why I haven't seen it or played it yet. Plus, the owner lives a considerable distance from me. I will make the effort when/if the owner gets back to me. Thank you.


Thanks for supplying the info.

The Walter sounds promising. If it's been used as a home piano, it should certainly have lote of life left in it.

As the previous poster mentioned, the Yamaha history is vague. Since the piano is at a distance, it'e smart to find out all you can before you make the trip. My advice would be to get the serial number from the owner first. Jot it down and check it out on the Yamaha piano age chart.

http://usa.yamaha.com/support/finding_age_of_yamaha_piano/

Be sure to use the left column (Hanamatsu)

A price of around 3k on a U-5 is low. If it happens to be a 2000 manufacture or thereabouts, it could be quit a bargain. If it's an oldie and you can't ascertain where it's been and how many time it's changed hands, proceed with caution.

Posted By: Kai C Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/15/14 05:38 PM
Thank you for the link. I will try to get the serial number from the seller when I finally hear back. And as much information as possible about the piano. I do have the probable name of the RPT that last tuned the U5 two years ago. I may contact the RPT, as well. Thanks again.
Originally Posted by Norbert


By the way, what's the "speaking length" of lowest bass string for a 6'1 Sauter Delta, a 5'6 Estonia


WOW! Those are some really TALL upright pianos...
Posted By: Norbert Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/15/14 08:32 PM
Quote
WOW! Those are some really TALL upright pianos...


Sorry, I overlooked this.

To eliminate confusion why not just choose a 52"Ritmüller - it's bass speaking length is 6 miles....

Norbert ha
Posted By: Kai C Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/16/14 01:15 PM
Further update on the U5. I spoke to the RPTs that may have tuned it (so long ago they don't remember), and they cautioned me that this may be a grey market piano from Japan that was used in a school setting for several years, then sold to an American dealer. Or it may be an US-market piano, but also used in a school and then similarly sold to a dealer, polished up, and resold to the current owner. The RPT said I should be careful considering pre-owned Yamaha uprights because some have had much hard use.
Posted By: BDB Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/16/14 02:42 PM
Prior use is an issue with any used piano.

You can check whether the Yamaha is gray market here.
Originally Posted by Kai C
I spoke to the RPTs that may have tuned it (so long ago they don't remember)


You should go and play this piano, instead of assuming what it is or isn't, based on description or supposition.

The price on a U5 is quite low, indeed. Back when I was shopping for a tall upright piano, I almost bought a new one. I'm a fan of the Walter, but I think the better model comparison with the Walter is the U1, not the U5. Focusing on one metric alone (string length) is like comparing the mileage of a car based on the size of the gas tank… not particularly useful in and of itself.
Originally Posted by terminaldegree
Originally Posted by Kai C
I spoke to the RPTs that may have tuned it (so long ago they don't remember)


You should go and play this piano, instead of assuming what it is or isn't, based on description or supposition.


I agree with the esteemed Terminator unless the serial number indicates the U-5 is an oldie from way back when. In that case, the piano might be wroth 3k to someone, but not necessarily to you. It's a question of risk/reward and your appetite for risk might reasonably lead you to take a pass without making the trip to see and play it.

Though it's hardly a sure thing, the fact that it's a wood finish leads me to think it didn't come from a music school either here or in Japan. The wood finish adds considerably to the cost, and schools more often than not go for the cheaper ones in basic black.

If it's later than 1990 manufacture, so-called wood seasoning grey market issues don't mean much. It would really come down to history of use and maintenance, same as any other piano of any brand.

Posted By: Kai C Re: Yamaha U5 or Charles Walter 1520 console - 07/17/14 03:22 PM
Thank you. As always, the replies of seasoned piano professionals make this forum very worthwhile. Still waiting on an email from the U5 owner. I will ask for the serial number and any other information I can get. smile
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