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Posted By: bradamant What kind of model to get - adult beginner - 08/19/12 05:08 AM
I was referred here by a discussion on Amazon and read through the helpful intro linked at the top of this forum. I'm an adult starting to take piano lessons and would like to get a digital piano. I live in an apartment so being able to use headphones is important. I'm mostly interested in classical music, so not particularly interested in lots of voices, bells and whistles, etc. It seems smart to get something with keys weighted like a real piano so that it isn't a shock to switch over. Also, I have a traditional decor so I'd prefer something with a wood (or wood-esque) case rather than lots of plastic and blinky lights.

Browsing on Amazon, it seems like the Yamaha Arius is along the right lines, but are there other brands or product lines I should look at? Other dealers? Also, there is a pretty broad price range across the Arius models and I don't understand all the details that distinguish them. I could spend the money, but my naturally frugal side balks at running out and spending $1500 on a brand-new hobby if I could spend $800. Or, maybe I could buy the world's cheapest tabletop keyboard now, and something better in six months.

One question I haven't seen addressed specifically about the digital pianos is resale value. I hope I love doing this, but if I don't, is a keyboard or digital piano easy to sell? I searched my local Craigslist to see if anything was listed there and didn't find much. I couldn't tell if that's because most people keep theirs, or they sell quickly, or what.

If anyone has advice to steer me in the right direction, it would be appreciated! (Or, more questions to ask... but I feel like I already have a lot to think about.)
Casio PX-150
$599 HERE
yamaha p-95 or yamaha p-155
If you're reluctant to make a large purchase you can always rent.

If after a while you think you'll stick with it, I'd recommend the Yamaha N1. You'll have a small enough package for your apartment and one with a grand piano action.
Originally Posted by bradamant
One question I haven't seen addressed specifically about the digital pianos is resale value. I hope I love doing this, but if I don't, is a keyboard or digital piano easy to sell? I searched my local Craigslist to see if anything was listed there and didn't find much. I couldn't tell if that's because most people keep theirs, or they sell quickly, or what.

Check eBay for a larger sample than Craigslist, and look at their "Completed Listings" to see whether items actually sold and what they sold for.

In general, it's harder to sell stuff that weighs more than 70 lbs boxed up, because the shipping starts to get prohibitive. That tends to push you to local buyers only (i.e. Craigslist), and limiting yourself to local purchasers makes things harder to sell.
Originally Posted by Dr Popper
Casio PX-150
$599

I am cautiously optimistic about the new Casios, but I would be hesitant to recommend them until we can actually wrap our hands and ears around them. The PX-330 was supposed to be a big step up for Casio, and I ended up liking my older PX-310 much better!
Arius models look a little more like a piano, but the P155 is smaller and cheaper and features the same action (GH) as the better Arius (161 and better). Arius 141 and lower feature a different, cheaper action (GHS). There are a few people who like it better (anotherscott, I'm looking at you) but I don't. You can try out the GH and GHS action at just about any store that has digital pianos as almost all of Yamaha's models feature one of these.

Anyway, in Yamaha the P155 (on amazon) is a great buy on the low-but-not-really-low end. Also look at the Kawai ES3, which just got a really good review by a forum member with a lot of experience and it costs only a smidge more.

The Casios are noticeably cheaper than either and often have better features, like a triple sensor action. If you like them, they are a serious win. There's not really a consensus about the quality here, though. I think most people still stick to the notion that Casio's stuff is cheap for a reason, despite them making a lot of improvements lately and looking great on paper. Your call.
Originally Posted by gvfarns
a different, cheaper action (GHS). There are a few people who like it better (anotherscott, I'm looking at you) but I don't.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of the GH action, a bit heavy feeling for my taste. But just to be clear, I don't think the GHS action is great. It's okay. For me, saying I like it better than GH is damning with faint praise. ;-)
Thanks! I hadn't really thought of renting, so I just contacted a local store to ask about that. eBay was also a good idea--I didn't see many successful sale listings, so that's something to take as a warning. Thanks also for the explanation about the different actions, I understand that better now.
Your mention of a tabletop model vs Arius begs the basic question of what do you want? Do you want cheap and acceptable or intermediate and nice? Is this for your living room or do you envision moving it more than 3-4 times a year? Do you have an interest in related features, rhythms, non-piano sounds? Do you have a priority to listen through headphones or primarily through built-in speakers?

I think renting costs you money rather than saving you money unless your next step is a purchase greater than ~$1500. In reality, there are less than a dozen current popular models under $1500, and if you answer any of the earlier questions, you'll quickly cut that down to about 3-6 models to choose from. At that point, the decision gets pretty easy and renting becomes wasteful.

Good luck!
Originally Posted by anotherscott
Originally Posted by Dr Popper
Casio PX-150
$599

I am cautiously optimistic about the new Casios, but I would be hesitant to recommend them until we can actually wrap our hands and ears around them. The PX-330 was supposed to be a big step up for Casio, and I ended up liking my older PX-310 much better!


They are worth a listen Scotty ...massive step upwards IMHO
You're right, I'm kind of feeling out what I want, and the main reason for my confusion is that, going into this research, I had no idea of what kind of price to expect. $150? $1500? $5000 and up? I don't want to be a sucker and overspend on a new hobby, but it's looking like I could afford something intermediate and nice. It's funny, I spoke to my mother this afternoon, who used to play, and she was shocked you could get anything decent for $1500. Different expectations!

It will be in my living room, and I don't anticipate moving it regularly. However, there's a chance that I could be relocating to a new city in the next six months, so I'm wary of buying huge, heavy objects that are difficult/expensive to move. (In fact, I considered putting off the whole piano lessons idea, but I found a teacher I really like in my current city, plus I don't want to put off doing something enjoyable just because I *might* have a change in my job sometime in the future.) Since it will be in my living room, I would be willing to shell out a bit more for something that looks nice (in a traditional way).

I don't think I'm very interested in rhythms and non-piano sounds, since I like classical and chamber music best. As long as I can turn the piano volume down, I don't think I'd necessarily need to use headphones most of the time. I do think an acoustic piano would drive the other apartment dwellers nuts, which is why I started by looking and keyboards/digital.

I spoke to a local dealer this weekend who didn't seem to have a huge stock in digital pianos but who recommended the Yamaha Arius 161 which they do carry. The store does delivery, which is really tempting to me versus Amazon or another online retailer, because it looks like many of these keyboards come in boxes bigger than me (a petite woman) and if I order from Amazon, UPS will just leave the box in the lobby of my building. Oy vey. It sounds like the local dealer would do delivery plus set-up which I'd also be willing to pay for.
If you have the option to purchase from a local dealer, I strongly recommend that you do so. They will either deliver the instrument pre-assembled, or assemble everything in your home. In addition, the store will be on hand to provide assistance should you have any queries about or issues with the piano.

Best of luck!

James
x
The Arius 161 is sort of the first really acceptable piano in Yamaha's line. It's on par with the P155 I mentioned earlier (same action, though the P155 has a newer sound engine I believe). The P155 weighs little enough that you would probably have no problem carrying the box up to your apartment.

In terms of price, pianos between $1000 and $2000 get talked about a lot here. For console models, add about $1000 to those numbers. A very high end model (from an expensive brand) would be the Roland RD700NX at $2700. But the little brother, the FP7F, features the same action and main piano voice for $2000 and is well beloved in this forum.

In digital pianos I tend to group models according to their action...the other differences between models of the same action do not tend to be large. In Yamaha the GHS is low end, and GH is higher (as well as the three sensor GH3), then NW, and finally the wooden action in the AvantGrands. In Roland the top action is the PHAIII. There are other lower actions often referred to as Ivory Feel G but I'm not clear on the relationship (if any) between these and PHAII, the lower-end action. In Kawai you have RH and now RH2 in the plastic actions (and AHA IV on the low end) and then the wooden actions, GF, RM3, AWA PRO in reverse chronological order.

I've focused on slab-style and stage pianos because you get a lot of piano for the money. Console models can generally only be had at brick-and-mortar stores and therefore have much higher premiums, especially if you don't negotiate hard.
Originally Posted by bradamant
You're right, I'm kind of feeling out what I want, and the main reason for my confusion is that, going into this research, I had no idea of what kind of price to expect. $150? $1500? $5000 and up? I don't want to be a sucker and overspend on a new hobby, but it's looking like I could afford something intermediate and nice. It's funny, I spoke to my mother this afternoon, who used to play, and she was shocked you could get anything decent for $1500. Different expectations!


Once you start shopping for acoustic pianos, you'll see how lucky we are to be able to buy such nice sounding digital pianos for not too much money. $1500 sounds reasonable to me. I own an Arius 181 and have no regrets.
Originally Posted by gvfarns
A very high end model (from an expensive brand) would be the Roland RD700NX at $2700. But the little brother, the FP7F, features the same action and main piano voice for $2000 and is well beloved in this forum.

Also, unlike the RD700NX, the FP7F has speakers built in, which I'm pretty sure the OP would want.

The only higher end ($1000+) "slab" pianos with speakers are the FP7F, the two Yamahas, P155 and CP300. (Maybe Kawai has something, I'm not sure.) Other than that, you'd have to go with something with more of a "home" look (which it sounds like the OP would prefer anyway), and while not as easily portable as a slab model, some of them do break down pretty easily such that moving them to a new home would not be problematic.
Kawai ES7 or FP7F @ the high end.
Originally Posted by gvfarns
Console models can generally only be had at brick-and-mortar stores and therefore have much higher premiums, especially if you don't negotiate hard.


Oh my! It hadn't occurred to me to try to negotiate. Is that appropriate in this context? The store I talked to said they price-matched the Internet on the model they had, and having looked online myself, I think they really do.
Piano stores vary, unfortunately. Some expect big negotiations, others put up a near-final price. The former is much more common in my experience.

Both the MSRP and the sticker price of digital pianos are typically much higher than the selling price. I would look for something like a 20% reduction from the sticker price in many cases.

To give you an example. The MSRP of an AvantGrand N3 is $20,000 or something (maybe more). What we've seen lately is selling prices (in the US) between $10,000 and $15,000. I would never pay more than $15K for an N3. It's an extreme example but it gives you the idea.

Console models from the big brands are not available on the internet precisely to prevent retailers from having to match internet prices. Any model you can find both on the internet and at a retailer, and in which the retailer has matched the price, will probably not be subject to negotiation. Basically those will all be slab/stage pianos.
I think 20% off sticker is too high. On Larry Fine's web page (pianobuyer.com), he gives list prices and estimated street prices. The latter are generally 20% to 25% off of list.

So if you pay 20% off, you're paying at or above the average. I'd prefer to be among those who pay below average. I'd offer 35% off and settle for 30% off.
Okay, I definitely buy into going with a local store for support/delivery reasons and it sounds like the salesman's initial offer on the Arius 161 he showed me was good. The list price for that model is $1999. I was offered $1349 (which matches retailers offering $1499 and a 10% sale). Based on pianobuyer.com, that seems quite good. I'm focusing on that product line since no one seems to have much bad to say about them, and in terms of an object to have "decorating" my living room, I definitely like them best. Now I'm just beginning to wonder if it would be smarter to look at the 181 instead!
Originally Posted by bradamant
Okay, I definitely buy into going with a local store for support/delivery reasons and it sounds like the salesman's initial offer on the Arius 161 he showed me was good. The list price for that model is $1999. I was offered $1349 (which matches retailers offering $1499 and a 10% sale). Based on pianobuyer.com, that seems quite good. I'm focusing on that product line since no one seems to have much bad to say about them, and in terms of an object to have "decorating" my living room, I definitely like them best. Now I'm just beginning to wonder if it would be smarter to look at the 181 instead!


If you like YDP 161, check if you can get CLP 320. They are almost identical, the price would be also similar. However, Clavinova line has better support/service (in home service) and better brand recognition and hopefully better resell value.
Originally Posted by bradamant
I'm focusing on that product line since no one seems to have much bad to say about them, and in terms of an object to have "decorating" my living room, I definitely like them best. Now I'm just beginning to wonder if it would be smarter to look at the 181 instead!
The Arius line is readily available, popular, and competitive. They are a little behind in the technology curve of other brands, but I certainly think the value is there.

The 181 has more features and a simple interface. The speakers do sound better even though the specs read as similar. I don't know that the larger cabinet is any more attractive, per se, but it does come in rosewood vs. black walnut in the 161.

For looks, the other one to consider is the YDP-C71PE. It's gloss finish is really pretty in person but otherwise matches the features of the 161. The price dropped here about 6 weeks ago, making it less of a stretch from the 161. In my living room, I would definitely consider it.
Originally Posted by bradamant
Okay, I definitely buy into going with a local store for support/delivery reasons and it sounds like the salesman's initial offer on the Arius 161 he showed me was good. The list price for that model is $1999. I was offered $1349 (which matches retailers offering $1499 and a 10% sale). Based on pianobuyer.com, that seems quite good. I'm focusing on that product line since no one seems to have much bad to say about them, and in terms of an object to have "decorating" my living room, I definitely like them best. Now I'm just beginning to wonder if it would be smarter to look at the 181 instead!

I went with the 181 because of the LED display and control panel make it easier to use. I use many of the features more often than I thought I would, especially the metronome and the record/playback capability. The USB port makes it fairly easy to grab midi files off my computer using a thumb drive. The 181 also has bigger speakers than the 161 and therefore a nicer sound, but most of the time I use it with my headphones so that benefit is lost on me.

The 181 has been on the market now for 2 years, so you might check out if there have been any improvements in newer models. The technology moves pretty quickly. That said, I personally have nothing but good things to say about the Arius line. Two years ago when I purchased, I was originally thinking I would get a Clavinova (nothing bad to say about these either, but the are much more expensive). I'm glad I saved my money and picked up the one I did.
Thanks! Can you tell me what you do with the MIDI feature? Do you get files from online and have the piano play them for you or something?
Originally Posted by bradamant
Thanks! Can you tell me what you do with the MIDI feature? Do you get files from online and have the piano play them for you or something?

Yes, I get these files on the Internet. I find them helpful in learning a new piece of music. You should be able to find midi files for most of the popular classical pieces. The advantage is that you can slow them down allowing you to study and play along with the recording. Many of these files have the left and right hands on the separate tracks, allowing you to use the "left hand" and "right hand" button to turn one of the hands off. This is useful if you wish to play only the right hand and have the midi track accompany on the left hand, for example. There are many web sites that offer these files, some free, some for a small cost. You can also record your own midi files to play back on the Arius or transfer and save back on your computer. Recording your own playing is useful because it allows you to hear your mistakes and improve. Anyway, I use midi a lot but I'm sure plenty of others would tell you they never use this feature.
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