Buying a piano - what's important when choosing?

(14 Posts)
maggiethecat Thu 15-Sep-11 12:12:00

I read a thread about keyboards recently and there were some interesting contributions esp from Musicposy (hope you're still around).

We are getting one for dds and know nada but have been told that we must listen to the tone of the instrument. We have listened to some that sound very 'bright' (mostly Japanese) and a few that sound more mellow (eg an old Marshall and Rose).

We have also been told that responsiveness to touch is important - and I'm not sure that older pianos can deliver this as much as newer ones.

Essentially, we are considering a 1980 Yamaha (U3) - which we haven't seen yet but which we are told has a mellow sound - and a new Kawai (K15) which sounds bright. Both are similar in price.

Dh (who doesn't play, neither of us do) seems fixed upon getting a mellow sound while I reckon that we may as well get a new one which although a bit brighter sounding would probably respond better than a 30 year old.

Is this a sensible approach? Anything else to consider?

redexpat Sun 18-Sep-11 00:10:18

Sounds like you've been given good advice already!

You should press every key to make sure that there are no hissing noises. I know that sounds weird but you'll know it if you hear it.

See how musical the very bottom and very top notes sound.

I dont think age of instrument affects the response of the key being pressed.

confidence Sun 18-Sep-11 20:12:01

The age of the piano shouldn't affect key response unless it's REALLY old, but what it may well affect is the extent to which it stays in tune.

This is probably the single most important factor in buying a piano IMO. Old pianos, particularly old European pianos, do often sound more mellow, and more beautiful, then more modern Japanese ones. The problem is that if you don't really know what you're doing in terms of appraising every singing aspect of the structure and mechanism, you can end up with something that just won't stay in tune no matter what. That's then bad for the ears of the kids learning to play on it, and disappointing for everyone having to listen to it.

OTOH if you get a name Japanese piano (ie Yahama or Kawai) from the last 30 years or so, it'll probably have a pretty good tone but more importantly, you'll probably be able to keep it in tune.

Either of the pianos you mention should be OK. Beyond that it comes down to personal preference - you'd need to hear them and decide. Avoid the newer budget Yamahas as they are actually outsourced to cheaper Asian manufacturers and not up to traditional Yamaha standard.

maggiethecat Sun 18-Sep-11 21:21:15

Interesting points - we listened to an older piano (can't remember make now) against a newish Kawai and the older one did sound very nice but when we exerted a very light touch on one of the higher end keys there was hardly a sound whereas for the same pressure on the Kawai there was no problem.

I had no idea about the budget Yamahas (think similar thing is happening to Kemble).

Think we will go for a Kawai - the K2 is really nice (from a playing perspective but also for looks) and dd kept going back to play that one but at £4k it really is stetching things. Will have a look to see if there are any nearly new ones at a better price.

If not will go for the K15 which should do the job nicely.

Grockle Sun 18-Sep-11 21:23:42

Ooo, can I jump in and ask about digital pianos? Or should I start my own thread?

confidence Tue 20-Sep-11 21:12:44

Interesting points - we listened to an older piano (can't remember make now) against a newish Kawai and the older one did sound very nice but when we exerted a very light touch on one of the higher end keys there was hardly a sound whereas for the same pressure on the Kawai there was no problem.

You can't really tell anything, as a non-player, from something like that. Pianos are supposed to make "hardly any sound" when the keys are pressed very lightly, and even no sound at all when pressed lightly enough. A pianist may well have told you that the old piano was responding correctly and the Kawai was too stiff and unresponsive. And then personal preference plays a part as well.

But it is true that all else being equal, the newer the piano you buy, the less likely it is to have problems with the action, tunability etc. Without specialist input, you can only really go by that and try to play it safe.

zeus123 Tue 20-Sep-11 21:21:32

I am no expert but I took my daughter's piano teacher for her opinion and my 8 year old daughter as she was the one who will be playing it .
We both are non musical so had to rely on her teacher ... just a thought
Some of the new yamahas are manufactured in UK in kemble factory. I think, If you Google the serial number in the piano, you can find out where it is manufactured.

DCSsunhill Tue 20-Sep-11 21:24:43

I would definitely favour the K2 over the K15. It is such a pleasure to play.

I work as a pianist in a piano showroom and stock both Kawai and Yamaha. We have a stunning U1 and a handmade U1-type...can't remember the model. They're around 3.5k and are magnificent Refurbs from Japan.

DCSsunhill Tue 20-Sep-11 21:26:25

The Kawai warranty knocks the socks off the Yamaha one also, so it's good for long-term peace of mind.

OmniumAndGatherum Tue 20-Sep-11 21:28:31

I would try to get a cheapish (ho ho) Bechstein upright. If I were getting a new piano, this is what I would get. The sound is marvellous, and the feel is dreamy. In general.

maggiethecat Tue 20-Sep-11 22:36:08

We've decided to play it safe given our lack of experience and think we will go for a one year old Kawai with a 5 year warranty. Would have loved to take the teacher but she is too busy.

DCS - if we could go for the K2 we probably would but the K15 will have to do for now. Would you have any idea of what kind of resale value these instruments have? (hopefully nowhere near as drastic as cars!). We may consider an upgrade after a couple of years.

DCSsunhill Wed 21-Sep-11 07:37:13

Maggie, i will ask my Lovely Kawai rep today as he's coming in for a brew.

I know there are some on EBay at the moment so that could give you an idea.

I do recommend that you seek out some Japanese Yamaha Refurbs and try them....the original piano would have cost around 15,000 and they all come with Yamaha certificate of approval. They sell for similar K15 money. The casing is gorgeous.

I'll post from work later.

DCSsunhill Wed 21-Sep-11 12:36:34

PM sent to you.

jessicagoldstein Sat 29-Mar-14 07:33:34

Just purchased a beautiful new YAMAHA upright piano for my daughter who is now doing grade 5 piano, we went to 5 piano shops in central London with our piano teacher, but ended up buying from a fantastic piano showroom just outside London near Beaconsfield/High Wycombe called Countrywide Piano Centre, fantastic amazing choice, very helpful staff, and not West one prices !! We have done a lot of research and leg work on buying a piano, and we are so pleased with our purchase, and I would really recommend anyone looking to buy a piano to visit Countrywide Pianos in Bucks.. its well worth a visit if you are looking for a really good piano for your child.

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