New U1 for GBP3,999 from Dawsons - catch?

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squirest
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New U1 for GBP3,999 from Dawsons - catch?

Post by squirest » 31 Dec 2008, 17:53

Hi all,

I've been viewing this forum for a while but this is my first post - please be gentle...

I'm looking for a new piano for my daughter (age 9, taking grade 4) who, after trying quite a few different types, has her heart set on a new U1 (to replace a Clavinova CLP930).

Having ALMOST bought a new U1 just before Christmas for GPB4800 (inc del & first tune) we decided to wait and see what the new year would bring. I guess we were put off by the repeated 'threat' of 'better buy it now as Yamaha prices are going up by 15% on Jan 1'. This may be true, and the GBP/Yen rate has crashed so I do have some sympathy for importers but, the way the economy is now, I don't think many new Yamahas will be sold in 2009.

Given all that, we thought that perhaps a good second-hand U1 might be a better use of scarce cash until the economy improves.

Then suddenly, to our surprise, I noticed that Dawsons are currently offering a new U1 for GPB3,999 on their web site. A telephone call confirmed the price but there are none in stock right now. I'm waiting for a call-back on Friday (Jan 2) with a price including delivery and dates.

So, after all that waffle, my question is: How 'good' are Dawson's (Reading) for the supply and support of new Yamahas? Is there a catch? What should I look-out for?

Oh, and are Dawsons second-hand U1s OK?

Thanks for any advice.

Steve

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Re: New U1 for GBP3,999 from Dawsons - catch?

Post by PianoGuy » 31 Dec 2008, 19:03

squirest wrote: Then suddenly, to our surprise, I noticed that Dawsons are currently offering a new U1 for GPB3,999 on their web site. A telephone call confirmed the price but there are none in stock right now. I'm waiting for a call-back on Friday (Jan 2) with a price including delivery and dates.

So, after all that waffle, my question is: How 'good' are Dawson's (Reading) for the supply and support of new Yamahas? Is there a catch? What should I look-out for?
Probably a catch, yes, but it may well be a good piano.

Likely as not it'll be a parallel imported U1 destined for another market, and not an official Yamaha-Kemble product. Theoretically these should really be sold as "nearly new" or "as new" because they have probably come in to the UK from a European dealer. Certainly if they're selling UK-market U1s at that price they're losing money, and they're cutting it a bit fine making any money on an import! There's nothing wrong with a parallel import but it won't have a Yamaha warranty just a dealer one, and there are detail differences from official UK ones, so don't expect to get a good resale value for it.

Ask them where they get them, and if they say "from Yamaha", then ask to see the Yamaha-Kemble product tag. A genuine Yamaha-Kemble piano will have a serial number around 6,300,000 and the imports could have numbers from 6,400,000 to 6,800,000.
PG

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If you're buying a piano, try as many as you can and buy the one you like, not a similar one of the same type.

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Post by squirest » 31 Dec 2008, 19:42

Thanks PG.

The guy on the phone said it was directly from Yamaha (I assume Yamaha-Kemble and not a grey import) - he said he will call them on Friday AM to confirm delivery details then call me.

Another question: I hear lots of comments about a piano being 'well-prepared'. What sort of in-shop preperation is required before a new piano is delivered? Anyone out there bought a piano new U1 from Dawsons?

Dawsons also sell refurb U1s & U3s - their website shows pictures and facilities that I have seen on other's site's (I guess there's a common refurb factory somewhere in Europe that many refurb sellers use). We are still considering a second-hand U1 - has anyone bought a second-hand U1 from Dawsons? Did you get the one you tried in the shop? I guess that last point is of fundamental importance.

Steve

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Post by Model V » 01 Jan 2009, 10:59

Squirest,

Do not forget PG's tag-line which is as important as his post in this context. Do not allow the attractive price to sucker you into buying a piano you have not seen, played and liked. Buying blind may lead to disappointment.

MV.

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Post by jackg » 01 Jan 2009, 13:42

Preparation is action regulation and voicing, or should be.

Adjusting each note and its mechanism to perform exactly as it should.
Voicing is sticking fine needles into each hammer felt or doping each hammer felt to adjust the sound of each note, softer with needles and brighter with dope.
If it is not done, pianos can sound awful, and the sound of a piano changes if it is moved from one room to another, air volume and acoustic resonance from fixtures and fittings.
I have read that Jeffrey Shackell and Chris Venables prep their pianos very well, but you need to ask them directly what they do and how much it costs.
Shop around and don't take one persons opinion as gospel.

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Post by Openwood » 01 Jan 2009, 18:44

I have read that Jeffrey Shackell and Chris Venables prep their pianos very well
I've had experience of both of those, as well as some others. In my opinion Jeff is an absolutely outstanding technician; nothing is too much trouble and he takes great care to make sure the piano sounds how YOU want it to. He's also very happy to talk about the process of voicing and he doesn't treat punters like they're stupid for asking 'dumb' questions. Top bloke.

I don't want to get drawn into making comparisons. Let's just say that it would be great if everyone took as much trouble over their work as Jeff.
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Post by PianoGuy » 01 Jan 2009, 19:16

Openwood wrote:
I have read that Jeffrey Shackell and Chris Venables prep their pianos very well
I've had experience of both of those, as well as some others. In my opinion Jeff is an absolutely outstanding technician; nothing is too much trouble and he takes great care to make sure the piano sounds how YOU want it to. He's also very happy to talk about the process of voicing and he doesn't treat punters like they're stupid for asking 'dumb' questions. Top bloke.

I don't want to get drawn into making comparisons. Let's just say that it would be great if everyone took as much trouble over their work as Jeff.

Absolutely.

Just remember that this standard of work comes at a price, whether done by Mr Shackell or any other qualified and experienced technician. Don't expect top quality work cheap or for free. If it appears so, you ain't getting it.
PG

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If you're buying a piano, try as many as you can and buy the one you like, not a similar one of the same type.

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Post by squirest » 01 Jan 2009, 20:26

Thanks for all of the feedback so far.

So, one message I'm getting is that all pianos, even new straight-off-the-production-line U1s, need preparation before delivery (i.e. more than just a 'tune').

I can easily see that a second-hand piano would potentially need quite a bit of TLC before being 'presentable' but the fact that a new one needs attention comes as quite a surprise (to me and many other noobs I expect).

So, comparing two suppliers of new U1s, go for the one with the best preparation reputation?

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Post by PianoGuy » 01 Jan 2009, 20:44

squirest wrote:
I can easily see that a second-hand piano would potentially need quite a bit of TLC before being 'presentable' but the fact that a new one needs attention comes as quite a surprise (to me and many other noobs I expect).
It shouldn't do really. Think how complicated it is. You'd never dream of buying a brand new car from some geezer off Bristol Docks still in its protective wax without a dealer PDI or warranty would you? But in effect it's what thousands of people seem to do with pianos, buying them sight unseen or worse from internet sales outlets. A new piano needs at least a thorough cosmetic and structural checking over, regulation-check and tuning before display. A good dealer will do more and offer voicing and in-house set-up if needs be. This will mean that your sale price is likely to be a bit more, but worth it in the long run.

Some dealers who claim to do this don't deliver, so be careful!
squirest wrote:So, comparing two suppliers of new U1s, go for the one with the best preparation reputation?
Always a good plan!
PG

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If you're buying a piano, try as many as you can and buy the one you like, not a similar one of the same type.

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 01 Jan 2009, 21:07

squirest wrote:Thanks for all of the feedback so far.

So, one message I'm getting is that all pianos, even new straight-off-the-production-line U1s, need preparation before delivery (i.e. more than just a 'tune').
Some shops get them preped by the factory store them in a despatch warehouse and ship them out when sold unseen :roll:
squirest wrote: So, comparing two suppliers of new U1s, go for the one with the best preparation reputation?


Voicing has to be done on site all you can do in a show room is level the piano out to the tuners preference. For best results you need to talk to the client and do it in the room the piano is in and that takes time, most will not pay for that service.


At the end of the day retailers sell pianos to make a profit there is very little profit in Yamaha at the prices they sell at unless you are shifting 4 to 7 a week and there is only a few who shift that many week in week out but even then the service they can give is limited unless the client is willing to pay for extra prep work.




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Post by vernon » 01 Jan 2009, 22:00

I feel most of these posts are from the Home Counties.
There are still many of us out here in the sticks who offer a proper preparation and back up as a matter of course.
I am sure the coming months will hopefully weed out many of the cowboys.
I am sure I speak for many established dealers who, while they want to make a good living, are morally compelled to ensure customers are both happy with a purchase and confident that they have had the best qualified advice in it.
Sounds a bit old fashioned I know.

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Post by squirest » 01 Jan 2009, 22:13

Openwood wrote:
I have read that Jeffrey Shackell and Chris Venables prep their pianos very well
I've had experience of both of those, as well as some others. In my opinion Jeff is an absolutely outstanding technician; Let's just say that it would be great if everyone took as much trouble over their work as Jeff.
Interestingly, Jeffrey Shackell appears to have a connection with Pianoforte in Faringdon - this is where my daughter's piano teacher is suggesting (strongly urging) we go for a new/used U1. I'll take that as a recommendation, thanks.

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Post by Openwood » 01 Jan 2009, 23:41

Interestingly, Jeffrey Shackell appears to have a connection with Pianoforte in Faringdon - this is where my daughter's piano teacher is suggesting (strongly urging) we go for a new/used U1. I'll take that as a recommendation, thanks.
I met Claire Dash from Pianoforte a few years ago - I was impressed and I imagine any Dash/Shackell combo would be a classy outfit indeed.
"Each day grow older, and learn something new."
Solon (c. 630 - c. 500 B.C.), Greek Statesman and Reformer

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Post by Openwood » 01 Jan 2009, 23:57

I am sure the coming months will hopefully weed out many of the cowboys
Agreed. And yes, there are many excellent dealers out there in the 'sticks'. Some of the 'big names' have a lot to answer for :evil:
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Post by PianoGuy » 02 Jan 2009, 09:24

Just had a couple of texts with Mr S.

Happy new year!!

Pianoforte will sell you exactly what you want on any level. If you want a cheap s/h U1 they will supply one, but if you want a beautifully sorted example, (either new or s/h) with the technical work done by Mr Shackell's company, they'll oblige with that as well. Just don't expect the latter to come at bargain basement prices.

Go for the best you can afford now rather than relying on prices dropping. The ¥ is high, the £ is weak, and I don't see that changing to our advantage any time soon.
PG

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If you're buying a piano, try as many as you can and buy the one you like, not a similar one of the same type.

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Post by squirest » 02 Jan 2009, 11:41

Enlightening feedback.

If I may indulge in a straw-poll, what would you recommend to take a (really promising IM-biased-HO) 9 year old from grade 4 to grade 8 and beyond?:

A fully-prepared, rebuilt 1974 U1 for ~GBP3,200 (from one of the dealers mentioned in this thread).

-or-

A brand new U1, fully-prepared for ~GBP5,300 (again from a recommended dealer).

-or-

A brand new U1, (probably direct from warehouse but I will try to get to hear it first) from Dawsons for GBP3,999.

If I've understood any of the messages, I'm pretty-sure what the majority answer will be - I'm just curious as to the reactions it may generate.

Thanks in advance,
Steve

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Post by Descombes » 02 Jan 2009, 12:48

Steve
I've only just caught up with your topic, so I haven't been able to have my say yet. I would have no hesitation in my answer!
Get in touch with Jeff Shackell and ask what he's got. He will know whether there's a good 2nd hand instrument to suit your needs or whether new is best - and he won't be thinking of profit! He's connected with the Farringdon place, but I'd suggest phoning him direct. (The number's on his website, but if you can't find it, I can send it to you on a private message.) Then, once you've got the piano, get Jeff to look after it. Result: no more problems as your son gets to Grade 8. And when he gets above that that, Jeff will sort you out a good Steinway replacement. (Ignore anything he might say about retiring; he'll still be going strong then!!)

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Post by ennjaydee » 02 Jan 2009, 13:57

Just in case this has not been mentioned yet; new Yamaha U1's are built in Japan (U1) and in UK (U1GQ) plus there are Kemble derivatives. A quick google shows one dealer listing about £500 premium for the Japanese U1 over the U1GQ; check precisely what you are getting when you talk of new.

At the end of the day the only two things matter; 1) the actual piano that you/your daughter likes the sound and touch of and 2) getting the right advice to make that decision. Shackell will see you right on both counts I am sure.

Don't be tempted by any piano that you have not heard. There are big differences between different U1s.
If the used option fits your budget best be sure to know what exactly has been done (parts replaced etc) and what therefore may still need to be done at some point in the future. Take along an independent specialist to play and check the piano once you think you have found the right thing. Buy the best you can afford.

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Post by ennjaydee » 02 Jan 2009, 14:14

What do members think about capability of U1 for ".. grade 8 and beyond"?

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Post by Openwood » 02 Jan 2009, 14:52

What do members think about capability of U1 for ".. grade 8 and beyond"?
I can't see why a good U1 shouldn't be suitable for Grade 8; I know some excellent pianists who have had to practice on far worse instruments right up to diploma standard. A U1's not going to be as responsive as, say, a U3 or a grand of C2 upwards size, but then that's why it's a U1; it does exactly what it says on the tin. We've got a YUS1 in the school music room and I'd be happy to use it for diploma practice. In fact, I do!

Golden Rule: Buy the best you can afford. Or in my case, buy a C3 you absolutely can't afford and spend the next four years in poverty but blissfully happy :wink:
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Post by PianoGuy » 02 Jan 2009, 18:24

ennjaydee wrote:What do members think about capability of U1 for ".. grade 8 and beyond"?
Should be absolutely fine.
PG

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Post by squirest » 02 Jan 2009, 19:11

Well, after an informative conversation with Jeff Shackell today, we took the plunge and (after trying several other new & used uprights) went for a three year old Yamaha P121 (from Jeff via Pianoforte). It's currently a little 'bright' but it will be prepared and voiced by Jeff to soften it a bit with final voicing performed in-situ.

The deciding factor was based on our newly acquired knowledge (thanks to the feedback from this forum and Jeff) that a good nearly-new basic piano that is well prepared and subsequently well mainitained will probably serve my daughter well into grade 8.

Besides, I told her if she passed her grade 8 (and got a scholarship to Harvard :)), I'd buy her a C3!

We're expecting the piano in a couple of weeks - I'll post an update when we get it.

Sincere thanks to all who offered advice.

Steve

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Post by PianoGuy » 02 Jan 2009, 19:16

squirest wrote:Well, after an informative conversation with Jeff Shackell today, we took the plunge and (after trying several other new & used uprights) went for a three year old Yamaha P121 (from Jeff via Pianoforte). It's currently a little 'bright' but it will be prepared and voiced by Jeff to soften it a bit with final voicing performed in-situ.
A cracking result.

Hope you have many happy years with a splendid little piano.
PG

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Post by Descombes » 02 Jan 2009, 20:50

squirest wrote: It's currently a little 'bright' but it will be prepared and voiced by Jeff to soften it a bit with final voicing performed in-situ.

Steve
I'm delighted that you have come to a decision. You will have found out that the unanimous praise for Jeff Shackell is fully deserved. I think the point you make above is the crucial one. Jeff is the master at making Yamahas sound..........more mellow, less strident.....or whatever way you choose to describe it. I would simply say "better", but that might open a new can of worms!!

Two more points:
1 Apologies to your daughter for calling her a him in an earlier post.

2 That piano will last up to whatever level she chooses to go to. I just felt that after Grade 7/8 she might want to move onwards...to another Yamaha....or perhaps a St***way. (I am notoriously biased.)
Incidentally, I reached Grade 8 on a hugely inferior piano to the one you are buying. And even when doing a degree and various diplomas, I still used that piano during college vacations.

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Post by squirest » 03 Jan 2009, 16:33

Dawsons called yesterday - the piano has been in one of their showrooms for a while, hence the low price. I think we did the right thing in the end.
PianoGuy wrote:A cracking result.
Yes, we think so.
Descombes wrote:Apologies to your daughter for calling her a him in an earlier post.
No problem.
Descombes wrote:That piano will last up to whatever level she chooses to go to.
She's doing very well so far - I think buying the piano that we did, rather than a brand new one for a high-premium, allows us to be flexible in few years (maybe even a C3 when you can get 240 yen to the pound again :shock:).

Steve

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Re: New U1 for GBP3,999 from Dawsons - catch?

Post by squirest » 14 Jan 2009, 21:48

So the P121 arrived yesterday afternoon - looks great, sounds great. Daughter and wife both happy. Ah, these fleeting moments of bliss in a man's life...

Thanks again to all who offered advice.

Steve

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