A hint for a student?

General discussion about piano makes, problems with pianos, or just seeking advice.

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Lieu
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A hint for a student?

Post by Lieu » 03 Jan 2008, 07:13

Hi! I've been reading this forum for a while, and I'm finally getting around to take part. Visiting family over the last few holidays has really made it clear how wonderful and how wrecked different pianos can be, and also drawn my attention to how I actually need to get one of my own.

Bottom line, I gather, is to play until you find one you love, but there are so many! I'm kind of lost in what to expect. Maybe you can nudge me in the right direction? (It seems every piano seller is down south and it's been incredibly difficult finding anywhere that stocks a good number of pianos to actually try)

So, anyway. I want to spend as much as I can, the catch being I'm a student. I can maybe, maybe, scrape £4000 if I try my hardest. Everyone says to me, "Oh! Get a Yamaha!" but I really dislike the bright tone (metallic and harsh if you ask me). I like to play pretty viciously so I want something as powerful, clear and rich as possible for my budget. I've heard great things about Kawai K3s but they look small to me. How does a K5 compare? A new K5 is too expensive but how about used? Not sure about Kemble...

Or what about older painos? Would I be getting better sound-for-money for something 20-30 years old or just stick with 5-10? Or is it better to hunt down a restored upright? I've seen some old pianos around here, for example Bechsteins, valued at £2500 because of quite low demand, but dealers I'm seeing the same models priced at £6-8k. Did they have the wrestplank replaced or somesuch? What's going on here?

Please give me a hint :p Next week I'm heading to a showroom in Leeds to have a play around, but I only have a *very* vague idea of what to prioritise. So, yeah, what would you say to look for when hunting for best sound-for-money, a big sound, clear and coherent bass register, not bright, and hopefully rich. Something you wouldn't be afraid of throwing your best at.

Thank you all! I just hope it's not too tall an order. Shouldn't have gotten used to my Uni's grands :p

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Openwood
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Post by Openwood » 03 Jan 2008, 16:03

Everyone says to me, "Oh! Get a Yamaha!" but I really dislike the bright tone (metallic and harsh if you ask me
I used to avoid Yamahas like the plague for exactly the same reasons, but honestly they don't have to sound like that. Ask the people in Leeds to show you a mellow-voiced one before you write them off! We have a Yam C7 at the school where I work and we got Jeff Shackell to voice it; it's beautiful and rich in the bass and creamy mellow at the top; delicious!

I'm a self-confessed Yamaha bore but I do really believe they represent excellent value for money, especially on a tight budget, provided they are well voiced. Whatever you buy, I would suggest you make sure the after-care is going to be there from the dealer. A piano that sounded perfect in the showroon might need adjusting in the home environment.
I like to play pretty viciously
That might account for some of the harshness then :wink:

Jerome
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Post by Jerome » 05 Jan 2008, 12:42

We have a Yam C7 at the school where I work and we got Jeff Shackell to voice it; it's beautiful and rich in the bass and creamy mellow at the top; delicious!
Out of curiosity: how long ago was it voiced? Has the voicing lasted?

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Openwood
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Post by Openwood » 05 Jan 2008, 18:13

Out of curiosity: how long ago was it voiced? Has the voicing lasted?
He did it when we first got the piano, about 3 years ago and he came again towards the end of this year to give it a service and some voicing work. Top bloke.

The voicing held very well - despite the heavy use it had from day one the tone remained rich and warm, not at all like the harsh bright sound I always used to associate with Yamahas. I believe they arrive from Japan voiced very bright and I think a lot of folk don't realise that this can be changed to suit our desire for that elusive 'warm European blah bah'.

If I had to find fault with the C7s I've played, I'd say the middle register doesn't have as much character as the higher and lower ends. I played a Steinway D over Christmas and the middle register was stunning, but then again so it bloody well should be! For its size and price I think a well voiced C7 is a terrific piano.

Descombes
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Yamahas with the Jeff Shackell treatment

Post by Descombes » 06 Jan 2008, 12:13

Openwood wrote: I used to avoid Yamahas like the plague for exactly the same reasons, but honestly they don't have to sound like that. Ask the people in Leeds to show you a mellow-voiced one before you write them off! We have a Yam C7 at the school where I work and we got Jeff Shackell to voice it; it's beautiful and rich in the bass and creamy mellow at the top; delicious!
I agree completely with Openwood. Years ago, when looking for a new school piano, I consulted Jeff and stressed that I did not want a nasty, brash Yamaha. He guaranteed that he could voice a Yamaha to remove those awful qualities and the results he achieved were quite stunning. I put it down to all his years of working on Steinways, to his very acute ear, and to the fact that he listens to the customer and produces the sound he's been asked for.

Sadly, thousands of Yamaha's are sold in a "straight form the factory" condition and I am sure that many people do not realise that the sound can be "tweaked".

As far as I know, Jeff is one of the few people who is prepared to give his customers such a first-class service.

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Post by Lieu » 14 Jan 2008, 20:19

Thanks :) I made sure to have a good look at several U3s and was pleasantly surprised. Most were what I expected but one was voiced rather impressively. Other pianos I saw around that price range didn't really seem noteworthy (no pun intended). Of course I'll continue scouring shops, but if I were to end up with a U3, is there anything to watch out for? Age? Nuances? Model variation? Price? Thanks!

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