Yamaha B3 Advice

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Yamaha B3 Advice

Post by bart » 09 Jun 2008, 01:04

Has anyone seen/heard/played this one? Any feedback?
On paper, seems like very attractive.

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 09 Jun 2008, 22:52

Not seen one yet

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Post by markymark » 11 Jun 2008, 00:51

I'm actually surprised that Yamaha has put a 121cm upright and five back posts in their entry-level B-series! It has the makings of a very good acoustic but it'll be interesting to play when it becomes available! In real terms though, it is unreasonable to think that it will be comparable with say a P121 or U1, even though it seems to share similar dimensions and external features.

It kind of makes you wonder why Yamaha does it! You just know that someone will look at these dimensions and get tricked into thinking they're getting a cheap U1 without stopping to see what's under the lid! :roll:

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Post by PianoGuy » 05 Jul 2008, 13:06

Just tried my first b3.

Deffo based on the U1 frame, and build quality of the important bits really quite decent, but oh what economy casework! Makes an old Kawai look rigid.

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Post by Exar » 19 Aug 2008, 13:36

Does anyone have more info on the Yamah b3?
I am new to the world of piano. I want to learn to play (teached myself a few weeks on a keyboard and plan to get lessons) and I want to buy a piano.
So I was wondering if people think the b3 is a good deal or not?

The local music store recommended it to me and I must say this b3 sounded the best of most of the piano's they 'showed' me. But maybe how it sounds is not the most important? What about the quality?
I read this series is built in Indonesia instead of Japan (but still quality controlled by Yamaha). Does that mean anything?
Can anyone give me an advice for this? Or is there a good review/comparison website for piano's?

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Post by sussexpianos » 20 Aug 2008, 18:55

sorry, there isn't a "what piano" mag or website. I really wouldnt get worked up about quality etc as nearly all pianos are built to a good standard, just depends on how long you want it to last, and I suspect most new pianos will last 50 years before needing to be replaced as bass strings tend to go first and thats expensive now. Most people only look 5-10 years down the line anyway.
As a beginner, I would just get either a good secondhand piano or a cheaper new one. After 5 years or so, you will have an understanding of what sound and touch you are looking for. Then you can spend time and your money. learning the piano is going to take many years, not weeks.

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Post by A440 » 07 Sep 2008, 20:13

I would advise buying once and buying right. Change your flute or violin yes, but pianos like staying in one place and are expensive to move.
The defining factor about the B series is they have plywood sound boards. The salesman will tell you it is 'laminated to withstand changes in temperature and humidity' but the fact is it's plywood and I think most peple can hear the difference when it's next to a 'normal' piano with a solid soundboard.
Yes, it brings the price down (manufacturing a solid soundboard is tricky and expensive), but surely people want a piano with a pleasant tone. I think the B series sound like they have a cardboard soundboard and are incredibly dull in the bass. There's economising and economising.
Anyone who's ever bought a decent tool- say a good drill or chisel will hold it in there hand 5 years down the line, smile, and think I'm so glad I didn't buy that cheap one to save a few quid.
Save mony on car insurance, go compare all you like, but when buying a musical instrument buy once and buy well. You'll play more, enjoy the sound more and be pleased you made the right choice!

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Post by markymark » 07 Sep 2008, 23:22

A440 wrote:The defining factor about the B series is they have plywood sound boards. The salesman will tell you it is 'laminated to withstand changes in temperature and humidity' but the fact is it's plywood...
I just knew that they had to have cut corners with the soundboard! That is incredible - a plywood soundboard! Urghh! :(

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Post by sussexpianos » 08 Sep 2008, 09:29

most cheap pianos have laminated soundboards, its cheap, and most people look at the case and the price tag. You dont see cheap Kawai pianos because they refuse to use thin laminated soundboards, but I guess ecconomics will win over.
With regards to buying the right piano first, then I disagree. Most people do not know if the piano is right for them and nearly half give up. How can you tell if you are going to like a piano 5years down the line when you are inexperianced to start with. People's tast change, look at fashion. As long as the piano plays well, and responds well and has a pleasing tone which the player likes, then good to start with untill they feel confident that they can appriciate the finer points of a more expensive piano. Expensive pianos drop in price like lead weights so if you know what you want, and know the piano is for you, then spend and keep it for a long time, but dont think you have to keep it, some people change their pianos because their tast in sound and touch changes.

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Post by Exar » 08 Sep 2008, 18:19

For the record, I bought a Kawai K2 instead of a Yamaha B3 (it was delivered an hour ago).

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Post by genaa » 08 Sep 2008, 19:16

Far better choice I would say Exar :) Enjoy your new piano!

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Post by sussexpianos » 09 Sep 2008, 09:12

i agree

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Post by markymark » 09 Sep 2008, 22:50

ditto :wink:

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Post by bart » 09 Sep 2008, 23:00

This is actually all very helpful. I guess I am leaning more towards a K2 now, but of course I'd have to play both of them first.
Price seems about the same.
Thanks
Bart

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Post by sussexpianos » 10 Sep 2008, 10:53

If I had the extra money, borrow, steal and sell body parts, Id get the K3. Its a great piano with a trusted designed back, carbon action and 121cm for a rich bass.
Kawai prices have gone up this month, be quick and you might get them at the old price.

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Post by bart » 10 Sep 2008, 19:04

What dealers would you recommend for Kawais? (In the London area).

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Post by vernon » 10 Sep 2008, 21:00

Moderator
Would it be appropriate to ask Kawai dealers on this forum for a quote?
Don't want to step on anybody's toes

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Post by vernon » 10 Sep 2008, 21:00

Moderator
Would it be appropriate to ask Kawai dealers on this forum for a quote?
Don't want to step on anybody's toes

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Post by PianoGuy » 10 Sep 2008, 22:39

sussexpianos wrote:most cheap pianos have laminated soundboards, its cheap, and most people look at the case and the price tag. You dont see cheap Kawai pianos because they refuse to use thin laminated soundboards, but I guess ecconomics will win over.
I realise there are a fair few Kawai dealers on here, but even they should admit that the entry-level K15-E is a poor value piano for the money, non- laminated soundboard or not. No excuse for badly fitting casework and rattles at any price from a quality manufacturer. They should drop it and start the range with the above-mentioned K2. I'd agree with Sussex re the K3 though. A really grown-up piano for the cash, and worth it if you can afford the expense.

Laminated soundboards can work very well. A number of years ago, Fazers were sold in the UK. These cheap pianos were fitted with excellent UK-built Langer actions, quality hammers, Röslau strings and laminated soundboards. The sound quality would even today make a b series Yam or a Kawai K2 sound like shite.

OK, so they also sported plain IKEA style chipboard cases stuck together with a Black & Decker staple gun, and occasionally suffered from the odd rubbery hammer shank, but they were dirt cheap, and played and sounded fantastic, with a richness of bass unrivalled by anything else of its size or even 10cm taller.

If you avoided the plastic woodite finish, some of the mahogany versions were a lustrous golden colour and even made the stark casework look OK in a Scandinavian-60s-designer-kinda way!

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Post by A440 » 11 Sep 2008, 12:49

I don't understand why carbon action parts are considered desirable on Kawais. Do the champions (sellers) of these pianos REALLY (in real life, forgetting all the profit margins and name-drop plugs on web sites such as this) think wooden action parts can be improved upon?
Any tuner with any experience will have been in the position where they are unable to make a repair (often at a school) because of non-wooden parts. You can go on about how marvelous this or that new carbon/nylon/woodex material is and how it withstands temperature and humidity variations but why bother? The soundboard and bridges are wood and need to be kept in a reasonable environment.
I'm campaigning to have all the trees in our local park cut down so we can have some of those nice carbon-fibre ones, they're so much less mess...

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Post by genaa » 11 Sep 2008, 14:25

and they make better mobile phone masts too ;) :twisted:

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 11 Sep 2008, 21:48

vernon wrote:Moderator
Would it be appropriate to ask Kawai dealers on this forum for a quote?
Don't want to step on anybody's toes
I have no problem with recommendations or a dealer pushing their pianos so long as it is in the open who they are and they don't put down their competitors


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Post by sussexpianos » 12 Sep 2008, 07:53

The abs carbon action is far supeiror to the wooden action in mnay ways. Best you read the website of Kawai. Why would you need to repair the plastic? Its near impossible to break.

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Post by PianoGuy » 12 Sep 2008, 08:55

sussexpianos wrote:The abs carbon action is far supeiror to the wooden action in mnay ways.
No it's not.

It is however a valid approach to piano design and a superior plastic to any other used in piano construction to date, but certainly not as repairable or as good to play as the best wooden designs.

Kawai have only really been true contenders since the introduction of their current range, and that coincides with the introduction of the M3 action, but that's not the reason that they are better than before. The issues of creaky rattly build quality of some earlier case designs and a rational model range have both been addressed and they now provide a true alternative to the omnipresent Yamaha. Kawai are still not "better" than Yamaha but their alternative materials and approach are excellent and offer a real choice. There are still poor models, notably the entry level KX15-E which can be shown a thing or two by the similarly priced competitors from China.

The loyalty they inspire in their dealers has as much to do with a willing and pleasant UK representative who offers dealers good personal attention as it has to do with the pianos. Yamaha could learn much here, especially if the discounting practices they allow so freely could be curbed.

Still interesting that some Kawai dealers claim that they "refuse to stock Yamaha" on account of "Poor tone" and other issues, but they still stock identical Kembles and do a great trade in flogging used Yamaha grey imports. The only Yamahas with a "Poor tone" are arguably the subject of this thread, the b-series.

The b3 is quite transparently Yam's attempt to stamp out the grey-imports of used U1s by introducing a new piano of similar size at the sort of price that a typical 25 year old U1 will go for. Nice idea, but at the price and size there are better sounding offerings from Brodmann, Perzina and at a pinch Wendl & Lung, all of which sound better, but rattly casework issues still apply to the latter.

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Post by A440 » 12 Sep 2008, 09:58

sussexpianos wrote:The abs carbon action is far superior to the wooden action in many ways. Best you read the website of Kawai. Why would you need to repair the plastic? Its near impossible to break.
Read the website. It says it's STRONGER than wood (so what) but doesn't mention more durable over time.
Most people invest in a piano for its durability over time rather than strength.
Sadly we cannot know if abs is as 'good'(eg durable) as wood until a few hundred years have elapsed. All materials degrade over time (even abs ).
The fact that there are thousands of pianos out there with wooden action parts as good as the day they were made (with the exception of cedar hammer shanks which, it turns out, become brittle about 80 years later) makes me think it's gilding the lily at best.
I'm not suggesting innovation is wrong but it should be focused in improving a weakness rather than making a production process cheaper.

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Post by sussexpianos » 12 Sep 2008, 11:08

The main points is that is dosn't change according to humidity, which rises and falls during the day. Over time wood will weaken as well as causing problems along the way. Is recentring a thing of the past? Abs plastics have been in Kawai pianos for a long time, i think 40 years and are proven to that point. When touch is very important when playing a piano, adding friction to the parts adds weight needed for the key to be depressed and released.Having stiff centres or loose centres will effect the touch weight of a piano. Having the carbon action means the action is more constant and the touch weight the same as it was designed for. This action will also be cheaper to maintain as no centring or replacing of the main parts will be needed. Wood is flexable and needed for the shanks, but thats all. How many times have I been called out for sticking notes? Loads, and its nearly always stiff hammer or jack centres. Thus, the ABS action should be more reliable. The carbon parts are also lighter, giving the player more response and control.

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Post by A440 » 12 Sep 2008, 11:26

sussexpianos wrote:The main points is that is doesn't change according to humidity, which rises and falls during the day. Over time wood will weaken as well as causing problems along the way. Is re centring a thing of the past?
But it isn't the WOOD that's at fault when a piano needs re centering, it's the bushing cloth. The bushing cloth is then reamed and a larger pin put in. There has to be some wear in a repetitive process. People still recenter abs actions.

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Post by PianoGuy » 12 Sep 2008, 19:44

The one thing that none of the tuners on here appear to have mentioned is that Kawais of all descriptions are harder to tune than Yamahas and also less stable. This has diddley squat to do with the alchemy of oil-based chemicals (and there's another point to consider) which go to make the M3 action, but rather more to do with a family of frame designs which are less accurately cast than their Yamaha rivals' and top bridges which are strangely sharp. It's something that Kawai should improve upon, because the actual design of the frame is very good indeed.

I tuned a K3 this week and it had a superb rich bass which would put a similarly priced Yamaha P121N in the shade, but it was horribly out of tune after 6 months, far worse than a Yamaha would have been. The hammers were rather cheap looking too, which may have contributed to the less pleasant treble which lacked the sustain that was so excellent in the bass.

Generally superb value though, and a blend of different strengths and weaknesses that make it so different to a Yam, so it's a shame that they seem to need more attention to tuning. 4-month intervals are almost necessary..

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Post by vernon » 12 Sep 2008, 20:27

This is all very subjective.
One can only speak generally, but all Kawais are no harder to tune than all Yamahas( or any other pianos other than false Bechsteins), nor are they less stable.
Let's be sensible

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Post by vernon » 12 Sep 2008, 20:33

What do you mean,"harder to tune/"
Overtight wrest pins? The note doesn't drop in and stay? Wolf notes? Strings slip immediately?

Not in my experience.
If one gets a recalcitrant piano, it is the tuners job to bully it into compliance with his artistic and scientific desires.

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 12 Sep 2008, 21:55

I would not say they are harder to fine tune

I would agree they are more unstable over time in a shifting environment they can swing 10 to 15 cents in some homes

I use to put it down the the house but I have a client that has both makes side by site and the K swing more that the Y

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Post by vernon » 12 Sep 2008, 22:00

I've got them side by side in the showroom and notice nothing particularly unremakable about either not standing tune

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Post by crispin » 12 Sep 2008, 23:21

One can only speak generally, but all Kawais are no harder to tune than all Yamahas( or any other pianos other than false Bechsteins), nor are they less stable.
Overtight wrest pins? The note doesn't drop in and stay? Wolf notes? Strings slip immediately?
Sorry to show my ignorance but what is:
(a) a false Bechstein
(b) a Wolf note

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Post by PianoGuy » 12 Sep 2008, 23:31

Barrie Heaton wrote: I would agree they are more unstable over time in a shifting environment they can swing 10 to 15 cents in some homes
Exactly that.

And no, not tight pins, but a tendency for a unison or three to drop out of tune here and there. I always seem to have to spend more time on them than a Yamaha. I agree vernon, that it's the tuner's duty and job to extract the best from any given piano, but seeing as I spend my entire working life tuning pianos I prefer ones that give as little resistance to the process as possible, don't you?

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Post by vernon » 12 Sep 2008, 23:36

Older Bechsteins were notorious for very false tenor sections. This manifested itself by each single string of a tri-chord giving off it's own " beat" Multiply by 3 and you have a jangle of beats in addition to the true one you are looking for. One has to listen through the jangling to achieve the best compromise possible. Nobody has ever explained why Bechsteins were plagued thus.
A wolf note is a pure note around which the sensitive ear can hear an assortment of rogue partials that shouldn't be there.Fortunately, most people don't hear them

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Post by vernon » 12 Sep 2008, 23:41

Piano Guy
What a delight it is to suddenly come on a piano, maybe of no particular make, that does exactly what it is told, almost jumps into tune a gives you a glowing feeling of satisfaction. Pretty rare.
I have a Knight piano and a Schimmel that I tune yearly, but which never budge and I can spend my time giving them the finest of fine tunings. Very satisfying

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Post by PianoGuy » 12 Sep 2008, 23:44

vernon wrote:Nobody has ever explained why Bechsteins were plagued thus.
It's the tightness of the route of the string through the agraffe. Each string vibrates at a slightly different speed in the A-B plane to the X-Y plane resulting in a beat. A dreadful phenomenon and why Bechsteins really don't deserve their reputation of excellence.

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Post by crispin » 13 Sep 2008, 00:12

It's the tightness of the route of the string through the agraffe. Each string vibrates at a slightly different speed in the A-B plane to the X-Y plane resulting in a beat.
I must say that the technical info on this forum is excellent... I have this new Bechstein Academy upright but I am not expert enough to tell whether it has this 'false Bechstein' syndrome or not - the piano tuner did not appear to off put when he worked on the upper treble...

anyway since we have gone off topic a bit - I have another question. The piano tuner told me that the piano is something organic and that I might find some section going slightly out of tune on some occasion - but three weeks later it would be back in tune - so he suggested that he would visit again in a year's time. However I read that new pianos should be tuned 2 or 3 times in the first year. What is the opinion of the experts?

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Post by mdw » 13 Sep 2008, 06:51

2-3 times in the first year or 2 and the 6 monthly. Normaly the guarantee states 6 monthy tunings at least. They move in and out of tune due to temperature but mainy humdity changes. For example in the last 6 weeks Ive tuned loads which have been very very sharp simply because its been chucking down rain for ages so the humidity is high. This is why the more even you can keep the temp and humidity the longer it will stay in tune.

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Post by PianoGuy » 13 Sep 2008, 07:25

crispin wrote: I must say that the technical info on this forum is excellent... I have this new Bechstein Academy upright but I am not expert enough to tell whether it has this 'false Bechstein' syndrome or not - the piano tuner did not appear to off put when he worked on the upper treble...
Nah!

New Bechsteins are fine.

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Post by PianoGuy » 13 Sep 2008, 09:01

vernon wrote:Piano Guy
What a delight it is to suddenly come on a piano, maybe of no particular make, that does exactly what it is told, almost jumps into tune a gives you a glowing feeling of satisfaction. Pretty rare.
I have a Knight piano and a Schimmel that I tune yearly, but which never budge and I can spend my time giving them the finest of fine tunings. Very satisfying
Very true!

I know a couple of Knights like that. I also have a couple of 1970s Rogers which are just as stable - the ones with the brass rod under the strings in the treble.

Always makes me wonder why Bentley pianos were often so gimcrack when the same staff at the same factory also produced the Rogers. Not exciting to look at, but stable as a rock and very sweet sounding for the size.

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Post by bart » 13 Sep 2008, 10:18

I see that the discussion is going off topic a bit (nothing wrong with that though, it is all very interesting).

So, I believe what I have learned so far:

* B2/B3 are reasonable pianos
* Kawai K2 is perhaps even better and K3 is a real winner (though I suspect quite a bit more expensive)

One thing I'd like to firm up though:
Some of the vendors of 2nd hand U1/U3 are suggesting the B series are a pile of rubbish, and that you are much better off buying a good used Ux1/U3 for the same money.
What is the view on that? I guess a B2 costs 2500 pound and a B3 just under 3k, so you'd get a 70s U1 for that sort of money. I think a K2 is also about 3K.

Thanks

Bart

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Post by sussexpianos » 13 Sep 2008, 10:25

Ive found Steinmayers a real pig to tune. They take a long time to settle, I sold one 3 years ago and its just starting to stop going out of tune in a big way. Now its just tidying up. But I have had to tune the new ones in the showroom every so often and you really have to hit the treble notes for them to settle.
I wish dampchaser systems were cheaper now that our enviroment seems to be going weird.

Id hope you get a 85-90 U1 for 2500. Main thing is, what sound do you like? They are different.

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Post by vernon » 13 Sep 2008, 12:39

The Steinmayers need plenty of prep in the showroom before selling, but at under 1995 gbp I know of nothing to touch them as an entry piano.
We have many out there that are all perfectly settled.
They need several tunings before they go out.

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 13 Sep 2008, 14:48

bart wrote: One thing I'd like to firm up though:
Some of the vendors of 2nd hand U1/U3 are suggesting the B series are a pile of rubbish, and that you are much better off buying a good used Ux1/U3 for the same money.
What is the view on that? I guess a B2 costs 2500 pound and a B3 just under 3k, so you'd get a 70s U1 for that sort of money. I think a K2 is also about 3K.

Thanks

Bart
That because he is not selling new pianos he would say that if he was.

my view is......

A) 1985 + U1 is far better that a B1 - B2 and B3
B) a new B3 is better buy than a pre 1980 U1 and that is what a lot of dealers are selling at £2500 or less quite a lot are selling pre 1975

However, there are some very nice pre 1980 U1s out there

At the end of the day its down to your pocket and if you like the sound

If you are going for a new Yamaha the prices are going up next week at the piano fair that will be the 3rd price rise this year

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Post by bart » 14 Sep 2008, 12:39

Right, that is useful.
So I think what I am going to do is:

(1) I am going to discard the Used piano option - I am really not willing to take a 3,000 pound risk with something I do not know much about
(2) Visit Jaques Samuels on Edgware Road, as they have both Kawai and Yamaha and play a bit. It will probably boil down to K2 or B3. Jaques Samuels do not publish prices on their web site, but I will assume they will offer at least as good as Chappells.
(3) Perhaps also visit Chappels, they may have a better choice for Yamahas.
It seems prices are going up for all models, but I guess there is not much I can do about that.

mdw
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Post by mdw » 14 Sep 2008, 13:30

bart wrote:Right, that is useful.
It seems prices are going up for all models, but I guess there is not much I can do about that.
Buy a British Kemble then you wont be affected as much by the falling pound plus you will have a nicer styed piano. It should hold its value better as its resale value wont be as affected by the price slashing squabbles of 2nd hand dodgy yams stuff.

PianoGuy
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Post by PianoGuy » 14 Sep 2008, 18:25

Barrie Heaton wrote:
my view is......

A) 1985 + U1 is far better that a B1 - B2 and B3
B) a new B3 is better buy than a pre 1980 U1
As a rule I completely agree.
(1) I am going to discard the Used piano option - I am really not willing to take a 3,000 pound risk with something I do not know much about
(2) Visit Jaques Samuels on Edgware Road, as they have both Kawai and Yamaha and play a bit. It will probably boil down to K2 or B3. Jaques Samuels do not publish prices on their web site, but I will assume they will offer at least as good as Chappells.
(3) Perhaps also visit Chappels, they may have a better choice for Yamahas.
It seems prices are going up for all models, but I guess there is not much I can do about that.
1) Good plan. You'll get a real warranty too, not just a dealer one which will be invalid if the dealer goes bust.
2) Good plan. JS are indeed both Kawai and Yam dealers which is a rare thing indeed. I can think of only a handful of dealers of both in the country, so compare away. If you really like any particular piano, ensure that it's that one, not a similar one that is delivered to you. I'm certainly not implying that it is unlikely to be the case, but be sure. Terry Lewis is the manager of JS. He's been in the trade a faior few years. I don't think he's a rampant discounter, but his prices should be more competitive than Chappell's. He also actually employs real piano technicians, so the standard of prep should be OK. In fact it'd *have* to be OK, since his techs must actually sort out the dreadful ex-works regulation on the restos he gets done in Poland, so you should be in good hands! ;-)
3) Again, good plan!! Try as many pianos as you can, but don't expect much of a discount from Chappell's. Not even a sensible one.

Have fun!

PG

neio
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Post by neio » 24 Sep 2008, 20:56

Need advice please... pre-owned (7 yrs old) Kawai K25E for £1800 or brand new Yamaha B3?

PianoGuy
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Post by PianoGuy » 25 Sep 2008, 06:49

neio wrote:Need advice please... pre-owned (7 yrs old) Kawai K25E for £1800 or brand new Yamaha B3?
Depends what the deal on the used one is. If it comes with delivery and warranty then I'd swing towards suggesting the Kawai, but if it's private sale or delivery is extra, the b3 looks better value.

Both pianos are fine but with compromises. K25 casework is often a bit rattly, but from what I've seen of the b3 it doesn't look to be all that rigid. The K25 wil probably sound better. Play them both and go for whichever you prefer!

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