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Joined: Jan 2021
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Hello All,

I made my first piano purchase over a year ago, and I figured I should share my experience with the forum, since I used this forum in my research in the months leading up to the purchase. It was a lifelong dream come true, and if there is anything useful here that I can contribute that could help others, that would be fantastic! And I'm sorry for the lengthy post!

I've had a Baldwin E50, a small upright, that my grandmother gave to me many years ago, and I'd periodically talk to my piano tech about how'd I'd like to get a real piano someday. Then a couple years ago, my daughter had a piano recital on a beautiful Steinway B, and after it ended, I got to play it a bit. That really got the gears turning again, and then I'd decided it was finally time to put a nice piano in my studio. I had an idea of the size and price range, basically something around 6', and in the $30K range, used or new... but that price range ended up getting stretched. eek

My tech advised me to "buy the piano, not the story", which was good advice, and I also knew that I would have to do a lot of research and try a lot of pianos. Over the course of several months, I tried many new, used and rebuilt pianos, at all my area dealers and even in somebody's home. A big challenge was trying to keep everything straight in my head, obviously not being able to quickly A/B pianos at different locations, in different acoustic spaces, etc. so I started a Google spreadsheet to keep track of things. There were rebuilt Steinways, used/new Schimmels, Kawais, Yamahas, and even a used Steingraeber & Sohne A-168 that was in my list. I entered in all the costs (purchase price, delivery, sales tax, etc.), the stats of the piano, and more importantly all my impressions I had about the piano, in terms of its sound in different registers, the voicing, the action, etc. Not having seriously shopped for pianos of this caliber, I really had to almost 'practice' piano shopping to really discern the differences and not get caught up in the moment or pressure of being in a showroom. Although I have to say, most of my experience was low-pressure.

In the end it really came down to two pianos, the Shigeru Kawai SK-2 and the Yamaha S3X, which were at two different dealers. Both pianos pushed well beyond my initial budget, but it seemed if I could stretch it (and convince my wife smile ) it would be worth it. They both had wonderful dynamics of tone and beautiful responsive actions, from pianissimo all the way up. It was a tough decision, and so re-visited each piano multiple times. The last time I brought my portable recorder and captured each piano in as similar a way as possible, so that I could virtually A/B the pianos in my studio back home. Since recording was one of the ultimate goals, this seemed like a valid thing to do, and it proved to be very helpful. Although I might have had a slight preference for the Shigeru action, the Yamaha won overall for its deeper bass and rounder tone in the middle of the keyboard, and it just had the sound I was looking for in the end (and this is something that honestly just took time to figure out).

So here are some pictures of the piano in its new home:
[img]http://forum.pianoworld.com//ubbthr...a-s3x-in-my-home-studio.html#Post3072843[/img]
[Linked Image]

In terms of caring for the piano, and keeping it in tune, I knew humidity control was the key. In our New England winters, the humidifier was going to be important. I did so much research on this, the different types, and in the end I went for the higher energy consumption, but lower maintenance of a warm-mist humidifier. I ended up getting the Boneco S450, and I've been very happy with it. Every 4-6 days maybe, I refill the water tank with our filtered water (which produces little-to-no scaling), and clean the humifier with vinegar every few weeks. It's very quiet most of the time, and if need be, I can turn it off, if I'm recording.

In the summer, I had hoped my minisplit HVAC system would provide enough dehumidification, but unfortunately that did not work out. So I looked at a lot of options, but in the end, the quietest, most-effective option was this Hisense 35-pint dehumidifier. At least over this last summer, it did a good job of keeping things in check, and again, I could turn it off if I needed to record the piano.

I've been trying to keep the humidity in the 45-50% range, and to separately monitor and log the humidity, I got this Govee Wifi thermometer/hygrometer, which works great and even sends me notifications if the humidity falls out of range.

Also, I thought I should learn to tune my piano, starting with my Baldwin as 'practice', then eventually the Yamaha, so that I could make sure the piano would be in tune for a recording session, especially if just a few unisons needed fixing. I ordered a Fujan tuning hammer, some mutes, and I bought the Cybertuner app for my iPhone. I got a couple lessons from my piano tech, who showed me proper tuning hammer technique and some important do's and don'ts. This proved to be a great move for me, because I was able to keep things in check throughout this entire pandemic so far. After my gigs ended due to the pandemic, I started making YouTube videos instead, many featuring the piano, so it's been awesome to be able to keep it in tune. With a lot of practice on the tuning hammer over the past year, I'm definitely no pro, but I'm able to tune the Yamaha completely in about 2-3 hours on a good day. (I may be slow, but I'm stubborn smile ) The cost of the hammer and Cybertuner app is definitely not cheap, but they have paid for themselves many times over by now.

So finding good piano recording samples was harder than I thought it would be back when I was shopping for pianos, so I thought I'd share a couple here in case anybody is seriously considering the SX line. Here's a solo jazz piano ballad:
"I Remember Clifford"
And here's the piano in a group setting, again jazz-oriented:
"Signature of Time"

I hope this was entertaining and/or helpful!
Jeremy

Last edited by Jeremy Parker; 01/22/21 11:09 PM.



Yamaha S3X / Baldwin E50 / many vintage keyboards (Hammond, Rhodes, Clavinets, Wurlizter...)
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Jeremy,

That was a wonderful read and it was a treat to see your YouTube videos. You look like you are in seventh heaven with your S3X!

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Congratulations, Jeremy! Beautiful piano and very nice playing. Hope you enjoy it for many years.


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Thanks ITWK and Fluxo, I appreciate it! I'm glad to share my experience, and I hope to learn more and engage in the community here as time goes on.




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Jeremy, greetings from a neighbor in New Hampshire! Looks like a beauty. I have played the cx3 and loved it, so I can only imagine your s3x is above that.
I currently have a Kawai K500 that is great but someday hope to upgrade.

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Hello there fellow New Englander! Yes, I also really liked the C3X as well, and it was on my list of contenders before I discovered the S3X. I checked out that Kawai K500 just now, looks like a superb upright, with the string length, duplex scaling, long key sticks, etc. that probably make it competitive with a small grand. Very nice...




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Congratulations Jeremy! I really like the Yamaha S3X line. Thanks for sharing your piano journey with us. There's a lot of good advice in there for other's to learn from. Enjoy that beautiful piano!

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Very nice, hope you enjoy the S3X for many years! I love the double caster gold wheels on it wink


♯ ♮ ♭ ø ° Δ ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬
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Thanks GC12 and bSharp!! Glad to be part of the piano community finally, too!




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Congratulations on your S3X!
Love your playing and youtube videos.

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Thanks so much tirta, and glad you enjoyed the videos!




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thanks for the reply.

sx series according to yamaha, will be mellower, warmer, better singing tones and will have much better control, dynamic and more tonal colors compared to cx series.
do you agree?

ps. please check your pm

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Hi Tirta, thanks I just saw your message. Yes, I agree with that statement. I did compare several C3X's against the S3X, and the key differences to me were the wider range of tones possible, more refined/sensitive action, smooth, practically imperceptible transitions across all the breaks, and just a higher level of refinement overall. The C3X pianos were very nice, but the tone seemed to be more constant and overall a little brighter (although not like the previous generation C3), changing less with dynamics compared to the S3X. From talking with a couple of piano technicians, I believe the hammers of the S3X are the same or similar to the CF series, and the rim of the piano is more resonant and contributing to the sound on the S3X compared to the stiffer rim of the C3X. The action of the S3X allowing easier pianissimo combined with the hammers I think allow to the S3X to almost sound like a different piano at pianissimo (in a good way), with just an overall more complex and potentially expressive sound. As an aside, I did also play the S5X and S7X, and wow, even better. Obviously, the low end was even more superb (and the S3X sounds amazing to me as only a 6'1" piano). I believe the key stick is longer in the larger SX pianos, and so the action on the S5X and S7X has an even more sensitive feel.

The other aspect to all of this is the preparation that the dealer or technician does to any new piano when it comes from the factory, so that can be another variable to consider. I think the SX pianos are partially hand built at Yamaha, and then they're often given more prep time at the dealer as I understand. Fortunately, the dealer I ended up buying the S3X from, Falcetti Pianos, was top-notch in that respect. Every time I went in to try out pianos, every single piano was in tune, voiced well, and was ready to play without making any excuses.

All that being said, I would have still been very happy to get a C3X, but I just was fortunate enough to discover the S3X and be able to purchase it at the time.




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thanks for the feedback.

If we compare CX to SX pianos, they look exactly the same.
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
I guess the differences are in the materials used and the factory prep.

Yes, dealer prep and tech are another important aspect.
Sadly here, the standard is very low.
Most of the tech only know how to tune, but not voicing or regulating,
And there is no dealer prep at all.
Usually the dealer send the piano from main yamaha warehouse straight to customer home,
or in my case, since I have to order the piano from Japan:
straight from the port to my home.

the normal prep here is mostly only tuning.

I hear that SX pianos has very good factory prep at their factory in Japan.
Is this correct?
Does your dealer do a lot of prep for their SX pianos?

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Yes, there are many differences, including the hammers, sound board and rim. The SX is also more hand-built than the CX. Perhaps the prep isn't as crucial being in Indonesia, since you are much closer to the factory? (I think some regions of the world are prepped differently than others?) In any case, yes, I think the SX gets a lot more attention at the factory. My dealer, Falcetti Pianos, may be a little more the exception than the rule, from my experience, as they give all their pianos quite a bit of prep work from what I could tell. Still though, I would imagine the factory would know the situation if your dealer is shipping it straight to you, and at the price and performance level of the SX line, I bet the piano would be very well adjusted. Or if you're ordering directly from Yamaha, perhaps they could ensure full prep was done beforehand?




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I surely hope so.
But when I ask the dealer about this, frankly they do not know either,
since nobody in my city has ordered sx pianos before.

Jeremy you use Fujan tuning hammer,
is this the carbon fiber version?
is it true that this hammer make the tuning process easier?

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Well, I wish you good luck, and hope you won't be disappointed if you do order an SX-series piano, even without dealer prep. Maybe others on this forum would know more about ordering direct from Yamaha; maybe it's worth a separate post?

Yes, I am using the Fujan carbon fiber hammer, because I was told by my piano technician to get a good tuning hammer, that was very stiff and had a high quality tuning tip. The stiffness helps you feel how the tuning pin is moving subtly in the pin block, and the tuning tip makes sure that you have good engagement with the tuning pin and without causing any damage. And the tuning app (or electronic tuner) makes a big difference, especially for me being a total amateur. I'd be struggling without the CyberTuner app, and the lessons I had from my piano tech. Also, when I ordered the tuning hammer, the tip was not tightened down onto the head assembly, so I needed help from my piano tech who put a spare tuning pin into a large vise and tightened down on it with the hammer to secure the tip. Anyway, I would recommend you talk to a local tuner to get advice/lessons if you want to try it.




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Many congratulations! I recently bought a barely-played Yamaha S4 that's about 20 years old. (I started a thread trying to find out if the new equivalent would be the CF4 or SX3; either way it is a gorgeous piano.)

I was just curious why you have not installed a Dampp-Chaser given your concern about relative humidity? We live in an old house near Philadelphia and especially this time of year the temps and especially humidity can swing wildly from day to day. So the D-C has been a godsend in keeping conditions stable for the piano.

Last edited by RobAC; 05/03/21 08:19 AM.

Yamaha S4

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