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#3163187 10/10/21 04:05 PM
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I have 2 boys, ages 8 and 12, who have been taking lessons since they were 6. We currently have a Kawai GM-12 (5ft baby grand). The boys are talented and practice the piano regularly. As a background of where the boys are at, piano-wide: The 8 year old has just finished and memorized all 3 movements of Catherine Rollin’s Concerto in C piano duet and the 12 year old is working Flight of the Bumblebee. My husband is thinking of upgrading the piano to take their learning to the next level. The boys have tried out a few pianos and have a shortlisted their favorites down to 2 (both brand new):
Kawai 5’11 GX-2
Wilhelm Schimmel 180 (6 foot)
They will take the GM12 as a trade and the final price quoted to us was $24k for the Kawai and $21k for the W Schimmel.
The boys have noticed that the Schimmel had a stiffer action and the keys felt different from the Kawai they are used to but they liked the singing tone of the piano.
The boys don’t do competitions or anything of the sort. We just want to provide them a rich musical environment and the ability to really get more nuance and depth to their piano playing.
Is it worth to upgrade? What would be a better piano? We get such different sales pitches from the 2 piano stores we went to. The Kawai guy was all about how the Kawai has a thicker spreader bar and how that is better. The Schimmel guy says the thickness of the spreader bar doesn’t matter. And Schimmels are handcrafted and all wood compared to a production piano like Kawai.
Would very much appreciate some guidance and feedback.
Thank you!

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Having played mediocre instruments most of my life, when my son was learning, I made a commitment to get him the best instruments I could afford. I think it is a worthwhile investment in our kid's minds. Sounds like you already got the a nice piano to learn on and now it is time to move up a step. They will be more inspired and enjoy playing more.

I will leave the piano recommendations to the experts, but I like my Kawai a lot, the action is very enjoyable to play.


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I think both pianos you mention would be superior to your present piano in tone and touch. Whether getting a new piano is "worth it" is hard to say. Part of the answer would depend on your finances. Part would depend on how much your boys like or love playing the piano. A better grand would make learning the piano more pleasurable, but plenty of terrific pianists learned to play piano on mediocre uprights during their teenage years.

There are some misconceptions about the pianos you're interested in probably due to the sales talk. I have never heard of something called a"spreader bar" on a piano. Schimmels are definitely not all hand crafted, and there are parts of piano making that are done better by machine. The Schimmel ACTION is wood(and metal) but Kawai's action parts that are not wooden are considered at least as good as their wooden counterparts.

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Welcome, RollinC!

Your boys should notice a definite difference between either of the two pianos you test-played vs. the 5' Kawai GM-12 you currently own, largely due to the greater size. I speak as an owner of a Kawai GM-10, which is the same size as your GM-12 but with the older non-carbon fiber ABS action.

You may also wish to consider the Kawai GL-40, which is the same size as the GX-2 but with some less high-end (and still very good) components and a lower price. I am a fan of Kawai's ABS actions and the small technical improvements they have made, detailed on their website, in their brochures, and here: https://www.pianobuyer.com/brand/kawai/

I have no opinion of the Wilhelm Schimmel line, but you will find more details here: https://www.pianobuyer.com/brand/schimmel/

Should you decide to upgrade, do consider selling your GM-12 separately rather than trading it in. As it is a relatively inexpensive grand with a well-known brand name, there should be a market for it on Craigslist or other local channels. You will get considerably more for it in a private transaction than as a trade-in, though of course that takes more time and energy.

Is it worth upgrading? I ponder the same question, especially when on this forum, but remain happy with my little Kawai whenever I play it!

All the best!
Lotus
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Working on: Mozart / Sonata in D, K. 284, "Durnitz"
Pianos: Kawai GM-10 grand, Yamaha DGX-660 digital

Last edited by Lotus1; 10/10/21 05:03 PM.
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Thank you for the welcome. It’s such a big commitment that I am really wanting to take the time and solicit feedback from more knowledgeable people about the decision. The fact that they can’t play the pianos side by side since they are at 2 different stores and we get such a varied sales pitch from the 2 stores about how one is better than the other also makes it complicated. Is the construction of the European pianos superior over the other etc etc. Remarkably consistent for the boys is that they have not been enamored with the Yamahas they have played, even at the music school they go to. The 8 year old’s absolute favorite to play at the institute is a Bosendorfer. And we’re not even entertaining that option 😂

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Yamaha and Kawai pianos have a different tonal rendition. Comparing their pianos (below the concert grade level) many people have a definite preference for one or the other. Neither is inherently superior to the other, but subjective preferences may be unambiguous.

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Both salespeople are feeding you bad/useless information, based on what you have written, as to why to select one over the other (speaking as a person who’s owned the top-line pianos of both brands).

Tone, touch, appearance, price, warranty, the dealer experience, prestige, resale value, heck, even something like the bench (adjustable if the kids are different heights?) matter to shoppers, in different proportions. Both pianos are a reasonable step up, and probably a good “forever” piano for a nonprofessional player. Both are nicer than what I played on in high school…


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If you are financially sensitive at all, not likely worth it.
This forum is generally quick to encourage piano purchases.

Your currently piano would be plenty enough to reach a superb level of playing. Their advancement would not be limited by the piano. Top conservatory students practice on lesser pianos all the time.

IMO, it is better to spend the money on extra lessons/ high level coaching/ musical learning experiences.

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Originally Posted by spk
IMO, it is better to spend the money on extra lessons/ high level coaching/ musical learning experiences.

Eh…given the ages of the students, if they’re having a weekly piano lesson mirroring the school year schedule, and have any other interests outside of playing piano, more lessons is unlikely to accomplish much. Simultaneous coaching from multiple teachers with any regularity can also be counterproductive or confusing to younger students. But something like a 2-3 week summer music camp isn’t a bad idea at all.


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My piano's voice is my voice to the great unknown, out there..in other words a hymn.That is all but that is enough.

Just sold my old C2 and am thinking of replacing it with a CBechstein124, Schimmel K132 or a YUS5.
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If you have had the piano for six years or more, have you ever had regulation and voicing done to it? If not, chances are that the length of time that it has gone without anything beyond basic tuning has taken a toll. If irregularities of touch and volume have crept in, that will affect your sons' playing more than the lack of a clearer bass that you would get from a larger piano. It would also allow you to assess the skills of your technician.

There are number of fine, even professional pianists that I know, where I have been familiar with their childhood pianos, and many of them did not have particularly good pianos when they were young. Despite that, they went quite a ways with them, but making sure that those pianos played properly was a big benefit to their development.


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We do regular tunings but not any voicing or regulation. I admit to feeling out of my depth when trying to articulate that to the piano technician. How should I ask and how do we explain what we are after? Do I just ask the tech to prep it the best way or how? The boys do take lessons once a week all year around even throughout the summer. Thank you, everyone for helping us out. The people at the piano store were all personable but I did wonder how some of the things they talked about sounded very “sales pitchy.” And although the boys can state specifically what they like or don’t like about a piano, I just don’t know if I would wager $20k solely on their opinions, especially since it appears that we have a nice piano at home already.

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3-4 hours of touch up work to the voicing and regulation, in addition to tuning, could definitely improve the touch and tone of the piano…assuming your technician is experienced with this work. Assuming it doesn’t need hammer reshaping, the work can be done for probably $500, maybe slightly less. And it would make the piano more salable if you were going to try and sell it privately.


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The piano has had light use since new, been regularly tuned and presumably climate controlled. additional work may not be noticed by anyone. But no harm in asking technician at next tuning, he/she may say nothing to do.

To boost their learning cheaply and develop their musical ear, try exposing them to high level musicianship, ie professional recordings, recitals when safe, etc.

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Take a moment OP to pat yourself on the back for a second, the kids already have extraordinary resources available to them.

As another alternative, to boost their learning with $20K, put it in a 529. They’ll thank you later!

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Originally Posted by spk
The piano has had light use since new, been regularly tuned and presumably climate controlled. additional work may not be noticed by anyone. But no harm in asking technician at next tuning, he/she may say nothing to do.

To boost their learning cheaply and develop their musical ear, try exposing them to high level musicianship, ie professional recordings, recitals when safe, etc.
So you personally know the condition of this piano? After all condition is the most important aspect.


My piano's voice is my voice to the great unknown, out there..in other words a hymn.That is all but that is enough.

Just sold my old C2 and am thinking of replacing it with a CBechstein124, Schimmel K132 or a YUS5.
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Thanks, everyone. The piano is regularly tuned and the use of it is fairly regular (at least an hour a day). I will certainly ask our technician during the next visit whether he thinks it will benefit from regulation/voicing. We are very fortunate as the boys are able to attend an excellent music conservatory where exposure from small to bigger gatherings are on hand. My 8 year old was very lucky to have also been able to do a 30 minute master class recently from a visiting Steinway artist who was holding a concert with the local symphony at the school’s invitation. I think that experience was what had gotten us into considering whether the upgrade was worth it.
And totally agree with the 529 investment 😂

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Originally Posted by spk
The piano has had light use since new, been regularly tuned and presumably climate controlled. additional work may not be noticed by anyone. But no harm in asking technician at next tuning, he/she may say nothing to do.

If the piano is several years old and has had regular use but no service besides tunings, I can pretty much guarantee the hammer shanks are too close to the rest rail (if not sitting on it), and the jack position relative to the knuckle, repetition lever height, spring tension, possibly keyframe bedding (depending on humidity) are all not as good as they can be. The difference would likely be noticeable to anyone beyond the beginner level. Heck, it's noticeable when I do this stuff on brand new pianos at dealers, before they're even sold...and I'm not an expert-level technician in terms of my experience level.


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I never said it wasnt worth having the technician look at it.

It sounds like the kids have played enough pianos to be somewhat discerning.

If the piano was severely out of regulation, maybe the kids would notice, in the same vein they noticed the Schimmel was stiff.

There’s been no complaint so far put forth about the performance of the current piano.

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You may be correct or perhaps they have been practicing on an unregulated piano and are unable to judge.Either way it would be a good idea to find out by having a piano technician check the instrument.


My piano's voice is my voice to the great unknown, out there..in other words a hymn.That is all but that is enough.

Just sold my old C2 and am thinking of replacing it with a CBechstein124, Schimmel K132 or a YUS5.
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