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#3161890 10/04/21 01:48 PM
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I am very tempted by a new shigeru sk3. After extensive consideration I cannot accommodate a piano larger than this.

Love the action but the tone is a little on the duller, weaker side. It is not bad by any means, but not my ideal

I have played a lot of shigerus, every model from SK2 to SK7 and have heard examples with a beautiful rich, resonant tone, that is mellow without being muddled. This drew me to the brand in the past.

The dealer suggested that the piano hammers may take a couple months to settle in and compact from initial use and would become brighter.

He also offered the services of some very well known techs to voice the piano after the settling in period. This would be even prior to the MPA visit

Now I would normally want to "hear it to believe it" before buying a new piano, but just wanted to see what experience others have had with voicing and other fine tuning after purchase

In addition my living room has a lot of hard surfaces with a high ceiling, so I'm thinking there is also the possibility that the piano would be more reasonant in a different acoustic environment

RTKO #3161891 10/04/21 01:56 PM
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RTKO, I will send you a private message with my contact information. Please get in touch with me.


Don Mannino, MPA
Kawai America
RTKO #3161895 10/04/21 02:23 PM
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Interesting. Here's what a recent thread has to say regarding voicing:

Quote
Besides being out of tune, the voicing on the Shigeru and all of the GXs (three or four GX-2s and one GX-7, if that's the right number for the seven-foot model) was dull and uninspiring. Zero magic.

FWIW I don't think room acoustics will change the timbre. The room would just act as an extension of the instrument - it may magnify and/or reflect the sound, but if the timbre is dull, it will still be dull but bigger and wetter.


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Originally Posted by RTKO
I am very tempted by a new shigeru sk3. After extensive consideration I cannot accommodate a piano larger than this.

Love the action but the tone is a little on the duller, weaker side. It is not bad by any means, but not my ideal

I have played a lot of shigerus, every model from SK2 to SK7 and have heard examples with a beautiful rich, resonant tone, that is mellow without being muddled. This drew me to the brand in the past.

The dealer suggested that the piano hammers may take a couple months to settle in and compact from initial use and would become brighter.

He also offered the services of some very well known techs to voice the piano after the settling in period. This would be even prior to the MPA visit

Now I would normally want to "hear it to believe it" before buying a new piano, but just wanted to see what experience others have had with voicing and other fine tuning after purchase

In addition my living room has a lot of hard surfaces with a high ceiling, so I'm thinking there is also the possibility that the piano would be more reasonant in a different acoustic environment
A piano can absolutely be more resonant in a different environment. Resonance describes the power and lasting effect of the tone. Any piano will sound more resonant played in a concert hall over one played in a small room with wall to wall carpets and furniture with soft fabrics.

I've found the timbre of the Shigerus (I own an SK2) to be relatively consistent with the only caveat being they had been maintained/tuned at the dealer and unfortunately this is not always the case. Maybe it's an over reliance by some dealers on the quality of the Shigeru right from the factory that they neglect basic upkeep. The nice thing is that there is a solution to this in your MPA visit and some dealer prep prior to purchase so you can hear your Shigeru at its best.

Anyways, the Shigeru is a world class, exceptional instrument and how about that customer service from the top? They take care of you. There have been some glowing reviews online on the Shigeru. You might want to look those up- those pianos were well prepped and had gorgeous tones.


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Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
RTKO #3161942 10/04/21 06:31 PM
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Jethro: you are preaching to the choir. smile Absolutely love the Shigerus and I've been "window shopping" for a long time. Really the choice is likely between *this* Shigeru versus another SK3, if one comes in stock in the next 6 months or so.

Only locally in stock competitor right now is potentially a Steinway A, but I found the Shigeru more controllable. The Steinway would need some fine tuning as well so none of this is a knock against the SK. I called around for availability of other competing brands are they are out of stock within a 100 mile radius

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I would be careful. You say you normally want to ``hear it to believe it''. I definitely think this is the right instinct. In my opinion one should never buy a piano whose sound you find wanting, and the assurances of the dealer should be taken with a grain of salt. I had a bad experience of my own: I bought a piano once whose tone had a subtle quality I did not quite like, because I liked everything else about the piano and the dealer persuaded me that it was trivial to fix the tone issues when the techs tuned up the piano before shipping. It turns out they never were able to fix the tone issues.

RTKO #3161985 10/04/21 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by RTKO
Jethro: you are preaching to the choir. smile Absolutely love the Shigerus and I've been "window shopping" for a long time. Really the choice is likely between *this* Shigeru versus another SK3, if one comes in stock in the next 6 months or so.

Only locally in stock competitor right now is potentially a Steinway A, but I found the Shigeru more controllable. The Steinway would need some fine tuning as well so none of this is a knock against the SK. I called around for availability of other competing brands are they are out of stock within a 100 mile radius
Well it looks like your mind is pretty much settled on a Shigeru. In your OP you asked about post purchase voicing experiences with the Shigeru. I started a thread a couple of years back in regards to my personal experience which might interest you:

Shigeru MPA voices my SK2 in my home.

Last edited by Jethro; 10/04/21 11:17 PM.

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RTKO #3161986 10/04/21 11:31 PM
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RTKO, I also shared my experiences with "voicing" my piano room as well. Hope it helps.


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Preludio: Bach/Rachmaninoff E Major Sonata for Violin
RTKO #3161995 10/05/21 01:13 AM
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Listen to what Don tells you. What you describe sounds like new factory hammers that have not been optimized to the acoustics and players preference yet and I'm sure they can be made to your liking.

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Originally Posted by Jethro

The key phrase in your experience with a Shigeru MPA is this:

"he explained to me what he was going work on and that it was his job to make the piano perfect as it had left the factory in Japan."

Don't be talked into getting any prep done by the dealer's technician.

An MPA knows what he's doing and he is doing his best work when he attends to the piano in a defined state after it left the factory. Transport may create some irregularities in regulation and position of hammers in relation to the strings. Rectifying this is the MPA's job, not anyone else's with tools and methods that are not not used by MPAs and usually not well enough documented to be of any value.

A Shigeru at a dealer is a diamond in the rough, so let the only person qualified to do the job in perfection do it and keep everyone else away from the instrument.

My technician is one of three European MPAs and his work is quite close to magic. He hates doing work on instruments that have been prepped by others. Check with your dealer about the warranty and return policy. I understand that you have a short window of opportunity to return the instrument after the MPA's visit if you don't like the result. Not sure whether this applies when another technician has worked on the instrument before the MPA.

Last edited by OE1FEU; 10/05/21 01:15 AM.
RTKO #3162344 10/06/21 04:56 PM
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Personally, I wouldn't even consider buying a piano if the voicing or particular piano I was considering did now "wow" me on the showroom floor. It's too big of a purchase to buy it first with the hope that some voicing will make you like it better. I went through a similar experience with Shigeru Kawai. I considered buying one for years but when time came to buy and the model I was testing seemed not to my liking, I backed out and went with another piano from a different maker that DID blow me away on the floor.

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It seems that they don't want to incur overhead by breaking in a brand new piano. But that sort of defeats the purpose of a floor model in a showroom.


A rising tide lifts all the boats
RTKO #3162422 10/07/21 01:32 AM
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Don Maninno is a straight shooter with a strong reputation for his knowledge and integrity amongst us technicians. He is not there to lead you astray, so I would encourage you to give weight to what he says.

If the dealer technician's action regulation is less than perfect or even wrong, that can be reversed with no lasting harm to the instrument. Voicing is not quite the same animal. The dealer tech may be someone who is a strong voicer or someone with limited skills. Either way, he or she may approach the voicing of your potential instrument in a manner different from what the Kawai master technician would do. Kawai has a voicing protocol for the prep work that would be done at the factory, and that work is a known quantity to the master tech that gives him a foundation to build tone from, and the most freedom to bring this particular instrument to its best voice in your music room. Voicing is like traveling down a road where we cannot come back exactly to the same place if we have made mistakes or not quite hit our targets.

In other words, the voicing of the dealer tech may be a limiting factor on how good the piano could be, even with the advanced skills of the master technician. That the dealer is willing to violate Kawai's stated protocols for the Shigerus in order to make the sale would be of concern to me if I were in your shoes, even if he is sending the best voicers available to him.

Lastly, like all other pianos, each Shigeru Kawai is a unique individual. If you had the luxury of being in a room filled with 10 SK2s, each would sound different and have their own character after the best workings of the master tech. That is as it should be.

I would spend some more time playing this instrument at the dealers before I made any decision. If there are other Shigeru dealers within a reasonable distance, I would take advantage of that opportunity. The best Shigeru for you may be elsewhere.


fine grand piano custom rebuilding, piano technician and tuner
RTKO #3162513 10/07/21 11:38 AM
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I concur with the other posters here that Don Mannino is "the guy". When I purchased my SK2 he was the person who contacted me to have my Shigeru prepped at home by an MPA. I remember another thread here at PW where one particular shopper was not enamored with the tone of the Shigeru he was considering to buy and Mr Mannino was commented that unfortunately not all Kawai dealers maintained their Shigerus in top shape as expected and that this was something he wanted to rectify. I imagine there is a difference basic maintenance ie. tuning and voicing/prepping a piano. So I gather from the above post that it is protocol for only a Shigeru MPA to do any major voicing/prepping before it is sold to a new owner but basic tuning and maintenance is expected?

My Shigeru was prepped at a Sarasota showroom by Shigeru MPA Terry Otake a few months before I purchased it. My understanding was that this service was requested by the dealer.

I understand the qualms about having anyone but a Shigeru MPA voice/prep an SK but what happens after that initial visit? That has been my concern as I expressed in the other thread. I asked my MPA, Tatsuya Murakami, if it matters and he said what matters most is if the technician has a "good ear". I could see that making a lot of sense of course but I wonder if having experience with a particular make of piano is beneficial and if it makes a difference.

So for example many technicians may know with exceptional knowledge how to voice a hammer but is there a different way that a technician should approach a Bosendorfer versus a Steinway versus a Yamaha or a Shigeru. Do the hammers on different makes respond well to a certain way of voicing that requires experience or certain training? Or is it no, as long as they have good technique and a good ear any competent technician would be fine?

I understand that Don Mannino and my MPA Tatsuya Murakami give talks at the PTG chapters on how to voice a hammer. Here is some info I found online. at the bottom of the page

Is the information Don teaches common knowledge? Is this knowledge specific to Kawai hammers? Should my technician follow his guidance? Is there a video of this so he can watch it?

If it was my choice I would wish that only an Shigeru MPA voiced my piano of course, but my technician appears very competent but I also thought my last technician (Steinway) was competent until he told me to brighten the hammers on my new RX-2 and then proceeded to shelac them. Hated it and asked him to needle them right a few days later. Maybe he is competent but I would have rather not gone that route.

Last edited by Jethro; 10/07/21 11:48 AM.

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Here is the technical manual from Kawai on how to voice an RX-2. I showed this to my Mr Murakami when he prepped my Shigeru and asked him if my technician followed this manual, would it suffice for my SK2 as there is no manual specific to that model. He replied, "almost". (which of course made me a little queasy)

Voicing a Kawai RX Manual

Last edited by Jethro; 10/07/21 12:08 PM.

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RTKO #3162628 10/07/21 07:28 PM
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Thank you everyone for the great input

I've been in contact with Don Mannino who kindly offered to look into piano in question

However, called the dealer today to follow-up, apparently there is a newly arrived SK3 at a satellite store! Will be checking it out in the near future (hopefully the next week) and will report back.

RTKO #3164599 10/16/21 09:08 PM
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Update!

Made a visit to try out the freshly uncrated SK3... however, it just so happened an SK5 was also in the same shipment. I was the first customer to try both pianos. The dealer had all pianos tuned (as well as an SK2 next to it). Within 5 minutes, I knew that the SK5 was "the one"

I had the immense privilege of meeting Don Mannino on Friday who generously took the time to voice and regulate the SK5, making it even better than when I first tried it.

For reference, I've been casually looking at pianos for the past ~2 years, but began looking more regularly a few months ago. I cross shopped around 100 pianos and tried about 15-20 Steinways (A, B and O - new, used, and concert-artist refurbished stock); Steingraebers (2 grands 2 uprights); Grotrian (grand and concert grand); Estonias; Mason Hamlins; Bluthners; Bechstein Academy and Concert, Bosendorfer (280VC; 214VC, 214 non-VC, 170); Schimmel; A bunch of Yamahas (but no S or CF available); Kawai.

Of Shigerus, I tried 3 SK2s, 2 SK3s, 2 SK5s, 1 SK6, and 2 SK7s.

I'm "almost" pianoed out (if there is such a thing), but it's settled.

Locked in the SK5 with a deposit today

Will be settling on a delivery date in the next couple weeks once I can find a rug.

Thanks all for your input and responses!

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Congratulations!

Earlier you said you couldn't accommodate anything bigger than the SK3, but luckily you managed to find a way to deal with the extra five inches of the SK5.


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Originally Posted by Jethro
So for example many technicians may know with exceptional knowledge how to voice a hammer but is there a different way that a technician should approach a Bosendorfer versus a Steinway versus a Yamaha or a Shigeru. Do the hammers on different makes respond well to a certain way of voicing that requires experience or certain training? Or is it no, as long as they have good technique and a good ear any competent technician would be fine? .

Greetings,
Different hammers require different approaches to optimize their response. Of major difference is the Steinway hammer, which, unlike most others, is made of a softer felt with the expectation that hardener will be used to bring the tone "up" to perfection. Almost all others are made harder to begin with, with the expectation of being needled "down" to perfection. A tech that uses one approach on both styles will cause some shortcomings.

The voicing approach of the Shigeru pianos is almost identical to the Oerbeck approach, which is to deep needle the low shoulders, then create a progressive release of tension as the strike point is reached. This requires a voicer that knows what they are feeling in the needles as they penetrate the various parts of the hammer, and can equate that to the tone they are hearing as the voicing progresses. This is where experience counts, as hammers don't respond immediately to the needle's effect, but, rather, change with use as the hammers' impact distributes the slack caused by the needling.

Lack of prep, particularly mating hammers to the strings, is a common reason for poor voicing. After that, problems arise from too much needling near the strike point while leaving too much hardness in the shoulders, or too much needling in the shoulders because not enough was done farther up. An experienced and capable tech will understand the hammer they are working on and use the appropriate approach. For example, many years ago, I watched Fred Drasche, the "master" of Steinway's voicing protocol, demonstrate the insertion of a needle straight down into the hammer's core from the strike point. On a lacquered hammer such as Steinway used, this was about the only way to soften the harshness, but that same technique would be a disaster on a Shigeru or Bosendorfer hammer.

The voicer must know his hammer to do a credible job, but don't expect all of us to exactly match the results of Don Mannino, Mr Murakami, or Terry Otake. They have listened and needled more Shigeru hammers than most of us can expect to in our lifetime, and experience counts.
Regards,

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Congratulations 🎊🎉🎈! And thanks for the update! Good luck finding the rug!

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