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#3171441 11/17/21 02:12 PM
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I'm looking to upgrade my teenage son's piano for Christmas, and I'm looking for help.

I feel pretty ignorant trying to communicate here, as I know next to NOTHING about playing the piano. My 17 year old son, however, is quite the player. Playing since 2nd grade, plays on his own nearly every day. Intermediate at worst; to a layman like me, his playing blows me away.

I've read through reviews, researched digital pianos (and availability) to the point of obsessiveness, and am now overwhelmed and unsure of where to go. I've been down the road of looking at Yamaha p515, Kawai es520 and 920, and everything in between. I'm lost, feeling dumb, and looking for help.

Here are my specific questions.

1) First and foremost, I want this to be a significant upgrade over his current digital piano, an 8-9 year old Casio Privia PX-150. I see these newly released Kawai es series pianos, and I'm sure they are significantly better. However, I also see things like the older es110, and wonder the jump in improvement there as well. Budget isn't as big of a factor here ($1600 high end, but happy to go lower to the $700 range Kawai es110 if it were a big enough improvement) as I'm happy to invest into his commitment to the art. Just want to improve his hardware set.

2) I have to do this blindly, because it's a Christmas gift. That seems to rule out the p515, as that isn't available anywhere. Most others seem to be attainable.

3) He plays everything from classical to modern stuff, and while he's great, I think he has a lot more to grow, and find his own style. In limited conversations we've had, I know the feel and sound of the piano is more important to him than build-in functionality, as he said he can control a lot of that through software.

4) He's moving to college next year, and so size is a factor for a dorm room. I'm sure he could get a case and keep it under a bed if needed, but could possibly set it up in a room/at a desk. I was very much leaning towards Kawai es520 initially, but when looking at it in a review I realized how wide it was (top to bottom, was like 18 inches vs his 14 inch Privia). This made me lean towards something like Roland ds88 or Kawai es110 again). Lastly, being that it will be livingto a college dorm, I felt some hesitancy to go to the top end of my budget (es920), due to potential damage, etc.

5) I suppose connectivity and options in working with laptops/software is a factor as well; wouldn't want to omit anything practical.


Getting long-winded here, so to reiterate, would something like an es110 be a major upgrade over a casio privia PX150 to an intermediate player, or would I need to step it up to something like an es920 to notice a real difference?

Thanks to any and all who can help!

Last edited by Nkliph; 11/17/21 02:14 PM.
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Personally, I wouldn't want to be gifted a piano. The choice of instrument is a very personal one, and everyone has their own preferences in sound and feel.
Perhaps you could give him a card saying his gift will be a new keyboard, and then the 2 of you could spend some time looking and trying them out together? Then the experience and time spent together is also part of the gift.

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I had the same line of thinking, but quickly realized that all of these pianos on the list are out of stock everywhere. In my visits to music stores in our area, only lower-end / lower-cost models seem to be in stock. Offering some relief, however, is that some of these online sites are offering returns on holiday purchases through February, so we would have that option if he wasn't satisfied.

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Hello,

Originally Posted by Feuros
Personally, I wouldn't want to be gifted a piano. The choice of instrument is a very personal one, and everyone has their own preferences in sound and feel.
Perhaps you could give him a card saying his gift will be a new keyboard, and then the 2 of you could spend some time looking and trying them out together? Then the experience and time spent together is also part of the gift.

This is a very important notion, together with a very nice suggestion/elegant solution. Good that this got mentioned!

Cheers and happy decision making,

HZ

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Assuming you buy it mail order and can return it then I’m not sure you’ve much to loose by picking one with the ‘if it’s not what you want you can change it’ catch all.

My only caveat would be that it’s definitely a piano you’re looking for. Once you stray into other keyboards there’s a million and one options and hoping to pick the right one would be much harder.

Yes, there’s an element of personal choice but quite often this will come down to what people are used to. No decent pianist has ever been held back by buying a well respected piano because it felt slightly different to another.

In terms of dimensions, I think you mean the depth of the piano ??? If this is the case I’m not sure you’ve got the dimensions of the Es right, but there is some relation between depth (because it has to house the action) and quality/feel of the keyboard. My Kawai MP11se is considered by many to have the best action but it’s deep and needs to be.

I think choosing a slab piano like the p515 or Es is right for a student in a dorm room.

So the main 3 are Roland, Yamaha or Kawai. I current own the last 2 (really must sell that p515).
At the time I bought the p515 I thought the sound was great and preferred it to the Kawai but having had the Kawai for a while I’ve grown to prefer it. (That’s why I don’t think it’s the end of the world not to choose one in person). I bought the Kawai for the action.

There’s a reasonable premise quoted which I subscribe to which is buy the best piano you can (comfortably) afford. There’s a reason more expensive pianos are more expensive.

Aside from something like the es920 you might want to take a quick look at the mp7se. It’s called a stage piano rather than a portable piano. Has more features (mod wheels for instance) and is probably more robust. It doesn’t however come with speakers so you’d need something to go with it (monitors or keyboard amp).

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Originally Posted by Nkliph
I had the same line of thinking, but quickly realized that all of these pianos on the list are out of stock everywhere. In my visits to music stores in our area, only lower-end / lower-cost models seem to be in stock. Offering some relief, however, is that some of these online sites are offering returns on holiday purchases through February, so we would have that option if he wasn't satisfied.

If you live in the USA (especially the west coast), consider the used market rather than the new market.
If you do buy new, you might need to buy from an east coast dealer. Apparently, according to Pianoman Chuck, there are fleets of container ships of the west coast and they're just sat in the ocean waiting to get port entry.

Used gives you a good deal of options.

I would seriously consider not just portable pianos, but stage pianos.

Portable used:
ES8
P515
FP90

Stage used:
Kawai MP11 or MP11SE
Kawai VPC1 plus laptop plus a VSTi
Kawai MP7SE (a great alternative as it's relatively cheap but very powerful).
Yamaha CP88
Roland RD2000
Roland RD800


Instruments: Current - Kawai MP7SE; Past - Kawai MP7, Yamaha PSR7000
Software: Sibelius 7; Neuratron Photoscore Pro 8
Stand: K&M 18953 Table-style Stage Piano Stand
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Thanks Everyone, I really appreciate the feedback.

**Still hoping someone with experience could comment on whether any of these will be a big upgrade from the Casio Px-150?**

Ultimately the goal is to do this - I'm hoping the answer is 'the PX 150 is so old that anything more modern will be a major upgrade', but if the answer is closer to 'that was a good piano, and technology hasn't improved in leaps and bounds since then', I may reconsider.

Thanks again everyone.

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Originally Posted by dhts
Assuming you buy it mail order and can return it then I’m not sure you’ve much to loose by picking one with the ‘if it’s not what you want you can change it’ catch all.

My only caveat would be that it’s definitely a piano you’re looking for. Once you stray into other keyboards there’s a million and one options and hoping to pick the right one would be much harder.

Yes, there’s an element of personal choice but quite often this will come down to what people are used to. No decent pianist has ever been held back by buying a well respected piano because it felt slightly different to another.

In terms of dimensions, I think you mean the depth of the piano ??? If this is the case I’m not sure you’ve got the dimensions of the Es right, but there is some relation between depth (because it has to house the action) and quality/feel of the keyboard. My Kawai MP11se is considered by many to have the best action but it’s deep and needs to be.

I think choosing a slab piano like the p515 or Es is right for a student in a dorm room.

So the main 3 are Roland, Yamaha or Kawai. I current own the last 2 (really must sell that p515).
At the time I bought the p515 I thought the sound was great and preferred it to the Kawai but having had the Kawai for a while I’ve grown to prefer it. (That’s why I don’t think it’s the end of the world not to choose one in person). I bought the Kawai for the action.

There’s a reasonable premise quoted which I subscribe to which is buy the best piano you can (comfortably) afford. There’s a reason more expensive pianos are more expensive.

Aside from something like the es920 you might want to take a quick look at the mp7se. It’s called a stage piano rather than a portable piano. Has more features (mod wheels for instance) and is probably more robust. It doesn’t however come with speakers so you’d need something to go with it (monitors or keyboard amp).

Which Kawai are you referring to specifically?

For me, I thought the 'more money = better' scenario was the best way to go, but have seen some reviews where the es110 was close enough to es920 that it was considered a much better value. Don't want to get too far into the weeds on es model comparison, but really looking to see how much better the es110 would be over his current Privia ps 150.

Also - any chance you're located in Northeast USA in regards to that P515 you're looking to sell?

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I guess there’s two aspects to your question. The Px150 as I recall was a fairly entry level model. So if you buy another entry level piano but one 8 years newer then yes there will be some improvements to the sound as tech evolves (but relatively slowly). However I think you’ll get a better bump by buying a higher level piano within the range.

Yes there were some people who were disappointed in the es920 over the model it replaced which is in part why you’ll see glowing reviews of the es110 which is a great value proposition, but it’s still an entry level piano within the Kawai range.

I think the Kawai stage pianos are awesome, it’s just the MP7SE doesn’t come with speakers.

But to answer your question as helpfully as I can, yes you can get a much better piano than he has by buying a more modern higher spec model.

And I’m afraid I’m in the UK, rather than US.

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My opinion is if your son is going to college next year and will be in a dorm, stay with the px-150.


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Dexibel P3
it’s $1299, the sound of the platinum piano with speakers is the best.

Simple but pro hammer action.

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Originally Posted by emenelton
Dexibel P3
it’s $1299, the sound of the platinum piano with speakers is the best.

Simple but pro hammer action.
You've opened a new realm for me. In layman's terms, how would this beat an es520/920?

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Originally Posted by Nkliph
Originally Posted by emenelton
Dexibel P3
it’s $1299, the sound of the platinum piano with speakers is the best.

Simple but pro hammer action.
You've opened a new realm for me. In layman's terms, how would this beat an es520/920?

To start with it has the best piano sound set of all DP's with the German PLT.

That's a used price, google it. While I do think it's a good idea to 'refresh' your son's piano; the Casio should be replaced, putting a new ES in a dorm room is a bit much. The P3 can get beat around in the zoo and not be much worse for the wear.

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I'd agree with @Feuros
A piano as a gift is not the best idea.
Unless of course you already know which model the gift's receiver would like to own.
Or unless it is a Steinway Grand or Bechstein or Fazioli.....😁😁

If you don't have the opportunity to go to several music stores for comparing different pianos a gift card for buying a new DP online would still be the bettter option. Imho.
In that case your son of course would have to do some research of what suits him best.
But i guess he'd do that quite happily

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On the topic of whether it's a worthy upgrade, I've upgraded to an ES920 from my parents' ES100 and it's a world of difference.
Particularly in how the piano responds, the ES920 feels way more expressive.
And the ES100 should be in a similar tier to the px150 and the es110

Last edited by goldsalt; 11/18/21 01:45 PM.
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And there are those who really like the es110, even compared to the es920

A lot of feel and sound is subjective.

What about renting an acoustic piano for a year and let him take the Casio to college and buy him a nice graduation gift keyboard?


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Originally Posted by dhts
. . .

But to answer your question as helpfully as I can, yes you can get a much better piano than he has by buying a more modern higher spec model. . .


+1.

My PX-350 shares its action (the mechanics of the keys) with the PX-150. An ES920 or P515 has a significantly improved action, and a better "sound generator" (the electronics that emulate the sounds of a piano).

A "stage piano" (no loudspeakers) is a reasonable option. But you can't carry it around in one bag -- the amps and speakers are necessary, and they'll be a separate package.

IMHO, the more involved you get him, in the choosing-and-buying process, the happier you'll both be. Forget "Christmas present" -- it's closer to buying a workman's toolkit:

. . . you should give the workman a lot of input into the choice.


. Charles
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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
, the more involved you get him, in the choosing-and-buying process, the happier you'll both be. Forget "Christmas present" -- it's closer to buying a workman's toolkit:

. . . you should give the workman a lot of input into the choice.
👍👍

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Originally Posted by Charles Cohen
, the more involved you get him, in the choosing-and-buying process, the happier you'll both be. Forget "Christmas present" -- it's closer to buying a workman's toolkit:

. . . you should give the workman a lot of input into the choice.

I know that makes sense but, hey it’s Christmas. The best present my wife ever bought me was a surprise Alto Sax. Yes I’d once expressed an interest but if she’d said here’s a voucher for one let’s go and try 20 different models I doubt it would have happened. Also depending upon the individual they might feel guilty about upgrading or spending that much. I do believe you can’t really go wrong with a top tier slab from the main manufacturers. Any action will feel different at first and will take some time to adjust.

Let’s be clear, I’m sat drinking wine listening to the latest Jamie Cullum Christmas album so might have a different take on Christmas to most…


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