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Hello all, first post. I’m a lifelong guitar player who has been dabbling on a hundred year old upright acoustic piano that doesn’t stay in tune for the last few years. After a recent funeral, I sat down at the church’s Yamaha grand piano and played while a gaggle of kids ran around the sanctuary. And I realized what I was missing; the control, the crispness, the light touch I could use. And of course a brilliant sound that was in tune!

Anyway, that lead me to look at digital pianos in the 1000 USD range. And I didn’t really love the feel of any of them. I tried a Yamaha p515 with the wood keys and it was OK. I tried the Casio 770 and hated it. The Korg LP380 felt ok and reasonably priced. I kind of liked the Roland FP90x, but 2500 for a slab seemed steep.

Then I drove a little ways to try the Kawais. They had a floor model CA-49 for 2300$ that I loved the feel of (grand compact 2). I also liked the RH3 on the 2200$ CN-29. SoI drove home to discuss my findings with my wife.

And I was not convincing enough for a 2300$ floor model smile

Anyways, I searched for used digital pianos locally and stumbled across a kawai CA-65, which would be between 7-10 years old. It is owned by an old man who is moving to an apartment and can’t take it. He played it recreationally. The price is 650$ USD.

I asked and he replied that there are 3 or 4 sticky keys. I’ve read the entire Kawai grand feel key clinic and feel confident I can replace the PTFE pads with the McMaster-carr tape.

Long story to get to two questions:

Is the CA-65 the good deal that I think it is? I would probably do the 1200$ korg LP380u or Kawai ES520 if I was buying new. Feel is probably the biggest thing, but the CA-65 also has 4 speakers and lots of power. It doesn’t have the latest sound processing chips and samples though, nor does it have USB audio. Of course, neither does my out of tune upright.

Is there anything else I should be wary of when I inspect it? Speakers, electronics, etc?

Share with me your wisdom, new forum friends smile


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Hello,

@Hairy from the Midwest, welcome!

I play digital out of necessity, but would definitely choose acoustic if I could.

As it happens, I played seven grand pianos in a piano store yesterday and then proceeded to the digital department to look for possible upgrades to my setup. That is no comfortable order at all -- everything digital felt dead and lifeless and boring after the grand experiences with the grands.

However, necessarily taking dead and lifeless for granted, to me also the Kawai actions held up best. Please note that the action in the ES520 is *not* the RHIII that you played and liked. Of the plastic/folded actions I also reckoned the RHIII the most acceptable, but nothing below that.

Best to go and examine that CA65 thoroughly in person. See how it plays, look and listen carefully for anything odd. If you are confident to do the maintenance as you described, and everything electronic and sound related looks and sounds normal, the instrument appears loved and not neglected, you can live with the older sound engine (sample sets) then see how you feel towards making the final deal with its current owner -- if at all.

Best I can say right now, hope it helps.

Cheers and happy exploring!

HZ

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Will you or have you had the opportunity to play it first?

FWIW, when I was trying to decide whether I would (finally) stick with the piano this time, I dragged an old Kawai keyboard out of the basement that we bought for our kid in the late 1990's and fired it up. It still worked perfectly. I also did electronics repairs down to the component level for decades and I still use radios and other electronics that I bought last century. Heck, the plasma TV in our living room that we bought in 2013 still works perfectly and that thing pulls 650 watts and generates LOT of heat.

So I would not be concerned about whether a 10 year-old piano had electronics problems (unless there is something known to be bad for that model) but if it was approaching 20 or more years I'd be leery that some components may be deteriorating, especially the capacitors.

I know nothing about the CA65 but I did find this PianoMart ad from Nov. 2020 where a private owner sold a CA65 for $1,000. So $650 sounds very good and I'd bet the current owner will be happy for it to go to someone who will actually use it.

https://www.pianomart.com/buy-a-piano/view?id=43746

Good luck,

Ray


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I would offer $600 myself. For the price, since you seem handy is not a bad deal.

Either way, welcome to the world of Pianoland....
Where is all are a little bit nuts 😜


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The sound of CA65 is somehow too bright for my taste, but letalone the sound you still get GF action plus some speaker, enough connection ports, usb recording and some more function etc..., and a piece of nice looking furniture for 650$, people still buying and selling VPC1 which in fact ist just a mindless keyboard on its own with usb port with much higher price, so why not if the condition is for you acceptable.
And talking bout electronic, parts, piano dealer in my country (VN) still mostly sells mass imported used piano from JP, which ranged from old ugly horrible sounding DPs from 199x era to pretty mint newer one, and guess what, even those crappy 199x-200x DPs is still running like a tank, so i don't think it'd be a problem for like at least 10 years for a 2012er CA65, but you will have to occasionally do some minor work with the keybed, they tend to, if not always be sticky, have uniform issues after some time

Last edited by HoangCosmic; 04/20/22 12:08 PM.

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It's a 10 year old model, and it needs repairs. $650 for that, seems a pipe dream of a high asking price to me.
How much are you willing to risk, if you can't fix it?
Electrolytic capacitors and power supplies don't last forever, either.

My perception of Kawai DPs is they became a lot more interesting sounding, once they started using the SK-EX sample. Which happens a little while after that model.


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Hello Hairy, welcome to the forum.

It seems that you've already done your due diligence on this.

Personally, I think $650 is a pretty fair price, assuming the instrument is in reasonably good condition. I also tend to prefer the SK-EX samples to the older EX variety found in the CA65. However, as Hoang notes, you're getting a great keyboard action, decent speaker system, useful connectivity (if you wish to use a VI later down the road), all inside a self-contained cabinet.

I don't think you'll be able to find a better deal for $650 - new or used.

Kind regards,
James
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Originally Posted by HZPiano
Please note that the action in the ES520 is *not* the RHIII that you played and liked.

Good catch HZ!


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Thanks a bunch for all the input thus far. I will play the piano before final purchase on Friday.

I only played all the different keyboards at fairly low volumes in the stores. Probably a little self conscious about my playing smile I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell a whole lot of difference in the quality of the piano samples across the different boards at low volumes. They were different, but I couldn’t tell you what was “better”. I could discern when a cabinet was underpowered, like the KDP70. They were all clearer and more nuanced than my acoustic, which probably has rusty strings by this point…

The action did illicit immediate senses of like and dislike. But does your immediate sense of whether an action is good or not hold as you adapt over the course of weeks?

The Kawai by far felt the most like the acoustic I was used to. But is that the right metric? Does that translate to the most enjoyable? It’s got to be some combination of feel, speakers, sound, and features.

Again thanks for your input guys!


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Originally Posted by HZPiano
However, necessarily taking dead and lifeless for granted, to me also the Kawai actions held up best. Please note that the action in the ES520 is *not* the RHIII that you played and liked. Of the plastic/folded actions I also reckoned the RHIII the most acceptable, but nothing below that.

I recently spent a great deal of time at the store trying out the 520 and 920. The 920 felt a bit slower to return and had heavier touch. I was fine with that, but the let off bump was not even across the whole keybed, and this was the floor model which do not get full time use. I figured well if it came like this, or becomes like this after only the "short" time that the 920 has been on the market, down the road, do I want to deal with this evenness issue.

Dynamic control really was much easier on the 520's rhc because the downstroke is so smooth. I thought maybe the 920 is more similar to an acoustic, but if I had a choice between the rh3 and rhc to put INTO an acoustic piano, I'd choose rhc.

Last edited by KawaFanboi; 04/20/22 10:03 PM.
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Also, am I correct in the understanding that I will be able to easily get the CA-65 data out from the piano to a computer/VST, but plumbing the VST back into the piano’s speakers is a path wrought with peril and lag?


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Personally I'd recommend a KDP-75 for sub 1000 dollars. EXCELLENT piano for the price. Brand new with a 5 year warranty. I just bought its big brother the KDP-120 which I think is now $1499. I would NOT buy the CA65. Sticky keys should be a big old red flag.

KDP-75 !!!


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Originally Posted by Hairy
Also, am I correct in the understanding that I will be able to easily get the CA-65 data out from the piano to a computer/VST...

Yes, the CA65 has a USB-MIDI port, so it should be very straightforward to connect to a computer.

Originally Posted by Hairy
...but plumbing the VST back into the piano’s speakers is a path wrought with peril and lag?

The lag/latency will rely largely on your computer setup (speed of CPU, quality of audio device/interface), however connecting the sound back into the CA65 in itself should not contribute to any discernable lag. However, there is no guarantee that the CA65's default EQ will be optimised for playing back sound generated by another source.

Kind regards,
James
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Originally Posted by mivaldes
Personally I'd recommend a KDP-75 for sub 1000 dollars. EXCELLENT piano for the price. Brand new with a 5 year warranty. I just bought its big brother the KDP-120 which I think is now $1499. I would NOT buy the CA65. Sticky keys should be a big old red flag.

KDP-75 !!!

But it'd be a downgrade compared to a CA65, in all aspect from action to sound and function tho, but yeah on the bright side you get a new one and 5 years warranty, and the sticky keys problem is not a red flag, it is a design fault of the whole GF and GF2 keybed, but luckily can be fixed pretty easy with some basic understanding

Last edited by HoangCosmic; 04/21/22 05:51 AM.

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All the comments above are reasonable.

After playing it, determine how it feels and the sound quality.

You will have a higher end piano in that era. And, the wooden action. There is quite a bit of info on this website and elsewhere how to breathe New Life into Kawai piano.

Plus, at that price, resale in most areas should not be a problem.

I have owned a CA63 CA93 CA95 and now a CA67. Why the Upgrades? Easy. I was bitten by the New Techno Features and soundboard.

Am very happy with what I have. I miss the tactile feedback a soundboard can give, but the 67 cabinet makes for a great sound. Plus, I had a chance to sell the 95 at a wow price and bought this for a great price used.

Last edited by McBuster; 04/22/22 05:26 PM.

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I picked it up yesterday. Sounds amazing. Minus 5-10 keys in various states of sticking, it plays wonderful. My rhythm is already much better; all the notes have greater separation and clarity. Price was actually 600, which I didn’t haggle on as it seemed pretty great smile


Kids are enamored too. Thanks for all your help!


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Congratulations!


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Originally Posted by Hairy
I picked it up yesterday. Sounds amazing. Minus 5-10 keys in various states of sticking, it plays wonderful. My rhythm is already much better; all the notes have greater separation and clarity. Price was actually 600, which I didn’t haggle on as it seemed pretty great smile

Nice. Is the unit going to get a service to get those keys working properly?

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Most of them feel like the sticky capstan with dis-bonding ptfe tape as described in the Kawai Grand Feel key clinic thread. The worst one doesnt bounce back up like the other ones do after you break the initial friction. Ill have to take a look at that one, but im hoping to do all of them myself by ordering some PTFE tape from McMaster-Carr:

PTFE tape

I dont know if i should just go ahead and do all of them, or just replace the failing ones.


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Hello,

@Hairy, Well done, congratulations, enjoy!

I'd say get one or two keys back to life with the tape replacement and capstan cleaning. If that turns out well and you're confident with the process, update all the keys for evenness and peace of mind. That would save you having to continually work on the piano, tackling the next few keys that develop the tape problem, then another few, and so on.

Cheers and the happiest playing,

HZ

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