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New Piano Purchase - Boston 178 PE II or Kawai RX-6?


Josh C

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Hello!

This is my first post about my first piano. I'm a lifetime musician who plays blues, jazz, pop and rock with a studio full of digital pianos, synths, a Rhodes, and plenty of other gear. I finally have the space and money for a grand piano in my home. I pulled the trigger too quickly (I know I know) without doing proper due diligence and research and purchased a Boston GP156 PE II at a piano sale at UNC. The piano was delivered and I was immediately disappointed by the sound of the bass register, realizing I need a bigger piano. I am returning the piano for either an upgrade to a Boston GP178 (or possibly a 193 PE depending on price) , or I have also found a Kawai RX-6 for about the same price as the Boston at another location. They are all brand new pianos around $23,000 to $25,000, although the RX-6 has been sitting on the showroom floor for a few years (which is why the owner was willing to give me a good deal). I have read a lot on other threads about different views of the Boston and the Kawai. I am very familiar with the fact that Boston pianos are designed by Steinway and Sons and built by Kawai at their factory, and the upgraded features of the Boston. Most people that have purchased one seem to be happy with the piano (with the exception of a few), but a lot a technicians have said to stay away from it due to various reasons. I have been playing the Boston GP178 at the dealer and I do like the piano as far as the tone and the action, but I feel the bass is still a little lacking especially when I compare it to the RX-6. I don't like the action of the RX-6 as much, but it is a really nice piano for the price and I get the impression that the action can be/or will change over time, where as the sizing difference (it's more then a foot bigger at 7 feet) for the bass response obviously can not be changed. I feel like it's a no-brainer to go with the Kawai, but thought I'd confuse myself even more by asking for any advice out there! Just to make it more interesting, I'm also looking at a used 2005 Yamaha C3 for around $17,000, and I found a 17 year old Shigeru Kawai SK-3 online out of state for around $25,000. I'd have to get that one sight unseen. I would hire a technician to check it out first, and I might get the chance to play a new Shigeru in 2 weeks, but I consider the Shigeru a long shot. Don't know if I have the stomach to buy a piano I have not actually played. I have played several other brands and visited every showroom in town and have narrowed it down to these choices. Any thoughts, suggestions or comments would be welcomed! Thanks!

 

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It's all so personal, hard to be objective. Given my experiences and preferences, it'd be the Kawai for me. The Shigeru can be even more awesome, but it's risky as you won't get a chance to play it before committing. A tech won't know if it speaks to you or not.

 

Other piece of advice: this is probably the one time you'll make such a purchase. Avoid shortcuts and compromises ...

 

The best thing I did was travel to a large, multi-brand piano dealer who specialized in higher-end instruments. I must have played 30 pianos that day. And ended up with the right one for me.

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I agree buying a piano becomes a personal issue. IMO, you should decide how long you want to own it and if it's not going to be a heirloom, then you should research if piano can be sold easily after many years of enjoyment. Selling a piano privately can be very tough. Brand name is important.

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The price is so close... there's only one way to go here. Which timbre do you prefer and which action - which one sings to you? Everyone knows a Boston is a Kawai made to Steinway preferences. The Boston branding is similar to Lexus vs. Toyota. It's not a Steinway, but like putting a few more dollars out now you might get a few more on a resale. But if you prefer the Kawai, don't let branding stop you.

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I would find a good tech and see if he/she feels the action on the SK6 can be regulated and made lighter. Generally speaking Kawais have a heavier action then Yamaha.

 

That sounds high for a 12 yr.old C3. If it were the newer CX 3, I'd say go for that.

 

I've never played a Boston that I've liked. I would take Yamaha or Kawai over them anytime.

 

The SK-3 sounds a bit high too at 17 years old. I highly dig the Shigerus. But I would never buy a piano without playing it.

 

I flew to Creston, Iowa from LA to play my piano before I bought it from a private party.

 

Take your time and negotiate. You are the one in the driver's seat if you have the cash.

 

Have you checked private parties in your area ? Dealers are traditionally higher.

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welcome to the forum...if you end up buying a used yamaha (or new for that matter...) make sure you run the serial number to check if it is a 'dry' or 'wet' yamaha. Apparently this total B.S designation refers to where in the ship your particular yamaha was stored as it came over from Japan. Pianos stored closer to where they could have received exposure to water are deemed 'wet.' This may seem like total crap, but I got burned. I bought a brand new C1 and took a beating on resale as mine was deemed wet. The dealer who knew this sold me the yamaha at full price. He is now out of the business... Personally, I would search used listings by private sellers. Find one you connect with and then bring a tech with you to check it over for any serious issues, ie. soundboard fractures.
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Yes, I would echo what several said here, name brand can make a big difference in resale if that's ever necessary. And why buy new? I can imagine there's a number of really good deals out there of people who haven't had it for very long but for various reasons need to sell, in which case you've got a piano that's practically new but 20-30% cheaper, which would place it closer in price to what you would sell it for if needed. Being patient I imagine is the hard part now!

 

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This sounds like a total B.S. designation invented by/for buyers. Anyone who brings up this wet crap, just call them on it. On the other hand, if they really believe it, you may have to deal with it. Yamaha has no idea where on the ship it will be stored/aren't all pianos shipped in shipping containers?/where on the inside of a sealed shipping container is it more wet? And if you are buying a used car and find a bread crumb in the glove box, don't buy it because you know what that means, don't you? Well, there you go, I rest my case.
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"grey" or "wet" pianos seem to have a slightly different connotation in this article:

 

clonk

 

 

I have purchased 3 acoustic piano's over the last 15 years or so that fall into this category. As long as the dealer you buy it from has a warrenty and will service it, then not having a factory warrenty isn't a problem. Current piano I own is a 52" Kawai upright ebony gloss. Love it.

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Wait until you find the one piano that makes you want to never stop playing it, one that "pulls" the music out of you, one that makes your heart leap just thinking about it.

 

Anything less will eventually disappoint.

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I get why some would say that the Boston has "upgraded" features from the Steinway design, but JMO is that the Kawai has great features that the Boston doesn't. Whether this matters to you is up to you, of course.

 

I won't say the Kawai isn't adjustable, but if the feel of the instrument isn't where you want it on day one, it may not get to where you want it, either. This is one of the "features" of the Kawai with their ABS parts in the action.

 

Overall, I think this is the best advice in the thread.

 

Wait until you find the one piano that makes you want to never stop playing it, one that "pulls" the music out of you, one that makes your heart leap just thinking about it.

 

Anything less will eventually disappoint.

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I suggest you go play a Shigeru at your closest dealer. I think that has the potential to be the best piano out of those you're considering. If you're considering spending $25k can you not travel to try out the Shigeru? That's what I did before I bought mine. Well worth it.

 

That said, there's no substitute for size when it comes to bass tone and accuracy. Now that you've played and liked a 7' piano, the SK3's low end may dissapoint.

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Thank you for all the advice! I agree with avoiding shortcuts and compromises and that I should find the piano that I never want to stop playing, the one that speaks to my soul. I also know that I will probably be disappointed with anything less then 7 feet now. (I play a 9 foot Weber grand at one of my gigs, so that plays into my desires too, but I'll never fit a piano that big in the room. 7 is pushing it too but I have convinced my wife that it is the best option for me, so I have been given the green light for it). I have decided to return the piano today so I can clear my head and continue my search with a fresh perspective. I have felt rushed to act because of it. I'll keep the thread updated on my progress. Thanks again!

P.S. Dig the boogie-woogie piano too junkcar! Sweet!

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I know sound is important...but where you live in terms of getting around the instrument is all in the 'action'....that was my highest priority and sound 2nd when I bought my Yamaha YUX after owning 2 other AP's with action I was not totally happy with! It did help my technique!

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