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Suzuki

Questions and Comments

--

Graham,

Thanks, that was great advice - "7 Things You MUST Know Before Buying A Digital Piano".

We're from  PA, USA, so I understand if I do not get a response. I'm sure as an expert on piano questions, you get a lot of questions.

I have 2 daugthers 5 and 8. We have a Kawai KSP-10. Since my youngest daughter has shown interest in learning the piano, I thought we'd get an upgrade to more recent technology.

We initially were interested in a CLP265GP but all that I have read so far points to
getting a CLP340. How much better a CLP340 over our KSP-10, I do not know . We went to an invite only Yamaha sale where they indicated the sale is good only for that day, and got a $2799 offer for a new CLP340, and a $2399 offer for the floor model.  I showed the salesman, sale prices I compiled from sales in the US, which had some prices lower than what they are offering. They said that they normally do not sell below $2999. Anyway, we're OK with giving a dealership fair profit, but we walked out since I can't tell what is fair.  I always want to make an informed decision.

I asked also about a CLP380, but they said they do not carry it. I believe we need to
look for something other than a Yamaha.

Thanks again.

Ruben

Reply/ Hi Ruben

Yamaha Clavinovas are no longer available on the
internet. You can only buy them through a physical
retail store.

This has had the effect of dramatic price increases,
and unwillingness to reduce prices. It's like the
old days when the interner didn't exist.

Although this protects the Yamaha brand name and
ensures their pianos are displayed by many dealers
in the store (which is what Yamaha wants),
unfortunately the prices now are much, much higher.

What can we do?

An alternative brand to consider is Classenti.
Classenti are opposite to Yamaha: you can only buy
them online, and they aren't available in stores.

You get excellent quality, without the retail
mark-ups.

Classenti offer a range of very nice pianos, with
heavy-weighted key touch.

You can read more about them here:

www.classenti.com

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

--

Dear Mr. Howard,

We are leaving in Toronto, Canada. We found your reviews on digital pianos on the
internet and found it very professional. Therefore, we decided to write you to get your
help.

My daughter is a student at Music Department of the University of Toronto. She is a
laureate of several international piano competitions. The next year she should get her
Bachelor in Piano Performance. However, by the Toronto Landlord and Tenant Board ruling she was forbidden to play in the apartment for more than 2 hours a weekdays, with no practice on weekends and holidays on her Yamaha upright concert piano. This is going to ruin her career as a professional pianist.

Therefore, we urgently need to buy a digital piano (DP) so that she could practice using
headphones (e.g. not to produce any outer sound). We would appreciate very much your advice on which instrument we should get for her. We would probably mostly need excellent sound, heavy weighted, touch sensitive keys with graded hammer action, and possibly string resonance.

We were considering Yamaha CLP330, as well as some Roland & Classenti. Of course, it is very important for us to have all the needed features for the lowest possible cost. Also we would be grateful if you could indicate were we can get such a piano in Canada (this matters as Canada Customs charges huge duties on imported goods).

Thank you very much for your help.

Zaria

Reply/ Hi Zaria

The Yamaha CLP330 or Classenti CDP2 would both be
OK for your daughter.

But, really, at her high standard nothing would
come close to a real piano.

The answer, it seems, is to get her a silent
upright piano...

Silent upright pianos are real, acoustic pianos
that have the additional feature of being able to
switch off the sound and play using headphones.

Yamaha and Classenti do a nice range of silent
uprights. I suggest looking for stockists of
these in Toronto.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

--

Graham

I’ve appreciated your articles about piano buying.  They have been very
helpful so far.  They’ve prompted a few question for me so I’m taking
seriously your invitation to send you emails regarding both our experiences
shopping for pianos as well as asking for your advice.  (Be careful what
you ask for!)  I’ll start with my shopping experience to date so you can
better understand my questions.

I’ve been talking about getting a piano for a long time.  I play several
other instruments and owned a piano many years ago, but would consider
myself quite a novice at this point.  I recently saw the Korg 170 and LP350
in a local shop.  I played with them a bit and was quite surprised by how
good they sounded for the price.  That made me think maybe I really can
afford a piano now.  And my wife who has been hearing me talk about getting
a piano for 20 years said she wanted to get me one for Christmas.

I have narrowed my search to digital pianos because an acoustic piano is
impractical for me—especially considering the inconsistent climate control
in my house.  I’d probably have to tune a piano every month. Anyway--

I have looked at the locally available brands, I’ve done some internet
research and I’ve spoken with sales people at several on line retailers—one
of whom was really quite helpful.  Most actually knew less about the pianos
than I did so were not helpful to me in narrowing which brands to look at.

I was initially trying to limit my expense to 1000 USD, but am realizing
that I’ll have to spend more to find something satisfactory.  While I’m a
novice piano player, I do appreciate quality instruments and good sound.
So, everything I’m considering is really stretching my budget. Here’s what
I’ve played so far

Korg 170 & LP350
Yamaha YDP 141, 161, 181 and 223 (old model, but new in the store)
Clavinova CLP 320
Casio AP 420 and PX 830  (was really interested primarily in the AP620 but
have yet to find one)
Roland F110
A used Casio AP(?)65

Here’s been my challenge.  Some of the stores have terrible acoustics—even
with music playing in the background.  Not being able to compare
instruments side by side.  Not being able to even see the different
instruments on the same day.

I’ve pretty well ruled out the Korgs.  Initially nice sound to me, but now
they seem to fall short of the others.

I played the Roland side by side with the YDP 181.  I liked the bass better
on the Roland, and the treble better on the Yamaha.  (Maybe that’s just the
difference between recording a Steinway vs a Yamaha grand & less about the
digital piano)  I thought the Roland cabinet was terrible.  Looked cheap
and the key cover was very sticky and hard to open & close.  While the
sound was nice, I don’t think I’d be happy with this one.

I saw the Casio 420, YDP 223, YDP161 and Casio PX830 in the same store
(with horrendous acoustics!)   The sound of the YDP 223 was nice, but
noticeably inferior to the newer 161.  I was disappointed that the Casio
420 didn’t seem to measure up soundwise to the YDP161.  I thought the bass
was a fuzzier.  Casios have tons of features for the price and I was hoping
to like it.  I don’t know if it was just a bad unit, the bad listening
environment or whether the 420 is significantly inferior to the 620—but I
definitely thought the Yamaha sounded better.  Actually, I thought the
PX830 was a bit clearer in sound than the AP420.

I liked the YDP 161, 181 and the Clavinova CLP 320.  The YDP 141 is
noticeably inferior both in sound and in touch so I’m ruling that out.

Questions
1.  Do my findings sound consistent with what you’d expect?

2.  Am I being too quick to rule out the Casio AP620 based on what I heard
of the AP420?  The Casio APs are not easy to find in stores.

I have been unable as yet to hear the YDP 161 side by side with the 181.
They both have the same wattage output, but the 181 has larger speakers and
a few more sound effects.

3.  Do you feel the 181 sounds much better than the 161?
I have heard some say it does, but it’s hard to tell if they aren’t side by
side.

4. Is what Yamaha calls “damper resonance” on the 181 what you call “string
resonance” in your book?

And the CLP320.  Your reviews have left me a little puzzled with this one.
In one of your reviews you rate this clearly above the YDP161, but I cannot
distinguish between the two.  They look the same and they have identical
specs.

5.  Is the YDP161 the same as the CLP320, if not, what exactly is the
difference?
The only difference I’ve detected is that the CLP320 costs 1700USD and the
YDP161 is 1350USD.  Please let me know if there’s something hidden that I
should take into consideration here.  Obviously I’ve not been able to (and
because of Yamaha’s marketing probably won’t be able to) find them side by
side in the same store.

So if the CLP 320 is really a YDP 161, then my choice is between the two
YDPs.  I don’t want to waste money on features I won’t use, but I also
don’t want to buy less just because I might not use the features today.  If
the YDP 181 has a noticeably better sound than the 161 (or maybe if you can
convince me the CLP320 would sound better than either) I’d probably lean
toward the 181.   I do like the accessibility of the 181’s controls.

I am primarily interested in playing piano, but I do like a few of the
other voices and would use them (harpsichord, e-piano & vibes at least).
I don’t know how much I’d use either the record functions or the computer
connectivity because I simply haven’t ever had an instrument with these
available.  I do kind of like the idea of the USB port just because it
would make it much easier to record & interface with a computer—would I use
it?  I don’t know.

6.  Is there some other brand I am over looking which I shouldn’t?  I’m
dubious of buying something I cannot play first.  Even with a return
policy, the cost of return shipping seems to make it a bad option to order
something just to try it out.

I’d appreciate hearing your answers to my specific questions—and would be
interested in your recommendation about which piano you think would be best
suited for me.  You may add others which I’ve not seen and I will consider
them if I can find them somewhere.  If you add other suggestions, please
compare them to the Yamahas.

Thank you so much for your help.

Jim

Reply/ Hi Jim

Your short list is a good one... I would certainly
consider either the Yamaha YDP161 or CLP320.

The YDP181 isn't an improvement on the CLP320. It
just has a few extra gadgets and costs more.

The Yamaha CLP320 is a better piano than the YDP161.

The CLP320 offers these advantages over the YDP161:

More realistic piano sound
Stronger, more sturdy cabinet
Better resale value (Clavinovas command higher prices)

It's worth the extra money. But that's something
you'll have to decide for yourself.

Casio pianos are not on the same level as Yamaha.
They're good when it comes to features (gadgets), 
but the piano sound and touch is not as realistic.

The Casio AP620 doesn't have a better sound or
touch than the AP420.

Damper resonance and string resonance mean the same
thing.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

--

I like the look of the Classenti pianos, and the fact that they have a 60-day return period and a good warranty must mean they are confident about their quality, but it’s impossible to buy a piano without trying it, and nobody carries them here at the North Pole city of Edmonton ;-) I guess, they choose to only sell their pianos online.

Roma

--

Your digital piano buyers book is an incredible resource, and answered all my questions and much more.

I was interested in a Classenti digital piano but the Classenti web site indicates the Classenti pianos are available in US, with a physical operation in Southern California.  I sent in Qs, and response was: Classenti pianos won't be available in US until "mid summer, 2011."  This is a big disappointment for me, as I chose the CDP2 over Yamaha.  For some reason, I don't care for the Yamaha sound. Maybe I've heard too many Steinways.

Bill

--

Mr. Howard

Many thanks for your informative book on digital pianos. There's nothing I've
found elsewhere matches its comprehensiveness and objectivity.   Will you
indulge a question from the US?   I'm a middle aged adult just returning to
piano after lessons as a child that didn't produce much beyond musical
interest.  After many years, I now think I can devote the needed time to
practice/learning.

A reputable music store in the US is directing me toward a Yahama CLP 330 at a
price of $2500 US plus shipping.  While I don't mind paying a bit more to
have a relationship with a dealer, the Classenti CDP3 is $2050 US plus shipping.

After reading your book, the Classenti CDP2 and CDP1 would appear more than
adequate for my needs until I become rather accomplished.  I'm leaning toward
the CDP2 at a price of $1500 US --- $1,000 less than the Yahama CLP 330.  The
CDP1 is even less expensive of course but for about $300, the few additional
features seem an acceptable indulgence.

I am perhaps most concerned about the resolution of problems, should any arise.

Considering the "war" between on-line and brick and mortar music stores (you
must think we yanks see everything as a "war") how challenging would it be to
get service on the Classenti when needed?  Will I have to ship it back to the
online dealer?  Will they just send parts and ask me to install?

Many thanks for your insights.

Paul M

Reply/ Hi Paul

Classenti pianos aren't currently available in
the US...

But I've heard that they will be soon.

So, if you want a piano right now, then I
recommend the Yamaha CLP330.

The CLP330 is marginally better all-round
than the Classenti CDP1. It would fairer to
compare it against the Classenti CDP2 really.

If you don't mind waiting for the Classenti
then I suggest emailing Classenti directly:
info@classenti.com. They should be able to
give you some indication when the pianos
will be available in the US.

They'll also be able to answer any warranty
questions you have.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

Further Questions/

Mr. Howard.

Thank you.  You are correct - Classenti not selling in US yet.   I've contacted
Classenti and they report they will be selling pianos in the US in April 2011.  
That's 5 months from now which has an impact.  However, I've waited 40 years
more or less, so I suppose 5 months more to save $1000 US (CDP 2) is not
unreasonable.  Unless my Yamaha dealer is ready to split the difference in some
way --- I think I'll wait.

Thanks again for your kind reply.

Paul M

--

Dear Graham,

Can you please advise me which DP i should buy for my daughter. She is a music student in a conservatory in second year and she got a DP for to practice at home. It is a Roland HP 550 G. In the conservatory they use all Steinways Grand Pianos. We want to buy her a DP in the next few weeks and looked at different types. We checked the Roland RP 201 which was a very bad one. Unfortunately we could not try the HP 305/307.

But we had a try on the Yamaha CLP 330 and CLP 370.
My daughter found the two very good but she can not make up her mind, which of them would be the better one.
Or should she go for the Roland HP?
Can you help.

Thanking you
Wolfgang

Reply/ Hi Wolfgang

The Yamaha CLP340 would the ideal piano for your
daughter...

This piano will feel the closest to a Steinway
grand piano. The key weight is really nice, and
the sythnetic ivory key tops make a big difference.

Roland digital pianos are supposed to mimic a 
Steinway concert grand, but I prefer the rich, 
clean sound of the Yamaha.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

--

Hi Graham,

It is so nice of you to email me. I greatly appreciate your kind intention of
helping us.

I have been so busy these days to have a look at the book and I intend to do
this in few weeks by when I need to make a decision on buying which piano. I
will ask you for sure if I have any trouble with this. Currently I have two
models in my mind: Casio CDP 200 and Casio Privia PX730. The Privia is much more
expensive. I am not sure if the other is good. I don't really care about the
extra functions, as long as it gives me the sound which is as closest to the
piano sound provided that it is portable and also that its of reasonable price,
may be just about $500 or a very little bit higher and even a used one I don't
really mind. I definitely need 88 keys to be standard.May I have some of your
advice.

Thank you so much
Best regards
Rony


Reply/

Hi Rony

The PX730 is not noticeably better than the CDP200.
So I recommend going for the cheaper option.

Another piano you might consider is the Korg SP250.
This has a good piano sound and a medium weighted
touch. It feels quite nice to play.

You can get the Korg with or without the stand.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

--

To give some background of what I'm looking for, I am basically a piano player.  If I
could fold up a baby acoustic grand so I could haul it around, and it had a transpose
switch, I'd be happy.  So I'm looking for something that feels like and sounds like a
piano.  Transpose is important because I'm a church pianist, and we routinely transpose
songs into more singable keys for the congregation.  I haven't yet plunged into all the
cool things that I could do with MIDI, all the different voices, etc., so that's much
less important to me.

I'm currently using an m-audio 88sx (no longer made), and it's starting to fail (certain
combinations of keys cause some notes not to sound).  I've had it about 3.5 years.  It
definitely does not have a real piano feel, and while it has some touch sensitivity, it
doesn't have anywhere near what a real piano has.  I am in the fortunate position of
being able to afford a better electronic piano, so I'm shopping.  I came across your
guide, and it was very interesting, because I consider myself somewhat ignorant of what's generally available.

Since I wanted to actually play before I bought, I went to a nearby store (Gand Music & Sound in Northbrook, Illinois, USA), and tried a few different models they had on the
floor.

I eliminated the Yamaha model that was about $700 (sorry, didn't write down the model
number) because it didn't feel enough like a piano, and didn't have enough touch
sensitivity in my opinion.  The two models at the top of my list right now are a Yamaha
P155 for $1,199 and a Yamaha CP50 for $1,699.  I liked the feel of the keyboards and felt there was a fairly wide range of touch sensitivity.  I'm leaning slightly towards the
CP50 because I think it will be more versatile if I do start doing more with voices and
recording.  There was a Roland, I think it was the 700GX, but that was ~$2,100, and I was having a hard time seeing what more I would get that I would care about for the extra $400 over the CP50.  I also tried a Kurzweil, I think it was the SP2XSP.

As a side comment, the Yamaha keyboards are good enough that I am seriously considering getting rid of my acoustic baby grand (it's old, and not of great quality), because I could genuinely enjoying playing them as my primary instrument.  I'd probably need to get some more "living room friendly" (in terms of appearance) speakers (I currently have an Alesis Sumo 100 amp).  The other bonus would be that I could play with headphones early/late/when someone else in the house wants to watch a movie.

I was on vacation for the last week, so I haven't had time to continue my shopping. 
There are two other stores in my area that sell electronic stage pianos, and I want to go see what they had, and try a few more before I made my final decision.

I'm going to try downloading your piano guide again using a different e-mail address.  I'll probably be shopping for another 2-3 weeks by the time I get to the other two stores (Sam Ash Music in Buffalo Grove, IL and Music Center in Kenosha, Wisconsin).

John Smiley

--

Thanks for your input, Graham. You are certainly a great resource for anyone like me seeking an adventure with the piano.

You mentioned the Yamaha 161 in your excellent book, in fact you rated it #3 in the mid price range. I tried it and went for that over the Roland because of more weight in the keys.

Yamaha is the big name here, followed by Roland. Hard to find anyone that's ever heard of Classenti, although I'm sure it is fine if you recommend it. I hear good things online about Casio, but they are better known for making cheap watches, Nevertheless, I was surprised how good they sound when I tested one. As for the CLP 320, I understand it is about the same as the 161- GH action, same cabinet design- but it is quite a bit more expensive, several hundred dollars.

After assembling the Yamaha 161 I find the top octave doesn't function, the top 5 keys don't even emit a sound. So I have to swap it out. Guitar Center, which gave me a good price by the way, will come get it and bring me another.

Learn and Master seems to be the top rated online course, so I plan on getting that. Based on your recommendation I'll also get Rocket Piano, not the best name for one wishing to learn to play classical. I also found a teacher, she says I'm intermediate, based on playing a bit as a child, but that was more than 50 years ago. She has me trying Bach and Schumann for a start, but that's a stretch for now.

I enjoy your emails, others do as well, I'm sure. Keep up the good work

Joe Blatchford

--

Hi, I have been reading your forum. I am feeling very overwhelmed with all of the options available. Have you heard anything about the Kingston brand? I am looking at the Kingston BP-890. I can't find any reviews on this brand so I was hoping you could help me. Thank you.

Brenda

Reply/ Hi Brenda

The Kingston brand is sold (as far as I'm aware)
exclusively through Costco in Canada.

This piano is a very basic one.

In England it's sold under the following names:
Gear4Music, Bentley, Diginova.

I understand it sells for a low price, but I
recommend spending at least $200 - $300 more.

Here's some recommendations:

Yamaha YDP141
Classenti CDP1
Casio PX130

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

--

Graham,

Hi Graham, please help me in choosing the best digital piano to buy. I will use
it for my hobby and to do some song arrangement also via midi. My budget is
2500-3000 USD. As of now my choice is the rd 700gx with supernatural upgrade
and the Yamaha CLP 340. I know that one is a digital stage piano and the other
is a home digital piano, but I would buy it if it is a stage or home piano as
long as I will get the best sound quality and the best touch and feel.

If you have any recommendation please advice me...thanks for you time


Patrick

Reply/ Hi Patrick

The Yamaha CLP340 is, without doubt, a superior piano
to the Roland RD700GX.

One advantage of the CLP340 is its built-in speakers.
They're good quality and the sound output is excellent.

The CLP340's touch is also more realistic.

It's also a nice piece of furniture and comes with
3 pedals and a strong, fixed base.

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

--

Dear Graham,

I read your "Which Brand Should You Buy" article online, and was hoping you
could give me some advice...

I'm graduating from college and moving into my first off-campus apartment,
and since it will be much less convenient for me to go to campus and
practice on real pianos, I'd like to get a digital piano to learn music on
and practice. I am also on a student budget and can afford to spend no more
than $750. I'm a relatively serious classical pianist (17 years of lessons)
and understand that for my budget, I won't be getting a very good
instrument, but I would like to get the best touch/tone quality for my
money; other features don't really matter to me.

Here are the six options I am considering. I've sent out inquiries about the
used ones; they may or may not be available or in suitable condition, so I
might have to get one of the new ones.

NEW:
Yamaha YPG635
Yamaha P85
CasioPX-130
Williams Overture

USED:
Kawai P-2000
Roland F-50
Casio Celviano AP-33
Yamaha P70

I'd welcome any and all feedback! Thank you in advance.

Sincerely,

Cynthia

Reply/ Hi Cynthia

From your complete list of pianos, I would choose a
secondhand Yamaha P70.

This piano has the best sound and touch.

I've put your list in order of best to worst.
Taking into consideration only touch and sound.

Here it is:

Yamaha P70
Roland F-50
Casio Celviano AP-33
Casio PX-130
Yamaha P85
Yamaha YPG635
Kawai P-2000
Williams Overture

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

--

Dear Graham,

I have been reading and weighing alternatives.  Previously I was sure I would buy a portable.  Then I realized that a console is better for my situation.  I had thought I might save a little  money by purchasing a portable since the cabinet adds some expense.

I've been busy and I live a distance from digital piano dealers.  This will take more time than I originally thought.  I think there are a number of good DPs out there and I'd best  follow your advice and others and try different pianos several times over the next couple months before making up my mind.

Another consideration:  I've played an acoustic most of my life, so I'm not sure if I'll be
entirely happy with a digital within my budget at this time.

Thanks for your advice and your interest.

Regards,

Diane

--

Hi Graham,

I was shopping, passing thru the BB music department, and saw their piano's. A couple of young guys were playing with the display instruments. I struck up a conversation with the one playing the digital piano, self taught, has been playing for about 9 years. He suggested the Yamaha P85 as a good one to begin on. However, he said the YPG-635 that he was playing was definitely a step up, and it sounded quite good.
 
The $280 price difference isn't an issue as I'd consider spending in that price range for a good piano to learn on. I don't want to spend much more until I figure out if I'm going to stick with it or not. I see the P85 is discussed on your webpage and in your book, however don't see anything on the YPG-635. Is it a new model? Any thoughts about choosing the YPG-635 over the P85, or if a better choice exists in that price range? Both are underpowered speaker wise based on your suggestions, however I would investigate the option to hook up addt'l speakers, etc., if they are capable. I have small rooms so don't think speakers will be an issue for learning.
 
I've been wanting to play music for many years, but haven't since I played the clarinet for about three years in jr. high and high school. I'm now 56. I grew up with my mom playing just about every stringed instrument and singing, though she hasn't played in many years. I have cousins and friends who play guitar so may have an opportunity to play with them at some point when they visit. I grew up listening to folk and popular music of the sixties and seventies, prefer soft and classic rock and hope to be able to play it at some point, though have a varied music taste.
 
Thanks very much for any perspective that you have!
 
Dave
 
David Mott
New Hampshire

Reply/ Hi David

The Yamaha YPG-635 is the UK equivalent of the DGX-630.
(You can find that in my digital piano buyer's guide).

The keyweight is not heavy enough for an serious
playing. So it's not something I recommend.

The Yamaha P85 has a similar key touch. And its
speakers are very small. So, again, it's not
recommended.

All doom and gloom?

If you can wait until the end of 2010 then the Classenti
CDP1 will be available in the States. This piano is worth waiting for!

You can read more about it here:
http://classenti.com/classenti-cdp1-dark-rosewood.html

Yours pianistically,

Graham Howard

--

Hi Graham
 
Your digital piano book was great and I believe that you seem unbiased when making 
recommendations regarding brands of digital pianos to consumers.
 
I am a retired school teacher and finally have time to play a little just for personal enjoyment. I sold an acoustic piano years ago when we were bringing up the kids, so I was really amazed at the digital piano when I went shopping  for a piano now.  I like all the great things a digital does...really  nice!
 
However, I am looking at a used Roland, Model KR-75 and heard some rumor about the keys "splitting" and being expensive to repair. The piano seems to have no problem now. It is for sale by a private owner who says it cost  over $3000, new. It also has a synthesizer with auto accompaniment which is interesting because I would like that keyboard feature to explore as well as playing my traditional "music" you read. (I found all my old music books).
 
I am also looking at he Roland HP-201, which is at a reputable music store here in Ohio. Very nice as well and about $1500.00. I would have the support of the owner in the warranty and service.
  
A music hobbiest and enthusiast.
 
Dee Zona