Monday, October 25, 2010

REVIEWS - Benjamin Adams, Adagio, Williams, Behringer, & Suzuki Pianos - Stay Away

UPDATED REVIEW - October 5, 2011 - As a piano teacher, musician, and digital piano specialist for more than 30 years, I have played just about all the digital pianos there are, including ones you've never heard of. Although most digital piano brands and models are generally available in nice looking cases or cabinets, that's where the similarity stops. I have blogged about this before, but there are some piano dealers that seem to value profit over quality when it comes to selling pianos, whether they be acoustic or digital. If you as the buyer don't know much about the way a piano should operate, play, and sound, then sometimes you simply judge the piano by it's looks and price. If it looks good and it's a cheap price, then many people will buy it. PLEASE don't do that! You may end up with a musical instrument that doesn't really play or sound like a piano (even at minimum standards) for the sake of looks with low price.

There are a few piano & music retail dealers that either create or carry exclusive "house brands" or OFF-brands that other retail dealers do not sell including Adagio, Benjamin Adams, Williams, Behringer, and even Suzuki. Many (but not all) of these off-brand names are not actual manufacturers but just made-up names that some retailers use to distinguish their house brand from another. These off-name or "house brands" in my opinion are almost always inferior to the name brand manufacturers such as Roland, Casio, Yamaha, Kawai, and others in almost every way. But they sell because they are a cheap price, look decent, and seem to have a lot of nice features in an attractive furniture style cabinet. Although some of these house brands or OFF-brands do and can look attractive on the outside, but in my opinion they can do more harm than good to the student or player who wants to play or learn to play the piano properly (at minimum standards).

The piano keys must work properly, not make a lot of noise, respond evenly, have a smooth dynamic response, and the sound needs to resonate properly with the proper amount of polyphony memory. If possible, buy a recognized brand from a manufacturer that has been in business for many years and knows how to build digital pianos properly. Some of these off brands like the Benjamin Adams, Williams, Adagio, and Behringer pianos are made by unknown Chinese manufacturers who use questionable digital technology and sell them at cheap prices to some large US retail dealers (including Costco who sells Suzuki & Adagio). Having digital pianos built in China is not an issue, in and of itself, as many top name manufacturers build their pianos in that country but they own and operate those factories as opposed to buying them from someone else.

If you want something for a cheaper price, then buy either a good name late model used name brand cabinet piano or a new lower priced name brand digital piano. Those instruments sound and play much better than the off name or house brand 88-key digital pianos. Simply put, stay away from the brands I mentioned in the title of this blog if you want a satisfying piano playing experience, unless you have low expectations. It's unfortunate because there are parents out there who know little or nothing about pianos and how they need to play, and then they purchase these lesser known lower price "attractive" digital piano brands for their kids thinking they have done a good thing. But in the long run they have not really saved money and potentially made it difficult for their kids to learn to play properly once the child starts taking lessons and needs to play correctly.

When it comes to a name brand 88-key furniture style digital piano that I recommend including Roland, Yamaha, Casio, and Kawai, one of the more popular models right now is the Casio AP620. It comes in an attractive cabinet that will perform and sound very much like an acoustic upright piano and also has lots of cool built-in educational features at a lower price that many piano teachers & students recommend. At $1399 normal internet discount price, the Casio AP620 is a good investment and is far less money than purchasing a regular new acoustic piano. I have previously reviewed the AP620 piano on my blog so go to the link below to learn more about it and look at other digital piano reviews while your there. As the old saying goes, you can't always judge a book by its cover so be careful out there and do your homework. As always, I am here to help you.

Casio AP620 -   http://azpianonews.blogspot.com/2010/01/all-new-casio-celviano-ap620-piano-is.html

If you want more info on these and other pianos and lower prices than internet discounts, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call me direct at 602-571-1864

20 comments:

  1. It is amazing how someone could be duped into buying a Suzuki piano. For example, someone might think about the Suzuki Method of instruction and associate that with a quality piano. Or perhaps one might associate Yamaha and Suzuki because Yamaha makes nice pianos and motorcycles, Suzuki makes motorcycles, so their pianos must be good too. I haven't heard of those other brand names, but I have heard of Behringer. Behringer is usually associated with the lowest end of musical equipment, so hopefully not too many people have been conned into buying a Behringer without knowing they were bottom of the line. Last year, about this very time of year, Costco was selling a Behringer Concert cdp2400usb for just under $800. I never tried it out. For $800, it might have been an average digital piano. But I am glad I didn't buy one. I can't see why this new Suzuki at Costco is $1500. $500 is a more realistic figure, even then I wouldn't buy it.

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  2. Oops another misspelling. Look at your very last sentence, at the word learn, you spelled lean.

    I appreciate your informative blog. This is good stuff!!!

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  3. Hey thanks for reading the blog so closely and noticing my typos. After typing 1000's of words throughout my blogs, I occasionally miss a few spellings and I appreciate your comments.

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  4. Yes, Costco did offer that Behringer piano you mentioned which I had played and it was terrible as well...but it looked good...just as the Suzuki does. But once you get past the looks which many people don't, you discover that you wish you'd never bought it. There are digital pianos that look good and actually play well and sound great, but the pianos I mentioned in this blog article aren't those. Take care

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  5. Good to know, as the Williams and Benjamin Adams are on Amazon and I was reading about them as well as the Casio Celvianos for sale there.

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  6. I just want to thank you for the information posted here. I abandoned lessons several decades ago for other demands on my time but never lost the desire to continue and heopfully someday become a somewhat competent student of the piano. I gave my sister my upright and now that my college-age daughter has decided to take classes in piano, we agreed a digital one would be most likely to get played the most in our home. That being said, I began to do some shopping and have really become set on the Casio AP620. I was not quite confident that my judgment was trustworthy and began to look at what other retailers had to offer. I saw Sam Ash's Benjamin Adams which at quick glance has been styled to look like the Casio but have never heard of it, nor could I find any information on it or even a website for the manufacturer. For the moment, I am still in web-browsing mode, although I actually have gone to the showrooms to hear what cheap vs. mid-range and high-end sounds like and has to offer. But you ou have provided me with all the information I needed to know about the BA models. I must say, while still ignorant, I am quite proud of myself for figuring out that the AP620 was the standard I would use for comparison all on my own. Now after finding your review, I think I will just wait until I am comfortable forking over the extra funds to have it delivered! Best regards.

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  7. Thank you for your comments Anne B. With regard to various brands of digital pianos and their prices, etc, I may be able to help you get lower prices on what you would be interested in. If you'd like more info on that, you can email me directly.

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  8. Hi Tim,

    I'm in Australia and am currently hunting down a reasonably priced digital piano. I just wanted to let you know that your blog has helped out a lot in steering me clear of these brands.

    I came across Adagio while having a cursory glance on EBay just to see what was around in the second-hand variety.

    Normally when it comes to instruments I tend to stay away from the EBay deals because you tend to walk away with an inferior product, years ago I bought a guitar that looked great and when it arrived I could tell it was a dud before even playing it - really poor workmanship and cheap materials.

    When it came to digital pianos though I was more thinking along the lines of "well they're all basically electronics..surely I wouldn't be dropping THAT much quality with the chinese knock-off pricing", I'm glad that I did a bit of reading before hitting the 'Bid' button ;).

    There are a few music stores around selling Casios though in AUD pricing the Celviano AP620 is going for around the $2000 mark. I've seen the AP200 for around $1,199AUD, what is your opinion on that model? The same store is selling the Privia PX730 for the same price, which way would you lean?

    Feedback is much appreciated.

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  9. The 2 Casio's you speak of are the same instruments but cabinets are obviously different. Either one is good, it's a matter of taste and difference in cost.

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  10. what is the difference with the casio AP80R and the casio AP620?

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  11. The Casio AP80R is no longer made and the AP620 is a current model with new electronics, keyboard action, audio system, cabinet, and other new features.

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  12. I'm looking for a digital piano under $700 any brands or models you recomend? I just became a music major and am studying the piano as my choice instrument.

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  13. Hello Tim,
    I have always had Yamaha pianos, currently owns one 3/4 size grand piano, 1 studio (both Yamahas), and 1 Baldwin upright.
    I'd like to buy a Yamaha digital piano for my son in college. Saw 1 before at costco.com, but they don't carry Yamaha brand anymore. I was interested in the Suzuki one at Costco, but after reading your blog, I guess I'll stick with Yamaha. Where can I buy a Yamaha digital piano for reasonable prices like costco.com ones? Please help.
    Thanks

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  14. Thank you for your informative blog.

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  15. I thank you for your info I was considering a digital piano at Costco not after reading your blog. I am now considering a Kawai CA-63.
    Thanks

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  16. One thing that worries me about Casio is the lack of local repair support. It appears that you have to ship it to a central depot if there are any problems. Most other main brands have local support networks. Oddly enough, Adagio also has a large network of support centres.

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  18. I recently bought a used Behringer CDP 2000 for $350, because I didnt want to invest to much on a digital piano at the moment. It sounds and plays okay, but then again I'm not an expert. Like said in the blog, it looks nice. I'll probably buy a better digital piano if my children show interest in the instrument when they get older(2 yr old daughter and 5 month son). I did read a few of the reviews on this blog, and it sounds like the Kawai ce220 would be a great purchase. I was surprised it was picked over the Yamaha model.

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  19. Thanks so much for this information it has been very helpful. I have a question though. I own an acoustic upright & I'm looking for a digital. A friend has a Benjamin Adams model BCR400 for sale & I cannot find any information on this model. She says she paid $1200 & wants $600. Leary due to this article. Can you help me?

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  20. I do not recommend any Adams digital pianos at any price, especially used ones with no warranty. They are not necessarily bad pianos, but they certainly are not good in my opinion and a name brand would be a much better choice.

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