Thursday, January 2, 2014

REVIEW - Samick SG110, SG310, & SG450 Digital Grand Pianos with upgraded Fatar Piano Key Actions - Surprisingly Good for the Lower Prices & Very Attractive

Samick Acoustic Grand
UPDATED REVIEW - March 21, 2014 - Samick SG450, SG310, & SG110 Digital Baby Grands - Recommended - The Samick Piano Company is a well known South Korean piano & musical instrument manufacturer which has been making acoustic grand and upright pianos for over 50 years. Their line of acoustic piano products include the Samick brand as well as Kohler & Campbell, Seiler, Pramberger, Knabe, and others. Samick is also one of the largest guitar building companies in the world and has made thousands of guitars for famous companies including Fender, Gibson, Yamaha, and others and also builds the Greg Bennett and Silvertone line of acoustic & electric guitars. I have personally played on and owned Samick acoustic pianos in the past as well as Samick made Greg Bennett guitars, so I am very familiar with their instruments and they are overall impressive for the price.

The Samick company (US headquarters Nashville, TN - left pic) has also built many digital pianos over the years, however these instruments were just average or below average (I have played many of them) and not competitive with other top piano companies like Yamaha, Kawai, Roland, or Casio, and I would not have recommended them in the past. But the Samick company now has some very attractive & well built polished ebony small digital baby grand pianos in a lower price range all under $4500 store discount prices. I have played played these Samick digital Baby Grands and liked what I felt and heard for the price. I was impressed by the fairly realistic hammer weighted key action which moved and responded to velocity and dynamics much better than other digital baby grands I have played in the lower price range. Beyond that, the piano tone was more realistic, although it wasn't quite up to the level of a Roland, Yamaha, or Kawai digital baby grand, but those brands are a lot more money in comparison (sometimes many thousands more). So for the money, the Samick digital grand pianos are sufficient in producing a satisfying piano playing experience for many people and they look great too. Copyright AZPianoNews.com 2014

Two main reasons why I believe these pianos are much better than they used to be is because Samick has a business relationship with the Fatar key action company and the Orla digital design &  sound electronics company, both of which are located in Italy. These two well known Italian companies have been designing quality digital piano components for many years and are respected in Europe and around the world. Samick is now using these two company's high quality (I have played them and they are really good) graded hammer piano key actions (with nice dynamic response) along with convincing stereo digital piano & instrument sounds and had them built into these models. I believe the resulting outcome is that Samick has the best digital pianos they have ever offered and these instruments are at very reasonable prices (in my opinion) for many people looking for a beautiful and well built furniture cabinet along with good piano action, overall sound, and digital features.

The lowest priced and smallest of these three new pianos with a premium European Fatar key action is called the SG110 mini grand piano (left pic) which will generally be discount priced at Samick piano stores for about $3495. The polished ebony SG110 with 385 high quality instrument sounds and 3 full functioning brass pedals measures about 3 feet in depth from front to back so it can fit in many small spaces. The built-in stereo speaker system has 4 speakers going through 60 watts of audio power. This piano feels and sounds quite nice for its size and really looks attractive and is much better than the "off brands" I have played such as the ones from Costco and various music stores. The legs of the SG110 sit directly on the ground and have no casters like it's bigger brother the SG310, and the inside of the piano is all black to match the piano exterior.

The next model is called the SG310 (left pic) and is normally discount priced at local US Samick stores for approx $3995. It is identical to the SG110 except for some important features such as having upgraded hardware & appointments including a 2-piece hinged lid (like a real acoustic grand), 2 level grand piano lid adjustment, thick  & sturdy tapered legs, and measures approx approx 4' in depth from front to back, so it's somewhat larger which gives it a more authentic grand piano appearance for a slightly bigger space. The built-in stereo speaker system is larger and more powerful with 6 speakers going through 120 watts of audio power so it has a much fuller tone than the SG110. This model is my favorite of the two because of its larger size, its looks, and it fuller sound, so as far as I'm concerned, it is easily worth the difference in price, although that difference could put some people out of their budget. But you should also look at this as a long-term purchase as well. The key cover and legs of the SG310 have extra upgraded hardware on them and the music rack shape has a slightly different design than the SG110.

Samick SG310 digital grand piano
Samick SG310 digital grand pianoBoth SG110 & SG310 models (SG310 - left pics) have a fairly realistic European made graded piano weighted hammer action (as I mentioned earlier) with 3 functioning brass pedals, 64 notes of polyphony which is OK for the price and fine for most people (128 notes would have been better), and 385 impressive instrument sounds including electric pianos, organs, strings, guitars, synths, brass, woodwinds, percussion, and many other cool sounds. These pianos also include 20 panel memories for saving your favorite setups and a 16-track General MIDI multi-track player/recorder using a USB flash drive which enables you to save and load songs and even use the piano to play continuous music of your choice just like a player piano but without moving keys. The SG pianos also allows you to play accompaniment lesson songs from popular piano lesson curriculum which is great for practicing your lessons and listening to the songs that are in the lesson books while you play:). Each of the 16 instrument tracks, including the melody line, can be individually muted (switched off) so that you can isolate certain parts for better understanding of how that part plays and sounds, which is great for learning and playalong. That is a very useful feature not found in many digital pianos. Go here for more info on how General MIDI lesson & song accompaniments can help you play better and have more fun: General MIDI songs & lessons

SG310 front view pic
The SG110 & SG310 pianos also have 3 standard piano pedals, keytouch sensitivity control to change the touch response, headphone jacks for private practice, a user friendly backlit LCD display screen, dedicated front control panel buttons, and stereo audio outputs and computer connections. There are also a number of other features on these two models that in my opinion make these Samick pianos worth owning for many people. With good looks including sliding key covers, the ability to have the piano lid open up with your choice of two levels of height (full or 1/2 open), a matching bench, and nice sound and graduated hammer piano key action with some cool digital features, I believe these small digital baby grand pianos are hard to beat (in this realistic looking grand cabinet style) for the money. Samick's US headquarters is in the Greater Nashville, TN area and they offer a 3 yr parts & 1 year labor warranty good anywhere in the US. Based on everything I have seen and heard from these two pianos, I would recommend them, although for more advanced players with a larger budget, there are better options.

SG450
Finally, Samick makes a top of the line model called a SG450 (left and lower left pics) which is the identical piano to the SG310 in most ways incl cabinet size & design, speaker system & audio power, General MIDI play/record features, and other functions. Two of the big upgrades is the SG450 has the "easy-play chord features" and a much nicer, larger, and more intuitive user LCD display screen which allows you to see the variety of functions better. along with a different and more intuitive control panel. The SG450 also has 476 impressive instrument sounds (wow, how many can a person possibly need, but they are nice) some of which are specialized orchestral sounds including a built-in easy play Rhythm Orchestra with 520 musically correct automatic left hand chord accompaniment styles (1-finger/3-finger easy play) and helpful drum patterns for all styles of music, a right hand harmony note system when you play auto-chord style on the right hand. The easy play chord style system includes Classical, Jazz, Latin, Rock, Country, Big Band, Swing, Broadway, Ragtime, New Age, Christmas, Disney, and everything in-between. This kind of system is great for people who do not play piano or don't want to play in a traditional style but want to have fun just using chords on the left hand. Other features include "continuous play music" playing from a USB flash drive for your own personal "player piano library" (all three Samick models can do this) which is great fun for just listening to great music through your piano even if you are not playing it yourself. The SG450 also has real time volume controls over various functions in the piano, a variable brilliance control for a variety of different acoustic piano sounds from mellow to bright, twin piano mode which electronically divides the 88 keys in half for two identical 44-key piano keyboards (with the same octaves and tuning) which is great for two people playing at the same time...very cool. Piano store selling price for this piano is usually about $4500 and is my favorite model of the three. 

Samick SG450 digital grand piano
Samick SG450 digital grand piano Considering how heavy a regular small acoustic baby grand weighs, which is approx 600-700lbs, the lighter weight of these small digital baby grands makes them much easier to move and assemble than traditional pianos. The SG110 3' deep baby grand weighs in at 165lbs and the 4' deep SG310 & SG450 (left pic) weigh in at 260lbs each. Not bad considering their size. But whichever Samick digital baby grand piano you may choose, I believe you'll likely have a good time playing it and be especially pleased with how they look. There certainly are better digital baby grands for piano tone, dynamics, pedal decay & resonance, key action, and other features from brands like Yamaha, Roland, and Kawai (as I mentioned earlier), but those pianos are more money. Also, there are digital baby grands for less money such as Suzuki, Adagio, Artesia, and others, but I have not found any of them to be acceptable even at minimum standards. You just don't normally get something for nothing out there so it's good to be very careful when spending this kind of money. Samick piano company seems to be the one of the those manufacturers that has been able to fill a niche of offering higher quality digital grand pianos (especially with regard to key action and dynamics) at reasonable prices. There are many things to think about when investing in a digital piano as well as many choices, and I can help you figure it all out if you contact me.  

If you want more piano info and LOWER PRICES than internet discounts or sale prices, please email me at tim@azpianowholesale.com or call direct at 602-571-1864.

* Also, below a video of the SG310 in action. The guy playing the SG310 in the video is a pretty amazing player and the SG450 would sound the same as far as the piano sound and instrument playback goes:)


 

2 comments:

  1. I have owned a Samick Digital Grand piano for 20 years (SGP-101). I have moved it all over he country and it works as well now as it did. I agree the keyboard hammer action is not realistic and after years of playing it it is difficult to adjust to a "proper" action. The voices are not wonderful, but adequate for my purposes.

    My observation is that for the small amount of money ($2200 in 1992) that I spent on it, it has provided hours of enjoyment with zero maintenance, always in tune (I am very sensitive to an even slightly out of tune piano to the point that no matter how wonderful the acoustics and action - I would rather play a decent digital piano any day to a piano that hasnt been tuned for a few months).

    I am continually amazed at how long it has lasted in essentially new condition. A couple of keys make a slight rubbing noise, but still dont stick. Given no other piece of electronics ever lasts more than 5 years, the fact that this product with its mechanical components has lasted 20 is astounding -- which I think speaks well of Samick's attention to detail and quality control.

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    1. Very nice demo! I hope to be able to play like that some day. There's a lot of music in me and I love writing it too.

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