AZ PIANO REVIEWS!: BUYERS GUIDE - 2017 DIGITAL GRAND PIANOS - Yamaha, Roland, Kawai, Artesia, Omega, Samick, Adagio, Suzuki, & More! REVIEWS - READ THIS BEFORE YOU BUY! What to know when shopping for Digital Grand Pianos - Digital Piano Reviews

Apr 15, 2016

BUYERS GUIDE - 2017 DIGITAL GRAND PIANOS - Yamaha, Roland, Kawai, Artesia, Omega, Samick, Adagio, Suzuki, & More! REVIEWS - READ THIS BEFORE YOU BUY! What to know when shopping for Digital Grand Pianos

Kawai CP1
UPDATED REVIEW - January 2, 2017 - Digital Grand Pianos...What to know when shopping for one - Digital Baby Grand Pianos from Yamaha, Roland, Kawai, Samick, Suzuki, and others can be lots of fun to own! I receive inquiries from people who are looking for a good digital Baby Grand piano along with useful built-in digital technology. In this Digital Grand Piano buyer guide, I try to help educate people on "how" to purchase a good digital Baby Grand Piano and what is available with regard to various brands and price ranges. The sizes of these pianos can be the small mini sizes which are 2.5 feet deep on up to 5'3" deep. Price is not necessarily an indicator of cabinet size so you need to decide what size piano will be best for your needs as well as what features seem most important for long term ownership. Digital Grand pianos can add beauty and elegance to any living space and they are low or no maintenance instruments which can last for many, many years.

Yamaha CVP705
The functions many people ask for in full featured pianos are a large & good variety of higher quality instrument sounds including good acoustic pianos, strings, brass (a variety of horns), woodwinds, reeds, flutes, synthesizers, guitars, world instruments, and others. People also ask for other features such as drum rhythm patterns, ensemble style chord backing tracks, educational play features, a bigger user interface screen, a mic input for singalong/karaoke, multitrack recording & song playback options, an authentic acoustic piano feel, and a full sounding speaker system. Polyphony note memory can be anywhere from 64 notes to 256 notes on these various pianos, and more polyphony can be important if you are a more advanced player with a much higher skill level or are doing extensive recording or multiple layering with accompaniments. However for normal use in most families who just play for fun and are not skilled players, 64 notes of polyphony will likely be sufficient, but 128 or higher would be better. In addition to all this, it seems everyone wants the best looking Baby Grand piano they can get with the most authenticity in cabinet design and function and they want it all for generally around $5000 or less. That's where the most popular range is, and although there are people who can and are willing to spend more money to get what they want, they are in the distinct minority of buyers.

Roland V-Grand
The problem with wanting to get a good digital baby grand piano is that you will normally need to make many sacrifices to get what you want in the lower price range. Yamaha, Roland, & Kawai which are all great digital piano manufacturers with fun digital technology along with great on-board educational features for students, do produce some exciting and impressive full featured  ensemble type digital Grand Pianos in small & larger sizes. You can be very happy with any of them as they are all great. However, they are NOT in the $5000 or less price range. In fact those models which include the Yamaha CVP709GP (which replaced the 609GP) & CGP1000, the Roland V-Grand, and the Kawai CP1 are all normally priced at around $20,000 retail price, so they're not inexpensive:). Another example of a high price digital grand is the Yamaha AvantGrand N3 (picture near bottom of page). This model is traditional in its approach to features focusing on getting the best key action, piano sound, and pedaling experience in a digital grand piano. I believe it can safely be said that the N3 is the best traditional digital grand piano produced by any company under $20,000 in terms of the key action, piano sounds, and pedal function.

Samick SG450 4'1" w/Fatar action
The digital piano brands that currently offer a full featured ensemble Baby Grand at around $5000 or less include Adagio, Suzuki, Williams, Artesia, Dynatone, Samick (left pic), Viscount/Galileo, Omega (above left pic), Sejung (not available in most states), Cameron & Sons (private label), and a couple of others. Typically when you spend less money on a digital Baby Grand you get less quality and reliability. If you see them selling for around $1500-$2000 or so, they are almost always very poor in key action and sound and those are the main features I recommend people look for 1st, and then the fun ensemble & digital features should come after that. The lower priced digital pianos typically measure anywhere from about 3 feet deep (mini or micro size) to a larger 4' deep size and are some look better & more authentic than others with regard to the cabinet style, construction, finish quality, lid, bench, legs, pedal assembly, etc. One of the full featured digital baby grand pianos under $5000 that I like is the Samick SG450 (above left pic) which has a surprising and impressive key action along with good piano sound, beautiful cabinet, and lots of useful educational & fun features. Go to the following link to read my Samick SG450 review: Samick SG450 review

Adagio 
As far as the digital technology & quality of the brands I do not recommend under $5000 (based on years of personal experience), there are a number of them that have poor piano tone, key response, key action, tonal dynamics, key velocity realism, and other digital features. I refer to those piano and brands simply as GPSO's..."Grand Piano Shaped Objects" and little more than that:) They don't play good, sound good, function well, or hold up good over time. I have been around most of these brands and various models my entire music career and there are just certain ones that have not improved much (or at all) and still are on my "not recommended" list. Those brands include, Suzuki, Adagio, Williams, Artesia, Sejung, and a small variety of "house or private label brands." A house brand is one that is sold by a piano or music store and they buy a pre-made digital piano from a Chinese manufacturer and have their own name put on the piano so that they can have an "exclusive" name that no one else has. It makes marketing and promotional sense for the music store to do that, but it certainly does not mean it's a good piano. In fact, is likely not a good piano. Cameron & Sons is one of those "house brands" as is Williams, Adagio, Artesia, & Suzuki. Not all house brands are bad (some are good because they have control over the quality or technology used) but it is not common. Sejung is an actual Chinese brand you made not have heard of before but I have actually played them and was definitely not happy with tone, key action, or construction and these are the main ingredients that need to be good in a digital piano, and that's probably why most piano stores won't carry them. Sometimes you do get what you pay for:). 

Suzuki MG350
It's great to have lots of cool functions in a digital ensemble Baby Grand piano and they are fun to use, and many of these low quality baby grands have those functions. So on paper they might seem to be good pianos to consider. But if you cannot get a quality piano that plays and responds well as a piano, then I don't believe it really matters what else is in the piano and what it does. And in the lower quality pianos, even those extra functions are generally not so good much of the time. As for Suzuki, Adagio, Williams, and Artesia, just because they are sold primarily by Costco or big music store chains does not mean they are good. Adagio & Williams are really not brands (as far as having their own manufacturing facility) and there are no parts in the piano that come from North America or Europe (all Chinese). Suzuki and Artesia are also not a brand in the traditional sense and they do not build their own pianos (all are pre-made in China as far as I know). The Suzuki piano also brand has nothing to do with any other Suzuki products made either including motorcycles, cars, violins, lessons, or anything else connected with their name. I done a number of reviews on Suzuki & Adagio, and Artesia pianos and have been very disappointed with all of them especially for their key action, velocity response, tone dynamics, and quality, and I have personally played many of these models.

Yamaha AvantGrand N3
It's important to know that just because a piano is completely or partially made in China does not mean it's bad, and I don't want people to think that. There are some very good piano manufacturing facilities in China now, and even Yamaha & Kawai get a number of their acoustic pianos made there these days. Whether we like it or not, we all live in a world economy and China is a big part of it. As long as the piano is produced with good oversight, good construction, and reliable technology with up to date musical features, that's what really counts and the brand name is not the always the issue.

When it comes to digital pianos, generally speaking, you can get more piano quality and features for the money ($5000 or less) if you do not get a Baby Grand cabinet and instead get a regular vertical upright style furniture cabinet. You will pay a premium for a nice digital baby grand furniture style cabinet, especially the larger cabinets in the higher priced models. But the look and sound of those instruments are certainly impressive and if you plan to own it for a long time and you have the "disposable income," go for it and enjoy. Contact me BEFORE you buy anything and I will give you some personal advice that will help you.

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

8 comments:

  1. It is really a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m glad that you simply shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.
    music lessons

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  2. All of these are lovely pianos , I want to buy all of these and make fun . Thanks a Lot

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  3. This is really helpful. What's KD165's polyphony? Which do you think is a better buy: Yamaha CLP 465GP or Kohler KD165?

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  4. For more detailed info you may email me directly and I can help you with your questions

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  5. Very helpful reviews. I really like the KD7, who deals in these pianos for uk

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  6. I am not aware of anyone in the UK who sells that model. I believe it is limited to the states

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  7. Hi Tim:
    I'm in Ottawa and am looking at buying a used 1997 Yamaha Clavinova CLP 555 for 3000. I like sound very much and have looked at a Suzuki for 1800 as well. Do you recommend the former Yamaha or should I wait for CVP or Roland? Thank you. Janice

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  8. Hi Tim,

    I recently helped my church select and buy a Yamaha AvantGrand N1. I'm wondering if you can suggest a good external speaker to be used with this. We're finding that the listeners' and the player's listening experience is quite different both in terms of volume and quality of sound, making it difficult to deliver the kind of performance that one would like. I think the piano was designed for optimal experience when played up against the wall. That's not an ideal situation - having one's back to the crowd or the choir while directing them :-).

    Thanks,
    Jim

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