Which Piano is Right for You: Yamaha Vs. Kawai?
Question: “I am considering both Yamaha and Kawai pianos and they seem similar. What are some of the differences?”
Yamaha pianos are often near the top of the list when pianists begin looking for a good piano. If you are looking at the purchase of a new Yamaha piano, the consideration of a piano manufactured by Kawai may be in your best interest. Founded in 1927 by Koichi Kawai, Kawai endured ninety years of history to become one of the leading piano makers in the world. They continue to produce high-quality pianos at a price point that is hard to beat—even for Yamaha.
Kawai and Yamaha pianos are often compared due to a number of similarities. They are both based in Japan and have decades of experience in the crafting of both upright and grand pianos. Their factories are some of the most advanced in the world and they pride themselves on consistency. Both of the companies build an incredibly high number of pianos each year. This high production capacity combined with truly good quality has made both brands the choice of musicians, students and piano lovers around the globe. That being said, Kawai has some significant advantages over Yamaha pianos, which has allowed them to be the leader of innovation in the piano industry while maintaining competitive pricing for their high-quality pianos. So what separates Kawai pianos from Yamaha pianos?
1: Higher Stability
Kawai pianos, especially their grand pianos, have undergone steady and constant improvements in their design and workmanship over the years. Today, Kawai pianos come standard with their industry leading Millennium III ABS-Carbon Fiber action. Several decades ago, Kawai made the bold decision to begin the production of piano action components utilizing ABS-Styran. This change from wood was shocking to the traditional piano industry and initially was widely dismissed. The years since have proven the stability and accuracy of their new parts, which today, are widely accepted and credited by the piano industry. In fact, America’s Mason & Hamlin through their subsidiary Wessel, Nickel and Gross have recently switched to similar, ABS components with raving reviews. Currently, the new Millennium III action parts are made of ABS infused with Carbon Fiber for added strength and rigidity. These actions are utilized on both Kawai grand and upright pianos.
Cedarville University Professor Retires – Farewell Recital
Longtime professor of music Dr. Charles (Chuck) Clevenger gave his farewell piano recital at Cedarville University recently. Dr. Clevenger performed on a Steinway & Sons Model D Concert Grand that we fully rebuilt and provided to the university. He visited our shop last year along with other faculty and students from the university’s piano division last year when they were selecting several restored Steinway grand pianos from us. We wish him happiness in his well-deserved retirement!
Question: “It seems like I see Steinway pianos on stage all of the time. Why has Steinway & Sons dominated the concert market?”
Although Steinway & Sons Concert Grand Pianos currently rule almost all of today’s concert stages throughout the world, it wasn’t always this way. Even today, competitors fight hard to place their pianos on performance stages. With over 90% of concert pianists performing today on Steinway pianos, it is easy to forget that this company was once a small upstart fighting for their position within the massive North American piano market.
The Marketing | Steinway’s Prowess
Steinway & Sons has mastered the art of marketing. That is not to say they have not or do not continue to make quality products. Rather, they were the piano company who mastered both the art of piano building and the cut-throat world of advertising. During their early history, there were numerous high-end piano makers all competing for the ever growing piano market. Names such as Chickering, Knabe, Weber, Mason & Hamlin and Steinway were in an ever ongoing battle to become THE best in the industry. William Steinway, Henry E. Steinway’s son gets much of the credit for Steinway & Sons’ business and marketing prowess. Having high caliber pianists choose your piano over others was seen as being highly prestigious and influential. Thus, the Steinway Artists program was birthed coupled with the company’s bank of concert instruments.
January Piano Technician’s Guild Meeting Held at Chupp’s
The January meeting of the local Piano Technician’s Guild was held at our rebuilding shop in New Paris, IN. Dennis taught a class on proper Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver System installation and specific issues they may run into when installing them onto Steinway grand pianos. Other various piano tech related subjects were discussed amongst the group as well. We look forward to the next meeting!
Maintaining Your Piano
As a piano owner, you naturally want your piano to sound and perform at a high level. A properly tuned piano is inviting to a pianist and helps bring out the best from any artist. One question we hear from piano owners is ‘how often should I have my piano tuned?’ This comes down to several factors.
If your piano is new or freshly rebuilt or restrung, do not be surprised if you find that the piano slips out of tune fairly quickly. This is due to the new strings continuing to stretch and the piano acclimating to its new environment. This is a normal part of the ‘settling’ process. We tune our newly rebuilt pianos four-five times before they leave our shop to help ‘kickstart’ that process, but stretching and acclimating still occurs.
Why A ‘Free’ Upright Piano Is Not Always Free
“Free piano! Plays great! *just needs tuned. You move. Bring lots of friends, this thing is heavy…”
Ads similar to this example, fill newspapers and local Craigslist listings all over the country. At first, this can sound like a deal of a lifetime. “A free vintage piano and all I need to do is pick it up and have tuned!” Unfortunately, these apparent deals can quickly turn into money pits that leave you with a lackluster, barely functioning instrument that cannot be improved without an inordinate amount of time and money.
There are a few reasons that these pianos are often left in homes when they are sold and you can find free pianos abound on the internet. Below we will go over a the top reasons you should think twice before undertaking the inconvenience of acquiring a free/cheap piano.
1: Moving Cost
There are a number of hidden costs that might not be apparent when it comes to a free or cheap one-hundred-year-old upright or even a grand. The first is moving. Old, full-size upright pianos can weigh nearly 700 lbs. and are harder to move than a grand. Awkward in size and weight, these instruments require a qualified piano moving team to safely remove, transport and set up the piano at its new home. Asking a couple of buddies to help you move it will not suffice, and likely will cause more damage to the piano and potential injury to those attempting to move it.
What’s the Difference: Tuning vs. Repair/Restoration
Question: “I am considering purchasing an old piano I found online. The owner says it is in good shape, but it needs tuned. Do you think it will need more than that, or by tuning do they mean restoration or repairs as well?”
This is a question we hear quite a bit from people who have questions regarding the purchase of a piano. The term ‘tuning’ seems to have become a catch-all definition for work done on a piano. It often gets confused with work that would fall under restoration, basic maintenance, or repairs. Often, pianos that ‘just need tuning’ require much more work than that to even make them playable. To understand the difference between tuning and piano repair/restoration it is good to know the definitions.
What is Piano Tuning?
Piano tuning describes the process of altering string tension in a piano to subtly adjust the sound wave’s frequency. The end result of tuning a piano is to create an optimal playing experience, ensure the piano is at the correct pitch and eliminates unwanted ‘waves’ in the tone.
The act of tuning a piano relies on making small adjustments to individual string tension. This allows the tuner to align the intervals between the tones. This is usually done around the universal pitch of A440. Utilizing a tuning wrench/hammer, a tuner skillfully adjusts each string. Attached to hitch pins near the tail of the piano and finely threaded tuning pins at the front, there are over 200 individually strung strings inside each grand piano. It is important to note that tuning a piano does not repair any mechanical or structural issues your piano may have, so if the piano refuses to stay in tune or there are other mechanical or structural issues, repair or restoration work would need to be done to correct that.
The number of times a piano should be tuned each year can vary on the amount the instrument is played and the environment the piano lives in. [Humidity control devices such as the Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver System can extend the tuning stability of a piano.] The dawn of piano tuning as a career coincided with the increasing popularity of pianos during the mid-1800s. The ‘golden age’ of piano building saw the piano industry become one of the highest tech manufacturing industries in the world. [It is important to note that not every person who can tune, is qualified as a piano technician.]
Indiana pianist selects vintage Mason & Hamlin Grand from Chupp’s Pianos
We recently provided Lois from Richmond, Indiana with a restored vintage Mason & Hamlin Model A Grand Piano. She was very happy with her newly restored instrument and was kind enough to send in the following letter of recommendation.
Dennis and Crew,
Thank you so much for making my Mason & Hamlin dream become a reality. Your talent for restoring pianos is overwhelming. I never thought this kind of talent existed. There are too many pianos out there just waiting to be helped. My gratitude to everyone, thank you again…
December 2016 | Christmas Music Video Highlights
The holiday season is here! Below are a number of videos we have produced, featuring Christmas music. Enjoy!
“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” played on a vintage Steinway Model O Grand Piano by Benjamin Rogers. This classic Christmas song was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. The piano was built in 1918 at the New York Steinway Factory and features a figured African Flame Mahogany cabinet. It is currently awaiting purchase or restoration at our New Paris, IN. Rebuilding Facility.
Philip performing ‘Carol of the Bells’ on an Art Case 1917 Steinway & Sons Model B Grand Piano. [George Winston arrangement.] Carol of the Bells was written by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1914. The piano was built during the height of the golden age of piano manufacturing and features a rich, Circassian Walnut cabinet in a Louis XV style. Art Case pianos like this represent the very finest in piano craftsmanship.
Three Main Steps of Steinway Grand Piano Restoration
The art of piano restoration is more than simply swapping parts. The definition of rebuilt (amount of work actually done on the piano and the associated quality) varies a lot in the industry. Premium brands like Steinway and Mason & Hamlin are among the pianos most likely to warrant an extensive restoration. This infographic touches on some of the basics that go into a full, Steinway piano restoration. Scroll through the handy infographic to learn more about the rich history and work that goes into the restoration of vintage pianos. [Click the infographic to expand.]
From Mason & Hamlin’s Aeolian Days
While digging through some old paperwork, we found an old Mason & Hamlin product brochure from their days as a division of Aeolian in East Rochester, New York. Mason & Hamlin remains as one of the only ‘golden era’ piano makers still in business today. Along with Steinway & Sons, they represent the very finest in American piano craftsmanship. Below is a scan of the front cover.
Free Desktop Backgrounds from Chupp’s Pianos | Winter 2016
We’ve designed a few computer desktop backgrounds for our use here at the shop and thought we would share some of them with you. All of these are 1920 x 1080. You can click on either the download link or the photo itself to open a larger version of the desktop background. After doing this right click, and save to your computer.
The Elkhart Truth Features the Work of Chupp’s Piano Service
NEW PARIS — Tucked away in a corner of Elkhart County, a special brand of vintage music is being made – well, actually remade.
The restoration of famed Steinway & Sons pianos – the most famous name in pianos – has become the specialty of Chupp’s Piano Service, a New Paris business founded in 1975 by Dennis Chupp, a master piano technician.
Chupp, who learned his trade of restoring and prepping Steinways, has sold more than 2,000 models. The business not only restores and repairs, they tune, locate, move and set up pianos.
“A local concert technician, Walter Boshart, helped me through my journey of becoming a piano technician and it took me 10 years to get used to the job,” Dennis Chupp said. “We had arranged training at the Steinway factory and had trained with the head Steinway service rep. (Fred Drasche)”
Mason & Hamlin Model A Grand Piano #21946 | Photos
Along with Steinway & Sons, the Mason & Hamlin piano company continues to be one of the few golden era piano makers still in the business today. New and used Mason & Hamlin instruments are favorites of many pianists and continue in popularity around the world. We recently rebuilt Mason & Hamlin Model A #21946 for a private client in Richmond, Indiana. Completed in 1913 at the Boston, MA factory, this piano is a great example of historic Mason & Hamlin quality. Historic Mason & Hamlin Model A Grand Pianos measure 5’8″ in length and are considiered to be one of the finest pianos ever made under 6′. The client visited our shop and selected Model A #21946 for restoration.
The Restoration Process | Before & After
Once selected for restoration, our team of piano technicians and rebuilders went to work. The belly of the piano was fully restored. The cast iron plate’s original finish was removed and it was sanded, puttied and re-bronzed. Raised lettering on the plate was hand detailed. Made of solid spruce, the original soundboard and bridges were repaired and refinished and a new soundboard logo was affixed to the center. New copper wound bass strings along with high quality music wire was installed to new, blued tuning pins. Proper bearing was set which allows for optimum soundboard efficiency. A new custom fitted pinblock was fabricated and installed. Dozens of plate screws and bolts were re-plated and the aliquots were polished.
Deb & Rob On Their New Kawai GX Series Grand Piano
Recently we were happy to provide a Kawai GX-2 Blak Series Grand Piano to Deb and Rob in LaGrange, Indiana. We also installed a new QRS PNOmation3 Player Piano System on the instrument. They were kind enough to send in a testimonial about our service, which we have included below.
“I am so very thankful for Chupp Pianos! When my house burned down, Tim got me a replacement estimate very promptly, so I could send it to the insurance company (at their request).
And even though it was almost two years until I was moving into a new house, they remembered and took very good care of us, meeting us at their showroom twice and giving us a tour of their impressive rebuilding facility in New Paris.