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Yamaha C1 5'3" Baby Grand Piano
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ixnys
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27th March 2005
Old 27th March 2005
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Yamaha C1 5'3" Baby Grand Piano

I'm considering buying a Yamaha C1 5'3" Baby Grand Piano. The best deal I can get on it is through Costco. The price after tax will come out to about $11,000.

At first I was considering getting the T121 Yamaha upright piano which would cost me about $4,800 because of space considerations. However aside from use the piano for playing, practicing, and composing, I also would like to record it. For this reason I figured I would benefit more from getting a baby grand.

I just wanted to get some input from you guys. Wanted to know if anybody else has experience with the Yamaha C1 series. Will the recording of a C1 sound much better than an upright. I'm also not going to be recording in an ideal room (8-9ft cielings). How do these piano's sound after a couple of years. For the music I compose, I don't play the low low register anyways, so will a bigger piano make much of a difference when it comes to recording? Space and price is a consideration and thats why I can't really go past a 6' piano right now.

Based on what I'm doing, is it worth to pay more money to go with a grand instead of an upright?

FYI, I'm a fan of the piano sounds such as Coldplay (The Scientist, Clocks, Trouble) and Radiohead (Karma Police, Sail To The Moon).
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27th March 2005
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We were in the same position as you about 3 years ago and after listening to many pianos in that price range went with an upright. We got a Yamaha U series with the disklavier for about $8000. It sounds amazing. I have one client that prefers it to most of the grands around town. 5'3" baby grands just didn't cut it for me. And if you're into Coldplay - it's all upright piano.
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27th March 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ixnys
I'm considering buying a Yamaha C1 5'3" Baby Grand Piano. The best deal I can get on it is through Costco. The price after tax will come out to about $11,000.

At first I was considering getting the T121 Yamaha upright piano which would cost me about $4,800 because of space considerations. However aside from use the piano for playing, practicing, and composing, I also would like to record it. For this reason I figured I would benefit more from getting a baby grand.

I just wanted to get some input from you guys. Wanted to know if anybody else has experience with the Yamaha C1 series. Will the recording of a C1 sound much better than an upright. I'm also not going to be recording in an ideal room (8-9ft cielings). How do these piano's sound after a couple of years. For the music I compose, I don't play the low low register anyways, so will a bigger piano make much of a difference when it comes to recording? Space and price is a consideration and thats why I can't really go past a 6' piano right now.

Based on what I'm doing, is it worth to pay more money to go with a grand instead of an upright?

FYI, I'm a fan of the piano sounds such as Coldplay (The Scientist, Clocks, Trouble) and Radiohead (Karma Police, Sail To The Moon).
I've got a C5 (6 ft 6")and it's lacking a bit in the bass, so I agree you'd be better off with the full sized Yamaha upright, if I'm not mistaken, the harp may actually be larger than the harp in the C1.

The C3 is about as small as I'd go for a studio grand, you can get great deals on used Yamaha grands by the way, my C5 would go for about 12K and it's an excellent studio piano in excellent condition.

Ed
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27th March 2005
Old 27th March 2005
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I just spent four days overdubbing a C3 5'3" Yamaha in a clients home. If you're going for the coldplay thing, Robmix's advice is sound. The 5'3" can be midrangy. It's plenty bright, but lacks warmth and depth. I thought I was well tooled for the task with a Royer sf12 into two Great River NV1's. Middy as hell. Put a R121 on the bass strings to bring in some bottom..helped a little. I also had portable rigid FB absorbers in the room to take out some of the plaster wall reflections (did have a high ceiling fortunately) I ultimatey got an exceptable sound with two SM81's in Ortf about 14" off the strings maybe 10" back from the hammers. sf12 was about 6' above the piano for some ambience, with the R121 in it's original position on the bass strings. Took some manuevering to get phase relationships cool. Ultimately it worked, but it took too long and doesn't sound like a 7-9 footer. I've never used more than three mics on a piano in my life. It physics, those strings are just too short. Overtone structure is strange.
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27th March 2005
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A small grand, especially a Yamaha is just going to sound bright and thin. I have been checking into it.
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27th March 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by garysjo
I just spent four days overdubbing a C3 5'3" Yamaha
The C3 is a 6'1" piano. The C1 is 5'3".
ixnys
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28th March 2005
Old 28th March 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix
We were in the same position as you about 3 years ago and after listening to many pianos in that price range went with an upright. We got a Yamaha U series with the disklavier for about $8000. It sounds amazing. I have one client that prefers it to most of the grands around town. 5'3" baby grands just didn't cut it for me. And if you're into Coldplay - it's all upright piano.
Did you get the disklavier for the MIDI capabilities?
ixnys
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28th March 2005
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Thanks for the replies thus far...it makes me think that unless I'm going with a piano that's at least 6ft, I should stick with an upright. Isn't the Yamaha T121 the same as the U1 except the U1 has more safety features like slow handle release and the ability to lock the it?
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28th March 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ixnys
Did you get the disklavier for the MIDI capabilities?
We got the Disklavier mainly for writing sessions. It's nice to be able to record (i.e. sequence) ideas right on the spot. Forget a part and it's right there, forget a chord - just slow down the tempo and watch the keys go down. Need to check different keys or tempo for a singer just turn the dial. It really is amazing. I've used the MIDI part only a couple times. It worked really well for some songs but just didn't work at all last time I tried. Might need a servicing. Again the sound out of this thing is amazing. For the gearslutz I generally use AKG 414 TLII's or Josephson C42mp's right under the lid into either Wunder PEQ-1's or Great River MP2nv's, followed by the Alan Smart C2.
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28th March 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jho
The C3 is a 6'1" piano. The C1 is 5'3".
My typo. This one was definitely the 5 footer.
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28th March 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ixnys
Thanks for the replies thus far...it makes me think that unless I'm going with a piano that's at least 6ft, I should stick with an upright. Isn't the Yamaha T121 the same as the U1 except the U1 has more safety features like slow handle release and the ability to lock the it?
I play a lot of different pianos and my personal opinion is that unless you are going at least 6 ft or more, you most likely will be better off with an upright. I played a Steinway once that had the lowest octave missing and it was the most hideous sounding piano I have ever played! I never thought Steinway would make a piano like that but I guess to save money.....
Yammy's are in general bright sounding instruments although with proper voicing you can make them sound anyway you like. They are also quality products and will last unlike some of the other brands out there.
Try and find out the length of the lowest strings because that will give you an idea how much low end you might be getting. It might turn out that the harp is larger in the upright than the small grand, I don't know for sure.

Take a look here for the Bible on piano purchasing and best of luck to you!

http://www.pianobook.com/
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28th March 2005
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first off, buy used, not new; your dollar will stretch waaaayyy further!!!
seriously; this is like buying a good acoustic guitar; playing time counts.

Yamaha uprights are plentiful used, and should go for between 2.5-5k, depending on location, condition, and whether it's a private (craigslist/recycler) or dealer sale.

The mic & recording technique are secondary:
I have wasted more time attempting to make so-so sounding pianos (short scale grands) track acceptably using all manner of expensive mics/signal chain:

If you get a true upright grand, the tone will often be more appropriate for pop/jazz recordings than a short scale baby grand: most of the under 7 foot grands from Yamaha et al, sound tonally constipated, IMNSHO.

The right uptrigtht can really sit itself in a pop or jazz track:
Take your time, don't rush out there on a mission to buy this weekend, and get something you'll be happy with for years to come
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28th March 2005
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Well starting April 1st, all Yamaha piano's are going up 2-5%. If I'm going to buy a Yamaha upright or baby grand I'd rather get it before the price goes up.

I just also wanted to say that I'm not going to be playing classical music. I'm more in to rock. Even though I never really play the lowest octave on the piano, does the length of the piano still affect the rest of the piano in general. I know that the bigger the piano is, the longer the bass strings are and therefore you get a better bass tone, but I don't play that low anyways.

I'm just wondering if it is better to get an upright right now and wait until the future one day when I live in a bigger house where I can afford and accomodate a large grand piano (above 6 feet). Or is it worth it to spend 5-6 grand more for the C1 because it will sound much better recorded than the upright?

So far it seems like you guys are saying it's better to go with the upright, however when I sat down and play them, the C1 obviously sounded better than the upright U1. Are you saying when it comes to recording there isn't as much of a difference between the two?
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28th March 2005
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I'd say you haven't played the right U1. Again, look for a used piano so the price increase won't affect you. I play and record the bottom octaves all the time on my upright. Sounds great. And has always sounded better than a short baby grand.
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28th March 2005
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Anyone using other brands such as Kawai for recording?

Seems like the majority are Yamahas although from a player's point of view, Steinway and Kawai seem to sound warmer....

Just wondering...
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28th March 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The MPCist
Anyone using other brands such as Kawai for recording?

Seems like the majority are Yamahas although from a player's point of view, Steinway and Kawai seem to sound warmer....

Just wondering...
I'm a player - I was a piano performance major in college. When I was shopping for a piano, I liked the Yammy over the Kawai. I love the feel of a Steinway as well and that would be my first choice if cost was not an issue (player perspective, never recorded with a Steinway before).

I think it's a fantastic piano. I paid 18K new for my satin black C3 which I've had since 1998 and I love it. To me it's plenty full and plenty of bass, which often gets rolled off some anyway in dense rock mixes. It does have some "bite" in the mids.
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28th March 2005
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I have a short scale Yamaha here and it's the perfect piano for my needs about 90% of the time. For classical stuff...useless, but for a piano part that sits up in the mix with little to no eq needed against guitars, bass and drums, the Yamaha is pretty much just what I need. I would keep three pianos here if I had the room...the Yamaha, a big piano (a Falcone probably) and an upright...then I'd feel like I had the bases covered, but space is money (pianos are money, too).

I really think it's about trying to hear the piano IN THE CONTEXT that you'll use it in most of the time. A huge sounding piano is just going to cause trouble when you try to put a middle part into a busy arrangement. A bass light piano will be a joke with solo work. I'm really upfront about that when people call to do piano work... people need to hear the piano and decide for themselves if it will work for them and their project.

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28th March 2005
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I had a 6' Kawai at the studio for many years and although it was "warmer" than a yamaha, it was also mushier in tone and action. Put in a yamaha C7 about 5 years ago and it is much better all around. It cost me $15,000 used and paid for itself very quickly. It is perfect in combination with bass, drums, guitar etc., but can be a little bright as a solo instrument. have found Schoeps cmc/mk4 mics the best complement for this instrument. A friend has a C3, and although it doesn't have the rich bottom end of my C7, it records beautifully. I wouldn't go under the C3 in size.
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31st March 2005
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Kawai pianos don't age nearly as well as the Yamaha. (I used to work for a Kawai dealer). Any twenty or thirty year old Kawai you find will probably be tinty as anything you'll hear.

If your looking at a 5'3, you might as well look at the uprights. As was mentioned the U series is a very nice piano. A small grand will usually just have a dull tone, and not really sing.

Make sure you check the serial number though before buying. There are lots of container U series pianos coming over from asia. Some dealers will tell you if they are container pianos, some will try and sell them as new. If its properly restored, a container piano, can be a great deal, if not, it will be a royal pain in the behind. Get a quality technician to check it out for you.

If your going to be using this for rock mixes, you won't need a fantastic low end on the piano. Any decent studio piano player won't play low anyway, because it will interfere with the bass guitar.
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31st March 2005
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We bought our 5'2" Petrof about three years ago. I haven't recorded it, but it sounds a lot better than any of the Kawaii, Yamaha, Y&C, Boston, etc we listened to--and we shopped for several weeks. For a small grand, this thing has amazing depth and clarity IMO. Not bright sounding like the Yamahas. They cost around $14 K - $16 K though.
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11th May 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix
We were in the same position as you about 3 years ago and after listening to many pianos in that price range went with an upright. We got a Yamaha U series with the disklavier for about $8000. It sounds amazing. I have one client that prefers it to most of the grands around town. 5'3" baby grands just didn't cut it for me. And if you're into Coldplay - it's all upright piano.
How do you know Coldplay used an upright for the recordings?

Just curious. Chris Martin uses a GT20 Yamaha (electric with real Hammers) live, but at Parr Street where they recorded they have a Yamaha baby Grand.

Does anybody know what Chris used on the Coldplay albums?

I just bought a Pleyel upright myself. So much better than the Yamaha's but not well known.
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11th May 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theother
How do you know Coldplay used an upright for the recordings?

Just curious. Chris Martin uses a GT20 Yamaha (electric with real Hammers) live, but at Parr Street where they recorded they have a Yamaha baby Grand.

Does anybody know what Chris used on the Coldplay albums?
What I've heard sounds uprightish to me.

On the yamaha website, they've got a blurb about what celebrity uses what, and they mention Martin playing a Yamaha upright on a live gig, but they don't say what model...don't know about on the albums.

Would love to hear some audio clips of any specific upright piano that anyone has that they like, like the Yamaha U1 or whatever else, that would be great.
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11th May 2005
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If I recall correctly, inside the Parachutes album cover there is a picture of a small, apartment sized piano. If you listen to the piano on the Scientist, you hear the pedal trapwork to much for it to be a grand. That and as was mentioned, it sounds like a small piano.
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11th May 2005
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Just finished recording Billy Joel's 'The Stranger' album onto a cassette (from SACD).

Holly sht! That ain't no upright.



sorry- back to your regularly scheduled program..
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11th May 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macle
What I've heard sounds uprightish to me.

On the yamaha website, they've got a blurb about what celebrity uses what, and they mention Martin playing a Yamaha upright on a live gig, but they don't say what model...don't know about on the albums.

Would love to hear some audio clips of any specific upright piano that anyone has that they like, like the Yamaha U1 or whatever else, that would be great.
I think we have to be careful here. Only because we SEE him playing an upright in videos and live, doesn't mean he actually played one in the studio. It could be an image/visual thing.

You have to admit: It LOOKS different. But when I read the interviews with sound engineers who recorded the albums, it never got mentioned that they actually used an upright.
All I know is that they recorded at Parr Street studios and used occasionally the Wooden Room where there is a piano. Now if you look up the Parr Street Studios webpage you will find that they have a Yamaha Baby Grand in that Studio with the wooden room.

I don't think they brought an upright in. When they recorded the first album they were on a tight budget, so I had the impression they used what was there.

They recorded the piano quite simple, most of the time with only one mic (a KM84), which might contribute to the impression they used an upright apart from the images stuck in our heads that we always see him playing one.

But I was quite shocked when I found out that the upright we always see him playing is a Yamaha GT20 electric Piano that only looks like an upright but has no strings in it!

Anyway if anyone actually knows more about it, please do come forward!
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11th May 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by In Tune Audio
If I recall correctly, inside the Parachutes album cover there is a picture of a small, apartment sized piano. If you listen to the piano on the Scientist, you hear the pedal trapwork to much for it to be a grand. That and as was mentioned, it sounds like a small piano.
I found the picture! Although it's not on Parachutes (there is no piano, at least not on mine), it's from 'A Rush of Blood to the Head'.
Attached Thumbnails
Yamaha C1 5'3" Baby Grand Piano-coldplay1.jpg  
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11th May 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theother
I found the picture! Although it's not on Parachutes (there is no piano, at least not on mine), it's from 'A Rush of Blood to the Head'.

That was the picture I was thinking of. Sorry I was thinking of the wrong album. And like I said before the amount of noise coming from the pedal trap work, it has to be an upright. Now that I think of it, the tuning as well on The Scientist, no hi end studio would let there grand piano be tuned that way. It sounds awful. (I haven't yet figured out if that was intentional, such as a different temperment, or if they just tuned to an out of tune piano)
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11th May 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great
A small grand, especially a Yamaha is just going to sound bright and thin.


I think you could confidently condense that sentence to read "a Yamaha is just going to sound bright and thin", period.
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12th May 2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macle

Would love to hear some audio clips of any specific upright piano that anyone has that they like, like the Yamaha U1 or whatever else, that would be great.
Anyone? No?

Would love to hear what a Yamaha U series upright sounds like (recorded).

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10th July 2009
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If you check the live videos from 2000 Chris Martin plays a Kawai MP9000.

Re the Scientist, I recall reading somewhere that he was trying to play something else on a piano that was out of tune and came up with that song instead, so it was most definitely an intentional sound he was after.
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