Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A digital piano

When we sold our UK house last year, and had some 'change' (so to speak) from buying the house here, one of the things we said we would buy was a decent piano of some kind for Tim. He's at around Grade 8 level now, and the piano he's been using for the past nine years is rather old and needs a lot of work. It can't be tuned to concert pitch, and it has to be treated somewhat gently; difficult when his teacher gives him music that is supposed to have very loud sections.

Moreover, the old piano is downstairs in our guest flat, in a location that suits it perfectly. But on a cold day Tim doesn't necessarily feel like going downstairs - via an outside staircase - into a room which isn't heated. (There is central heating available in the guest flat, I hasten to add, in case any potential visitors are reading this; but we don't switch it unless someone's staying). And when there are visitors staying, the flat might be warm and welcoming, but Tim likes some privacy when playing.

So... we did think about getting a nicer regular piano. But: (a) good ones are pretty expensive (b) getting one upstairs would NOT be easy (c) we couldn't figure out anywhere to put one in the main part of the house.

So we started looking at digital pianos, which look and sound nicer than keyboards, but are lighter and less tall (and less expensive) than regular pianos. Tim visited several shops in Larnaka and Nicosia and played a large number of keyboards and digital pianos last Autumn. At first he didn't think he would find anything he liked.

But we had heard that Behringer were bringing out a new and inexpensive digital piano that was supposed to have wonderful new technology and a sound like much pricier pianos. They were supposed to be available last summer.

They weren't.

They were supposed to be available in the Autumn.

They weren't.

Then we found the Kawai shop in Nicosia, and Richard took Tim there last October. Tim was pretty impressed with one of their digital pianos, but thought he would like to wait to try the Behringer before making any decisions.

In Singapore visiting Daniel in November, Richard and Tim visited several music centres, wondering if they would have the Behringer piano. Unfortunately, they only sold Yamaha, and Tim isn't keen on the 'bright' sound of Yamaha pianos.

So when we got back, Richard phoned the Behringer supplier in Nicosia, who said he hoped there would be a digital piano on the next shipment.

There wasn't.

We decided that if the Behringer piano hadn't come by the time our first visitors of the year arrive (half-term in February) we would go ahead and buy a Kawai. Richard phoned the Behringer supplier yesterday, and he said that no, there won't be a piano in the next shipment (due mid-February) though he hopes it might be on the one after that.

We were going to go and look at the Kawai centre yesterday afternoon, leaving Larnaka at 4.40pm... but fortunately I suggested Tim phone them to check their opening hours. Most places in Cyprus are open till at least 6pm, but it turned out to be a good thing he called as they apparently close at 5pm.

So we went today, instead, which was probably better as Richard was pretty tired yesterday after a long week of meetings and four air flights.

As it's this side of Nicosia, it took less than half an hour to get there. The shop was basically a warehouse full of pianos of all shapes and sizes. Most of them were real pianos, but there were some digital ones, including the one Tim was interested in. He played it for a while, and said that yes, it was really just what he was looking for. It sounded pretty good to my untrained ears. So we went and chatted with the owner, a very friendly guy, who said he would drive it to our house immediately at no extra charge.

However when we saw that they were going to tie it on the back of an open truck, with no packing - not even a cardboard box! - Richard thought it might be better to get it in our car. It was a bit difficult, but we succeeded. Then Tim and Richard had to lift it up our stairs, which wasn't easy either, but they made it. And here it is:

Apparently Tim's piano teacher doesn't really approve of digital pianos, but this doesn't particularly worry him!

The reason we couldn't have a real piano is that it would block the light from the window (behind the curtains in the picture), and also a piano really needs to face a wall for the sound to be right. Tim prefers to face into the room.

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