What would a musician be without a piano? And what would a computer-loving musician be without a digital piano? In the spring of 2009, I finally purchased my pride and joy: a Yamaha Clavinova CVP-307. This baby has it all: the touch of a baby grand, beautiful sound that uses microphones in the cabinet to sample reverberations in the room to give the sound richness and texture, hundreds of sounds, styles (to auto-accompany whatever you play) and songs (which you can play from music directly on the screen), USB storage, digital recording, video out (for large screen playback… including karaoke), and dozens of vocal harmonization configurations. But what’s really great is the story of how I finally came to own this beautiful instrument.
Years ago, when I was playing regularly for Heritage United Methodist Church, I fell in love with their CVP with it’s incredibly good sound and feel and all the fun features of a digital instrument like auto-accompaniment for anything I played. Jump ahead 10 years, and I’m missing owning a real piano; my JV-90 just doesn’t cut it. Amanda’s encouraging me to get a piano, but I don’t want to get a cheap freebie that won’t sound good, and we don’t really have the money for an expensive new one (or the space for a baby grand which would be really great!). The idea of a digital piano starts to intrigue us, especially since our older house with no piano-friendly walls would be brutal on any ‘good’ piano we would buy. I don’t have a lot of experience, but I know I loved the CVP I played on a decade ago.
So I start to research what’s out there now. Wow, are these things expensive! Most stores that are authorized Clavinova dealers (I won’t get into my rant about that here…) don’t stock the CVP lines because usually only churches and schools can afford them. Anyway, the current series is the 400-series, and the top of the line is the 409… which is identical to the 407, but with a twice-as-expensive mahogany finish. I try out all the different models, eventually settling on the 403. Of course, I’d like the top of the line, but it’s just way too expensive, even without the mahogany finish. The 405 only adds a color screen (big whoop when you’re just picking sounds) and, though it has the nicer cabinet… the speakers aren’t actually any better. All in all, it wasn’t worth the $2-3k difference to me. Though I do have reservations about the limited polyphony (the number of sounds that can be heard at the same time). It’s my biggest complaint with my existing keyboard.
But in my researching, I was learning more and more that the 300-series might be just want I’d want. The control layout seems much better than the 400’s, and the top-of-the-line 307 uses the GH3 keys which, though theoretically inferior to the natural wood keys on the 407, I preferred. Plus they used the same sound system and still had USB storage options (though no WAV recorder) and video out for the Karaoke function. And of course, older = less expensive. Trouble is… nobody was selling them anymore. And the rumor mill was that Yamaha was raising their prices another 5% within two weeks.
They say God works in mysterious ways, and while the person I eventually bought this from may not have been a believer, he was absolutely an answer to prayer. I had been watching Craigslist for over a month for deals on CVP’s with only disappointments. One awesome deal was picked up before I found it, and another one that looked too good to be true was (they used the wrong picture in their listing). I did get ahold of someone who would sell me the 407 for a bit less than my local dealer was asking for, but still more money that I really wanted to spend. Then it happened.
Three days before I was going to pull the trigger on a brand new CVP, I see a posting on the CVP-User’s Group that someone is wanting to upgrade to a 407, but in order to do so, they’d need to sell their existing 307…the ideal model I was looking for! And they listed an asking price that was half that of the 407 I was considering! I checked the timestamp, since I had been beaten out before… it was only 10 minutes old! And where in this INTERnational message board was this person located? 3 hours away, right here in Wisconsin! I didn’t even have to think twice; I e-mailed and private-messaged this person saying I was very interested and when could I come up and see the piano. When I didn’t hear back within a couple hours, I started getting nervous. So of course I e-mailed again and sent my phone number in case he wanted to call me. Then I started dreading things: what if it’s that horrific yellow color they offered on the 300-series? (I guess that would be okay; still a good deal) Why was he selling this, when there was so little difference? What horrible things might be wrong with it? How could I use Dave Ramsey’s cash-negotiating skills? Let’s say I didn’t get much sleep that night…
Apparently I was going to be taught a lesson in patience and trust. I certainly prayed that everything would work out, but I tried to (grudgingly) accept that maybe it wasn’t God’s plan for me… though it seemed so perfect. By midday the next day (Thursday) I still hadn’t heard anything, so that afternoon I became a little obsessive, sending another e-mail asking if he’d sold it because I (seriously) intended to buy a new one that weekend otherwise. I didn’t hear anything until Friday afternoon. Guess what? Not everybody obsessively checks their e-mail every 5 minutes… or even *gasp!* every day!
The next day, my friend Ryan and I took a trip up to Wausau with cash in hand. The moment I sat down on at the keyboard and hit one chord I was in love. The owner was a gadget-lover just like me and simply thought the newer features of the 407 were worth upgrading for. The piano was in perfect condition… only a couple of years old. He was actually trying to talk me into buying the thing! Meanwhile I was afraid my puppy-dog eyes were giving me away and he would ask for more than he originally listed. We came to an agreement that made us both happy and after removing the legs, it fit perfectly in the back of the Freestyle. It’s now at home in our living room, and everyone in the family enjoys it (though of course people must wash their hands before playing, and food and drink never come close!). Even Hannah knows how to find songs in the library to play automatically. Perhaps she’ll start following the lights and even play some herself. Who knows?!