I recently tuned a Cable Nelson CN116. I’ve been interested in these pianos ever since they came out. They’re made by Yamaha to their specs and design in China. I’d heard that they could potentially be the best quality piano built in China for the price. I’ve been looking at buying one of these pianos personally, as, despite what some might think, I am on a tight budget.
The finish on the piano was flawless. There were no indentations or apparent mistakes in the polyester high gloss piano finish. The Cable Nelson has sharp, square, angular corners, as opposed to the softer, rounder edges on most Yamaha cabinets. There is no slow fall fallboard and the music desk is a simple fold out desk by way of a hinge.
The soundboard is of the laminate variety. This kind of soundboard is less expensive to make and is one of the chief reasons why the piano is less expensive. There is nothing inherently wrong with this type of soundboard as opposed to the solid spruce board. The main issue afflicting most laminates is that they tend to distort with heavy or fortissimo playing. There is more of a flattening out in the sound as you increase in volume. This is the case in the Cable Nelson, though my touch tends to be on the softer side, opting mostly for piano to mezzo forte playing. For me the soundboards sound flattening out at loud volumes is not much of an issue. If you are a heavy player this may cause you greater grief, and a piano with a spruce board may do you better.
One of the greatest things I find about the Yamaha piano is the action. This comprises, for the pianist, the feel of the keys. For a technician this comprises all the moving parts that make up that feel. This is where the Cable Nelson shines. You get the same action that is in any of the more expensive Yamaha models in the Cable Nelson. The touch is perfectly even, light and responsive. I did find a few squeaky keys, however this is also something you would find on a Yamaha. They would be covered under warranty and they took me less than 5 mins to remedy. For a piano player who is at an intermediate level (such as myself) I find the most important factor in purchasing a piano is the feel. One may argue that a big old upright piano may have a better tone then a new chinese made upright. Perhaps, but is the keyboard properly regulated? Have the worn parts been replaced? In the case of the Cable Nelson you are getting an impeccably regulated brand new action. This regulated action allows one to achieve speed in scales or trills, that a worn out action cannot achieve. I am finding that now as I attempt to speed up certain repetitious piano exercises on my 50 year old upright, that I am unable to achieve the proper speed or repetitions, which ultimately leaves the player frustrated.
The tone is pleasant on the Cable Nelson. It is a little muddier in the lower midrange then some Yamaha’s and perhaps a little less clear in the far treble. Though this can change depending on the exact piano one is playing. In fact, as a word of caution, always try the exact piano you are planning on purchasing. Never buy a piano straight out of the box. Each particular piano is unique in the wood used (whether it was winter or summer when the wood was cut) and the labour used to build it (the factory may be trying a new person carving bridges) so always try out the piano you are intending on buying and not just the model.
From a technicians stand point, the tuning pinblock was similar to other new Yamaha’s I’ve tuned. I enjoyed the tuning process and didn’t find it belaboured like I’ve found on other Chinese manufactured products. It was snug, though evenly snug through out.
If you are looking for a new piano and cannot afford the big Yamaha price tag, consider the Cable Nelson CN116. You get a lot of the great Yamaha qualities in a more affordable package. Even if you are considering a used piano, depending on your price range, a new piano may be more economical and may aid the student reach a higher potential by having a properly working and regulated keyboard action. If you are in London Ontario, check out D&S pianos at 1700 Hyde Park road where you can try out the full selection of Cable Nelson and Yamaha pianos.