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#1264939 - 09/08/09 11:04 PM Question about small grands and buying etiquette
frogdog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/08/09
Posts: 26
Loc: Canada
Hi there from Calgary: This is my first post here. I'd like to get some feedback from those-that-know-more-than-me.

I have 2 questions, but by way of background, I'm recently retired from work and going to buy my first and last piano. As a kid I studied classical for about 10 years and have coasted on that for the ensuing 30 years. I learned to play on my mother's Chickering 5'2" small grand in the deep and muggy south and that piano was shipped to me here in Calgary some 15 years ago. That piano has not enjoyed the dry weather here and is in rough shape. It had some damage from the move and more damage over the years. Years gone by were lean years and I couldn't afford to do what needed doing. Now I can afford a new piano, and I'd rather buy a new one than try to save the old one. Having played on lots of pianos, I'd like finally to buy my own. My own bias is toward a Yamaha or a Kawai.

Question 1: My budget is between 10 and 15K, and I'd like to buy the biggest and best (sounding) grand piano I can for that money, and I'd like to buy used, hoping to get more piano for the money than if I buy new. So what are some suggestions for that budget?

Question 2: I'll probably buy from a dealer rather than privately, and I'm wondering, should I expect to negotiate the price down from whatever the "list" is? Like when you buy a car, and they give you the MSRP?

And yes, I have read Larry Fine's guide and this and lots of other forums. But I like the lively discussion here, and I'd like to hear what the experts here have to say. I know I have to try and hear the piano, and the action is important to me.

Thanks,
Cynthia
_________________________
Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, 1891-1974

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#1265008 - 09/09/09 02:21 AM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: frogdog]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Buying a piano is the same or much worse than buying a car from a used car lot. Everything is negotiable and the sticker price at the piano dealer may not even be there: prices are often just made up to see if they can sucker someone or as an unrealistic start to negotiation like in a Moroccan carpet market.

Dealers try to make comparison shopping as difficult as possible by forcing you to come into the store to even get a price.
You need to count on spending a few months shopping; take your time enjoy the process for what it is. Keep your sense of humor. See it as a fun project with adventure to use your new found free time, perhaps even visiting some other cities and making a whole day or weekend of it. There are fewer piano dealers all the time. Finding one, even at some distance, who is throwing in the towel could net you a great deal. You can't go wrong with a Kawai RX-2 that you have personally auditioned and you might find one that is a few years old from someone who has traded up to a larger instrument.

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#1265115 - 09/09/09 08:54 AM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: theJourney]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17809
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, Cynthia. smile

I think you should be able to find a very nice piano in your budget. One suggestion I would make is to at least look at what's available in the private market. Yes, there are risks involved buying a used piano privately, but with proper caution (e.g., making sure you have the piano inspected by a competent technician), those risks can be mitigated, and you might stumble onto a much better deal than you could find at a dealer's.

Of course there are advantages to buying used from a dealer, too: you'll often get a warranty, the piano is more likely to have been recently tuned and regulated, etc.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#1265147 - 09/09/09 09:39 AM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: theJourney]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10523
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
Originally Posted By: theJourney
Buying a piano is the same or much worse than buying a car from a used car lot. Everything is negotiable and the sticker price at the piano dealer may not even be there: prices are often just made up to see if they can sucker someone or as an unrealistic start to negotiation like in a Moroccan carpet market.

Dealers try to make comparison shopping as difficult as possible by forcing you to come into the store to even get a price.
You need to count on spending a few months shopping; take your time enjoy the process for what it is. Keep your sense of humor. See it as a fun project with adventure to use your new found free time, perhaps even visiting some other cities and making a whole day or weekend of it. There are fewer piano dealers all the time. Finding one, even at some distance, who is throwing in the towel could net you a great deal. You can't go wrong with a Kawai RX-2 that you have personally auditioned and you might find one that is a few years old from someone who has traded up to a larger instrument.


While much above is true, you go too far. Dealers are not responsible for refusing price quotes other than in person. It is part of their Dealer Agreement with the manufacturer. To do so would breach that contract. Also, many dealers do not act as poorly as you describe. I would say that you describe a significant minority.

That said, I agree with Monica. You should include private party sales, with caustion.

Read the Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer, free online. It is chock full of good, unbiased information that will help lead you to a wise decision. Click on the "Piano Buyer" box to the right of this screen.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#1265155 - 09/09/09 09:48 AM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: frogdog]
Hop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 654
Loc: Hudson, FL
Originally Posted By: Cynthia White

Question 1: My budget is between 10 and 15K, and I'd like to buy the biggest and best (sounding) grand piano I can for that money, and I'd like to buy used, hoping to get more piano for the money than if I buy new. So what are some suggestions for that budget?

Question 2: I'll probably buy from a dealer

Thanks,
Cynthia


Cynthia,

Given your budget and your preference for buying from a dealer, don't overlook new pianos in your price range. Using Fine's pricing guide, you could get a Hailun 5ft. 10in. (HG 178) for slightly less than $10K. The HG 198 and the HG 218 are also candidates, but the HG 218 is probably outside of your budget. These are wonderful sounding pianos; I truly enjoy my HG178.

Of course, you may find a real treasure through a private party, but I'd guess it to be unlikely that you'd find a fantastic deal for a used piano through a dealer.

So keep looking, and find what you like. But don't completely overlook new pianos in your price range. There are others than the Hailun in this range, but I'm not familiar with them.

Hop
_________________________
HG178, Roland FP-5, Casio PX 130

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#1265176 - 09/09/09 10:19 AM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: Hop]
ChasT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 649
Loc: Georgia
Perhaps a Brodmann PE187. A Knabe WKV58 is just a little above your range. Maybe you could find some sort of deal.

I looked at Craigslist for Calgary. There isn't much there. I searched used pianos in Calgary, Alberta and found more. If you find a used piano that sounds interesting, give it a shot. If you do buy used, be sure to take Monica's advice and have it checked out by a tech with no connection top the seller.

Charles

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#1265278 - 09/09/09 12:49 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: ChasT]
Roxy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/19/08
Posts: 478
Loc: Whittier, Calif
I agree there should be some pretty decent pianos you can get for the price range you are looking at and if you come across a real deal your might just hit pay dirt. But do play the pianos and have a tech look at them. That is a lot of money and you want to be perfectly happy with them. Besides the Yamahas, you might look at Baldwins and perhaps Schimmels. Happy Hunting.

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#1265289 - 09/09/09 01:01 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: ChasT]
Kanadka Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 34
Loc: Canada
I can't offer any advice as I'm still a newbie, but I'd be very interested in your search story since I also live in Calgary and hope to buy a piano in a couple of years. We just bough a Yamaha Clavinova CLP 330 from St John's Music. We also visited Irene Besse's store. I have nothing to compare to so I liked both stores. I'm now fantasizing of how I'll be back there in a couple of years, choosing "my" piano.

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#1265292 - 09/09/09 01:09 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: Kanadka]
Toman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/24/09
Posts: 164
You should at least try the larger Hailuns.

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#1265299 - 09/09/09 01:18 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: Toman]
Marty Flinn Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/06
Posts: 2604
Hello Cynthia, and welcome to the Forum.

Pianos don't last forever.
Pianos don't get better with age.
The useful musical life span of an Asian piano is about 40 years.
The second half of the life of a piano is never as musically satisfying as the first half.
This is a mantra I recite to those in search of the nervana used bargain. If you must buy used, set your sights on a Yamaha C2 or C3 or a Kawai RX2 or RX3 less than 15 years old. This will give you many years of use value for your money.
_________________________
Co-Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Buying A Piano. A "must read" before you shop.
Work for west coast dealer for Yamaha, Schimmel, Bosendorfer, Wm. Knabe.

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#1265302 - 09/09/09 01:20 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: Toman]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Back in the day, Heintzmans were called "The Canadian Steinway." Like Hailun and Brodmann, they're now produced in China. The Heintzman 208 will have a street price which is below your preferred upper limit.

Frank Woodside can point you to the nearest dealer. He can be contacted here.


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#1265329 - 09/09/09 01:52 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: Marty Flinn]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
First, I'd suggest reconditiong the
Chickering instead of buying a new piano.
They don't make them like that anymore,
and the quality of workmanship and
materials, the tone, and the character
will be better than anything you
could buy new.

If you must buy new, the prices
will be much higher at a dealer,
and you should therefore buy from
a private party--much more interesting
anyway that way. There's a common
scenario with grand pianos. A person
buys one to learn on and quickly
loses interest. The piano then sits
for yrs. until the person finally
just wants it out of the house. You
can often pick up such pianos
for a song.

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#1265356 - 09/09/09 02:46 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: Gyro]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14190
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Cynthia:

Welcome to the Forum!

These are interesting times for piano shoppers and it's not uncommon for some to end up in a maze to seemingly nowhere. wink

First of all re the *pricing question*:

Contrary to many people's belief's there are no fast and hard rules.

Discounting depends on several factors with one of the more important ones being of how easy the piano is for a dealer to re-stock.

If a dealer can get 20 of same pianos within one or two days, he's in a different postition to discount than having to wait for some weeks or even months to do same.

Unfortunately many stores are less than forthright often trying to make their own stock r brands of pianos artificially more rare than they really are.

For this reason I always recommend to go shopping saying you're looking for 5.... crazy

The other day somebody here in Vancouver claimed that dealer x told him it takes an eternity for him to re-stock the piano he's looking at - a quick call to another city told quite otherwise...

The next thing is the prevalence of used pianos in one's area and the competition often identical piano as used items for sale at lower prices at same time.

Here again, different brands of pianos will perform differently.

The final and in my opionion, most important aspect is, how a dealer and customer develop a personalized type rapport that transcends mere pricing considerations and becomes something more important as a whole.

For some this is no concern, but for others it is very much so representing the crux of what they are doing.

This does not mean that the dealer can't make money this way - he should and in almost all cases *will*.

Admittedly and with apologies to all sales people, the average salesman is here in a particularly tough spot as he/she simply will "have a job to do" first and foremost.

The most important of all considerations is that you find the piano that does the job for you.

Tie all of this together, and you could end one one busy girl!

Happy hunting!

Norbert smile





Edited by Norbert (09/09/09 02:48 PM)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#1265382 - 09/09/09 03:23 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: Norbert]
ChasT Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 649
Loc: Georgia
Gyro may be right. Chickerings are excellent pianos and yours might be worth rebuilding. How "rough" is its condition? Would you be content with a small 5' 2" piano? I think it would nice to have your mother's piano in new condition - a family heirloom. Of course, you'd need to pick your rebuilder carefully. It's kind of a leap of faith. I've heard of this little mom and pop place over in Vancouver.... grin

Charles

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#1265386 - 09/09/09 03:27 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: Norbert]
bluespianofan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/06/09
Posts: 102
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
Originally Posted By: Norbert


Happy hunting!

Norbert smile




Perhaps if Cythia likes the Hailuns, we'll get you to throw TWO of them on a truck bound for Calgary...
_________________________
Hailun 178

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#1265512 - 09/09/09 08:09 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: bluespianofan]
frogdog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/08/09
Posts: 26
Loc: Canada
Wow what a fun group you are! And generous with ideas. I'd like to respond to a few of the replies. First, about rebuilding the Chickering......I don't think so.....in fact I'm looking to *give it away* here in Calgary if anyone wants it. Message me privately.

I went to St. John's about a year ago, and the guy there told me they would give me next to nothing for it on a trade-in. Not sure if that's reasonable or not. Now I'm moving to the wet coast or west coast so that's why I won't buy until I get there. It's interesting that there's very little to choose from here in Calgary privately, that is. Reminds me of when I was looking to buy a harp years ago......like climbing Everest. I have the impression that there's much more available in BC.

Forgive me if I don't know the vocabularly. I know the sound board is cracked although I also know that doesn't necessarily kill the sound. I know it needs new, well, you name it. The wood has so shrunken that the pins won't stay where they're supposed to. Won't stay in tune. The body has sustained some damage from 4 moves (before it came here). Nothing terrible just a few scratches here and there. It has a medium brown, I don't know, Oak? finish, which is also not my favorite. I am under the impression it needs at least 3K work and then might be worth 4.

I guess I've reached an age when I can choose, and I'd like to have something a little bigger, say 5' 6". I've played on lots of piano with different teachers and there are lots of pianos I liked better than mine. Ones with a fuller richer sound.

About the Hailun, I'm embarrassed to say I've never heard of them. I guess I better step up my research. About buying privately....I'd be willing to do that. My problem now is that I don't know what different used pianos are worth, so I'm not prepared to negotiate too much (yet). About a dealer, yes, a relationship with a dealer is important to me, and Norbert and I have been talking outside of this forum. (Nice reply Norbert). If I trusted a dealer, I'd be willing to pay for the convenience of getting the piano that way. By the way, how do I know if a piano tech is certified or not, here in Canada?

Re: Marty Flinn's reply. Thank you. I didn't know that until recently. I thought all pianos got better with age. Now I see differently. So in fact, a piano has a life span, and that's why the prices and values go down with age (most of the time). One question I have is would an old rebuilt piano have a *better* sound than a new one for the same price.

Anyway, great hearing from everyone. I hope I don't sound too dull. thanx
_________________________
Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, 1891-1974

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#1265586 - 09/09/09 10:37 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: frogdog]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Originally Posted By: Cynthia White
One question I have is would an old rebuilt piano have a *better* sound than a new one for the same price.


No.

Buying a rebuilt piano can be a minefield, because you're essentially buying the rebuild itself. So in addition to considering how you expect a piano to sound, you've also got to assess the quality of the rebuilding. The process is further complicated by the fact that rebuilt or restored are sometimes touted when refurbished or reconditioned would be more accurate.

People buy rebuilt/restored/reconditioned/refurbished pianos all the time. There's no reason to exlude them, but it's more complicated. The online edition of Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer has a section on buying a restored piano, beginning on p.53. Well worth reading.

You've asked lots of good questions and will certainly benefit from having an inquiring mind. Not to dissuade you from continuing to ask questions, but IMO it'd be a good idea to audition as many pianos as are within reasonable traveling distance. The goal would be to identify tonal palettes which you find particularly appealing. Please try to not exclude any pianos simply because their names are not familiar or because a salesman says something negative about them. New names or familiar names which are now manufactured in Indonesia and China offer terrific values.

When, in your first post you mentioned wanting to buy a large grand, I think that some of us started thinking about six and seven footers. In your post above you mentioned c.5'6". In general almost all pianos are essentially the same width, so if your room can accommodate five and a half feet it should also accommodate at least six feet fairly easily. The 5'6", is this because of a space limitation or is it just an approximation, based on pianos on which you've taken lessons?





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#1265605 - 09/09/09 11:08 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: FogVilleLad]
frogdog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/08/09
Posts: 26
Loc: Canada
Now that's a good question. I've never played a piano larger than that. I could accommodate a larger one, I've just thought intuitively that the bigger the piano gets, the more expensive it is. So my thinking is that for a given budget, I can get a better 5' 6" piano, than I could a 6' or bigger. And I'm reading that the sound really starts to improve at 5' 6" or longer, whereas you don't gain much or anything over a vertical, if the grand is 5' 2". No? When I say "large" I mean "larger" than I'm used to.

I'm a little embarrassed to buy something larger than 6' as I'm not a expert pianist, but on the other hand, I know I would appreciate a great sound of Debussy's Clair de Lune even if I don't know any Rachmaninoff. We are a family of musicians. I also play acoustic guitar and banjo. My husband is an expert banjo player and both kids are good on acoustic guitar and did a couple years on piano first. It's unfortunate for me that you don't hear a lot of piano in Bluegrass bands, and that's what they all specialize in.
_________________________
Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, 1891-1974

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#1265640 - 09/10/09 12:02 AM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: frogdog]
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
There are two criteria for buying a piano: You want it and you can afford it.

*In general* pianos do become better as they become longer - more of the fundamental in the bass, less inharmicity. Being willing to buy used opens up more possibilities, but I think that your preferred budget limit may limit how far up in quality you can step. Others may have better info re used piano prices.

Used need not mean "old." As with cars, the greatest depreciation occurs in the first year.

When buying used, you're essentially buying condition. A ten-year-old Baldwin which has been used in a school's practise room is more like forty or fifty years old. That same piano if used as a decor item will need little more than a multi-stage tuning - a pitch raise - and action regulation, to have it playing like new.

Again in general, the best used piano money that you can spend is that spent for a prepurchase inspection by an experienced tech who has no affiliation with the seller.

Re the bluegrass, put some flat 11ths in there and occasionally pop some block chords with the heel of your bare foot;-)

We love piano search stories. Please keep us updated.

Patience and persistence.





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#1265642 - 09/10/09 12:04 AM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: frogdog]
DavidKitazono Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 65
Hello Cynthia,

You are on the right track!

I've found over the past several months, a difference of just a couple more inches of actual string length can make a significant improvement in sound. While a 9' Grand, is grand, I've found pianos in the 5'8" to around 6'1", or so, have a very nice, full, rich sound, without breaking the bank, or taking up too much room.
In your price range, you can find some very nice new pianos such as Broadmann, Hailun, etc. If you approach the process with an open mind, w/o preconceived notions of where a "good" piano should come from, read all you can about the different pianos, listen/play a variety of pianos (including ones outside of your budget), and ask questions on this forum, I believe you'll have a very positive experience. Most of all, have fun!
Good Luck!
David

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#1265672 - 09/10/09 01:17 AM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: DavidKitazono]
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4309
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Well assessing your overall profile in what I think may float your boat as for an upgrade from your lifelong Chickering, I don't really think you should rule out the comprehensive rebuilt piano category. Of course,I am personally involved in restoration of quality grands,I also sell my share of NEW asian pianos as well as newer PREOWNED quality asian pianos.

First of all,let me assess your long time friend,the Chickering quarter grand. If you can set aside that sentimental/family heirlom criteria,which it sounds like you can,it is definitely not worth restoring at a high comprehensive level.
Restoring this piano is a very labour intensive task with pinblock(no plate screws,double level,machine screws from the bottom)issues that make it not an easy task for the average rebuilder. Now replacing the action parts until very recently was not a fun task either for the rebuilder in that the action parts(brass flanges)were not available. Recently Tokiwa has tooled up and manufactured these unavailable wippens. And in the end,10-15K later,what do you have? Now if it were a bigger piano,thats a different story.

10-15K could actually get you a righteous comprehensive rebuilt American piano though not a Steinway or Mason & Hamlin,but hey! there are many quality rebuilt American pianos whereas at your pricepoint it may appeal to you more than a ?. Maybe a bigger Baldwin,Knabe,Sohmer,Conover or ?

If you do sample the wares of the new pianos in the marketplace,you may want to try the Hailun 198 in that Frank Emerson, head engineer/scale designer of Hailun formerly of both Mason & Hamlin and Baldwin designed it's scale. To me it sounds very less asian in it's tonality.

Somehow I find your typical Young Chang, Samick or ? not a compatible match for Bluegrass. grin


Edited by pianobroker (09/10/09 02:59 AM)
_________________________
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#1287938 - 10/15/09 11:23 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: pianobroker]
Paderewski Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/25/09
Posts: 11
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
I myself am a pianist training for college but I am only in 8th grade. I have played and performed on many pianos ranging from Steinway's to Samick's. I would have to say with your budget a used Yamaha C2 or C3 made during the 90's 'till present day are terrific pianos as well as restored Baldwin R's and L's from the 70's. Though it seems you are interested in purchasing "NEW" if so, I would recommend (Yes they are made in China) Heintzman. These instruments are not nearly as good as a new Yamaha or Petrof but they have excellent features including a Bolduc solid spruce soundboard, Mapes bass strings, Renner hammers, duplex scaling, and a very solid pinblock. And yes, the 168 & 208 both sound terrific. Hoped this helped. Happy shopping!

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#1288055 - 10/16/09 07:07 AM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: Paderewski]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
How large of a city if Calgary out of curiosity?

you have an excellent budget and i hope the temperament to not buy hastily. you've gotten some excellent, specific advice. (i can't really add anything, except that to suggest that you check out Baldwins in the used category, if you can find them in your area)


Edited by apple* (10/16/09 07:13 AM)
_________________________
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love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

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#1288206 - 10/16/09 12:14 PM Re: Question about small grands and buying etiquette [Re: apple*]
TX-Dennis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/05
Posts: 4126
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: apple*
How large of a city if Calgary out of curiosity?


Slightly over a million these days, if I'm not mistaken.
_________________________
Dennis

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Will smaller monitor speakers limit the low end of a DP?
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