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#1457065 - 06/15/10 12:25 PM What to look for in a grand?
Jitterbug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/10
Posts: 20
Ok....our search has changed. We met with our son's new piano teacher and we asked about what we should look for in a piano for our son. Knowing he would like to study piano through college and we do not want to "upgrade" in the future....it was recommended we purchase a grand instead of an upright. So, now we need some advice of what to look for in a grand? What to stay away from? Also, we really don't have a huge budget for this and would like to keep the price under $10,000....is this possible? The stores that are near us that offer new pianos carry: Kawai, Yamaha (our son is not a big fan of Yamaha so far), Pearl River, Young Chang, Kohler and Campbell, Essex, Knabe, Ritmuller, Roland, Hamilton, Mason & Hamlin, and of course...Steinway. What do we look for in a used grand?



You all have been so wonderful and we thank you very much for all of your help!

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#1457087 - 06/15/10 12:47 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Jitterbug]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8074
Loc: Georgia, USA
My advice is three basic thingsā€¦ tone, touch and have a qualified piano tech evaluate the piano before you buy it.

Best of luck with your search!

Rick
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1457089 - 06/15/10 12:49 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Jitterbug]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
Yes it is possible! The more time you have, the better deal, though.

I recommend a grand around 6'. One size smaller is good, too. Shorter than 5' not so great.

Look for heavier action compared to an upright, especially in the bass keys. There are baby grands out there with very light touch... while that makes it easy to play at first, it doesn't allow for finer control as your skill improves.

Dealers tend to have good size grands around $10k. They are usually about 10-20 years old. Condition is very important.


Edited by gnuboi (06/15/10 12:51 PM)

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#1457118 - 06/15/10 01:43 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: gnuboi]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 20765
Loc: Oakland
Start by trying new grands to form an idea of what they should sound and play like, and also to see what is offered new in your price range.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#1457130 - 06/15/10 01:51 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: BDB]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
That's good advice, BDB. There are indeed new grands at that price range. New strings can also sound quite a lot better.

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#1457140 - 06/15/10 02:04 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: BDB]
Jeff Clef Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/08
Posts: 4394
Loc: San Jose, CA
Marty Flinn's book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buying a Piano, ISBN 9781592577187, can give you some useful information about pianos.

http://www.pianobuyer.com/ is another resource, though I personally prefer The Piano Book, 4th edition, Fine.

To find a good grand within your price range that will last as you wish, it may work better for you to consider a gently-treated used piano no older than fifteen years. However, starting by auditioning new pianos to find out what you like (sound, touch, appearance, price, build quality) will help you make a good beginning. Who knows, in today's market you may find a trustworthy dealer and a better deal than you might expect.

Before buying a used instrument, have it inspected for condition by a qualified piano technician. You can find a listing at Piano Technicians Guild, http://ptg.org . With used pianos, condition is paramount and the trained eye can tell you the story of the piano's past life, so you can enjoy a happy future together. The inspection fee is as modest as many sellers' memory is faulty. Anyway, you'll be needing a tech to tune and maintain your handsome new friend.
_________________________
Clef


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#1457141 - 06/15/10 02:04 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: gnuboi]
Glenn Treibitz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/10/05
Posts: 541
Loc: Los Angeles/Burbank
I agree with BDB and gnuboi. Play lots and lots of pianos and narrow down to the ones your son likes. I would suggest you try to get something in at least the 5'7" to 6'1" size if your son is a player.
_________________________
Glenn Treibitz

Hollywood Piano Co. - Est.1928
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1800 MY-PIANO

Grotrian, Mason&Hamlin, Estonia,Schulze Pollmann,Albert Weber,Baldwin,Brodmann,Ritmuller,Weber,Hardman,Roland,Kurzweil, Used Steinway,Yamaha,Kawai

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#1457172 - 06/15/10 02:51 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Glenn Treibitz]
La Vega Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/04/09
Posts: 124
Loc: Oakland, CA
If it were me, I'd go used (10-15 years old and well-maintained). I think you'll get more bang-for-your-buck at that price point than if you go new. Especially these days, there are some good deals out there. Hard to go wrong with the smaller Yamaha or Kawai grands.
_________________________
Shigeru Kawai SK6

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#1457184 - 06/15/10 03:23 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: La Vega]
Jitterbug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/10
Posts: 20
You all have been so wonderful! We are wanting to find something at least in the mid to upper 5' range if not 6', but 6' is our limit with size due to space. We have ordered Larry Fine's book and have been reading on pianobuyer.com as well as this website. We were also thinking we might get more piano for our money if we buy used, but it seems intimidating since we are so new to this and are not piano players ourselves (only our son plays). What kinds of questions should we ask potential used piano sellers? We have been asking about age of piano, how often it's been moved, how has it been maintained, how often played, serial numbers, any work it's needed?

Also, how do you evaluate a piano that is out of tune....even if only slightly out of tune? We have run into a couple of people needing to sell due to finances and haven't had the money to tune the pianos. Also one of the pianos was a Kawai RX1, but it had a heavy touch (the heaviest we have felt so far)...is that normal or can it be adjusted? Will a RPT be able to tell if a piano will hold its tune, have issues, etc.?

We will also try the new pianos as well like you all have suggested. :-)

Thank you all again so much!


Edited by Jitterbug (06/15/10 03:25 PM)

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#1457193 - 06/15/10 03:36 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Jitterbug]
Hop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 654
Loc: Hudson, FL
I believe it is still possible to buy a 6 ft. (or perhaps a 5 ft. 10in) grand piano of good quality for about $10,000 or less. A new Hailun HG178 would be one example; there are others, but I know less about their quality. For me, that was a good choice.

If you decide to purchase a 10-15 year old Kawai, Yamaha, or other, I'd recommend two things. First, play a new version of this piano. Understand what it will feel and sound like when new. Now you have a baseline for looking at the used piano. If well-treated, it will seem little different from new. Finally, as suggested earlier, be sure to have a tech examine the instrument prior to purchase. It's just not possible for even an experienced piano player to fairly evaluate a used instrument. Find out what maintenance that tech will advise to be immediately performed, so that you have a fairer picture of the true cost.

Each piano has a particular feel and tone, which while not entirely different from other pianos is distinguishable. You will find, if you do enough searching, that some are more pleasing to you than others. Perhaps you like a smoother feel, a heavier feel, a lighter feel. Perhaps you like bite in the tone; perhaps you like a mellow sound. Only you can determine what will most please you. So shop around, and enjoy the process!

BTW, I don't think a person can evaluate a piano that is out of tune. If the seller doesn't want to tune it, then you have to decide whether your tech (who is already examining the piano anyway) should tune it at your expense. Personally, I'd be reluctant to purchase an out-of-tune piano. You just never know.

As for the touch of an RX-1, the Kawais that I have played have all had a light or very light touch. Again, your tech (who you have examining it anyway) should be able to tell you what sort of regulation or librication might be required, or whether the touch will remain as it is. Then, based on the cost of maintenance and expected result you can make your decision.

As for me personally, I'd either buy a used instrument in excellent condition that already performs as I prefer, or a new one that performs as I prefer. While even a good tech might tell you what to expect after maintenance, you could get an unpleasant surprise. Even new pianos vary, so if you find one you like, note the serial number to be sure you get that specific instrument.

Hop


Edited by Hop (06/15/10 03:44 PM)
_________________________
HG178, Roland FP-5, Casio PX 130

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#1457200 - 06/15/10 03:50 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Jitterbug]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Jitterbug
Will a RPT be able to tell if a piano will hold its tune, have issues, etc.?


That is the best way to go. Techs know a lot more than even experienced players. Some techs also do restorations and sales on their own, so they can chime in on resale, future reliability, etc.

But like HOP pointed out, there are new Chinese grands of good size in that budget (I didn't seriously shop them, alas, so I don't know actual prices). I played a new Chinese Palatino and it was decent. The RX felt more solid and sounded a bit rounder, but those could probably be improved on the Palatino by a tech through regulation and voicing.

Grand pianos are supposed to feel heavy compared to uprights. It took me about 2-3 weeks to get used to it.

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#1457225 - 06/15/10 04:51 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: gnuboi]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3246
"What to look for in a grand?.... we do not want to "upgrade" in the future.... would like to keep the price under $10,000....is this possible?"

I think you are in trouble if you are asking what to look for. Of course you can stay below $10k but you must be sure what you look for before you can tell if 10k is enough. Or else you will find out what to look for after you bought but you say you don't want to upgrade.
_________________________

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#1457233 - 06/15/10 05:16 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: wouter79]
PianoMan1958 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/13/10
Posts: 501
Loc: Tennessee
Kawai's tend to have a slightly heavier touch than the Yamaha grands but usually the tone is much richer in each size range. Find a good used Yamaha, Kawai or Baldwin and you'll be set for many years to come. Like most suggest, I would go for at least a 6' or near in order to get a decent sound in the bass.
_________________________
Jack in TN

Plays:
Yamaha C5 grand (home)
Kawai KG5 grand (church)
Roland RD300GX digital (jazz group)

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#1457423 - 06/16/10 03:19 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: PianoMan1958]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
There's a Baldwin R near me... 60 years old for $3k and negotiable! Not a bad deal if all it needs is new strings and some voicing. For first-time buyers... don't do this smile. Go with a piano whose final sound and touch is already ready for you to experience.

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#1457469 - 06/16/10 08:22 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: gnuboi]
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
What did I look for when buying my grand. First of all was confidence in build quality. After that touch, tone and then confidence in the dealer selling me the piano.

It is not rocket science but you have to do your homework and visit a lot of dealers. If I were buying a piano right now I would certainly consider a used piano. With a competent/trusted tech checking it out I would certainly consider going this route. Pianomart, Craigslist, local papers, word of mouth, etc.
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#1458177 - 06/17/10 11:20 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Stevester]
Jitterbug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/28/10
Posts: 20
Thank you all so much for your help! We are waiting for our order of Larry Fine's book to arrive to help us learn more as well. You all have been wonderful!

Thank you again!
Jitterbug

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#1462949 - 06/25/10 03:46 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Jitterbug]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3246
"Grand pianos are supposed to feel heavy compared to uprights. It took me about 2-3 weeks to get used to it."

Where did you get that? To my knowledge all pianos aim at some optimal "weight" according to the designer. You have light and heavy pianos, and light and heavy grands.
And on average grands have better actions than uprights.
_________________________

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#1463234 - 06/26/10 01:14 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: wouter79]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
Well in that case, I had a light upright and have found this heavy-to-light ordering on grands: Kawai, Baldwin, Yamaha, Steinway (none too different from each other)... but all heavier than my old upright.

The salesperson told me it would take me a few weeks to get used to, and that was before I even said anything about the heftiness.

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#1463264 - 06/26/10 03:45 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: gnuboi]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3246
The old steinways are indeed light, that's my feeling too. Kawais I played felt similar to the Petrof I had, on the heavier side yes.

But the new Steinways feel heavier for me, it's like the new pianos (not only steinways) all feel identical while the older ones had more variation. So if you like the light Steinway feel it seems you need to get a second hand? I also encountered that light Steinway feel in the older Grotrians but not in the new ones.


Edited by wouter79 (06/26/10 03:46 AM)
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#1463329 - 06/26/10 08:21 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: wouter79]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
There are new pianos from Yamaha, hybrid pianos - the grand piano action from their C3 and a digital sample from their top of the line concert grand, CFIIIS - the AvantGrand N2 and N3.

For slightly more than $10,000 you could buy the N2 which looks like an upright but has a grand piano action from Yamaha's C3; also the piano never needs to be tuned and it takes up less space than a grand but you still have a grand piano action.

I make my living from playing and I practice daily on the N3 AvantGrand. I personally like having a piano that is perfectly in tune and I have it every single day.

Yamaha AvantGrand N2

I believe the list price is $15,000 but the typical street price is around $11,000.

Peter Baartmans and the Avant Grand Hybrid Piano
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#1463331 - 06/26/10 08:31 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Dave Horne]
Konzert Patrick Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 790
Loc: The Netherlands
I have played the Avantgrand, both N2 and N3s, they do not replace an acoustic piano..... I find the treble much brighter and piercing then their high end grands!

It maybe is in tune but it ain't a real piano! It is too much money for a digital!
_________________________
Schimmel Konzert 189 Tradition

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#1463337 - 06/26/10 08:49 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Konzert Patrick]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Konzert Patrick, they do in fact replace an acoustic piano for practicing purposes. Also, if I have folks in my living room and they didn't know the sound was coming from speakers, they would think it was in fact a purely acoustic piano. It sounds good to me and I would enjoy playing jobs on this in hotels or restaurants - great acoustic keyboard action and a great sound (even if you don't like it).

I think you need to make a comparison between the N2\N3 and the price of a new C3 since the keyboard action is a very slightly modified action from Yamaha's C3 piano. You might call it a digital piano but I don't. It is a hybrid piano, it has a real grand piano action coupled to a sample of their top of the line concert grand. The fact that is has a grand piano action makes it a hybrid. (My CP5 is a digital piano.)

I owned a C3 for about ten years and to quiet that piano down I had to use many towels stuffed in the sound board. With a hybrid piano you still have a grand piano action and an excellent sound but you have much more control over the sound level. You don't like it, fine. I play for a living and rather than buy a two meter (six foot) grand and pay to have it tuned more than several times a year, I settle for something I can afford ... and also happen to like. (I don't have emotional relationships with my pianos, they are tools and the N2\N3 are great tools just like my old C3.)

Even if I had the money for a CFIIIS I wouldn't buy it. I would still practice on a hybrid since I control the level of the sound to a more manageable level. I'm happy and my neighbors are happy.

I see we're neighbors. Would I have heard you perform anywhere?
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AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1463349 - 06/26/10 09:14 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Dave Horne]
Konzert Patrick Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 790
Loc: The Netherlands
Hi Dave

Did not mean to offend you. I just wasn't to impressed but maybe I had a bad day smile

The important thing is that you have the piano you like! Hi had a Yamaha GC1 silent and although the sample sounded nice, I hardly used it.
It all comes down to personal taste, which varies - thank god.
_________________________
Schimmel Konzert 189 Tradition

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#1463361 - 06/26/10 09:48 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Konzert Patrick]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I wasn't offended. When I play the piano without headphones I must say that it sounds better when the volume of the sound matches the level you would expect top hear from a real grand piano. At softer levels there is a disconnect, at least for me, from the action and the sound; at louder (normal) levels it responds as a real piano and I have the sensation of playing a real piano.

These hybrids are not meant for the concert stage though I would love to play them in a setting such as a hotel or restaurant.

In my previous message I wrote that I see we are neighbors. Where in Holland do you live?
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AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1463371 - 06/26/10 10:31 AM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Dave Horne]
Konzert Patrick Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/08
Posts: 790
Loc: The Netherlands
I live near Alkmaar!
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Schimmel Konzert 189 Tradition

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#1463526 - 06/26/10 04:05 PM Re: What to look for in a grand? [Re: Konzert Patrick]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5261
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Patrick, if you're ever down my way, give me a call and stop by. I'm easy enough to locate. Vught - just outside of Den Bosch.
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