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#1693532 - 06/10/11 12:49 PM grand piano options
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Hi, I'd like to ask the questions that many people have asked before, but hopefully get some additional answers (I've done searches on the forum). We are looking for a grand piano for the kids, have tried a limietd number (there aren't too many piano stores around), and the possibilities (so far) are: Charles Walter (we have a CW upright so there is a sentiment about getting a CW grand), Estonia (we were very pleased with its sound), and a used Steinway. But making decision this time is much harder than when we got our CW upright because of the money involved. So my questions are: what other brands should I check? Is there a time (of year) or certain types of dealers for us to maximize the chance of finding a good deal? I just saw a post saying that someone got a CW 175 for under 15K? Wow.

Any insight you want to share will be very welcome.

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#1693557 - 06/10/11 01:35 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10468
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
More information would help us help you. Do you have a budget in mind? What brands are available locally? Wheer do you live?

How many kids and what kind of interest or experience have they got?

Anything else you can tell us will help us hone in on the best advice.

Also, have you read Piano Buyer. It's a great resource and available free, online at www.pianobuyer.com.
_________________________
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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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#1693568 - 06/10/11 02:02 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14138
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Steve is right: "budget" and "locally available pianos"!!
Not to forget "the other" of course....
Norbert wink
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#1693574 - 06/10/11 02:10 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: Steve Cohen]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Thanks, and here are some more info:

Budget: I'd say 25k is a good number but the lower the better of course, and if it's absolutely necessary to go higher we are willing to manage.

Location: midwest.

Who uses the piano: 2 kids, one advanced and one beginner, both are enthusiastic and talented little musicians.

Brands available locally, other than what I've mentioned, also include Yamaha, Kawai, Essex, Boston, Bluthner, Bossendorfer (oh well), Story&Clark, Kohler&Campbell... There may be more that I'm not aware of.

And yes, I've read Larry Fine's book.

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#1693575 - 06/10/11 02:17 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10468
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
First, how about a nearest city?

Based on what you've told us, I'd look at the Yamaha and Kawai. They will be fundamentally different that the CW.

Base on your CW experience I'd predict you will love the CW grands, and find one within your budget. They are very fine instruments, with an outstanding track record.

If you are willing to consider used, I would look for a Mason & Hamlin, or even a Steinway that was rebuilt withing the past 10 years or so.

Taake your time. In your price range there are many fine options.
_________________________
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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#1693576 - 06/10/11 02:20 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
master88er Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/15/07
Posts: 859
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
I think you have to narrow it further, because most of the brands you mention build instruments at various price and size points. For example, do you have your heart set on a 6' piano under $25k, or is it that you want nothing smaller than 5'10 etc. You also mention "2 kids" but are they teenagers or 5 year olds? I would assume that the more advanced student is a teenager, and therefore can be of great assistance in making the choice.

I would go around and play LOTS of instruments. It will become immediately apparent to the advanced student which ones are to his/her liking. One suggestion: have him/her choose two or three pieces by heart that is played on EVERY piano you try. That way, you can concentrate on the sound of the piano and NOT on the performance or notes. Once you narrow it down to two or three pianos, then bring all the music you want and try different styles.

GOOD LUCK, and let your EARS and FINGERS tell you which one to buy.
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SF Area Dealer: Steingraeber•Grotrian•Sauter•Estonia•Kayserburg•Baldwin•Brodmann•Ritmüller
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#1693581 - 06/10/11 02:25 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2349
Loc: USA
This is an interesting read:
http://www.pianobuyer.com/fall09/w1.html

If you have already tried all the brands you listed and have come down to CW, Estonia, and Steinway based on personal preferences, then you're doing just fine.

The best prices come about when a dealer goes out of business. Seriously, though, make a fair and sincere offer and see what happens. That should work out favorably any day of the month, any month of the year.

You can also get lower prices if you shop from private sellers.

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#1693590 - 06/10/11 02:49 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
With the budget you have I'd spend as much time as possible traveling to larger cities. Make this a family project and be sure to document your experience. After playing dozens of pianos your mind will get fuzzy.

One thing to consider for the short term, consider renting a piano (or Clavinova) until you find something you can't live without. Having a piano already in place can take the load off of making such a big decision and give you a lot of breathing space. Your kids won't have to wait to start playing.
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#1693591 - 06/10/11 02:52 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: Dave Horne]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21433
Loc: Oakland
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
One thing to consider for the short term, consider renting a piano (or Clavinova) until you find something you can't live without. Having a piano already in place can take the load off of making such a big decision and give you a lot of breathing space. Your kids won't have to wait to start playing.


They have the Charles Walter vertical, so that is not an issue.

Does the budget include trading in the vertical?
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#1693850 - 06/11/11 07:48 AM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
BDB: The budget is in addition to trade-in of the upright… And we are not in a hurry to get the grand, we will definitely want to take the time and do it right.

Dave Horne: Sounds like we have a long way to go. We are far from trying dozens of pianos. We are still at the stage of identifying brands, instead of individual instruments. And so far our mind is already somewhat fuzzy about the exact sound and action of each piano. I might videotape from now on.

Gnuboi: We haven’t tried all the brands that I listed but the majority of them, and narrowed down to the three. I assume you were talking about used pianos when you mentioned private sellers. It’s a possibility but it will be a lot more work as we need to find a piano technician to assess the condition of the instrument.

Master88er: Both kids are in elementary school but the older one certainly has strong opinions and is indeed who we are relying on these days when we go and try pianos. We did the first step that you suggested: play a couple of the same pieces on every piano. But we haven’t done the second step: playing lots of pieces on a few pianos that we narrow down to. In terms of narrowing it down further, we think we will not go for a baby grand but a medium size that is within our budget, and we probably will not settle with an “entry level” brand.

Steve Cohen: One thing we are not sure is how a Steinway rebuilt will compare to a new instrument like CW or Estonia, in terms of design, material, etc. We did like the CW very much, although my older child also liked very much the sound and action of the Estonia that he tried. We tried a few used Steinway at a dealer and frankly not too impressed (but feel that it’s a possibility that we want to explore further) but that’s probably because used/rebuilt pianos are naturally more variable in quality and partly because of the size. The used Steinways that we tried are small.

Thanks so much everyone. I do feel that it sounds like we are not trying enough pianos yet. It’s a bit difficult though because there actually isn’t a CW dealer around. Last time we tried CW we drove a few hours to their factory. I’m still worried about negotiating price, as I’m never good at it. But sounds like we may not need that in a very near future.

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#1693852 - 06/11/11 07:56 AM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3314
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Hey ChildofParadise,

I would recommend that you eliminate Steinway rebuilds at your price point. They will not be as good as a new Estonia or Charles Walter. A good Steinway rebuild will sell for more. A great rebuilt Mason & Hamlin grand might get closer to your price point, and they are very worth checking out. There are no set standards or enforcement of standards for rebuilt pianos, so, be very very careful.
_________________________
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PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#1693975 - 06/11/11 03:34 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Steve W Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/18/07
Posts: 249
Loc: Omaha, NE
Maybe I missed it, but can you tell us approximately where in the midwest you live? It could really help you, since there may be someone on the list who can direct you to a specific dealer, or may even know about a particular piano that meets your needs.

Or are you in the witness protection program?
_________________________
Steve W
Omaha, NE

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#1694831 - 06/13/11 09:37 AM Re: grand piano options [Re: Keith D Kerman]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Yes, buying a rebuild is not something I'm comfortable with unless a trustworthy technician can convince me that it is a better instrument than a new CW or Estonia (it's possible, it's just more difficult to assess).

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#1694833 - 06/13/11 09:38 AM Re: grand piano options [Re: Steve W]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
LOL. The nearest major city is Detroit. I simply didn't see why it's necessary to report location...

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#1694949 - 06/13/11 01:21 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Hop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 654
Loc: Hudson, FL
It seems odd to people who are not experienced in shopping for pianos, but location matters greatly in the selection. Think about it. If you had 4 gas stations located on a corner 1 mile from your house, you'd select the lowest price. If you had to travel 20 miles to get to the nearest one, you'd pretty much pay whatever it cost to not have to go another 20 miles to get to the next one. Similarly, small grocery stores in dangerous areas of cities charge more than large supermarkets in suburbia.

I had to travel 120 miles to see the nearest Hailun piano. Steinway (and the related family of instruments), Kawai and Yamaha were much closer. Many other brands were farther away still.

I don't claim to know all the reasons why geography plays such a significant role in the availability and price of pianos, but I do know that people in one area can pay signicantly higher prices than those in another area.

BTW, it is possible to buy "remotely". Order a piano from a distant state, and have it shipped to you. All other things being equal, it is better to visit a local shop, audition for the instrument you want, and obtain that specific instrument. That said, I do know of more than one case where a "remote" purchase worked out quite well. Most people are too risk adverse to do this, and it is not my first choice either. But under extreme situations, this could be a reasonable strategy if you find a dealer you trust.

Hop


Edited by Hop (06/13/11 01:22 PM)
_________________________
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#1694951 - 06/13/11 01:22 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2728
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: childofparadise2002
LOL. The nearest major city is Detroit. I simply didn't see why it's necessary to report location...

The midwest can be anywhere from Oklahoma to Ohio. By being specific about where you are we can suggest dealers that have treated other customers well as well as privately warn you away from dealers that haven't. As one who successfully purchased a piano long distance I might suggest a trip to Chicago if you don't find what you want in Detroit.

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#1694952 - 06/13/11 01:23 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: childofparadise2002
LOL. The nearest major city is Detroit. I simply didn't see why it's necessary to report location...


Is Detroit still considered a major city? smile
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#1694970 - 06/13/11 01:44 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: Dave Horne]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne

Is Detroit still considered a major city? smile


That's a good question!

But seriously, I do get to see a bunch of brands so I don't think I'd go for remote shopping. It would be better if there is a CW grand dealer so that we don't have to go to the factory. But some of the people who answered above are right in that if there are dealers that I should stay away, I'd absolutely want to know.

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#1796286 - 11/26/11 01:46 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
OK, things always get more complicated when you think you are almost there...

We were recently mostly considering CW and Estonia. But just now I saw a 14 yo Schimmel (182) at a dealer, which seems to be in very good shape and plays well and sounds very pleasing. It has a PianoCD system installed, though. My understanding is that I will be paying extra for this even though it doesn't seem to be useful for us. Am I right that it is not very useful, if our purpose is to provide a quality grand piano to two kids who take piano seriously? Is there any benefit of such a system that I'm not seeing, therefore might be actually worth the money?

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#1796328 - 11/26/11 03:35 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
Personally, I would suggest that playing lots and lots of pianos is much more important than being too focused on brand names. A name is not a lot more than gold leaf on a piece of plank.

Yes, playing lots of pianos takes more time and work, but it can be fun too, especially if you're not in a hurry.
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#1796342 - 11/26/11 04:26 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Jonathan Alford Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/10/11
Posts: 359
Loc: Colorado
Since you are close to Detroit, go see Evola Pianos. I had the opportunity to visit two of their locations when I was in the market - Jim Evola was extremely helpful. Maybe you have already been there - they carry Estonia.

Jonathan

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#1796506 - 11/26/11 11:55 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Rotom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 1670
If you like it, there shouldnt be any reason you shouldn't buy it. The PianoCD system, well, if it's an old model, it's not worth very much at all. It's not going to be any use to you, if your kids are going to be playing the piano.

Have you played many other brands/models? Do you like any others? I agree with MrMagic on this one, brand name doesnt matter much (except in resale), and it should come down to whether or not you like a individual piano.

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#1796517 - 11/27/11 12:16 AM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
We played a bunch: Kawai, Yamaha, Baldwin, Boston, etc... But of course brand names do matter as they do tend to have distinct characteristics, even though it is also true that pianos within each brand could have their individualities. We liked CW very much. My kids also liked an Estonia (6'3") and the used Schimmel. The problem is that there isn't one (yet) that makes us think that "this is it!", even though we know that everyone of these would be a fine choice...

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#1796556 - 11/27/11 04:45 AM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
Rotom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 1670
Yes!! That is more what I mean. The brand matters to some extent, because one manufacturer will have some kind of tone that is related to the manufacturer, but the individual piano's sound is more important. And I do know what you mean when you say you haven't seen/played a piano that says "this is it"... wink

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#1797265 - 11/28/11 03:18 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
childofparadise2002 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/13/04
Posts: 542
So I think I will make a trip to Walter factory.

If anyone has experience or advice on buying piano directly from the factories, would you mind sharing? What are things to watch out for that are unique to buying from factory?

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#1797349 - 11/28/11 05:07 PM Re: grand piano options [Re: childofparadise2002]
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2668
Loc: western Wisconsin
During my own grand piano shopping, I stopped by the CW factory in Elkhart (for a second time) this past summer. You will at least meet Richard (a son-in-law and engineer by training, if memory serves me correctly). At the time, they had 4 new model 175's on their floor in various finishes and a new polished mahogany 190.

They also had a used 190 or two for sale that were priced pretty well. I believe they are dealers for a couple of other brands too-- I seem to recall a new M&H model A on the floor and a partially restored Steinway grand too.

This is a very small operation, so I would suggest calling ahead to make an appointment to both tour the factory and have 2-3 of the pianos you're most interested in ready to show. At the time of my visit, Richard offered to have a technician (another family member, I believe) come by and tweak the instrument to my liking, if I decided to choose one of their pianos from the factory. Pricing was certainly competitive (although I have found this to be the case with the Walter pianos from their dealers too). Nice folks, and a nice piano.
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