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#1752259 - 09/14/11 02:54 AM My Year Long Search, barely begun
Displaced Ficus Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 12
I'm looking for an upright for around $3000 USD, searching mainly from the used market. I know what I'm up against, so I gladly adopted a suggestion from my friend who is an aspiring piano technician. He said: "don't buy anything until you've looked for a year." Wow... this isn't easy. I let the Baldwin go because it was 20 years old. I let the Steinway go because it sounded awful. I let the Bechstein go because I'd have had to sell my house. Is anyone else in the midst of a search? In which corners are you rooting to find your compatible action, perfect tone and acceptable price? Is Craigslist worth anything more than a cursory look? Are felts and hammer shapes as important to you as they are to me? Should I spend the year trying to become a RPT?

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#1752278 - 09/14/11 04:50 AM Re: My Year Long Search, barely begun [Re: Displaced Ficus]
PassingBy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/24/10
Posts: 1676
No, spent the year trying out as many pianos as you possibly can, and look for deals that are good (as in price<condition).

"don't buy anything until you've looked for a year."

That is a strange comment to me. I think, go and look at pianos that might seem to have hope (older Baldwin's are good hopefuls in general). What if you have only started your search, and you come across a lovely piano that you love and at a good $$, but because your friend said what he did, you pass it? This might be a quite unlikely situation, because of price point.

This is a quite very interesting scenario, do keep us posted on your search.

Good luck!

#1752472 - 09/14/11 02:57 PM Re: My Year Long Search, barely begun [Re: Displaced Ficus]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 18116
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, Displaced Ficus! smile (Neat login name, by the way, and it reminds me that I need to move my ficus back indoors before the first frost... laugh )

If you were buying the 'piano of your life' and intended it to be the last piano you ever buy, then maybe a year's search is not unreasonable. Most of us managed to take less time, though perhaps because the agony of waiting got to be too much!

With a $3000 budget, I'm inclined to think you'd find something nice in a much shorter time interval. It depends on where you're located, how much is available locally, and how willing you are to travel if the answers to the first two questions aren't encouraging.

Yes, by all means keep checking Craigslist for any of the markets you'd be willing to travel to. You may find nothing but scams. But you may also score a beautiful piano that's perfect for you being let go by somebody who's relocating to a smaller house or had given up piano. You never know.

It isn't easy, I agree. But be patient--while simultaneously being willing to move quickly if you find a bargain on the used market. Just don't make a commitment to buy from a private party without having the piano inspected first.
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

#1752573 - 09/14/11 06:37 PM Re: My Year Long Search, barely begun [Re: Displaced Ficus]
gnuboi Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/10
Posts: 2628
Loc: USA
If you only go see dealers, just a few weeks should be sufficient.

The year-long duration is really for 1) developing your preference, 2) developing experience inspecting pianos, and most importantly, 3) developing a feel of the Craigslist market.

With 3) above, if you see that 1999 Baldwin Hamilton for $1400 on CL, you know you'd email right away and show up with piano movers. Others who haven't looked long enough would not know that Hamiltons are great nor that the price is a steal.

But it doesn't have to take a year. If you see such a Hamilton listed tomorrow, then you know what to do wink

The next best listing I encountered was $1900 for a 2004 YC Pramberger 50". It was nice.

So far, no such lucky finds for Kawai and Yamaha.

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#1752756 - 09/15/11 04:31 AM Re: My Year Long Search, barely begun [Re: Displaced Ficus]
Displaced Ficus Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 12
Thanks for the comments. Rotom, I also wondered how the possibility of finding the right piano early on would square with my prohibition on buying. But even if there's good reason for waiting, I don't think I have the self-restraint to pass on a nearly new Sauter 130 for $500. Just an example, of course.

Monica and gnuboi, I am learning a lot about the CL market. In my area, at least, there are nearly a dozen posts every day from people trying to sell very old uprights in need of much work. I advertised such a thing as well a few months ago, and I didn't get a single response until I changed the price to "free". I pull up the listings every day just the same, in part because it's fun to see all the old pianos and in part because you never know when the gem will appear.

#1752810 - 09/15/11 08:08 AM Re: My Year Long Search, barely begun [Re: Displaced Ficus]
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10842
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi Displaced Ficus, and welcome to the PW forums!

Like Monica said, in the world of really nice pianos, $3K ain’t a whole lot… (though I’m sure it is a lot to you… it is to me too).

Here is my motto… we only live one day at time and we only live once. At the rate you are going, you may never own your own piano unless you are willing to increase your budget or lower your expectations.

I wrote a song entitled “Happily ever after in the here and now”. laugh There is a lot of truth to the lyrics...

On the other hand, your care and diligence to make a good buying decision is admirable.

I hope you find just the right piano at just the right price!!

All the best!

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

#1752839 - 09/15/11 09:15 AM Re: My Year Long Search, barely begun [Re: Displaced Ficus]
MrMagic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/05
Posts: 371
Loc: Stettler AB Canada
IMO waiting a year might be reasonable if you were planning on spending $30,000 and starting with zero experience. There is a ton of information available (much of it here on PW) and it takes alot of time to sort it all out.

Regardless of what you plan to spend, starting by reading Larry Fine's "The Piano Book" is a must! It is an excellent resource, and interesting as well.

THEN go shopping, and play lots of pianos.

THEN before plunking down your cash, have a good tech check it out. Yes it will cost you, but could save you much grief later. And if it checks out ok, you have that consolation.

My 2 cents, and I've been there! I piano (s)hopped new pianos for at least five years. In that time I developed a knowledge of the sound I wanted. When it came down to it, I bought an old fixer upper that had the sound I wanted for a very good price. It's now had some major work done and is nearly ready to bring home.

Happy shopping, it can be a lot of fun. After all, the anticipation is a big part of the pleasure!

Edited by MrMagic (09/15/11 09:17 AM)
1928 Chas. M. Stieff 6'1" Grand. Major rebuild 2011
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#1915119 - 06/18/12 03:24 AM Re: My Year Long Search, barely begun [Re: MrMagic]
Displaced Ficus Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 12
Thanks again to all who posted to this -- your comments were helpful and encouraging. I want to put closure to this thread by reporting the outcome of my search: after many months of playing pianos and visiting stores and replying to ads, I found an AB Chase upright that had been wonderfully restored. Touch and tone are excellent, and the parts that matter are in great condition. This piano certainly wouldn't have been available if it weren't for the small restoration shop where I bought it. In the course of many visits the proprietor showed me important manufacturing differences in old uprights and all of the careful work that needs to be done to restore them properly. I'm quite satisfied that I ended up with the very best fit for my needs within my budget.

#1915174 - 06/18/12 08:38 AM Re: My Year Long Search, barely begun [Re: Displaced Ficus]
dsch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/08
Posts: 325
Loc: florida
I never thought that looking for a decent upright in that price range was an ordeal. But I suppose it depends on your market. Also I'd expect the nicer instruments that are priced fairly don't last as long. But yes, CL is plagued by overpriced junk.

The real ordeal is trying to find a very nice grand, not exclusively Japanese, Chinese, or Indonesian, that does not need a lot of work, in the $15-$20K range in an area where the pickings are slim. I am looking for tier2 performance in a much lower price range.

Also, I'll probably be putting my professional-grade upright on Craiglist soon, Nothing wrong with it except that i want an upgrade to a grand.

Edited by dsch (06/18/12 08:39 AM)

#1915184 - 06/18/12 08:53 AM Re: My Year Long Search, barely begun [Re: gnuboi]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 21966
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: gnuboi
With 3) above, if you see that 1999 Baldwin Hamilton for $1400 on CL, you know you'd email right away and show up with piano movers. Others who haven't looked long enough would not know that Hamiltons are great nor that the price is a steal.
Knowing that the price is good and that Hamiltons are good is not the same as knowing one likes the tone/touch or that the piano is in good condition.


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