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#1878029 - 04/12/12 07:05 AM 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions
Bachonator Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/23/08
Posts: 7
I'm trying to decide whether to replace hammers on my Samick SG172, or trade it in on a Kimball grand I found at a local piano tech's shop. I expected to really dislike this piano due to the Kimball reputation, but surprisingly this one is quite nice in tone and touch. The case is excellent - in fact it looks likes it has never been played! The tech purchased it from someone they knew, and they were the first owner.

My question is this - is it possible that some Kimballs were actually decent? Or am I caught up in new piano fever? I played it for about 30 minutes and frankly started bonding with it somewhat - and I'm pretty picky about pianos usually. Conventional wisdom is to stay away from Kimballs of that era. Its not a Viennese Edition but it does have an "upgraded Schwander Action".

Thanks
_________________________
The Bachonator
1991 Samick SG172

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#1878057 - 04/12/12 08:14 AM Re: 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions [Re: Bachonator]
Rickster Online   content


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8569
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hello,

When I was looking for a 7 foot grand piano (that I could afford), I stumbled across a late 1970’s Kimball 6’7” Imperial; I too was very surprised at the tone and touch of the piano, in spite of the name on the fall board. I did some research on the Kimball during that time frame and read they had acquired interest in Bosendorfer along about that time, and had adopted/merged some of Bosendorfer’s designs into their own pianos, such as the plate/harp. I did not purchase the Kimball for various reasons, but I was impressed.

I’m thinking the Kimball you are looking at may also have been built along about that time and may have some of the Bosendorfer deisgns incorporated into that piano. It if has the really big sound holes in the plate, it may have the Bosey designed plate. If you really like the sound and touch of the Kimball, I would not be afraid to purchase that piano.

Hope this helps!

Rick


Edited by Rickster (04/12/12 11:33 AM)
_________________________
Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel

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#1878110 - 04/12/12 09:58 AM Re: 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions [Re: Bachonator]
Greg88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/25/09
Posts: 85
Loc: Ludlow, Kentucky
I don't live far from French Lick Indiana where many of the later Kimball pianos were made and so there seem to be a lot of them in my area and I have played quite a few of them over the years. The verticle pianos have never seemed great to me but I've always thought the grands were extremely good. I keep that opinion to myself because it is almost always disputed by everyone else, but Kimball made a lot of very good grand pianos. The Vieneese Classic series that they produced were in my estimation the equal of Kawai and Yamaha in terms of tone and touch (but I can't speak to their long term reliability of course). They simply had a beautiful sound that was capapble of a lot of expression. Although they are often maligned I always found the pianos in the "Artist" series to be a pleasure as well. I have enjoyed playing Kimball grand pianos (not the verticals)and while I own and love my Samick made piano, I would not hesitate in the least to trade it in for a Kimball if I liked the particular Kimball. The only reason I would not trade is because of a sentimental attachment to my Samick. Kimball grands seem to sell for very reasonable prices which is a real plus for a buyer, but if you ever intend to sell or trade it you might want to consider that the Kimball is probably never going to be considered a great instrument in the mainstream and it will not have a terrific resale value. Hope that helps a little.
_________________________
Schumann Grand by Samick (1990)
Howard Grand by Baldwin (1941)
Yamaha Clavanova Digital

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#1878208 - 04/12/12 12:53 PM Re: 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions [Re: Bachonator]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1251
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Originally Posted By: Bachonator
My question is this - is it possible that some Kimballs were actually decent?


Absolutely! Other than their smallest grands, I'm "almost" always happy to run across one of their grands. I only service one 5'8" grand, but it is a fine instrument. My big complaint about some of their grands is the 4,829 screws that need to be removed in order to pull out the keyboard.
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#1879080 - 04/13/12 05:32 PM Re: 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions [Re: Bachonator]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3348
Really old Kimball grands can be excellent. I imagine a 1979 could be perfectly fine.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1879198 - 04/13/12 09:00 PM Re: 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions [Re: Bachonator]
ventil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/11
Posts: 148
Loc: TX
Well, I guess I'm the odd one here.

There was a Kimball grand (about 5'6" as I recall) in my church's choir room when I arrived as DoM 4+ years ago. It was built in 1975 or 1976 and was was donated to the church in the mid to late 80s.

Tonally, it was not too bad, but it would never hold tune. Never. The action had no finesse. Mezzo-piano was about all I could manage consistently.

In all fairness, after 20+ years in a church choir room, who's to say what it was like originally?

But the lack of tuning stability was a deal breaker. Last year, the vestry voted to give it to a family in the church. We replaced it with a Kawai CN-43. Believe it or not, the digital is more expressive than the Kimball was, and, most importantly, is always in tune. That matters when rehearsing a choir.

Quote:
I played it for about 30 minutes and frankly started bonding with it somewhat

Well, that's important. And apparently, there are some good Kimball grands. That just wasn't my experience.
_________________________
David M. Boothe, CAS

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#1879219 - 04/13/12 09:44 PM Re: 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions [Re: ventil]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3348
Originally Posted By: ventil


Tonally, it was not too bad, but it would never hold tune. Never. The action had no finesse. Mezzo-piano was about all I could manage consistently.



Churches are notoriously bad at instrument maintenance (this includes humidity control), so you can't necessarily blame the piano. If the action had no "finesse" that's probably because it hadn't been properly looked after.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1879232 - 04/13/12 10:24 PM Re: 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions [Re: Bachonator]
ventil Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/15/11
Posts: 148
Loc: TX
Quote:
you can't necessarily blame the piano

I thought I had implied as much. But it's not unreasonable to assume a different piano might have fared better.
_________________________
David M. Boothe, CAS

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#1879416 - 04/14/12 07:58 AM Re: 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions [Re: Bachonator]
Annitenth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/08
Posts: 466
Loc: Texas
My mother had a pretty French style Kimball baby grand, 1970ish, with a parquet lid. It played like a Mack truck, a real tough exercise for the fingers. Not what I'd call a "decent" piano. You couldn't have given it to me.
_________________________
Anne
Bsendorfer 225
Technics PCM Digital Ensemble PR307

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#1879423 - 04/14/12 08:14 AM Re: 1979 Kimball 5'8" grand opinions [Re: Bachonator]
joe80 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/09
Posts: 1247
I just saw a pic of a Kimball and Bosendorfer side by side from above and they are identical. Don't know what the actions are like though. Interesting isn't it? I know there's more to it than the shape of the plate.

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