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#1975251 - 10/18/12 03:16 PM Piano choices for church application...
Solidtop Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/17/12
Posts: 4
Hey all, I'm new here and have some questions for the group.

Our parish is looking for a replacement piano for a 50 year old Yamaha grand.

Here are my questions.

1.) I'm looking at a Steinway B, both new and used, which way would you go, new, or used?

1a.) How long, in your experience, do I have between major work on a used Steinway, and how long do strings actually last?

2.) I'm attempting to stay away from Yamahas and the like... I've been looking at Sauters - do any of you have experience with this brand of piano?

3.) What other brands might you recommend, and why?

We are looking to spend between $50 to $100K.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Solidtop

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#1975270 - 10/18/12 03:48 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
Pianolance Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1192
Loc: Nashville, TN
I would look at some Baldwins in that size range. There are still some late model Baldwins available that are very good pianos, American made and built like a brick shipyard. Mason and Hamilin is the other most obvious choice. Nothing wrong with Steinway though, but I wouldn't limit myself to just one brand. I can see not wanting a Yamaha or Kawai, however, the Yamaha you have has lasted 50 years and that's not a bad track record.
_________________________
Knabe 5'2" Louis XV Walnut circa 1927
Very part time piano broker.

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#1975279 - 10/18/12 04:05 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
Originally Posted By: Solidtop
1.) I'm looking at a Steinway B, both new and used, which way would you go, new, or used?


It depends; there are pros and cons to both. A new Steinway B is, in all likelihood, going to be of higher original quality than one that was built even five years ago because Steinway has really upped the ante during the last few years, and it shows. However, at close to $90,000 for satin ebony, this will be your most expensive option. Buying a rebuilt instrument will be cheaper (by maybe 20%), and potentially better than factory quality, but you have to be very careful when dealing with rebuilt instruments.

Originally Posted By: Solidtop
1a.) How long, in your experience, do I have between major work on a used Steinway, and how long do strings actually last?


It depends on a lot of things, such as how well the piano was taken care of. My church has a close to 30 year old Baldwin SF-10, and because it is always locked and covered when not in use, it still looks essentially brand new inside. This is not the norm, however. Pianos in high use environments (concert halls and schools) may need restringing every 10 years or less. An average piano between 30-50 years, but preferably closer to 30. How long the action parts last will depend largely on amount and type of use.

Originally Posted By: Solidtop
2.) I'm attempting to stay away from Yamahas and the like... I've been looking at Sauters - do any of you have experience with this brand of piano?


Sauters are excellent, but expensive. If you can find one at a reasonable price, it would be something to consider.

Originally Posted By: Solidtop
3.) What other brands might you recommend, and why?


Schimmel and Estonia come to mind, which are much less expensive than Steinway, and every bit as good, if not better. You may also consider Mason & Hamlin, Grotrian, Bluthner, Seiler, or Petrof. Any of these will meet or exceed Steinway's performance and will fit your budget. I am hesitant to recommend getting one of the remaining US built Baldwins unless you can find a truly exceptional one in the $25,000-$30,000 range.

That said, I think it would be a much better strategy to buy something on the less expensive (Schimmel 7' $57,000/ Estonia 7'4" $65,000/ Mason & Hamlin 7' $65,000/ etc.) and put the money you save towards maintenance, the church will be better off. You'll want to invest in a lock, full-length cover, and a Dampp-Chaser humidity system. You'll want to acquire the services of a really good tech, and set aside maybe $1,000-$2,000/year for tuning and maintenance, depending on your location and piano usage.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1975301 - 10/18/12 04:45 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6209
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Solidtop -

Ditto to the excellent comments made by Beethoven986 above!!!!

How is your church piano used? ...as the primary instrument in your services (as opposed to an organ) or only occasionally for special music or musical programs. What type of repertoire will be played on the instrument and by whom? How large is your church sanctuary?

As for staying away from "Yamaha and the like".....please don't rule out the Shigeru Kawai or Yamaha CF.
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1975311 - 10/18/12 05:11 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
Hi Solidtop - Welcome to Piano World!

Now that virtually all of the top brands have been listed, there are other things to consider.

First - Where are you located? This becomes important in having your dealership nearby. Often, the discount to local churches can be substantial.

Second - Please tell us of size of the church, height of ceiling, and general shape. Some of the European brands mentioned may not have the projection needed for a larger, vaulted ceiling, traditional architecture structure. In that case, the cutting power of a Steinway or Mason may be a better choice.

Third - Is the case color important to the congregation? You can spend a great deal extra if it is necessary to match the existing woodwork.

Just a few things to consider on your search.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#1975320 - 10/18/12 05:28 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Minnesota Marty]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty

First - Where are you located? This becomes important in having your dealership nearby. Often, the discount to local churches can be substantial.


Definitely true.

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Second - Please tell us of size of the church, height of ceiling, and general shape. Some of the European brands mentioned may not have the projection needed for a larger, vaulted ceiling, traditional architecture structure. In that case, the cutting power of a Steinway or Mason may be a better choice.


I don't know who started these generalizations, but they're certainly unfounded, IMO. I've often heard that Boesendorfer, for example, doesn't "project" well. What does that even mean? I've heard the big Imperials in recital and they sound just fine, even in a 3,000 seat venue. I've played representatives of every make I listed in the size we're talking about, and the Steinway isn't any more advantageous. Indeed, the B can be a wimpy instrument in a large space.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1975326 - 10/18/12 05:42 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
B-989,

You might try taking the budget into consideration before you make any reference to an Imperial.

I make my "generalization" on my ears as a pianist, considering pianos and manufacturers of instruments of approx. 7' in length.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.

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#1975333 - 10/18/12 06:00 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
I agree with Marty. A lot will depend on the acoustics of the auditorium not to mention how well the piano is voiced for "it."

The piano should be tuned and voiced AFTER it is in the auditorium not before it arrives. How it sounds in the store can and will be entirely different from how it will sound upon arrival. However, you can get a general idea of the sound in the store.

Some stores will provide you with a piano to try for free, or cheap for a week or so... An option worth looking into.
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1975335 - 10/18/12 06:06 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Minnesota Marty]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty

You might try taking the budget into consideration before you make any reference to an Imperial.


It should be obvious that I was making a point, not suggesting the Imperial as a purchase.

Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
I make my "generalization" on my ears as a pianist, considering pianos and manufacturers of instruments of approx. 7' in length.


As do I, and I've played lots of pianos in really large halls. Any 7' piano is going to be somewhat limited in a large space, especially if there are lots of sound-damping objects... and yes, this includes the Steinway B and Mason & Hamlin BB. That's just how it is. But, for the price of a new Steinway B, one can buy an 8'4" Schimmel, if "projection" is really a concern.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1975385 - 10/18/12 07:40 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
PianoWorksATL Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2690
Loc: Atlanta, GA
With a budget range of $50k - $100k, there are very few instruments that are off limits to you if you include new, used & restored. You mention Sauter and I can very strongly recommend their 220 Omega model as among the very best. I remember loaning one once for a music teacher's conference in a giant carpeted hotel ballroom (terrible acoustics) placed on a temporary stage and thinking it performed quite well.

The Estonia L225 is a tremendous choice, but quite rare to see and try.

I don't see where all this "projection" talk is going as the OP made no mention of it. We have only the mention of a model B to have any reference for size. Were you our customer, our conversation would begin with a lengthy conversation about the space and the type of performances.

The life of an instrument is more variable than this thread is indicating. Most elements of a high-end piano like you are considering will last literally a lifetime but other areas will have a shorter time to repair based upon use and environment. On a consumer level piano (even really good ones) where the value of reinvesting in repairs is a factor, then lifetimes of 30-50 years makes for a good but wide, wide range.

In the case of a performance level instrument, the care and maintenance is considerable and worthwhile. The life expectancy can be hugely affected because the value of repairs (work beyond maintenance) is much greater compared with replacement. We supply many institutions with a second lifetime on fine pianos. The cost, while high, still represents better value than replacement on these upper level instruments.

Here is a simple scenario - Univ of Georgia has a Steinway B ~50 old. The piano experienced a fairly consistent environment but was played very heavily. The cost to bring back to like-new condition is 1/3 - 1/2 of the cost of new.

If you find a privately owned concert grand after 30 years, it might be a wonderful choice. If you find an ex-stage piano after 30 years, it may be ready for an overhaul. It varies that much and sometimes more.

If you confine your search to new, I honestly believe that it would take a strong personal preference for Steinway to sway the value equation in their favor. The discounts available on top European pianos with their extraordinary attention to quality and detail push the value hugely in favor of perhaps a dozen models I could mention in the 7' - 8' range and stated budget even at higher prices than Steinway. Steinway is an icon with many accomplishments, not a model of efficiency, precision, consistency or innate superiority. They are in the running.

Restored instruments & late-model, privately owned performance pianos can really move the numbers. You could get a properly rebuilt Steinway D for the price of a new B. You would need a leader in your church to research this as an option if it presents itself because a committee may not have the focus to evaluate as a group.

Oh, and we have a factory-refurbished Imperial that is within the OP's budget and, in the right hands, I can speak from experience that it will make the audience's chairs tremble beneath them. It's a cool experience. (For the self-nominated moderators, yes I bought an ad in the dealer section smirk )
_________________________
Sam Bennett
PianoWorks - Atlanta Piano Dealer
Bösendorfer, Estonia, Seiler, Grotrian, Weber & Hailun
Pre-Owned: Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway & other fine pianos
Full Restoration Shop
www.PianoWorks.com
www.youtube.com/PianoWorksAtlanta

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#1975390 - 10/18/12 07:52 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: PianoWorksATL]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6209
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: PianoWorksATL

I don't see where all this "projection" talk is going as the OP made no mention of it. We have only the mention of a model B to have any reference for size. Were you our customer, our conversation would begin with a lengthy conversation about the space and the type of performances.

And you'd probably want to know the size of their current 50 year old Yamaha grand. smile
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1975445 - 10/18/12 10:50 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: carey]
Solidtop Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/17/12
Posts: 4
Thanks to all who have responded, it is truly appreciated!

To answer some questions raised:

1.) This is a Catholic church holding about 550 people. It is typical old school - it was the gym rebuilt into a sanctuary. So very square in nature with a 20/25 ft. ceiling. The building has been acoustically treated to have a .5 second delay at the back wall and 1 second at the front pew.

2.) I believe the old Yamaha is about 6'5.

3.) We are located 15 minutes north of Seattle.

4.) The piano is THE main instrument and will be used at 3 masses and all rehearsals.

Please keep the comments coming, I am going to paste this site to our priest's email as the answers come in!

Truly, thanks to all for yourinsight!

Let me know if I can add more information!

Solidtop

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#1975463 - 10/18/12 11:38 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
Originally Posted By: Solidtop
1.) This is a Catholic church holding about 550 people. It is typical old school - it was the gym rebuilt into a sanctuary. So very square in nature with a 20/25 ft. ceiling. The building has been acoustically treated to have a .5 second delay at the back wall and 1 second at the front pew.


A 7' piano may be underwhelming in this space, especially if your church has any kind of serious classical music concerts.

Originally Posted By: Solidtop
2.) I believe the old Yamaha is about 6'5.


How well does this piano work in your space?


Originally Posted By: Solidtop
3.) We are located 15 minutes north of Seattle.


Pay a visit to Classic Pianos, in Bellevue. They carry several of the brands I mentioned (M&H, Schimmel, Bluthner, also Yamaha), and usually have several used/rebuilt Steinway Bs to choose from.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#1975574 - 10/19/12 08:33 AM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
backto_study_piano Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/28/10
Posts: 400
Loc: Australia
I'm not sure why you've said no to Yamaha - the Yamahas of today are much improved on 50 years ago. You may be able to locate a near new 9' Yamaha which would suit.
_________________________
Alan from Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert - she's 7'4" long and ebony) & 2 Allen Organs [long story - the first is for sale] - MDS312 and CF-15.

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#1975577 - 10/19/12 08:34 AM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Contact Ryan Sowers, he is also on Piano World and lives over there in that general area somewhere.

Many Catholic Churches in my area are notorious for (the word escapes me at the moment) the "echo's." One church has a 7 second delay while a couple of others have an 11 second delay from the time the key is struck to the time the note fades away. That can make it very difficult to tune at times and hard to voice well too. But, the sound travels extremely well here.

Perhaps, the Yamaha you have just needs a good regulation and hammer work? Reconditioning/rebuilding? Just a thought...
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1975660 - 10/19/12 11:36 AM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Solidtop Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/17/12
Posts: 4
Thanks for all the responses! If there's anything else you might do in my position, please let me know.

I'll take the opportunity to do all the suggestions noted to date.

Solidtop

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#1975736 - 10/19/12 01:56 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
KurtZ Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 851
Loc: The Heart of Screenland
Pedantically, Delay is the time till you first hear a sound. Jerry is describing reverb time and it is commonly measured to be the time it takes a sound impulse to decay by 60 db and therefore called RT60.

Pianos all project the same because "projection" is a function of dispersion pattern and all pianos have the same shape so they all share similar dispersion patterns. A louder piano carries further because it carries more energy just like a bullet with higher muzzle velocity. If a piano seems to project further or have better clarity at the back of the hall, it's a function of it's loudness, it's frequency signature and what the room acoustics/treatment do to that frequency signature.

It's never as simple as this piano projects and this one doesn't. My non-scientific guess is all this talk about projection and volume is 20-30 percent the instrument as the energy impulse and the remaining percentage of effect is the room and it's acoustics. Going back to a gun analogy, yes a change in the rifling (grooves) pattern will affect the bullet but not nearly as much as air density, crosswind and if the bullet has to go through brush before it hits something.

Kurt
_________________________
I just wanted to be just "a" guy. That's enough of a life.

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#1975764 - 10/19/12 02:41 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6209
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Not to throw a wrench into the works here, BUT for a budget of $50 to $100K, you could purchase a nice 7 foot grand for your space - as well as a digital organ. Just a thought.
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1975895 - 10/19/12 07:16 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: carey]
RickG1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/10
Posts: 301
Loc: TX
Originally Posted By: carey
Not to throw a wrench into the works here, BUT for a budget of $50 to $100K, you could purchase a nice 7 foot grand for your space - as well as a digital organ. Just a thought.


As an church organist, I was thinking the same thing. Of course, I am wondering what type of music is used in this parish?
_________________________
Mason-Hamlin "A"
Steinway "B"
Baldwin console

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#1975905 - 10/19/12 07:43 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: RickG1]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6209
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: RickG1
Originally Posted By: carey
Not to throw a wrench into the works here, BUT for a budget of $50 to $100K, you could purchase a nice 7 foot grand for your space - as well as a digital organ. Just a thought.


As an church organist, I was thinking the same thing. Of course, I am wondering what type of music is used in this parish?


So was I - but even if the majority of it is "contemporary" the extra flexibility provided by having both an organ and piano in the space could open up all kinds of yet untapped opportunities.
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1977699 - 10/23/12 07:42 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
Solidtop Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/17/12
Posts: 4
Hey all,

We have a pipe organ in the building currently, so both instruments can be used...

We may be purchasing a work station, as well.

Now, I had a chance to try a Sauter 9ft. Lots of horse power there! I'll try the 7ft soon. I also will be trying all the other brands recommended ASAP.

I'll report back ASAP.

Thanks again,

Solidtop

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#1978156 - 10/24/12 06:03 PM Re: Piano choices for church application... [Re: Solidtop]
Tom Burgess Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 46
Loc: Norman, OK
Perhaps I missed this but is it going to be amplified through a sound system?
_________________________
Gilliam Music - Norman, OK
Full Line Retailer Featuring:
Steinway, Kawai, Martin, Taylor, Fender, Soundcraft, JBL, Crown, etc.

Opinions expressed by me on this forum are my own and not necessarily that of the company for which I work.

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