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#2017375 - 01/19/13 03:56 PM Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos
flipwils11 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 12

Joined this site recently (like I have joined so many others for various hobbies and interests, there seems to be an Internet forum for everything!) to learn more about pianos. I have a 7 year old son who has been taking lessons for a year and a half and my daughter who is 3 will probably start when she is 4 or 5. My son uses a small Yamaha keyboard for practicing at home (not a full 88 keys) and his teacher has a 110 year old Steinway grand he plays on. We think its time to get a real piano and we have room in our home for a baby grand.

The options are bewildering for a non piano player like me. Spend $10k on a new Yamaha and call it done or get a starter piano from Craigslist that may become landfill fodder if we upgrade in a few years? I have been reading threads on this forum on this subject and it seems to come up often but without a clear answer, mostly varying opinions.

We are in St Paul MN and there is this local charity, keys 4 kids (http://keys44kids.com/) that posts regularly on Craigslist and seems to have a good mission statement and charter. I went in today and there was a slightly beat Kimball baby grand for $1500 and that includes delivery, service and tuning, and we can trade it in later for that amount applied toward something better. It seems like what we are looking for if our piano teacher gives the thumbs up (she offered to personally look at any piano we are serious about before purchasing).

There was also a Sojin at Schmitt's music, a local store with a great rep, but not for low prices, but that was $5k (or more than 2x what I would like to spend to get started). Heck for that money I might find a used Yamaha or Kawaii I guess which seems like a purchase that would not be a terrible move, just not a cheap option.

Does anyone have the perfect right answer to this mystery and first time buyer angst? The transaction costs of a piano with moving and tuning & setup plus the risk of expensive maintenance if we buy a lemon are what worry me about these Craigslist sales.

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#2017379 - 01/19/13 04:07 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
flipwils11 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 12

Not sure if I can post pics, but here goes.




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#2017413 - 01/19/13 05:01 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7235
Loc: Rochester MN
Keys 4/4 Kids is a great charity and a purchase from the store supports their mission. One of the good things it that there is a large selection of pianos, of all sizes and styles, to play at the shop. There is no reason that the Kimball couldn't be a suitable piano for your children. Have the teacher play it, and if it gets a thumbs up, you would be well served to have it examined by a good piano technician. This would save you from purchasing a money pit.

I've never heard of Sojin. Is the piano new? Could it possibly be a Sejung? Sorry, I can't give a comment.

Good luck and take your time to shop around.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2017459 - 01/19/13 06:37 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: Minnesota Marty]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

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

I've never heard of Sojin. Is the piano new? Could it possibly be a Sejung? Sorry, I can't give a comment.



Sojin is not Sejung. Two different companies.
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
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#2017471 - 01/19/13 06:59 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: beethoven986]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7235
Loc: Rochester MN
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty

I've never heard of Sojin. Is the piano new? Could it possibly be a Sejung? Sorry, I can't give a comment.



Sojin is not Sejung. Two different companies.

Well, if you are familiar with it, give the OP the low down.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2017474 - 01/19/13 07:04 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
I would advocate getting a good quality used upright (i.e. Kawai, Yamaha, etc) over an old Kimball or Sojin baby grand. Neither were particularly good pianos when they were new, and pianos do deteriorate (tonally and mechanically) with age. Additionally, an upright takes up less space, is cheaper to move, and is generally a much better value in this price range. More highly regarded brands are also easier to resell, if needed. Yes, this is a more expensive option upfront, but unquestionably a better value. You definitely don't need to spend $10,000 on a new piano, but it is important to have realistic expectations.... even $1,500 for an upright is pushing it if you want to avoid "landfill fodder".

While Keys4Kids does do some work on many of the pianos before they are sold, you should be skeptical about a $1500 grand piano; it is not really possible to find a quality grand piano for this price, unless someone is being really nice to you, and at the end of the day, Keys4Kids is a business, even if it is a charity organization. For any used piano, you should have a qualified piano technician inspect it before purchase, whether or not the piano teacher also looks at it. Piano teachers are generally not qualified to assess the structural integrity of a piano.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2017479 - 01/19/13 07:07 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: Minnesota Marty]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty

I've never heard of Sojin. Is the piano new? Could it possibly be a Sejung? Sorry, I can't give a comment.



Sojin is not Sejung. Two different companies.

Well, if you are familiar with it, give the OP the low down.


Sojin was kind of at the bottom of the barrel of the Korean manufacturers back in the '80s. Not recommended. Certainly not for $5,000. That's a total ripoff.
_________________________
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2018133 - 01/21/13 01:59 AM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: beethoven986]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 900
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Piano teachers are generally not qualified to assess the structural integrity of a piano.


True, but a piano teacher usually can spot a junk piano and advise their students to run fast in the other direction. Since a good percentage of used pianos are junk it can be an effective screening before you call in the tech.

What a piano teacher (such as myself) can't do is verify that everything is ok on a piano that seems to be ok. That's why I and so many others advocate hiring a good tech.
_________________________
Pianist and Piano Teacher

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#2018139 - 01/21/13 02:11 AM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 900
Loc: California, USA
$5K for the Sojin sounds like way too much.

I'm not sure which new Yamaha you are considering for $10K, but since budget does seem to be a consideration I'd suggest to stay away from the new market. $10K in the used market can go a lot further.

The Kimball might be a ok piano for you. I can't tell from here. Let us know what the teacher says.
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#2018648 - 01/21/13 09:49 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: musicpassion]
flipwils11 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 12

Thanks everyone, waiting on piano teachers assessment still. Also thanks for the Sojin advice.

We would really like to do the baby grand since we have the space. We actually have a better spot for the baby grand than an upright hence looking for something affordable in that configuration.

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#2018677 - 01/21/13 10:48 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
RickG1 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/09/10
Posts: 301
Loc: TX
We had a Sojin at my school, truly a piece of junk!!
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#2018678 - 01/21/13 10:50 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
Originally Posted By: flipwils11


We would really like to do the baby grand since we have the space. We actually have a better spot for the baby grand than an upright hence looking for something affordable in that configuration.


If you want a grand, you will have to spend more money, or you will end up with junk. It's doable for less than $10,000 but very, very seldomly below $5,000.
_________________________
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
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#2018680 - 01/21/13 10:51 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: musicpassion]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
Originally Posted By: musicpassion
Originally Posted By: beethoven986
Piano teachers are generally not qualified to assess the structural integrity of a piano.


True, but a piano teacher usually can spot a junk piano and advise their students to run fast in the other direction. Since a good percentage of used pianos are junk it can be an effective screening before you call in the tech.


I agree. Just as long as a tech is also called.
_________________________
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M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
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#2029492 - 02/08/13 08:09 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
flipwils11 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 12
Resurrecting this, still on the hunt. Looked at some sub $1k baby grand junk, haven't moved on the keys 4 kids one because our piano teacher could t get over there to have a look. They aren't open Sunday's and weekdays closed too early for her to go. Anyway there's a Sohmer for sale locally, a grand and it's a 1918. I went and looked at it and it's in decent shape but the seller freely admitted it could be better with some investment like hammers to start. But is largely ready to go.

I would of course get an independent assessment and still hopefully have our teacher look at it. Any idea on value based on that description?

Edit: read a little on the web on Sohmer history and the info the seller told me about making the first baby grand, etc checks out. Seems to have a decent story behind the company. This is the model, a 9B.

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1493149/Thoughts_on_a_Sohmer_9B.html


Edited by flipwils11 (02/08/13 08:42 PM)

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#2029511 - 02/08/13 08:48 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
Originally Posted By: flipwils11
Anyway there's a Sohmer for sale locally, a grand and it's a 1918. I went and looked at it and it's in decent shape but the seller freely admitted it could be better with some investment like hammers to start. But is largely ready to go.



At the risk of being too blunt, you need to give up on the idea of getting a grand piano in this price range. There is no such thing as a 1918 piano (in original condition) in "decent shape" "ready to go" for the end-user... it's a fallacy, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either a) lying or b) ignorant. Installing a new set of hammers would cost over $2,000 and would be a useless investment unless everything else was restored.


Originally Posted By: flipwils11
I would of course get an independent assessment and still hopefully have our teacher look at it. Any idea on value based on that description?



Sohmer was a high quality piano back in the day. However, it's entirely likely that its present, unrestored value is $0 or close to it. IMO, if you buy it (or any other very old original condition piano), you might as well have taken that money and torched it. Sorry for the bluntness.

_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2029518 - 02/08/13 08:58 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
flipwils11 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 12

Lol! No offense taken, blunt feedback is good.

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#2029552 - 02/08/13 10:11 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
beethoven986 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 3319
Originally Posted By: flipwils11

Lol! No offense taken, blunt feedback is good.


I'm glad you see it that way! I just don't want you (or anyone) to get taken for a ride. Now, if you can find a small baby grand that's less than 20-30 years old for under $5,000 that could be an acceptable alternative. Certainly better than buying a 90 year old piano in original condition for $500-$2,000.
_________________________
B.Mus. Piano Performance 2009
M.Mus. Piano Performance & Literature 2011
PTG Associate Member
Certified Dampp-Chaser installer

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#2029561 - 02/08/13 10:37 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
JazzPianoOnline Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 86
Loc: raleigh, nc
Your best bet is to look for a yamaha u1. This piano sounds great, is highly regarded, will stay in tune and maintain its value. You should be able to find one for $4-5000 or less. If you want it upgrade to a grand later you will get most of you money back. There are other good choices for sure but this is as good as they get.
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#2029593 - 02/09/13 12:16 AM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
flipwils11 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 12
Thanks but believe it or not we don't have a great space for an upright on the main floor but a grand or baby is a better fit.

Ok I am taking advice to heart and reconsidering our budget. There is a $5500 Yamaha baby grand listed and maybe there is negotiation room...

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#2053888 - 03/25/13 09:31 AM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
flipwils11 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 12
Wanted to close the loop on where we settled. We found another room in our house well suited for an upright so we switched plans and started focusing on a nice, used upright. We found a Kawai UST-7 with some sun fading issues with its black finish for a great price. A local tech checked it out for us and said due to the build quality of this model (it's a 1985 year) it will do well for our needs. It will sound better after some tuning because it had not been tuned in a while.

So it arrived last week and will get tuned by the same tech who did the eval this coming Saturday! For $1200 did we do well?

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#2053905 - 03/25/13 10:08 AM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10449
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
You did VERY well.
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Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#2057476 - 03/31/13 05:27 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
flipwils11 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 12

Thanks, here is a video of him playing after it was just tuned up. Gotta work on him shifting back and forth on the bench!

http://youtu.be/wH3uyk8Ip1E

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#2057752 - 04/01/13 11:44 AM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
Jean Claude Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/18/11
Posts: 354
Loc: France


Goodness, 'Keys for Kids' sounds like a great idea.

Any chance that they would accept my grandchildren against a Bosendorfer?

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#2058325 - 04/02/13 01:50 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
There are three major qualities of pianos to keep in mind when shopping: touch, tone, and furniture (you have to look at the thing, too). Of these, the most important for beginners (especially under ten years old) is touch.

Learning to play is learning fine motor control over your fingers. Pianos with worn-out, irregular actions become big obstacles, like going down an uneven staircase. While I love acoustic pianos (and hate the term), digital keyboards at least have the advantage of consistent touch from note to note.

So if you have to decide between an older, bigger piano that sounds great, or a newer, smaller piano in better condition, go for the newest one. And on an older piano, consider investing in a half day or full day of regulation, to put the motion of the keys back to factory spec, compensating for wear, and restoring evenness. This is more expensive than tuning, but lasts for many years.

Kids with worn-out pianos often get frustrated quickly and give up.

--Cy--

P.S. Jean Claude: "I got a mink coat for my wife. Best trade I ever did!" --Henny Youngman
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Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
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Albuquerque, New Mexico

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#2058410 - 04/02/13 06:10 PM Re: Keys 4 kids? And other starter pianos [Re: flipwils11]
Minnesota Marty Online   content

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7235
Loc: Rochester MN
Cy - We would love a pic of you in your new coat!

grin
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Marty in Minnesota

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

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