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#2021918 - 01/26/13 11:51 PM From what size does a grand piano make sense?
boyonahill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/12
Posts: 90
Loc: Europe
A big upright Piano like the Yamaha U3 is 131 cm (51 1/2") high.

A small grand like the Yamaha C1 has a depth of 161cm (5'3") (and there are even smaller grands).

The depth measurement for the grands includes the keyboards, so I guess the C1 and U3 have a pretty similar size on their soundboards?.

So, from what size does a grand piano make sense compared to a nice upgright piano like Yamaha U3 or U1? Something like the C1? Or bigger, perhaps like the C3 186cm (6'1")?
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#2021921 - 01/27/13 12:04 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
AJF Offline
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Registered: 05/18/06
Posts: 1602
Loc: Toronto
There is more to the comparison than just size. A grand's action is almost always better (more sensitive and dynamic) than an upright's.

That being said, I've liked the sound of many large uprights more than small grands.

My grand is 5'10 and I would want to go any smaller (unless it was a Steingraeber with a carbon soundboard--those are a whole different animal)

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#2021960 - 01/27/13 02:17 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 922
Loc: California, USA
Large uprights can sound great. I've been impressed with the Yamaha U3.

I wouldn't go smaller than 5'0" on grands. Smaller than this they tend to have a "small grand" sound that I don't like. No, the smaller grands don't sound the same as a concert grand. For me the goal for a piano isn't to sound like a concert grand (IMHO even most 7' pianos don't sound like concert grands). The goal is to be a wonderful musical instrument. Many grands in the 5'7" range to the 5'10" are stunning, superb musical instruments (Steinway M, Baldwin R, etc.)

As already mentioned, grands have an advantage with the actions. Another important advantage is how the sound projects from the instrument. Most uprights throw their sound straight into the wall. Grands have the soundboard suspended in the room, where sound can project from both the top and the bottom.

So to answer your question directly: I think the C1 makes plenty of sense.
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#2022049 - 01/27/13 08:49 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
Morodiene Offline
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Registered: 04/06/07
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Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Personally, I would not bother with a grand smaller than 5'5 or so. The bass notes will be disappointing on smaller grands. Of course, the action on a good grand, even smaller ones, is often better than uprights just due to the fact that the hammers have to be altered to hit vertical strings rather than horizontal.

So given a choice between the C1 and the U3, I'd probably still go with the C1 just for the feel...and look to upgrade in a few years to a larger grand smile.
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#2022084 - 01/27/13 09:58 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3493
The smallest grand I heard with pretty good sound was 5'8". Below that they usually sound not so good. But uprights sound not so good either so the answer could also be 'any size'.

But regarding the action, a grand might make sense for the smaller sizes as well
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#2022097 - 01/27/13 10:21 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
turandot Online   content
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7165
Loc: torrance, CA
This is really a personal decision that goes beyond string length, board surface, projection, and action geometry. Each of the members who has replied has given you a sincere thoughtful response. Yet the responses are quite different.

At least in my market, a new C1 costs considerably more than a U3, That may be a factor. Whether you want your piano to boom and roar is another factor. Most members here value a deep resonant bass highly. Even so, there are players, quite good players, who find that quality annoying in a home piano. Power sells. Balance and whisper ability don't exert the same pull on most shoppers.

There are also subjective and even subconscious factors that are valid considerations in making a decision. If you go against your own instincts to the extent that the piano you buy can only be thought of as transitional and you then spend a lot of time dreaming of your next piano, you are setting yourself up for chronic upgrade fever (which is a boon to piano retailers but a curse to piano buyers).

Whatever it is you choose, make sure it can play quietly without effort and makes your fingers feel secure and expressive.
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#2022148 - 01/27/13 11:43 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
rlinkt Offline
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Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 309
Loc: CA
Don't worry about the size. If you like the sound -- its big enough. Once you listen to them in the store, what you like would be obvious.

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#2022171 - 01/27/13 12:23 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
malkin Offline
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Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2494
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
It has to fit in your house!
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#2022310 - 01/27/13 05:58 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: malkin]
boyonahill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/12
Posts: 90
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: malkin
It has to fit in your house!


First, thank you all for your answers!

Malkin: Yes, so now I'm thinking about which wall to remove! cool
_________________________
Current: Casio SA-46 + looking for a nice electronic piano
Sold: Yamaha M5J Walnut
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#2022349 - 01/27/13 07:06 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: rlinkt]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19265
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: rlinkt
Don't worry about the size. If you like the sound -- its big enough. Once you listen to them in the store, what you like would be obvious.
Although your point is reasonable, I think you're missing the point.

When people ask questions like this it's because they're looking for generalizations/guidelines that can help them select a piano. Many buyers are not that confident in just using their own ears and fingers to decide. If they were the much of the discussion on the Piano Forum and books like The Piano Buyer would not be around.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/27/13 07:07 PM)

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#2022371 - 01/27/13 07:46 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
"From what size does a grand piano make sense?"

rlinkt's answer makes the most sense and nails the point. If an owner is perfectly happy with a 4'-8" grand, there is no need to respond with a grand case of pianist envy.
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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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#2022378 - 01/27/13 07:54 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
Norbert Online   content
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The standard position for grands has often been same as for cars: "bigger is better"

Today, this is not necessarily true at least not to the same extent as often is suspected.

Some makers actually do offer very viable musical options at smaller sizes while others [most...] simply offer entry level at that size.[ same is true sometimes for uprights...]

IMHO it's all *intent* and *willingness* by manufacturer.

Don't forget grands around 5' or slightly above are generally 'less profit making' so there often is a "built in bias" by the maker. This can easily be seen when design, parts and components are very different between the different sizes.

However, smaller grands can indeed be very nice musical instruments provided they have been specifically designed for this purpose.

You just have to find the right one: luckily those pianos *do* exist in today's market.

Norbert


Edited by Norbert (01/27/13 08:11 PM)
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#2022380 - 01/27/13 08:02 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: Norbert]
personne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/24/12
Posts: 123
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I played a Steinway baby grand at a store (it is around 5' I believe), and it sounded very nice to me. Better than all verticals they had in the showroom (but they all were lower priced though).
But some other 'babies' did not sound better.
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#2022382 - 01/27/13 08:06 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
"From what size does a grand piano make sense?"

rlinkt's answer makes the most sense and nails the point. If an owner is perfectly happy with a 4'-8" grand, there is no need to respond with a grand case of pianist envy.
The reason people ask questions like the one the OP did is often that they do not think they have the experience or expertise to know how to judge a piano's tone and touch. They do not feel they are making an informed decision based just using "do you like it?" as the criterion. And I think their hesitation to just use their own judgement is very reasonable since most pianists don't have extensive experience playing and auditioning many different pianos.

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#2022392 - 01/27/13 08:30 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
And that's why it is necessary to bolster their confidence in making their own choice. If they like a given piano, of any shape or size, they will have made the best decision for themself, not for others.
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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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#2022401 - 01/27/13 08:39 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
personne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/24/12
Posts: 123
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
And that's why it is necessary to bolster their confidence in making their own choice. If they like a given piano, of any shape or size, they will have made the best decision for themself, not for others.


Sometimes you start finding pitfalls after hours of playing, but do not notice them at first.
At least I find advice like from pianobuyer.com regarding the size useful.
_________________________
Playing on Roland HP-507RW

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#2022407 - 01/27/13 08:47 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19265
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
And that's why it is necessary to bolster their confidence in making their own choice. If they like a given piano, of any shape or size, they will have made the best decision for themself, not for others.
Can't agree at all.

They may have made a reasonable decision but I think a very limited decision based on a very limited exposure to a small number of pianos and based on their current level of playing and discernment of piano tone/touch. Even if they visit a store 10 times and play the pianos for an hour each time(something few will do). I think that is a very short period to learn about pianos. The average tech might play more pianos in a week than the average pianist plays in their lifetime.

Many people realize that they want their decision to be one they will be happy with for a long time, not just one that they like based on very limited experience. They also realize that even if they are confident about their evaluation of tone there are technical issues about a piano they do not understand that may be important in the decision making process.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/27/13 08:49 PM)

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#2022421 - 01/27/13 09:11 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
If that were the case, unless a person is a piano tech or concert artist, a piano should not be purchased by anyone.

It's time to hire the consultants with hourly fees.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2022454 - 01/27/13 09:48 PM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: pianoloverus]
boyonahill Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/12
Posts: 90
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
"From what size does a grand piano make sense?"

rlinkt's answer makes the most sense and nails the point. If an owner is perfectly happy with a 4'-8" grand, there is no need to respond with a grand case of pianist envy.
The reason people ask questions like the one the OP did is often that they do not think they have the experience or expertise to know how to judge a piano's tone and touch. They do not feel they are making an informed decision based just using "do you like it?" as the criterion. And I think their hesitation to just use their own judgement is very reasonable since most pianists don't have extensive experience playing and auditioning many different pianos.


Well, I think you've got my situation right. It takes time to learn what you like, and you want to avoid making costly mistakes. Let me compare to other areas where I'm a little more experienced. Buying my first finer watch I bought a much to showy one. Buying my first HiFi I focused too much on the low freq. reproduction, only to find there were no high end freq. in my new speakers...

Often as a beginner you are wowed by the extremes, and only later you learn to appreciate the subtle differences more refined products bring. This process can easily cost you much money, I try to fast forward by asking experienced people in this case!
_________________________
Current: Casio SA-46 + looking for a nice electronic piano
Sold: Yamaha M5J Walnut
Playing ability: Absolute Beginner(s)

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#2022552 - 01/28/13 01:06 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
Playing a grand piano is a very different experience from playing an upright. A C3 sound and feels like a big piano while the C2 and the C1 sound and feel like small pianos. I would rather have a C1 than a U3 even with the small grand piano sound and feel because grand pianos are just better in terms of quality. I know lots of people disagree, because they care only about bass, the bigger the bass the better sort of thing. I care far more about quality than just bass power. Having said that, I would get the largest grand piano my home and wallet could tolerate.
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#2022567 - 01/28/13 01:55 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
Norbert Online   content
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Registered: 07/03/01
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Loc: Surrey, B.C.
As long as stores keep reinforcing the premise "larger is better" selecting their pianos accordingly, people may be discouraged to even try smaller pianos.

In many cases people simply don't have the room and spending the extra $$ to consider a larger grand: does this mean they can't get a real nice one?

Of course not.

The "quality" of piano is not just to be measured by the "volume of its bass", something sales people are often glad to demnostrate, but also very much by the singing quality of its treble. Which most are *not*...

However the fact remains that good quality grands can have as much tonal quality in that crucial section - REGARDLESS of size.

One just needs to specialize in and show those which *do*

Sold 2 smaller pianos this weekend to fairly advanced pianists who both came with the intention of buying much smaller and more expensive grands.

Both left very happy with good chunk of money still left in their pocket.

Nice to be owner-operator...

Norbert wink


Edited by Norbert (01/28/13 02:11 AM)
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#2022659 - 01/28/13 07:07 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
bennevis Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4957
Last year, I helped out a couple choosing their first piano. Neither of them played, and the piano was for their little daughter, and they knew next to nothing about pianos or piano music (or even music...).

They wanted a new baby grand - no more than around 5 ft, to fit into their living room. I normally avoid playing such small grands, but we trudged around various showrooms playing on Essexs, K Kawais, Yamahas....and all had amorphous thuds substituting for so-called bass notes, with barely any fundamentals. There wasn't much to choose in terms of action (and I easily adapt to almost any action anyway) or even sound (to my mind, the Essex was the marginally the worst, though the most expensive), so in the end, I just told them to choose which sound they liked most - after all, they are the ones living with it. They actually went for the one whose dealer gave them the best deal.....

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#2022681 - 01/28/13 08:15 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
ClsscLib Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1742
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
If that were the case, unless a person is a piano tech or concert artist, a piano should not be purchased by anyone.

It's time to hire the consultants with hourly fees.


I did just that. And he STILL said, "Go out and play a lot of pianos and see what you think about their sound and action."

It was the right advice, too.
_________________________


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#2022723 - 01/28/13 09:39 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19265
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
If that were the case, unless a person is a piano tech or concert artist, a piano should not be purchased by anyone.

It's time to hire the consultants with hourly fees.
Wrong again IMO.

There is a huge difference between the intelligent approach of asking lots of questions and not just using "I like it" as the only criteria vs. only buying a piano if one has the playing/listening experience of a tech or concert artist. And there is nothing wrong with hiring someone to help in the decision making process probably best done after one has spent some time trying out pianos first. If a dealer or salesperson is both very knowledgeable and honest this probably won't be be as they could give reliable answers to a buyer's questions.

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#2022732 - 01/28/13 09:59 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: Norbert]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Norbert
As long as stores keep reinforcing the premise "larger is better" selecting their pianos accordingly, people may be discouraged to even try smaller pianos.
"Larger is better" is in general correct so stores that say this are giving good advice.

Of course, there may be a few exceptions, but as one moves up in size for a given manufacturer the piano's tone and touch gets better. If this was not the case, buyers would soon catch on that buying the larger model was a rip off. Of course, one has to be comparing apples to apples and not a smaller Tier One piano to a larger piano of much lower quality.

Most people are intelligent enough to realize that buying a piano usually involves some compromises unless one has 100K to spend. So they will realize that they may not be able to afford a larger piano and try a smaller one. I can't imagine that dealers who sell smaller grands tell their customers "You really shouldn't buy a grand this small" when they realize what their budget is.

The simplest internet investigation or reading of The Piano Buyer will also convince buyers that improvements in smaller pianos mean that previous statements about all very small pianos being terrible are no longer true.

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#2022733 - 01/28/13 10:02 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7239
Loc: Rochester MN
PLU - Have you not figured out that my answers are directed specifically at your convoluted and evasive replies? They are commentary and cannot be considered "right" or "wrong."

You might check a definition for "scarcasm" since you seem to not be able to detect it.
_________________________
Marty in Minnesota

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

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#2022741 - 01/28/13 10:12 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: boyonahill]
hmrnmky Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/11/11
Posts: 53
Loc: San Diego, CA
Boyonahill,

I had a Yamaha U3 and it had a very nice sound. It was positioned on a hardwood floor, no rug and played with the lid opened. I really wanted a grand when I bought it so a year latter I was upgrading to a 5'8" grand.

During the search I played a newly rebuild Steinway S, 5'1" that was incredible and a new Steinway M, 5'7" that lacked alot to be desired.

It is true that bigger is not always better however don't buy an upright it you really want a grand. It is better to get the piano you want and can afford than settle.
_________________________
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#2022744 - 01/28/13 10:16 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: turandot]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2296
Loc: SoCal
Lots of good advice here. My 2 cents is that even a smaller grand will sound better than a larger upright. Just something about it. The grand will be more fun to play, too.

Originally Posted By: turandot

There are also subjective and even subconscious factors that are valid considerations in making a decision. If you go against your own instincts to the extent that the piano you buy can only be thought of as transitional and you then spend a lot of time dreaming of your next piano, you are setting yourself up for chronic upgrade fever (which is a boon to piano retailers but a curse to piano buyers).

Whatever it is you choose, make sure it can play quietly without effort and makes your fingers feel secure and expressive.


Truer words were never written.
_________________________
Gary

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#2022768 - 01/28/13 11:07 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: hmrnmky]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: hmrnmky
Boyonahill,During the search I played a newly rebuild Steinway S, 5'1" that was incredible and a new Steinway M, 5'7" that lacked alot to be desired.

It is true that bigger is not always better however don't buy an upright it you really want a grand.
When people say bigger is better they mean in general. For two specific pianos that are relatively close in size and especially ones as variable as Steinways seem to be, it is certainly possible that the smaller one could sound better but it would not generally be true.

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#2022769 - 01/28/13 11:09 AM Re: From what size does a grand piano make sense? [Re: Minnesota Marty]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19265
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Minnesota Marty
PLU - Have you not figured out that my answers are directed specifically at your convoluted and evasive replies? They are commentary and cannot be considered "right" or "wrong."

You might check a definition for "scarcasm" since you seem to not be able to detect it.
I don't think my replies have been convoluted or evasive in the slightest. The whole idea of relying only on oneself is probably not a good idea for many and maybe most piano buyers. This is one reason why the Piano Buyer and the Piano Forum are popular. Most people realize they need at least some help beyond their own fingers and ears when buying a piano.


Edited by pianoloverus (01/28/13 11:16 AM)

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