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#2036239 - 02/20/13 06:10 AM Small grands over time
Chris H. Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
I read somewhere that the sound of a small grand will deteriorate over time, especially in the bass. So whilst a brand new piano might sound great when you buy it after a few years it might not be so good.

Is there any truth in this?

I'm still thinking along the lines of a new piano as the Kawai GE30 really stood out for me. But I have found a few other pianos in the same price range that are a bit larger but also older. For example a Yamaha C2 and a Boston 178 both from the late 90's. My own U1 is now 13 years old and still performing perfectly well.

At the moment apart from the new Kawai I've only been looking at pianos on the Internet as I haven't yet had time to go and play. There is no rush so when the time comes I will try as many as possible. But for now I thought I would just ask the question about new, small grands.
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#2036255 - 02/20/13 07:34 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5296
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
I read somewhere that the sound of a small grand will deteriorate over time, especially in the bass. So whilst a brand new piano might sound great when you buy it after a few years it might not be so good.

Is there any truth in this?

No more (or less) than any other piano of any other size.

Some parts of all pianos are relatively stable; the basic structure, the string frame, etc. Other parts are wear-related such as hammers, action components, etc. And the life expectancy of other components such as strings (especially bass strings) and soundboards are somewhat time-related but are also affected by many other variables such as use, climate (localized micro-environment), environmental pollution, etc. But all of these are completely independent of size which has no affect on the projected life span of the piano at all.

ddf


Edited by Del (02/20/13 07:35 AM)
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#2036291 - 02/20/13 08:58 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
Chris H. Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Thanks for that Del,

So if the sound of any piano Deteriorates I wonder if there could be a situation where a new small grand has an acceptable bass which then becomes unacceptable whereas a larger piano may go from very good to good? Does that make any sense?

I've played quite a few older grands under 5.5 feet in length and most seem to be lacking. Of course it could be that design has improved more recently and the newer pianos will stand the test of time. Hmmmm.

Another quick question then...

Has piano design changed significantly in recent years? Taking a Kawai for example, is a brand new RX2 that much different to a ten year old one? Or in other words can you buy a ten year old piano safe in the knowledge that things will not have moved on a great deal or is newer always going to mean more advanced?
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#2036314 - 02/20/13 09:45 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8534
Loc: Georgia, USA
Get you a 7 footer and be done with it... smile

Even in a deteriorated state, they sound better than smaller pianos. wink

Rick
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#2036328 - 02/20/13 10:17 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
Chris H. Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Ah yes but you see I've kind of been there before with a bigger grand.

I have a smallish room for the piano and the last one I had was overpowering even at 6 foot. Now I know everyone will say that you can play very quietly on a large grand and I accept that. However there is no getting away from the fact that larger pianos generate more sound and volume when you want to play forte. If not then you would find small grands on the concert stage. Either that or small grands wouldn't exist. I am an advanced pianist and like to play big repertoire. If I'm playing something which requires fortissimo I don't want to have to hold back for the sake of my hearing.

The ideal size for me would probably be around 5 foot 8 inches. But most makes of that size are out of budget so I either need to compromise a bit on length or look for something second hand. The GE30 is a compromise at 5 foot 5 but I liked the sound. I remember playing an older one at college ten years ago which didn't do it for me but the new one may be a different design, I don't really know.
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#2036329 - 02/20/13 10:19 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
maurus Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/11
Posts: 804
Some time ago when I looked for my own grand I played on a small Feurich grand in the shop of our local piano technician (around 170 cm). It was not for sale but in for minor work and regulation. Probably around 40 years old.

All I can say is it was wonderful. Warm and clear. If it would have been for sale I'd have bought it in an instant.

What does this prove? Not a lot but: At least some small grands can sound beautiful after quite some time!
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#2036337 - 02/20/13 10:30 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
Chris H. Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
Yes of course.

I'm also following the other thread about a new or used RX2 with interest. The point about hammers becoming hardened through use causing harsher tone is worth considering perhaps more than any deterioration in tone. It was useful to read the old thread about oldfingers and his RX3 which is pretty much what happened to me with the Steinberg grand a few years back.

At least with a used piano you know how it sounds when it's been used!

Maybe my room just can't handle a grand, I'm not sure. I just miss the action and presence so it would be nice to find something suitable.
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#2036348 - 02/20/13 10:53 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2071
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
Do you know a piano technician who is skilled in action rebuilding/tone regulation? Talking with one or more who produces work that you like can be very helpful in identifying good prospective pianos for you.
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2036350 - 02/20/13 10:58 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21528
Loc: Oakland
I think that bass strings for smaller pianos lose their quality faster than those in larger pianos. I also think that the sort of voicing that is done on hammers of small pianos may be detrimental to their longevity. But given all the variables, it is difficult to say for certain.
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#2036352 - 02/20/13 11:04 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
Chris H. Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2911
Loc: UK.
The guy who services my U1 is pretty good. He's due to come next month so I'll ask him what he thinks.
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#2036371 - 02/20/13 11:38 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT]
Withindale Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 1940
Loc: Suffolk, England
Originally Posted By: Ed McMorrow, RPT
Do you know a piano technician who is skilled in action rebuilding/tone regulation? Talking with one or more who produces work that you like can be very helpful in identifying good prospective pianos for you.

That's what I think and I have one in mind. Please send me a PM.
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#2036617 - 02/20/13 08:45 PM Re: Small grands over time [Re: BDB]
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1061
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Originally Posted By: BDB
I think that bass strings for smaller pianos lose their quality faster than those in larger pianos. I also think that the sort of voicing that is done on hammers of small pianos may be detrimental to their longevity. But given all the variables, it is difficult to say for certain.


Two things come to mind.

A lot of small pianos have dubious quality control from the outset. Thus the bass strings may be of lesser quality controlled origin in the first place. I can think of several recently built brands that fit this category. This would account for faster tonal deterioration. For instance, oil contamination straight from the winding shop or contamination from improper handling during the build. Or just poor winding mechanics in the first place.

Secondly, many of these same pianos of lesser genetic background come with hammers that are totally unsuited to their scale and sound board. They require massive amounts of voicing to sound even reasonably decent to the point of bringing on an early demise.

If you eliminate those two issues (and probably a bunch of other QC issues), I can see no reason that either system would lack longevity.


Edited by Dale Fox (02/20/13 08:50 PM)
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#2036648 - 02/20/13 10:56 PM Re: Small grands over time [Re: BDB]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2071
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
BDB,
What mechanics of wound string deterioration would be different with scalar issues?
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In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2036739 - 02/21/13 03:23 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Rickster]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 975
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: Rickster
Get you a 7 footer and be done with it... smile

Even in a deteriorated state, they sound better than smaller pianos. wink

Rick


Perhaps I've just played some super lousy pianos... but I've played 7 footers that sound worse than some spinets.
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#2036742 - 02/21/13 03:26 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 975
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: Chris H.
Ah yes but you see I've kind of been there before with a bigger grand.

I have a smallish room for the piano and the last one I had was overpowering even at 6 foot. Now I know everyone will say that you can play very quietly on a large grand and I accept that. However there is no getting away from the fact that larger pianos generate more sound and volume when you want to play forte. If not then you would find small grands on the concert stage. Either that or small grands wouldn't exist. I am an advanced pianist and like to play big repertoire. If I'm playing something which requires fortissimo I don't want to have to hold back for the sake of my hearing.

The ideal size for me would probably be around 5 foot 8 inches. But most makes of that size are out of budget so I either need to compromise a bit on length or look for something second hand.


For my 2 cents worth, I'd suggest looking at second hand. 5'8" grands can be a great piano.
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#2036805 - 02/21/13 07:54 AM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Chris H.]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8534
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: musicpassion
Perhaps I've just played some super lousy pianos... but I've played 7 footers that sound worse than some spinets.

Yea, that's the thing about pianos... subjective perception. Beauty is indeed in the eye (or ear smile ) of the beholder.

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

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#2037102 - 02/21/13 05:25 PM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Rickster]
musicpassion Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/30/12
Posts: 975
Loc: California, USA
Originally Posted By: Rickster
Originally Posted By: musicpassion
Perhaps I've just played some super lousy pianos... but I've played 7 footers that sound worse than some spinets.

Yea, that's the thing about pianos... subjective perception. Beauty is indeed in the eye (or ear smile ) of the beholder.

Rick


Very true.
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Pianist and Piano Teacher

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#2037224 - 02/21/13 09:22 PM Re: Small grands over time [Re: Rickster]
Radio.Octave Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/17/08
Posts: 440
Originally Posted By: Rickster
Get you a 7 footer and be done with it... smile

Even in a deteriorated state, they sound better than smaller pianos. wink

Rick


This grin

I think over 6' is where things really start to get good. At one point, I had a 5' baby grand and I preferred the sound of a 52" upright. Really small pianos are nice to look at, but for someone with a discerning ear, the tone is usually lacking.
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