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#218336 - 04/03/08 12:29 AM Must have (used) grand
Singingteacher Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Wisconsin
Hello all,

I'm a singing teacher who uses my piano primarily for scales and some accompanying. I've developed neck problems from craning around at my upright to see what my students are doing with their jaws, heads, breathing, etc. while I play ... so I really need a grand piano. Of course, I'm on a tight budget. I've learned some about pianos over the years, have read this forum, and have been scouring Craigslist for a few months. I'm interested in your opinions about these pianos:

1) 1987 Zimmermann in pretty much perfect shape. Plays a little stiff, but no mechanical problems.
2) 1925 George Steck, 5'4" or so, used to be a player piano. Needs pitch raise, all else good.
3) 1930s-ish Kranich and Bach, small soundboard crack, keeps tune, recent repair work.

I've visited/played five different pianos. Lots of soundboard cracks in the frozen north where I live!

Thanks for your input...

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#218337 - 04/03/08 12:32 AM Re: Must have (used) grand
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 24465
Loc: Oakland
Keep looking.
Semipro Tech

#218338 - 04/03/08 12:40 AM Re: Must have (used) grand
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4683
Loc: San Francisco
Following up on BDB's post, when buying used, you're substituting time for money.

Work Craigslist, of course, but don't exclude dealers from your search. Jim Laabs in Stevens Point is a multi-line dealer who's posted some fine deals on eBay. You might want to check with him re trade-ins.

In general, a three- to five-year-old instrument is a good choice, because the original buyer will have taken the initial depreciation hit and - assuming that the piano is not being sold by a music school - no substantial repairs will be required.

Patience and persistence.

#218339 - 04/03/08 05:18 AM Re: Must have (used) grand
pianobroker Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 4346
Loc: North Hollywood CA.
Pickings must be slim in your part of town in that it would be tough to recommend any of the three options in good conscience. As BDB said "keep looking" Post some other options and the pros will steer you to the right choice. ;\)
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#218340 - 04/03/08 09:25 AM Re: Must have (used) grand
MJinMN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/05/07
Posts: 64
Loc: Minnesota
Jim Laabs also posts their used inventory online if you want to check it out to see if there are any good prospects before making any drive.

Mason & Hamlin BB

#218341 - 04/03/08 09:52 AM Re: Must have (used) grand
Singingteacher Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Wisconsin
I also visited a few local dealers, but didn't find anything in my price range. After increasing my price point (today), I can add:

1) Kimball 5'2"
2) Chickering baby grand
3) Cable 5'2" baby grand
4) Young Chang/Ridgewood, 2000
5) Howard baby grand

People are not posting the year of their pianos, so I'm assuming those pianos are more than 10-15 years old (otherwise, they'd post a year).

May I also ask: Why "no" on the Zimmermann? It has been rarely played, very well maintained.

#218342 - 04/03/08 10:22 AM Re: Must have (used) grand
hotkeys Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 788
Loc: Massapequa, NY
Welcome to the forums, SingingTeacher! \:\)

I started searching for a piano myself and I set strict budgets at the beginning. Before you do some serious shopping, get a copy of Larry Fine's The Piano Book. You will save yourself some time and heartache by reading this book and the yearly supplement that comes with it.

If you are serious about buying one of the pianos you listed in your post, bring a piano technician with you to check out the instrument before you commit payment to the seller. You also want to consider if you may have to get the instrument restored later.

- Mark
...The ultimate joy in music is the joy of playing the piano...

#218343 - 04/03/08 10:29 AM Re: Must have (used) grand
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10824
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi Singingteacher, welcome to the PW forum.

I’m no expert, and I’m sure others will respond to your question about the Zimmermann; however, it is my understanding that the Zimmermann brand is an East German manufactured piano and does not have a good reputation in terms of quality. But, I would imagine that there are exceptions to every rule (or maybe not).

Of course, just about every brand of piano made (even Steinway & Sons) has been criticized in one way or another on this forum.

Buy the one that you like the best and can afford.

Best regards,

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

#218344 - 04/03/08 10:32 AM Re: Must have (used) grand
Singingteacher Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Wisconsin
Thanks, Mark! I did have a piano tech along when I visited two pianos. He only recommended one of them -- the Zimmermann, which although it's a 1987, plays like it's brand new. I think it was basically a furniture piece. It had the following work last July:

Tightened screws, reshaped hammers, removed friction from keys, cleaned, lubricated. Nothing else needed/recommended.

Tuned regularly in past three years. Before that, not so much. Holds tune very well.

I'm really leaning toward this piano, although I'm used to a much lighter action, which I find more common on the older pianos. Eventually, I think I would get used to the action. My daughter will start playing next year, and I think it would be better for her to learn on a piano with a stronger action.

I welcome your thoughts.

#218345 - 04/03/08 11:52 AM Re: Must have (used) grand
Singingteacher Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Wisconsin
Thank you, Rickster, for the info about Zimmermann. I've done some reading, and understand they were acquired by Beckstein (after my piano was made, however).

Would you, or anyone else, elaborate on the quality issues with a Zimmermann? Does this mean that it's going to start needing lots of work? If yes, what kind would you see on a lower-quality piano vs. higher-quality? Also, at what point time-wise might one expect to start seeing issues with pianos, of any quality? What about a lower-quality piano that's been very well maintained?

Hopefully, these are interesting questions for everyone. Thanks also to Matt, pianobroker, FogvilleLad, and BDB for your posts.

#218346 - 04/03/08 12:45 PM Re: Must have (used) grand
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10824
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi Singingteacher.

It sounds like you like the Zimmermann. Keep in mind that I do not have any direct experience with the Zimmermann brand, other than the fact that I did look at an older Zimmermann upright that I liked the cabinet on; a piano dealer had it and they wanted too much for it. That is what spurred me to do some research on the brand and I read some negative reviews (many of them on this forum). Do a search of the Zimmermann brand in the archives here and see what you come up with.

If you like the piano and the technician gave it a good bill of health (and the price is right), I see no reason for you not to buy it. Like I said, you will get negative reviews on just about every brand under the sun on the PW forums.

Best of luck with your search for a nice pre-owned grand.

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

#218347 - 04/03/08 04:50 PM Re: Must have (used) grand
Singingteacher Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Wisconsin
Well, after reading the Zimmermann posts, I'm worried that I'm going to have damper problems with the Zimmermann. However, it is VERY inexpensive (although one online post did say he wouldn't even take one if it were given to him).

Any opinions about these pianos? I might be able to swing them:

1) 2000 Young Chang/Ridgewood
2) 1992 Howard, 5'8"
3) 1910 Chickering

Thanks again to all who've posted!

#218348 - 04/03/08 05:41 PM Re: Must have (used) grand
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
Please remember that pianos are very complex machines. There are nearly 10,000 parts in a piano. Each of the 88 keys has about 40 different adjustment points. Even after a manafacturer does a good or very good job of making and adjusting, it is shipped and allowed to settle. Then a good store will spend many hours readjusting and prepping the piano again. After several years the piano will need the $1,000 of tech time readjusting and voicing the piano again. So really plan on spending this money on any piano you buy. The 1910 Chickering may have been rebuild a few years ago and be a wonderful piano which just needs some perfecting. Or again it may be a disaster needing thousands of $s rebuilding. So a 1910 Chickering may be worth $500 or $25,000. Condition is very important.
Master of Music, School Teacher, Church Musician- See "Our Adventure to a New grand" thread... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18212.html

#218349 - 04/04/08 11:37 PM Re: Must have (used) grand
Singingteacher Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 6
Loc: Wisconsin
Thanks, Jordang. I do understand. I was hoping to avoid the long drive to check out a piano in person ... but I think there's really no way to avoid it, because people selling a piano are biased in favor of their piano. So while someone says "it's in great condition," I won't know until I get there. I understand now why people buy from dealers ... you can see so many more pianos at once!

#218350 - 04/08/08 07:02 PM Re: Must have (used) grand
skyblanche Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/03
Posts: 370
Loc: Canada
I support BDB,

Keep looking.

You are a person who uses a piano daily and for some hours...you need a reliable instrument. Especially for singers.

I would suggest at least tier three piano...if not two.

I understand that cost is a factor...but it is less of an issue over time, considering what you will spend to keep the tier fives/fours/threes in basic good shape for your studio.

Don't forget a good instrument inpires and attracts students.

Good luck.



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