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#2401473 - 03/22/15 10:01 PM Searching for a new grand piano!
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
Hello, piano lovers! I posted here a couple of months ago asking about feedback on my Petrof voicing, which sounded muffled to me. Since then I have been trying hard to break in the voicing and it's been improving over time, and if it's like the Petrof upright I had before it should become quite lovely. It's really quite a nice piano (especially for the price), but I thought that in a few years, I would try to find my "dream piano".

Well, I recently had a stopover in California and checked out an older German-built Feurich. The tone definitely showed its age but the touch was just amazing, and it made me realize that when I felt that I couldn't play the first page of the Chopin Ballade No. 1 as sensitively as I'd like, that it wasn't me, it was the piano! While it looks like it won't work out (thanks to R. Kassman and Judy with the Feurich for talking to me about it!), now I'm on the hunt to find another piano that can respond with such sensitivity. I like reading about other people's searches for their pianos and thought I would share my own smile

I ended up visiting the three big piano stores in Portland this weekend. My first stop was Michelle's, where they have a consigned 5 year old Estonia 190 in pyramid mahogany for an unbelievable price. I have read so many great things about the recent Estonias, but it just wasn't for me, both in touch and tone. It'll be a fabulous deal for someone else! I played a bunch of other pianos, including their Steinways, but nothing caught my eye. There have been two Steinways that I have played in my life that I loved-- one that was in my college dining hall that they would open up for recitals, and one concert grand. I didn't play any that came close to what I remembered from years ago.

Today I decided to go to Classic Pianos. They have a huge selection, and I must have tried out 20-30 pianos. I'm not sure if I prefer a slightly brighter tone, but my two favorite pianos were a new Schimmel and a new Bosendorfer, both ones facing the wall (perhaps reflecting the sound more?). I felt that many of their pianos sounded too muted down for my taste, and it was hard to get good dynamic range. I think the Schimmel was the most expensive line and I didn't note the size (so confusing to have all the different lines!) and the Bosendorfer was a 6'3" that was a couple years old-- I greatly preferred the tone to the brand new one next to it. It was an extremely sensitive piano but at over $70k, way out of my price range! They have a little house adjacent to the store where they can bring 2-3 pianos for you to compare side by side in a home environment, and I also tried the two Schimmels in there. Brian asked me what I didn't like about the touch and tone and I couldn't give him a clear answer, just that it didn't feel quite right. I always knew that I'm particular but I didn't realize just how particular until today!

Since I still had some time, I also stopped at Portland Piano Company on my way home. I've been there a couple of times to attend master classes (as an audience member) and concerts, but have only played a few of their pianos. I got to play two new 7' Faziolis, a Fazioli concert grand, a Shigeru Kawai SK-3, a Grotrian, and an assortment of used pianos. My favorite by far was one of the 7' Faziolis that had been voiced more mellow than the one next to it, so that it was mellow but still very clear. I liked it very much but still didn't feel that it was the one (and good thing, given the $117k price tag!).

So, today I found out that I have extremely expensive taste and am very particular about what I like in pianos. I had expected to find many pianos that I liked and could narrow down to my favorites, but I just wasn't crazy about most of the ones I played. I did play a couple of old Baldwins (probably 1950's or 60's) that clearly needed some work, but in general I liked their touch and tone. I have a feeling that this will end up being quite a long search! Next time I go up to Seattle, I plan to visit some stores there, and also when I visit my sister in the Bay Area. Stay tuned smile
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2401496 - 03/22/15 11:44 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
AZ_Astro Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 560
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
I really enjoyed reading about your experience. I envy you the ability to play at a high level with the ear to go along with it.

I have only been playing for 3 1/2 years and have a long way to go. But, like you, I have made the rounds of local dealers and have been playing their high end and used pianos. I am able to discern the bell-like clarity of some of the high end Yamahas and distinguish them from the more complex timbre of the Steinways and Mason and Hamlins. But I am sure I still have a long way to go in developing my ear.

As for touch, I played a Kawai Shigeru a year ao (I think I've played six of them now) and was blown away at how easily I was able to convert my musical impulses into sound.

I was haunting the local Kawai/Schimmel dealer a month ago and played a new Schimmel that was quite spectacular in both tone and touch. I really loved playing it and the owner of the store said: "It sounds like you've found your piano." And, you know what, if I'd had a spare $77,000 in my pocket that might have been true! Ha ha.

So - I recognize your quandry and am delighted to hear your thoughts as you progress through your search. Best wishes and good luck in your search!


Edited by AZ_Astro (03/22/15 11:47 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2401514 - 03/23/15 01:13 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
Thanks, Astro! I thought the Shigeru I played was voiced way too mellow. They had another but the lyre wasn't properly attached so I didn't get to try it. The touch was pretty responsive but I had expected more due to its reputation.

Pretty excited to plan a piano hunting trip to Seattle in the next few weeks!
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2401535 - 03/23/15 02:38 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
AZ_Astro Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 560
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Sounds like fun. Enjoy the trip!
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2401578 - 03/23/15 07:45 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
BrianDX Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/14/14
Posts: 1493
Loc: First Town, First State
Hi twocats!

Really enjoyed reading about your piano buying experience.

Our experiences (about this time last year) were a bit different, although in the long run it kind of matches yours (I'll explain that in a minute).

We knew we wanted a nice grand, but thought an entry-level grand was all we could go for. Now due to having played on Yamaha C-series pianos before (including our teacher's beautifully restored 1972 C3), I'll admit we had bit of a bias for Japanese instruments. However, when we tried the GC1M both of us did not care either for the feel of the action nor the overall tone. The plastic feel of the keys also bothered us.

We tried other brands in the store (did not play the Steinways for price and other considerations) and was not making a connection.

Finally even though it was out of our price range we tried the C2X on the floor. Loved the feel of the action, the tone, the feel of the keys themselves, everything. And, after a few lucky breaks we were able to procure the piano, and we have never looked back.

The interesting part is this: A few months ago I finally had the chance to play a few high-end pianos (including Steinway). I was very surprised to find out these instruments (some that cost 3-4 times what our C2X cost) really didn't raise the bar for me at all. Were they beautiful looking and sounding, sure. Did they offer a higher level of performance to justify their much higher prices, not for me.

So yes, I'm more convinced than ever that the logo on the fallboard is one of the least important aspects of the buying process. I still think however, that the entry-level pianos we tried were noticeably lacking in many areas, and I'm glad we made a "once in a lifetime" purchase, rather than buying a "starter" piano.

Best of luck on your search.
_________________________
2013 Yamaha C2X | 2001 Yamaha M500-F ...
"Oh, that's the sanity clause": Groucho Marx
Curriculum: Faber PA Level 3B; Faber DA Book 2
Current: Whispers of the Wind (Faber); A Spanish Waltz (BrianDX) (OC)

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#2401625 - 03/23/15 10:23 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
Rich D. Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/27/01
Posts: 1306
Loc: Rehoboth Beach De. USA
I know the feeling of falling in love with high end pianos. Once I played my first Grotrian many years ago, there were few pianos, to my ear that could match it. In addition to the pianos you've already tried I would also put Sauter, and Steingraeber on your list. The Sauter Omega 220 is one of the best grands of that size I've every played and any size Steingraeber grand is extraordinary in every way musically. Steingraeber being probably the only piano that might draw me away from Grotrian. Good luck, and have fun in your search.

Rich
_________________________
Retired at the beach (well maybe not completely)

Anton Rubinstein said about the piano: "You think it is one instrument? It is a hundred instruments!"

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#2401686 - 03/23/15 02:13 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
Withindale Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/09/11
Posts: 2272
Loc: Suffolk, England
An expertly rebuilt piano could be the answer. When you are in Seattle you could visit Ed McMorrow at Mukilteo and see.
_________________________
Ian Russell
Schiedmayer & Soehne, 1925 Model 14, 55" upright
Ibach, 1922 49" upright (project piano)

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#2401696 - 03/23/15 02:25 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
Brian - I did try some Yamaha CX series and they were nice instruments! The Steinways that I played really did not excite me, although one sounded lovely when I heard someone else playing it.

Rich - I will try to play those-- think there is a Sauter dealer in Seattle. Except now I'll just be lusting after more pianos that I can't afford, haha.

Ian - thanks for the recommendation, Ed had already reached out to me. I can stop at his workshop on the way to Fandrich & Sons smile
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2410437 - 04/15/15 01:38 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
Just returned from Seattle! I must have played 40-50 pianos during this trip. Details to come, with a few pics as well. I was told that I have Perri Knize's sensitive hearing-- not sure if this is an affliction or a blessing, but I'm definitely on my own little Grand Obsession journey. I'm embarrassed that I ever felt that she was too fussy and obsessed!

SPOILER: I found my dream piano.

SPOILER #2: I can't afford it.
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2410455 - 04/15/15 03:55 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
michaelha Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 1237
Originally Posted By twocats
Just returned from Seattle! I must have played 40-50 pianos during this trip. Details to come, with a few pics as well. I was told that I have Perri Knize's sensitive hearing-- not sure if this is an affliction or a blessing, but I'm definitely on my own little Grand Obsession journey. I'm embarrassed that I ever felt that she was too fussy and obsessed!

SPOILER: I found my dream piano.

SPOILER #2: I can't afford it.


If you have the money tied up in 401K's or IRA's, you could transfer some of it to a self-directed IRA and "invest" in a piano.

I thought it might be borderline illegal, but this guy is doing something like that - but he's renting out his instruments.
https://www.trustetc.com/about/news/etc-in-the-press/new-york-times

And Mason & Hamlin is even spinning their pianos as "investments."
http://masonhamlin.com/investment

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#2410488 - 04/15/15 07:58 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: michaelha]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20381
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By michaelha
And Mason & Hamlin is even spinning their pianos as "investments."
http://masonhamlin.com/investment
Even though I own an eight year old BB and like it a lot, I find that ad appalling. It's just complete nonsense considering all pianos depreciate at least for the first 10-20 years.

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#2410532 - 04/15/15 09:46 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
PhilipInChina Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/19/13
Posts: 1663
Loc: China
If pianos appreciate in value why would manufacturers want to sell them?
_________________________
Currently working towards "Twinkle twinkle little star"

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#2410566 - 04/15/15 10:43 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: michaelha]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By michaelha
If you have the money tied up in 401K's or IRA's, you could transfer some of it to a self-directed IRA and "invest" in a piano.

I thought it might be borderline illegal, but this guy is doing something like that - but he's renting out his instruments.
https://www.trustetc.com/about/news/etc-in-the-press/new-york-times

And Mason & Hamlin is even spinning their pianos as "investments."
http://masonhamlin.com/investment

Oooooh, that just seems... unwise. This piano costs more than the condo I used to have in Austin.
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2410601 - 04/15/15 12:39 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: pianoloverus]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2942
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By pianoloverus
Even though I own an eight year old BB and like it a lot, I find that ad appalling. It's just complete nonsense considering all pianos depreciate at least for the first 10-20 years.
Yes and no. Because of the longevity of good pianos (upper middle & above), they outlast and outpace inflation. It's not a stock or bond, but it's not a typical depreciating asset like a car or appliance.

I find that most good pianos surpass the original purchase price ~ 12 years (exceptions for concert grands, exotic finishes, or below average condition). If the piano is well bought (with some reasonable initial discount), that time frame can be shortened to 7-10 years. There are always unpredictable forces like our recent, extended recession or changes to a brand's positioning that can alter this track. Truly, most mid-grade pianos follow this financial track as well.

Depreciation is always vs. price for new. Your piano will eventually pass your purchase price and will stay above it for decades before it reaches the point where it will need to be rebuilt. And at that point, the cost of restoration vs. replacement (because yours is a premium, performance level instrument) will make financial sense as well.
_________________________
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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#2410603 - 04/15/15 12:41 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: PhilipInChina]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2942
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By PhilipInChina
If pianos appreciate in value why would manufacturers want to sell them?
If art pieces appreciate in value, why would artists want to sell them? wink
_________________________
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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#2410634 - 04/15/15 02:08 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
michaelha Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 1237
Originally Posted By twocats
Originally Posted By michaelha
If you have the money tied up in 401K's or IRA's, you could transfer some of it to a self-directed IRA and "invest" in a piano.

I thought it might be borderline illegal, but this guy is doing something like that - but he's renting out his instruments.
https://www.trustetc.com/about/news/etc-in-the-press/new-york-times

And Mason & Hamlin is even spinning their pianos as "investments."
http://masonhamlin.com/investment

Oooooh, that just seems... unwise. This piano costs more than the condo I used to have in Austin.


I forgot to say, only if you have oversized retirement accounts, but definitely don't put your retirement at risk.

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#2410654 - 04/15/15 03:05 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1828
"Surpassing the original purchase price" does not make something into a good investment, even if that's what happens to high end pianos (which I have to say I doubt). There are several reasons for this:

1. Something may be a decent investment if it can later be sold for more than the cost basis. The cost basis of a fine piano is not the purchase price. You have to add sales tax, the costs of maintaining it, moving costs, etc., in order to generate the basis, which will be substantially more than the purchase price.

2. Something may be a decent investment if it can later be sold for more than the cost basis, taking inflation into account.

3. There is a difference between getting one's money out of an asset and selling an asset that is a good investment. Getting your money back (even if you could when you sell the piano) is not enough to make something into an investment.

4. You have to sell the piano in the right market to the right people. You cannot sell it to a dealer, because the dealer will need to buy it for some fraction of what the dealer expects to get for it. You cannot sell it at auction, because auction prices are low, and there would be huge premiums to pay the auction house in any event. You would have to sell it to an individual purchaser through some private mechanism, and I cannot believe that an individual would pay anything like retail value (even set at the used piano price point) for a used piano. A buyer in such a situation would need a bargain, or else he or she would go to a dealer, who can do things like provide a warranty.

Anyway, this is what I think.

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#2410680 - 04/15/15 04:16 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2942
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Considering that the best current savings rates lose money vs. inflation, even with the barriers to liquidating a piano, it's a less risky investment than, say, stocks & bonds, homes or even gold over the last few years.

I'm not saying it's a musician's retirement replacement (like with rare violins), but compared with any other product you can use on a daily basis, many pianos could be defended as a "safe" place to spend.

It's hard to believe that our perspective is not skewed by our lengthy recession. Even as the piano market recovers, it's still much smaller than recent historical averages. In the past with higher historical averages, reselling on the private market was also easier, faster, with less dramatic discounting required. I could point to numerous contributing factors including craigslist, retiring baby boomers, music education in schools, households spending priorities, etc.

The interest in learning to play an instrument remains high, and that innate desire keeps us in business.
_________________________
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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#2410691 - 04/15/15 04:48 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
I brought three pieces to audition pianos:

1) Chopin Ballade No 1, the piece that started it all (why I started taking lessons again, got a grand, looking for another grand...). The first page requires a *very* sensitive touch and there's a huge dynamic range through the piece, and also covers a good span from bass to treble.

2) Schubert Impromptu Op 90, No 3: I haven't actually worked on this piece but can sight-read it decently. I wanted to check the sensitivity to the delicate arpeggios in the right hand and make sure that I could play them softly without the notes disappearing. It turns out that this was a really great selection that brought out different colors in the pianos that I hadn't expected, and that I didn't hear in the other pieces. A few pianos that had very nice touch felt like they were "running away" with this piece, like I lacked as much control on the arpeggios as I'd like. Really glad I brought this.

3) Mozart Piano Concerto in E-flat Major: I used to work on this in high school. I threw it in the bag because it's a nice Classical piece that includes elegant, very typical Mozart bits-- and my sonatas book is too fat wink
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2410727 - 04/15/15 07:01 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
My first stop in Seattle was Classical Grands, where I was met by Steve. It's a part-time business (by appointment only) and I got the feeling that they may not continue after selling their remaining pianos. They had two 7-year old (new) August Forster grands and a German Feurich. He said that he had his tech focus on tuning the AF 190, since he thought the bigger piano would be my focus, but I found the treble a bit too harsh (it was up on a wooden "stage" area), so quickly moved down to the carpeted area where he had a smaller AF and the Feurich. I found the August Forster voice to be big, very clear and cheerful. It actually reminded me very much of my Petrof, maybe a tad more responsive in touch but not enough to upgrade. The Feurich was voiced very mellow, but I liked the touch more. Too bad I couldn't have the touch of the Feurich with the tone of the AF....

Next stop was... lunch! My cousin met us at The French Bakery in Bellevue, where I shouldn't have assumed that the salmon sandwich was smoked (it was a salmon salad) and should have gotten their delicious prosciutto sandwich instead. We pulled out of our parking spot as I looked up Classic Pianos on my GPS, and found that it was just two blocks from there! So we circled around the parking lot and parked again smile

I was very impressed by the prep at Classic Pianos in Seattle. You walk into a room full of Yamahas (which I didn't try), and can go through there to another room with their high-end grands and uprights, which included Schimmels, Bosendorfers (including two art-case ones), restored Steinways, and a couple of Yamahas too. I sat down at a Schimmel and started playing, and told my husband, "this is a nice piano!". The touch on all of the Schimmels was exceptionally smooth and buttery, with a good feeling of depth. Then I moved to the first Bosendorfer in the line and instantly fell in love. This is what people mean when they say a piano plays itself! It was completely effortless, with a beautiful singing, rich tone. It was such an utter joy to play, and I kept telling my husband how amazing this piano was (he has no musical ear whatsoever). And the best part was, we could take home that Bosendorfer 225 for just $165K.... I didn't like any of their other Bosendorfers that much, but went back and forth between the four Schimmels for a while. When I played the Schubert on the first one, I had the feeling that the arpeggios were running away from me, and only one of the Schimmels sounded richer and more controlled than the others for that piece. Turns out that the one I liked was a Konzert, while the rest were Classic. I really liked the touch on all those Schimmels but felt that the voicing was too mellow. Again, could be that they were new pianos, meant to be brightened over the next few years, but I prefer a "lightly broken-in" piano with a tone that I already like. (Also, I prefer used pianos to new for price reasons as well.)

Last stop of the day was Northwest Pianos. They had a used Sauter Delta that was supposedly modeled after Beethoven's own piano, which was really the ugliest piano I've ever seen. It didn't sound great, either, I want to say it reminded me of a harpsichord. I also played a brand new Sauter Omega, which the guy said needed more work by the tech, it didn't leave much of an impression on me. I was really excited to try the Sauter uprights-- I understand now what people mean by it being similar to a grand action, but I found the "springiness" strange and prefer the touch of a nice Schimmel or Petrof upright. They had a few Petrof uprights (I used to have a 125) and the touch of the 131 was really quite nice and responsive. I played a used Petrof III and the touch was very light and easy to play, much lighter than my Petrof IV, but I thought the tone of my piano was much better.

I felt after the first day that I was validated in thinking that I would know when I found the right piano. All I had to do was find one at about 1/5th the price wink
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2410798 - 04/15/15 10:34 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
michaelha Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 1237
Bosendorfer's have that effect on people. the SMP is $178K for the 225, I wonder what type of discounts you can expect for a Bosendorfer? Are they more/less non-negotiable or are they like Yamaha's where the street price is sometimes close to 50% off MSRP?

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#2410975 - 04/16/15 04:50 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: michaelha]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
Originally Posted By michaelha
Bosendorfer's have that effect on people. the SMP is $178K for the 225, I wonder what type of discounts you can expect for a Bosendorfer? Are they more/less non-negotiable or are they like Yamaha's where the street price is sometimes close to 50% off MSRP?

I only fell for that one Bosendorfer-- I've probably played about 10 now, including a concert grand. I did get offered a very good price for a 185CS (well below SMP) that I was requested to keep confidential, so honestly I have no idea about pricing flexibility. I'd definitely try to make it work if they were willing to knock off $100K though wink
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2411658 - 04/19/15 01:18 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
Day 2 of my Seattle piano search (now that I've gotten around to my photos):

We started the day by visiting LightHammer Pianos, Ed McMorrow's rebuilding workshop in Mukilteo. I'm sure Ed will see this; it was really nice to meet you, Ed! Hope you don't mind me saying that you're a character smile Ed was really quite a gracious host, and his rebuilds were definitely among the best I've played.



I started with the three Steinways at the right, which were nice but didn't grab me. I then played the little Baldwin at the end, which had a nice, rich tone. I liked it more than the Steinways, for sure. I then moved on to the 5'1" Chickering which may just be the prettiest little piano I've ever seen! It had an incredibly smooth and sensitive action, and a big and rich voice for such a little piano. I wanted to love it but the tone was too warm and "thick" for me, I guess I like a little more sparkle and immediate clarity. Ed said that the tone would brighten over time and that he knew what the result would sound like, but I could only refer to what was in front of me.





Ed also had a massive Chickering (photo didn't come out) that had a rich bass, but I thought the touch wasn't as nice as the little one. The thing that struck me the most about his pianos (especially on the Chickerings) was the sustain-- held notes were long and I really felt that they bloomed, like the sound quality would change over time. In contrast, my Petrof also has pretty good sustain but the note is just long, and I don't feel that there is a character to the sustain itself. Anyway, Ed has really nice pianos, the tone just wasn't for me. But if I was really limited in space I may very well have gone for that little Chickering....
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2411667 - 04/19/15 02:45 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14661
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Quote:
My first stop was Michelle's, where they have a consigned 5 year old Estonia 190 in pyramid mahogany for an unbelievable price. I have read so many great things about the recent Estonias, but it just wasn't for me, both in touch and tone.


Michelle's no longer an authorized Estonia dealer so they may have a vested interest to not show an Estonia in best prepped condition. Classic Pianos, their direct competitor in Portland,will.

Quote:
I got to play two new 7' Faziolis, a Fazioli concert grand, a Shigeru Kawai SK-3, a Grotrian, and an assortment of used pianos. My favorite by far was one of the 7' Faziolis that had been voiced more mellow than the one next to it, so that it was mellow but still very clear.


I don't blame you but you need to compare this 7' Faz against others of same size. We recently sold a 6'10 Estonia exactly against this model - and won.

But not always so lucky: we also lost one recently in same comparison.

It can go either way: not bad considering there's almost 70 k difference between the pianos...

When in bay area, do check out Kassman.

Russell has a way to shed unexpected light onto these type questions.

Plus he has a special gift to save $$ for his customers...

Norbert wink


Edited by Norbert (04/19/15 02:53 AM)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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#2411675 - 04/19/15 03:38 AM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: Norbert]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
Norbert, after playing so many pianos it's pretty clear to me that the Estonia at Michelle's was completely unprepped. However, the one I played at Classic didn't do anything for me either, it seemed too mellow and lacking dynamic range.

That 7' Fazioli at Portland Piano Company was my favorite of the pianos there but I didn't love it, I just liked it more than the others. But if you keep reading you'll find that I fell for a 7' Bosendorfer! I'm just playing all the pianos I can and seeing what I like, while pretending I don't know the price wink

I may very well be going to the Bay Area, both because my sister lives there and a crazy possible opportunity-- about a piano, of course. But more on that later, if it happens. I'd love to visit Kassman's store if I go.
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2411781 - 04/19/15 01:15 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
Continuing Day 2 of our piano search in Seattle (which actually ended up being Days 2 and 3...), we drove up to Stanwood in the afternoon to visit Fandrich & Sons. A little background here, I've been wanting to visit their workshop for about 10 years now, since reading about the Fandrich Vertical Action when I was researching on upright pianos (I'm a compulsive-research type person!). We lived in Austin then and a visit wasn't really practical.

Anyway, I was really excited to go see them! They live and work on a beautiful wooded property, and this was their piano showroom:



It was so clear when we visited Ed McMorrow that he loves his work, and the same is true for Darrell and Heather Fandrich. When I visited, they had a 5'5", a 5'7" (or maybe it was a 6'2"?), and a new 7-footer that they were still working on. They said that it had just come from NAMM and the tech there had voiced it, so Darrell was working on voicing it to his taste. They also had a 1980's W. Hoffmann (built in the Feurich factory), and a "demonstrator closeout" August Hoffman. They didn't have any of their vertical action uprights, but had a Bohemia upright.

I think I should make it clear that I was pretty exhausted by the time we got there. I hadn't been sleeping well for a couple of weeks, and although playing tons of pianos is fun, it can be tiring too. I had so many expectations for these pianos, but when I sat down the touch just didn't seem right. The two smaller Fandrich & Sons grands seemed like they had really deep key depth, and the key travelled down too fast. The 5'5" actually had a bigger and clearer voice than the bigger grand next to it (I found out later that it had different bridge technology, and Darrell said he could probably bring out the most from that little piano). I played the 7-footer, and although it had the richness that you'd expect from such a big piano, I could hear a lot of pinging overtones in the treble.

The W. Hoffmann was way too mellow and I found that the action wasn't sensitive enough. The 5'8" August Forster had a big, clear, cheerful voice and a nice touch, similar to the one that I had played at Classical Grands.

Anyway, it was at this point that I told the Fandrichs that the touch just wasn't for me (and I was sad to have to tell them) and they debated between themselves for a bit and concluded that I must like a heavier, more meatier touch than most other people. We took a tour of their workshop and they showed us an older tropicalized, metal-studded piano they were refurbishing (should have taken a photo!). At this point, we left to go to the cottage that we'd rented up in Mount Vernon so that my husband could enjoy a couple of days off that didn't involve pianos.
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2411786 - 04/19/15 01:42 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/15
Posts: 148
Loc: Portland, OR
The next day, we were enjoying the cottage when I got a phone call from Heather Fandrich. She said that the 7-footer definitely wasn't representative of their work since it was voiced by someone else at NAMM, and Darrell had spent quite a bit of time on more voicing, and would I return the next day on our way back to check it out and give my opinion? She didn't want me to leave with the wrong impression of their pianos.

So the following morning we went back to Fandrich & Sons before driving back to Portland. The 7-footer definitely did sound much better in the lower and middle ranges. Heather said that the treble still needed more work. I heard another pinging note and Heather fixed it on the spot. I went back and played the rest of the pianos. Maybe because I now expected a light touch, I wasn't so unnerved, though it was still not for me. The 5'5" piano had a beautiful tone and quite a big voice, reminded me of a well-prepped Steinway. And the slightly larger model was perfect for the delicate Schubert Impromptu, but not satisfying for the louder pieces. I played the W. Hoffmann again, and Darrell started voicing it when I said that it was too mellow for my taste. What Heather said was a perfect description of what I was trying to say-- she said that I must like a bit of "sparkle" in the tone. I think the W. Hoffmann did sound a bit better after Darrell voiced it.

Here's where it gets interesting: the Fandrichs started to tell me that half of it is the piano, and half of it is work by a good tech. They told me that if I mostly like my Petrof, have a good tech spend a day or two fine-regulating it, and then refine over many trips until it's the piano I want. So suddenly, after all that searching, maybe what I was looking for was at home and just needed its potential to be unleashed! I told them that I had an appointment to play a used Shigeru Kawai and also a Schimmel K189 back in Portland, but I would definitely consider their advice.

Here's Heather and Darrell with their 5'5" grand:



It's this afternoon that I'm going to check out those two other pianos, and I've been really mulling over whether I should keep the Petrof if neither of those pianos are "the one". In the end, I think I've played too many incredibly nice pianos to feel happy with what I've got.

There's also a (crazy) potential opportunity in CA that I'm not ready to talk about yet... part of me thinks that it's insane for me to consider and part of me is saying "yes! book your tickets now!". So let's see smile
_________________________
2001 Petrof 125 -> 2002 Petrof IV -> 1999 Bosendorfer 225 (meow!)

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#2411849 - 04/19/15 06:37 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
AZ_Astro Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/12
Posts: 560
Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Originally Posted By twocats


Here's where it gets interesting: the Fandrichs started to tell me that half of it is the piano, and half of it is work by a good tech. They told me that if I mostly like my Petrof, have a good tech spend a day or two fine-regulating it, and then refine over many trips until it's the piano I want. So suddenly, after all that searching, maybe what I was looking for was at home and just needed its potential to be unleashed!



That one comment about 1/2 piano and 1/2 tech is pretty insightful and helpful. It's the sort of comment that seems simple but has never been so succinctly articulated.


Edited by AZ_Astro (04/19/15 06:38 PM)
_________________________
Kawai KG-5. Korg SP-250. Software pianos: Ivory II, Ravenscroft, Galaxy Vintage D, Alicia's Keys, et al.


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#2411857 - 04/19/15 07:39 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: twocats]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2962
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
twocats,
Thanks for your visit and posting the pictures.

I was trying to discuss what you dislike in your Petrof to help guide you in any work that may be possible to bring you into accord with it. What you need to keep in mind is that pianos get brighter with use. I have found it far more efficient in delivering long term musical satisfaction to work with hammers that you bring up to tone. Your Petrof has hammers that must be brought down to tone and they do not hold up as well nor do they hold their voice as well long term.

At the time of your visit I had done no tuning/regulation or voicing on any of the pianos in my showroom for three months. This should give you some inkling of the kind of longevity work like mine provides. I have pianos I rebuilt thirty years ago that I still service and I have been able to experience how tone evolves with use and what kind of setup provides the best long term musical value.

There are no new pianos that contain the elements I provide in my rebuilds that produce this stability and response. If there were, I would sell them.

If what you dislike in your Petrof's tone is the somewhat "nasal" sound that all the ones I have played had-then you may need to replace the piano. This nasal tone quality is deeper in the piano than the hammers. Voicing the existing hammers or replacing them and tone regulating the entire piano can mitigate some of this tone quality, but it will always remain at some level.

Thanks for visiting!
_________________________
In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible

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#2411858 - 04/19/15 07:57 PM Re: Searching for a new grand piano! [Re: AZ_Astro]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 20381
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By AZ_Astro
That one comment about 1/2 piano and 1/2 tech is pretty insightful and helpful. It's the sort of comment that seems simple but has never been so succinctly articulated.
Trying to put some fractional amount on each seems rather silly to me. Why not just say the prep is very important or a great piano does not show its greatness without the work of a good tech. Actually, when dealing with tier 1 piano, some have said one of the main differences is the amount of factory prep they receive so the part about the importance of a post sale prep may not be so true.

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