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#241048 - 04/20/08 03:35 PM A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Hello all,

I'm currently in the market for grand piano and would like input from any advanced players that have recently been searching for and played instruments in the 10k to 20k range. I'm possibly interested in replacing a very musical upright (have asked a similar question in tech forum to get some tech input) and now would like to hear from players and perhaps others knowledgeable in the field.

Has anyone of recent bought an amazing (or amazing for the price) grand piano under 20k? I would like to know if everyone in this price range has had to make consessions, or if there are a few players out there that truly love their "cheaper" grands, no offence intended.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241049 - 04/20/08 03:39 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Oh, and to clarify, I'm interested in both new and used. Thx
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241050 - 04/20/08 04:11 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
Casalborgone Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/04
Posts: 1046
Loc: San Francisco Area
Since you are only a short distance from these dealers and you are a player, why not get some hands-on experience with the pianos they sell which meet your price and performance criteria:

www.fandrich.com

www.pianoman.ca

www.heritagepianos.com
_________________________
Mike
Registered Piano Technician
Member Piano Technicians Guild
Not currently working in the piano trade.

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#241051 - 04/20/08 04:57 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Thanks Mike,

I have been looking at different brands already, both new and used, but was interested in what others had to say about their experience in finding that special instrument in this price range. I've heard that some of the newer Chinese grands are pretty great instruments according to the dealers, but was wondering what the players thought. I am slowly forming my own opinion about them but thought it would be useful to hear from players that actually purchased a piano in this price range and what they may currently think about the purchase, etc.

Also, I have yet to visit Fandrich (in Seattle I believe) but may do so if I have the time to get away.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241052 - 04/21/08 03:52 AM Re: A question for pianists and others
Prospero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 305
 Quote:
Originally posted by newguyonforum:
Hello all,

I'm currently in the market for grand piano and would like input from any advanced players that have recently been searching for and played instruments in the 10k to 20k range. I'm possibly interested in replacing a very musical upright (have asked a similar question in tech forum to get some tech input) and now would like to hear from players and perhaps others knowledgeable in the field.

Has anyone of recent bought an amazing (or amazing for the price) grand piano under 20k? I would like to know if everyone in this price range has had to make consessions, or if there are a few players out there that truly love their "cheaper" grands, no offence intended. [/b]
Hello newguy,

If I were looking for a piano in that price range, I would definitely consider a commissioned rebuild. Often a rebuilder will charge much less if you give him seed money and trust him to rebuild a high-quality piano for you.

For example, a relative of mine purchased an old Baldwin grand, medium-sized, from a rebuilder, with the understanding that the rebuilder would restore it to tip-top playing condition. The soundboard and harp were intact, and they were refinished. He got new strings, an entirely new action, and new dampers. The cabinet was not refinished, but it was polished nicely. The hinges and pedals and etc. were replated.

When he received his Baldwin, it played like new, and looked quite good. The whole deal, for well under 20K. He has now enjoyed it for quite a few years, and it still feels and sounds fabulous. I love to visit his house to play the piano.

Hey, it may not be as good as my Steinway, but it is still a magnificent instrument. For example, his Baldwin sounds and plays way better than any Chinese grand, in my opinion. No comparison.

I have seen similar results many times in my four decades of piano playing. In my opinion, a great rebuilt instrument beats a budget new instrument hands down.

Mason and Hamlin is another excellent brand for a commissioned rebuild: objectively it is probably as good as a Steinway, but the name on the fallboard keeps the price down.

The moral of the story: High quality pianos have an extremely long life, so commissioned rebuilds can give you a lot of piano for the money.

Something to remember: if you keep the price down on the commissioned rebuild by accepting imperfect cabinetry, you could wait several years until your budget allows you to pay the 6K or so that it would take to restore the cabinetry to like-new condition. In this way, you could pay for your piano in two stages, and, eventually, you would have an instrument that plays great and looks great, too.

A word of caution: If I were you, I would take the comments from the tech forum with a large grain of salt. In my experience, most piano techs will automatically counsel you to prefer a new piano over an old one, and--no matter what they say--the real motivation behind their advice is that they are much more familiar with newer instruments and therefore have an easier time servicing them quickly and moving along to the next job. Hey, if I made my living as a piano tech who goes house to house, I would probably want everyone to have new pianos, because then I could make more money, rocketing from one job to the next. (No offense to all those techs out there.)

One point you might want to consider seriously: if you can increase your budget limit by about 20 or 25 per cent, then you can get way more piano for your money. Your budget is below a threshold point, in my opinion.

For example, you could get a brand new, medium-sized Estonia grand for maybe 25-27K. That is a huge step up from anything under 20K from China or Japan.

Recently I saw a nice Steinway M on the Rick Jones Pianos website. Mahogany finish and something like 28K. You would pay much more for a new M, to put it mildly. The M is an extraordinary instrument for the home, in my opinion. At 5'7" it will never blast the roof off your house, yet it is plenty big enough to produce gorgeous tones across the keyboard; and, unless you are a professional concert pianist, you will never outplay it.

The Country Piano website features a number of rebuilt Steinway Ms for only 26K apiece. This is not just reconditioning, either: we are talking about a new soundboard, new pinblock, completely new action, hammers, dampers--the works, including a fabulous new finish on the cabinet. In my opinion, it is like getting a brand new Steinway, except that many of them are better than new Steinways, because they built them better in the vintage era.

Many musicans agree on that point. Recently Rick Jones sold the late Wanda Ladowska's piano--a 1942 Steinway B. She used it for at least one of her recordings, and it is still a fabulous instrument today. In the middle of his career, Vladimir Horowitz himself played a vintage 1910 Steinway D. Great pianos have long lives.

Incidentally, the Country Piano website has multiple videos of every piano on their site, and I noticed that recently they have improved the sound quality of their recordings. So you can see and hear the piano being played, and they can ship one to Canada for you tomorrow morning.

So there you go. If I were you, I would borrow an extra 6K and order a Steinway M from Country Piano, with a gorgeous Mahogany or Redwood finish.

Yet another possibilty that might be worth exploring: Show the Country Piano website to some other reputable rebuilders, and ask them if they can give you a better deal. Maybe another rebuilder with an already-restored M would knock a little off the Country price and get you closer to your current budget limit. Pianos are not selling in this economy, so you can make a great deal. If you offer, say, 24K, then a rebuilder might find it difficult to say "No." Definitely a buyer's market right now. On the other hand, 26K is an exceptionally good price, so it may not work. Not to mention that piano dealers are desperate for money right now, so, from a certain perspective, offering them less on a really great sale price might seem a little bit cruel: kicking them while they are down, taking advantage of their predicament, and so forth.

However that may be, remember that your piano will sit smack dab in the middle of your living room for decades, and, if you are like most piano owners, then, over the years, an extra 6K will seem trivial. If you can possibly swing it, you will be mighty glad that you did not fiddle around with cheapo goods and "concessions." Treat yourself to The Real Thing and enhance the rest of your life with heartmelting sound, mind-reading action, and stunning beauty.

Just my opinion.

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#241053 - 04/21/08 10:45 AM Re: A question for pianists and others
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1258
Loc: Tomball, Texas
I have proffered this many times but still prescient. You can typically buy an SF Baldwin (7') used in that price range in decent condition. There was an SD (9') on Craigslist in Houston a few weeks back for that sort of money. There is now I believe an SD on Ebay for around $15K. These can be awesome pianos and at the present time very undervalued. At those kind of prices there should be enough slush money to fully regulate/voice either, rendering a REALLY fine instrument.

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#241054 - 04/21/08 11:49 AM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Thank you Prospero for your detailed advice, and also a thank you to John Pels for the tips.
I suspect what you are saying about the price range may be true, and that getting a rebuilt may be the best option.
It's interesting that no one else has come forward with how happy they are with a new piano under 20k. Do these people exist?
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241055 - 04/21/08 11:58 AM Re: A question for pianists and others
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 4187
Loc: Vancouver B. C. Canada
Prospero;

Quote:

“A word of caution: If I were you, I would take the comments from the tech forum with a large grain of salt. In my experience, most piano techs will automatically counsel you to prefer a new piano over an old one, and--no matter what they say--the real motivation behind their advice is that they are much more familiar with newer instruments and therefore have an easier time servicing them quickly and moving along to the next job. Hey, if I made my living as a piano tech who goes house to house, I would probably want everyone to have new pianos, because then I could make more money, rocketing from one job to the next. (No offense to all those techs out there.)”

Comment:

Could you please take the time to explain to myself and further other technicians here that do the very same kind of work, how this is so? What absolute proof are you offering as to these claims?

Oh yes that’s right. You are not a technician. You do not own a shop, or complete any restorative work of any kind. How does jumping from job to job help make any more money? Working on new equipment…. There is not much wrong with it….. how do you make any money restoring it? This is a fallacy ok?

I am not sure where the claim that 6K will be the final cost to restore a cabinet comes from. What size of Grand are we talking about here? How many Grands have you restored the cabinet work on there?

I wonder if you are aware. A very good period piece was offered to this person at a price range where they could complete further work to their satisfaction and still come in around 15K. However this person was un-able to see this point even though they were directly informed of this.

“A man only hears what he wants to hear and dis-regards the rest”…. Simon and Garfunkel “The Boxer”

No offense taken and none intended. You do not have the full story of this person’s predicament.

Newguyonforum attended my shop on Saturday.

This instrument was offered through communication on the Piano Technicians Forum.

I would invite you to review the thread started down the hall by the very same individual a couple of days ago here

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/3/3705.html

Hopefully this may provide a clearer picture of the situation.

cheers......
_________________________
Dan Silverwood
www.silverwoodpianos.com
http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
http://www.facebook.com/SilverwoodPianosDotCom
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."

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#241056 - 04/21/08 12:12 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
Prospero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 305
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Pels:
I have proffered this many times but still prescient. You can typically buy an SF Baldwin (7') used in that price range in decent condition. There was an SD (9') on Craigslist in Houston a few weeks back for that sort of money. There is now I believe an SD on Ebay for around $15K. These can be awesome pianos and at the present time very undervalued. At those kind of prices there should be enough slush money to fully regulate/voice either, rendering a REALLY fine instrument. [/b]
There are definitely bargains out there in the private seller's market--and there are horrible mistakes out there, too.

If you find a Baldwin SF in reasonably good condition in your price range, well, then, to be sure, that would be a lot of piano for the money. In a good scenario, let us say you find a private-seller SF that appeals to you, and you hire a local technician who says it just needs regulation and new hammers. In the end, you might come in under the upper limit of your budget, and enjoy a great piano. I have played a number of SFs, and they are fabulous--if they are in good condition.

In other words, Mr. Pels is describing the kind of option that can save money for an experienced, knowledgeable, patient buyer who is ready to shell out some money up front for independent professional assistance.

On the other hand, watch out for dogs: they bite your wallet hard. The private seller market is no place for newbie buyers.

For example, an abused SF with a cracked soundboard and some loose tuning pins and etc. might look like a real bargain at first, but any piano in such condition will be garbage until you sink serious money into it. Then your bank account screams in agony as the Bargain Piano transmogrifies into a real Prince of Darkness Money Pit Special.

When you already own the battered piano (instead of buying from the rebuilder), often a rebuilder will demand top dollar for a new pinblock and etc. because he knows you are stuck with a dog. It is no fun when you were once the buyer with all the power, and suddenly the shoe is on the other foot and you need help from a guy who is desperate for every dime he thinks he can persuade you to pay.

Worse still, sometimes a used piano from a private seller is impossible to restore to good condition, no matter what name is on the fallboard: many an unfortunate piano has spent its tormented life in the family living room in direct sunlight with a heat register drying it beyond what any wood can take. Then no veterinarian on earth can resuscitate your dog, and you lose every dime you sunk into him. Rough, rough!

Buying from a reputable rebuilder will prevent the Hellish Nightmare Wasted Thou$and$ Scenario. A good rebuilder will have a warranty and a reputation for standing behind their product, doing everything reasonable to ensure that your investment makes you happy, not miserable. Never count on such treatment from a private seller.

In any case, if you choose to go the bargain-hunting route in the private market, it is a very good idea to hire an experienced local technician to check any piano thoroughly before you buy it. It would also help if you know a lot about pianos. Otherwise, go for the warrantied product from a rebuilder with a Reputation.

Good luck!

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#241057 - 04/21/08 12:32 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
LMay500 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/19/08
Posts: 16
Loc: Gig Harbor, Wa.
Hi Newguy--

In answer to your original question--

I bought my Kawaii[/b] studio grand about 15 years ago. I am still in love with it! I had a technician put some shims in to keep the soundboard stable and it doesn't even go out of tune.

The soundboard alteration was not necessary--the technician was just experimenting without charging me because I had sent him so many clients. Good thing I send him these customers because I don't need him anymore. (ha ha)

Oh--by the way, the Kawaii grands--the smaller ones like mine (6ft) are within your price range.

Best Wishes for finding your new piano,
Lynne
_________________________
Lynne May
May Music Studio
http://www.may-studio-music-lessons.com

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#241058 - 04/21/08 01:14 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Thanks for the tip and story, Lynne. I'll take a closer look at the Kawaiis being offered around here.

And Dan, to be clear, it is difficult to buy a piano on any promises, as you can well imagine. If the Heintzman was ready to go and up to the condition that you said it could be, then of course I would take this piano into consideration for my search. However, I've seen enough older pianos in my travels to know what they sound like, but would like to hear and see the equivalents after they have been refurbished/restored/etc.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241059 - 04/21/08 01:15 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6176
[off topic]

May be some people think "Hawaii" when they spell "Kawaii," and I've seen this many times in many people's posts... but, seriously, Kawai has only one "i", not two.

It's true that most people reading "Kawaii" here will understand that you really mean "Kawai," but if you type "Kawaii," the search engine will fail to show your post when some one searches for Kawai.

So, uhm, for the sake of future readers who might want to search the archive, perhaps we can try to stick to Kawai with one "i"? ;\)

[/off topic]
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#241060 - 04/21/08 01:41 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
Prospero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 305
 Quote:
Originally posted by Silverwood Pianos:
Prospero;

Quote:

“A word of caution: If I were you, I would take the comments from the tech forum with a large grain of salt. In my experience, most piano techs will automatically counsel you to prefer a new piano over an old one, and--no matter what they say--the real motivation behind their advice is that they are much more familiar with newer instruments and therefore have an easier time servicing them quickly and moving along to the next job. Hey, if I made my living as a piano tech who goes house to house, I would probably want everyone to have new pianos, because then I could make more money, rocketing from one job to the next. (No offense to all those techs out there.)”

Comment:

Could you please take the time to explain to myself and further other technicians here that do the very same kind of work, how this is so? What absolute proof are you offering as to these claims?

Oh yes that’s right. You are not a technician. You do not own a shop, or complete any restorative work of any kind. How does jumping from job to job help make any more money? Working on new equipment…. There is not much wrong with it….. how do you make any money restoring it? This is a fallacy ok?

I am not sure where the claim that 6K will be the final cost to restore a cabinet comes from. What size of Grand are we talking about here? How many Grands have you restored the cabinet work on there?

I wonder if you are aware. A very good period piece was offered to this person at a price range where they could complete further work to their satisfaction and still come in around 15K. However this person was un-able to see this point even though they were directly informed of this.

“A man only hears what he wants to hear and dis-regards the rest”…. Simon and Garfunkel “The Boxer”

No offense taken and none intended. You do not have the full story of this person’s predicament.

Newguyonforum attended my shop on Saturday.

This instrument was offered through communication on the Piano Technicians Forum.

I would invite you to review the thread started down the hall by the very same individual a couple of days ago here

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/3/3705.html

Hopefully this may provide a clearer picture of the situation.

cheers...... [/b]
Okay, as you say, no offense intended or taken.

You said there is not much money in restoring new equipment, so my reasoning is unsound. Well, if you re-read my post, you will notice that I said in my experience most techs find it easier to "service" newer actions, not "restore" them. So the alleged "fallacy" you identified does not exist.

I have nothing against techs who prefer to service new actions. If a tech works fast and charges, say, $150 a tuning, then of course he makes more money rocketing to the next job, because he tunes more pianos per day. Gee whiz, that is pretty darn obvious. It is also how a lot of technicans make their living. Such technicians might be willing to do the kind of quick repair that a new action can need, but the last thing they want is to be slowed down by a time-consuming technical problem on an older instrument that they are unfamiliar with.

I am not knocking those guys. I am just reporting what they have told me--and that is precisely what I should do, no matter what you say. That is precisely what this forum is for.

As I have said many times before, I am speaking from my experience, not as a technician or rebuilder. No matter what your insinuations--and perhaps you did not mean to suggest this, so my apologies to you--many people come to this forum because they also want to hear the perspective of experienced pianists and buyers and others, not just technicians and sellers. It would be a sad day indeed if piano world descended into a place where only professional technicians and sellers were allowed to speak.

Yet some technicians and sellers--not you personally, but some others on the forum--keep trying to intimidate everyone else into shutting their mouths. Most unbecoming of them. I wonder if they realize how bad this makes them look in the eyes of many potential customers?

Personally I love to hear the non-professionals speak on this forum. It gives me a perspective that I cannot get in a piano shop. I like it, and I hope they keep those comments coming.

I mentioned that in my experience cabinet restoration usually costs around 6K. I said this because within the past year I was looking for a rebuild of a mid-sized grand, and I heard a price around 6K for cabinet restoration for several different pianos that I was considering from a number of rebuilders around the country.

For you to ask how many cabinets I have restored is obviously irrelevant. Anyone can get a rough idea of the typical cost of cabinetry work just by asking. That is obvious.

Of course if you happen to pick a piano with special cabinetry work, such as carvings and the like, it might cost more. That is also trivially obvious.

You ask how large the piano is. Certainly I was not expecting NewGuy to get a 9-foot concert grand with a budget limit of 20K, and so, as I was discussing a mid-sized grand, I did not bother to mention that larger cabinetry can cost more. This is yet another trivially obvious answer to another of your questions. (I appreciate that most people have little experience criticizing opinions, but nevertheless if we keep talking about trivial details, we will never finish.)

Now, you certainly guessed right that I "did not have the full story of this person's predicament." I had not seen the other thread until you mentioned it, and I thank you very much for pointing it out.

Now that I have read the other thread, I hope you will agree that my second post (which I wrote BEFORE I saw your post on this thread) is a ringing endorsement of reputable rebuilders like you. Good luck on making a good sale!

Since, as you say, you have offered NewGuy a good period piece well under his budget limit, and the sale originated directly from this forum, well, then, NewGuy certainly has had all the advice he could ever need.

As you have guessed, again correctly: had I known NewGuy had so much help already, I would not have taken so much time to write a detailed answer, since probably much of what I said is just a repeat of what he has already heard from others. So again I thank you for pointing out the other thread to me.

Again, no offense intended or taken regarding any of this. I am just explaining my opinions. Take them or leave them; it's a free country.

Again, good luck on making a good sale!

And NewGuy, you have now enjoyed a great deal of good advice on more than one thread on this forum. I hope you feel confident that you can now make a well-informed purchase. Good luck whatever you choose to do!

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#241061 - 04/21/08 03:05 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Thank you again Prospero. Yes, the advice on here has proven useful to some degree, but I would not say that I have all the answers I am looking for yet. The reason for the original post on this forum was to hear from advanced players of grand pianos purchased under 20k. To be honest, the information about how to look for a piano, and from whom, although useful wasn't what I was searching for. A reply from Anne with the Kawaiiii (how many "i"s?) and one from birchy were the only two that came so far from customers. And as far as birchy goes, I'm still uncertain whether he is an advanced player.

So, maybe if I wanted to be more blatant about what I would like to know is has any advanced pianist bought either a Brodmann, Heintzmann or Hailun in the last while and chose this instrument over other used/reconditioned models etc, because they truly felt that the new piano that they bought proved to be the best in tone/touch/etc. OR, have people found that for this market range, that the only way to get a truly decent piano is to get a bit lucky with a used Baldwin/Kawai/Petrof/etc, because otherwise, like me they have found that in general grands in this range, though very nice in some respects, do not make me want to play them any more than my current piano does.
I believe I stated on the other forum that I was looking to replace an upright Bell (my fourth instrument, so not a family heirloom) and had found that nothing in my price range seemed to justify changing at this point. So, after getting excellent advice from techs on that forum I realized that I do have options of rebuilding (and have options of buying rebuilt grands), but since I have yet to hear an older instrument that actually sounds better than what I have I decided to post looking for "satisfied customers" to see if they exist.
Of course, I know that there must be people happy with their choices that have not heard of PW, but it now seems a bit surprising that those that are on here appear either to be reps and techs, and cannot really answer my initial question as a "satisfied customer" so, like I mentioned, the response has been extremely small, which makes me question (if I were to base my entire buying decisions on PW input) whether I should pursue either course of action of buying new or refurbished.
At this point I invite any dealers to email me to tell me what I may be missing. As you can probably tell, though, I'm not really that easy to please. \:\)

I have to say this forum has been a really positive experience so far, and thank you all for your consideration and thoughtful replies.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241062 - 04/21/08 03:59 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
birchy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 323
Loc: Vancouver
 Quote:
Originally posted by newguyonforum:
A reply from Anne with the Kawaiiii (how many "i"s?) and one from birchy were the only two that came so far from customers. And as far as birchy goes, I'm still uncertain whether he is an advanced player. [/b]
If you heard me you would know... \:D

To non-players, I am extremely advanced. Real players, however, listen to my playing with a benevolent smile...

Your comments indicate that you need confirmation from others who you would consider "advanced" before you lend too much credibility to the assessment of any piano. Fair enough. I have had a cross-section of people play and listen to my Steigerman SP178 (made by Hailun). Both musicians and non-musicians have remarked on how nice it sounds. One friend who played it and offered her opinion has taught piano for 25 years, has her ARCT and plays a C. Bechstein. She is a person I would characterize as being an extremely careful shopper, especially when it comes to pianos. She played the first few notes and turned to me with a look of surprise on her face and said "It has a wonderful tone!"

I suppose in the end that your own status as an advanced player will help you have the confidence to choose the piano which best suits you and your preferred repertoire.

May I speculate a bit more on some dynamics that may be part of your decision making challenge? There was during my search a frequent objection to all Chinese pianos put forward by competing dealers. It went something like this: Sure they sound great and look great now, but who knows how long will they last, they are too new to really know. The answer that presented itself to me as I considered those points was that many of the components of my piano were respected European products (Roslau strings, Dehonit pinblock, Renner hammers etc.) and the entire piano was backed by a 12 year guarantee. As long as you have confidence that the piano company (and hopefully the dealer) will be around for the next dozen years, that concern is met. I had that confidence and I haven't regretted it.

Not sure if it is a factor in your choice, but there is also a fear among established musicians that their instrument will be sneered at by other musicians if it does not have a name on it with a certain cachet. That was a very secondary factor for me, but (as noted above) when a friend of mine with a lifetime of advanced training played my piano, her response was extremely positive, and her approval only increased as I detailed the technical specs that made that sound possible.

Of course, the type of sound that was so important to me may not impress you at all. Other makes will also offer quality components and generous warranties etc. and can be evaluated on those terms.

The choice is a big one, particularly when playing is an important part of your life. But the fear of choosing wrongly, is misplaced I think, or at least gets too big in our minds. In the end, it is up to you to decide what is important to you, and when you choose the piano that meets those criteria, you have nothing to regret.

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#241063 - 04/21/08 04:26 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
LMay500 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/19/08
Posts: 16
Loc: Gig Harbor, Wa.
I'm still laughing about my extra "i". Sorry, Axtremus! I do know the correct spelling--just wishing I were in HAWAII (it's cold here)! Anyway, you are right about the search engines--although Google would probably say "did you mean KawaI?".
_________________________
Lynne May
May Music Studio
http://www.may-studio-music-lessons.com

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#241064 - 04/21/08 04:30 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
Prospero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 305
 Quote:
Originally posted by newguyonforum:
Thank you again Prospero. Yes, the advice on here has proven useful to some degree, but I would not say that I have all the answers I am looking for yet. The reason for the original post on this forum was to hear from advanced players of grand pianos purchased under 20k. To be honest, the information about how to look for a piano, and from whom, although useful wasn't what I was searching for. A reply from Anne with the Kawaiiii (how many "i"s?) and one from birchy were the only two that came so far from customers. And as far as birchy goes, I'm still uncertain whether he is an advanced player. [/b]
Well, perhaps I was not very clear about this, but I, too, am a customer, not a tech or rep, and I am an advanced player. I am sure I play much better than you. \:\)

In the past I have owned grands under 20K, though now I have a Steinway A rebuild. Personally, I wish I had never bought a Yamaha or Kawai or etc. I wish I had gone after the Steinway rebuild right away.

One more point you might consider: the BHA Pianocenter website recently had a Steinway X-player grand. Apparently it is still available. That model is a vintage Steinway (they do not make them any more) with an unused area between the strings and keyboard where there used to be an old-fashioned player mechanism.

Here is what I have heard over the years about Steinway X-player grands: The case is about the same length as a Steinway "B" (about 6'10" or so) and the strings are about the same length as a Steinway "A" (the case on an "A" is about 6'1"-6'2"; I am not sure exactly how long the strings are, and I have no measuring stick handy to measure mine). These X-player grands are said to be extremely popular amongst music teachers and professional musicians, because it allows them to get a Steinway grand at a price a starving musician can afford. The Steinway X-grand tends to be devalued by the general public because people do not want to give away an extra foot of space in their living rooms, and because an X-grand tends to be less attractive visually than an ordinary grand.

Here is my personal experience with Steinway X-player grands: the larger cabinet and "A"-length strings combine to produce a unique sound that I enjoy a great deal. The strings are a bit further from the player, so, when I played them, I felt that I could play louder than usual without hurting my ears: Steinways are highly valued as concert instruments in part because they are great for producing superb tone at high volumes. (Of course they are great for producing superb tone at any volume.)

In the past I have twice made an offer on a Steinway X-player grand. Both times I was too late, and the instrument was snapped up by a music teacher. One teacher added it to her studio. The other took it into his home, where I am certain he is still enjoying it today.

Both of those X-players had the original Ivories, and had especially superb touch. (I wonder if they have "B-length" keys? Maybe a tech could answer that question.)

You might check out that BHA Pianocenter website which has a video of their "professional pianist," Greg Norrod, playing their X-player quite nicely. Click on the link that says "Click For Video" on the $8500 Steinway grand:

http://pianocenter.com/used-steinway.asp

It is tough to get a Steinway grand in good condition at such a low price, but an X-player makes it possible.

Good luck to you, whatever you choose!

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#241065 - 04/21/08 05:13 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7177
Loc: torrance, CA
 Quote:
So, maybe if I wanted to be more blatant about what I would like to know is has any advanced pianist bought either a Brodmann, Heintzmann or Hailun in the last while and chose this instrument over other used/reconditioned models etc, because they truly felt that the new piano that they bought proved to be the best in tone/touch/etc. OR, have people found that for this market range, that the only way to get a truly decent piano is to get a bit lucky with a used Baldwin/Kawai/Petrof/etc, because otherwise, like me they have found that in general grands in this range, though very nice in some respects, do not make me want to play them any more than my current piano does.
I would interpret this to mean that you have played new Brodmann, Hailun, and Heintzmann pianos, and that they don't make you want to play them. If that's the case, I wouldn't think the opinion of those who had decided to buy one of those brands would or should change your mind. It's better to just rule them out.

The only new pianos that I can think of that are significantly different from the ones you've mentioned, are very musical and priced under 20k are the William Knabe grands from Korea. Prices fluctuate a lot for SMC products depending on where you live, but I suppose that a Knabe 58 grand would fall in your price range and a Knabe 64 might as well. I'm not suggesting you will like them though...just that they are musical, have a warm and distinctive tone, and are in the price range you suggested.

You mentioned used Petrofs. A few months ago it was possible to obtain old-stock new Petrof grands for significantly less than 20k. I don't know if that is still the case.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#241066 - 04/21/08 08:26 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Prospero, thank you for that clarification about the fact that you are a player. I didn't actually tell you that my name was Lang Lang though, did I? ;\)

Thank you also for the link to the BHA Piano centre. I ought to check out how much it would be for the import taxes and all into Canada. If my search continues into the summertime I will definitely make a road trip to (Ohio, is it) to see their shop. I'm a bit reluctant to buy without playing an instrument, whether or not it has been fully inspected, whatnot, simply because the sound may not be what I'm looking for. So, hopefully if I haven't found anything by that point that the Steinway will still be available. You've given me great pointers so far, Prospero, and I again thank you.

Birchy, thank you again for more supplemental information. In fact, I have played a few Steigerman Premiums that I've enjoyed their sound. The trouble remains that my Bell still sounded far better in the bass, and I couldn't justify spending money on something only to get less bass resonance than what I'd like. I have to say, though, that the Estonias (not a plug, really) have tempted me into maybe looking at having a beautiful tenor and treble section and forgetting about the bass, but I'm not really in the position to spend above 20k.

And Turandot, actually I've been most impressed with a Heintzman 6'2" in Victoria, but it was only half prepped, so I am waiting until a later date to hear that or another one again. And despite my cynical nature I'm surprised how easily I am swayed by what others might say about how happy they are about their purchases. It makes me take stock of what my expectations are, and can make me take a more realistic view about what I really OUGHT to want; something along the lines of saying to myself "you know, if all of these other great players are completely happy with these (insert brand here) pianos, perhaps I should give them a more thorough playing, and not think that I deserve something better."

As for the Brodmanns, well, of the 4 different 6'1" (or is it 6'2"?) I really liked them the first time I played them, but then when I played them again after hearing other pianos I realized that they were lacking a certain something. Perhaps they were not prepped to the degree that could've made the sale?

I'm still waiting on some other new pianos to arrive in various shops around here, but am also keeping my eyes open for the used market.
Thanks for the mention of the William Knabe, too. I'll look into those. And as for the Petrofs, I haven't seen them anywhere around here. If anyone has any leads, PLEASE let me know!
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241067 - 04/21/08 09:27 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7177
Loc: torrance, CA
 Quote:
despite my cynical nature I'm surprised how easily I am swayed by what others might say about how happy they are about their purchases. It makes me take stock of what my expectations are, and can make me take a more realistic view about what I really OUGHT to want; something along the lines of saying to myself "you know, if all of these other great players are completely happy with these (insert brand here) pianos, perhaps I should give them a more thorough playing, and not think that I deserve something better."
Newguy,

I would strongly advise you to trust yourself and not be swayed. Regarding all these other great players, it is always possible that their preferences are dictated by personal taste in sound and in the type of music they play. In some cases, the 'great' may be a matter of opinion as well. Your notion of playing the Brodmanns more than once and playing the Heintzmann again later is a good way to go. Forming your own opinion from repeated auditioning is the ticket to satisfying yourself long-term.

I understand what you're saying about the lack of pizzazz in a Brodmann or Estonia, but I wouldn't be that concerned about the lack of a thundering bass. Most pianos when placed in your home have a bigger bass than was apparent in a large showroom. I'd be more concerned with the action's ability to give you what you want from your touch.....especially the ability to play quietly without effort. Many shoppers are quite surprised by the power residing in their chosen piano when it arrives home. In many cases they immediately look for ways to tone it down. I can't ever remember reading about a new piano owner who felt a need to ratchet up the power once the piano was in the home environment. If the action can give you control over the full dynamic range, you'll appreciate that in the long run more than the quick exhiliration of a big bass. (BTW, that old Bell of yours must have been on steroids!)
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#241068 - 04/21/08 09:42 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Turandot,

Actually, to clarify, for whatever reason I thought the Estonias had amazing tone qualities in both the 5'4" and the 6'2", but if I were choose a smaller grand (and give up the bass) I'd go with the small Estonia. But of course, I haven't really compared this to anything in a comparable price range so I'm probably a little ignorant about other beautiful sounds to be had at that price--it was only because the Estonia and Brodmann were side by side that I decided to try them.
And yes, another clarification: The bass on a piano is important for me not for the volume, but the actual colour at all dynamics, and my upright Bell is actually muffled with pillows between the back braces in order to tame the sound a bit. Without them the piano is very resonant, and much louder/ringy than I would like it to be.
The reason for looking for grand is in fact to be able to play with more finesse (ie pp,ppp) when I want without being held up with the action or having to use the (I forget the name) "quiet pedal" which brings the hammers closer to the strings.

So, I do know that the grand will be potentially louder (and softer) but that "quality" of sound that I currently have is what I'd like to keep, or hopefully improve on, not sacrifice.

I wonder if I should let people know of the horrific experience I had today in a local piano store in my search to try as many quality pianos as I can...

And thanks again for your advice about not to be swayed by others opinions. Of course, if I take this advice, wouldn't I then be not taking it at the same time...? (humour attempt...)
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241069 - 04/21/08 10:47 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
Prospero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 305
 Quote:
Originally posted by newguyonforum:

I wonder if I should let people know of the horrific experience I had today in a local piano store in my search to try as many quality pianos as I can...[/b]
Definitely share it: they are a lot of fun (we really eat these up) and it can be educational for other buyers and sellers alike. Please.

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#241070 - 04/21/08 10:55 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7177
Loc: torrance, CA
 Quote:
And thanks again for your advice about not to be swayed by others opinions. Of course, if I take this advice, wouldn't I then be not taking it at the same time...? (humour attempt...)
I think that's not such a conundrum really.
Here's an example....

I say to you: "Pay no attention to anyone's opinion but your own".

If you follow my advice or don't follow it, the result will be the same. \:D
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#241071 - 04/22/08 12:27 AM Re: A question for pianists and others
birchy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 323
Loc: Vancouver
Newguy I'm enjoying hearing about your dillemmas and second thoughts - it's always more entertaining when someone else is doing the suffering. \:\)

I think Turandot's point about the sound in the smaller spaces of your home is a very good one. It is a bit of a curiosity to me that you talk on one hand about the particularly strong bass section of your Bell, and want to replicate just that, but at the same time confess that you were stuffing pillows behind the piano to tone it down.

Don't you wish sometimes you could "preview" pianos in your home environment to see what they would sound like there?

I guess if you are willing to pay the moving fee to send a piano back and the store has a 100% satisfaction guarantee, you can try out as many as you like! \:D

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#241072 - 04/22/08 01:00 AM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Ok, for those that may think this is interesting:

Out of respect to this business it shall remain nameless, but I hope to God that it goes under soon or drastically changes its way of doing business.

After reading Larry Fines book again last night, and upon the advice of a few different people on and off the forum I decided that what I needed to do was to play as many pianos that I could find that would be of interest to me, and to also play those that may be out of my price range.

So, having lived in the same city for the last 10 years, but not having shopped for a piano here in the last 9 I decided to look in the yellow pages for local piano shops to see which ones I could visit on my way home from work.

Of all the stores that I knew about before (about 5 in the city) only 2 were left (there are a number in adjacent cities though), and one did not have an address, but only a phone number. Yes, very sad, I know, and apparently indicative of many other cities as well.

In any case, I decided to visit the remaining piano shop that had an address. I really wish I hadn't though.

The minute I walked in I knew that I ought to have just walked out again, but somehow felt compelled to at least stay a few minutes out of respect to try some of the pianos.

The owner was very nice. That wasn't the problem. The amount of pianos available was apparently quite large. I say apparently because I only played probably 20 notes in total on four instruments before I knew that this was a bad place. A very bad place.

Yes, I know I'll never be a good suspense writer. Stop complaining and read on if you must.

What made this a terrible place was that, like I said, the owner was nice, and even offered me some free advice about why I should stay away from Chinese pianos, why Kawai and Yamaha are actually the same piano (and why I really should then choose Yamaha if I understood they are the same...) ???, and also stated they were a piano technician. It was this last statement, probably meant to instill confidence in me, that shocked and then really disappointed me when I asked about which pianos had been prepped in the showroom and were ready to play.

I had, before talking to the owner, played a total of 10 notes on 3 different pianos. All of them were completely out of tune, and had the tonal quality of a piano that had been completely trashed. In those 10 notes, I don't recall one unison in tune, nor any single note that didn't have at least one discordant string. Lids and fall boards were stuck on all three, and most had at least two or three warped keys. I assumed they were used. Well used? Abused?

Anyways, trying to keep an open mind I thought perhaps it was some freakish luck of the draw that I chose to play the three worst pianos in the store. Thus the question I posed to him:

Which piano have you recently worked on that would be best representative of your regulation/tunings that you do to your pianos?

I was shown a bigger Kawai that I had previously missed playing. He said it was tuned and regulated the week before. Long story short: What the f***?

It was as bad as, if not WORSE than the others!

At that point I didn't know what to do or say, so I punched him and took his wallet. Ok, just kidding. But I did feel so sorry for him, and all of his past, present and possibly future customers.

What made me really sad though was that there are innumerable people in this city that have probably bought, rented, or played on these pianos, most probably being kids, and most likely have the impression that these utter pieces of junk that were in this shop were representative of what a piano is, and that this owner is providing a good service to the community.

Anything that he said to me after playing the piano just made less and less sense given that I couldn't take anything he said about what I should be looking for in a piano, whatnot.

I left the store and quickly sought shelter in this forum.

The end.

Still seaching for a piano...
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241073 - 04/22/08 01:12 AM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
Birchy,

No, it's not the volume of the bass, but the richness of the tone. The pillows take care of the extra volume but don't mask the quality of that sound. And just for arguments sake, let's say the pillows did tamp down the bass resonance; that would make the Bell that much more astounding, no? If the bass in a 6' grand sounds inferior to a pillow-stuffed 100 year old instrument, what does that suggest?
Was the bass quality something that you really were looking for in a piano before you bought it? Like I said, the Steigerman Premiums were appealing to me, and I could see why many people may like them, but for whatever reason I couldn't see past the bass dilemma.

Oh, and I have found superior bass in a 7' new Baldwin. I actually almost preferred it to a 9' Fazioli that I also tried. One can dream, no? But in the case of the Fazioli, I wonder what it would sound like if there were similar sized pianos in the showroom for comparison?
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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#241074 - 04/22/08 05:08 AM Re: A question for pianists and others
Prospero Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/14/07
Posts: 305
 Quote:
Originally posted by turandot:
[QUOTE] I wouldn't be that concerned about the lack of a thundering bass. Most pianos when placed in your home have a bigger bass than was apparent in a large showroom. I'd be more concerned with the action's ability to give you what you want from your touch.....especially the ability to play quietly without effort. Many shoppers are quite surprised by the power residing in their chosen piano when it arrives home. In many cases they immediately look for ways to tone it down. I can't ever remember reading about a new piano owner who felt a need to ratchet up the power once the piano was in the home environment. If the action can give you control over the full dynamic range, you'll appreciate that in the long run more than the quick exhiliration of a big bass. [/b]
All my experience supports these remarks one hundred per cent.

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#241075 - 04/22/08 12:38 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
birchy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/06
Posts: 323
Loc: Vancouver
Newguy, thanks for clarifying that it is not just volume but tone of which you speak.

There does seem to be a difference in tone between pianos of the same make and model, which complicates things further.

I may not be as much of a bassaholic as you. I did notice a big difference in the lower register qualities of the 5'10" (178) vs. the 5'4" (168?).

I sympathize with your frustration with lousy preparation in some shops. I can't understand how some dealers expect customers to pay big dollars on instruments into which the dealer has put minimal effort. Is it because the individual involved actually has no clue as to what they are aiming for, or is it because they are just lazy? Not sure.

On the other hand, when it comes to demands on quality you're the kind of guy who has passed on a piano you say you prefer to a 9' Fazioli.

Now that is a fussy customer!!! \:D

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#241076 - 04/22/08 07:01 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
teclado Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/13/08
Posts: 21
newguy,

I also recently had an experience like this. My wife has violin lesson at a local music shop. She arrived early and decided to look at the pianos. She saw they were having a sale on Kawai including an RX-3 which was being sold for half the list price. That got me into the store to try it. What a lousy experience. None of the pianos I tried was in tune. Nothing like an out-of-tune piano to throw cold water on enthusiasm. We tried another store and had a much better experience.

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#241077 - 04/22/08 07:37 PM Re: A question for pianists and others
scepticalforumguy Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/08
Posts: 1475
Loc: Lower Mainland, BC
ya, it can be pretty ugly. I can guarantee that I'll never be back to that place.

One thing that did occur to me, though, was that the particular place I went to was more (according to the owner) into renting the pianos, rather than selling them, and this was to apparently explain the rough condition of them. Either way I don't buy it.
_________________________
Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.



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