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#257707 - 11/29/08 10:11 PM When to Upgrade? And Why?
MAK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/14/04
Posts: 153
Loc: New York Metropolitan Area
Here is a question for experienced pianists:

If a mere hobbyist has a first tier piano already, does it make any sense to upgrade a larger first tier piano? Is it necessary, or merely an indulgence? Example: an upgrade from a Bosie 175 to a 225 or larger Bosendorfer? What are the benefits of an upgrade on this level, if any? is it simply an emotional thing to want "bigger and better"? Over the years, I have upgraged stereos, cameras, cars. Why upgrade the piano? I am wrestling with this ( and I will need to explain it to my wife if I do it ;\)
_________________________
Michael

Bosendorfer 175

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#257708 - 11/29/08 10:35 PM Re: When to Upgrade? And Why?
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
(Generally) better action (longer keys), better control of ppp dynamics, and longer string speaking lengths. Longer strings means deeper tone especially in the lowest part of the compass. Basically, it is "the bigger the better". Though I'm sure a 170 Bosie is very nice!

The best thing to do if you decide on "bigger", is to play as many pianos in the general size you want as you can get your hands on.

Best decision I ever made was to get my S&S B. (Though my upgrade was from a CLP-230!!! )
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#257709 - 11/30/08 05:51 AM Re: When to Upgrade? And Why?
JustAnotherPianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/08
Posts: 798
Loc: United Kingdom
What you are paying for beyond 6' is essentially a more graceful piano. Bigger sound and deeper bass is not as important to an advanced pianist as this extra 'grace'. It is easier to produce a wider range of colours on a bigger instrument. You can get greater and more subtle effects with the pedal.
You have to pay a great deal for these things, especially with high-end brands.

One thing you must consider is the space in which your piano will live. Many people do not mind having a 7' or 9'in an average living room. Others find anything over 6' produces too much sound. Some would argue it is better to have a 6' piano with the lid open than a 7' piano with the lid closed.

I know many concert pianists with full-sized pianos, I know others with smaller pianos. It comes down to preference and budget.

My advice-be happy with your piano. If you feel you need more piano and have the budget to upgrade, go for it.

edit: another thought-there is great variation in quality between given sizes of any brand. One S&S B will have a wonderful complex sound while another might have a somewhat boring sound.
I have an exceptional, rather 'souped up' Hamburg O. I enjoy it more in every way than an average B.

If your current piano is exceptional compared to others of its own size and make, it might be difficult to find a larger model of the same quality. If you find one, don't hesitate to buy it.

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#257710 - 11/30/08 09:30 AM Re: When to Upgrade? And Why?
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2407
Loc: Olympia, WA
Just because you are an amateur doesn't mean you're not worthy of the best instrument you can afford. A friend of mine put it well: The only prerequisite to owning a fine piano is to love it!

In some regards it is more important for an amateur to have the best instrument possible. They more than anyone are looking for inspiration! Also because they likely have less time to spend at the piano it's all the more important to make it the highest quality experience possible.

i n d u l g e
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#257711 - 11/30/08 10:00 AM Re: When to Upgrade? And Why?
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
Go play one and see if you see the need. I am sure it was the same with a stereo or camera for you. I am sure you did not just go out and buy a better stereo or camera. As with the camera or stereo if you don’t see the need I would wait because your entire view of what you need from a piano may change with time as you get better and your choice may be entirely different.
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#257712 - 11/30/08 10:56 AM Re: When to Upgrade? And Why?
John Pels Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/31/07
Posts: 1263
Loc: Tomball, Texas
I think that it sort of depends on what your goals are as a player. I am accustomed to getting lambasted for recommending large pianos. The truth is, you can't get a large piano timbre on a small piano. You can't create the sustain, and you can't create a low tenor and especially bass that literally surrounds you. With the additional length in strings, you are invited to "play" with time and rubato and pedal effects to a greater degree especially in the big romantic literature. If you are not an advanced player, the advantages are likely lost. It doesn't mean that almost anything won't sound better on a larger instrument. If you are doing a cost/benefit analysis though, I doubt that the average or beginning player could ever justify it. In car engines, the oft cited quote is "There's no substitute for cubic inches!" In pianos the same is true. When I set about upgrading from a baby-grand 18 years ago, I knew what I had to have and nothing would substitute. I have had no regrets whatsoever since my first large acquisition. Pathetic creature that I am, it motivated me to buy more than one. Buy the biggest darned piano that you can and enjoy the heck out of it!

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#257713 - 11/30/08 11:33 AM Re: When to Upgrade? And Why?
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by MAK:
Here is a question for experienced pianists:

If a mere hobbyist has a first tier piano already, does it make any sense to upgrade a larger first tier piano? Is it necessary, or merely an indulgence? Example: an upgrade from a Bosie 175 to a 225 or larger Bosendorfer? What are the benefits of an upgrade on this level, if any? is it simply an emotional thing to want "bigger and better"? Over the years, I have upgraged stereos, cameras, cars. Why upgrade the piano? I am wrestling with this ( and I will need to explain it to my wife if I do it ;\) [/b]
We regularly have recent vintage, so called "tier 1" pianos ( both European and American ) traded in by adult enthusiasts. Sometimes they are getting a larger piano, but just as often, they are getting the same size or even a smaller size. Sometimes, they are even trading in their recent vintage tier 1 piano towards the exact same brand and model with us, only the piano they are now getting was rebuilt and/or customized by PianoCraft.
In these scenarios, the reason is usually that the person's taste and skill have developed and they begin realizing that while their very well made tier 1 instrument might be a fine piano for someone, it is not right for them. It is also may be that particular model has design flaws that did not become apparent until the person had the instrument for a while. It is even the case that the particular instrument they bought was just a dog. We see this fairly often, and it is the main reason that I so strongly recommend that people looking at expensive instruments have access to someone who plays the piano at a very high level to help them in the decision making process. If that person is not the actual buyer, it can be their teacher, or a friend, or even someone at the shop where they are considering a piano ( if they trust the people at the shop enough, and if the people at the shop actually play well enough )

The common observation on this site that you can't go wrong with any of the top tier instruments could not be further from reality in my experience. While most of the top tier instruments are made well enough with good quality materials, the way in which they sound and feel are all quite different. Some models have major design issues that less experienced or less insiteful players wont understand until they have owned the instrument for a while, while an excellent and accomplished pianist will pick up on these things fairly quickly if they audition the instrument with a variety of repertoire in order to really find out the performance capabilities of that instrument. Some brands make pianos that are very repertoire specific. They sound terrific in 18th century music and jazz, but they fail in the more romantic repertoire of the mid to late 19th century.

To answer your question, if you are not satisfied with your current instrument, and you can afford another that you would enjoy more, by all means, get it! Just be aware that there can be many legitimate reasons you are not entirely satisfied with your current instrument even though it was quite expensive initially.

By the way, many of the less expensive instruments outperform the more expensive instruments, especially if they are beautifully prepared, although they probably wont have as nice fit and finish work.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#257714 - 12/01/08 08:29 AM Re: When to Upgrade? And Why?
MAK Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/14/04
Posts: 153
Loc: New York Metropolitan Area
What I gather from the tenor of these comments is that an upgrade to a larger grand is appropriate for an accomplished musician. For an intermediate player, such as myself, the benefits may not be apparent. Nevertheless, I think I will visit a piano dealer and play some pieces on a variety of pianos and see for myself. Thank you for your comments.
_________________________
Michael

Bosendorfer 175

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#257715 - 12/01/08 10:22 AM Re: When to Upgrade? And Why?
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3334
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
 Quote:
Originally posted by MAK:
What I gather from the tenor of these comments is that an upgrade to a larger grand is appropriate for an accomplished musician. For an intermediate player, such as myself, the benefits may not be apparent. Nevertheless, I think I will visit a piano dealer and play some pieces on a variety of pianos and see for myself. Thank you for your comments. [/b]
Hi Mak,

I didn't mean that at all. I have said many times before that it is the adult amateur ( read that as beginner, intermediate, advanced adult returning to lessons after many years etc ) that benefits the most from owning a great piano.
Bigger is not always better. It depends on the specific instrument, the player, the use it will get, and the acoustic of the room where it will live.
Best of luck! I hope you find your ideal piano, and enjoy the search as well. Keep us posted.
_________________________
Keith D Kerman
PianoCraft
Rebuilding & Sales of vintage and pre-owned Steinway and Mason & Hamlin
New Steingraeber, Estonia, Charles R. Walter, Brodmann, Feurich
www.pianocraft.net
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianocraftchannel/videos

keith@pianocraft.net 888-840-5460

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#257716 - 12/01/08 10:38 AM Re: When to Upgrade? And Why?
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
 Quote:
Originally posted by MAK:
What I gather from the tenor of these comments is that an upgrade to a larger grand is appropriate for an accomplished musician. For an intermediate player, such as myself, the benefits may not be apparent. Nevertheless, I think I will visit a piano dealer and play some pieces on a variety of pianos and see for myself. Thank you for your comments. [/b]
Not exactly.


To quote LJC's (a member who owns a gorgeous Hamburg Steinway D from 1968) words from a thread about upgrading to a grand:

 Quote:
When you want one, its necessary.
Best answer to this type of question I've ever heard!
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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