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#301169 - 11/07/04 12:55 PM WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
mamma2my3sons Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/03
Posts: 746
Loc: Midwest of the great USA
I don't know enough about piano's to have much of an opinion. I've heard that Kranich piano's (generally) speaking are not good, also old square grands. Also have heard that there are many PSO's (piano shaped objects) out there.

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#301170 - 11/07/04 01:15 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
RachFan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 1341
Loc: Maine, U.S.
I cannot think of anything much worse than the promotional Whitney console piano manufactured by Wurlizer. It was of the poorest quality construction, could not be tuned accurately, and sounded dreadful.

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#301171 - 11/07/04 01:39 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Steve Miller Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 3290
Loc: Yorba Linda, CA
Marantz has to be a contender.
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#301172 - 11/07/04 02:27 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
The problem is there are so *many*.

There were so many different names used by Aeolian and put on their Memphis-built spinets, many of them once-proud American companies.

There were some really bad Chinese piano brands at one time, with auto-failing pinblocks. Early Koreans imports were about as bad. And don't get me started on what has come out of Macau into the U.S. (yes, Macau.) Very American-sounding names, though.

There was the infamous Belarus.

There are the various names on pianos out of the Kaman catalogue. Or a dealer could have his own name put on them, or any name of his choosing. (many low-end makers offered that option and still do today.)

There was the infamous "Grand" spinet.

And so many other spinets that would never in their lives play like a decent piano ought to- leaving the factory with such sloppy workmanship and parts of bad quality that the best advise to the owner is to just get rid of it because it really can't be fixed up.

There were those plasticy thingies coming out of, was it, Ireland? Lindner, Lindeman, something like that.

I even remember a German-sounding grandthat came out of Brazil- the soundboard literally broke- fell apart. And not from climate, just from being crappy wood or some severe design flaw.

Gosh a little memory jogging would probably produce at least 10 more widely sold examples of true trash-barrel JUNK pianos that I have personal experience with. Worldwide it's probably many times that number of brands deserving "trash" designation. I'll let some other people have "fun" remembering.

There is a lesson in here though. These pianos were all designed to meet consumer demand for LOW PRICE. To a huge segment of the consumer population, the virtue of decent looks and low price are driving the demand for this type of piano. So don't be a sucka and think you've somehow gotten a 'better value' because you found a cheap piano. That's a fool's game. Be smart and do your homework.

Regards,

Rick Clark
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#301173 - 11/07/04 02:41 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
JoeB Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/14/03
Posts: 671
Loc: Northern California
ANY[/b] piano being sold at an antique store.
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#301174 - 11/07/04 08:20 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Norbert Offline
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Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
We recently serviced a Steinway which was one of the *worst* pianos ever.

The owner claimed he was told [by the original salesman in his native country....] that by buying "the best" it wouldn't require him to tune it.

Ever.

Not even once in 26 years. \:\(

Well, it sure wasn't the *worst* afterwards...... ;\)

Norbert
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#301175 - 11/07/04 08:59 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Larry Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 9217
Loc: Deep in Cherokee Country
 Quote:
Originally posted by RachFan:
I cannot think of anything much worse than the promotional Whitney console piano manufactured by Wurlizer. It was of the poorest quality construction, could not be tuned accurately, and sounded dreadful. [/b]
Whitney pianos were not built by Wurlitzer, they were built by Kimball. I also disagree with your assessment of the quality of construction. It was built pretty much the same way most all US built verticals of the day were built. The console model wasn't all that bad, considering its price point. The spinet was awful, but so were all the other spinets being built by other manufacturers.

I've seen many Kimball Whitney consoles that were 25+ years old that were serving their owners just fine.
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#301176 - 11/07/04 10:38 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
velopresto Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/05/04
Posts: 605
Loc: Santa Clara, CA
Of modern pianos, I would have to agree that Whitney pianos, from a musical standpoint, are among the worst pianos I have ever tried to tune. But they ARE fairly solidly built for what they are...

And Lindner pianos....plastic everything! I don't really know HOW bad they were, because I've never seen one that worked.

But they pale in comparitive putridity to birdcage pianos--overdamper pianos--made mostly in England before 1900. They were cheaply made, and had NO metal plate. And the dampers didn't work so well, either. Impossible to tune because of the, er, flexibility of the frame, they get my choice as worst pianos ever.

So, if you happen into an antique store and see a beautiful upright with "inlay" and candleholders on the front panel, do not be tempted. Don't even take one if a "friend" offers it to you and says, "it just needs tuning." I'm here to tell you that square grands, Whitneys, Grands, Marantzes, and Curriers are absolute gems in comparison. Well, they might be better than a Lindner, but I've never seen a functioning Lindner.

Dave Stahl
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#301177 - 11/09/04 01:59 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
pianoplayer61 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/05/04
Posts: 10
Yes Rick I and my sons have do our homework.
So I have a Fazioli F-183 and each of my sons have a different grand now.One have a Bosendorfer,one have a Bechstein and one have a Steiway, All grands.
But!!! for my grandson I have buy a Perzina from China and that's realy a good piano!I have visit the Perzina companie and saw the German builders made this piano's.
After what I have see, I think in the future there are more Chinese piano sellers.Because not everyone can buy expensive piano's.Sorry for my English but are you'r Dutch or France or Italian better?

Best Regards
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#301178 - 11/09/04 02:56 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
mikhailoh Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 4288
Loc: Cincinnati
(posted on another thread but very appropriate here)

pianoplayer61.. I have really tried to accept you are who you say you are and take you seriously, but with each and every post you pump up these Perzinas as a great piano.

You say you own Bosies, Bechsteins and Faziolis, and I think maybe a Steinway you gave away to a son if memory serves - some of the world's finest and most expensive instruments. You give your son a Steinway, but for your beloved grandson you bought a Chinese upright.

Too much for me. I know you have denied this, but on a gut level I believe you must be in the industry related to Perzina somehow. Your broken English seems to me contrived. At times your writing is exceptionally clear and well structured, fine spelling, then you get back into the almost comedic misspellings. Read aloud it sounds like you picked up the English from a bad sitcom's idea of a Hispanic maid.

I sincerely hope I am wrong, but my instincts tell me I am not.

PS: Why do you hide your email? People can send you email but not know whom they are sending it to?
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====

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#301179 - 11/09/04 04:55 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Kincaid Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/24/04
Posts: 476
Loc: Portland, Oregon
I thought I read once that no less than Mr. Fine himself pronounced that Kincaid was "arguably one of the worst pianos ever made". I was a "proud" owner of a Kincaid and, yes, that is how I chose my moniker. I do not play the piano (violin for me) but my wife and daughter have in the past. A recent move was the impetus behind selling the Kincaid and I am now searching for a higher quality upright for the twins to begin lessons.
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#301180 - 11/09/04 05:28 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
PIANOS007 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/04
Posts: 413
Loc: POMPANO BEACH FLA.
THERE ARE SEVERAL CONTENDERS
1. THE (HORRIBLE) HORUGAL (SAMICK)MID 1970'S
2. THE ORIGINAL PEARL RIVER MID 1980'S
3 AEOLIAN VERTICALS MADE IN MEMPHIS 1970'S
4 ANY PIANO MADE BY KINCAID (GRAND PIANO CO) ANY YEAR
5 ANY BIRDCAGE
6 ANY SQUARE
6. ANY PIANO MADE IN THE FORMER SOVIET UNION
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#301181 - 11/09/04 05:35 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
divadeb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 677
Larry,

I have a Whitney/Kimball upright in my house to this day. It has been taken care of and has survived five moves. It holds a tune brilliantly, even though it's 35 years old. It was the piano my parents bought for me to start lessons on when I was a kid. I didn't ever think I would own a "real" piano, and to be honest, I was pretty happy to have the little piano I had. It still gets a lot of use, even with a new grand in the house. My kids have to practice when I'm teaching. The techs who have worked on it over the years have always been amazed at how well it held pitch and tune. I have to have that, it can't just be in tune with itself, it has to be up to pitch because we're singers. That piano sure has been a good one for me.
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#301182 - 11/09/04 05:43 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Alex Hernandez Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 1967
And the winner is......... Jesse French!

I believe this pso to be the product of a secret society intent on the destruction of the piano as we know it.

Plastic damper levers and elbows anyone?
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Blüthner USA, LLC

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#301183 - 11/09/04 06:13 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Rick Clark Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/04/03
Posts: 1810
Loc: North County San Diego CA
I can't believe I (and others here) have forgotten the lovely Brambach grands- those little ones from maybe the '20s and '30s.

Now everyone groan together in recognition! anna ONE, anna TWO, anna.......

Regards,

Rick Clark
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Rick Clark

Piano tuner-technician

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#301184 - 11/10/04 04:49 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
JIMBOB Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 1323
Loc: South Carolina
Pianos made by Marantz with the name Grand Piano- poor construction, bad bridge notching, bad bridge pinning, use of wood scraps for pedal rods, lousy scaling;

Hastings- used green wood in pin blocks- squeaky case parts; loose pin blocks

Sangler & Sohne or Spangler & Sohne- broken hammer butt chords- terrible stringing
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#301185 - 11/10/04 10:48 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Eric F Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 518
Loc: La Quinta, CA
 Quote:
Originally posted by PIANOS007:
THERE ARE SEVERAL CONTENDERS

2. THE ORIGINAL PEARL RIVER MID 1980'S
[/b]
True story. I had sold a Pearl River upright in the mid-1980s in Ebony Satin. I went on the delivery with the delivery guys. It was misting outside and the piano got slightly damp. When the delivery guys set the piano in place and stepped away both of their shirts were stained black from the cheap satin finish. Needless to say, the new owners were not impressed. I never sold one of them again.
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#301186 - 11/11/04 02:18 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
stein-wegge the Vth Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/21/04
Posts: 152
Loc: Los Angeles
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Norbert:
[QB] We recently serviced a Steinway which was one of the *worst* pianos ever.

[/The owner claimed he was told [by the original salesman in his native country....] that by buying "the best" it wouldn't require him to tune it.

Ever.

Not once in 26 years.]
How low in pitch was this piano and what country did it come from......was it even tunable at all?
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#301187 - 11/11/04 02:55 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
bachophile Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 742


mozarts piano, probably sounded awful.

but when i was looking once for a tennis racket, i was told a real pro can beat u with a broom.

i imagine the same is true for pianos, yes we all love perfect tone, but a pianist can play and write on a toy and make wonders...
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#301188 - 11/11/04 05:58 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6186
 Quote:
bachophile wrote: "but when i was looking once for a tennis racket, i was told a real pro can beat u with a broom.

i imagine the same is true for pianos, yes we all love perfect tone, but a pianist can play and write on a toy and make wonders..."
I tend to agree with your that the skill of the pianist usually outweighs the "quality" of the piano in making music. A few of us forumites went to an "old piano museum" or sort and got to play restored old pianos from the days of Mozart and Beethoven et al -- and you're correct, the "pianos" from those eras are quite limited in their ranges of expression compared to modern pianos. ;\)
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#301189 - 11/15/04 09:01 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
tritone Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/16/04
Posts: 189
Loc: Alberta
Bachophile,

There is an interesting anecdote which Kenny Werner tells in Effortless Mastery about how Bill Evans was at a muscians house party which had a notoriously bright piano (make not specified but definitely implied). A few other great professional pianists were there and the piano was giving everyone migraines. Then Bill Evans sat down and made it sound warm and sweet. He had the touch, and sensitivity to reel in the instrument.

There are greats and then there are GREATS.

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#301190 - 11/15/04 11:59 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Norbert Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 14139
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
Steinwegge:

Taiwan.

Oh, there's one more:

"Connover Cable".

At least the ones with plastic whippens,jacks and flanges.

All crumbling like powder after some 30 odd years.

[But still not making good cake..... \:D ]

Norbert
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Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
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#301191 - 11/15/04 04:12 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why?
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3876
How bout adding Sojin to this sorry list? The product of a large Korean Conglomerate who thought they could build anything.
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#1986996 - 11/15/12 09:00 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
music-P Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/22/12
Posts: 60
Loc: Philippines
you forgot weinstein and sons

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#1987035 - 11/15/12 10:53 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 558
Winter and Company.
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#1987119 - 11/15/12 02:26 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Norbert]
AndyJ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/29/12
Posts: 219
Loc: Near Dayton, Ohio USA
Originally Posted By: Norbert
Steinwegge:

Taiwan.

Oh, there's one more:

"Connover Cable".

At least the ones with plastic whippens,jacks and flanges.

All crumbling like powder after some 30 odd years.

[But still not making good cake..... laugh ]

Norbert


Was Connover Cable the Irish company that made even the keys out of plastic? I shared a house in Toronto for a while in the mid-Seventies with a guy who had one of those disasters. The action, such as it was, seemed to be holding together. But the keys' breaking one after another doomed the poor thing.

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#1987132 - 11/15/12 03:10 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Joe Ravita Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 26
Loc: Pittsburgh Pa
We took a Belarus on trade years ago and my tech left a note on the piano that "Any inference that this is a musical instrument is criminal "
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#1987145 - 11/15/12 04:14 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Rickster Offline


Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 8569
Loc: Georgia, USA
I’m thinking the old “Conover” (as in Frank Conover) pianos were pretty well built and nice pianos; I owned an early 1900’s Conover upright that I was impressed with.

If my memory regarding my previous research is correct, the Cable piano company bought out Conover and produced the “Conover-Cable". And, the old “Cable” pianos, though not top of the line, were decent.

Most any brand that has not been cared for or serviced regularly can be a bad piano. Many lesser known brands that are well prepped by a competent tech can be decent instruments.

Based on my limited experiences regarding acoustic pianos so far, (the last 6 or 7 years… a drop in the bucket, I know) I think it is prudent to stick with the better known, well established, brand names. I have a Yamaha, a Baldwin and a Kawai in my home. I like them all.

Rick
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#1987157 - 11/15/12 04:38 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Rickster]
Jebaraj Samuel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 34
Loc: Tamil Nadu, India
Both these Pianos are some of the best to go for, I recommend anyone planning to purchase, to go get it!

********************************** - Selling 20k
********************************** - Selling 14k

***Edited by moderator... direct advertising.
You can advertise your pianos here on PW in the "Pianos for sale" section, not on the open forums.***


Edited by Rickster (11/15/12 08:27 PM)
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#1987276 - 11/15/12 10:46 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: velopresto]
thetandyman Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/27/12
Posts: 443
Loc: Indiana

But they pale in comparitive putridity to birdcage pianos
COMPARITIVE PUTRIDITY!!! There's a great statement. Can I use these words again? Love them! Thanks velopresto. I would guess this statement has never been voiced in such eloquence, Kudos!
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#1987286 - 11/15/12 11:43 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Ummmm.... did anybody notice this thread was started in 2004?!?
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#1987295 - 11/16/12 01:24 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Alex Hernandez]
Peakly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/10
Posts: 213
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Alex Hernandez
I believe this pso to be the product of a secret society...


Haha! I thought my dad was the only one who called bad pianos a pso. I've never heard anyone else do that until now. I probably need to get out more.

Mychal

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#1987296 - 11/16/12 01:28 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Monica K.]
Peakly Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/12/10
Posts: 213
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Ummmm.... did anybody notice this thread was started in 2004?!?


Wow! I didn't. And the last post before today was November 15th, 2004. Exactly eight years ago to the day.

Mychal


Edited by Peakly (11/16/12 01:28 AM)

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#1987591 - 11/16/12 07:12 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Monica K.]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2338
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Monica K.
Ummmm.... did anybody notice this thread was started in 2004?!?


Things are kinda slow around here, Monica.

Did I miss it, or did no one mention Suzuki?
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#1987615 - 11/16/12 08:45 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mikhailoh]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19472
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: mikhailoh
(posted on another thread but very appropriate here)

pianoplayer61.. I have really tried to accept you are who you say you are and take you seriously, but with each and every post you pump up these Perzinas as a great piano.

You say you own Bosies, Bechsteins and Faziolis, and I think maybe a Steinway you gave away to a son if memory serves - some of the world's finest and most expensive instruments. You give your son a Steinway, but for your beloved grandson you bought a Chinese upright.

Too much for me. I know you have denied this, but on a gut level I believe you must be in the industry related to Perzina somehow. Your broken English seems to me contrived. At times your writing is exceptionally clear and well structured, fine spelling, then you get back into the almost comedic misspellings. Read aloud it sounds like you picked up the English from a bad sitcom's idea of a Hispanic maid.

I sincerely hope I am wrong, but my instincts tell me I am not.

PS: Why do you hide your email? People can send you email but not know whom they are sending it to?
PianoPlayer's post may be intentionally comedic or just a put on, but I can't imagine it's intended as a Perzina plug. It's so outrageous that no one intending to seriously plug Perzina would post like that.


Edited by pianoloverus (11/16/12 08:47 PM)

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#1987810 - 11/17/12 01:01 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
PL,

Maybe you didn't catch Monica's post above. You are responding to an 8 year old discussion, and giving it currency again. PP61 hasn't posted here since this thread was young.
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#1987842 - 11/17/12 02:29 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
rysowers Offline
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Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2407
Loc: Olympia, WA
As a technician, I have to chuckle at the idea of this thread. I believe that the vast majority of piano players have way too small a sample size of the instruments mentioned to make such broad generalizations about quality.

The best companies occasionally make a lemon, and the worst companies occasionally accidentally make a good one!

By far, any piano's performance relates more to the care and service it receives than what name is on the key cover.


Edited by rysowers (11/17/12 02:30 PM)
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#1990170 - 11/23/12 10:27 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
TomazP Online   content
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Registered: 11/17/09
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Karl Strauss! - Horrible!

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#1990305 - 11/24/12 12:27 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
musica71 Offline
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Registered: 04/04/08
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Loc: Bend, Or.
Samick, Young Chang.
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#1990321 - 11/24/12 01:10 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Del Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/03
Posts: 5317
Loc: Olympia, Washington
Interesting how some of these topics somehow get a second life years after they have been initially put to bed.

Whenever this discussion comes up—as it does from time to time when piano technicians gather together—I tend to get some philosophical: before arriving at an answer I think we have to define “worst ever.”

As always in these discussions squares and over-damper uprights have been nominated for the title but is that really fair? Both of these designs were state-of-the-art at one time. And, over time, I’ve encountered examples of both types that have been quite credible instruments. And others that are strong contenders for the title. Do we have the right, today, to contemptuously dismiss either of these body types just because our ancestors took what was learned from those early efforts and developed what we now laughingly call the “modern” piano?

Many, if not most, piano technicians and more than a few pianists have considerable respect those big old uprights that are now beginning to populate our landfills. But some of them really deserve to end up there! Not all of the pianos built during those most golden years of American piano production—roughly from 1890 to 1930—could make any legitimate claims on either structural or musical competence. Some of them were rubbish from the start.

We find it easy to toss pianos like the late—and largely unlamented—Grand Spinets into this category. Still, for many families this was the best they were going to get. We look back on them today with derision and wonder why people ever bought them but we do so from today’s perspective not from the perspective of the day. We forget that when the Grand Spinet made its impact on the music world it was considered a good value. It was less expensive than those “used uprights” we so often compare them with today. We forget those used uprights were 40 or 50 years younger than they are today and were still a viable part of the piano marketplace.

Just what criteria do we use to create the designation “worst ever” piano? Consider the first six letters of the word “designation.” Do pianos qualify on the basis of their “design?” Or their construction? Or the materials used? Or do they have to qualify in each category? A couple of weeks ago I tuned a short (probably 5’ 2” or so) Aldrich grand—how many of you have ever heard of those?—that was rather indifferently built using materials of only fair-to-middling quality that still, after some 90 years of service, still sounds quite credible because of its outstanding design. I’d love to rebuild that little piano; it would put more than a few “high-end” contemporary grands to shame! And it looks a lot better as well. Yet on the basis of its construction and materials many would include it in their list of “worst ever.”

Conversely, there are more than a few so-called “modern” pianos that I’d put on my list of “worst ever” based solely on their design. Without naming names—I still want to be allowed to visit NAMM and the Frankfurt Musikmesse and I’d prefer not being banned from the Piano Forum for life—I’ll just mention in passing that if you build it well enough even a mediocre (or worse) design can be made to sound pretty good. It may require an inordinate amount of technical skill to keep it sounding good but who cares; it bears a prestigious name and it costs a whole lot of money so it must be worth it.

I think Ryan pretty much covered things when he said,
Quote:
“The best companies occasionally make a lemon, and the worst companies occasionally accidentally make a good one!

By far, any piano's performance relates more to the care and service it receives than what name is on the key cover.”


We tend to forget that not all of these pianos—the ones that end up on our “worst-ever” lists—were built for the ages. The Grand Console was never intended to be the equal of a Steinway Model 100—although when equally well-prepped there wasn’t that much difference in their performance—and this difference was reflected in their pricing. For the price of that Steinway you could have purchased a half-dozen Grand Consoles, put five of them in storage and handed out a brand new piano to each successive generation; they’d still be going strong in 2060! But today we tend to judge them on the same overall value scale. We compare even the best over-damper upright to the modern upright and condemn them because we don’t like working on them. We condemn the square because, well, they are square. And we don’t know how to work on them. And, yes, there are clear performance limitations to their design but—when compared to their modern counterparts—there are limitations to the design of cars built a century back as well. But we lovingly cherish and restore old cars to technical and materials standards undreamed of by their original manufacturers.

Maybe we need to give some of these old pianos the same breaks we give to other really old things. After all, we don’t expect a 1930s radio or a 1950 television or a 1980s computer to compete directly with their 2012 counterparts do we?

ddf
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#1990461 - 11/24/12 07:31 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: tritone]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5277
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: tritone
Bachophile,

There is an interesting anecdote which Kenny Werner tells in Effortless Mastery about how Bill Evans was at a muscians house party which had a notoriously bright piano (make not specified but definitely implied). A few other great professional pianists were there and the piano was giving everyone migraines. Then Bill Evans sat down and made it sound warm and sweet. He had the touch, and sensitivity to reel in the instrument.

There are greats and then there are GREATS.


The hammers didn't change, the strings didn't change, someone with a great deal of technique\control can play softer and thus it seems the piano is warm and sweet.

Amateurs have no problem playing loud, it's playing softly that's difficult.
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#1990529 - 11/24/12 11:45 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Pianolance Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1192
Loc: Nashville, TN
Well, I know that this thread is very old, but it's interesting none the less. Unless I missed something, nobody mentioned the infamous Betsy Ross Spinet by Lester. I once had a piano salesman try to explain why the Belaruse was a "fantastic instrument with a massive iron plate". I used to work at a Wurlitzer store that had a new Kincaid spinet that was horrible. I also remember having a Horugal grand in that store that was mighty bad. I have run across some Hyundai pianos that seemed pretty bad to me, and many of the early Chinese pianos were horrific, but as much as we like to dis the early Korean and Chinese pianos, some of the American made pianos from the 60' through the 90's were just as bad and the companies couldn't say they were new to the manufacturing process - they either just didn't care or were such bad business people that they thought that cheapening their instruments would be the best way to compete with the Japanese.
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#2042311 - 03/03/13 12:14 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
xbj Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 8
My vote?

1. Anything by Kimball

2. Schaffer & Sons (Local LA brand by early Young Chang)

Funny story. I was playing a corporate party at the Venetian in Las Vegas, a smallish room, and all their good pianos were "taken". So I ended up with a Kimball 4' something "italianette" furniture grand they got ripped off on. Not one note was remotely in tune and twelve sticking keys all in the middle five octaves, a complete disaster. I panicked, they tried to find another piano, nothing doing. By the time I started there were already about 50 people in the room and they were loud. Thank God I thought. By the end of the first song, the place was packed from wall to wall and no one could hear a note I was playing. Saved. I duct taped down the sticking keys (better than trying to pry them up WHILE playing) and no one was the wiser. I couldn't hear what awful noise that thing was making, let alone anyone else.

And oh, the compliments afterward....

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#2042324 - 03/03/13 12:41 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Minnesota Marty Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014


Registered: 05/15/12
Posts: 7439
Loc: Rochester MN
I can't believe that I'm about to post this, but I will defend the Betsy Ross Lester Spinet!

One must hear the results of the "Mighty Lester" and grant Rockford, IL as the home of the "World's Most Famous Lester."

Numerous recordings of this "astonishing" instrument have been posted by its owner, Cinnamonbear, after its 'triumphant' restoration. The restoration work was performed by Mr. Bear, with the help of Bill Bremmer.

(Actually, it's a decent little piano! Maybe Cinnamonbear will grace us with a link for an example.)
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#2042331 - 03/03/13 12:57 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Nash. Piano Rescue Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/08/09
Posts: 386
Loc: East Nashville,TN Scottsville...
I actually like Lester pianos, I've sent several " Betsy Ross" spinets to recording studios here who have other pianos and they love them even though they look out of place next to the multiple C-7s lol. I've got one in the paint booth right now getting grain filled. I never got the Rounded over key front idea though but I have never seen any chipped.

My vote is anything with soybean plastic actions or Winter pianos with Aluminum plates. I went to pick one up once and almost threw it through the ceiling expecting mass not balsa type weight.

My favorites are not everyone elses but I have a soft spot for anything Jacob Doll & Sons , Behr Bros I also like those ancient Mason Hamlin Iron Spider uprights.
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#2042339 - 03/03/13 01:18 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/12
Posts: 2194
Loc: Seattle, WA USA
If a piano company noted for making poor instruments can sometimes turn one out that is good-it is most likely that someone took the time to pay attention and fit things properly. And most importantly they understood WHAT was important.

There is not much room for the appearance of "luck" as a factor in the musicality of a piano. The universe is not that random when it come to the organization of materials into the structure of a musical instrument. Luck can play a great role in the type of environment the piano is subject to during its life-but an expressive piano does not arise from taking a bag of piano parts and shaking them up with just the right motion to instill them to organize into a coherent and musically useful structure.
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#2042361 - 03/03/13 02:10 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
kapelli Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 386
Loc: Poland
Fazioli spent 30 years going to be perfect... smile

The worst pianos - that ones in Polish music scool (basic and secondary). Many of them are well known names with good reputation, but they are old (or veeeeery old) and their technical condition is disaster, all action and tune also sometimes is wrong.
That's on what young polish pianist are learning playing Chopin...

This is reality from pracice rooms.
On the other side - in the concert halls there are often brand new Steinways, Kawais Yamahas etc (maybe not concert grands, but at least kind of a medium grand) and... children and learning teenagers cannot play on them, only once or twice a year, before the exams and on exam itself.

In the result, people are learning on crap, while piano in condition as it should be for fast and appropriate learning, is being non used by most of the time.

And, in fact most of the soviet union pianos were crappy, however there were Petrofs and August Forsters, which we can name as ok pianos.

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#2042392 - 03/03/13 03:26 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: xbj]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2726
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: xbj
My vote?

1. Anything by Kimball

2. Schaffer & Sons (Local LA brand by early Young Chang)
Those are truly luxury pianos compared to still-steaming crap I've seen from Belarus. The soundboard looked like it was made from Home Depot paint stirrers.
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#2042924 - 03/04/13 03:47 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Thrill Science Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/11
Posts: 521
Loc: California
Speaking of bad pianos, has anyone ever played a "Steinway S" that he liked? I'm not sure why they have this model in their lineup.
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#2042928 - 03/04/13 03:56 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2338
Loc: SoCal
It figures Steinway would make it to the worst pianos ever thread.

Jeebus, give it a rest.
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#2042930 - 03/04/13 04:01 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Thrill Science]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1251
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Originally Posted By: Thrill Science
Speaking of bad pianos, has anyone ever played a "Steinway S" that he liked?


Yes. Several.
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#2042939 - 03/04/13 04:27 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
chopin_r_us Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 959
Loc: UK
Never played on a Yamaha that had any soul.

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#2042991 - 03/04/13 06:42 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
blaino Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/09
Posts: 27
Loc: ohio
the whitney spinet. dad thought he was getting a good deal when the dealer threw in a hammond organ on the deal. you know that organ - the one with all the nifty musical instrument sounds and drum beats. that whitney was so bad i actually preferred playing the hammond. my desire to practice hit the nose dive listening to the sour notes emanating from that fine piece of piano ingenuity. what a way to kill a musical desire....

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#2042996 - 03/04/13 06:56 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Thrill Science]
PianoWorksATL Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 2726
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: Thrill Science
Speaking of bad pianos, has anyone ever played a "Steinway S" that he liked? I'm not sure why they have this model in their lineup.
These can be very nice in a good setting. Many small pianos struggle in the setting of a dealer's showroom - big, open and right next to larger, better instruments. I do think other makers are doing better at addressing value and performance in a small grand, but I agree with Plowboy that it's pretty rough to even mention a nice piano like that here.
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#2043002 - 03/04/13 07:14 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Pianolance]
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9297
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
Originally Posted By: Pianolance
Unless I missed something, nobody mentioned the infamous Betsy Ross Spinet by Lester.


You won't find me including this piano on my list. This was an instrument designed for students, yes. But it was made to function musically and actually gave a nice performance, especially when well maintained.

They sold retail in 1960 for well under $200.00.

Of course, they sold for far less than most other brands, but they stopped manufacturing in 1960, so the youngest Lester spinet is still 53 years old. Frankly, they weren't built to be used past 25 to 3 years.

My 2 cents,
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#2043110 - 03/04/13 11:39 PM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2338
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Never played on a Yamaha that had any soul.


Soul comes from the player, not the piano.
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#2043124 - 03/05/13 12:51 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Rich Galassini]
hotcat Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 105
For years I had a Betsey Ross Spinet that my mom learned on when she was little, and my sister and I learned on also. It was a great little piano! Sounded surprisingly good for what it was. When I replaced the spinet with a U3 I could not bear to part with it due to it sentimental value. So my neighbor took it in and she plays it. Win win. And I can still visit it anytime. When my sons grow up and move out, one of them can have it and it will stay in the family. My mom died way too young but I keep her memory alive by playing pieces that remind me of her. Oh, now I need a tissue.

I have a Estonia 190 coming on Friday! But I'll always think of the Betsey Ross Spinet as one of the BEST. heart


Edited by hotcat (03/05/13 01:06 AM)

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#2043162 - 03/05/13 02:53 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: Plowboy]
chopin_r_us Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 959
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Never played on a Yamaha that had any soul.


Soul comes from the player, not the piano.
Let me put it another way. On a good piano my fingers automatically take off on their own, investigating what's there - they find stuff. They don't with Yamaha.

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#2043277 - 03/05/13 09:44 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2338
Loc: SoCal
Yeah, the Tier 1 pianos, sometimes it seems as though they play themselves, and we're just innocent bystanders, amazed as what's happening beneath our fingers.
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#2043282 - 03/05/13 09:52 AM Re: WORST piano's *ever*-which brand/type would get your vote & why? [Re: mamma2my3sons]
chopin_r_us Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/10
Posts: 959
Loc: UK
You're mistaken, that's a Fazioli.

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