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#30272 - 05/19/08 12:13 PM NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Aquitaine Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hiya,

I'm looking to buy my first piano - an upright, preferably in the $3500-$4500 range. I'm not a pro but I've played for most of my life and studied under a couple local pros. So I'm probably a step up from 'student' but won't be playing Carnegie hall anytime soon.

I've been looking through a wealth of information about purchasing used pianos, some of which seems to emphasize that a well-maintained, used piano is not going to go for much less than a new one since pianos don't depreciate. Still, it's tempting, because Craigslist is full of pianos around here and I don't have quite enough cash on hand to really buy the good stuff.

My question is: if you were me, where would you start your search in the NYC area? Any good dealers with used stock you liked? Good/bad experiences with private sales? Tips other than 'bring a tuner along' (which sounds like a good idea)?

Thanks in advance!
Sam

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#30273 - 05/19/08 03:14 PM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
PianoPro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 314
Loc: Iowa
I'd try these folks:

Frank & Camille's
371 Old Country Rd
Carle Place, NY 11514
516-333-2811

Good luck to you!
_________________________
Dennis C.
Piano Store Operator,
Former District Manager,
20 Year Industry Experience

"Tell the truth, honor God, and make money!"

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#30274 - 05/19/08 04:07 PM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Mechanical Doll Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/07
Posts: 199
Loc: Garden State, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by PianoPro:
I'd try these folks:
Frank & Camille's
371 Old Country Rd
Carle Place, NY 11514
516-333-2811
[/b]
Very nice people \:\) , great stock of pianos , high prices \:\( . Personally I prefer the Valley Stream F&C, though in all honesty for the best price I purchased my Yamaha digital out of state.

If you currently have a piano teacher, I would recommend asking him or her to give you a hand in the search. They usually have a good sense of what the local dealers have, and what you can get for the amount you budgeted.
_________________________
Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ~Confucius

Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life. ~Jean Paul Richter

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#30275 - 05/19/08 07:41 PM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18614
Loc: Victoria, BC
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mechanical Doll:

If you currently have a piano teacher, I would recommend asking him or her to give you a hand in the search. They usually have a good sense of what the local dealers have, and what you can get for the amount you budgeted. [/b]
I would modify that to say ... if you have an informed piano teacher .... Some piano teachers have been teaching on the same piano for decades - and it is the only piano they know - know little or nothing about the current market, and some don't even understand fully how a piano functions.

Choose your advisor wisely.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#30276 - 05/19/08 07:53 PM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Mechanical Doll Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/10/07
Posts: 199
Loc: Garden State, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:
I would modify that to say ... if you have an informed piano teacher .... Some piano teachers have been teaching on the same piano for decades - and it is the only piano they know - know little or nothing about the current market, and some don't even understand fully how a piano functions. [/b]
Scary And surprising. I don't understand how in today's world a piano teacher wouldn't keep themselves abreast of the different manufacturers, models, etc. I'm not saying that they need an encyclopedic knowledge of complete lines, but at least a general idea. As for touch and sound, that's easily figured out by visiting a showroom - which many teachers will do when their students are making a substantial investment in an instrument.
_________________________
Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. ~Confucius

Music is moonlight in the gloomy night of life. ~Jean Paul Richter

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#30277 - 05/20/08 06:51 AM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Rich Galassini Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 9579
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
You might want to give a call to Beethoven in Manhattan. They tend to have a selection of reconditioned verticals - at least they did a few years ago, when I was last there.

Also, The Piano Clearing House in West Chester will have something to check out. The owner seeks to have a nice selection in that range and is an active performer (he also posts here occasionally). That may actually be your brightest star.

Good Luck!
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
www.cunninghampiano.com

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#30278 - 05/20/08 10:22 AM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10570
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mechanical Doll:
 Quote:
Originally posted by BruceD:
I would modify that to say ... if you have an informed piano teacher .... Some piano teachers have been teaching on the same piano for decades - and it is the only piano they know - know little or nothing about the current market, and some don't even understand fully how a piano functions. [/b]
Scary And surprising. I don't understand how in today's world a piano teacher wouldn't keep themselves abreast of the different manufacturers, models, etc. I'm not saying that they need an encyclopedic knowledge of complete lines, but at least a general idea. As for touch and sound, that's easily figured out by visiting a showroom - which many teachers will do when their students are making a substantial investment in an instrument. [/b]
It is much worse thaqn you think. About every two years I do a presentation to the Baltimore Chapter of the Piano Technician's Guild on changes in the piano industry. I find that, for the most part, techs don't have a clue as to what is going on in this rapidly changing industry. My lecture always surprises them.

Their job, and that of teachers, doesn't change with the many changes that take place globally. They still tune them, regulate them or teach you how to play them.

Sure, if a tech sees a brand that is poorly made they take notice. But ask them about the same piano made under a different label and they are often clueless.

It isn't a failing on their part. It isn't their job to keep up with the new piano market.
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#30279 - 05/21/08 08:10 PM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
PianoPro Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/23/08
Posts: 314
Loc: Iowa
Right on the money there, Steve.
_________________________
Dennis C.
Piano Store Operator,
Former District Manager,
20 Year Industry Experience

"Tell the truth, honor God, and make money!"

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#30280 - 05/21/08 09:06 PM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4683
Loc: San Francisco
You're in a market which is rich with choices. Please try to audition as many pianos as are within reasonable traveling distance.

Brodmann, Hailun, Heintzman, and Nordiska should all have models at c.46" whose street prices would let you buy new. Steigerman Premium may be doable new. Bohemia could be bought one or two years old.

Most people on PW recommend using the List Prices in Larry Fine's, The Annual Supplement To The Piano Book as the basis for beginning negotiations. The goal is to get 30% off those prices. Twenty-five percent is still good. The supplement also includes info re distributors/importers. They can help you with dealer info. You can get a downloadable PDF copy by clicking on this link.

It's a buyer's market and summer is the slowest selling season. Patience and persistence.

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#30281 - 05/21/08 09:42 PM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Aquitaine Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Wonderful! Thank you all so much for the advice. I'm going to measure my doorways so I know what I can even get in here and then spend a couple days driving around auditioning pianos. Can't think of a better way to spend a day off. \:\)

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#30282 - 05/27/08 10:13 AM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Aquitaine Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
I went to the Piano Clearing House in Westchester and talked to Chris, who was a wonderful fount of information and very pleasant to deal with. He had a couple of the 'gray market' Yamahas in even though he mostly sells Kawai in my price range - I wish I preferred the warmar 'Kawai' sound to the Yamaha but I think a U1 is really what I'm after.

He had a U1 c. 1983, for which he was asking about $4000 (delivery included). From poking around the web, they definitely go for less than that, though largely from 'online' places. I doubt I'll beat that price at any of the Manhattan shops I'm visiting today.

My question is: Am I correct in assuming that it'd really be preferable to find a @10-15 year old gray market versus a 25 year old one? I'd certainly pay more; he had a 35 year old U3 there that he'd picked up for some guy where the bass strings were a bit muddy.

Don't care at all about 'gray market' v. 'made for USA' - just age, quality, price. Obviously for my original budget I have to sacrifice something; I've just seen a couple more recent U1s lurking around Craigslist and it seems like such a good market right now that I'm wondering if I should wait for something a little newer to come along.

Off to 58th street to see some more!

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#30283 - 05/27/08 10:57 AM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Steve Cohen Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 10570
Loc: Maryland/DC/No. VA
If you are going to Piano Row, stop by the Bechstein Selection Center. They won't have pianos in your price range, but you'll have fun looking and playing!
_________________________
Piano Industry Consultant- http://www.linkedin.com/pub/steve-cohen/6/b92/b80

Consultant & Contributing Editor - Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyer

Jasons Music
Maryland/DC/No. VA
Since 1937.

www.jasonsmusic.com
My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.

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#30284 - 05/27/08 11:15 AM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19930
Loc: New York City
I would look more at used pianos, especially in private sales. If the piano has been well taken care of but is 5 to 10 years old, the price may be much lower than for a new one although the quality is almost as good as new. Of course, always have an independent tech check it out.

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#30285 - 05/27/08 12:03 PM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Brian Hall Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/27/08
Posts: 1
Loc: New York
Aquitaine--I would echo all the good suggestions thus far. If you're in the neighborhood of 57th St you might be surprised to find a number of new and used Essex and Boston pianos in your price range at Steinway Hall. The experience of just walking in there is unforgettable, the techs are top notch, and the standards for used pianos are stringent to say the least. Good luck with the piano search! It sounds like you're prepared to wait for the right one.

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#30286 - 05/27/08 09:19 PM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
erad1948 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/14/07
Posts: 70
Loc: Brooklyn, New York
Altenburg Piano House has NEW Altenburg pianos at very reasonable prices. Some of the House brands are from Korea and some from China. Many to choose from. Some of them sound and feel very nice, they're new and have good warrantees. Don't know if you will like them but you are not buying anything used. He has some used pianos, but not much and not so great but you could call him and ask his opinion. Ask for Fred Altenburg... the store is in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I think I saw a used Yamaha studio upright there a couple of months ago.

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#30287 - 05/28/08 11:04 AM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Aquitaine Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hi everybody,

Just thought I'd post the outcome!

I ended up visiting:

- Piano Clearing House in Westchester (Chris Pfund's place)
- Bondy's pianos on West 45th (a small showroom run by a guy who is quite clearly on the service side - gruff but very straightforward!)
- Frank & Camille's in Manhattan
- Beethoven Pianos

The Piano Clearing House definitely had the best prices, as you might imagine from going anywhere outside Manhattan. Bondy's was also good. I found myself gravitating to the U1s pretty quickly, so it became an exercise in 'from whom do I want to buy a U1,' and then also learning about the 'gray market' v. 'made for USA' stuff, which I read about on several web sites and this forum.

Chris at the Clearing House spent an entire afternoon with me. He was really interested in educating me, to the point where we spent quite a while playing around on pianos he knew I had no interest in buying that were well out of my price range - not to try and upsell, just to give me a good grounding in 'here's the market'. We even spent some time on grands. I asked him what I might expect from the competition and he was very hesitant to say anything I might even construe as a bad word about anyone else, though that's also in line with what the market seems to look like from a buyer's perspective, at least from the 4 places I went to - every shop was full of great instruments for fairly reasonable prices.

I really liked a 1983 U1 he had but I wasn't comfortable paying what he was charging for a new Kawai for a 25 year old piano. I do wish I'd preferred the warmth of the Kawai to the Yamaha's sound, but I just really liked those U1s. I was thinking about the '83 U1 when I left and emailed Chris the next day asking about slightly newer ones.

Bondy's (Peter) was also one of my favorites. A technician through and through, he wanted to use models of actions and talk about all kinds of technical differences, which is fascinating to me; I spent a good hour at his place on the west side. He knew he couldn't beat Westchester on prices but he did a pretty good job trying; I'd happily pay more for a place that's close by (Manhattan being a short subway ride while the Clearing House is a good 50 miles away) and he had a couple U1s from '89 and '90. He wanted $550 for a Dampp-Chaser and $450 to deliver and haul the piano up three flights of stairs, though he came down quite drastically in the end to a very reasonable price.

Frank & Camille's was very corporate and very slick, though this was their Manhattan shop. The store manager rightly pointed out that he felt each piano shop in NYC had its own niche. F&C's a nice niche but not mine. I asked very frankly about Gray market Yamahas and he tried to scare me out of it. I really do like almost every piano Yamaha makes (and I played several of them there) but there's just something about 'we sell 100% Yamahas and nothing else' - which that store does, I get the idea that other F&Cs don't - (they did have a couple Petrofs) - that just made me question his objectivity. His prices on new U1s were still not bad; U1s they'd loaned out to schools or concert halls for a year (the 'institutional loan') ones were going for $7000, with a lifetime trade-in program that was pretty nice, too. Still, the store felt more like a car dealership than a piano shop.

Beethoven's was a total bust. I walked right up to the desk in the back where three guys were talking and they ignored me for ten minutes. When I asked about uprights, they sent me downstairs. No salespeople down there; just a really nice young tech who said he'd be happy to talk about anything technical but had no idea about price or anything like that. I felt like I was arm-twisting just to get any attention, plus it was the last place I went that day. No dice there.

Faust & Harrison had come highly recommended but from what I understand I doubt they'd have anything in my price range; I might go check out them and Bechstein just for fun later this week, but for the moment, this is what I'm settling on:

From Chris @ the Piano Clearing House:

1991 U-10 ('gray market', oooooh scary), $4,000 flat, includes:

- Dampp-Chaser
- Delivery + 3 flights of stairs
- Prep & 1st tuning

He tracked down the U10 for me after I left. I won't see it until he gets it in, but he knows the sound I liked and wanted and seemed the most interested (by far) in simply having a good relationship with his customers and getting a good word said about the experience, of which he is well deserving. If it ends up not having the sound/feel I want, it goes right back.

I'm sure I could've had a better price if I went further outside NYC, though after adding in shipping and what most people would charge to haul a U1 up 3 flights of stairs, I doubt it'd be that much better.

If I had to do it again I'd have given the 57th/58th street 'Piano Row' shops a miss (though I would still go to Bondy's on 45th) and probably checked out Altenburg in Elizabeth, which is pretty close, since I didn't find out about that one until I'd already had plans to visit everyone else.

Thanks to everyone for their advice!

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#30288 - 05/30/08 07:46 AM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Beacon Chris Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/06
Posts: 481
Loc: Idaho
Aquitaine,

Thank you so much for you kind words and your confidence in me. We did have a wonderful afternoon on the pianos and I'm looking forward to prepping the U-10 for you. I'm also hoping it completely meets your expectations! (Three flights is a long way)

By the way, I did check with my wife and she definitely put the kabosh on the piano/bike trade! I think she's afraid that her mild mannered husband would somehow undergo the inevitable personality change that goes with that kind of speed and cool helmet. \:D Looks like I'll be sticking with the Saturn for now. \:\(

Thanks again for the order and we will speak next week!

BC
_________________________
Musician, Singer, Teacher, Humorist, Dad...

“I have an inferiority complex, but it’s not a very good one.”
― Steven Wright

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#30289 - 05/30/08 09:16 AM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7369
Loc: torrance, CA
 Quote:
Chris at the Clearing House spent an entire afternoon with me. He was really interested in educating me, to the point where we spent quite a while playing around on pianos he knew I had no interest in buying that were well out of my price range - not to try and upsell, just to give me a good grounding in 'here's the market'. We even spent some time on grands. I asked him what I might expect from the competition and he was very hesitant to say anything I might even construe as a bad word about anyone else........

1991 U-10 ('gray market', oooooh scary), $4,000 flat, includes:

- Dampp-Chaser
- Delivery + 3 flights of stairs
- Prep & 1st tuning

He tracked down the U10 for me after I left. I won't see it until he gets it in, but he knows the sound I liked and wanted and seemed the most interested (by far) in simply having a good relationship with his customers and getting a good word said about the experience, of which he is well deserving. If it ends up not having the sound/feel I want, it goes right back.

I'm sure I could've had a better price if I went further outside NYC, though after adding in shipping and what most people would charge to haul a U1 up 3 flights of stairs, I doubt it'd be that much better.
Aquitaine,

You might find a grey-market 1991 U1 for less. There are plenty of them around. But if you look at the total package, including the level of attention you are receiving as a small budget customer, I think you're doing really well. I live in SoCal where Yamaha grey-market price competition is intense, but even here your deal would be outstanding.
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#30290 - 05/30/08 09:17 AM Re: NYC/Brooklyn piano dealers
Aquitaine Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/19/08
Posts: 5
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
Hi turandot,

I did see some newer gray markets on Craigslist for less, but it's really the extras that made it worthwhile. Three flights of stairs isn't fun for anybody, even without a piano. \:\)

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