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#333927 - 10/03/08 10:04 PM Need help with buying a new grand piano
shw123 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/21/08
Posts: 66
Loc: Calgary, Canada
My apologies for the length of the post. It’s sure to stir up some lively discussion.
The first entry on my bucket list is “buy a good piano” and I’ve promised myself that if I pass my grade 6 RCM examination in January that I’m going to do just that. My current piano is a Kawai GE-30. It’s a good entry level piano, but I want something that’s going to be a dream to play. For size, I want something bigger than 5’5” but 6’2” is about as big as I can possibly go. I have several choices all with pros and cons.
The easy route is a Kawai RX-2 or RX-3. The new millennium 3 actions feel great. The sound seems much rounder and fuller than a GE-30 but our local Kawai dealers have a couple of huge fish tanks in their showroom that make so much noise that it’s hard to even hear whether the piano has a good sound or not. The price is great, and the dealer will give me a good trade-in. Kawai’s don’t make me drool.
Choice number 2 is Yamaha C-2 or C-3. Yamaha builds a good piano. One of the directors of our local performing arts centre described them as “an appliance” because of their consistency and durability. I find that they have that typical bright harsh Asian sound. The actions are fine. Yamaha’s don’t make me drool either.
Choice number 3 is the Steinway “M”. They make me drool. The rich, singing sound and fabulous control and dynamics can’t be beat, but Larry Fine of Piano Book fame says that the Steinway has the best sound but the worst workmanship of the group 1 pianos. Some comments on this site suggest that Steinway is great but overpriced. The “M” is $50,000 and with the economy the way it is that’s a big stretch.
Option 4 is the Mason and Hamlin “A” (5’10”). They are also $50,000 but also sometimes make me drool. They are hand-made and by all accounts have great workmanship. I’ve played a couple of A’s. One I loved, the other I didn’t. A friend of my piano teacher just bought one, and the rumor is that if he had a choice between the piano and his wife, the wife would go.
Choice 5 would be a Shigeru Kawai. Our local Kawai dealer doesn’t stock them and claims it would take several months go to get one from Japan, and that I’d have to order it sight unseen. Larry Fine says they’re a fabulous instrument and comments that they are definitely a group 1 piano (same level as Steinway, higher rated than M&H). The SK-2 (5’10”) is several thousand dollars cheaper than Steinway or M&H).
Someone on this site tried to sell me an Estonia, but wanted me to buy it sight unseen and wouldn’t take my Kawai on trade - both of which are non-starters. Someone suggested to me that the pinblock is made of delignite which either grips so tight that the pin won’t turn or grips so loose that it turns when you don’t want it to.
So, any suggestions?
_________________________
Pianist and Computer Nerd
Kawai GE-30
Yamaha Clavinova CLP-370

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#333928 - 10/03/08 10:24 PM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2557
Loc: western Wisconsin
The pinblock comment is pure trash; I would tend to ignore whatever "advice" you got from that source.

If I may offer an alternative, I'd suggest having the action regulated, hammers voiced to taste (or to smooth things out), and other basic service items done with your current piano to be sure it is sounding and playing at its' fullest potential, by someone who has a lot of experience doing this on high-level instruments.
Otherwise, you're looking at only slightly larger instruments (some better than others) for a LOT of extra dollars.

I love the Fine book, but you're taking the most subjective section of it far too literally (the exact tier and subgroup ratings)...
Just to throw a couple other pianos into the mix: any fully rebuilt Steinway A's around? 6' Schimmels? I had an absolute blast playing a Shigeru SK-3 once.
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Casio px-200, Bechstein A190 #192939 @ home
Steinway A #585209, B #416809 @ work
Schimmel 130T #339100, on loan

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#333929 - 10/03/08 10:33 PM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
you have a budget that will allow to investigate many many pianos. I would play every piano I could between 20 and 50,000.00.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#333930 - 10/05/08 07:43 AM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
Barbara G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/20/07
Posts: 495
Loc: N. Texas
You also are failing to say that Mason and Hamlin As can be bought for $30,000 and Steinways cannot. Schimmels 189s can be bought for less than $30,000, etc.
_________________________
Master of Music, School Teacher, Church Musician- See "Our Adventure to a New grand" thread... http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/18212.html

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#333931 - 10/05/08 09:51 AM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
turandot Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/07
Posts: 7089
Loc: torrance, CA
 Quote:
but Larry Fine of Piano Book fame says that the Steinway has the best sound but the worst workmanship of the group 1 pianos.
I'm surprised to learn that Larry Fine says that any piano's sound is the best. Are you sure that's what he says?

 Quote:
Someone on this site tried to sell me an Estonia, but wanted me to buy it sight unseen and wouldn’t take my Kawai on trade - both of which are non-starters. Someone suggested to me that the pinblock is made of delignite which either grips so tight that the pin won’t turn or grips so loose that it turns when you don’t want it to.
Let me get this straight.

The person who wants you to buy the Estonia won't let you see it?? \:D

The person offering the Estonia is not interested in a partial trade?? (If the person is not a dealer, this makes sense)

The person who commented on the pinblock said it was made of delignite....or that it was made by a company named Delignit? (Delignit makes pinblocks)

SHW,

You say that your opening post is "sure to stir up some lively discussion." Is that your intent?
_________________________
Will Johnny Come Marching Home?
The fate of the modern wartime soldier

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#333932 - 10/06/08 11:58 AM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
Mark MacLeod Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/11/06
Posts: 14
Loc: Waukegan, Il
If you can find a Sauter Dealer, try one of those. It will make you drool.
_________________________
Mark MacLeod
Family Piano Co.
Sauter, Perzina, Hailun, Falcone, Pearl River, Steinberg, Carl Ebel Pianos.

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#333933 - 10/06/08 12:05 PM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17699
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Welcome to the forum, shw. \:\)

The good news is that you have plenty of time to do your shopping before January. It also sounds like you're working with a decent budget that should allow you to buy a wonderful piano. Apple* is right; play every piano you can in your price range and a little higher. (Most of us end up spending more than we initially anticipated.) The best shopping advice I got was from whippen boy, who advised me to make a template where I could record details (including serial numbers, very important) about all the pianos I tried. If you take your time shopping (which you should), you'll definitely need some organized notes.

Incidentally, the M&H A is only 5'8" and costs nowhere near $50,000. You may be thinking of the BB or AA. But even the AA won't be that expensive.

Definitely check out the Estonias, but do not buy one (or any piano) sight unseen. Ditto for the Shigeru. Given your appreciation for Kawai and the RX series, I'm predicting you'll go crazy for the Shigeru... but you need to try one.

If I had your budget and time frame, I'd plan a couple of shopping trips to major cities with piano stores carrying the brands/models I was particularly interested in. Even with the cost of airfare and hotel, it's still worth it to feel confident that you're getting the piano of your dreams.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#333934 - 10/06/08 12:12 PM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
Rod Verhnjak Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/06
Posts: 3636
Loc: Vancouver B.C. Canada
Is there a Mason and Hamlin dealer in Calgary stocking product?
_________________________
Verhnjak Pianos
Specializing in the Restoration, Refinishing & Maintenance
of Fine Heirloom Pianos

Exclusive Dealer For Charles R. Walter Pianos
www.pianoman.ca
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#333935 - 10/14/08 09:02 AM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
shw123 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/21/08
Posts: 66
Loc: Calgary, Canada
It's been a crazy week - sorry for the absense. I'll respond to a few questions.

Barbara and Jordan: Good to know that M&H can be had for $30,000. We only have one dealer in Calgary, and he quotes $50k. The Bluebook piano price is 50K so that seems correct, but I suspect that like Kawai, big discounts can be had.

Turandot: Exact phrasing of Larry's book is: "Steinway & Sons (New York), at its best, has one of the finest sounds of any piano in Group 1—and, relative to the others in this group, the worst workmanship."

Also, the Estonia dealer is in Vancouver (1000 Km. away). Estonia makes very few pianos, thus he sells most of them before they arrive in Canada. The M&H guy here in Calgary is much the same. Their pitch is: "I've got one coming, if you want it you'd better buy it". I'm not falling for that one. With the economy being what it is, they'll be phoning me soon enough!

Mark MacLeod: I've never seen a Sauter. I hear that some of they and some other German brands are fabulous. Unfortunately we seem to have gotten down to 5 major dealers in Calgary - Steinway (and sister brands), Kawai, Yamaha, M&H, and Petrof. Of course these dealers all have their "lesser" brands, generally Korean or Chinese.

Monica K: Thanks for the welcome, and I agree, a shopping trip may be in order. A quick glance at my handy road atlas tells me that Lexington is within a long day's drive of a lot of very major centers such as Chicago. I don't have quite that luxury. Vancouver and Seattle are 12 hours west. While other cities like San Francisco and LA are easy to get to with direct flights, I still have to deal with importing the piano.

Rod: Yes, there's a M&H dealer in Calgary. He brings product in, but our economy has been very strong, thus he sells everything he can get, thus doesn't have a lot of product on the floor. He hasn't had an "A" that I can play for a few months. He seems to be pushing Hailun now, but I won't buy a chinese made piano.

Thanks for the input.

SHW.
_________________________
Pianist and Computer Nerd
Kawai GE-30
Yamaha Clavinova CLP-370

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#333936 - 10/14/08 11:17 AM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
Rich Galassini Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 8977
Loc: Philadelphia/South Jersey
 Quote:
Exact phrasing of Larry's book is: "Steinway & Sons (New York), at its best, has one of the finest sounds of any piano in Group 1—and, relative to the others in this group, the worst workmanship."
That is not a quote. Neither the latest supplement or The Piano Book itself says that. The closest that I can find is a paragraph that begins:

From 2008-09 annual supplement:
"Steinway pianos at their best have the quintessential American sound..."

The paragraph goes on to describe what that means and to say that lots of prep is normally needed with this piano.

I agee that there are lots of pianos available to choose from. Play them. Enjoy them. Also, keep us posted here. We are happy to help when we can.
_________________________
Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
Dir. Line (215) 991-0834
rich@cunninghampiano.com
Get Cunningham Piano Email Updates

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#333937 - 10/14/08 12:21 PM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
Deerwood Dad Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 478
Loc: Minneapolis
 Quote:
Originally posted by Rich Galassini:
 Quote:
Exact phrasing of Larry's book is: "Steinway & Sons (New York), at its best, has one of the finest sounds of any piano in Group 1—and, relative to the others in this group, the worst workmanship."
That is not a quote. Neither the latest supplement or The Piano Book itself says that. [/b]
That is, in fact, an accurate quote from the 2007-08 Supplement, and I can only imagine the heat Larry Fine took for that one. Maybe if all the Mason & Hamlin loyalists ganged up on Mr. Fine like S&S (and their supporters) did, we'd prevail upon him to reinstate Mason's rightful spot in Tier I.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A (2006); Yamaha P140

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#333938 - 10/15/08 02:51 PM Re: Need help with buying a new grand piano
Norbert Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 13976
Loc: Surrey, B.C.
shw 123:

Just came across this thread, here's what I wrote to you before:

 Quote:


"I suppose you have visited Brian Schmidt at the Piano Gallery on 8989 Mcleod Tr. - he's the Mason Hamlin dealer, very good guy!" [/b]

"Many people who have been in your position have sometimes veered outside their area and tried some pianos like Estonia and Brodmann, pianos which have a completely different, very European texture of tone than the pianos you mentioned.

Unfortunately, these pianos are not available in the Calgary/Alberta area.

If interested, I could connect you with some owners of these pianos in Calgary who have flown to us to order one of these pianos for themselves - we have about 30 customers in the Calgary area alone.

Some of the people make their homes available for 'try outs' of these pianos - sorry for the direct plug, but there are many people in your position who are feeling same and have taken this route before.

There also is a 4 years old Kawai RX3 available in Edmonton if you like the owner's contact"...
My above quoted advice to you was not based to simply sell you another Estonia - you did call me however inquiring specifically about the piano - but make you also aware of and 'reinforce' some of the options you have in Calgary as well.

Mason Hamlin was definitely one.

I already have a bad reputation among Calgary dealers as is... ;\) - so it's not that we have to go for every deal in that city....

Now,I am not sure and actually doubt very much that Brian would/could sell you a new Mason of 30k, as little as I suspect Irene Bessie would/could sell you a new Steinway for $50 k

Not sure if such advice is particularly helpful in your situation... \:o

Re discussed tone stability for Calgary's super dry climate I was correct: German Delignit pinblocks, a multi laminate offer a good foundation for at least very tight pins, a pre-condition for tone stability in extreme climates such as yours.

Yes, we are Estonia dealers for all of Alberta, some of our customers do fly here to try the pianos, some others order 'sight unseen' - we never push one or the other, in fact we 'push' nothing....

There are several who have posted about their experience here - either way - do a search if you like.

Estonia - for better or worse - *is* a hot item today seemingly everywhere: we do have to wait about 2 months for any new model to arrive.

Just 2 weeks ago one of Mr. Brian Cross' top students [Calgary's most respected piano teacher...] selected a 6'3 hidden beauty 6'3 grand out of 20 other pianos this young but very advanced fellow had played before.

Another one flying in this weekend...

It's an established fact that Estonia is a happening piano for many serious pianists today but by the same token it's a piano that definitely chooses its owner as much as owners choose this piano.

By the way, Mr. Cross just tried the piano as he was invited by the family for Thanksgiving dinner - apparently absolutely loved it,now being possibly interested in one himself....

My advice to you is as it would be for anybody: simply play as many pianos as possible available to you on a local basis first, if nothing stirs your crank, you're welcome to consider anything else you see fit,including Estonia of course.

By the way, there is an almost brand new 6'6 Heintzman grand available in Calgary by its owner - an interesting and perhaps very good buy for about $ 16,500.

Glad to supply yo with the contact information for this person...

Happy shopping!

Norbert \:\)
_________________________
www.heritagepianos.com
Greater Vancouver B.C. piano dealers for : C.Sauter, Estonia, Brodmann, Ritmuller
604-951-8642

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