Rough Day Piano Shopping

Posted by: Clearly

Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/21/13 09:42 PM

Well, hello there. I have no idea why I haven't involved myself in these forums earlier, but here I am after a six hour day piano shopping.

A tiny bit about me: I am a Chopin girl who has completed a large chunk of his solo works, primarily Waltzes, Nocturnes, Polonaises and Preludes. Romantic period is my thing, though I have the most fun with contemporary composers. Which is primarily why I've decided to ditch the upright I grew up on (Bush and Lane, amazing piano) and finally buy a grand (something that has been a very, very long time coming). My current obsession is Prokofiev, I'm working on his Sonatas.

The advice I'm looking for is based on longevity: will the piano stand up to the test of time? With good maintenance, will the piano maintain it's clarity and tone? Also, will it maintain it's value?

I thought my path was clear: A Yamaha C-5. I was not looking to buy brand new, so I went to a few reputable stores in the Seattle area that buy or consign pianos.

After playing four different C-5's, I found each sounding muddy (range between 1988 to 2008). So on I went playing the many other names.

My max price range went from 15k to 25k, and I believe for the perfect piano, I may be open to a bit more. My requirements are that they meet the 6' range, as I have plenty of room and need the dynamic range with what I play. Action must be able to handle the Friska in Liszt's second hungarian with the repetitive C#'s early on (my upright cannot).

To my ear and to my fingers, the following agreed with me very well:

Schimmel 208 DE (1998) - 6'10" - 32k
(as mentioned, my max price went higher - I can talk this one down a bit as well, it seemed) The dynamic control on this full concert grand was magnificent, but I'm not sure I'm willing to go over 25k unless it is truly the best of the four I'm listing.

Petrof IV (NEW) - 5'7" - 25k
This one in particular felt best, second to the 40k Sauter I so severely wanted right beside it - while it's shorter than I was requiring in my head, it had the best feel. Unfortunately I see many, many, many mixed reviews on Petrof.

Hailun 198 (NEW) - 6'5" - 21k
Same strings as the Sauter I so enjoyed (wish that 40k was in my pocket), a price tag I won't wince over, but I know NOTHING about Hailun. It felt good, but it didn't blow my mind as much as the two above.

Kawai KG 5C (1977) - 6'8" - 15k
The closest I could come to the proper voicing and action to my ears and fingers while staying at the original price I'd set out for (which was only placed based on the Yamiha C5's hovering around 15k). I honestly don't know much about Kawai's longevity, and 1977 was a long time ago.

Forum members: if you feel like putting those into a hat and drawing for me, please do so! And while I don't need a piano this instant, my room for it is now empty of former furniture and I'm looking forward to sunny days with the windows open.

Thank you for making it through my wall of text, and thank you even more if you add your opinion on the matter.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/21/13 10:12 PM

Welcome to the forum, Clearly! smile

My main advice is to suggest that you take your time. You're obviously a serious pianist, and this is a purchase you want to last a long time. And $25K is a lot of money. So I wouldn't recommend choosing ANY of these pianos, at least not now, and not until you've had a chance to shop some more and play the final contenders multiple times.

That being said, I'd be leery of the Kawai. I'm assuming that, at that price, it hasn't been reconditioned or rebuilt in any way. Most pianos need a considerable amount of work (new strings, hammers, etc.) at the 30-40 year point, so I'd be worried that you would need to sink a lot of money into that piano in the near future.

Perhaps the most common advice heard here is that you should have an independent technician evaluate any used piano before committing to purchase it.

Are you open to traveling to other cities in your search? If so, that could open up a lot of possibilities.

When I searched for my grand, I created a shopping template where I would record information about any piano that I was impressed by. It had sections to record such things as the brand, model, serial number, asking price, and my impressions of the action and tone. I found these notes helpful to keep all the pianos I was trying from running together in my mind.

So, don't be impatient; have fun; and keep us posted. smile


Use the forum's search feature to look up some threads on Hailun. It receives high marks as a piano that offers a nice compromise between sound quality and price.


Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/21/13 10:37 PM

Hi Clearly - Welcome to Piano World!

The Schimmel is a lovely instrument. It becomes a truly fine instrument when you get in the Konzert Series.

The Petrofs can also be first rate, however their action options can get confusing. You need to read up on them if you are considering one. A few years ago there was a big mess with the distributor, causing ill feelings and confusion. However, that has well passed and they build fine instruments.

I would avoid any Yamaha or Kawai from the 1970's. Both builders have come a long way. You might try a new Kawai, as they might be contenders. Sorry, I'm just not a Yamaha fan.

Compared to the Schimmel and Petrof, your reaction to the Hailun is understandable. They are good pianos, however, and are an excellent intermediate step.

I would suggest you contact Rich Galassini at Cunningham Piano in Philadelphia and see if anyone is now carying their pianos in Seattle. I like the Cunninghams very much.

Are you familiar with the "Piano Buyer" by Larry Fine? You can click on the ad on this page to view the online version at no cost. It is very helpful when piano shopping as it gives lots of info about any company's instruments and the prices for the models. Very useful.

Have you looked for a used Estonia? Have you played Estonia? It is worth checking out.

Hope this helps and do keep us posted.

Happy Shopping!
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/21/13 10:38 PM

Originally Posted By: Clearly


Schimmel 208 DE - 6'10" - 32k
(as mentioned, my max price went higher - I can talk this one down a bit as well, it seemed) The dynamic control on this full concert grand was magnificent, but I'm not sure I'm willing to go over 25k unless it is truly the best of the four I'm listing.


How old is this piano?


Originally Posted By: Clearly
Petrof IV (NEW) - 5'7" - 25k
This one in particular felt best, second to the 40k Sauter I so severely wanted right beside it - while it's shorter than I was requiring in my head, it had the best feel. Unfortunately I see many, many, many mixed reviews on Petrof.


Petrofs from the '90s are not as good as the ones made today, which are excellent. I quite like the new ones, but 5'7" is probably too small for you.

Originally Posted By: Clearly
Hailun 198 (NEW) - 6'5" - 21k
Same strings as the Sauter I so enjoyed (wish that 40k was in my pocket), a price tag I won't wince over, but I know NOTHING about Hailun. It felt good, but it didn't blow my mind as much as the two above.


These are the best pianos coming out of China, IMO. Try the 218 if you can find it. It's special.

Originally Posted By: Clearly
Kawai KG 5C (1977) - 6'8" - 15k
The closest I could come to the proper voicing and action to my ears and fingers while staying at the original price I'd set out for (which was only placed based on the Yamiha C5's hovering around 15k). I honestly don't know much about Kawai's longevity, and 1977 was a long time ago.


At that age and price, I hope it's received partial rebuilding (i.e. new block, strings, action). If not, I'd pass... $15,000 for an original condition KG5 from that era is just ridiculous.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/21/13 11:15 PM

"Forum members: if you feel like putting those into a hat and drawing for me, please do so! "

OK

Get the Sauter.

You only live once.
Posted by: Clearly

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/21/13 11:42 PM

Thank you to those who have responded so far.

To answer first, The Schimmel is a 1998. I'm altering my OP to reflect that.

Sounds like my instincts are good on the Kawaii. The reason that ended up on my list was because I was looking at pianos at the original price point I'd set out ready to pay. That seemed the most likely candidate simply based on feel.

Monica: I'll admit I'm a little antsy, though after a few months of some internet grinding once I had the money, I finally decided to go out and tickle a few. It is a lot of money, absolutely, but I now walk through an empty room just screaming at me to buy a grand already!

The template is a great idea - I did bring my tablet with MS OneNote and made very specific notes on how I felt about the action and voicing, and more importantly, how I *felt* while playing it, as just the feel of the keys can make or break the piano regardless of the inner workings.

I plan to sit on these for a week or so, I just figured I'd pop on here to get some opinions of other pianists. And I'm so glad I did!

M. Marty: I'm very interested in knowing more about the Petrofs, but I feel that every time I start to dig in, the information gets more gray. Those who have them absolutely love them, which is a great starting point, but I love my 80 year old Bush and Lane Upright too. Anyone knocks on that and them's fighting words. :P I'll do more research into Petrofs, but I'd be curious to hear more about what you mean with the complicated action. If you could provide me with a trustworthy link or some of your own words to explain, I'd very much appreciate it.

Beethoven: I'll see what I can find with the Heilun. I'd never heard of it before and was very very pleased.

Furt: If I could fly high, I'd already have a Fazioli in my living room.
And one in my bedroom.
One in the kitchen . . .
Bathroom . . .
Heck, outside under a tent for garden parties. :P
Posted by: ando

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 03:02 AM

The Petrofs are a fine piano and excellent value for money. They are very pure sounding and sustain amazingly well. Not having the duplex scaling in the models you are looking at is a bonus, IMO. I think duplexes are more trouble than they are worth and contribute a lot of noise to the sound.

Don't worry about the action being strange on current Petrofs. They are a perfectly sound design and any tech would be able to adjust them. In the price range you have specified, I would get the Petrof. Your instincts seem to be telling you the same thing. Don't worry about mixed reviews - that was pretty much just the hangover from the Soviet era Petrofs. The new ones are very sound.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 10:05 AM

Clearly,

This is quoted from the book I recommended about Petrof.

http://www.pianobuyer.com/spring13/186.html

Here is a link, from the same source, for the Hailun. Make sure you read both pages.

http://www.pianobuyer.com/spring13/174.html

As I mentioned, this is a source that is available to everyone, and it will help you answer your questions about almost any brand available.
Posted by: dynamobt

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 11:51 AM

I'm probably not the person you should listen to. But, I have some thoughts. Maybe not realistic thoughts. But, thoughts none the less.

Yes, it's a lot of money. And for what you are willing to pay, the piano you buy should make your heart sing. I'm not telling you to buy on impulse. Read Larry Fine's book. Make it your bible as you go over pianos. I just think there is this intangible factor that is "you will know it when you play it".

When I bought my M & H, it was the only piano I looked at to buy. I thought the buying process would be long and drawn out looking and trying many pianos and trying to decide between them. I never thought the piano I would buy would be found in a small shop in the middle of nowhere NH. I went up there as a practice run for experience looking at future pianos. And then I played the the Mason & Hamlin I eventually bought. It floored me! I had never played on anything like it before! Granted, I had only played what some would consider only a few grand pianos. Yamaha, Kawai, Steinway, Bechstein. I knew more what I didn't like than what I liked. But, I knew from the first moment I played the Mason & Hamlin that this was "The One". And you should feel some of that too when you play the piano you eventually buy. You're going to play this piano a lot! It should be more than simply a piano!! It will be YOUR piano!!

Good luck searching. It's something you will likely only do once in this lifetime. Enjoy the process! Hope you find a piano that makes your heart sing!!!
Posted by: Keith Keeler

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 12:04 PM

Hello Clearly,

The "rough day" was a great start for your purchasing adventure. Six hours of shopping for something of this nature (and expense) is not a large amount of time at all.

I have to agree that the Larry Fine book will be very helpful and may keep you from making a big mistake when spending this amount of money and I also agree that 1970's pianos, (unless you intend to rebuild) from any manufacturer is not a wise choice.

I suggest looking into some other new pianos in your price range. You will see a lot of Estonia lovers here on Pianoworld and of course I would recommend you try them as well. There are other new Tier 3 pianos that will suit your price point as well but again you will find that info in The Piano Book.

Keep searching, it is very important that you are completely happy with your selection so take your time and when you have narrowed down the playing field you should spend a little time playing each of the finalists and see which one lets your musicality shine.
Posted by: Almaviva

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 12:26 PM

Clearly,

My family is in the throes of shopping for a performance-grade piano suitable for my 13-year-old niece, so I know what you've gone through. You are lucky in that you live in a major metropolitan area with a wide variety of piano dealers, makes and models to choose from.

First off, you mentioned that you were really impressed by a Sauter piano you saw. (Who WOULDN'T be impressed by a Sauter?) As you said the price was $40k, this has to be a used Sauter! (A new 6'1" Sauter grand has an invoice price of about $71k.) Find out the model (or size) and year of this instrument, and its condition. Have a registered piano technician check it out, and find out how much (if any) it will cost to get it in shape.

If this $40k Sauter is over 6 feet long, is only a few years old, and is already in excellent condition, you've found a real bargain! If it doesn't meet all three of the above criteria, negotiate with the dealer.

If the Sauter is still too rich for your blood, the 1998 Schimmel might be a good second choice PROVIDED it is in good condition AND you negotiate the price downward a bit.

A new Petrof would be another good second choice, but get one that is at least 6 feet long. A new 6'3" Petrof P194 grand has an invoice price of about $38k.

Hailun pianos have significantly improved their quality over the last few years, so a new Hailun 198 would be a good third choice. That particular Hailun model has an invoice price of $17k.

A new Kawai RX-3BLK (6'1" long), RX-5BLK (6'6" long) or RX-6BLK (7' long) grand would be an excellent instrument, but their invoice prices are in the $d33-42k range. That 1974 Kawai is too old for me to advise you on that, but $15k appears to be too high a price.

Good luck.
Posted by: Scott Hamlin

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 12:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Clearly

A tiny bit about me: I am a Chopin girl...


Is that anything like a "Hooters Girl"? crazy
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 01:32 PM

"First off, you mentioned that you were really impressed by a Sauter piano you saw. (Who WOULDN'T be impressed by a Sauter?) As you said the price was $40k, this has to be a used Sauter! (A new 6'1" Sauter grand has an invoice price of about $71k.) Find out the model (or size) and year of this instrument, and its condition. Have a registered piano technician check it out, and find out how much (if any) it will cost to get it in shape.

If this $40k Sauter is over 6 feet long, is only a few years old, and is already in excellent condition, you've found a real bargain! If it doesn't meet all three of the above criteria, negotiate with the dealer."


I think I know the Sauter she is referring to, and if so - it is new.
Posted by: Clearly

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 02:24 PM

The Sauter is brand new, 6'1 (I believe). It took all I had *not* to make notes on it because it was just too tempting, and has been the most my heart has ached for something that felt like it was . . . just . . . out . . . of . . . reaaachhhh!

What I seem to be reading from you, Furt, is that the Sauter is exactly what I'm looking for when asking the questions of longevity. It was indeed a perfect piano, it was a piano that spoke to me and sang beneath my fingers.

Perhaps someday it will be an upgrade, but as of now, I don't see myself riding in that car without losing my house over it. :P

Dynamobt, I believe your post sang to me as well. I do believe that some things are meant to be, and I *will* know it. This is my kicking off point. I think I sat at over 100 pianos yesterday (though some only long enough for two measures before I rose and didn't look back). The Sauter shook my soul, but I also need to be realistic. The top two mentioned in my post were two pianos that sang to me. The petrof has left me interested in others.

Which brings me to my next point. Later last night I received a call from a private owner of a petrof and went to play it at his home. It's the Petrof III from 2008. There is not a scuff mark (he asked if I'd seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and likened his treatment to Cameron's dad; how his kids fear touching that piano). I have my tech out there tomorrow morning, as the price of 15k seems too good to be true. But playing it, I have more love for Petrof.

Almaviva, you are very correct in saying I'm lucky. Seattle's Craigslist for grand pianos has pages and pages and pages of postings, and there are enough dealers around a 60 mile radius to keep me busy for a few weeks.

I'm off for another 6 hours soon to hit up some stores I don't love simply to fine tune what I'm looking for and glean opinions from the sellers. One store in particular insisted to a student of mine to buy a Samick, so whatever he suggests I will do the opposite of (sorry I just offended every Samick owner, but I am just NOT a fan).

I'll be looking for Estonia's in particular, since they come so highly recommended by people on this forum. I should see what the hype is about!

OH! And PLINKY88 - More like a hooter's girl with class, IMO. And your post made me laugh. Then shudder. Then laugh once more. wink

Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 02:32 PM

Originally Posted By: Almaviva
Clearly,

My family is in the throes of shopping for a performance-grade piano suitable for my 13-year-old niece, so I know what you've gone through. You are lucky in that you live in a major metropolitan area with a wide variety of piano dealers, makes and models to choose from.

First off, you mentioned that you were really impressed by a Sauter piano you saw. (Who WOULDN'T be impressed by a Sauter?) As you said the price was $40k, this has to be a used Sauter! (A new 6'1" Sauter grand has an invoice price of about $71k.) Find out the model (or size) and year of this instrument, and its condition. Have a registered piano technician check it out, and find out how much (if any) it will cost to get it in shape.

If this $40k Sauter is over 6 feet long, is only a few years old, and is already in excellent condition, you've found a real bargain! If it doesn't meet all three of the above criteria, negotiate with the dealer.

If the Sauter is still too rich for your blood, the 1998 Schimmel might be a good second choice PROVIDED it is in good condition AND you negotiate the price downward a bit.

A new Petrof would be another good second choice, but get one that is at least 6 feet long. A new 6'3" Petrof P194 grand has an invoice price of about $38k.

Hailun pianos have significantly improved their quality over the last few years, so a new Hailun 198 would be a good third choice. That particular Hailun model has an invoice price of $17k.

A new Kawai RX-3BLK (6'1" long), RX-5BLK (6'6" long) or RX-6BLK (7' long) grand would be an excellent instrument, but their invoice prices are in the $d33-42k range. That 1974 Kawai is too old for me to advise you on that, but $15k appears to be too high a price.

Good luck.
I know you are trying to be helpful but quoting these "invoice prices" from the Bluebook of Pianos is not a good idea. As I mentioned in another thread they are wildly inaccurate and/or out of date. But most importantly have nothing to do with the actual selling prices to either individuals or institutions(the Bluebook's claim that these invoice prices represent prices for institutions is outrageously incorrect). The correct source for piano pricing is the Piano Buyer.
Posted by: hotcat

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 03:54 PM

Clearly, for what it's worth, I just bought a new Estonia L190 about six weeks ago. I am very happy with it. I'm planning to post a recording of a Chopin nocturne later this week so that may help you, although I'm just an amateur player. It's had one tuning so far. My technician was impressed with it. Most importantly, it is a pleasure to play and romantic pieces in particular just sound fabulous. When I was piano shopping, one dealbreaker for me was muddled sound in the bass--I don't know the technical term for that but it really bothers me. This is not a problem with the Estonia. Also, the treble is clear and bell-like with nice sustain without being too bright.
Posted by: Almaviva

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 04:43 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I know you are trying to be helpful but quoting these "invoice prices" from the Bluebook of Pianos is not a good idea. As I mentioned in another thread they are wildly inaccurate and/or out of date. But most importantly have nothing to do with the actual selling prices to either individuals or institutions(the Bluebook's claim that these invoice prices represent prices for institutions is outrageously incorrect). The correct source for piano pricing is the Piano Buyer.


I didn't know that, pianoloverus. Thanks for warning me.

Have any of you other bloggers experienced this problem with the "Blue Book of Pianos"? Are the Blue Book prices too high or too high?
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 05:03 PM

I would slow your process down and not rush. Take your time. Try to enjoy the experience like a fine wine and sleep on your decision, no matter what.

I would not get the Hailun 198. It's long term quality is an unknown right now. And comparing it to some of the other brands you mentioned is like comparing a Ferrari to a Kia... smile
Based on your perceived taste, I would stay away from Chinese pianos.

Have you tried any big Baldwins? SF 10 or SD models?
Posted by: patH

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 05:03 PM

I like Yamaha better than Schimmel, so maybe I'm not the right person to ask, but for what it's worth...

Are there any Seiler pianos in your area? If you like Schimmel and Sauter, then maybe there are affordable Seilers as well; I believe they are cheaper than Sauters but come close quality-wise. But if you are considering Hailun then you may consider Samick as well.
And no, I am not paid by Samick to endorse Samick and Seiler. wink I bought a Yamaha last year.

Another company I tried out last year which makes nice pianos in an affordable price range for high-quality instruments is August Förster. I don't know how common they are where you live; a new August Förster costs less than a new Schimmel Konzert.
However, until the 90s, August Förster was a GDR company; I don't know how good their older instruments are. But then, the same is true for Petrof.
Posted by: terminaldegree

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 05:20 PM

Originally Posted By: Almaviva

Have any of you other bloggers experienced this problem with the "Blue Book of Pianos"? Are the Blue Book prices too high or too high?


Hi Almaviva,

Based on my experience as a university piano faculty member, I can say that the prices on the bluebookofpianos.com site bear NO resemblance to the prices we've been quoted as an institutional buyer on pianos from Steinway, Yamaha, Kawai, Estonia, Schimmel, Mason & Hamlin, and Bechstein. For that matter, what is the purpose of publishing an "institutional" price in a consumer publication, since a typical retail buyer won't be able to purchase at that price? Institutions tend to develop long-term/high volume purchasing relationships with dealers and also have piano technicians on-staff to deal with prep/service issues, not to mention the exposure these pianos have to the public in a high-profile setting like a concert hall. All these factors tend to have an impact on pricing.
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 05:21 PM


Hi, Clearly --

At your level of playing (far beyond mine), consider going with a used 9 ft. They can be had for surprisingly low prices sometimes. When they're no longer up to snuff for a major concert venue, the universe of potential buyers shrinks to just high end players such as yourself, and rich folks who need to fill up a big living room. Both are few and far between.

For instance, at livingpianos.com in Santa Ana, there's a 1970 Mason & Hamlin CC for just under $30k. You'll probably find some locally, there seem to be Baldwins everywhere. So, get out the tape measure, set out some dining room chairs, and visualize where a 9 ft. could go.

I got lucky. Though our house isn't big, we did have a perfect place for a 9 ft. So my wife let me get it.

Another recommendation: You'll probably get approximately bupkus for your upright, so don't even think of trading it in. Hang on to it for at least a few months after you get your grand. When you notice things that you remember being better on your former piano, you'll be able to check them out.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 05:26 PM

Clearly

Up until now you have received some good advice.

However...as usual on this forum...

We are now beginning to enter the "Piano Twilight Zone"
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 05:29 PM

Furtwangler nailed it!

Earth to piano lovers.
Earth to piano lovers.
Calling Earth.
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 05:36 PM

Originally Posted By: Almaviva
I didn't know that, pianoloverus. Thanks for warning me.
Blue Book is not industry supported and is known within the industry for having many misleading errors. Unlike the car industry, there is no reporting of selling prices.

I take issue with their online appraisal service as having any validity; you cannot appraise a used piano without an in-person inspection of condition. If their appraisal costs 1/5th of a real appraisal, then I shouldn't be surprised if it is 1/5th as accurate. This common sense failure invalidates the rest of their assertions for me.
Posted by: patH

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 06:03 PM

Originally Posted By: JohnSprung

Hi, Clearly --

At your level of playing (far beyond mine), consider going with a used 9 ft. They can be had for surprisingly low prices sometimes. When they're no longer up to snuff for a major concert venue, the universe of potential buyers shrinks to just high end players such as yourself, and rich folks who need to fill up a big living room. Both are few and far between.

BUT (@Clearly):
Keep in mind that 2m70 pianos were built to fill out a huge concert hall. So maybe it will make your room explode acoustically. wink
And: If you have neighbors who live wall to wall, then maybe a smaller piano is the better choice; or a grand piano with a silent system. The Yamaha C2 SG I bought last year is just 1m73 long (5 feet 8 inches), but it can be heard in the whole house. My neighbors told me so.

In the Piano Buyer's guide there's an article about how to make a piano room sound grand; where it is recommended that the length of your walls should be at least ten times higher than the length of the piano. So unless your living room is at least 6x8 meters large, I don't know if a 2,70m piano is the right choice.
Posted by: LFL

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 07:02 PM

I must agree with all the wise advice to take your time and resist the tempation to "settle" for something that you will not be happy with a few years from now. Don't assume that you will "trade up" in the future. I recently spent 6 weeks "shopping" and investigating, including travelling half-way across the country to check out a number of pianos. Consider maintenance costs that are to come. I will only add, as one of the above responders indicated, that a Kawai RX3Blak can probably be had (new) for around $25K and and RX5Blak for around $30K (very approximate figures). The Kawai you played is not appropriate for your apparent skill level and IMO is not a good value. Also consider finding a restored Steinway A, which can be had for around $25-30K in some locations. If you'd like, send me a PM and I can point you the right direction to investigate those.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 08:00 PM

Originally Posted By: Almaviva
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
I know you are trying to be helpful but quoting these "invoice prices" from the Bluebook of Pianos is not a good idea. As I mentioned in another thread they are wildly inaccurate and/or out of date. But most importantly have nothing to do with the actual selling prices to either individuals or institutions(the Bluebook's claim that these invoice prices represent prices for institutions is outrageously incorrect). The correct source for piano pricing is the Piano Buyer.


I didn't know that, pianoloverus. Thanks for warning me.

Have any of you other bloggers experienced this problem with the "Blue Book of Pianos"? Are the Blue Book prices too high or too high?
It has been stated almost every time that site is mentioned that it is virtually useless. If you read the PB you'll understand why. Besides the "invoice prices" in the Bluebook being useless some of the writing contains major and obvious errors about the piano industry.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 08:13 PM

Well, Clearly, I'm a Kawai fan (enough to have bought one), but I agree that you can do better than 1977--- I think you can get one new within your budget. They have just discontinued the RX-series, and this could be a very good time to negotiate a good price on the model.

Poor bluebookofpianos! It's today's punching bag, it seems. But, they have brought their troubles on themselves. Possibly, there was a time in the past when it was more reliable.

You will need a piano with a lot of life left in it. Obviously, you are not getting one so you can have something else to dust. My personal suggestion would be, don't shop for anything older than fifteen years at the most, and always have any serious candidate inspected for condition by an experienced piano tech, before you make an offer. It's a hundred bucks well-spent.

As tempting as a retired concert grand might be, it's a lot like buying a retired racehorse. It's going to take a lot of stable space, and a lot of oats, and you might be surprised at how much good saddles run these days--- a piano is almost a bargain by comparison. Most residences would not be right for a nine-footer. You were right in the first place, six to seven feet will have plenty of voice for a home.

Shopping in a rush, succumbing to piano fever--- these things are your enemy. As they say, marry in haste...

You will have an inner feeling when you find the right piano. When you come back for that second and third audition, knowing the market and the vendors, you'll be in a good position to negotiate a good price, for a piano that's right for you. And the ones you turned down, you'll know why they weren't right. This is an opportunity for a very interesting education. Then you'll be sending us photos and recordings... so, try them all--- why not. It's not really such a burden, going around town, meeting people who share a common interest, trying out pianos, and doing a little reading-up.

None of us really knows what's out there, before we go out to see.

Good luck to you.
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 08:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Jeff Clef
Well, As tempting as a retired concert grand might be, it's a lot like buying a retired racehorse. It's going to take a lot of stable space, and a lot of oats, and you might be surprised at how much good saddles run these days--- a piano is almost a bargain by comparison. Most residences would not be right for a nine-footer.


Well, having done it in reality rather than in theory, I beg to differ. Mine hasn't blown out the windows or deafened the neighborhood. My tuner/technician has no problem keeping it alive and healthy. There haven't been huge extra costs, though a damp chaser would be a couple hundred more. So, Clearly, if you encounter one, give it a try. It could be a very cost effective solution.
Posted by: Clearly

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 09:15 PM

Originally Posted By: patH

August Förster.


Funny that you should say this . . . August Forster changed my world today. And probably ruined it.

The 190, never had an owner, but is about three years old. Thoughts? I told him 30k was my max, he said he could come near it.

I cried playing this piano. I cried listening to him play this piano. I'm currently looking around my house for things to sell. frown
Posted by: BGJ

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 09:19 PM

Keep looking until you find what you love, unfortunately it takes time and persistence. You should travel to other cities to play many used grands since this is probably the best bang for the buck in concert quality instruments for 25K max. If you think you can handle a true concert grand (think 8-11" plus) in your space, then definitely don't rule it out. I was surprised you weren't looking at older larger Yamahas like C7 or CF, I have never heard them described as muddy! Play some older larger Baldwins if possible, they can be great values. Have a good tech check anything out before buying and Good Luck!
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 09:20 PM

NOW YOU'RE TALKING!

I am shocked at the price being potentially that low. I am not shocked that it hasn't sold in 3 years (not a well known brand).

I would kill to have one myself.

Go for it!

You deserve a piano like that after all the hard work.

Good luck Chopin girl. Play the Barcarolle on your Foerster for me sometime.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 09:27 PM

Have you seen this?

http://www.august-foerster.de/cms/en/27/Videos
Posted by: Rich D.

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 09:45 PM

The August Foerster 190 is an exceptional grand. Hard to beat, especially if you can get it close to 30k. Good luck.

Rich
Posted by: Almaviva

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 10:45 PM

Originally Posted By: Clearly
Originally Posted By: patH

August Förster.


Funny that you should say this . . . August Forster changed my world today. And probably ruined it.

The 190, never had an owner, but is about three years old. Thoughts? I told him 30k was my max, he said he could come near it.

I cried playing this piano. I cried listening to him play this piano. I'm currently looking around my house for things to sell. frown


LOL. You have made a good choice, Clearly. Pat H was right. Estonia and August Forster are the two "value" makes among performance-grade pianos - superb tone & touch, with no compromises in longevity or fit & finish, but less expensive than comparable-size pianos from Bechstein, Bluthner, Bosendorfer, Fazioli, Steinway, etc. Once my niece has recovered and is able to resume auditioning pianos, I am going to insist that she audition the Estonia and Forster models in the 72-90" length range.

My niece is a young lady with good but expensive tastes. She likes the Schimmel Konzert and Shigeru Kawai pianos that she has tried, but she is still enamored of the Sauter 220 (her music teacher's piano). That said, she realizes that her family has budget constraints, and she promises to keep an open mind until this "piano quest" is over. Hopefully she will like one of the Estonia or Forster models as much as the Sauter.

Enjoy the August Forster 190, Clearly. You made an excellent choice.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/22/13 11:20 PM

Normally a Foerster 190 is much, much more expensive than an Estonia 190.

Probably 50% more.

And I would say here in the USA probably would normally be perhaps 30% more than a Schimmel K189T. Normally.

If you can get a Foerster 190 for anywhere near what you have indicated - you are very fortunate.
Posted by: SoundThumb

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 12:00 AM

Here is one Petrof data point for you. I bought a 10 year old Petrof IV about 2 years ago. It still seems to be in excellent shape although I have no idea how much it was played before I got it. And of course, I still love it.
Posted by: Supply

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 12:16 AM

Seeing as you are in Seattle, I am very surprised no one has mentioned Darrell Fandrich yet. Whatever you do, you must contact him and see some of the magic he does. His pianos are known among players to be some of the smoothest playing and lovely sounding pianos out there. I believe you can test drive a Steingraeber there, and you know that you haven't lived until you have played a Steingraeber...
Fandrich & Sons
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 08:40 AM

Even given the multitude of variables that can affect selling price it seems strange to me that an August Forster with an SMP of 67K could sell for close to 30K. That would be more than 50% off SMP.

Even though these pianos are rated very highly I wouldn't place them in the bargain category*unless they really sell for such a low price) for Tier 2 pianos. IMO that distinction goes to Estonia, Shigeru, and Mason Hamlin.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 09:21 AM

STOP!

The language you used in your post shows that you have found what you are seeking.

Even if you had to finance a small balance, we are talking about your "love-forever" instrument.

it's like that one puppy in the liter that crawls up and licks your chin!
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 09:43 AM

just to confirm August Forster grand (190/215) is my no.1 piano after playing 90% of the list from the Pianobook (first 3 tiers). someday ill be getting one.

30k is a no brainer price. Go for it!
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 10:12 AM

It's far too soon to start talking about ruination. Wait til you have to start auctioning off your children. In fact, even then...
Posted by: lilylady

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 02:09 PM

Clearly,

So many of us have been in your situation. And have started with one budget and enlarged it immensely as our shopping educated us and we grew more wise.

And why wait to get the piano of your dreams when it is out there just beyond reach?

I started with a $10,000 budget. Had saved that for years.

But then, my ears and fingers told me differently!

Lots of good advice here. And used will get you so much more.

Can't wait for more details of your search.

Happy MH owner with no shoes and no clothes but a nice piano!
Posted by: Almaviva

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 02:33 PM

Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Normally a Foerster 190 is much, much more expensive than an Estonia 190.

Probably 50% more.

And I would say here in the USA probably would normally be perhaps 30% more than a Schimmel K189T. Normally.

If you can get a Foerster 190 for anywhere near what you have indicated - you are very fortunate.



Furtwangler,

You are right in that she is lucky to find a new Forster 190 at that price.

However, I think you misundertood the intent of the rest of my post. I was NOT implying that August Forsters are as inexpensive as Estonias. (They aren't.) I was simply stating that, compared to so many other premium makes like Steinway, Faziolli, Grotrian, Sauter, Bechstein, Bosendorfer, Bluthner and Steingraeber, Forsters are arguably of equal quality but cost less. In that way August Forster could be considered a "value" make.

As a matter of fact, in the 85-90" length range, the Forster 215 grand was not only cheaper the than the competing models of the makes listed above, but also undercut (ever so slightly) the competing Schimmel Konzert and Shigeru Kawai models as well.
Posted by: Furtwangler

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 02:37 PM

Great.

And how did you like the AF 215 if I may ask?
Posted by: Almaviva

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 04:49 PM

Originally Posted By: Furtwangler
Great.

And how did you like the AF 215 if I may ask?


Both the AF 190 and 215 models are on our "to audition" list when we go to New York in 3 weeks. I've heard nothing but praise for them from others. My niece will be auditioning other makes of pianos as well, but I hope she takes a liking to some of the less expensive makes like Estonia, Charles Walter, Schimmel, Shigeru Kawai, Mason & Hamlin, or August Forster.
Posted by: Almaviva

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 09:20 PM

Originally Posted By: terminaldegree
Originally Posted By: Almaviva

Have any of you other bloggers experienced this problem with the "Blue Book of Pianos"? Are the Blue Book prices too high or too low?


Hi Almaviva,

Based on my experience as a university piano faculty member, I can say that the prices on the bluebookofpianos.com site bear NO resemblance to the prices we've been quoted as an institutional buyer on pianos from Steinway, Yamaha, Kawai, Estonia, Schimmel, Mason & Hamlin, and Bechstein. For that matter, what is the purpose of publishing an "institutional" price in a consumer publication, since a typical retail buyer won't be able to purchase at that price?


Well, terminaldegree, I assumed that if the Piano Buyer's "Suggested Maximum Price" was a price above which a consumer should never accept, the Bluebook of Piano's "Invoice Selling Price" was a price below which a retailer should never accept. Thus the closer the consumer and retailer could get to the "Invoice Selling Price", the better the "deal" for the consumer.

However, most people on this site question the accuracy of the prices quoted in "Blue Book", so the point is moot. But my original question remains - are the "Blue Book" prices lower or higher than the actual retailer's cost of the piano?
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/23/13 09:29 PM

Quote:
However, most people on this site question the accuracy of the prices quoted in "Blue Book", so the point is moot. But my original question remains - are the "Blue Book" prices lower or higher than the actual retailer's cost of the piano?


The Blue Book is a private, "unauthorized" publication of retail prices which are NOT supported or updated by manufacturers in a transparent, reliable way.

I have contacted Blue Book several times myself to pint out some errors, however they chose not to reply.

As a result, BB only transpires to confuse even more what is for many an already confusing market.

The most reliable, regularly updated data about pricing are published semi-annually by Piano Buyer which is based on the actual prices supplied by manufacturers themselves.

http://www.pianobuyer.com/spring13/brand-index.html

Norbert
Posted by: Almaviva

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/24/13 09:08 AM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
Quote:
However, most people on this site question the accuracy of the prices quoted in "Blue Book", so the point is moot. But my original question remains - are the "Blue Book" prices lower or higher than the actual retailer's cost of the piano?


The Blue Book is a private, "unauthorized" publication of retail prices which are NOT supported or updated by manufacturers in a transparent, reliable way.

The most reliable, regularly updated data about pricing are published semi-annually by Piano Buyer which is based on the actual prices supplied by manufacturers themselves.

http://www.pianobuyer.com/spring13/brand-index.html

Norbert


Thanks, Norbert.
Posted by: CC2 and Chopin lover

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/24/13 12:34 PM

Quote:
Funny that you should say this . . . August Forster changed my world today. And probably ruined it.

The 190, never had an owner, but is about three years old. Thoughts? I told him 30k was my max, he said he could come near it.

I cried playing this piano. I cried listening to him play this piano. I'm currently looking around my house for things to sell.


Great, then I'd say buy it!! As far as paying for the overage, no need to sell anything in your home......you can always write a book about how it sounded so amazing in the piano store, but seemed to change completely when you got it home, sending you on a multi year quest to regain the mystique that drew you to it initially........oh, wait..... smile
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/24/13 01:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Almaviva
However, most people on this site question the accuracy of the prices quoted in "Blue Book", so the point is moot. But my original question remains - are the "Blue Book" prices lower or higher than the actual retailer's cost of the piano?
Why would a retailer sell a piano below cost??
Posted by: Lee Ashby

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/24/13 02:27 PM

Hi Clearly,

I have a new Kawai K8 scheduled for delivery tomorrow. So having recently shopped for a piano I can somewhat relate to what you're going through. Although, I was in the market for a vertical not a grand as my wife wasn't willing to let my piano habit occupy that much space.

I started my quest thinking I'd buy a used vertical, a Yamaha probably out of Craigslist for about $3K. But first I thought I'd visit a few shops. The first one had used Yamahas, Kawais, Petrofs etc. All within 10 to 15 years old. Good quality but nothing inspirational. Then I visited a Kawai dealer -- and they had a new K8 - which I loved instantly.

Search over, however, the sales guy barely spoke English - which made negotiating a bit unwieldly. Apparently they catered mostly to the Asian market. So I made a rather long trek to another Kawai dealer - who as luck would haven't didn't have any in stock to try. The owner was absolutely super great guy - but he said that very few people want to buy a new top of the line vertical.

OK, I said, but does Kawai have distribution nearby from which you could drop ship to my house? Yes. (Los Angeles area) Great, what's the best deal you can give me considering you have no inventory carrying costs and you don't have to touch the piano? After doing some calculation in his office he comes back to me with $10,500. At which point I should have counter offered but since I'm not all that good at this, I accepted the deal.

So I started at $3K and wound up at $12.5K - yes sales tax is a whopping 10% in the land of fruits and nuts.

My rationalization for such extravagance? 1) I spend a minimum of an hour a day during the week and 2-3 a day on the weekends. 2) This is likely to be the first and last piano I'm ever going to buy, at least in this life 3) The piano is very very important to me - not because I'm any good it's just the way it is. (BTW my other "piano" is a digital Yamaha hooked up to the Synthology virtual version of a Steinway concert grand).

So this is a long winded way of saying get whatever piano your ears, hands and heart desire. As for my purchasing strategy - I'm sure it left a lot to be desired, my piano buying experience up to this point was precisely zero. But at the end of the day what really matters is that you get the piano you love. If I've accomplished this, that is all that matters.

Yours Truly,
Lee
Posted by: JohnSprung

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/24/13 02:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Norbert
The Blue Book is a private, "unauthorized" publication of retail prices which are NOT supported or updated by manufacturers in a transparent, reliable way.


In that case, maybe it would be a good idea over here in the piano forum to do what the digital forum folks have done: A sticky thread of actual prices paid.
Posted by: Norbert

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/24/13 03:19 PM

Clearly:

August Foerster is a very fine piano comparing to world's absolute best. I was in factory few years ago and couldn't believe how much handworking goes into these pianos.

If you can get one of them anywhere near the price you indicated you are very lucky.

Can assure you they cost a lot more wholesale.

Only caveat: too bad you didn't try an....ah let's leave it..... wink

best wishes

Norbert smile
Posted by: Amy B

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/24/13 08:50 PM

I was in your spot about a year ago. I went out and played as many pianos as I could, over the period of about 5-6 months. I would suggest that you play all brands and sizes. Play the most expensive one in the store, and see if it sounds TO YOU, like the best one in the store. Often times, it won't!

You also want to like and trust the store/sales person. You will be working with them even after the purchase, and you want to make sure that you trust that they will be able to stand behind the piano.

After months of trying out different pianos, I narrowed it down to Mason and Hamlin, or Shigeru Kawai. In both of those, I found the 7 foot size to be my sweet spot (well, I never considered 9 foot for the size of my room!). When I jumped to that size, it just felt like I was getting so much more piano.

I bought my Shigeru Kawai (SK6) last October and I just love it. My only complaint is that I don't get as much time as I would like to play it!

See if you can find a Shigeru Kawai in your area to try out. Good luck!!
Posted by: BobInAZ

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/24/13 11:04 PM

Originally Posted By: Lee Ashby
Hi Clearly,

I have a new Kawai K8 scheduled for delivery tomorrow. So having recently shopped for a piano I can somewhat relate to what you're going through. Although, I was in the market for a vertical not a grand as my wife wasn't willing to let my piano habit occupy that much space.

I started my quest thinking I'd buy a used vertical, a Yamaha probably out of Craigslist for about $3K. But first I thought I'd visit a few shops. The first one had used Yamahas, Kawais, Petrofs etc. All within 10 to 15 years old. Good quality but nothing inspirational. Then I visited a Kawai dealer -- and they had a new K8 - which I loved instantly.

Search over, however, the sales guy barely spoke English - which made negotiating a bit unwieldly. Apparently they catered mostly to the Asian market. So I made a rather long trek to another Kawai dealer - who as luck would haven't didn't have any in stock to try. The owner was absolutely super great guy - but he said that very few people want to buy a new top of the line vertical.

OK, I said, but does Kawai have distribution nearby from which you could drop ship to my house? Yes. (Los Angeles area) Great, what's the best deal you can give me considering you have no inventory carrying costs and you don't have to touch the piano? After doing some calculation in his office he comes back to me with $10,500. At which point I should have counter offered but since I'm not all that good at this, I accepted the deal.

So I started at $3K and wound up at $12.5K - yes sales tax is a whopping 10% in the land of fruits and nuts.

My rationalization for such extravagance? 1) I spend a minimum of an hour a day during the week and 2-3 a day on the weekends. 2) This is likely to be the first and last piano I'm ever going to buy, at least in this life 3) The piano is very very important to me - not because I'm any good it's just the way it is. (BTW my other "piano" is a digital Yamaha hooked up to the Synthology virtual version of a Steinway concert grand).

So this is a long winded way of saying get whatever piano your ears, hands and heart desire. As for my purchasing strategy - I'm sure it left a lot to be desired, my piano buying experience up to this point was precisely zero. But at the end of the day what really matters is that you get the piano you love. If I've accomplished this, that is all that matters.

Yours Truly,
Lee



Congrats on your new piano and your search!

Enjoy many days of happy playing!

Bob
Posted by: Almaviva

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/25/13 02:35 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Almaviva
However, most people on this site question the accuracy of the prices quoted in "Blue Book", so the point is moot. But my original question remains - are the "Blue Book" prices lower or higher than the actual retailer's cost of the piano?
Why would a retailer sell a piano below cost??


I was simply trying to arrive at what it cost the dealer to buy the piano in the first place. It would put the consumer in a better bargaining position if he or she knew the wholesale price of the instrument in question.
Posted by: Minnesota Marty

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/25/13 07:19 PM

The wholesale or "invoice" price is a closely guarded secret in the piano biz. It would make life so much easier if it were published. But, business being business, ...

I agree with all of the others. You can't trust the Blue Book and it is all over the place with its "quotes."
Posted by: Chopinlover49

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/25/13 07:50 PM

Clearly:

I have sent you a PM. When I started my piano search, I tried most of the best European pianos, the Steinways, Mason-Hamlins, some Japanese and Korea pianos, etc. There are so many fine pianos out there, and many differences, so try as many as you can before you decide. You will also want to consider slightly-used or rebuilt instruments. Prices might surprise you on some of the slightly-used. If you choose one of these, you will hear from most of us here that you should have it checked by a tuner/tech. The cost is not a lot and it can really save you a lot of troubles. Good luck and let us know what you decide!
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Rough Day Piano Shopping - 04/25/13 10:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Almaviva
I was simply trying to arrive at what it cost the dealer to buy the piano in the first place. It would put the consumer in a better bargaining position if he or she knew the wholesale price of the instrument in question.
The logic in this fails quickly. Even when you see the factory invoice of a car, you don't see backside payments for volume and customer satisfaction reports. It only seems transparent. I don't know the invoice price of any article of clothing or piece of furniture I own. I certainly don't know the cost of many services I purchase. Nor to I know what is typical margin in those industries.

I'd have to search for the thread, but somewhere Steve Cohen posted more thoroughly about the music industry vs. other industry margins showing them significantly below average. Invoice doesn't account for retail costs that vary. Say the cost of a Manhattan store vs. one in the suburbs of Atlanta. wink

The phenomena of the group buy is almost exclusively for Yam U1. How many Bösendorfer pianos would you like to buy? I feel sure I could get you a volume discount at about 10-12. smile