Estonia L190--looking for reassurance!

Posted by: hotcat

Estonia L190--looking for reassurance! - 02/09/13 09:17 PM

Well, I went ahead and made a (refundable) deposit on an Estonia L190. I do love it and it will be my first grand piano! But it's so nervewracking to make such a huge purchase. Is there anyone out there, including owners/tuners/technicians who have time to leave a comment or two? If it helps any, the other piano I was considering was the Yamaha C3X which was also lovely.

I'm just an amateur player, but putting in lots of hours lately. On the Estonia I played some Mendelssohn, Brahms, Chopin, etc. and it was heavenly--like the piano was just made for those kinds of pieces.

Part of the deal is the piano will have a Dampp-Chaser installed. I live in brutal midwest climate. Of course I will try to run a humidifer in the winter and the AC in the summer, but I wanted the D-C as kind of an added assurance. Opinions about the D-C are also welcome.
Posted by: hotcat

Re: Estonia L190--looking for reassurance! - 02/09/13 10:24 PM

I might add that I tried to find a techncian in my area with experience working on Estonias, but could not readily find one. Estonias are not sold in my area. So I thought I would address this question on the piano technician forum. When looking for a tuner to work on my Estonia (if I do purchase it), should I try to find one that specializes in European pianos or does that make a difference?
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Estonia L190--looking for reassurance! - 02/09/13 11:02 PM

It is exciting to be getting a grand piano that "Plays" you well. Sounds like you found it. Does the dealer know any Techs in your area? Who services pianos in your town that you have played and enjoyed? You can go to PTG.org and search for a member Tech in your area. Talk to piano teachers, (who you know are serious about their piano's condition) about who they recommend.

I think the fact that Estonia is a newer brand to the US market does not mean you need a Tech who "specializes" in them. The only Tech who could make a living specializing in Estonia would be the US service manager. A tech who is skilled in tone-regulation skills and tunes rock solid should be able to manage your service requirements.

Enjoy the music! Congratulations!
Posted by: That Guy

Re: Estonia L190--looking for reassurance! - 02/09/13 11:05 PM

You came to the right place if opinions are what you want. You may get overwhelmed. wink

I'm not a big fan of Dampp-Chaser. Not because they don't work but because most people don't need another thing to do and usually in a home situation it's a bit of overkill. I don't know where you live - I'm in Lincoln, Nebraska and we can have pretty severe weather swings too but it's unusual to find a Dampp-Chaser on a home piano. It may be worse where you are. So, as long as you don't mind watering your piano and changing pads, go for it.

I'm not familiar with the Estonia but any good piano technician should be able to work on it. Here's a website that lists piano tuners by state: http://www.pianoacoustics.com/

Well, there ya go, just my opinion.

I do hope you have lots and lots of fun on your new piano laugh It's for people like you that we are privileged to do what we do!
Posted by: Ed McMorrow, RPT

Re: Estonia L190--looking for reassurance! - 02/10/13 12:27 AM

The most damaging exposure is to high humidity. Softwood (spruce is a softwood) takes on moisture at about five times the rate it gives it back. That means having at least the de-humidifier controlled by a humidistat will make your piano more stable and lasting. Protecting against humidity spikes is most important.

I have that system on many pianos here in the Seattle area where large seasonal humidity swings are rare-and it help alot. The humidifier part can subject the piano to added humidity cycles over the uncontrolled state if you forget to put water in for more than a couple of days when it is dry. Also the pads can get funky.

To add humidity it is better to either have a whole house system in your HVAC or a room humidifier. I disagree with the "Tuning Guy" on this.
Posted by: James Carney

Re: Estonia L190--looking for reassurance! - 02/10/13 08:00 AM

You've made an excellent choice in the Estonia 190. I've tuned and tweaked literally hundreds of Estonia pianos, as I am the technician for the NYC/CT dealership, which also sells Steingraeber, Bluthner, Bosendorfer, August Forster, and Kawai. The quality and value at the price point are exceptional. When you compare an Estonia - side by side - with a Steingraeber or Bosendorfer, you realize how amazing these pianos truly are.

The Estonia has its own unique sonic characteristics and is a pleasure to play and service. The company is run by a fantastic pianist - Indrek Laul - who is also a very nice guy. They really care about their customers and are always improving their pianos - they probably make more design changes and tweaks than any other piano maker out there, which I find commendable. Their new model 210 is really spectacular, but I always love playing the 168 and 190 as well.

Now, regarding humidity control, I am with Ed and must disagree with That Guy about the Dampp-Chaser system.

While there may be some parts of the U.S. (and the world) that have stable relative humidity (RH) conditions, many areas of the U.S. are brutal on pianos. I've said this about ten times before on this forum, but here goes again: I routinely service pianos in recording studios, venues, apartments, homes, and churches all over NYC, and the indoor RH will range from between 18% in the winter to 70% in the summer.

(Yup, nothing like tuning in August in an 86 degree 5th floor walk-up apartment, without AC, in 70% RH conditions. I call it "Bikram Piano Tuning.")

All the pianos that have properly maintained Dampp-Chaser systems will be within 10 cents or so of 440. Those without? Anywhere from -30 cents in the winter to +30 in the summer. Think about what those extreme changes are doing to the cellular structure of the wood in the piano, year after year.

Enough said.

Get the best tech you can find to service your new Estonia. The best technicians will be able to extract the most out of any piano, but European pianos are indeed different from American pianos. I would ask the dealership for their recommendation. If you tell us what city or town you live in we may be able to make some suggestions as well. Enjoy!
Posted by: Olek

Re: Estonia L190--looking for reassurance! - 02/10/13 08:09 AM

Agreed with what Ed said , May be Nebraska is on the dry side all along the year.

Humans also are sufferning from too low moisture level during winter, babies, but not only.

The natural evaporation obtained by "cold" systems (the water is on a wheeel that turn in an air flow) is a simple and not too costly system, that can even be used without HR regulation in my opinion.

More evaporation if the air is warm, less if it is cold, it sort of stabilize by itself I believe.

Also the air is "washed" from dust while passing thru the humidifier.

example :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOvsXL0pk8Y

SOme customers have such models, and are very happy with.
Othere mauy have an higrostat , but unless you buy a professional huĆ¹midifier , the electronics on those sort of things is too low quality to last really long. SO in the end the most basic is the better
(professional humidifiers use the same system most often)

A little moisture for the dry season can just gain you a few decades of fuller tone and avoid any cracks, but sure not all indoors ask for that and modern pianos are more adapted to dryness than older ones)

Despite that even the concert grands are sounding more metallic during winter, and offer less dynamic range.

The Estonian grands are visibly well build, I am not big fan of their treble I find too brutal, not singing enough (for my taste). it may be partially due to the hammers used, but also to , the soundboard and scale, indeed.
If you like that go for it, but remember that the tone get more brillance in time, after a little maturation the tone harden, a piano that tend to provide more partials than fundamental with be clearer soon

WHat would be the final element to ascertain the quality of any piano to me is the thickness and lenght of the tone in the treble

The treble must not be explosive but thick and transparent

You may want to test that quality on different pianos, new or old, by listening to the way the tone expands, diseappear, or stay the same during sustain. the more you hear the "alimentation" of the tone, the more lively your instrument is
you may hear as if there is a small engine that "push" the tone a little after the initial attack . A too straight and direct extinction curve provide a less manageable (singing) tone.

In case of doubt play silently a note and pluck a string, listen to the thickening, is it long or does the tone escape soon ?

Any top technician can take care of a good piano instrument.
For what I have seen the prep is initially well done on Estonias, may be a little correction for hammer spacing , the usual key bedding check after a piano move, some fine voicing, and enough tunings to settle the piano in 2 3 years.

So yes try to get in contact with a good technician before buying the piano, I am sure he will appreciate that, also.

First look for concert technicians (in my own experience teatchers rarely care seriously about their pianos, and have some win win excahnges with their tech so they pay less (or nothing) and have less work done generally as a final result.
NOt very politically correct to state such things but that is some reality in the part of the world I live , of cours there are appreciated exceptions, when you are with real top pianists, this happen more with "ordinary" piano teachers, and even there some of them are attentive to their instrument.

But I have seen enough piano teachers considering their piano as a plumber his electric drill... The fault to the technicians also, that make them ring "Yamaha" or "Steinway" as being enough to consider the piano is in its best condition...
Posted by: Dave B

Re: Estonia L190--looking for reassurance! - 02/10/13 11:33 AM

Estonia's are fun to play. Good sound, responsive actions. Excellent quality. The '190' is their best scale in my opinion. But, I'm still looking at the '210'.
Posted by: hotcat

Re: Estonia L190--looking for reassurance! - 02/10/13 02:52 PM

Thanks everyone, this is really helping. As for finding a good technician, my piano teacher has a guy named Karl Starbuck, and has really good things to say about him. Any other suggestions are welcome! I live in St. Louis.