Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument

Posted by: Oongawa

Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/04/13 03:29 PM

A game, just for fun - but I'm collecting some useful ideas, too...

Imagine you're shopping for a piano. (I'm not at the moment but will be in the not-too-distant future).

You are permitted to play only two works, songs, or exercises to assess the instrument.

So, it's not a performance, you're not out to impress the salesman or the other shoppers in the store etc. You're trying to assess the instrument, sound, touch, etc.

What TWO items do you play to help you in your decision?

For me, I'm just edging out of the newbie ranks. I'd play Tarantelle, so asses responsiveness, and something from Burgmuller op 100, like Sincerity.
Posted by: Dulcetta

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/04/13 03:35 PM

I'm just a novice so it would simply be scales for me atm.
My local music shop however has a charity collection tin next to a list of banned pieces that you are not allowed to play when trying out an instrument , or you have to make a donation lol.
Top of the list for piano is Fur Elise and Sweet Child of Mine for guitar.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/04/13 03:38 PM

When trying instruments, I just play a bunch of different techniques (octaves, fast scales, arpeggios, chords, double notes, etc) and see how responsive the action is and how much I like the tone. Then I'll play a few excerpts from whatever works I'm in the mood for.
Posted by: AimeeO

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/04/13 03:40 PM

This is really dumb, and I didn't (because I couldn't!), but I've always thought the opening bars of Rachmaninov's 2nd concerto would be a brilliant idea, since my favorite piano sounds come from the bass end, and I don't want a horrible sounding bass. I think I wound up playing scales and chords down at that end.

I found chunks of Mozart's 545 rather useful, too. That is a good piece for responsiveness as well.
Posted by: kapelli

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/04/13 05:24 PM

3rd piano concerto by Rachmaninoff. You will find there everything you need to test the piano.
You didn't told the time so it's enough for me to play just this one piece laugh

The second would be something from Debussy, one Etude or Prelude to check other style.
Posted by: earlofmar

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/04/13 05:40 PM

I doubt I could play anything grand enough to test a piano at the moment. However I have shopped for high end acoustic guitars and would play my own compositions.

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
and see how responsive the action is and how much I like the tone.


I would agree with Polyphonist, a couple of key points you are looking for are the responsiveness of the action and tone, key weight also.

Most importantly never decide on the first visit, you can easily fall in love with an instrument in the heat of the moment. If you find something you like, leave the shop and sleep on it before going back to try it again.
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/04/13 07:07 PM

I'd suggest something with a lot of fast responsiveness and finger articulation such as Bach or Mozart. It should have lots of fast, clear ornaments. I'd probably go with a Mozart Sonata or Bach prelude/fugue if you can manage it.

And then I'd try something Romantic and highly expressive, something that takes you to the top and bottom of the piano, and to the top and bottom of the dynamic range, perhaps a piece by Chopin, Liszt or Rachmaninoff.

Listen to how long notes are sustained after they are played. Pay attention to how easy or difficult it is to control the dynamic range. Try out different articulations - legato, staccato, leggiero, sfortzando, subito, etc. Look for even tone, especially over the metal bridges. Look for even regulation - every key is perfect and recovers quickly. Avoid pianos that sound harsh and loud in the mid range and tinny in the upper octaves. (Sometimes this can be worked out by a competent technician.)

I was trying out grand pianos at a Steinway store while I waited for my fairy godmother to show up.
They all sounded muddy to me until, oh my gosh, I tried a particular concert D and thought I would faint. There seemed to be actual rainbows coming out of it no matter what I played. Unfortunately, it was $30,000 too much for me and FGM never showed up. frown Sigh.
Posted by: Mark...

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/05/13 06:20 PM

Something that uses the sustain pedal. You will miss lots of problems without using it.
Posted by: Oongawa

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/07/13 09:51 PM

Thanks!

lots of good ideas here. I am saving my pennies and will start searching diligently for my "shopping" pieces.
Posted by: Andy Platt

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/08/13 07:21 AM

Bach and Chopin. Don't really mind which pieces but if I could play both of those and make them both sound like Bach and Chopin (hopefully in the right order) that would be a good start.

When I was piano shopping I played the second movement of Mozart's K545 sonata on every piano I tried. At the time that was the piece I could play more consistently than any other. Of course I tried a ton more. I did play a bunch of pop tunes too, which gave a good indication of how it would fair with that kind of material.

Hmm, desert island discs, piano style. Washed up on a desert island with a piano and ten piano pieces ....
Posted by: wouter79

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/08/13 04:56 PM

Staccato notes, no pedal, notes around the bass break. A few notes from a simple version of Brahms' hungarian dance tells me almost all in a few seconds.

http://www.pianoworld.com/Uploads/files/150cm.mp3

Even playing just a part of this is already enough. And that's good because my ear tires quickly when assessing pianos.

It does not tell how good the bass is or high treble but most pianos fail right away in this simple test.

Posted by: wouter79

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/08/13 05:00 PM

>FGM never showed up

confused what's FGM? Nickname for santaclaus? Initials of your friend who is millionaire? I can only find one meaning on internetslang.com and I'm pretty sure it's not it blush
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/08/13 08:09 PM

Yeah, I'd guess it's probably not that (no link because I will get banned grin).

Fairy godmother is what she meant - she mentioned it in her post and even posted a picture of one... wink
Originally Posted By: gooddog
I was trying out grand pianos at a Steinway store while I waited for my fairy godmother to show up.
Posted by: rnaple

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/08/13 08:40 PM

I don't know what you people are talking about?
I can't get past; Gilligan's Island. Without everyone in the store joining in.
Posted by: wouter79

Re: Shopping game: Play two items to assess an instrument - 05/09/13 03:45 AM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Yeah, I'd guess it's probably not that (no link because I will get banned grin).

Fairy godmother is what she meant - she mentioned it in her post and even posted a picture of one... wink
Originally Posted By: gooddog
I was trying out grand pianos at a Steinway store while I waited for my fairy godmother to show up.


LOL thanks, I never made the connection between these two statements