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#117633 - 05/13/06 10:26 AM results: my 50-52" upright search is over
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2729
Loc: western Wisconsin
Hello everyone,

First, let me thank you all in advance for contributing to this forum. I learned a lot, and gained some interesting perspectives.

The criteria for my search: I wanted a dynamic, best sounding, best feeling, no-compromise upright that would sell under $15k [US]. It will serve as my primary practice piano now, and as a secondary piano years down the road for the rest of my life [possibly].

Based on my own experiences, talking to techs, Larry Fine's book, and other pianists, my list of possible instruments was long:

Instruments I actually tried--
Yamaha U3 [3 of them]
Yamaha U5
Kawai K60
50" Boston
Petrof 125 [3 of them]
Petrof 131 [2 of them]
Steinway K52
Fandrich and Sons/Klima 50"
Schimmel 130T [2 of them]

I chose the Schimmel. The selling dealer had it prepped well and was very good about getting the price down close to the price of most of the other pianos on the list.

There was a four-way tie for second between the U5, one of the Petrof 131s, the Fandrich and Sons, and the Kawai K60. I was dreading that no clear "winner" would emerge.

If anyone would like my impressions about any of these pianos, or my experiences with specific dealers [all of whom were pretty good, by the way], or even the serial numbers of specific pianos, feel free to ask. My search took about 4 weeks and brought me from San Antonio all the way to the north side of Dallas. [about 300 miles and places in between]

Sincerely,
the proud owner of a Schimmel 130T, #339100
_________________________
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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#117634 - 05/13/06 10:55 AM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
I'd be interested in your impressions of the Fandrich. I'm regulating one of them now, and it has some very different features.

Most notable in the action is that there is no "lost motion". In most uprights, pressing down the left pedal ("soft" or "una corda") moves the hammers closer to the strings, so they hit with less force. This disconnects the action from the keys, creating "lost motion": movement of the keys without contacting the rest of the action. The keys move very freely for a few tenths of an inch, until the parts come together again.

Even without the left pedal down, most uprights need a tiny bit of lost motion. Just gently tap your keys: can you feel that very first bit of free movement? If it's more than a paper thickness, your action needs adjusting. This is part of "regulation": compensating for wear by realigning and setting the motion of parts to their specified distances.

Grand actions don't have this lost motion, and so the action parts stay in contact throughout the keystroke cycle. This is one difference in the "feel" of a grand action.

In the Fandrich action, pressing down the left pedal causes the backs of the keys to rise and the fronts to dip. This moves the hammers closer to the strings as is typical, but no lost motion is introduced, so the action feels just the same.

There are other differences, notably the jack/catcher repetition spring.

The Fandrich pianos have a different soundboard design (radial ribs, bass cutoff bar) that gives a great clarity to the bass.

Anyway, I'd be interested to know your impressions. And congratulations on your new Schimmel! Your efforts in shopping should reassure you that you've made the right choice for you.

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
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#117635 - 05/13/06 11:02 AM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
Stevester Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/03
Posts: 2851
Loc: New Jersey
First of all congratulations on your new Schimmel.

Yes I would like to hear your impressions.
_________________________
"The true character of a man can be determined by witnessing what he does when no one is watching".

anon

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#117636 - 05/13/06 01:08 PM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Cy,

Thanks for the info re the Fandrich action. I knew about Darrell's patent, but didn't have any info re what it might entail.

Glad you mentioned the rib pattern and cutoff bar, which are advocated by the world's premier authority on piano design, PW's own "Del" Fandrich.

DavidH

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#117637 - 05/13/06 01:12 PM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
terminaldegree,

PW'ers always benefit from descriptions of audtioning pianos.

DavidH

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#117638 - 05/13/06 01:13 PM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17786
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Congratulations, terminaldegree, on your new piano! Please post some pictures when you get the chance.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#117639 - 05/13/06 03:09 PM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2729
Loc: western Wisconsin
Disclaimer: my impressions are subjective and often based on experience with 1-3 pianos only.

Some impressions--
Fandrich & Sons / Klima 50": The strongest point of the piano was obviously the action. It does NOT feel like a grand action, but it feels MUCH better than the typical vertical action, Nice touchweight, response, feel, and all those other etherial things. I thought the una corda shift of the keyboard angle itself was a weird sensation under my hands, but it accomplished its task. I was not totally convinced of the piano the action was hooked to. There were limitations in the lowest bass register, and this particular instrument had some slight dynamic limitations. Darryl and Heather Fandrich are VERY nice people who answered every question I had thoroughly, and helped me find a Fandrich owner whose piano I could try in my area. This piano is worth a try, certainly.

Yamaha U5 / Kawai K60: Yes, I'm putting them together. They were practically spitting images of each other in sound and feel. Good power and generally smooth across the scale. The actions felt similar, but the U5 was better regulated [in my opinion] than the K60. This was a pre-millenium III action, by the way, on the Kawai. Forget the "it's too bright" stereotype for both of these. They have a nice quality of sound that is biased slightly more toward clarity than fullness. Neither of the actions were too light for my taste, another stereotype I hear about the Japanese uprights. The U5 had a nicer case finish and THE BEST music desk of all the pianos I tried. The K60 had a slightly smoother sound between registers all across the instrument.
_________________________
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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#117640 - 05/13/06 03:27 PM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2729
Loc: western Wisconsin
Some more impressions--

Petrof 131: The mahogany case finish is a stunner visually. Both 131s I tried had a BIG sound. They have a rich sound which I found ever so slightly unrefined and sometimes inconsistent from note to note. High treble section on both pianos needed to be voiced down. Both ones I played had the Renner actions. Touchweight was okay, so was repetition. The action on both of these seemed a little unrefined-- it seemed a little inefficient and a little unresponsive. This is a hard thing to explain... Anyway, one of the 131s was untenably strident sounding and the other one was better prepared and had potential. Also, one of the 131s had a pesky polyester squeak noise somewhere in the casework. One of the Petrof dealers I visited was prepared to be VERY aggressive on the pricing-- almost to the point where I'd be stupid not to buy one.

Petrof 125: I think they had the new, "Petrof Original" action. All three of 'em had a more refined sound quality than the 131 models. All three also had high treble hammers that were voiced TOO bright. This piano has a good quality of sound, and the new actions feel different than the Renners on the 131. I think I prefer this action. My only other gripe about this piano [vs. a utopian "ideal"] was a slight lack of dynamic range on the 'forte' end. For fun, remove some of the case parts and just take a look at the plate and its associated hardware [agraffes, etc.].
_________________________
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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#117641 - 05/13/06 03:43 PM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2729
Loc: western Wisconsin
Another installment--

50" Boston: This was one of the "newer versions" of the model. I didn't spend too much time playing this one. The action, sound, and look of the Boston were certainly competent and not unpleasant, but no specific aspect of the instrument stuck out as unique or particularly superior to anything else I tried. For the money, I'd be shopping the other Japanese makers' larger model. To be fair, I wasn't able to try the UP132E [52"], only its slightly smaller cousin.

Yamaha U3: I played three new ones. People love to say they all sound and feel the same. I say they are similar, but anyone with decent senses would be able to hear they were different. One was nasal and unrefined across the board. One had a great bass and treble section, but a muted midrange [not played in yet?], and the third had a very even but bright sound across the scale. One had a well-regulated action. One had a loose action screw or two, and the third had the tenor "double-striking" problem when playing pianissimo. The non-ebony finish was VERY good looking [I forget what Yamaha calls it].

This review is proof that you shouldn't buy an instrument you can't play first, regardless of reputation.
_________________________
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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#117642 - 05/13/06 04:04 PM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2729
Loc: western Wisconsin
Final installment--

Steinway K52: Huge dynamic range. Very rich sound. Action that feels quite unlike all the others. This is pretty much the antithesis of the Japanese pianos. The tonal characteristics were NOT the same through the scale, and would need a good deal of tweaking by a technician before I would call it "even". This piano looks imposing and burly... I have a hard time justifying the purchase price.

Schimmel 130T: The most responsive and best feeling upright action I tried, with the exception of the Fandrich. The sound is clear and has great sustain throughout the entire keyboard. The dynamic range is wide enough to make me happy. Yes, the quality of sound is slightly on the European side of the scale, but rest assured this piano has ample power. This piano was the best overall performer and I was lucky to get the dealer to slash the price to something within my budget. There is NOTHING remarkable about it visually, and no "trick" features under the hood; it simply sounds and feels the best. Unfortunately, I have to wait until August 1 to take delivery...


Stuff I wanted to try but couldn't find in Texas: Schulze Pollman P6, Mason & Hamlin 50", Astin Weight 50". I suspect the M&H would be too expensive for my budget. That's all for now!
_________________________
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

Top
#117643 - 05/13/06 04:39 PM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
FogVilleLad Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/02/05
Posts: 4680
Loc: San Francisco
Wonderful user reviews. Let's hope that this thread is still on page one on Monday, so more people will see it.

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#117644 - 05/13/06 10:29 PM Re: results: my 50-52" upright search is over
terminaldegree Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2729
Loc: western Wisconsin
One suggestion for any of you who are shopping right now. CALL AHEAD. When I called ahead to a store to check if they had a particular piano model in stock, and then called the same salesperson a day or two in advance of my visit to let them know I wanted to see that piano specifically, EVERY single piano I tried was unpacked, tuned up, cleaned up, and ready to play regardless of the store.

I felt as though I were taken much more seriously-- some stores even had their pricing and delivery options worked out in advance. The only bad experience I had with instruments not ready to be played was at the one store I did NOT call in advance, FWIW.
_________________________
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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