Some may recall that I posted earlier this year ‘Sorry tale of a grand’ - a tale of woe during the search for my perfect grand piano.
Well, after much domestic discussion and soul-searching, I finally decided it would be an upright, but not *any* upright. It had to be one that could at least closely compete with some of the fine grand pianos I had previously auditioned.
For the next few months I was again breathing and dreaming pianos. And loving every minute of it.
Some of the models I auditioned were as follows:
Yamaha YUS 5
Kawai K-3 and K-6
Sauter 122 Vista; 122 Resonance; 130 Competence.
Schimmel C116 and C120
Bechstein Classic 118 and 124
August Forster 125
I had made a few mistakes whilst shopping for a grand, and these experiences certainly helped this time around now that I was in the market for an upright. What also simplified the task was that I had virtually ruled out the possibility of buying a used instrument, as I wanted it as perfect as possible.
I had practically no dealer persuasion during my piano search. In the many stores I visited, I made it absolutely clear that I was interested in a particular model and wished to try it for a short while without disruption. And this worked to my advantage, as I was able to give all my attention to the appreciation of the touch, sound, and the visual appeal of each instrument.
Please note these are my subjective opinions only, and I appreciate other buyers could well prefer other makes & models for whatever reasons.
I had set a flexible budget of approx 15000 euros, and on paper prior to the search had a personal preference either for a Schimmel or a Bechstein.
I tried the Steinway early on in the search, and knew it was way beyond budget, but I thought would provide a significant benchmark against which to judge my market. The V-125 is a fine instrument, and the first I tried was particularly well prepared – I loved it.
More than half way through my search I tried the Schimmels and the Seiler in the same store. Both were well prepared, and although very enjoyable to play, didn’t make me jump for joy.
I especially made a round trip of 5 hrs to the dealer who had an August Forster, and although pleasant, it didn’t have my name on it. There was another V125 Steinway there which I played briefly, and spent some time looking over the cabinet in detail, and the construction in general.
The next store were agents for Yamaha, Kawai, Bechstein and Sauter.
Both the Classic 118 and 124 Bechsteins were very pleasing. I recalled playing a new Bechstein for the first time in Bangkok about 5 years ago, and thinking at the time “ If I ever have an upright it will be like this”. Now I’m not sure exactly what model that was - it may even have been a Concert 8. If that was the case it’s not surprising that I relish the memory!
The Classic 124 was somewhat over my budget, but I liked the sound and the touch. Had it made me stop in amazement, I may have considered it. I continued taking careful notes on the quality of workmanship on all pianos of interest.
Which brings us to Sauter. All three in the store I found incredible. These were pianos that at last thrilled me. The superb sustain, rich bass, and pure, sparkling treble. Exactly the kind of sound and precision touch that I’d been searching for.
After another session with the Bechstein, and with a YUS 5 and K-6, I returned to the Sauter 130 again. After ½ hour or so, I became aware of my slight right-side tinnitus problem. The power of this piano was awesome. It is BIG in sound, which to most prospective buyers would be a plus point, not a concern.
Again I hastened back to the Vista and 122 Resonance, and reveled in the delightful Sauter tone, this time with subdued power. I could detect a slight difference in touch between the Vista and the Resonance, this being the double repetition action of the latter. (This particular Resonance 122 was finished in a very pleasing polished dark steel blue).
I needed to spend more time detailing the build and finish of these pianos. I knew from the moment I touched the keyboards that these pianos were manufactured to a very high standard – like the Steinway. But I wanted to convince myself further. I wanted more proof.
I requested that the upper and lower panels be removed for me to inspect further, and again I went around making mental notes. The result being that in my view the quality was first class.
For the record, I’ve never worked in the piano industry, but have for over 45 years been employed in a quality control and aftermarket role for a company who’s name (and especially initials) are synonymous the world over as the pinnacle of excellence. And the person who just whispered Cocoa Cola can go to the back of the classroom.........
I finally closed and arranged my notebook in an inside pocket. I wouldn’t be needing that again. I’d decided it *had* to be a Sauter. But which? Their brochure gave details of a top-of-the-range Master Class model, and my immediate thoughts were if quality could possibly be any better than what I’d just observed, they must truly be outstanding.
The salesman advised me they had never had one in stock to display. They were normally special order only.
That started a few mental alarm bells ringing. I’d learnt from this forum that buying a piano without actually playing it was a definite no-no.
Although now having tried several Sauters, I was convinced of the sound workmanship and near faultless product.
I was told that delivery on an M-Class model could be from 3-4 months. This was acceptable. So without more hesitation, after negotiation I ordered the 122M. (The 130M although a little over budget, was tempting, but with my slight hearing deficiency would not have been a wise choice).
I was asked how I wanted it voiced, to which I replied, “Pardon?” (But no - seriously my hearing is not that bad)!
Popular factory-voiced options I learnt were ‘Modern’ or ‘Classic’. I preferred the more mellow voicing of the Competence that was on display, and was told it was ‘Classic’ voicing. (The Vista had the ‘Modern’, which I judged as being somewhat brighter).
Like the Ford Model T, one can get the M-Class model in any colour – so long as it’s black! That happened to be my choice anyway.
The next few months seemed to stand still, until I was finally contacted and advised that the piano had been received, prepared, and ready for delivery.
I returned to the store to view and trial the new 122M. After some time playing and minutely checking for details, I was totally satisfied. It certainly succeeded in reaching my extremely high expectations, and I immediately felt connected with this fine piano.
Delivery pictures follow:
Since then my digital Clavinova has been relegated to the second division, although still useful late some evenings as the Sauter M-Class models have no mute/practice pedal. There is however a sostenuto pedal, which I’m sure will intrigue me for many months if not years to come.
So, I’m perfectly happy with this purchase - zero buyers remorse. In fact I’ve been an infrequent forum visitor, as this Sauter has really given me the motivation to play, admire, and play again. After all isn’t that what it’s all about?
And with the fall-board raised, what a pleasure to see on the lower right side the double repetition action motif – RR. I like to think my 122M is the pinnacle of excellence too!