Advice on Grand Pianos?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Topic Author
texasdiver
Posts: 3280
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by texasdiver » Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:27 pm

I know there are several expert musicians on these forums so I thought I'd see what folks say here before diving deep in to the piano forums.

We have two daughters ages 12 and 15 who have both been playing piano for 8-9 years. They are both becoming amateur accomplished musicians for their ages but by no means will ever be professional musicians or concert pianists or anything like that. They are normal kids not prodigies. They both just enjoy music and also play other instruments (sax and percussion). Recently their teacher told me that she thinks it is time to upgrade our home piano which is a Kawai CA-63 digital that they have been playing on for the past 8-9 years. Their teacher says she thinks our home digital piano has sufficiently heavy action that it is starting to detract from their ability to master more complicated and faster passages. And that they are really ready to move up to an acoustic piano because their playing style is being affected. The 15 year old is starting to get hired as an accompanist by other woodwind players in her HS band for regional competitions and such so that kind of tells you where she is at.

Looking at our house I think our space is better suited to a small grand than an upright. We have a formal living room that is not heavily used which we can clear out, but a lack of wall space against which we can push an upright because the one wall is all windows and the other is all fireplace and built-ins. The other two sides are open to the entry and dining room. So we have floor space not wall space and I think a small to medium size grand will fit best.

I'm really looking for some buying advice. Top priority is finding a good playable instrument. Our house is Ikea not Roche Bobois so we don't need some high-end piece of furniture. In terms of budget I'd really like to keep things well below 10k. WELL below 10k if possible. We are in the Portland metro area and there are currently 53 grand pianos on Craigslist being sold by private sellers and another 75 or so advertised by local piano dealers. And yes, I know to have any instrument fully inspected by a local technician before buying. I'm just looking for help weeding through the chaff to find the gem. And I'm also not in any great hurry so can take my time and be very choosy.

I will be meeting with their teacher when we have more time to get her thoughts. She is very connected to the local music scene so will likely have lots of advice. But it is nice to have some outside perspective. I'm thinking that the sweet spot for us will likely be some sort of gently used mid-range Yamaha or Kawai that isn't too old to have many issues but isn't so new that the seller is still thinking new prices. But I'd welcome thoughts from anyone else who's been looking for something similar.

Jags4186
Posts: 4104
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Jags4186 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:32 pm

A good upright is better than a cheap grand. It will be difficult to impossible to get a good grand or baby grand for under $10k. An under $10k grand could require significant restoration and if you decided to get rid of it would require someone naive to purchase if it hasn’t been restored.

I would consider looking at some of the Yamaha hybrid pianos as you’ll get the baby grand look for a price hopefully you can stomach.

dustinst22
Posts: 318
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:09 pm
Location: Huntington Beach, CA

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by dustinst22 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:03 pm

As a lifelong piano player (both parents taught piano), nothing comes close to a grand piano. An upright is not a suitable longterm substitute imo. But with only a 10 K budget, the above poster is somewhat accurate, it might be difficult to find a quality grand at that price point. This is one of those subjects to really research, as it's a worthwhile "investment" in my view.

I would post your question here, excellent forum: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads. ... forum.html
Last edited by dustinst22 on Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Topic Author
texasdiver
Posts: 3280
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by texasdiver » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:08 pm

dustinst22 wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:03 pm
As a lifelong piano player (both parents taught piano), nothing comes close to a grand piano. An upright is not a suitable longterm substitute imo.

I would post your question here, excellent forum: http://forum.pianoworld.com/ubbthreads. ... forum.html
I already did that. But I thought posting here might generate a more bogleheadish slant to piano buying than one might find on the professional forums. I know from previous threads that there are lots of accomplished musicians here.

treypar
Posts: 92
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:55 pm
Location: GA

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by treypar » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:19 pm

I do not play the piano. However I have a Steinway M Grand piano and it looks great and sounds great when someone can play it.

Dottie57
Posts: 7566
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm
Location: Earth Northern Hemisphere

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:28 pm

You have already received great advice. A cheap grand piano is not a great choice. Try buying from a large music store that has used pianos. In general they will tune and deliver. The cost is less than new and you will likely get a very nice piano for the money.

Dottie57
Posts: 7566
Joined: Thu May 19, 2016 5:43 pm
Location: Earth Northern Hemisphere

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Dottie57 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:28 pm

You have already received great advice. A cheap grand piano is not a great choice. Try buying from a large music store that has used pianos. In general they will tune and deliver. The cost is less than new and you will likely get a very nice piano for the money.

Include your kids in the buying of the piano. You might as well buy one that they like.

marcwd
Posts: 201
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:15 am
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by marcwd » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:38 pm

treypar wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:19 pm
I do not play the piano. However I have a Steinway M Grand piano and it looks great and sounds great when someone can play it.
The OP is looking to spend well under $10k. A Steinway M in the condition you describe would sell for well above that amount.

coalcracker
Posts: 493
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:25 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by coalcracker » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:53 pm

I just googled grand piano prices :shock:

coalcracker
Posts: 493
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:25 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by coalcracker » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:55 pm

Our small midwestern city symphony has an annual auction. Anecdotally I've heard you can get a decent deal on a really nice used piano. But i'm sure you or your music teacher would know if your city does this.

miamivice
Posts: 2197
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:46 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by miamivice » Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:58 pm

You have two kids, ages 12 and 15. That would mean that in no later than 6 years, your grand piano will go unused at least 9 months out of the year while your kids are at college. (Perhaps more, if they do not come home for summer break.)

I'm not sure that paying $10,000 for something that your kids will likely enjoy for no more than 3 or 6 years is worthwhile, unless you or your spouse plays, or unless you enjoy having one in your house.

Topic Author
texasdiver
Posts: 3280
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by texasdiver » Sat Mar 02, 2019 4:14 pm

miamivice wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:58 pm
You have two kids, ages 12 and 15. That would mean that in no later than 6 years, your grand piano will go unused at least 9 months out of the year while your kids are at college. (Perhaps more, if they do not come home for summer break.)

I'm not sure that paying $10,000 for something that your kids will likely enjoy for no more than 3 or 6 years is worthwhile, unless you or your spouse plays, or unless you enjoy having one in your house.
Thought of this. I also mess around on piano but I'm a complete amateur. I'm also not absolutely positive yet that either or both of them will be completely launching. There are a variety of local college options. I don't really know for sure that we'll have an empty house in 6 years. That's why I would most certainly not buy an expensive new piano. But a really good deal on a decent used piano should be something we could eventually part with if necessary without losing everthing we have in it.

At some point you just have to invest in the moment. We can afford to pay $10k for a decent piano. Both girls are almost a decade into playing piano so we know this isn't a fly by night thing. And they both enjoy it enough to actually go play on their own outside of their actual scheduled practice sessions. So if not now, when?

marcwd
Posts: 201
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:15 am
Location: Massachusetts

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by marcwd » Sat Mar 02, 2019 4:34 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 4:14 pm
miamivice wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:58 pm
You have two kids, ages 12 and 15. That would mean that in no later than 6 years, your grand piano will go unused at least 9 months out of the year while your kids are at college. (Perhaps more, if they do not come home for summer break.)

I'm not sure that paying $10,000 for something that your kids will likely enjoy for no more than 3 or 6 years is worthwhile, unless you or your spouse plays, or unless you enjoy having one in your house.
Thought of this. I also mess around on piano but I'm a complete amateur. I'm also not absolutely positive yet that either or both of them will be completely launching. There are a variety of local college options. I don't really know for sure that we'll have an empty house in 6 years. That's why I would most certainly not buy an expensive new piano. But a really good deal on a decent used piano should be something we could eventually part with if necessary without losing everthing we have in it.

At some point you just have to invest in the moment. We can afford to pay $10k for a decent piano. Both girls are almost a decade into playing piano so we know this isn't a fly by night thing. And they both enjoy it enough to actually go play on their own outside of their actual scheduled practice sessions. So if not now, when?
If you can stretch your budget just a bit, keep an eye out for a Yamaha C2 in good condition. I bought mine last year for about $11k. This is a well-regarded brand and model and it should be relatively easy to resell in the future.

User avatar
snackdog
Posts: 840
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:57 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by snackdog » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:04 pm

Buying used grands from a private indiviual is significantly more complex and risky than purchasing a car in the same fashion. It can be done and I have done it but a lot of work and some luck is required.

I would make an appointment with Lotof at Michelle’s Piano in Portland. Explain your situation. He is very honest and will explain your options. You need an older reliable grand piano at a great price. If you would consider $15k I think a lot more good options come into play.

supalong52
Posts: 183
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 1:51 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by supalong52 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:32 pm

After your youngest goes to college, will you still have an established need for a grand piano? If not, this is a purchase you only need for six years. I would think about getting a good upright instead like others have suggested. Even those are super heavy and a pain to sell/donate.

Rwsavory
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:17 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Rwsavory » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:37 pm

We have had a grand piano for some years now, and I have been looking to upgrade within the next couple of years. So I have been looking at the market very closely. If you want a decent quality new grand for about 10k you will be looking at Chinese or Korean models. The market for pianos in Asia is booming, and they are making some very nice instruments. For research, see https://www.pianobuyer.com/Articles/Det ... RKET-TODAY www.Pianobuyer.com has some great info and articles, including a buyer's guide with street prices.

I have also found a particular "online" dealer, www.livingpianos.com in California run by pianist and music educator Robert Estrin. He gives some very good advice on pianos and piano playing on his youtube channel. He also sells new and used pianos, and most are priced with delivery included. He has grand pianos in your price range. This one looks like the perfect instrument for your daughters, https://livingpianos.com/pianos/young-c ... and-piano/ And, no I don't get a commission. :)
Last edited by Rwsavory on Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
elcadarj
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:21 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by elcadarj » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:38 pm

This reference is worth every penny if you indeed want a musical instrument and not a piece of furniture:

https://www.amazon.com/Piano-Book-Buyin ... 1929145012

Utahdogowner
Posts: 165
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2014 3:53 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Utahdogowner » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:40 pm

Our local University sells their used but still very nice grand pianos every 2 or 3 years I'm. They open the cell up first to donors to their radio and TV programs as, so I get the letter occasionally. They seem like reasonable options to get a good and service Keanu, but I think you're probably looking more at the $20,000 range to get a good 5 foot Grand. I don't know if any of your local universities would have a similar program.

getthatmarshmallow
Posts: 443
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:43 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:53 pm

Not an expert, but I did buy a piano last year. You have the luxury of time. Some thoughts :

1) pianobuyer.com for reviews, and a sense of the lay of the land. Many solid pianos from newer brands.

2) With a budget of under ten, most would say you're better off with an upright, but if the teacher is recommending a grand then your kids are probably playing fast enough that a grand is better. Figure out how much space you have, and the size range.

3) Take the kids to piano stores and let them get a feel for the different instruments. Figure out what they like and then pounce on the used one that comes by.

4) If your local university has a music school, see if they sell off the practice room pianos annually. It can be a way to score a deal.

gvsucavie03
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:30 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by gvsucavie03 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:55 pm

Yamaha baby grand. Also, shop online... most folks will practically give theirs away if they don't want it.

-gvsucavie03 (band director)

Broken Man 1999
Posts: 3800
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 11:31 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:11 pm

Where will this grand piano reside? They take up a bit of space.

Me, I would simply buy an upright, and call it a day. Uprights are compact, and are plentiful as many owners want to sell very good ones when the interest in playing by the children wanes. How do I know this? Well, many years ago I bought a daughter a piano. :oops:

We lucked into a really nice upright for a granddaughter when a neighbor moved (their daughter had played 20+ years ago). Had it tuned and it is now a great companion to granddaughter's keyboard.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

miamivice
Posts: 2197
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:46 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by miamivice » Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:17 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 4:14 pm
miamivice wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:58 pm
You have two kids, ages 12 and 15. That would mean that in no later than 6 years, your grand piano will go unused at least 9 months out of the year while your kids are at college. (Perhaps more, if they do not come home for summer break.)

I'm not sure that paying $10,000 for something that your kids will likely enjoy for no more than 3 or 6 years is worthwhile, unless you or your spouse plays, or unless you enjoy having one in your house.
Thought of this. I also mess around on piano but I'm a complete amateur. I'm also not absolutely positive yet that either or both of them will be completely launching. There are a variety of local college options. I don't really know for sure that we'll have an empty house in 6 years. That's why I would most certainly not buy an expensive new piano. But a really good deal on a decent used piano should be something we could eventually part with if necessary without losing everthing we have in it.

At some point you just have to invest in the moment. We can afford to pay $10k for a decent piano. Both girls are almost a decade into playing piano so we know this isn't a fly by night thing. And they both enjoy it enough to actually go play on their own outside of their actual scheduled practice sessions. So if not now, when?
You asked my opinion, so I'll give it. First, if you want to buy a piano, go ahead and do it. Don't let my opinion stop me.

But in the large metro area in live in, which has a thriving arts & culture scene and music is a big deal, I've seen countless long-time piano stores go out of business. Owning a piano in one's home is no longer a thing. I don't know what the future brings, but there's a decent chance that a grand piano might be a difficult thing to sell when the time comes.

The vast majority of musically inclined (but non-music majors) kids don't continue playing after high school. A few play in college, and still fewer play after college. I would expect that the piano wouldn't get much use by either kid after the age of 18, if they keep playing that long.

I probably wouldn't drop $10k on a piano for my kids, but that's just me. My issue would not be the cost of the piano as much as the space it takes up and the difficulty in selling when the time comes.

Mike Scott
Posts: 1342
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Mike Scott » Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:18 pm

You might get lucky on a private seller 10K piano but otherwise you should probably be thinking double that price. Or just buy a decent upright.

malabargold
Posts: 583
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2014 8:16 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by malabargold » Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:50 pm

C3 Yamaha - C3 is the cheapest Yamaha that sounds
reasonably close to a full concert grand

Play two brands off each other for best price like Kawai - then when
you get rock bottom C3 price from the Yamaha dealer, get into a price competition from a Yamaha dealer from a different region - not supposed to do this, but they will - we saved almost 25 grand off list price of a C3 diskclavier by doing this

gvsucavie03
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:30 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by gvsucavie03 » Sat Mar 02, 2019 7:01 pm

My daughter has a free upright that sounds ok and works fine. Again, there's almost no resale market for pianos, so there are free or dirt-cheap instruments everywhere.

User avatar
Misenplace
Moderator
Posts: 1378
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:46 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Misenplace » Sat Mar 02, 2019 8:13 pm

If you buy a grand piano, you have to go at least 6 ft long or larger or it is not worth it. Any so called grand less than 6 ft is called a PSO (piano shaped object) by those in the know. You would do better with a high quality upright. Charles R. Walter Inc. makes very high quality uprights (and a parlor grand, about 6'4") in Elkhart, Indiana. They don't have the name recognition of Steinway, so you can often get their pianos used at a very good price. But they will be better than just about any Asian import, and made in America.
http://www.walterpiano.com/pianos/grand-pianos/

User avatar
GMCZ71
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:05 am
Location: McMinnville, Or

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by GMCZ71 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:55 am

A quick google for rentals showed $60-$500 per month. Although not the BH way of doing things you might try it for 6months to a year and evaluate a purchase then.


Yamaha Classic 5’3″ Grand Piano
Rent from $290.00 month

Pianos can be rented up to six (6) months with all the rental fees applied toward purchase of the piano you’re renting, or any other new or used piano in stock.
John

gtd98765
Posts: 480
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:15 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by gtd98765 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:57 am

elcadarj wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:38 pm
This reference is worth every penny if you indeed want a musical instrument and not a piece of furniture:

https://www.amazon.com/Piano-Book-Buyin ... 1929145012
Agree that Larry Fine's piano book is definitely worth the $20 if you are thinking of dropping $10K on a piano.

Agree with others that a used piano is a reasonable option (I bought a used Kawai baby grand 25 years ago and still play it and love it). But the key is having help to figure out what used option is decent, and a good deal. I would ask the piano teacher to hook you up with a piano technician who can advise you where to look and what to buy. Someone who will evaluate pianos you are considering and give a thumbs up or thumbs down. Even if you have to pay such a person $500 or more you will come out ahead. There is no way an amateur can tell whether a used piano is in good shape or not.

With millions of baby boomers downsizing now, there must be a lot of decent pianos ready to be sold; with a piano tech you can probably find one near you. Good luck!

dustinst22
Posts: 318
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:09 pm
Location: Huntington Beach, CA

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by dustinst22 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:14 pm

GMCZ71 wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:55 am



Yamaha Classic 5’3″ Grand Piano
Rent from $290.00 month
Seems like a very small grand piano. Wonder how the quality is, this is almost baby grand size. Generally tiny grands sound no different than a good upright. That said, Yamahas are great. I played one for a few years before inheriting one of my father's Steinway Bs. The sound is much brighter than other brands.

- Dustin

montanagirl
Posts: 1239
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:55 pm
Location: Montana

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by montanagirl » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:26 pm

In 2016 I had a chance to buy a nearly new Baldwin hamilton 6 ft grand in a nice finish for 3000. Really just a Chinese piano though. Seller was desperate.

But the sound just didn't knock me out. My ugly old 48" kawai upright has a better sound. And if I'd gotten the grand I'd be stuck with this big white elephant..and the kawai both.

Pianos don't move like they used to. Parents buy digital now.

Maybe a dumb choice but I'd miss the kawai I think.
Last edited by montanagirl on Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TetrisCollider
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Nov 18, 2018 3:03 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by TetrisCollider » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:58 pm

My DW is a piano teacher. We have a direct experience with buying and using Yamaha upright Hybrid. Excellent instrument. If you want a grand, I highly suggest you go test out an AvantGrand Hybrid from Yamaha (3 different models). If both of your daughters are avid players, you know you need to tune your piano (and grand) all the time to keep it in shape - that's a significant outlay and depending on the weather and your home conditions, might need to be done quite often. Yamaha hybrid never needs tuning, is 4-6 times lighter than a grand and has a really good sound (at least from my perspective and for what you are looking for in your home). However, one thing to keep in mind - if you lose power, no piano playing. :) Looks like Classic Pianos in Portland carry these models. Fun factor - these things are also MIDI compatible - your daughters can have some fun while having a full functioning piano/grand action.
For some reason, people that know nothing, seem to know everything...

02nz
Posts: 3084
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by 02nz » Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:04 pm

coalcracker wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:55 pm
Our small midwestern city symphony has an annual auction. Anecdotally I've heard you can get a decent deal on a really nice used piano. But i'm sure you or your music teacher would know if your city does this.
These sales are just a gimmick so the piano dealer can make you think you're getting a deal. In reality they were probably never even touched by anyone from the orchestra. Think about it: how many pianos would a small Midwestern city symphony orchestra goes through in a year? A piano isn't normally part of an orchestra.

Determined
Posts: 369
Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2017 7:43 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Determined » Sun Mar 03, 2019 3:24 pm

I am a music teacher and an accompanist. If I had the space, I would get a Kawaii or a Yamaha. I have owned a decent Baldwin upright for 25 years. Our church just purchased a used Kawaii GS-40 for $11,000 from a piano teacher who was downsizing. It wouldn’t fit in her new place. We heard about it from our piano tuner. They are an invaluable resource.

I always bought my children step up band instruments because there was actually a resale value if they decided to stop playing or move up. With the good quality known piano brands, you are in a similar position. People like me will only look for certain makes and models, and we expect to an appropriate price.

I think it’s fantastic that your children have reached this skill level. I started accompanying in HS, too.

fourwheelcycle
Posts: 766
Joined: Sun May 25, 2014 5:55 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by fourwheelcycle » Sun Mar 03, 2019 4:36 pm

When we started working, MANY years ago, my wife wanted a grand piano and was willing to teach piano lessons on the side in addition to her full-time job. We looked at rebuilt Steinways, but we eventually ended up buying a new Yamaha Conservatory Series C3. I learned how to do double declining balance depreciation and I wrote off the cost of the piano on our taxes over about six years of lessons. By then my wife was so busy with her career she was happy to stop the piano lessons.

We still have the piano and we love it. We highly recommend the Yamaha Conservatory Series.

Frankfurter123
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:45 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Frankfurter123 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:14 pm

Check out craigslist just for the heck of it.

You never know what you might find. Good luck.

I have seen people give away or sell cheaply all kinds of musical istruments.

Cycle
Posts: 1534
Joined: Sun May 28, 2017 7:57 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Cycle » Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:36 pm

Get a studio upright, ie an upright piano with full action, not a spindle or console.

I play nearly every day and have a 1920's era studio upright I bought a decade ago. It was free off craigslist, plus $300 to hire piano movers. You could get a very nice Yamaha or Kawai studio though for 3-5k (used).

I mostly play blues and romantic pieces, and i think the older pianos have better sound for this. On older pianos a little tune-up will get them working like new as long as the sound board isn't damaged. Sometimes the bridle strap needs to be replaced on the action of very old pianos, and if its not replaced the action may be a little slow.

The action on my piano is fast enough to play oscar peterson, and it doesn't get much faster than that.

Read piano shop on the left bank and Larry fine's Pinao book and you'll be well educated on buying pianos.
Never look back unless you are planning to go that way

BB76
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:12 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by BB76 » Sun Mar 03, 2019 7:44 pm

getthatmarshmallow wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:53 pm
If your local university has a music school, see if they sell off the practice room pianos annually. It can be a way to score a deal.
+1 Contact the music department and ask if / when they will be having a sale. Tell them what you're looking for and they may start the process with you prior to the event.

On a side note, as an accomplished though not prodigious musician, I started learning on an old Kimball upright as a child and my parents eventually purchased a 7' Steinway B. The piano was one of two of the best instruments I was privileged to play. The instrument held its value and was sold to a professional musician half way across the country 25 years after original purchase via Craigslist. Much like investing, if you buy right, you may never realize a loss. :wink:

Topic Author
texasdiver
Posts: 3280
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:50 am
Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by texasdiver » Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:32 pm

OP here:

Took the older child on a piano shopping expedition today. Visited two piano shops in Portland. Classic Pianos which is a huge interesting old store with hundreds of new and used models and a huge restoration studio. Also went by another nearby shop that was the Steinway dealer. Daughters initial conclusions and what we learned after playing about 30 mostly used pianos.

1. She did not really like the action on the Kawais that she tried. Tonally she liked them but found the actions somewhat heavy. Might just have been those two older used models. But that is her only data point.

2. Her favorite actions were the Steinways and the Yamahas. For models that we can actually afford the Yamahas were probably what she like the most. That may be because she plays on one in her teacher's studio, so is what she is used to.

3. Tonally she preferred newer pianos. A few 1970s era Yamahas she played were just too bright. The sales guy who helped us who was also a technician said that is typical of older pianos and that it can be softened to some extent by voicing the hammers which I understand is adjusting the hammer felts. He said that pianos that have had institutional use are readily obvious because after years of heavy use the felts are really compacted.

4. We chatted a bit about Craigslist and private sale pianos and he estimated that you typically have to add at least $1000 to $1500 to the price of a private sale piano for inspection, tuning, voicing, and moving which should all be covered costs when buying from a store.

5. Daughter was extremely impressed when she realized the actual worth of the 92 key Bosendorfer concert grand that her teacher has in her living room for her own private use and recitals. She now understands why her teacher is rather fussy about it.

6. They have lots of Chinese customers who come from up and down the west coast to buy expensive pianos sans sales tax here in Portland. He says that almost every single Chinese customer who walks in the door refuses to buy Chinese pianos. They mostly want Yamahas or Steinways. Which I found interesting.

getthatmarshmallow
Posts: 443
Joined: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:43 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by getthatmarshmallow » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:18 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Sun Mar 03, 2019 8:32 pm
OP here:

6. They have lots of Chinese customers who come from up and down the west coast to buy expensive pianos sans sales tax here in Portland. He says that almost every single Chinese customer who walks in the door refuses to buy Chinese pianos. They mostly want Yamahas or Steinways. Which I found interesting.
It's a status thing, rather than a quality thing, according to my (Asian) instructor. Yamahas have impressive quality control; Steinway has done a great job at getting their instruments in concert halls and universities (and to be fair, their action is amazing.) Chinese pianos a decade ago were a risk, but newer brands (Hailun, Brodmann) are reputedly much better. But if a Yamaha is in your budget it's a fine choice. I agree with your daughter about Kawais -- there's nothing wrong with them, exactly, except that my hands do not like them.

(I bought a Brodmann studio upright; two piano techs have been extremely impressed with it and a year in I'm very happy with it.)

helloeveryone
Posts: 378
Joined: Sun Sep 04, 2016 5:16 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by helloeveryone » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:46 pm

miamivice wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 3:58 pm
You have two kids, ages 12 and 15. That would mean that in no later than 6 years, your grand piano will go unused at least 9 months out of the year while your kids are at college. (Perhaps more, if they do not come home for summer break.)

I'm not sure that paying $10,000 for something that your kids will likely enjoy for no more than 3 or 6 years is worthwhile, unless you or your spouse plays, or unless you enjoy having one in your house.
On the other hand a good piano might end up in your grandkids hands in the long term.

My parents bought an upright piano in the late 80’s for us. ($3k at the time so I think they also went with a quality but lower-middle end upright? we don’t know much about pianos)

As you note my parents probably felt they invested poorly because we only played two years. It sat in their home until two years ago where as part of the estate process my wife and I inherited the piano. A year later with a pretty piano sitting there we paid $150 to tune it and put our children in lessons at home on it and they practice every day on it. Makes us happy and hopefully makes their grandma happy up there.

User avatar
Flobes
Posts: 1150
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:40 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Flobes » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:23 am

At the end of every summer, the Aspen Music Festival & School sells >150 concert and practice pianos: Steinways and Steinway-made Boston and Essex. These fine pianos are gently played for a few months by world-class pianists and prodigies, extremely well maintained and tuned. They are beautiful!

Build a summer vacation around piano shopping and extraordinary concert experiences the Festival, plus all else that Aspen shines in the summer. Most years, you can choose your piano at any time in the season, and arrange to fetch it late August.

Aspen Festival Steinway Piano Sale
Aspen Music Festival

Jags4186
Posts: 4104
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:20 am

Just a quick response to some people above who are “it has to be grand, uprights are no substitute” type of people. It is highly unlikely your children will ever outgrow a good upright piano. In fact there are plenty of concert pianists who could never afford a quality grand piano and learned to play on uprights. The idea that you can’t play the entire repertoire on a quality upright is simply snobbery. I’m not saying a grand piano isn’t great to have, but I just don’t want you to be pushed into a grand because your kids will “suffer”.

I personally have played many “difficult” pieces on an upright including Chopin Etudes and Waltzes and there are hundreds of YouTube videos of people playing the most difficult of difficult of pieces on uprights—including Balakirev’s Islamey and Schumann’s Toccata.

rocdoc1
Posts: 12
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:12 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by rocdoc1 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:40 am

My father was a piano player and had bought himself a nice Yamaha grand piano for $25,000+. He passed away and I had to sell the piano. It was in great shape perhaps 4-5 years old. What I found is that the demand for pianos has dropped significantly. We called the dealer he bought it from and he claimed he had a showroom full. We had it on E-bay and craigslist with flyers at the local music schools and universities.
The parent of 2 teenage players called, They saw the flyer at their music school, checked it out and then sent their music teacher to play it. They moved it and I was lucky to get $9,000.

gvsucavie03
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:30 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by gvsucavie03 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:37 pm

Jags4186 wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:20 am
Just a quick response to some people above who are “it has to be grand, uprights are no substitute” type of people. It is highly unlikely your children will ever outgrow a good upright piano. In fact there are plenty of concert pianists who could never afford a quality grand piano and learned to play on uprights. The idea that you can’t play the entire repertoire on a quality upright is simply snobbery. I’m not saying a grand piano isn’t great to have, but I just don’t want you to be pushed into a grand because your kids will “suffer”.

I personally have played many “difficult” pieces on an upright including Chopin Etudes and Waltzes and there are hundreds of YouTube videos of people playing the most difficult of difficult of pieces on uprights—including Balakirev’s Islamey and Schumann’s Toccata.
+1

gvsucavie03
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:30 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by gvsucavie03 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:38 pm

rocdoc1 wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:40 am
My father was a piano player and had bought himself a nice Yamaha grand piano for $25,000+. He passed away and I had to sell the piano. It was in great shape perhaps 4-5 years old. What I found is that the demand for pianos has dropped significantly. We called the dealer he bought it from and he claimed he had a showroom full. We had it on E-bay and craigslist with flyers at the local music schools and universities.
The parent of 2 teenage players called, They saw the flyer at their music school, checked it out and then sent their music teacher to play it. They moved it and I was lucky to get $9,000.
That has also been my experience unless it is a top-line, very expensive instrument (6-figures).

dekecarver
Posts: 429
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:24 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by dekecarver » Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:45 pm

I was told many years ago, a piano is a piece of furniture, unless you play with a passion, keep that in mind.

User avatar
snackdog
Posts: 840
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 4:57 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by snackdog » Mon Mar 04, 2019 6:13 pm

gvsucavie03 wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:38 pm

That has also been my experience unless it is a top-line, very expensive instrument (6-figures).
Those are the worst! Depreciation is catastrophic the first several years (e.g. 50% or so).

SC Anteater
Posts: 262
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2019 6:50 pm

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by SC Anteater » Mon Mar 04, 2019 6:29 pm

I've got a Chickering studio grand piano hanging like a millstone around my neck. It was my great-grandparents' piano that my mom now has, and she fully expects me to take it when the time comes. The thing would in no way fit in my house and I don't want it. I am seriously dreading the conversation I'm going to have to have.

randomguy
Posts: 8536
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by randomguy » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:25 pm

gvsucavie03 wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:38 pm
rocdoc1 wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:40 am
My father was a piano player and had bought himself a nice Yamaha grand piano for $25,000+. He passed away and I had to sell the piano. It was in great shape perhaps 4-5 years old. What I found is that the demand for pianos has dropped significantly. We called the dealer he bought it from and he claimed he had a showroom full. We had it on E-bay and craigslist with flyers at the local music schools and universities.
The parent of 2 teenage players called, They saw the flyer at their music school, checked it out and then sent their music teacher to play it. They moved it and I was lucky to get $9,000.
That has also been my experience unless it is a top-line, very expensive instrument (6-figures).
So OP should have no problems finding a cheap used piano then? Buy it cheap and if it is cheap in 6 years, who cares?

dustinst22
Posts: 318
Joined: Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:09 pm
Location: Huntington Beach, CA

Re: Advice on Grand Pianos?

Post by dustinst22 » Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:01 pm

snackdog wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 6:13 pm

Those are the worst! Depreciation is catastrophic the first several years (e.g. 50% or so).
Certainly not Steinways. They generally increase in value with inflation while losing a little over time due to wear and tear if not restored. My father purchased my Steinway B in 1995 for 45 K, it's now worth approximately 60-65 K. Not that I care really, as it will never be sold.

Post Reply