Piano shopping (full sized upright)

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interplanetjanet
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Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:59 am

After a lengthy financial recovery over the past two years, my emergency fund is finally fully funded, I'm on track with retirement savings, and have turned my interest back to one of my passions - music.

I studied piano for a number of years and minored in music. It's brought me great joy, but for the past decade I've been using a pile-of-junk old spinet due to some reasons that were beyond my control at the time. Times have changed and I'm looking to upgrade.

I have about $5k to spend and I'm looking for a used full sized upright (128cm and up) with relatively warm tone. I don't want a baby grand - the acoustics of a grand in my price range are usually terrible along with the build quality. If things stay on track I might buy a 6'+ grand in 5 years or so, but I expect to pay $20k and up for what I ultimately want. I am not interested in electronic pianos - I've tried some of the best and while many of them make adequate sound, they just don't feel the same, especially where it comes to subtlety in sostenuto.

I play mostly 18th-early 20th century classical ranging from Bach to Gershwin, with a special love for Chopin and Liszt. In the past I've thought I'd be happy with a Yamaha U1 or U3, but some test playing has shown me that they tend to have a very "bright" tone. I've found myself looking at other brands, having been impressed so far with a Petrof (priced at the high end of my range for a good one) and a 132cm Knabe.

Do any enthusiastic amateurs have a recommendation for a brand and/or model to look at?

-janet

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by madbrain » Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:31 am

With a $5k budget, a Yamaha U1 or U3 is probably one the best you can do.
I agree the Yamahas are a little bright, but they are definitely good quality instruments. One of the few I would have no problems buying used.

I don't entirely agree with your comment about baby grands sounding bad. I guess it depends what size you consider baby. I have a 5'7" Schimmel with a wide tail, which sounds great. It wasn't a $5k instrument 10 years ago when I bought it, and it isn't now either. It was the best piano I could fit in my townhome. It looks a little small in my mansion now, and I could benefit from a 7'. But upgrading just doesn't make sense financially.

If you are really set on an upright, look at some of the German uprights such as Schimmel, Sauter, Seiler, if you can find them. You may like the tone better than Yamaha, and they are good quality as well. But for $5k, it will have to be a used one for sure, and probably the smaller size of the range you are looking for.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by c.Alvin » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:05 pm

Pianos are like boats, what we own is never good enough. The sound is never quite right. It is too bright for classical or too dark for jazz. The feel is never perfect. It seldom fits the decor. When we find some satisfaction with an instrument it is only for a fleeting moment. Then we switch musical styles and it never ends. Let us know what you select. Do you have room for two pianos?

Good luck,
Alvin

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by texasdiver » Thu Nov 03, 2011 2:30 pm

For that price range I think I'd be looking at digital pianos. I'm basically in the same situation as you and bought a new piano for myself and my kids last summer. After trying to find a new or used acoustic upright I ended up buying a Kawai CA63. I hadn't shopped pianos for years and was quite impressed with the current sound and feel of modern digitals, especially the higher end offerings from Kawai and Yamaha.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by raisin mountaineer » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:05 pm

You should be able to get a decent upright grand piano used for far less than $5K. I bought my most recent piano 15 years ago, but at the time I paid $300 for it (and had to move it). More recently, my parents' piano was given away to some college students who were willing to move it.

These were decent pianos-- each was not cosmetically beautiful, but played well. My piano in particular has beautiful tone. My parents was "brighter" than mine, but I prefer the harder "touch" of mine. Check your local Craigs' list, and maybe the Craigs' list for the nearest big city, often. Maybe put it out there on the "wanted" section. Definitely look for a piano that is in reasonable tune and has all working keys (lack of these can be indicators of long-term difficulty). Ask around at churches if they know of any. People who are getting rid of uprights are often willing to practically give them away, and they often call churches in an attempt to do just that.

I am not a fan of digital pianos. I may be (definitely am) oldfashioned, but to me there's nothing like a big ole hunk of string, steel and good wood to warm up a room (and me) with its presence and sound.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by goggles » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:05 pm

I would recommend that you keep an eye on Craig's List. You can find really great things there sometimes. Pianos are kind of a weird commodity. A lot of people have them, but they're difficult to move and the people who want to get rid of them rarely can judge their quality.

If searching every day sounds annoying, you can pay $30 for a program called Craig's Pal that will search for keywords for you. I recommend it.

Oh, and if there are any conservatories near you--and I mean within a day's drive--find out if they have annual piano sales. Some do, and you can find great deals there.

I would recommend against a digital. They just aren't good enough. I have one of the best, and I'd still rather play an out-of-tune juke joint mess of a real piano instead.

(Jinx with Raisin Mountaineer!)

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goggles
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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by goggles » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:08 pm

Oh, and one more thing: if you buy a Boston, you can trade it in for full price when you upgrade to a Steinway. (Hey, I can dream!)

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Thu Nov 03, 2011 4:25 pm

goggles wrote:I would recommend that you keep an eye on Craig's List. You can find really great things there sometimes. Pianos are kind of a weird commodity. A lot of people have them, but they're difficult to move and the people who want to get rid of them rarely can judge their quality.
Thanks for the recommendation, that's mainly where I've been looking. I'm within driving distance of both the Sacramento and SF Bay areas, so there are a fair number of postings that fly by.
I would recommend against a digital. They just aren't good enough. I have one of the best, and I'd still rather play an out-of-tune juke joint mess of a real piano instead.
I know just what you mean. I have tried and tried to like them - in many ways it would be easier.

I wouldn't be averse to an inexpensive instrument but I don't expect to find one that will make me happy in the sub-$2k or so price range unless I find something with trashed cosmetics but great mechanicals. A friend of mine picked up a nice Baldwin grand that way, it had been painted white and blue and covered with gold contact paper.

I'm checking out a Yamaha U7 this weekend that is supposedly in very good shape - my last experience playing one was actually quite nice. Here's hoping.

-janet

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by hicabob » Thu Nov 03, 2011 6:53 pm

I have an older but still nice U1 that doesn't get used anymore - my daughter used to play - I and my kid at home are hopelessly tone-deaf - it's in Santa Cruz area - sort of close to you I assume - boglehead price for a boglehead - message me if you would like a look/pics/info - nice stool comes with.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by reisner » Thu Nov 03, 2011 7:08 pm

My wife has a superb large studio upright Kawai that she might be willing to sell for a whole lot less than 5K. Weare in Pisomo Beach, but the piano is in Port Townsend WA, not an insuperable problem. We might be able to get a testimonial as to its sound from a professional Broadway arranger.
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goggles
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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by goggles » Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:08 pm

Janet, good luck with your search. Let us know what you decide! I for one want to hear about the new piano.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by btenny » Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:43 pm

Janet, With all the people giving away or almost giving away pianos I would think you should call a few piano tuners and repair guys. These guys have to know about good pianos in the area that can be picked up for $5K or less, or maybe for $2K or less. I would make a list of those guys within say 300 miles and start calling them and asking if they know of a good piano for sale at or below your price point. You might have to pay them a finders fee but I am sure they know of good stuff for sale.

As far as digitals, we just bought a great Clavanova Yamaha electronic baby grand at Christmas last year for about your price point. It took me about a year to find one that was slightly used and priced right. It sounds wonderful and plays great and never needs tuning. Yea since we live in the mountians and regular pianos are troublesome here. Yes I know it does not play quite the same but it also has all those neat special sounds and playback features... Can your regular piano play a Paul McCartney concert from a flash drive?

Good luck with your shopping..
Bill

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by JupiterJones » Mon Nov 07, 2011 4:24 pm

btenny wrote:Can your regular piano play a Paul McCartney concert from a flash drive?

Some can:

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical- ... nd_pianos/


Really though, the acoustic vs. digital debate is going to depend a lot on your intended application. For someone who wants to play classical music in their own home, and can afford the purchase price and maintenance costs, acoustic is a great way to go.

But digital pianos have their merits too. I probably wouldn't want an acoustic piano in an apartment. I certainly wouldn't want to have to cart one around on gigs. And unlike goggles, I would defintely rather play just about any digital piano than a terribly out-of-tune acoustic one. Ugh.

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interplanetjanet
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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:40 am

btenny wrote:Janet, With all the people giving away or almost giving away pianos I would think you should call a few piano tuners and repair guys. These guys have to know about good pianos in the area that can be picked up for $5K or less, or maybe for $2K or less. I would make a list of those guys within say 300 miles and start calling them and asking if they know of a good piano for sale at or below your price point. You might have to pay them a finders fee but I am sure they know of good stuff for sale.
I have some tuners in the area looking out for me and am making more contacts. I'm not in a hurry to buy so I can take my time and do this right. Though I'm mostly looking at uprights, I'm going to see a vintage Mason & Hamlin series A grand (5'8") later this week, the price is really close to what I was prepared to spend and according to my boyfriend it has lousy cosmetics but great internals (strings & hammers replaced in the '80s, action just reworked). Since I'm not looking for furniture to look pretty this sounds like a deal.

I really want to find something that I can get a lot of expression out of - reasonably fresh or freshenable strings and hammers and a tight action. Most of the sub-$3k pianos I've looked at have either had subpar mechanicals to begin with or overly worn hammers or action.
As far as digitals, we just bought a great Clavanova Yamaha electronic baby grand at Christmas last year for about your price point. It took me about a year to find one that was slightly used and priced right. It sounds wonderful and plays great and never needs tuning. Yea since we live in the mountians and regular pianos are troublesome here. Yes I know it does not play quite the same but it also has all those neat special sounds and playback features... Can your regular piano play a Paul McCartney concert from a flash drive?
Probably not but it's not really an issue for me. Like I said, I play almost exclusively classical music (and compose some as well). I'm in an area without big humidity swings and live in a house so an acoustic really is the best fit for me.

I'll let you all know how it goes. I'm really hoping this M&H pans out.

-janet

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by HopeToGolf » Sat Nov 26, 2011 11:31 am

Janet-

Recently my wife went through a few months of research and shopping for an upright that would be acceptable for her but would not break the bank and be appropriate for our 6 year old who just started lessons and may lose interest in playing.

After research at pianoworld.com forums and visits to a half dozen stores where she played (or had a pianist at the store play) used and new instruments from many manufacturers, she decided to buy a new Charles Walter (1500 Studio Series).

In terms of price, we paid more than your budget but my understanding is she negotiated very well and we paid a little more for the color (black) and the fact that it had to come right from the manufacture and was not in the store's inventory. I was asked not to put pricing in the thread but I can say pricing varies by dealer and market so look around and negotiate (hard). Our market is filled with Tiger Moms so I think dealers do not expect to negotiate but I also think they make high margins on their other sales so they are willing to deal on lesser known brands.. :D .

Personally, I do not know much about these things but it does sound great and from what I can tell the quality is high. I dealt with the tuner and she loves the brand/quality and thinks it is priced well for what you get. She called the brand "one of her favorites" and knew what kind of buyer my wife was....value but high quality. I like the fact that it came from a small manufacturer in Indiana. I am pleased to award my $$$ to a small American company who, apparently, has managed to make a quality product at a fair price. Again, from a music standpoint my ear is not sophisticated but if my wife and tuner are good judges, you should think about a Walter.

FWIW, we talked about a baby grand and wifey decided that a used typical $5K-$6K was not worth it (type of sound/build quality). If you can get a deal of the century on a good quality baby grand at that price, go for it but my wife did not think it was possible.

Edit to remove detailed pricing information and to add reference to pianoworld forum.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by DiscoBunny1979 » Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:43 pm

interplanetjanet wrote:
btenny wrote:Janet, With all the people giving away or almost giving away pianos I would think you should call a few piano tuners and repair guys. These guys have to know about good pianos in the area that can be picked up for $5K or less, or maybe for $2K or less. I would make a list of those guys within say 300 miles and start calling them and asking if they know of a good piano for sale at or below your price point. You might have to pay them a finders fee but I am sure they know of good stuff for sale.
I have some tuners in the area looking out for me and am making more contacts. I'm not in a hurry to buy so I can take my time and do this right. Though I'm mostly looking at uprights, I'm going to see a vintage Mason & Hamlin series A grand (5'8") later this week, the price is really close to what I was prepared to spend and according to my boyfriend it has lousy cosmetics but great internals (strings & hammers replaced in the '80s, action just reworked). Since I'm not looking for furniture to look pretty this sounds like a deal.
[/quote]

--------

I owned a Mason & Hamlin in the 1990s and I think for the money back then, it was a deal when I bought it....BUT in order to put it in top condition (reconditioned) it would have costs thousands of dollars. For instance, being so old - from the 1930-40s (can't remember exactly the year of build) the mohagony finish was really fading on the side that the prior owner had put it near a window. While windows are great for looks, they aren't good for pianos. But anyway, the other thing to note about Mason & Hamlin is depending upon the year, the piano could have ivory keys. I was a little disappointed when I found out that the piano I purchased through an estate sale had plastic keys even though it was originally made with ivory. You should find out from the piano serial number if the model you're looking at originally had ivory keys. It might not matter that much in terms of price of piano, but for me, it was an interesting detail because for me older pianos tell a story.

The other thing is while you're not looking for a furniture, the older Mason/Hamlins were furniture and the craftsmanship of the pianos where top of the line in terms of detailing, woods used, and features (even though in the early last century there were a lot of piano makers). For instance my grand piano had a moveable sliding music stand and the piano top could be opened to different positions, full, closed, 1/2 or 1/4. So, if your friend suggests it has lousy cosmetics, it could be that it needs a good restoration, but please note the options it might have that other grands might not (if it's an older one).

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by lightheir » Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:49 pm

Just to add my 2cents - if you're a very good pianist or aspiring very good pianist, I'd probably avoid digitals. I'm no virtuouso by any means, but I have an extensive music background in strings instruments (went to Juilliard for awhile) so I know nuanced tones well, and having bought a digital piano for myself, I have to say that it's ultimately missing the crucial fine nuances required for deep expression. I'd venture to guess that 90% of 'recreational' pianists will never notice, but I notice immediately. My digital piano is great for space and for reinforcing mechanics of playing, which it does as well as any real piano, but even a low-end regular piano has much more expressivity at the highest and lowest ends than my digital piano.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by Padlin » Sat Nov 26, 2011 5:25 pm

We went with a Charles R Walter over the Yamahas back when we bought it. Had an electric Technics before that but even a good electric one doesn't play like an acoustic. You can read reviews and ratings of the various brands at thepianoreveiew.com.

We found the electric very usefull when relearning, that and a set of good headphones.
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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by zaboomafoozarg » Sat Nov 26, 2011 6:06 pm

goggles wrote:I would recommend against a digital. They just aren't good enough. I have one of the best, and I'd still rather play an out-of-tune juke joint mess of a real piano instead.
I disagree, I find that good digitals are quite good and compare favorably to lower-end uprights, especially those out-of-tune messes. One with good hammer action simulation is a must though. What kind do you have?

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by Die Hard » Sat Nov 26, 2011 7:56 pm

My neighbor tunes pianos for a living. He is blind.

Before we bought one, I picked him up and we went to let him play LOTS of pianos. All were used and in homes, not in stores. He plays beautifully and when he played / heard the right one he said this is it. He never knew the asking price of any at the time.

When he said this is it, I told him the price and he said buy it now. I gave him $150 to tune it once home. Still sounds beautiful.

By the way, how often do any of you have your pianos tuned?
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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by Padlin » Sun Nov 27, 2011 1:49 pm

Die Hard wrote: By the way, how often do any of you have your pianos tuned?
We have it done twice a year, late spring and again before xmas. We were told to have it done 4 times a year due to humidity changes but we've been happy with twice year. My wife can tell the before and after difference, I can't, but then I don't play. Runs us $100 a shot.
Regards | Bob

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:41 am

DiscoBunny1979 wrote:I owned a Mason & Hamlin in the 1990s and I think for the money back then, it was a deal when I bought it....BUT in order to put it in top condition (reconditioned) it would have costs thousands of dollars. For instance, being so old - from the 1930-40s (can't remember exactly the year of build) the mohagony finish was really fading on the side that the prior owner had put it near a window. While windows are great for looks, they aren't good for pianos. But anyway, the other thing to note about Mason & Hamlin is depending upon the year, the piano could have ivory keys. I was a little disappointed when I found out that the piano I purchased through an estate sale had plastic keys even though it was originally made with ivory. You should find out from the piano serial number if the model you're looking at originally had ivory keys. It might not matter that much in terms of price of piano, but for me, it was an interesting detail because for me older pianos tell a story.
I went and took a look at it, played it, and the tone was really lovely. The action was tight and left tons of room for expression, pianissimo playing at speed (one of the things I consider fairly difficult and where a good instrument helps a lot) was quite possible.

This instrument tells a lot of stories. It was the piano of a diplomat and travelled extensively over its life, including years in India and Burma. Consequently the case has seem better days, all the moves it went through battered it up and left scratches and a quite worn finish. It was well maintained, though, and had new hammers and strings put in within the last 25 years. There are a few bass strings with a dead sound that the seller has offered to "make right". The soundboard appears to be original from 1909 and amazingly still has its crown and a lovely tone. It has a much richer, deeper bass than I expected for its size, next to it a similarly sized Yamaha G2 sounds almost anemic. The midrange is like creamy butter with just a bit of an edge to it.

If I were looking for a piano to restore to cosmetic glory, I would pass on this one. As far as an instrument to play on it has captured my interest and I am currently haggling with the seller. I did not expect to be able to find a grand that had a feel and tone like this one for near the price I was ready to pay for an upright, and if I have to sacrifice cosmetics (versus getting a glossy pretty U3) then so be it.

I do like the feel of ivory keys, by the way, but I suspect my 13 year old idealistic daughter would cringe away from playing if faced with them.

-janet
Last edited by interplanetjanet on Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by goggles » Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:08 pm

So, Janet, did you take it? It sounds awesome!

To respond to some other people about the digital vs. acoustic piano discussion, I stand by what I said. I have one of the best digital pianos, and in my opinion it just cannot capture the key response, resonance, and expressivity of a real piano. It's good for keeping the neighbors sane, though, and it never needs tuning. To each one's own.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by hicabob » Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:38 pm

Just sold my U1 for what I paid for it 15 or so years ago ... $2500 :D (let's forget about the decreasing value of the USD during that period)
feels good to de-clutter

A really well done book for those contemplating a used piano (complete with classic hand pen/ink drawings) is "The Piano Book"
He goes over the brands, mechanisms, grand vs upright, etc.

http://www.amazon.com/Piano-Book-Buying ... 1929145012

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by rwm » Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:42 pm

I would have a piano rebuilder or a very good tech check out the M&H before agreeing on a price.

If you are definitely planning to get a good grand in 5 years to replace whatever you get now, then this decision is not worth losing too much sleep over. I would be tempted to make it easy on myself and get a new Yamaha or Charles Walter upright and recoup most of the investment when you trade up. A good tuner can voice the Yamaha to be softer.

In five years, buy a new M&H Model A. I have one (1997) and it's a great piano.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:51 pm

rwm wrote:I would have a piano rebuilder or a very good tech check out the M&H before agreeing on a price.
The seller is a tech who's well known to a close friend of mine. He's voiced the hammers, regulated the action and taken care of a few other issues. I've had another take a look at it and he's verified that the work seems to have been done well and mechanically it's in very good shape (with the exception of a few dead-ish unichords in the bass).
If you are definitely planning to get a good grand in 5 years to replace whatever you get now, then this decision is not worth losing too much sleep over. I would be tempted to make it easy on myself and get a new Yamaha or Charles Walter upright and recoup most of the investment when you trade up. A good tuner can voice the Yamaha to be softer.

In five years, buy a new M&H Model A. I have one (1997) and it's a great piano.
I've thought some about this. Five years from now I expect to have two children in college and to be their sole (or nearly so) source of support. For better or worse, I need to do this on the cheap.

I'm going to see it again tomorrow and check out the bass string work. If it feels right I will probably just go for it then. If not, there's no rush.

-janet

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by dave.d » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:38 pm

Padlin wrote:
Die Hard wrote: By the way, how often do any of you have your pianos tuned?
We have it done twice a year, late spring and again before xmas. We were told to have it done 4 times a year due to humidity changes but we've been happy with twice year. My wife can tell the before and after difference, I can't, but then I don't play. Runs us $100 a shot.
This is the Boglehead argument for a digital. The expense ratio on my 8 1/2-year old Clavinova is much lower. ;)
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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by rwm » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:02 pm

interplanetjanet wrote:
rwm wrote:I would have a piano rebuilder or a very good tech check out the M&H before agreeing on a price.
The seller is a tech who's well known to a close friend of mine. He's voiced the hammers, regulated the action and taken care of a few other issues. I've had another take a look at it and he's verified that the work seems to have been done well and mechanically it's in very good shape (with the exception of a few dead-ish unichords in the bass).
If you are definitely planning to get a good grand in 5 years to replace whatever you get now, then this decision is not worth losing too much sleep over. I would be tempted to make it easy on myself and get a new Yamaha or Charles Walter upright and recoup most of the investment when you trade up. A good tuner can voice the Yamaha to be softer.

In five years, buy a new M&H Model A. I have one (1997) and it's a great piano.
I've thought some about this. Five years from now I expect to have two children in college and to be their sole (or nearly so) source of support. For better or worse, I need to do this on the cheap.

I'm going to see it again tomorrow and check out the bass string work. If it feels right I will probably just go for it then. If not, there's no rush.

-janet
This sounds encouraging...maybe this piano would serve you well for a long time. It would still be a good idea to have your own tech examine the piano for an unbiased evaluation. Good luck! There is nothing like a fine grand.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by Naikansha » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:50 pm

I was able to find a very nice well kept Knabe baby grand that I negotiated for 5K. This was found on Craig's List for a neighboring bigger city than mine so had to pay some more for having it moved and set up, but it is doing fine.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by Angst » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:53 pm

I have no useful knowledge with respect to brands of full-sized upright pianos, but I appreciate your desire to get a large soundboard and those long strings. I once had an old upright that I could open up the front of, both the top part that you face and the bottom area in front of your legs. If you like volume, nothing beats that! It will cause hearing loss too. But that piano was not of the quality you (or I) would be looking for today. Several years ago I worked with a technition to rebuild my beautiful 1901 6'2" Model A II Steinway grand and learned to appreciate certain things regarding older pianos and their maintenance.

Buying new obviates the consideration of many of these issues, but I do believe you will get a much better value by buying used. As others have said, however, you must have a used piano evaluated by a qualified/trusted piano technition. A couple common problems with older pianos can be pins that slip and an action that needs rebuilding. Slipping pins can be "accomodated" by larger pins and other tricks, but the underlieing problem is likely the pin block, and replacing the pin block is a big deal. Poor mechanics in the action is also a big deal with respect to expense. As far as something like the soundboard is concerned, I don't believe cracks generally matter much at all. Obviously though, something that buzzes or allows one to view what's going on on the other side of the soundboard, would not be desireable.

I suggest you don't rely on anyone's opinion re: what brand, style, etc. of piano you buy, unless it's only a cosmetic issue. The bottom line is how does it feel and sound to you. Play and listen to lots of pianos! And know that the room in which the piano is located strongly affects the sound. Good luck, and let us know what you end up doing.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:44 pm

rwm wrote:This sounds encouraging...maybe this piano would serve you well for a long time. It would still be a good idea to have your own tech examine the piano for an unbiased evaluation. Good luck! There is nothing like a fine grand.
Well, I bit. :)

I had another tech look at it, and everything looks good. Along with the regulation and voicing he had filed the hammers to clean them up (plenty of felt left), replaced the key bushings and felts, refelted the pedal box to eliminate a small clunk with the damper pedal (my request) and rejuvenated the bass strings (removal/cleaning/reinstallation). The bass doesn't sound "new" but the work made a dramatic improvement and restringing is no longer a high priority.

I love the tone of it, it has a lovely sustain. It only has a faux-sostenuto which is annoying, but I can live with it. The casework is, as I said, pretty banged up, but it's worst on the straight side which will be next to a wall anyway.

Anyway, here's hoping! I'll post a pic or two after it arrives and I clean up the case a bit more.

-janet

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by rwm » Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:54 pm

Congrats on the new piano! It is easy to spend much more than your target price when piano shopping, but it's worth it in the end. I'm always surprised that some people will spend $20-30k or more on a car whose value drops like a rock, but squirm at spending that much on a piano that will last a lifetime, hold its value relatively well, and give a lot more pleasure (assuming you're a musician).

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Fri Dec 02, 2011 3:13 pm

rwm wrote:Congrats on the new piano! It is easy to spend much more than your target price when piano shopping, but it's worth it in the end. I'm always surprised that some people will spend $20-30k or more on a car whose value drops like a rock, but squirm at spending that much on a piano that will last a lifetime, hold its value relatively well, and give a lot more pleasure (assuming you're a musician).
Oh absolutely.

I *am* cheap, though (well, frugal). My last two cars together cost me less than this piano, and I think I got a quite good deal on all of them.

I'm getting little chills thinking about this. I've been promising myself a better instrument for more than ten years, and I'm still slightly stunned.

Now, what to do with an old Wurlitzer upright. Will it blend?

-janet

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Sat Dec 03, 2011 12:36 am

A couple blurry pictures...

Image
It's a pretty ponderous thing for its size.

Image
Scratched and scuffed, but that's something I can improve some.

-janet

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by goggles » Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:30 pm

Congratulations! That's great.

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by K'zoo » Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:22 pm

Wow, that is way cool. You will enjoy that for years to come. Congratulations!

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by Fallible » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:11 pm

There have been many threads on this forum about happiness - the lasting kind of happiness when you invest in not just an item, but an experience. What you have here is a lasting experience because it's what you love to do and you've found a way to express that. It's a gorgeous instrument - congratulations! :D
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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:44 pm

Fallible wrote:There have been many threads on this forum about happiness - the lasting kind of happiness when you invest in not just an item, but an experience. What you have here is a lasting experience because it's what you love to do and you've found a way to express that. It's a gorgeous instrument - congratulations! :D
I've said the same thing many times about spending money for possessions versus experiences, and try to take it to heart. Something like this is in a special category because it's special not just for what it is, but for the experiences it makes possible. Great art can leave me in a state of awe, but music can reach right into my heart and find any state of emotion I think I'm capable of - it hits me that deeply.

Part of what launched all of this is hanging out with my friend, a very talented pianist, and his Steinway B. I'd be over at his house and I could find so much expression and depth in what I played, then came back home to plunk...plunk...plunk. There was no way to get the sort of subtlety in pianissimo on my old piano that I wanted.

Sadly it's not a gorgeous instrument to look at by most people's standards, I'll take some better pictures once it's moved - but it has a wonderful "heart". A good instrument feels almost alive under my fingers, and that's what playing this is like.

-janet

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by airahcaz » Sun Mar 22, 2015 2:33 pm

interplanetjanet wrote:After a lengthy financial recovery over the past two years, my emergency fund is finally fully funded, I'm on track with retirement savings, and have turned my interest back to one of my passions - music.

I studied piano for a number of years and minored in music. It's brought me great joy, but for the past decade I've been using a pile-of-junk old spinet due to some reasons that were beyond my control at the time. Times have changed and I'm looking to upgrade.

I have about $5k to spend and I'm looking for a used full sized upright (128cm and up) with relatively warm tone. I don't want a baby grand - the acoustics of a grand in my price range are usually terrible along with the build quality. If things stay on track I might buy a 6'+ grand in 5 years or so, but I expect to pay $20k and up for what I ultimately want. I am not interested in electronic pianos - I've tried some of the best and while many of them make adequate sound, they just don't feel the same, especially where it comes to subtlety in sostenuto.

I play mostly 18th-early 20th century classical ranging from Bach to Gershwin, with a special love for Chopin and Liszt. In the past I've thought I'd be happy with a Yamaha U1 or U3, but some test playing has shown me that they tend to have a very "bright" tone. I've found myself looking at other brands, having been impressed so far with a Petrof (priced at the high end of my range for a good one) and a 132cm Knabe.

Do any enthusiastic amateurs have a recommendation for a brand and/or model to look at?

-janet
It's been a few years, which baby grands are you considering? I'm looking...
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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by interplanetjanet » Tue Apr 07, 2015 4:22 am

I've stuck with the Mason & Hamlin "A" that I bought at the end of 2011. It was old (1905) but had been restrung with new hammers and the action gone over, and has a really lovely heart. I haven't felt the need to move on yet - I bought a house recently, and my life's quite full enough with everything else!

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Re: Piano shopping (full sized upright)

Post by FredL » Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:28 pm

I would suggest you should definitely try out Yamaha Hybrid piano first before making decision. The price of new Hybrid piano may be out of your price range, it cost $9,000 for upright and $11,000 for grand and it's only on the market for about 4 years. I think it's difficult to find a used one. The Yamaha hybrid piano has the best of both acoustic and digital piano. Even though $9,000 is above your price range, but I think you can pay it in installment and because it doesn't need service, it doesn't cost you anything for upkeeping. Hybrid piano is different from digital piano and it uses the mechanism of the acoustic piano and it's sound source is Steinway concert grand not string. I think it uses better sound system than digital piano, the sound is better than digital piano.

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