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#102297 - 05/21/08 05:29 PM How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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5_lake_ranger Offline
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Guys - I am totally new to piano. I am buying my first piano for my son. I have a choice among 3 grands (Yeah, I know Mason and Steinway are good, but my budget is about $13000 so here are my choices: 2 Baldwin and a Boston):

I) 2001 Baldwin Model R, 5'8", Satin Ebony, Serial # R358129, (asking $12000 with free delivery),
II) 1998 Baldwin Model 227E, 5'8", Satin Mahogany (asking $11000), and
III) 1998 Boston GP-193, 6'4", Gloss Ebony (asking $13500).

All are under excellent conditions. My questions are:

0) How does the 5'8" Baldwin compare to Mason A (5'8") & Steinway M (5'7") & Boston GP-178 (6')?
1) Which one is better, quality-wise and price-wise?
2) I know that Gibson bought Baldwin in 2001, is there a way I can tell whether the 2001 model was before or after the acquisition? or is there any noticeable quality change after the takeover?
3) I heard something about the heavy touch on the Baldwin. I don't play so I can't tell. Is that true?

Thanks much!

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#102298 - 05/21/08 06:03 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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ScottM Offline
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I have heard about problems with brand new Boston pianos staying in tune.


Scott
#102299 - 05/21/08 06:20 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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L1037 Offline
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I would go for the Boston piano for a few reasons. First, the fact that the Boston piano is 8" longer is a big difference in sound quality. Also, because of the size and price compared to the other two pianos, I believe this piano is a better value.

Best of luck!


As a wise man once sung, "and more, much more than this, I did it my way."
#102300 - 05/21/08 08:45 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Thanks, ScottM and L1037!

I checked the new price on the www.bluebookofpianos.com, and the 227E's ($46K) is much higher than the model R's ($35K). Besides the Mahogany finish and Louis XVI design, are model R and 227E essentially the same piano?

Also is the price for these Baldwin reasonable? I heard Gibson hiked the MSRP after they took over.

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#102301 - 05/21/08 09:43 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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5_lake_ranger, are these pianos being offered by a dealer or a private sale?

I can't answer your first two questions. About the third, about the touch, why not have a piano-playing friend or the teacher play the pianos and comment on the touch. Has your son tried the pianos? Does he have a preference? If he were to have a preference you might find he'd practice more once you're satisfied about the price, condition and value of the pianos.

#102302 - 05/21/08 10:40 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Quote
Originally posted by 5_lake_ranger:
Thanks, ScottM and L1037!

I checked the new price on the www.bluebookofpianos.com, and the 227E's ($46K) is much higher than the model R's ($35K). Besides the Mahogany finish and Louis XVI design, are model R and 227E essentially the same piano?

Also is the price for these Baldwin reasonable? I heard Gibson hiked the MSRP after they took over.
A 227E is just a tarted up R. The only differences are purely cosmetic. Have you played the pianos in question? EDIT: Nevermind, I see you said that you are new to piano. I assume, therefore, that you don't play. Ask salesmen or a friend to play the pianos for you, and decide which one sounds best. The action will be harder to judge with no previous experience. Perhaps you can get a friend who plays to help you our with that. They are all very nice pianos, and I think the choice boils down to which one do you prefer.


Dennis
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#102303 - 05/21/08 10:48 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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The prices all sound pretty fair to me. Keep in mind, though, that dealers' prices are always negotiable. Don't pay the posted asking price unless you have a real fear of negotiation.


Dennis
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#102304 - 05/22/08 07:37 AM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Thanks, all! I will bring a friend or teacher to play them. All the piano are from private sellers so there are some room to negotiate the price but not too much.

#102305 - 05/29/08 12:21 AM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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So I called two guys who are professional rebuilding pianos since these two Baldwins are at two sides of Detroit. One of them likes Baldwin, and he prefers Baldwin over Kawai and Yamaha. While the other guy told me that he will be glad to look at the Baldwin, but he said although Baldwins prior to 70' used to be good, the later ones are not. He told me there are better options. He had a 1920 Bechstein Model A ($15000) and an old Mason Hamlin Model A ($9000) listed on his website. I certainly don't mind a Mason or a Bechstein, but I kinda worried about the condition. A Mason model A for $9K?

#102306 - 05/29/08 01:39 AM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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5_lake_ranger..... You're right 13K is not enough dinero to get you into a low milage preowned Steinway or Mason & Hamlin much less one freshly restored.A high end comprehensive restoration alone on either will exceed 13K. You still need to acquire the "core" piano first.
As for the best value for 13K in a high quality American piano, you are actually looking at a couple of great candidates. If $ was no object it is no problem to search and find a great Steinway or Mason. By the way the Mason & Hamlin for 9K is more likely an all original or partially rebuilt vintage A or an all original newer aeolian A which I would pass on both for 9K.
Unfortunately Baldwin has sat in the back seat to Steinway and M&H for a while now though that can work to your advantage. Gibson on acquiring Baldwin raised their suggestive retail astronomically though their wholesale doesn't reflect their retail wink
I think that either the 2001 ebony R or the 227E would be great values if in great cond.which they should be at that age.The 227E in the Louie XV case is an extrodinary deal for 11K in that it's recent retail is $56,840 over 10K more than a ebony satin R.If the ornate case meets your furniture criteria it's a deal. A Steinway M Louie XV in walnut is over 80K.
Cash in hand doesn't hurt in negociating a little better deal. Good luck !


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#102307 - 05/29/08 04:54 AM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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I think the 227E is a great buy and a nice sounding and playing piano. That would be my choice of the pianos you mentioned for the price.


Glenn Treibitz

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#102308 - 05/29/08 07:16 AM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Having owned a Baldwin (well, still do , but it is up for sale), and tried Boston, I would pick a Baldwin over a Boston. The touch on our Baldwin (which is about a 1998) is quite light which is part of why we bought it. I think either Baldy, assuming it is in good shape would be a great buy.
I don't think things would have changed hugely under Gibson in 2001 - really that piano would have been made from the same materials and by the same workers as the year before. I would therefore tend toward the newer and plainer piano.
But, have somebody play both for you - and have your son try both as well. And trust your own ears too.

#102309 - 05/29/08 02:10 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Many thanks to pianobroker, Glenn Treibitz, NE_Geek_Girl!

So with your advice, I have scheduled with one of the professionals this weekend to check out the Baldwins (and I will keep you updated).

And now I saw this at a local dealer, a 1975 Schimmel 5'8" Emperor series (asking 15K but negotiable). The piano is in original condition, but the dealer told me that it is in great condition. Can this be true for a 33 year old piano?. He also told me that Schimmel is one of the German pianos known to be superior to the US Steinway. What do you think?

#102310 - 05/29/08 03:47 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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5_Lake_Ranger,

There are a bunch of heavier hitters on here that can and will weigh in. In the meantime: "What do [I] think?" This (i.e., "known to be superior to US Steinways") sounds like a line by a dealer wanting to sell you an older Schimmel. That being said, Schimmels are very good pianos, and it is entirely possible for a 30+ year old piano to be in very good, playable condition. Unfortunately, you sometimes have to take what some dealers say with a grain of salt. In my humble opinion, you're probably safer sticking with the newer models cited above. It is known, after all, that Baldwins are "America's Favorite Piano". :p Good luck.


Mason & Hamlin A (2006); Yamaha P140
#102311 - 05/29/08 09:52 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Hi five_lake-ranger,

I bought a 1984 Baldwin Model L (6'3") new, it's brought me years of reliability and pleasure, and I still love playing it. Over the years I've also played Steinway (I owned a Steinway Model M before the Baldwin L), and Mason & Hamlin. I would put Baldwin up against either one or both of those pianos any day of the week. Just my opinion.

#102312 - 05/29/08 10:16 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Thanks, both! I personally already saw the 227E. It is Mahogany - a beautiful piece. I will certainly keep you updated after the technician check it out this weekend.

#102313 - 06/02/08 04:00 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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I had a veteran (45 years in tuning, playing, and rebuilding pianos) checked out the Baldy 227E and the Schimmel for me over the weekend (the other Baldy model R is over an hour away). My guy told me the Baldy is a good one besides not being tuned for couple of years, but the Schimmel is a much better piano, and he said I should be able to get the price below $12K. I am leaning towards the Schimmel. what do you guys think?

#102314 - 06/02/08 04:14 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Hi:

I enjoyed playing on the 7 and 9 foot Baldwins for years. Back in 1990 I bought the same size Schimmel you re looking at. I really love this piano. It has performed very well over the years. The tone is more 'round' and 'rich' then the Baldwins I played. I think you would be happy with either piano. I don't think I would pay 15K for a 30 year old Schimmel or Baldwin though.


Piano Tuner
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#102315 - 06/02/08 05:06 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Thanks Alan T. - The Baldwin is a 1996 model 227E, asking $11K. The Schimmel was built in 1975, and I believe I can get it for $12K or less. What do you think about the price?

#102316 - 06/02/08 06:09 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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I believe the Empire series Schimmel had a substantial price premium for that fancy woodwork. It is the exact same piano as the 174T, ebony finish, that I have. It is a great piano, and if in excellent condition I would choose it over the 6'3" Baldwin. If you like that one, see how low you can get it. I have seen them as low as 11K. Have a tech look it over. The Baldwin is a good piano, I just prefer the Renner action in the Schimmel and the Schimmel sound. At this point in its life, it may need voicing and regulating, so keep that cost in mind. Play both again, and again as close to each other as you can so you can compare without losing anything to a wide span of time. Go with whichever one you like. That is really what piano buying boils down to.


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#102317 - 06/02/08 06:31 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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I have a 1999 Baldwin R, 5'8". I do love my piano, and I can tell you the touch is very light, almost too light for my tastes (I like the touch of heavy Steinways).

How old is your son? If he's old enough to help you pick, bring him along with you when you try the pianos. You'll want to buy him something he'll love to play.


Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

New website up: http://www.studioplumpiano.com. Also on Twitter @QQitsMina
#102318 - 06/02/08 06:47 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Jim Volk Offline
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Quote
The piano is in original condition, but the dealer told me that it is in great condition. Can this be true for a 33 year old piano?
This is an important question. Piano dealers have been known to downplay the age factor of a used piano, and focus mainly on low playing time...comparing it to the low mileage on a car's odometer, and saying "Pianos are like cars: the less you drive them, the more they are worth!".

But that simplistic and misleading approach to evaluating a used piano is inadequate. Although a 30-year old piano may have seen little or no use, there are two other factors that also bear consideration--both of which are related to the passage of time: [1] dehydration and [2] oxidation.

Pianos consist mostly of wood, and that wood naturally dehydrates over time, starting from the moment the tree is cut down in the forest. Seasoning hastens the drying process to achieve an optimum moisture content for stability (I think it's around 7%), but the wood continues to dry out of its own accord, faster or slower based on its environment.

Therefore, any 30-year old piano is going to be 30 years closer to soundboard separations, misshapen hammer shanks and key ends, loosening flange screws, etc., than a brand new piano will be--regardless of playing time.

Oxidation also takes its toll over time...oxygen gradually combines with chemically-treated hammers, leather knuckles, felt strips and buttons, copper string windings, capstans & centerpins, etc., so that 30-year old piano is also 30 years closer to demanding service or replacement of a number of vital components than a brand new piano would be.

One additional comment, on your statement: "I heard something about the heavy touch on the Baldwin. I don't play so I can't tell. Is that true?" Actually, you can play--at least, well enough to test out a piano, and make some basic comparisons. Here's what I always recommend, and you can do this to every piano you encounter:

Starting with your right hand, thumb on low A (the last key at the extreme left end of the keyboard), play all 88 keys consecutively. Use thumb on white keys, middle finger on black keys, and index finger only on those white keys that immediately follow another white key. This is called a chromatic scale, and you only need three fingers to play it with some agility.

Do this to every piano you encounter, and pretty soon you'll not only start to feel like a pro (as you pick up speed), you'll also begin to feel and hear the differences between pianos.


Jim Volk
PIANOVATION
#102319 - 06/02/08 06:53 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Jim Volk Offline
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BTW, I'd go for the Schimmel.

If the piano is well maintained, not played much, and suffered no adverse or extreme environmental conditions (all of which your tech can evaluate), imo $12 is not an unreasonable price.

Of course, the dealer should include a warranty, something like 5 years parts & labor, just for peace of mind.


Jim Volk
PIANOVATION
#102320 - 06/03/08 05:37 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Thanks, Alan T. / Minaku / Jim Volk!

I had the technician looked at the Schimmel, and he told me it was barely used, and is in showroom condition. He told me it is "twice" the piano of the Baldwin. Everything was like new, the bass, the Renner action... and doesn't need any voicing and regulating. He also told me that he played this 1975 Schimmel side by side with another new Schimmel in the showroom, it actually sounded better than the new one.

I am almost convinced with the Schimmel. I can't wait to check it out myself (I am out of town now, and will go see it on Friday). I will keep you guys posted.

Thanks again. You guys helped a lot! I will try to get a warranty, too:)

#102321 - 06/16/08 11:38 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Update. I paid $11,000 for the Baldwin 227E! It is already in my living room. It looks brand new, and is a classic piece.

I also went to see the schimmel, and it just looked old to me.

I am just glad the decision is over. huh.

#102322 - 06/16/08 11:47 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Hi 5,

I think that Baldwin was an excellent choice and you'll get decades of pleasure playing it. Congratulations on your new piano!

#102323 - 06/17/08 12:02 AM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Congrats from me, too (another happy Baldwin owner). Post pics, if you can.

#102324 - 06/17/08 09:08 AM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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another Baldwin fan chiming in here.... congratulations on your choice. When I was shopping for a used Baldwin L grand 2 years ago I came across some very nice R's. One was so good I was tempted to choose if over an L. A good tech can do wonders with these pianos to adjust the tone and the touch. Don't worry about how the Gibson acquisition affected the pianos, from everything I learned about that issue, quality remained high, and positive evolutionary changes continued throughout the 90's. Enjoy your new piano! Larry Larson


1995 Baldwin L grand
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#102325 - 06/17/08 11:39 AM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Quote
Originally posted by 5_lake_ranger:
Update. I paid $11,000 for the Baldwin 227E! It is already in my living room. It looks brand new, and is a classic piece.

I also went to see the schimmel, and it just looked old to me.

I am just glad the decision is over. huh.
excellent

- i LOVE Baldwins.. they are great pianos and often undervalued on the used market in my opinion.


accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)
#102326 - 06/17/08 01:31 PM Re: How does Baldwin compare to Mason, Steinway & Boston Grand pianos  
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Congratulation on your Baldwin - I also a great fan of Baldwins. My 1968 7' F is currently having some works done.

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