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Hi everyone. I am on the hunt for baby grand or small grand, new or used, under 10K. My wife is the player, but I am the researcher. She took regular lessons growing up and played at her church until I took her away after the wedding. She's been missing being able to play regularly, so we have started looking. I purchased the 'Piano Buyer' and supplement, and have delved into them. Size really isn’t an issue.

This past weekend, we went to some local (50 miles away) shops, and she played the Kawai GM-10 and the Yamaha GB-1. She preferred the GB-1. After reading up, these appear to be almost the same piano. About the same size, same price, made in Indonesia, etc.

I found a thread discussing these very pianos, and advice was given about looking into the larger Chinese brands and that the smallest baby grands were on their way out. However, that thread was from 2004. Has this prediction held up?

I've looked on ebay and craiglist for possible used models in my range, and to get a feel for going prices. There are a lot of 15-25 year old grands out there, but the asking prices seem awful high, as compared to the depreciation tables by Fine. Few of the ones on ebay ever even get bid on. It just seems like people think they are worth more than they are because they still look new.

It's all rather intimidating, especially when I get on here and see those who own grands over 25K critiquing ones in my price range. I realize that honest, experienced advice is being shared for the benefit of others, but it's a bit scary to think I could spend over 8K on a piano that could be considered junk to anyone.

What are some of the Chinese models that have earned a good reputation in the last 10 years? I'm trying not to get hung up on a brand name. I just want to best for my money.

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A poster called "Baldone" mentioned his Ivers and Pond in another thread. It was rebuilt in the late 1990s by one of the best in the business. Even with transport to MS from TX, you would have lots left over from what you planned to spend.

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Originally Posted by spouseofaplayer
I've looked on ebay and craiglist for possible used models in my range, and to get a feel for going prices. There are a lot of 15-25 year old grands out there, but the asking prices seem awful high, as compared to the depreciation tables by Fine. Few of the ones on ebay ever even get bid on. It just seems like people think they are worth more than they are because they still look new.

Hi, and welcome to the piano world forums!

It sounds like you have already done your homework and your research to an extent. And, you are right; many pre-owned pianos are overpriced in my view. Sometimes the used piano dealers want to make a substantial profit off an uninformed buyer and sometimes private sellers think their piano is worth its weight in gold.

However, if you keep looking, you will find a good prospect that is offered at a decent price. And, you are right… of all the used grand pianos offered for sale on eBay, very few ever sell, it seems. And, I’ve noticed that the ones that do sell are usually “best offer” type auctions.

In my view, $10K is healthy sum with which to buy a nice baby grand/grand piano, even in the realm of new, entry level pianos. I really can’t recommend one brand over another… however, if you buy a well known and recognized brand, whether pre-owned or new, any re-sell or trade up should be more to your advantage.

Perhaps you might look for a piano that your wife really likes in terms of tone, touch and appearance. There are lots of good prospects out there.

Best of luck to you!

Rick



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Just a thought - stay away from "baby" grands or small grands - 4'10" to 5'. Becasue they are small the length of the strings has to be shortened and the sound becomese compromised. A tall studio vertical will have a better sound than a small grand.

There are some pleasant sounding grands in the 5'3" to 6' range. Another scale (size) to seriously consider is in the 6' - 6'4" range - these grands are often referred to as parlor grands and they can have a very pleasing sound and they don't really take up all that much more room than the cute "baby" grand.

Let me encourage you in your search and hopefully you will discover a real gem among the many "diamonds in the rough."


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Originally Posted by spouseofaplayer
It's all rather intimidating, especially when I get on here and see those who own grands over 25K critiquing ones in my price range. I realize that honest, experienced advice is being shared for the benefit of others, but it's a bit scary to think I could spend over 8K on a piano that could be considered junk to anyone.

What are some of the Chinese models that have earned a good reputation in the last 10 years? I'm trying not to get hung up on a brand name. I just want to best for my money.


The jump from $8k to $25k offers some "upgrades" and name recognition, but only those who must have them despearately enough pay for them.

The Piano Buyer's chart shows a very rough ranking of Chinese brands. Some use more expensive materials than others. I don't remember if the Chinese Baldwin is listed, but that was my latest experience with a Chinese grand. The 5' was surprisingly satisfactory and way under $8k. You might want to consider their 6' if the price is right.

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I looked at the list of Chinese brands on the Piano Buyer's Consumer Grade Chart. I came up with about 10 names, and at least 2/3 of those don't even have a distributor in my state. So, I'm not sure how I can look seriously at those.

A friend of a friend has a 1988 Kawai GE1 for sale, and they want $6000 for it. I think it has been a funiture piece for most of it's life. They think that's what it's worth, but I can get a new GM-10 or a GB-1 for $8500 right now with delivery and a free tune.

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Originally Posted by spouseofaplayer


What are some of the Chinese models that have earned a good reputation in the last 10 years? I'm trying not to get hung up on a brand name. I just want to best for my money.


I think you will find that in general, Chinese manufacturers have come a long way in a very short time. In fact, I think a valid argument can be made that the Chinese products improved vastly quicker than the Japanese products did in the 70's and 80's. IMHO, the Ritmüller products, designed by Lothar Thomma and made by Pearl River, are the equal of any current Japanese instrument of similar size, and their smaller grands IMHO are superior. In fact, the 148 grand suprised even Larry Fine, who thought he was listening to a 6' grand for several hours one afternoon, only to peek around the corner and find a Ritmüller 148. The experience prompted him to write an article about the advanced musicality of some small grands today.


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I read that article just the other day. It made me feel better about buying a small grand.

I found it interesting, though, that the Pearl River Brand name got poor marks on his table that ranked brand names (by stars) based on preformance, reputation, warranty, etc. I don't have the book in from of me, but I think it was based on tech surveys.

I'm not sure how up to date that data is, either.

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The new book is about to publish, and I wouldn't be surprised to see rankings change in the new addition. You can hire Larry for private consultations if you feel the need, but let your ears be the best guide.

I think it is pretty clear that Pearl River has benefited greatly from its association with Yamaha, Steinway and Steingraeber and their pianos have seen vast improvements since Lothar Thomma (of C.Bechstein fame) came on board.


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I would think about any baby grand (Chinese or not) would be better than the GM-10, which is about the worst piano I have ever played.


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I'm not fond of the GM-10 or the GB1 - both sound terrible to me. The GM-10 sounds somewhat worse to my ears. So, if those were the only choices, I guess I'd very reluctantly take the GB1. Fortunately, though, those are not the only choices.

Last edited by TX-Dennis; 03/15/11 09:45 PM.

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We went to another shop tonight, and she played a Conover, Nordiska, and a Palatino. She didn't like any of them, and my untrained ear wasn't real impressed either. She says she likes the GB-1 the best of them all, and I have to say it had the best sound to me. I know there are many factors, but I am surprised given it was the smallest one and that it doesn't get much love here. We will just soldier on.

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Well, look . . . my opinion or anyone else's here is just that, one subjective opinion. Your wife is the one who will have to live with the piano. if, after playing a number of pianos in the same price range, the GB1 is her favorite, then that is what you should get. It's not a bad piano. I am just not fond of its tone. I like it more than the GM-10, though.


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I would buy a Kohler & Campbell KCG-600. That is a 5'9" sized piano and you should be able to get one for 10k out the door. Prepped properly they are really enjoyable pianos to play!

Whatever you get.. get the biggest you can smile


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I've been searching for an entry level baby grand these past two months, as well. I'm on the verge of buying a Kohler & Campbell KIG 54 for just under 7K. It had a better sound than the Young Chang and Weber 5'2" pianos I tried and sounded much better than the Kawai GM-10. Would love to get a bigger piano but I'm at the top of my budget. Diaphragmatic, I read several posts of yours from a couple of years ago regarding the KIG 54 on these forums. Do you still endorse this model and Kohler & Campbell as a piano manufacturer?

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Originally Posted by Axios23
Do you still endorse this model and Kohler & Campbell as a piano manufacturer?


FYI, Kohler and Campbell is not a piano manufacturer. It is a brand label put on an instrument built by Samick. You can find many instruments built by Samick with a myriad of names priced competitively.

Last edited by master88er; 03/17/11 05:21 PM.

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Yes.. Master88er is correct. Kohler & Campbel is just one of many piano lines that Samick Music Corp. offers. I wish I could say the design features found in the Kohler Line are unique to the others but I just don't know and my gut says that, for the most part, many of the lines are VERY similar.

It is frustrating when manufacturers build several piano lines whose only main difference is the decal found on the fall board. They do this so they can place several 'different' lines in the same market.

Regardless.. the Samick products are great values and I am very fond of the Kohler & Campbell product pianos.

The KIG54 is a great value at 7k but I would put your big shinny negotiator shoes on and try to go for the 5'9".. to me.. that is the piano to have at the <10,000 price range!

Happy Shopping!



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for 10grand, expand your horizons beyond brand new, take a look at used, for that kind of money you could probably pick up a nice Korean Made 5'8'' - 6'0'' Young Chang or Samick thats less 10 years old..... based on your market maybe a Baldwin R or L in the 20-30 year old age range, a Yamaha G2 or KG2 in the 20-30 year old range, or it you want to stay new, skip the 5'0'' grand, go at least 5'6'', in grands, bigger usually means better, not always, but usually....

I know people say, oh now, 5'8'' that's too big..... No ITS NOT : ) the extra length is in the tail, you might suck up a couple more square feet by going from 5' to 5'8''.. Ask your dealer for a grand pattern to take home, lay it out you'll see it doesnt take up that much more room....

And I think most here would agree that a 5'8'' class grand is a better option than a 5'

Now, let your wife play the 5'8'' grand of any make, and compare it to any 5' grand she'll hear and feel the difference right away

As to which brand, pianos are very personal,if you and your wife like the way a piano plays, sounds and looks and fits in your budget, buy it and ignore the million opinions on brands

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Originally Posted by spouseofaplayer
Hi everyone. I am on the hunt for baby grand or small grand, new or used, under 10K...This past weekend, we went to some local (50 miles away) shops, and she played the Kawai GM-10 and the Yamaha GB-1. She preferred the GB-1.

I found a thread discussing these very pianos, and advice was given about looking into the larger Chinese brands and that the smallest baby grands were on their way out.

I've looked on ebay and craiglist for possible used models in my range, and to get a feel for going prices. There are a lot of 15-25 year old grands out there, but the asking prices seem awful high, as compared to the depreciation tables by Fine. Few of the ones on ebay ever even get bid on. It just seems like people think they are worth more than they are because they still look new.

It's all rather intimidating, especially when I get on here and see those who own grands over 25K critiquing ones in my price range. I realize that honest, experienced advice is being shared for the benefit of others, but it's a bit scary to think I could spend over 8K on a piano that could be considered junk to anyone.

What are some of the Chinese models that have earned a good reputation in the last 10 years? I'm trying not to get hung up on a brand name. I just want to best for my money.



When I bought my Chinese grand two years ago, I started off looking at used pianos. I found a bewildering array of beat-up, bent-up, overpriced instruments. I spent too much time chasing these things before I decided that the extra two or three thousand I would have to pay for a new one would save me that much just in time searching. Of course, some people get lucky and find a very good one right away. I didn't.

I looked at the GM-10 and thought it was pretty good: until I hear many other much better ones. For about $10K you should be able to locate a very nice new Chinese grand. I'd recommend getting a shopping list of candidates, then looking at them to see if you like them, and negotiating with a dealer to see if you want to purchase it. If you locate two or three that you like equally well, you will be in a much stronger negotiating position. Consider Hailun, Ritmuller, and other mentioned here or listed in Larry Fine's piano book. It's not likely that you'll find a 5ft. 10in. for under $10K, but you might get it for $11K. Their smaller pianos are quite nice too.

If possible, you should broaden your search rather than narrowing it. At slightly lower prices, the George Steck/Falcone/Hobart Cable piano might appeal to you. If it doesn't, try to identify just what in the touch or tone you don't like to help you in future explorations.

Hop


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For 10k, I got a new 5'7" Ritmuller that I love. The price I paid, though, seems to be about 2/3 what everyone else is willing to sell them for. However, it doesn't hurt to try.

Regardless of the Rit (and opinions differ on it, too), there are many decent-to-good options close to the 10k range. When we shopped last year, I was willing to spend 15k but hoped to stay closer to 10k. Things worked out well for us.

I had the same experience Hop did when looking at used. I didn't see anything in the range I felt comfortable buying. I felt like I got a better deal and a better instrument buying new. However, the market may be more of a buyer-friendly market where you are; I believe location plays a huge role in the used market.

At the risk of getting slammed, here is how I would group the pianos I played during our search in terms of quality of construction and playability. I've tried to remember the price range quoted when I looked at them. Prices I'm listing were for 5'6" - 6'2" b/c that was the size range I looked at:

Entry group (all will have laminated soundboards and lower-grade action):
Pearl River <10k
Perzina ~ 10k
Samick <10k
Kohler & Campbell New Yorker ~ 10k
Story & Clark > 10k

Mid level group (some laminated soundboards/some solid, various ranges of action):
Essex ~ 10k
Hailun < 15k
Kawai GM > 10k
Yamaha GB > 10k

Better quality (solid soundboards, better components, may be out of price range, but you can get lucky every now and then):
Ritmuller GH = 10k (usually ~ 15k)
Wm. Knabe > 15k
Pramberger Platinum >15k
Kohler & Campbell Millennium >14k
Kawai RX >18k (for the smaller version)
Yamaha C >20k (and up)
Boston >10k (don't recall price)

These groupings are my impressions from our search, with apologies to the more learned folks at Piano Buyer who have some classed a bit differently and know a lot more than I do. Tone and touch will vary in each grouping. I left out the most expensive two I played, Petrof and C. Bechstein b/c they are not in sniffing range. Boston and the upper Yamaha and Kawai aren't either, really, but they're less expensive than the ones I left off (actually, don't recall the Boston price, so I may be wrong).

Other pianos that would seem to be worth a look, per other reviews I've read (from entry to nicer:
Young Chang (don't know price)
Weber (don't know price)
Brodmann >15k (didn't play b/c of price, but looked them up)

Regardless of what you end up with, I hope it is something that blesses you and your family.

Mike

Last edited by mikeheel; 03/18/11 05:45 PM.

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