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Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: TigerRad] #1704540
06/29/11 08:14 PM
06/29/11 08:14 PM
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New York, NY
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The Steinway factory selection room is only for people who have committed to purchase a B or D, and is usually booked for universities or other institutions for this reason. All other selections generally take place at Steinway Hall on 57th Street. If you are interested in just touring the factory, contact a representative before your trip and they might be able to arrange it.


Steinway Piano Gallery of Westport
Connecticut's Only Source for New Steinway, Boston and Essex Pianos
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Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: TigerRad] #1704636
06/29/11 11:09 PM
06/29/11 11:09 PM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,734
Stamford CT, New York City .
Ori Offline
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Originally Posted by TigerRad


I LOVE the idea of being blindfolded. I suppose it is too much to ask of a dealer to cover the fallboards on all the grands in their store!?! So did your wife just lead you around with the salesman and show you where to sit?!? That is hilarious. Sounds like fun. I am sure I am developing biases just by reading the buying guide and looking at PW, even though I have never played 99% of these instruments! I may try this...



TigerRad,

Having a 'blind piano tasting' is not as rare as one might think, and I see it very often at our showroom.

You see, for many piano buyers, brand names such as Bluthner, Bosendorfer, steingraeber, Estonia or Forster have little meaning upon their first visit to our showroom.
These carry as much a prestige as would piano brands named Schlutner, Hobendorser, Fabendraeber, Karelia or Fenster. smile

However, almost every person I meet, whether a self proclaimed 'tone deaf' piano parent, a complete beginner or an accomplished pianist finds a clear preference of tone between the makers.


...and yes, while from time to time we do cover the names on the fall boards of some pianos it usually happens at a later stage of the process once the selection has been narrowed to only a few instruments.

For some it is helpful...however at a early stage of piano shopping and before the selection has been narrowed I believe it may be detrimental.

Posted by dropofh2o:

Quote

Careful when doing that or your ears will get tired very fast and you might not be able to discern the differences between pianos all that well.



This is a good point.
As I always believed in selection (and also perhaps maybe because I like to be surrounded by a lot of great pianos! smile ) I'm well aware of the 'wary ears syndrome'.

I learned that the thing our customers find to be most helpful is learning not only which pianos they like...but also why they like these instruments, how the different pianos will respond to their (current and more importantly, future) style of playing, intended use, room acoustics...and what can or cannot be achieved by a good technician... among other factors.

While having side by side thirty or more top contenders to 'the best piano I have ever played' title at your fingertips may seem like a day in heaven,one can easily get overwhelmed and confused.

When planning to try a large selection of fine pianos...one should make sure to set some time aside and understand the differences in manufacturing process, intentions of the makers and the reasons for the resulting tone and touch.

Taking some time to do so early in the process will save a lot of time and confusion later.
In my opinion, at the early stages listening is far more important than playing the pianos.

...And lastly, take your time with the decision making.
Don't plan to visit a 'piano destination' with overwhelming choices and get the piano that very same day.

Sleep on it and come back the next day (or another time if necessary)...this time focusing on only few contenders of the pianos you liked the most and that suited your requirements the best.



Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - CT / NYC area.

One can usually play at our showroom:

Bluthner, Steingraeber, Estonia, Haessler, Sauter, Kawai, Steinway, Bosendorfer and more.

www.allegropianos.com
Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: Steve Chandler] #1704646
06/29/11 11:33 PM
06/29/11 11:33 PM
Joined: Nov 2004
Posts: 1,734
Stamford CT, New York City .
Ori Offline
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
There's been plenty of good advice so I'll just make one point. As a relative beginner your preferences in pianos are probably not mature. As your abilities increase what you appreciate in an instrument may change.


That's another good advice.
I will also add that even advanced players may change their playing style completely when getting accesses to a different piano.

One of the more common mistakes I have seen done by piano shoppers is that they gravitate initially towards the piano that reacts similarly to the one that they have been playing to date.

If one is playing on a 1957 Wurlitzer spinet, or on a digital, it may not necessarily be the best thing. smile

Also, approaching a Bluthner the same way one would approach a NY Steinway can bring very different results. smile...and a Bosendorfer is not meant to react the same way as a Steingraeber to the same playing style...


Understanding which musical strengths the manufacturers aiming to highlight and adjusting accordingly can be very useful in a piano search and may somewhat negate the risk of getting something that is the most familiar rather than the instrument one would be able to connect the best with over the long run.


Ori Bukai - Owner/Founder of Allegro Pianos - CT / NYC area.

One can usually play at our showroom:

Bluthner, Steingraeber, Estonia, Haessler, Sauter, Kawai, Steinway, Bosendorfer and more.

www.allegropianos.com
Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: Steve Chandler] #1704827
06/30/11 10:03 AM
06/30/11 10:03 AM
Joined: Jun 2011
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Columbia, SC
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TigerRad Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Steve Chandler
There's been plenty of good advice so I'll just make one point. As a relative beginner your preferences in pianos are probably not mature. As your abilities increase what you appreciate in an instrument may change. You certainly should step up from the digital, but the piano you purchase will only be your next piano. It may be your last, but I wouldn't plan on that at this stage.


Very true Steve. My initial enthusiasm for finding the perfect "one" is probably unrealistic. I should temper my grandiose notions and just try to find the best thing for me now. If I really stick with studying and playing for life, perhaps it is fairly likely I'll want something different someday.


Yamaha CLP-240....and looking
Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: Ori] #1704832
06/30/11 10:16 AM
06/30/11 10:16 AM
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Columbia, SC
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Great posts Ori! I love the power of the internet that I can hear from so many kowledgeable people!

Unfortunately I am several hours (car or plane) away from all fine pianos (except the few local Steinways), so I will just have to do the best I can with the ear fatigue problem. I will take good notes! We love visiting Manhattan anyway, so more trips on different days are really not a big problem, but it will take a while to get back up there more than once. See my PM regarding my likely August trip.

And I will definitely be taking my time, as my house will not be finished until roughly one year, and my current house can barely hold the groceries, much less a grand piano!


Yamaha CLP-240....and looking
Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: Ori] #1708981
07/07/11 10:40 AM
07/07/11 10:40 AM
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Posts: 110
New Mexico
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Excellent advice Ori! While I agree with everything you posted, your 'Blind Piano Tasting' does not sound much like a tasting at all.

Originally Posted by Ori

...and yes, while from time to time we do cover the names on the fall boards of some pianos it usually happens at a later stage of the process once the selection has been narrowed to only a few instruments.

For some it is helpful...however at a early stage of piano shopping and before the selection has been narrowed I believe it may be detrimental.


To do it so late in the game would not be nearly as fun as you have already tasted those pianos. I realize that fun in not your primary concern when purchasing a piano, but I would recommend such blind playing not simply to find the piano you are looking for but to learn more about what you want from a piano so you can then shop thus armed with those preferences you rightly recommend identifying. I agree wholeheartedly that one should be careful of 'wary ears syndrome' and not overdo it in one sitting (I must recognize that very few people can easily lose themselves for 10-14 hours at a time with no food and only occasional brief pauses for the call of nature and feel refreshed and energized from it as I often have, what can I say... I get addicted sometimes and have even done this many days in a row as I obsess over a new piece or new inspiration). This is why it is so important to take your time if you can.


Mason & Hamlin A
Baldwin SF-10
Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: TigerRad] #1709521
07/08/11 06:45 AM
07/08/11 06:45 AM
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@1. Not sure what the question is? It's clear that they don't have your piano

@2. Sounds like you have a nice piano shopping ahead! Enjoy the ride and relax!

@3. If you find your piano in Timbuktu, you just ship it to your home (or move to Timbuktu wink ). I think your dealer would be proud to service your perfect piano from Timbuktu?

@4. In my experience most shops allow you to walk in any time (at office hours) but it helps a lot if you have an appointment and is needed if you want to visit at non-office hours. I don't know if Manhattan is different.

Buying the piano you like is never a betrayal to your local dealer. You already checked there and he does not have your piano.

@5 IMHO it is of prime importance that you evaluate the sound and feel yourself. Maybe you should learn a few great bars from a piece that you really like to test drive the piano. Of course the staff will be glad to demonstrate but for me it is impossible to connect to the piano when there is someone else expressing HIM through the piano. A good pianist overrules the piano but it is best if piano and player match, particularly if it is your practice piano. Only when you have found one piano that you really like you may have to call in a tech to determine if it is technically good and if the price point is OK.

@6 When I was looking for pianos I video'ed them all in the same way and was very careful about that, so that I could compare all tested pianos at home in identical setups. I also spoke aloud my impressions on its response, feel and pedaling. What matters is both how the piano feels AT THAT LOCATION and how the piano sounds objectively. Most pianos sound much better at location than objectively. What also helped me is that someone else with a good ear occasionally also gave me his comments, making me aware of things I might have overheard. I don't believe that going blindfolded is useful. First, when at home watching my recordings I do not mind at all what the actual brand was. Second, all brands have their own characteristics and it is useful to learn them.


@7 (I guess I am looking for that moment when I sit down, play a few chords and melodies, and my heart soars, my eyes fill with tears, and I know my search is over. Is this realistic?)

I think you are wrong here. Well I read some people here that claim to have found their ultimate piano but to me it is all a sliding scale. Some pianos have better action, some have better sound, some more response, some better midrange, some better looks, so you end up with piano quality judgments in an N-dimensional continuous space and each point has a different price and service tag (which is primarily the technician backing up the piano). It is then up to you to determine your preferences and weigh factors and pick your best.
And I would recommend to take a break and look at a few other grands and recheck your notes on the other pianos that you listened if your eyes fill with tears and heart soars, as that is a pretty bad position to take an objective decision.

Finally I would suggest to also try 2nd hand. A well restored one can bring you the quality of a top level piano with a much nicer price tag.


[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]
UPDATED Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions [Re: TigerRad] #1719607
07/23/11 10:15 PM
07/23/11 10:15 PM
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Columbia, SC
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TigerRad Offline OP
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Well - a couple of weeks have passed and I have now seen every new piano for sale in my area, and a few out of my area. I think I will keep a log of my impressions in this thread. Some of the regular posters (all more well informed than me!) seem to enjoy this (not to mention I love to talk about it and my wife and kids are not THAT into it!). It will also serve as good record keeping for myself. So check it out whenever you see this thread bumped in the next year or so! Here's another super long post!

Since my first post above, I have somewhat tempered my plans, and decided to consider some lower priced mid-tier pianos, with an eye toward a future upgrade after I really stick to playing and trying to improve for a few years. This is not a final decision, just a new openness to cheaper Asian-made instruments. Plus, this is pretty much all I'll be able to see until my trip to NYC in a few weeks. I need to play all kinds in order to find out what is important to me and what I prefer.

In fairness to Steinway, I should point out that my visit there was focused only on the Steinways, so I really need to go back and give the Boston and Essex grands a fair shake.

I will simply list what I have seen so far, what I thought, and what they have caused me to learn, and how the dealer experiences have been. BTW - I have been totally open with the dealers that I am just beginning to look and really not planning to buy for at least 9-12 months. (They still try to cut me "today's deal"!! - but I don't blame them LOL). They have all been nice, helpful, seemingly honest, and indulged my mediocre playing for as long as I wanted.

Store #1 - some Young Chang and Kohler and Campbell grands. Place is carpeted, and full of little baby grands. The lady was nice and really indulged my playing for a while. My notes here are not detailed and the saleswoman did not know model numbers or construction details off the top of her head. It was a Saturday and I think she was a backup. I didn't make her go look for info.

They had a 6' YC in a very beautiful dark mahogany finish that was marked down to 8K$, due to a defect on the top, which I could not even see. This had a pleasant tone in the mid octaves, but felt rather "cold" to me, and not very responsive. I really wasn't happy with the ppp, but the worst thing was the bottom octave or so felt "mushy". That is to say, when you thought you had pressed the key all the way down, it went a little further with more resistance. There was some "give" at the bottom of the depressed key. Quite disturbing to me. Perhaps a prep issue? Very pretty to look at, BTW.

I tried some of their K&Cs, which were under 6', and really was not satisfied with the clarity, esp in the bass. Notes sounded muddy to me, or "unpure", if you will. Its pretty clear I am going to want a larger piano than these.

They had a used Kawai 6' from late 70s. Well taken care of per the saleswoman. Wanted 9K$. Looks nice. Action a little stiff. LOVE the tone of this piano top to bottom, very pure and clean sounding. Cant really get the ppp that I'm looking for. Again, perhaps a prep issue. By far my favorite in this store (interesting it is >30 years older!).

Store #2 - small outfit run by a RPT. I just happen to walk in the week before he is closing up shop and leaving town. Everything is "clearance" priced. Small but very "live" room.

The highlight here is the 6'10" Pramberger JP-208B. He has had it new since 2006. I really enjoyed playing it. Very lovely clean tone, esp in the mid octaves. Not too harsh or bright in spite of the room. Bass is powerful. Tons of sustain. I still cant find that ppp I am looking for. Treble has a real "sweetness". Would like a little faster/lighter action. Many keys seem to have some "give" - that is you can move the key down a little without moving the hammer. Feels loose. (prep issue - the owner/salesman is an RPT!?) Best price is 19K$. Incidentally, this was also the only dealer that had something negative to say when I told him all of things I was planning on seeing. He really badmouthed Yamahas (and another local dealer, but I kind of cut it off and didn't pursue it).

Also played the Pram PS175 5'9". Asking 8K$. Again, I can really hear the size difference and I am going to want something bigger. Nice easy action. Mids and lows sound a little muddled to me. Played a similar sized Sohmer, and liked it less.

Store #3 - Pretty much all Yamaha, and a few sub 6' Kawais and Story and Clarks.

First, let me say that I come with a terrible anti-Yamaha bias. Over the years I have played many of them, and really disliked them. This is mostly from sneaking into practice rooms and recital halls at various universities. I always found them terribly shrill, overly bright and harsh, and with very insensitive touch. After reading this site for a few weeks, I now realize that these were not well cared for, but my underlying bad feelings remain...

UNTIL! - The 7' C6. WOWZA! What a beautiful, exquisite instrument this was. I finally was able to achieve a pianissimo that really satisfied me! My cantabile in the higher octaves is lovely! Bass is tight and powerful, not muddy or overwhelming to the higher registers. Treble is not too bright at all! Action is totally even top to bottom, a lightness and responsiveness that seems perfect! Really nothing bad to say here. A great piano, I loved it (dare I say this? - I think I liked it better than the new Steinway B!?!? - and at half the price!) Asking $42.5K. The keys are the most beautiful I've seen, BTW.

Yamaha GC2 - 5'8". Very nice, but again it is obvious to me that this size will not satisfy me (at least in the brands I have seen so far). Asking 20K.

Also played some of the smaller S&Cs. Sound "tinky" to me. The smaller Kawais are better, but I am very distracted by the great C6.

So what have I learned so far?

1. I am pretty sure I am going to need a piano bigger than 6 feet. I really wish they had had a C3, or C5, because I am a little worried that a 7' might drive my wife and kids into hiding when I practice. I look forward to trying some pianos in the 6-7 size range.

2. I have a preference for a lighter, quicker feeling action. I was really more able to play faster right hand runs correctly and prettily on the C6, which had the lightest and most responsive action so far.

3. I have a preference for a "clean" or "pure" tone. Perhaps what I am hearing is a stronger fundamental and relative lack of overtones? The old Kawai and big C6 seemed to excel in this department. This was particularly true with Bach Invention #8, where the two hands seemed more distinct on these pianos (than on the Pramberger, for instance).

4. My preconceptions about Yamahas being "too bright" were wrong, wrong, WRONG! As of now, I am not even sure why this sentiment seems to survive in discussions here on PW and elsewhere in the real world. Even the cheaper, smaller ones I played were not overly bright, and nothing like the pianos I remember from my past.

5. If it gets better than that C6 (as I know many of you feel and will tell me!) then I can NOT WAIT to get my hands on some European and American pianos!!!!

6. I truly love looking at, talking about, thinking about, and playing lots of different pianos. I may become the piano salesman's worst nightmare until I finally buy something (and perhaps even after!)


Yamaha CLP-240....and looking
Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: TigerRad] #1719619
07/23/11 10:24 PM
07/23/11 10:24 PM
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Toronto, Ontario
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I love your reviews of your piano sampling TigerRad.
Some great reading.
Keep us informed! thumb

Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: TigerRad] #1719706
07/24/11 12:39 AM
07/24/11 12:39 AM
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The C6 is a very nice piano, nicer than some of the other, older Yamaha designs. I have been anxiously anticipating tuning one for one of the world's top jazz pianist again, a pianist with particularly discerning hearing.


Semipro Tech
Re: UPDATED Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions [Re: TigerRad] #1719715
07/24/11 12:47 AM
07/24/11 12:47 AM
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Great description of your piano adventures. One thought - please remember to compare apples with apples - when you compare 6' or smaller pianos and then play a 7', it would be hard NOT to be impressed by the differences. I'd love to hear your comparisons of similar sized models, and based on the pianos you've played and liked, I hope you run into a Ritmuller 212 on your journey.


Russell I. Kassman
R.KASSMAN, Purveyor of Fine Pianos
Berkeley, CA

FORMER US Rep.for C.Bechstein

SF Area Dealer: Steingraeber•Grotrian•Sauter•Estonia•Kayserburg•Baldwin•Brodmann•Ritmüller
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Re: UPDATED Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions [Re: master88er] #1719826
07/24/11 07:37 AM
07/24/11 07:37 AM
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Columbia, SC
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Yes, master88er, of course it would be ideal to compare pianos of similar size. Part of my intention has been to educate myself on how different sizes sound as well (and develop a preference), even though I have suspected all along what size I would want. I never really expected a 5'8" to compete with a 6'10", but I was open to the possibility, and now I have a little actual experience to know why it doesn't. In fact, this may still be relevant as I see some smaller, but higher-end pianos. It would perhaps be interesting, for instance, to compare a 5'11" handmade in Germany to a Chinese 7'4" costing half as much.

My small market really doesn't support these stores to have more than one large piano in stock, it seems. This is a another big reason I will be traveling to some large markets. Having equally large pianos from several different brands in the same showroom will be a new experience for me. And I still haven't seen anything in the 6'1", 6'4", 6'7" range except a rebuilt Steinway A, which I wasn't wild about.

I hope I see a Ritmuller also.


Yamaha CLP-240....and looking
Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: TigerRad] #1719869
07/24/11 10:06 AM
07/24/11 10:06 AM
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Interesting read, TigerRad!

It’s also interesting that you really liked the Yamaha C6, after years of negative feelings about Yamahas.

So, I’ll brag on my piano just a little (if that’s okay laugh )… I too had a desire for a bigger grand piano, something in the 7 foot range. I happened to come across an older Yamaha C7 (1978 model) that was being sold by a fairly large church that had built a big new sanctuary and was going to all digital pianos for their music program. The C7 had been played hard and neglected to an extent but with a little TLC, it has turned out great! I absolutely love it!

I can relate to everything you described in your thread about the C6, though my piano is an older model. And, though I’m not a piano technician, I can tell that it has been completely rebuilt at some point in time, likely in the mid 1990’s when the church acquired it. And, though it had been well used by the church, it still has a lot of life left in it for my purposes.

Based on your descriptions and analysis of the pianos you have seen and played, I’d say you are probably a much better player than you lead us to believe!! smile

Happy shopping and keep us informed!!!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: TigerRad] #1719874
07/24/11 10:27 AM
07/24/11 10:27 AM
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"Not too harsh or bright in spite of the room. Bass is powerful. Tons of sustain. I still cant find that ppp I am looking for. Treble has a real "sweetness". Would like a little faster/lighter action. Many keys seem to have some "give" - that is you can move the key down a little without moving the hammer. Feels loose..."

With a process as good as this, Tiger, I don't think you need any help from me. I feel very confident about you.

Let me only suggest that, if you're going to take all the other data down in your notes, you may as well also record the serial number of the piano you've played. Different examples of the same model are not all the same.

I've enjoyed your posts; thanks for sharing your experiences.


Clef

Re: Shopping for a grand - early questions re: dealers etc [Re: TigerRad] #1719902
07/24/11 11:04 AM
07/24/11 11:04 AM
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A very interesting and well-written piano search adventure. Please keep us updated as your search progresses.


Currently working on:-
C Major scale (r/h only - starting with the pinkie finger)......

Dear Noah,
We could have sworn you said the ark wasn't leaving till 5.
Yours sincerely,
The Unicorns



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by Ed McMorrow, RPT. 10/16/19 09:52 PM
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